Mattress Buying Guide
Last Updated: April 21, 2023
Shopping for a mattress can be a daunting task. With so many different brands, types, and sizes, it’s hard to know where to start. To help you out, we’ve put together this Mattress Buying Guide to help you find the perfect mattress for your needs.
A new mattress is a big expense when you consider that they’re meant to last for ten years or more. Mattresses come in a wide range of prices, so you need to decide what you can realistically afford. Fortunately, there are so many options available at every price level that you are sure to find one that you can afford that will also meet your other needs.
Pricing questions to ask:
- Are there mattresses available within my budget?
- Yes! Mattresses range in price from $100 – $10,000+, so you’ll be able to find something that fits your budget. Before you start looking at mattress options you need to know what you can afford to spend on a new bed.
- Is there financing available?
- Yes, most retailers offer some kind of financing. At Gardner White, we offer up to 60 months of interest-free financing. Apply now for the Gardner White Credit Card to take advantage of our current financing promotions.
- Are mattress prices negotiable?
- No. While this used to be the case in the past, mattress retailers switched to offering different discounts throughout the year. At Gardner White, we’ll match or beat any competitor’s price as part of our Best Sleep Guarantee.
The right comfort type for you is not necessarily the right comfort for everyone else. This is why there are so many different comfort options in mattresses. It can get pretty confusing when there are titles like ‘plush’, ‘soft’, ‘extra firm’, ‘medium’, ‘firm’, etc. What you need to consider is what feels good to you to lay on, and if that comfort type supports your body while relieving pressure.
Comfort questions to ask:
- What is the difference between plush and soft? Firm and ultra-firm? Medium vs. firm or plush/soft?
- There are many different comfort types available and understanding each can be difficult without some help. Mattress experts would be the best people to ask about these differences. They can explain each one and how they relate to one another. Also, if you visit them in a mattress store, they can assist you in trying out the different comforts so that you can get an in-depth understanding of how each feels.
- How can I make my mattress more comfortable?
- Replace it with a new mattress. If your current mattress is uncomfortable, particularly if it’s an older mattress (around 8-10 years old), then replacing it is the smart decision. However, if you’re just looking to make the mattress a little bit softer then you can achieve this by adding a mattress topper for extra padding.
- What’s the most comfortable mattress for me?
- This one is a bit tricky. No mattress comfort is ideal for every person, which is why they come in so many different types. The better question to ask is ‘what is the most comfortable mattress for me?’. It will be the one that relieves all the excess pressure in your body while also providing conforming comfort. Speaking with a mattress expert will help you find the most comfortable mattress.
How a mattress supports your body by aligning your spine correctly is a very important factor to consider when mattress shopping. The tricky part is that while a mattress might feel good to you while you’re awake and laying on it in a showroom, it might not be the best for supporting your body properly. A way to gauge this is to see if your hips and shoulders are supported so that your spine is properly aligned when you lay on the bed on your back and on your side.
Support questions to ask:
- Will the mattress support my body?
- All mattresses are designed to have people sleeping on them. However, not every mattress will properly support every body type. You should know if one will or will not work for your individual body shape, size, and sleep position.
- Does the mattress have edge support?
- Edge support is a good thing to have for people who roll around while sleeping and those who sit on the edge of the bed. A lack of edge support can lead to discomfort and may deform the mattress over time.
- Can a mattress topper negatively impact support?
- No, not usually because the support comes from the core materials in the mattress and a topper usually doesn’t have enough material to affect support. Mattress toppers are only meant to provide additional comfort and have almost nothing to do with support.
The three primary types of mattresses are innerspring, memory foam, and hybrid which is a mix of the first two types of mattresses. These are the types that can be found in pretty much any bedding showroom anywhere. Here is a breakdown of the types of mattresses and the styles that are available:
The three primary types of innerspring mattresses are pillow tops, tight tops, and euro tops. A pillow top mattress has a large added cushion at the top. A euro top mattress is a bit like the pillowtop, but it’s sewn so that the top doesn’t float as freely and there’s usually a little less material in the top. The tight top is the most common innerspring type with a tufted or semi-flat surface.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Always a solid slab type of mattress usually made with several different layers and types of memory foam. These are one combined core of foams with a cover and a flat, smooth feel to the top. The idea behind a memory foam bed is to allow your body to sink in thereby creating a contour unique to your body shape.
