The Complete Guide to Buying a New Mattress
Given that you spend more than a third of your life in bed, you want to come home every day to a comfy place to lie on and receive a good night’s rest. But looking to buy a new mattress can be a confusing and frustrating process. Selecting a suitable mattress based on material composition, price, and other factors involves undertaking extensive research on each of these facets. This can be extremely daunting, given the wide spectrum of mattress brands and retailers available both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
While it is a little tougher to shop online for a right mattress, there are many advantages in doing so.
Apart from being cheaper and much more convenient, most online merchants allow you to test out a mattress for a period of time after purchasing. On the off chance that you are not completely satisfied, you are given the option of returning the mattress for a full refund. That way, there is less risk associated with making the purchase and also less pressure on you to buy. Compare this with buying a product in-store, where you often get salespeople hovering over you every five minutes as you browse. You probably also cannot change your mind once the mattress is used either as there is generally no refund policy for purchases made in-store.
We will show you what to look for, how to choose the right mattress product, beds and basics, and navigate the online shopping experience to ensure that you are fully informed of everything you need to know about finding your ideal mattress type before you make your final purchase.
Keep reading to learn how to buy a mattress online and feel free to revisit this guide anytime you need to refresh your memory when making a purchase.
How firm should your mattress be?
Because comfort is often subjective, it is crucial to find the mattress that feels right for you.
Firmness describes how soft or hard a mattress feels. Some people prefer a softer mattress they can sink right into, while others prefer a firmer mattress for additional back support. Depending on how you sleep, some parts of your body require additional support to keep the spine well-aligned with the entire form.
Ideally, you want a mattress that is firm enough to elevate and hold up your lumbar spine, but also soft enough to curve against the top of your thoracic spine and pelvis. This is fundamental to maintain comfort and helps avoid aches and pains when you lie down.
Firmness scale rating
- Mattress firmness is assigned using a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being extra soft and 10 being extra firm.
- Mattresses are rarely available at both ends of this scale, as most people tend to favour a mattress that falls between 3 (or ‘soft’) to 8 (or ‘extra firm) on the firmness scale.
- A mattress of medium firmness generally provides a healthy balance of comfort and support to give you a good night’s sleep, but where you sit on this scale comes down to your personal preferences.
- Extra soft (1-2)
An extra soft mattress registers between 1 and 2 on the mattress firmness scale. This makes them the least firm out of all mattresses hence hardly any mattresses are listed as a 1 on the firmness scale.
These mattresses provide the least amount of support among all the levels of mattress firmness since the sleep surface will sink very deeply and conform closely.
Sleeping on a mattress like that is only going to hurt your spine, but is likely to be extremely uncomfortable as well.
- Soft (3-4)
Soft mattresses generally sink somewhere between 1.5 to 3 inches when slept on. These mattresses offer a good amount of body contouring. This means that when you lie on them, they mould perfectly to your body shape and hug it.
Softer mattresses provide much-needed comfort for those who sleep on their sides and suffer from shoulder or hip pain when sleeping on a firmer mattress.
They are, however, not as conducive for back and stomach sleepers.
- Medium (5-6)
Medium-balanced beds are perhaps the most popular firmness option on the market.
They are best suited for people who require a softer mattress surface to aid in pressure-point relief but who also need more central support compared to what a regular soft mattress can offer.
Depending on your personal preferences, you can either go for the average 6 or something even softer in the area of 5 out of 10 on the mattress firmness rating.
But do note that these mattresses are not ideal for people who require a lot of back support when they sleep.
- Firm (7-8)
Mattresses ranging from slightly to more firm do not provide as much curvature and sinkage as mattresses of medium firmness.
These mattresses fall between 7 and 8 on the mattress firmness scale, giving a nice level of contour while providing an ample amount of back support.
Unlike a softer mattress, medium firm mattresses will usually have a noticeable amount of bounce. They work well for a wide range of body types and sleep positions from heavier sleepers to combination sleepers who frequently switch positions throughout the night.
- Extra firm (9-10)
Falling between 9 to 10 range on the mattress firmness scale, extra firm mattresses provide the most support out of all of the available mattress options. But much like extra soft mattresses, not many mattresses have a 10 in firmness.
The top layers and inner composition of an extra firm mattress is designed to keep your body afloat the mattress instead of sinking into it.
