Buying a new mattress is something you will probably only do a few times in your life. Your first apartment, moving your child from a crib to a bed, setting up a guest room in your house, etc.
And once you have bought your mattress, you probably don’t really think too much about replacing it. Ever. I know I didn’t, then when I went out and started checking prices I was shocked. Mattresses are expensive, the retail stores are full of pushy sales people, and there are many brands that all look (and basically feel) the same – but what are you really getting for your money.
We have recently been looking for a few new mattresses for our house and RV, and would like to share our experience with you.
The Journey Begins
My wife and I recently purchased a travel trailer. It was something that we had been thinking about for a long time (like, years…) and had done our research. We wanted something with an aluminum structure, fiberglass front cap, 2 air conditioners, bunk beds, outside kitchen, blah, blah, blah. We were browsing yet another RV lot in late May, and ended up stumbling on exactly what we were looking for in a Grand Design Imagine 3170BH. We picked it up from the dealer, towed it to a local KOA to camp for the weekend to check everything out, cooked out that afternoon, had some beverages, and headed in to go to bed. When we flopped down in bed it was like falling onto a pallet of bricks. Oh, snap! We hadn’t even thought to check out the mattress. I mean, who even thinks about these things? That got us to thinking about mattresses at home.
Buying A Mattress
How much research did we do before buying the thing in our bedroom that we spend 8 hours, or more, on each day? I don’t recall doing any research when we bought our California King over 20 years ago. I remember being surprised that I couldn’t find sheets in the store back then that would fit it, and ordering them online was pretty expensive, then finding out sheets are expensive in general.
A bunch of questions started popping between us as we lay next to each other on our new pallet of bricks in our awesome new RV:
- What are the different types of mattresses?
- How long does a mattress last?
- Should we be flipping our mattress? And if so, what is the best way?
- Why are mattresses so expensive?
- Are expensive mattresses really better than less expensive ones?
- Will a mattress topper help my mattress more comfortable?
- Will a mattress topper help my mattress last longer?
- What is the most popular size mattress?
- Where are mattresses made?
- How are mattresses made?
- Is there such a thing as an organic mattress?
- Is it possible to find a mattress that was made using environmentally friendly methods?
Who on earth would think that finding a mattress would be that big of a deal?
I have a set of criteria that I am using to narrow down my mattress selection. Ideally my new mattress will be:
- Made in the US
- Come with some sort of a “sleep guarantee” and a solid warranty.
- Solid customer service
- Good reputation
- Free shipping if purchased online
- In-home setup
You can jump straight to my short list of recommended mattresses if you want to see what I’m currently considering.
We did our research and want to share it with you here. Based on the amount of information we had to wade through to find some decent answers, it appears to be a pretty popular topic.
What are the different types of mattresses?
The most common types of mattresses on the market today are memory foam and innerspring. Innerspring mattresses have been around a long time (introduced in the 1930’s), and the insides look like a bunch of springs standing on end, with padding and fabric. Foam mattresses are relatively new to the market and are made of latex or polyurethane, are very dense (and heavy). The foam/poly thing kind of flips me out because I’m not sure what kind of gasses might be being emitted from these things, but they are supposedly safe. We have a few memory foam mattresses around the house and they’re pretty comfortable.
How long does a mattress last?
Based on what I’ve been able to find, a “high end” mattress should last you around 10 years. I’ve been on my expensive, high end brand, Cali King for over 21 now and it’s still going strong – although I’ve clearly formed a Travis sized trench in that thing that no amount of flipping can rectify. So I’m saying a high end mattress can easily last you 20 years if taken care of properly. We’ve flipped and rotated this thing yearly for the past 21 years. Apparently memory foam mattresses will last longer than innerspring, I’m assuming this is because the spring inside the mattress will degrade over time.
Should we be flipping our mattress? And if so, what is the best way?
So it’s a good idea to both flip and ROATE your mattress, it’s pretty much the same concept as rotating your tires. Mattress pro’s say to rotate your mattress every month, I do it every 3 months. To rotate, spin the mattress so the head is now at the foot. As far as flipping the mattress, I do it once a year. It’s kind of a New Years tradition just so I remember to do it. Rotate every three months, flip once a year. This WILL make your mattress last much longer, some say as much as 5-7 years longer than if you didn’t do any sort of mattress maintenance at all.
Why are mattresses so expensive?
Half or more of the price of a retail mattress can be attributed to marketing cost, retail markup, and sales commissions – which means it costs less, perhaps significantly less, than half the retail cost to actually manufacture a mattress.
The $500 – $1200 retail price range is the sweet spot, anything over that price doesn’t directly translate to a better quality mattress. There are differences in manufacturing process, materials, location, and distribution (direct to consumer, retail, wholesale) that can lead to significant cost differences in mattresses.
Are expensive mattresses really better than less expensive ones?
To say I was shocked when I found out how much mattresses cost in 2018 would be an understatement. I guess since you don’t buy them that often, it isn’t a price that sticks in your head.
In short, a more expensive mattress does not necessarily mean that it is a better quality mattress or will lead to more restful sleep.
Will a mattress topper help my mattress more comfortable?