This is the best of both worlds, hybrid beds have an innerspring base with memory foam layers on top. The springs are there to provide support while the memory foam layers give you conforming comfort. They’re made exclusively as a tight top style with a smooth, flat feel to the top of the bed.
Mattress type and style questions to ask:
- Which type of mattress works best for me?
- The mattress that is best for you is the one that conforms to your body perfectly, is comfortable, is within your budget, and supports you while you sleep. There is no single mattress that will work for every person, unfortunately. Asking a sleep expert will help you understand which mattress would be ideal for you personally.
- What’s the difference between a pillowtop mattress and a eurotop mattress?
- A pillow top bed has extra material built into its top and is sewn to look like it has a loose layer, or a big ‘pillow’, on its top. The euro top bed is similar, it has the extra material in it but it doesn’t get sewn to look like it’s loose, it more looks like it is just stretching up out of the mattress.
- What is a hybrid mattress?
- A hybrid bed is made with both memory foam and an innerspring system. It gives you the stable support of an innerspring support system with the conforming comfort and pressure relief of a memory foam top. This mattress is the best of both worlds!
There are six main standard sizes of mattresses available from almost all mattress manufacturers. In descending order of size, they are king, cal king (California king), queen, full, twin XL, and twin. Split king is another size option, but that is just two twin XL beds paired together. What size mattress you need depends on many factors. You must consider available space, ease of movement throughout the home, the number of people sleeping on the bed, the size of the people sleeping on the bed, and many more. If you’re unsure about mattress dimensions, here’s a handy guide to help you:
- King size mattress dimensions: 76″ wide by 80″ long
- Cal king size mattress dimensions: 72” wide by 84” long
- Queen size mattress dimensions: 60” wide by 80” long
- Full size mattress dimensions: 54” wide by 75” long
- Twin XL size mattress dimensions: 39” wide by 80” long
- Twin size mattress dimensions: 39” wide by 75” long
Mattress size questions to ask:
- How tall is the mattress?
- Mattresses range from roughly 5” to 18” tall so knowing how tall, or how thick the mattress measures can be a crucial factor in your purchase decision. Adding a standard foundation, or box spring, adds another 9″ to the overall height. With a frame, or a bed set, you’re looking at a height that can get up to over 30″ tall making it difficult to get into or out of bed.
- Are there mattress sizes other than the traditional ones?
- Yes, some other sizes that are not as widely available are Full XL, Wyoming King, and Olympic Queen. It is also possible to get a mattress built to custom dimensions. The traditional six sizes are the only ones that are widely available from most retailers.
- What is the difference in mattress sizes?
- Refer to the above chart with dimensions if you need those, but, the basic idea is to provide a size option for as many different potential scenarios as possible. For example, young kids sleeping on a twin size, teenagers sleeping on a full size, a married couple sleeping on a king, a taller person sleeping on a cal king, and so on. The different sizes are to provide options for many different people in many different situations.
Mattress manufacturers have begun using more advanced technologies to create beds that address their consumer’s wants and needs. For instance, one of the newer updates to memory foam is to include gel to address overheating and body-conforming. Some features are reserved only for more luxurious models while basic materials are used in more economical models. Here is a short list of the most popular features that can be found in many of today’s mattress models:
- Motion separation
- Body conforming
- Tencel material
- Latex foam
- Memory foam
- Wrapped innerspring coils
- Edge support
Mattress feature questions to ask:
- What features in a mattress matter the most?
- That depends on what you want from the mattress beyond just a sleeping surface. Do you sleep hot? Do you need edge support? Are coils going to support you better than memory foam? What really matters the most is support, comfort, and pressure relief.
- What mattress features should I be looking for?
- First, define your sleep situation. What is your sleep position? Do you sleep hot? Do you like the feel of memory foam? Do you have a sleep partner to consider? Then, the features that are most important for your individual scenario will be apparent.
