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Mattresses Buying Guide

There is a good deal of intelligent thought that goes into developing and manufacturing a mattress. After all, mattresses are where we rest, recover, and sleep. The same quality thinking can go into your shopping process. That way, when you make the right choice, you'll have a singularly restorative piece of furniture for your home. 

Types of Mattresses

Types of Mattresses

Isn't it odd that we stress out so much about buying a mattress -- a product designed to alleviate stress? But with the variety of mattresses, from standard innerspring to pliable foam to memory foam, it's hard to pick the right one for you. Yes, a test drive in the showroom is important. But with information that explores the different types, you will be able to pick likely candidates out of the sea of beds you'll encounter. Here are the highlights; we'll explore each of them in depth in separate buying guides.

Air Mattresses

Like the name implies, these mattresses are filled with air. A twin-, full-, queen-, or king-size vinyl chamber shaped like a mattress has large valves on one end for inflation and deflation. You may have to pump the mattress full of air by hand, use a hair dryer, or plug in a mechanical pump. Extremely useful for houseguests and temporary sleeping situations, air mattresses can inflate in seconds, and then be deflated, folded, and stored in a bag the size of a pillow.

Bunk Bed Mattresses

Bunk beds are fitted with twin-size mattresses, which can be any kind of your choosing. The standard variety with fabric-covered springs is most typical. Some bunks may have a larger bottom bed, which calls for a full- or double-size mattress. A few European retailers sell mattresses made specifically for their bunk bed frames.

Foam Mattresses

These long-lasting mattresses are filled with a thick slab of foam, a synthetic substance with thousands of tiny air pockets that give it bounce and cushion. These mattresses are easy to custom-order for your specific needs. The foam can be shaped into any size and form, which is helpful if you have a nonstandard or antique bed. Foam mattresses also are available in a variety of densities depending on whether you are a back or side sleeper, and you can layer the densities to achieve a certain feel.

Futon Mattresses

Designed to fit a futon bed frame, these mattresses are flexible enough to bend in the middle, yet supportive enough for nightly sleeping. When not used for sleeping, futon mattresses also serve as lounging or sitting spots, so they have more cushion than a typical mattress. Usually they have a core of foam surrounded by layers of cotton to add plushness.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mimics the qualities of synthetic foam, but it is a natural substance derived from the rubber tree. A latex mattress will have the same springy feel as a foam one. It's a long-lasting and durable material, and it is considered "green" because it comes from a renewable resource.

Mattress Pads

Once you have your mattress in place, you may want to add a pad, which covers the top and wraps around the sides of any size mattress. The pad will protect the mattress from stains as well as wear and tear. It also may perform a specific task, such as waterproofing or bed-bug prevention.

Mattress Toppers

A mattress topper covers only the topmost surface of the mattress and is secured by straps that hook under the corners. A mattress topper is less for protection of the mattress -- though it does provide that -- but is intended primarily to add comfort to the mattress. If you have a firm mattress, for example, you can add cushion to the top with a pillowy mattress topper.

Memory Foam Mattresses

The distinction between a foam mattress and a memory foam mattress lies in the chemical additives that make the polyurethane material temporarily adhesive when exposed to heat. In other words, when your warm body lies on a memory foam mattress, the foam rises and gently adheres to the curves of your limbs. When you get up in the morning, the foam returns to its original shape.

Standard Mattresses

Most mattresses manufactured and sold in the United States are the standard variety, with springy coils covered in padding and fabric. There is a tremendous variety within this vein of mattresses, however, and manufacturers will draw distinctions between their method and another's. Some coils are individually wrapped in fabric. Some are bunched together and topped with varying layers of foam. Some standard mattresses have a pillow top, which is a separate chamber filled with polyester foam attached to the top of the mattress.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Shopping for a mattress can take awhile. To start, you'll want to research the different types so you know what to look for. Then check out a vast mattress showroom filled with lots of types to test drive (or "test sleep"). Also visit a few specialty retailers that sell one brand of mattress, such as Sleep Number or Tempur-Pedic, so you can make comparisons. Finally, ask about delivery service. Will the store dispose of your old mattress? Find out the return policy as well in case you aren't happy with the mattress after sleeping on it a few nights. Will the store come back to pick it up? There are few tasks worse than wrestling a heavy mattress up or down flights of stairs.

