Mattress Buying Guide and Comparisons Review
Are you going to replace your old bumpy mattress causing back aches, or just looking for a heavenly mattress as you lied on at hotels? When it comes to buying a new mattress, it will never be easy but time-consuming and frustrating. No matter you go to department stores or browse online, you will find numerous mattresses are sitting there and waiting for someone to pick up. It’s super difficult to decide because we neither know much about any mattress nor understand how to evaluate a mattress. Here is a complete guide to walk you through all needed tips and help you make an informed choice. You don’t have to search high and low to figure out advantages and disadvantages of each type or benefits and drawbacks of any feature of any mattress. Just read it and you will get what you’re looking for. You don’t only learn how to buy the right mattress but also find unbiased and objective review for some specific mattress on this site. Please note: We’re not connected with any mattress brands or companies and no mattress company pay for our review and research. For people who don’t want to skim through the article, we also selected Top 5 mattresses tested and proven by thousands owners. If you’re ready, let’s start with mattress type.
Memory foam mattress is one of most popular types on the market and the price is ranging from too-low-to-believe to astronomical. However, we find owner satisfaction has little to do with price and mattresses around $500 could get owner rating as high as ones over $2000. So just choose the right one. No mattress type is perfect solution for everyone and memory foam isn’t an exception. Advantages and disadvantages are very obvious.
Memory foam detects weight and heat then softens to conform to your shape of your body. It forms a perfect cradle to distribute weight and gives each part needed support. In that way, it’s able to remove pressure points and aches. That’s why many doctors recommend memory foam mattress to patients who have back problems and need good support.
Due to its outstanding ability of contouring, this type relieves back pains effectively and of course helps pains of shoulders, hips, etc. Quite a lot of owners reported their back got improved.
Excellent motion isolation creates an undisturbed sleep environment. Memory foam absorbs pressure and movements and doesn’t deliver to your significant the other. You feel nothing when he or she turns or gets up off of the bed.
Heavy people may have problems with finding suitable mattress of other types. But thick memory foam mattress over 10 inches are able to provide them optimal comfort and solid support.
It doesn’t make any noise, very quiet.
Easy to maintain, just rotate it and no flip required
Heat retention is the biggest issue manufacturers are fighting against. This type holds more heat than other ones and hot sleepers complained a lot about it. Generally speaking, denser the foam is, more odors it exhausts.
It off-gases more than all other types because it’s made of chemical materials and compressed for delivery. Of course most memory foams are tested for CertiPur-US to exclude any hazard materials.
Memory foam doesn’t respond and return to its shape quickly. It will keep the body impression for a while and require extra effort to change positions or get up off the bed. People who often change position at night may not like it. And it’s not friendly to disabled people or those who have issue with moving.
This type of mattress usually has unenforced edges. You can’t sit on the edges like on a innerspring, especially you’re weighing above the average.
Not good for other activities. It’s different from other types and lack of resilience. That made some owners reported it wasn’t good for romance.
Innerspring is the type we’re most familiar with and accompanied with us for many years. It also comes in a variety of price and firmness. The core of innerspring is the coils and it’s divided into four types by mattress coils including bonnell coils, offset coils, continuous coils and marshall coils. However, after decades of evolution, the average owner satisfaction is lowest among all types.
It can provide great support independently and give sleepers supportive feeling, while other types like foam. It’s also an excellent candidate for support layer if you build a comfortable mattress yourself.
It’s romance friendly. It performs better than foam, latex, waterbed and airbed because of its hundreds of coils. It’s resilient and responding immediately so the bounce helps more.
The mattress doesn’t sleep hot like foam mattress unless you add a foam comfort layer.
It nearly has no break-in period and that means you will always feel the same as the first time you lie on. On the contrary, memory foam features long break-in period.
Innerspring usually has enforced edges so you can sit on the edges without falling off.
Disadvantages:It lacks contouring ability because it doesn’t allow sleepers to sink in much. Innerspring can neither conform to your body shape nor provide needed support for areas except where body is touching mattress surface. That being said, it doesn’t very well removing pressure points or relieving back pain.
As for motion transfer, innerspring performs better than foam and latex. It doesn’t absorb much pressure but delivers movements to your partner. Light sleepers may suffer from this issue because he or she can feel every movement you do.