- What are the best mattress features?
- The best features are the ones that offer the best reward. Things like double innerspring coils, micro coils, gel memory foam, silk, and cashmere are features most often found in premium luxury mattress models. The higher the quality of the mattress, the better the features available.
Once you’ve decided to purchase a new mattress, the excitement surrounding sleeping on your new bed is palpable. The last thing that you want to do is wait a long time to get it delivered. Consider your delivery options with each retailer when you’re shopping for your new mattress. Some mattress stores might have to order the bed for you and others often have it in stock with delivery as early as the same day!
On the other hand, maybe you need to wait a while before you take delivery. Perhaps the house is being built, or your new lease doesn’t start for a while, etc. It’s important to know if the retailer can hold your order until a later date for delivery at your convenience.
Delivery questions to ask:
- How fast can I get my mattress?
- At Gardner White, we offer free same-day delivery. Not all mattress retailers can offer that service so you should certainly know if your delivery is going to take a long time. It can be frustrating to have to wait to get your new bed.
- Can I schedule my mattress delivery for a much later date?
- Most mattress retailers will be willing to work with you if you have to wait a while before you can accept delivery. However, there are some mattress stores that cannot hold inventory for a long period of time so you should ask upfront if a hold can be put on your delivery. This is often the case when you have yet to move, or the house is being built, or renovated and you cannot have new furniture delivered for a while.
- Do you offer white glove delivery?
- White glove delivery is where the delivery team brings the mattress into your home and sets up the new mattress. In many cases, the service will also include the removal of your old mattress. There are some retailers who cannot offer this type of service but at Gardner White, we offer white glove delivery on qualifying mattress purchases.
Since a new mattress is an item that’s meant to last for ten years or more, a manufacturer’s warranty is a topic to consider whilst mattress shopping. The standard warranty that most manufacturers offer is a ten-year pro-rated warranty against manufacturer defects. This means that the warranty will cover things like excessive sag, foam separation, or weak stitching. It also means that it will not cover anything that is due to normal wear and tear.
At Gardner White, we offer the Best Sleep Guarantee which gives you peace of mind for 180 days after you purchase a new bed. We guarantee you will enjoy sleeping on your new mattress!
A mattress needs to be supported by something more than just a flat surface. Since you’re going to be using the mattress every day for multiple years, whatever you place the mattress on needs to be sturdy and supportive of everything on top of it, the mattress, blankets, pillows, and YOU! There are three basic types of foundations for a mattress:
A traditional box spring is one where a set of springs within the box work with the mattress to provide support for your body. A foundation, which is far more common these days, is designed to provide a flat, supportive surface for a mattress to rest on and it will last just as long, if not longer, than the mattress. The good news here is that they come in two types, regular 9″ height, and low profile 5″ height. The low-profile foundation option is no different than the regular foundation, it’s just a bit shorter to accommodate taller mattresses.
Adjustable bases offer movement to your bed which has many benefits. It can provide extra comfort, a little bit of luxury, and also some health benefits as well. Being able to lift your legs and upper torso can alleviate sleep apnea, acid reflux, snoring, arthritis, and joint pain. Some adjustable base models also offer premium features like massage, under-bed lighting, USB charging ports, wireless remotes, phone app compatibility, and programmable preferred positioning.
Many newer styles of bed sets come complete with a slat system or a platform designed to support just a mattress thereby eliminating the need for an additional foundation. These bed sets include headboards, footboards, rails, and some kind of central support system. Optionally, you can sometimes include an adjustable base in with a bedroom set, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Need Further Assistance?
If you require more help than what is in this Mattress Buying Guide, you can speak to one of our sleep experts at one of our local stores, chat with one online, or call us at (586) 774-8853. Here at Gardner White, we’re here to help you get your best sleep, guaranteed!
About the Author, Dave Higgins
Dave Higgins is a mattress expert with Gardner White and has been in the mattress industry for over ten years in one capacity or another. His interests include playing stringed instruments, oil painting, cooking for his family, and the hilarity that English Bulldogs offer to the world.