While some people find an extra firm mattress pleasant to sleep on, those who require more cushion might find them too solid for their comfort.
Ideal mattress firmness for your sleeping position
If you are unsure what firmness level is right for you, consider your weight and sleeping position to narrow down what works best.
Most people tend to adopt one of the three main categories for sleeping styles. These are the side, stomach or back sleepers. There are also those who alternate between the three positions, making them the combination sleeper.
Knowing your favourite sleeping posture can bring you another step closer to identifying your ideal mattress. This would be the position that helps you fall asleep and the position you find yourself waking up to. Once you have identified your preferred sleeping position, you will have a better grasp of the ideal firmness scale and level that caters to your sleep style.
- Side sleepers
- Stomach sleepers
- Back sleepers
- Combination sleepers
What type of mattress to choose?
The next thing to look at is the types of mattresses that are available and narrow down your choices to find a bed that suits your needs perfectly.
While the process of selecting a mattress essentially boils down to your personal preference, there is a range of mattress models and styles available on the market with the most common materials being the memory foam, innerspring, pocketed spring, latex and hybrid mattresses.
This section will outline the pros and cons and price range for the different mattress types to help you whittle down your options and avoid being overawed with options when shopping online.
- Memory foam mattress
As its name implies, memory foam mattresses are made predominantly of foam. These mattresses have a low average price point and an average lifespan of 7 years.
Memory foam creates the sensation of sinking into a mattress and being embraced. This type of cushion is known to mould into your body shape when you press your weight against it, slowly regaining its original shape once the weight is lifted. This extra cushioning and support also makes memory foam perfect for side sleepers and those with physical ailments due to the vast amount of pressure relief they provide for sensitive areas like the shoulders, hips and lower back.
Another unique property of memory foam is that it keeps motion transfer to a minimum. For this reason, the mattress is ideal for light sleepers who are easily affected by any movement your partner makes during sleep.
One of the most common issues that people experience with memory foam is that the material retains heat. So, if you are someone who gets warm when sleeping, you may want to consider memory foam materials that incorporate gel-infused cooling agents.
- Innerspring mattress
One of the most popular and widely used mattress types, innerspring mattresses primarily incorporate coiled springs as the mattress foundation.
These beds work best for those in need of major support namely back sleepers, stomach sleepers and heavier sleepers. They also serve as a bouncier option to a foam finish which can oftentimes feel a bit too solid.
While the innersprings do lend some support to the body, they fall short in terms of pressure relief and are not as effective in absorbing bed movement. This is because the steel coils are intertwined into a single unit so that with every movement your partner makes, the coils will react as a cohesive unit.
Innerspring mattresses are one of the most popular on the market due to their relative affordability. Although this is due to the material wearing out faster since the coils become depressed with the pressure over the years, causing the mattress to sag and stiffen.
You may find yourself having to replace an innerspring mattress sooner than you would another type of bed.
- Pocketed spring mattress
Perhaps the more advanced of spring-base mattresses, a pocketed spring mattress has up to 3000 springs interwoven into each fabric pocket. They can be custom-built with differing firmness on each side, allowing your body weight to be evenly spread out for maximum support.
When you lie on the mattress, the open-spring formation inside will compress and provide a comfortable level of resistance to each pressure point. They can also be adjusted to soft, medium or solid tensions depending on how you like your mattress. Additionally, by making use of the stand-alone pocketed coil technology, the mattress is able to provide equal support to a couple sleeping together despite their differing body weights. That way, both parties experience reduced motion transfer during the night which results in a more restful night’s sleep.
Pocketed spring mattresses also offer superior ventilation by utilising an open-spring formation that promotes air movement better than their foam counterparts. This helps the mattress feel less stuffy which can improve comfort.
That said while the individual coils in a pocket spring mattress are designed to respond better to your bodyweight, it also runs the risk of wearing these coils out faster due to constant pressure exerted over the years.
- Latex mattress
Mattresses made of latex are generally durable and ideal for individuals prone to allergies given that they prevent dust mites from collecting.
If fancy having that extra bounce in your mattress, latex can be a good option especially if you are a combination sleeper who needs to be able to move around and change positions with ease throughout the night.