Innerspring makes noises when you move on the bed especially old sagging ones. But pocket coils do better and make much less noises than other coil types. Large persons report they have more noises than light ones.
According to owner report, the average longevity is less than other types and it has a high sagging rate.
Latex is one type of foams, rubber foam exactly. You need to know that there’re three latex types, natural, synthetic and blended. Natural latex is made from juice of rubber trees, synthetic latex is made from petrochemicals and blended latex is blends of natural and synthetic rubber. Three types of latex are very similar in quality and features but natural is certainly the best with greatest elasticity, support and durability. Of course latex foam is usually processed by two methods, Talalay and Dunlop, but we will talk about it later. As mentioned before, there is no perfect mattress but latex is the one nearest to because it’s similar to memory foam and has all the advantage but excluding all the bad.
Advantages:Latex foam allows sleeper to sink in to give pressure points and arch areas enough support. Many owners report they don’t feel pressure points and back and shoulders aches any more. And Latex foam has better support, which means you just sink in at a comfortable depth without bottoming out.
More firmness options for customers to choose. Some latex foam manufacturers and sellers are offering custom firmness options ranging from 1 to 10. That definitely helps us to get the comfortable mattress suiting each person preference.
It does little motion transfer and your partner doesn’t feel you toss and turn or get up off the bed. This is a big plus for light sleepers. Motion isolation is a must-have feature for people looking for undisturbed sleep.
Due to unique feature of cradling support, it’s well suited for all sleep positions. Latex foam conforms to your body shape and fills arch areas like lumbar no matter which side you sleep on. Arms and hips don’t fall asleep with you at night.
The latex foam gives response almost right away. Like innerspring, it doesn’t have break-in period and you feel cradled right after you lie on the bed. Once you get off, the mattress returns to its original shape and your body impression is gone.
It feels more supportive and resilient. That means it’s more friendly other activities on the mattress.
Latex foam doesn’t keep body impression so disabled persons or people who have issue with moving. It’s also a great feature for people who often change positions during sleep.
Natural latex barely comes with strong odor except rubber smell. It can be expected for synthetic latex because it’s made of petrochemicals.
Latex is more breathable than other types of foam and it doesn’t retain much heat as other types do. Therefore it doesn’t receive many sleeping hot complaints. And some manufacturers are offering special models with optimized formulas to help regulate temperature.
Disadvantages:All latex version that only consists of latex is limited available and expensive. The mattress features latex foam comfort layer with other support core is more available and cheaper.
Airbeds are usually used as a support core and an extra comfort layer is sitting on top like latex or memory foam. The biggest difference setting it apart from other types is the adjust-ability of firmness and support. Airbeds come with an electric pump so you can inflate or deflate air from the bed to adjust the firmness to your desirable level.
Advantages:We can adjust firmness and support ourselves for each side. Great feature for couple who have different firmness preferences.
The bed has a longer lifespan than other types, 9-10 years on average. This is partly because it’s very easy to repair and maintain. Even if some parts are broken, you can get it back to work with needed parts instead of throwing away or replacing it.
Airbed doesn’t sag where people usually sleep.
It conforms to sleeper’s body and distributes pressure and weight very well. But that’s not good enough if compared to memory foam or latex.
Airbed delivers little motion especially those models with two air chambers. If you get up for a drink or snacks at night, you don’t need to worry about disturbing the other.
It’s more friendly to disabled person, especially compared to memory foam. It’s easy for people to move or get up not and doesn’t require any extra effort.
Very few owners complained about heat trap issue.
The bed is best suited for back sleepers.
Very easy to maintain and no flipping or rotating required.
Disadvantages:Not good for romance. Some couples feel a little uncomfortable and awkward especially where two air chambers meet.
It’s lightweight so you could expect it would gradually move on the base over time.
Waterbed isn’t normal choices for most family and it’s still popular among some supporters. Now there’re two types on the market, hard-sided and soft sided. Hard-sided is more common, requiring special enclosure and support.
Advantages:It lasts longer, some even for over ten years. Like airbeds, it could be easily repaired so leaks and puncture aren’t a big deal.
The biggest benefit of waterbed is pressure relief. It maps the body shape as well as memory foam and latex. Excellent contouring ability helps much to distribute weight evenly to remove pressure points and back aches.