Air Mattresses

When you purchase an air mattress, consider who will likely be sleeping on it and where it will most often be used. If the bed is for Grandma and Grandpa, choose one that is extra tall to make getting in and out easier. An extra-tall bed is also good in a basement, because the sleeping surface is farther from the cold floor. On the other hand, if you are buying one to use for kids' sleepovers, choose a low air mattress in case the child slides out, and pick one with an easy-to-clean vinyl cover.

Bunk Bed Mattresses

The mattress you choose for a bunk bed can be any kind that is comfortable to the sleeper. If the retailer recommends a specific mattress for the bed, you would be wise to purchase the two together; the mattress may be a special size or depth to fit the frame.

Foam Mattresses

Long popular in Europe, foam mattresses are becoming popular stateside as well. The feel of a foam mattress is distinct from a standard innerspring mattress, however, so make sure you give it a "test sleep" at the store. Because of the dense material, foam mattresses can be warm; if you don't like that, you may want to add a mattress pad with a breathable cotton cover. Thick, dense foam mattresses can also be very heavy, so make sure your bed frame is sturdy and up to the task.

Futon Mattresses

When you purchase a futon, a mattress will be recommended for it. Because futons don't run standard sizes, make sure the mattress is big enough for the frame. Be sure to purchase a cover for the mattress, which will help protect it from spills. You may want to buy a second cover if the futon is placed where it will get a lot of wear and tear, such as in a dorm room.

Latex Mattresses

Though latex is a commendable choice for its eco-friendly qualities, anyone who is sensitive or allergic to other latex products should avoid these mattresses. "Natural latex" is the term for latex that goes directly from the rubber tree plant to the mattress form without modification or additives. However, without the extra chemical processing, natural latex dries out and becomes flaky more quickly than synthetic latex, so the mattress won't last as long.

Mattress Pads

There is a wide range of prices for mattress pads based on the material and extra features. Basic polyester or cotton pads may cost as little as $15, but deluxe pads with memory foam, down fill, or adjustable heat might cost several hundred dollars.

Mattress Toppers

Like mattress pads, a variety of toppers is available, and the price depends on the feature you are adding to the mattress. Toppers have the advantage of being quick to remove, so you can use one for just one season of the year.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Like other foam mattresses, these tend to be heavy and unwieldy. Before you purchase a memory foam mattress, plan the route it will take through your home and into the bedroom. Make sure your bed can accommodate it, or purchase the complete bed -- mattress, support layer, and frame -- in a set. To protect your investment, you'll want to buy a mattress cover.

Standard Mattresses

The variety and longevity of a standard innerspring mattress differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Once you find one that is comfortable and fits your budget, ask what maintenance you can do to prolong its life. Many mattresses benefit from being flipped and turned periodically to prevent them from developing low spots. Mattresses with pillow tops, however, are not supposed to be flipped. Also ask: Should you buy the companion box spring support piece? And if so, do you have room for a mattress and box spring in your bed frame? Platform beds, for example, usually don't accommodate both.

Bedroom on sale
Grand Down
$73.99 $118.40
at Hayneedle

Even the most comfortable mattress can stand to be a little more comfortable. That's where the Mattress Topper Down Alternative - ...White comes in. This plush topper is filled with down alternative and stitched in a baffle box design to prevent shifting, so you'll have the same consistent comfort every night. This mattress topper is also hyperallergenic, and features a smooth microfiber exterior. read more

Grand Down Mattress Topper Down Alternative - White
Big Tree
$506.82 $671.99
at Hayneedle