Latex is also a good choice for those whose partners tend to toss and turn while sleeping. The material stifles motion, meaning you are unlikely to experience the effects of your partner moving about in bed. This allows the both of you to get a better night's sleep. But despite being relatively soft and cosy, the mattress does not provide the same sinking experience you get from a memory foam mattress. This means latex may not be the best fit for those who require deep pressure relief at the shoulders or hip.
Latex mattresses generally have a longer-than-average lifespan of up to 8½ years and a higher average price point compared to other types of beds.
- Hybrid mattress
One of the newest mattress types is the hybrid mattress, which combines the outstanding qualities of memory foam and spring mattresses to create a durable and comfortable sleeping surface with excellent support.
Hybrid mattresses work well for a wide range of sleepers, in particular for back sleepers and combination sleepers due to the added support they provide. The foam material alleviates pressure from sensitive body parts like the hips and shoulders by dispersing your weight evenly over the surface. At the same time, the coils enhance bounce, airflow and good edge support to make getting on and off the mattress easier.
The mattress also employs the stand-alone pocketed coil technology where the sleeper receives less motion transfer at night, resulting in a more comfortable rest for anyone who sleeps on it. And because these mattresses come in a foam finish, you are less likely to develop allergies from mattress material. In terms of cost, hybrid mattresses are known to be one of the most expensive options despite having a relatively shorter average lifespan of 6 years.
What size mattress do you need?
Just as conducive to getting a good night's rest is having all the space you need in order to get comfortable.
Bed sizes accommodate the needs of all sleeping situations. This wide spectrum of options offer sleeping proportions for a young child right up to larger-sized couples and families. Most mattresses are available in five common sizes. They are the single, super single, double, queen and king sizes. Some mattresses are also available in a long single and a super king size.
Finding the right mattress size generally comes down to several factors including your height and overall physique, whether you sleep alone or with a partner, and how you sleep – do you tend to spread-eagle or curl into a foetus?Also, take into consideration how much room space you have for your new mattress, especially if you are looking to get something larger. So, it is important that you measure the size of your room before you go shopping for a new mattress.
Ideally, you not only want a mattress that fits your bedroom and space, but also one that works for your needs and your lifestyle.
Measuring 92 cm wide by 188 cm long, a single bed mattress is the smallest standard bed that you can get. While it boasts a relatively small frame, a single mattress is quite versatile and can be ideal for children or single adults. It is also suitable for individuals with limited space such as those in studio apartments.
- Double mattress
At 153 cm wide and 203 cm long, the queen mattress is the most sought-after mattress size on the market. A queen bed fits perfect in any master bedroom and offers plenty of space for couples or individuals who like some extra room to stretch or move around in bed.
- Long single
- Super king mattress
How to select a proper bed frame?
Buying a new bed frame is an equally important part of the bed shopping process.
When it comes to getting a good night’s rest, people often focus on the mattress itself. What they do not realise is that your bed base can influence how your mattress feels and performs over time. The bed frame you choose certainly affects your sleep quality. An inadequate frame can keep you up at night from the creaking and squeaking alongside the occasional sliding of the mattress that come with any movement you make in bed. This spells the need for a quality frame that is not only devoid of any potential noise pollution but is also sturdy enough to physically support the weight of your mattress. To this end, you want a sturdy bed frame that is able to withstand the heftier and thicker mattresses of today without sagging. This frame will ideally last you in the long run without the need to be replaced every few years or worse, months.
When it comes to selecting a bed frame that is comfortable with a sturdy foundation, wooden and metal bed frames are often at the forefront due to their stability, durability and the general comfort they provide whether you are looking for a single-sized, a super single-size, queen size or king size bed frame.
Read on to find out what to look out for when purchasing a bed frame.
If durability is your main concern, then a metal bed frame is probably your preferred option. The unparalleled strength and power of steel has been known for millennia, and provides outstanding durability when paired with metal slats to bridge each side of the bed frame. While metal frames of the past did not have a centre support to support heavier individuals or multiple sleepers, the newly reinforced models have since addressed this issue. For this reason, newer metal frames are also less prone to damage and can maintain their appearance over time. Compared to wooden bed frames which are susceptible to scratches and stains, metal retains its pristine condition many years down the line. However, metal frames do rust easily and need regular cleaning, which can be a chore. This makes wood the more low-maintenance option of the two if you want something that requires minimal care.