The model of two water chambers could limit motion transfer very well without disturb your partner.
Disadvantages:It’s the heaviest mattress type and could weigh over one thousand pounds. It’s impossible to move it with much water in it. And it’s time consuming to fill or drain the bed.
To put all together is also time consuming and requires extra effort.
It comes with strong odor like foam bed and also takes some time to let the bed air out.
Single bladder model transfer nearly all your movements to the whole mattress and your partner feel waves produced by movements. It’s nightmare for light sleepers.
In the winter, you have to heat up the bed to maintain a comfortable and regulated temperature. Heating water consumes a lot of energy and increases extra cost.
Obviously, waterbed isn’t a good bed for romance and many owners report the similar bad experience.
How to choose memory foam mattress
Regardless of sizes, the price of memory foam mattress is ranging from $100 to $8000 and you get thousands of models offered by hundreds of manufacturers. That makes choosing a mattress more difficult. Many brands are removing specification details from product description such as density and ILD. Some mattresses are only available online and don’t have a floor model in a retail store so that we can’t test drive and know how it feels. All these add more difficulty and complication. However, we still can find well-suited mattress depending on information below.
DensityWe find mattress manufacturers start to remove density details from product description and they’re not willing to let customers know how dense the foam is. Density is an important factor affecting foam performance and has a direct link with pressure relief, durability, heat trap, initial odor, break-in period, etc. Fortunately, most manufacturers still provide mattress specifications unless you send them email. Density is divided into three groups, low density 2.5 – 3.9 lbs/ft, medium 4 – 5.4 lbs/ft and high 5.5 lbs – more. High dense foam has a long lifespan, does better in removing pressure points and back pain relief. However, it also has drawbacks, trapping more heat, giving off more odors and longer response time. Denser foam is more temperature sensitive than weight sensitive. Therefore, high density feels a little bit firmer when you first lie on and then it will soften as your body heat gathers. That results in longer break-in period. Of course the firmness also changes as indoor temperature changes. Memory foam becomes a bit firmer in winter and softer in summer. Low density foam is less heat sensitive. Whether low, medium or high dense foam has little difference in motion isolation and cradling comfort. Different sizes of people probably have different experience on the same density foam. According to our research, persons of normal body build, about 120 – 220 lbs, have comfortable experience on all three groups of density foam. Heavy or big persons over 230 lbs tend to sink in too much to lose comfort and support. Light persons weighing less than 120 lbs tend not to experience cradling comfort of memory foam because their weight couldn’t squeeze foam to let them sink much, especially on high density foam.
When it comes to firmness, ILD was a measurement directly showing how soft or firm a mattress is. ILD 28 – 32 is medium, the bigger the number is, the firmer the foam is and vice versa. But ILD isn’t an accurate measurement and most mattress manufacturers aren’t interested in showing ILD because two brands usually have different firmness for the same ILD number and it causes misunderstanding. Now they label mattresses with soft, medium, and firm instead. Actually, it’s still not very accurate to tell how soft or firm a mattress is. It would be better if add owner reports. To let you know the firmness more accurately, we record all owner reports and find out how most feel.
Unlike other products, mattress is a more personal thing and one feels sleeping on the cloud while other may don’t like it at all. Even many owners complain their expensive mattress couldn’t compare to the old spring. It explains why overall owner satisfaction ratings of low priced and high priced models are very close. Even if you have a limited budget or don’t want to fork out a fortune, you can still find a comfortable mattress well suited for yourself.
Memory foam has a relatively worse performance in heat dissipation, which makes some people sweat at night. It’s some kind of stubborn issue and there is no effective method to remove. For now, gel foam is the best way to deal with heat retention issue and more and more mattresses use gel foam on top instead of regular foam. This type of foam infused with gel beads sleeps cooler but it doesn’t remove the issue completely and some hot sleepers still feel over warm. Gel foam is more likely firmer than regular memory foam. If you are hot-natured person, gel foam model should be your first consideration.