Furnish your living area well with the Big Tree Z82556DSFKHK Eastbrook Futon with Khaki Deluxe Spring Full Mattress. The arms of t...his futon are made of solid hardwood and completed in a beautiful finish. Featuring a durable metal frame, the futon is sturdy for extensive use. Its mattress cover is upholstered with machine-tufted polycotton fabric that?s easy to maintain. Add a touch of comfort to your living room with this futon. About Big Tree Big Sleep Founded in 1981, Big Tree has always specialized in solid oak furniture, from filing cabinets to curios. The company started selling futons in 1989, when a vendor asked if Big Tree could make an oak futon frame. All 27 truckloads of the company's oak frames sold like hotcakes. At that time, futons were still a novelty. Small specialty outfits made either frames or mattresses, but not both. As a furniture company, Big Tree knew there was a better way. The company wanted to make it easy for consumers to buy a quality futon, so it created a complete futon package - futon frame, mattress, and cover. Big Tree was also the first to raise futon frames to sofa height for greater ease and comfort. Big Tree is at the forefront of new developments in futon frame styles and mattress technology. The company now manufactures futons, futon covers, and more, all in the USA, proudly employing American workers. read more

Big Tree Z82556DSFKHK Eastbrook Futon with Khaki Deluxe Spring Full Mattress
Slumber Solutions
$129.99-$159.99 $235.00-$295.00
at Overstock.com

The Slumber Solutions Collection 3.5-inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper Features a unique two-piece construction to include a luxuri...ous 2-inch layer of responsive Memory Foam designed to support your body and eliminate pressure points and a 1.5-inch overlay of blended gel fiberfill offers unprecedented individual comfort with enhanced therapeutic support for your entire body. Type: Memory foam Measures 3.5 inches thick, 2 inches of memory foam plus 1.5 inch fiber filled cover Density: 3 pounds Temperature-sensitive memory foam provides the ultimate in comfort Fiberfill provides down-like comfort Gently cradles your body to provide a restful nights sleep Fiber cover offers 3-inch gusset with a stretch-to-fit 17-inch contour skirt Cover thread count: 220 Meets all flammability standards Care instructions: Spot clean Dimensions Twin: 37 inches wide x 73 inches long Full: 52 inches wide x 73 inches long Queen: 58 inches x 78 inches King: 75 inches x 78 inches California king: 70 inches x 82 inches Memory Foam Dos and Donts: To maximize expansion, remove from packaging within 72 hours of receipt. Product arrives tightly packed. Please unwrap and allow 48 hours for product to return to original shape. Being sealed in plastic packaging sometimes traps odors. Air a few hours to remove odor. Due to machine cutting manufacturing processes, there may be slight variances in the dimensions of this product. Due to the nature of Memory Foam the firmness level of each item is unique. Topper dimensions may be slightly smaller than your mattress dimensions. Size has been designed to allow you to easily secure your fitted sheet over your new memory foam topper. read more

Slumber Solutions 3.5-inch Memory Foam and Fiber Mattress Topper
Walmart
$374.98 $487.50
at Walmart

Turn that previously used mattress into a fresh, new mattress with Miracle Sleep Talalay Latex Topper- This medium support topper ...will support and cushion your body for a great night's sleep at a fraction of the cost! It is unlike anything else available on the market- Inexpensive alternative to replacing an old or uncomfortable mattress- Portable and can be taken with you for traveling and camping excursions- It disperses body heat and maintains a neutral temperature environment- Washable removeable zippered cover- Extremely durable, it maintains its shape and has a 20 year life span SKU: MRCS149 read more

Miracle Sleep DTXLMD001-3 Super Comfort Latex 3 inch Topper Twin XL- Medium Support
Simmons
$53.99-$89.99 $120.00-$220.00
at Overstock.com