With metal beds, because your mattress sits on the slats, it can be troublesome and difficult to adjust, which deters you from adjusting the tension to provide wider or reduced support.
Wooden slats, on the other hand, offer greater flexibility than metal alternatives, as wood moulds into your preferred sleeping position for greater flexibility. This keeps you comfortable enough at night to receive the requisite eight hours of sleep.
Wooden bed frames are the preferred option for a more soundproof sleep. Due to the rigid nature of the material, the bed structure is less likely to separate, thus producing less noise. In general, beds that are low in quality and built to a lesser standard are by extension less rigid and hence more prone to squeaking and creaking regardless of their material.
Given that the bed is the centrepiece of the bedroom, there is also a need to consider the style of bed frame that is perfect for you. Ideally, you want something that oozes grace and elegance, catching the eye of anyone that sees it.
Wooden bed frames are available in a range of shapes and designs, from an elegant four-poster that sits right at home in a French provincial-style interior to a contemporary sleigh bed that inculcates modernity and comfort into the bedroom. Based on your preference, you can also opt to have the wooden frame custom-tailored with the help of different types of wood and stains for a distinct style that matches the thematic design of your bedroom compared with a pre-constructed bed frame.
Conversely, uplifting colours work best for a children’s bedroom. A brightly-coloured metal bed frame can make a bold statement and imbues the room with a childlike debonair.
What style of bed frame to choose?
Finding the right bed frame goes beyond the build and construct.
As the supporting framework of a mattress, there are so many other factors to consider when it comes to choosing the style of bed frame that is perfect for you, from the colour and design to your desire for storage space. There is also the question of whether a box spring is necessary? What about a headboard and footboard? Shall you go for a double-decker or a loft bed? Will a sleigh bed look too extravagant? What is a mid-century bed and will it fit into a contemporary interior?
If sifting through all the different types of bed frames and their variety of styles has you feeling overwhelmed, here is a list of the most common bed frame designs along with their respective pros and cons.
- Platform bed frame
When it comes to the different types of beds, the platform bed is one of the most sought-after frame styles. A platform bed can be characterised by an elevated base that spans the perimeter of the frame with the middle section featuring rows of wooden slates or lattice panels meant to provide a mattress with ample support.
The platform is designed to offer adequate and flexible support for a mattress to make climbing in and out of bed easier without the need for a box spring to help raise the height of the mattress for convenience purposes. For this reason, the cost of purchasing a platform bed is generally more affordable since you do not need to spend extra for a box spring to go with the frame.
Platform bed frames are also one of the best frame styles if you have a small apartment. Some platform beds come with a built-in storage solution, helping you save more space. Their sleek design occupies minimal floor space, which helps the place appear less cluttered. That said, the bed can be positioned quite closely to the ground which makes getting on and off of the bed a chore. For those who experience back or knee problems, think about whether this is something you can cope with on the daily.
- Storage bed frame
- Sleigh bed frame
- Canopy bed frame
Occasionally referred to as a four-poster, canopy beds have been increasingly popular in recent years due to the sleeker and contemporary designs gleaned in their newer models.
- Daybed bed frame
- Bunk bed frame
- Cast iron bed frame
- Mid-century modern bed frame
Should you buy a mattress in-store or online?
Now that we have gone through all the different types of mattresses and bed frames available, the next step is to explore the pros and cons of shopping for a mattress online versus in a physical store.
In this section, we will explore which option has the quickest delivery, the best value for money, the highest quality beds and the most flexible return policies. That way, you can better understand which method is the right one for you.
Online shopping, on the other hand, offers the convenience of browsing any time of the day, in the comfort of your own home. There is no need for you to spend all day travelling from one store to another for the sake of checking out what each place has to offer when websites are available for access, just about anywhere.
Another benefit to online shopping is that your mattress will arrive right at your doorstep. With mattresses that come compressed in a box, all you have to do is remove it from the packaging, position it on your bed frame before leaving it to decompress on its own. That said, buying online is not without its drawbacks. For one, the option of helping to set up the new mattress and remove the old one may not be offered by the seller.