How to buy an innerspring
If you did research, you could have been told that coil type, coil count and coil gauge are most important factors influence mattress performance. Pocket coil is most widely used coil type. Since each coil is wrapped in a pocket, the mattress is able to contour the shape of your body more and better than other coil types. But it doesn’t bounce back as much as other types. Continuous coil has each coil connected with ones around and this type is durable and supportive. But it delivers motion all over the bed. Bonnell coil has an hour-glass shape and it’s not comparable with other types at any respect. Offset coil does very well in body contouring as pocket coil does. However, all innerspring coil types can’t conform to the body shape as well as memory foam or latex. About coil count and gauge, some guides must have told you that the more count is or the lower the gauge number is, the mattress is better. But that’s not accurate and misleading. Except for those three, many other factors can affect innerspring including number of turns in each coil, type of steel used, construction methods, coil height, coil shape, etc. Therefore, the best way to buy an innerspring mattress is to use innerspring as a support core and add a comfortable top layer. In this way, you can build a durable mattress best suited for yourself and save lots of money.
What kind of innerspring can be a support core? Choose the firm model with thinner padding or comfort layer. Why? Ones with thicker padding are more likely to sag over time which determines your mattress longevity. And remember you need a firm support core. Then you can choose a cloud-feeling comfort layer, the thicker the comfy. Once the top layer is worn out, just throw it away and get another one. This strategy allows you to replace only top layer instead of a whole mattress and extend your mattress lifetime.
How to choose latex mattress
100% latex mattress vs hybrid latex mattress
Generally, you could find two types of latex mattress, 100% all latex and hybrid latex. All latex type means the mattress is made of natural or blended latex totally without any other material. Hybrid latex has a latex comfort layer and poly foam or innerspring support core. However, some brands are offering all latex named mattresses that actually are hybrid models. As for owner satisfaction, two types have little difference and both reduce back pains, isolate motion and good for romance activities.
Compared to hybrid latex, all latex has a longer lifespan of about 8 years and is available in all firmness options. Hybrid ones have average lifespan of 6 years and couldn’t provide very soft version. Multiple firmness options make all latex mattress more friendly to all sleep positions including sleeping on side. There are some owners complaining about off-gassing issue on latex mattress. The odor usually comes from petroleum chemical products like poly foam and memory foam. Actually, all latex made of completely natural rubber merely gives out any odor.
All latex costs much more than hybrid ones. 100% complete latex ranges from $1000 to $6000 and more, while models consisting of latex and foam or innerspring are usually a fraction of low-priced all latex, $250 – $800. If you don’t want spend too much, hybrid latex is a cost-effective choice.
Natural, synthetic, or blended latex
Natural, synthetic and blended latex are most used latex among manufacturers. When you’re choosing latex mattress, try to determine what kind of latex material it’s using. Natural latex is made of pure juice of rubber tree, synthetic is made of styrene and butadiene coming from petro-chemical products, and blended latex is a blend of natural and synthetic latex. No need to explain that natural late is the best. It doesn’t have bad smell or tend to form body impression where you often lie on. It also bounces back and responses instantly. But 100% natural latex has a shortcoming keeping some people away. Due to pure latex material, it’s more likely to cause latex allergy. If you react to natural latex, go for synthetic models as it contains no natural latex and barely cause allergy.
Talalay and Dunlop
Talalay and Dunlop are two manufacture methods in latex industry. None is specifically designed for natural or synthetic latex and manufacturers produce all types of latex by either method. Latex made by both methods is nearly the same at most aspects except a few differences. Based on owner report, Dunlop latex is firm and supportive, great for people who are looking for firm mattress. Talalay latex could be very soft and more cradling so it’s better for people who prefer soft mattress and look for feeling of sleeping in the cloud. On the other hand, Dunlop method makes latex in one piece and Talalay makes several pieces and glue all together. No one is better than the other.
Latex mattress foundation
It’s not necessary but we always recommended giving latex mattress a foundation.
Any foundations that can offer the whole mattress enough support would be ok.
Slated frames should be no more 8 than inches apart.
Latex mattress especially 100% all natural latex mattress is the best option because it has all benefits other types of including memory foam and innerspring but excludes all their flaws, performs better as for disadvantages exactly. It’s also better for any type of body shape and weight. If you have an unlimited budget, all natural latex mattress should be your first choice. If you don’t want spend that much, a mattress with natural latex comfort layer and poly foam or innerspring core would be great too.