In some cases, you may need to personally arrange for a waste management company to haul away the old mattress at a significant fee. This is where buying from retail stores provides you with the assurance that they have own professional movers who will not only deliver the mattress to your house but also place it on the bed frame for you and take away any old mattresses at the same time. While this sometimes comes at an extra cost, it ultimately saves you the time and effort of having to engage someone for the task as well as being cheaper on average. This is a huge benefit to buying in store, especially for those who lack the physical capability to lift heavy items.
- Customer service
If you appreciate the idea of having someone around to offer you professional advice on the go, shopping in-store is perhaps the best choice for you as the salespeople are more likely to possess a high level of expertise that will steer you towards selecting the ideal mattress. However, buying any sorts of products in a store often leads to pressure to buy, given that the salesperson is constantly breathing down your neck. Not everyone wants to be approached every few seconds to ask if you are ready to make a purchase. Moreover, you may feel obligated to give out your personal details such as your phone number or email at the request of the service staff, potentially opening the floodgates to a series of unsolicited mails and text messages.
These are thankfully scenarios that can be mitigated with online shopping.
For those who prefer not to be surrounded by salespeople while browsing, you will find the more indirect approach to shopping online a more relaxing experience. In fact, established e-commerce stores often have a phone hotline or live chat option where customers can approach staff for helpful information that will assist them in cross-comparing mattresses based on their specifications and materials. This means you can ask questions about a product online without the presence of hovering salespeople to answer any queries you may have. It even gives you time to process what you have learned without them around to push you for an answer. So, if you would rather make your own purchase decision without a second opinion, online shopping is definitely the way to go otherwise you would probably prefer to interact with salespeople in stores.
- Trial period
An apparent shortcoming in the online mattress shopping system is to do with testing out a product before you buy it. What this means is that you are most likely unable to experience what your new bed feels like before it arrives in your bedroom. Thankfully, most online mattress retailers offer a trial period where you get to experience your new mattress before deciding if it meets your preferences and expectations. The duration of these periods depends on the merchant. Given the competitiveness of the online market, businesses often offer lengthy trial periods that surpass the usual 90-day trial, with some even lasting up to an entire year. However, not everyone is willing to make their purchase without prior experience trying out a mattress. Being able to assess the item beforehand is perhaps the biggest advantage of shopping in-store for them.
Some people enjoy the experience of taking their time to saunter down the aisles and try out as many beds as you like. This allows you to identify the features you want your mattress to have. But do bear in mind that a mattress can feel drastically different when lying on it briefly versus actually sleeping on it for a few nights in a row.
While this can give you a decent grasp of how comfortable a mattress feels, it is difficult to gauge just how well it suits you until you sleep on it proper. For this reason, the trial periods offered by online retailers may actually lead to more benefits in the long-term.
What to consider when buying a mattress?
Now that we have weighed the pros and cons of purchasing a mattress online versus in-store, the next step is to figure out which merchant, brand or store you want to go with. To point you in the right direction, here are a few notable considerations that will help you make your purchase decision.
- Set a budget
By now, you probably already have a certain type of mattress in mind, are aware of the specifications and materials you would like to have, and perhaps even checked out what others have said about a particular item. With that, it is time to set a budget for your new mattress.
Whether you are looking for something on the higher-end or seeking a more affordable option, there is bound to be a mattress out there for customers with any budget. The online mattress marketplace in particular offers a huge bank for your buck.
- Take note of delivery times and cost
- Study the warranty
In the end, it is entirely up to you to find out exactly what the implications of returning your mattress may be. You want to look into the return policy to understand what it encompasses and how this will affect you, especially if you are not a 100% sure about your purchase be it in terms of the firmness level, material composition or other factors.
We hope that this guide will be useful in walking you through the process of buying a new bed and mattress. To sum things up, here are a few frequently asked questions that you need to know in order to help you better navigate your sofa buying experience.
The first thing is to determine your preferred sleeping position. Whether you are a back, stomach, side or combination sleeper, the way you sleep can affect what works best for you. The ideal mattress is expected to differ from person to person. What feels perfect for a stomach sleeper is not necessarily going to feel the most comfortable for a back sleeper.
- Next you want to decide on what kind of features you prefer and require. Do you want a mattress with cooling qualities? Do you suffer from physical ailments and hence need something that provides pressure relief? Do you sleep better on a foam or spring mattress? It is all about being in tune with your distinct needs and preferences in order to narrow down the perfect mattress that manages to fulfil most of them.