Comfortpedic Loft from Beautyrest Big Bump means big comfort. The sculpted foam design provides support and additional air flow fo...r improved comfort. Memory foam is designed to reduce motion transfer and distribute weight evenly to help relieve stress points and muscle tension. Measures 3 inches thick Density: 3lbs Twin: 37 inches wide x 73 inches long Full: 52 inches wide x 73 inches long Queen: 58 inches wide x 78 inches long King: 75 inches wide x 78 inches long Cal King: 70 inches wide x 82 inches long Originally designed for NASA, this space age foam cradles your body, reducing pressure points that cause tossing and turning Eliminates motion transfer and uncomfortable pressure points Disperses your weight evenly Helps rejuvenate tired muscles and eases back pain Meets all flammability standards Memory Foam Tips: To maximize memory foam expansion; remove from packaging within 72 hours of receipt. This product arrives very tightly packed. Please unwrap and allow 48 hours for this product to return to its original shape. Being sealed in plastic packaging sometimes traps odors. A few hours of airing usually removes the odor. Due to machine cutting manufacturing processes, there may be slight variances in the dimensions of this product. Due to the nature of Memory Foam the firmness level of every item is unique. Topper dimensions may be slightly smaller than your mattress dimensions. Size has been designed to allow you to easily secure your fitted sheet over your new memory foam topper. read more

Beautyrest Big Bump 3-inch Convoluted Memory Foam Topper
Brooklyn Bedding
$294.00-$404.00 $394.00-$504.00
at Brooklyn Bedding

Need improved comfort and support for your existing mattress? Introducing the 3" latex mattress topper; a thick, comfy mattress pa...d that contours the shape of your body, promoting proper spinal alignment and support for a good nights rest. Our talalay toppers come in 6 different firmness levels - there is a perfect firmness just for you. Our latex mattress toppers are very durable and naturally hypoallergenic, antibacterial, dust mite resistant, and mold and mildew proof! Encased in free bamboo cover - which is also hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and dust mite resistant - our topper ensures you wake up feeling refreshed and better than ever! Don't know what firmness to get? Speak with one of our agents to ensure the best fit. 3" Latex Mattress Topper - Blended Talalay (60S/40N) by Latex International Sleeps cool, won't retain heat Hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and antibacterial Free bamboo cover Custom sizes available, inquire for more information   Forms To Your Shape Latex Mattress Toppers gently contour the shape of your body for the ultimate pressure relief and support. Sleeps Cool Latex Mattress Toppers naturally sleep cool, don't retain heat, and have air passage ways to assist in cooling. Need improved comfort and support for your existing mattress? Introducing the 3" latex mattress topper; a thick, comfy mattress pad that contours the shape of your body, promoting proper spinal alignment and support for a good nights rest. Our talalay toppers come in 6 different firmness levels - there is a perfect firmness just for you. Our latex mattress toppers are very durable and naturally hypoallergenic, antibacterial, dust mite resistant, and mold and mildew proof! Encased in free bamboo cover - which is also hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and dust mite resistant - our topper ensures you wake up feeling refreshed and better than ever! Don't know what firmness to get? Speak with one of our agents to ensure the best fit. 3" Latex Mattress Topper - Blended Talalay (60S/40N) by Latex International Sleeps cool, won't retain heat Hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and antibacterial Free bamboo cover Custom sizes available, inquire for more information   Forms To Your Shape Latex Mattress Toppers gently contour the shape of your body for the ultimate pressure relief and support. Sleeps Cool Latex Mattress Toppers naturally sleep cool, don't retain heat, and have air passage ways to assist in cooling. Why shop with us? Personalized firmness Highest quality latex in the industry Factory direct, no middle man Ships within 2-3 days Oeko-Tex Certified Free shipping on all products, always! Our Guarantee 30 Day Trial Try our product for 30 days, free exchange less shipping ($50). 30 Day Return Policy Don't like it? Return it for a flat fee of $75. 3 Year Warranty No non sense warranty, if it's our fault we'll fix it. Made in the USA Built with all USA made products. When you buy from us, you buy direct! read more

3 inch Talalay Latex Mattress Topper
Splendorest
$69.99-$119.99 $94.59-$172.49
at Overstock.com

The Splendorest 3-inch slab memory foam topper is a great way to rejuvenate an existing mattress. The 3-inch slab memory foam topp...er adds new life by providing head-to-toe support for total comfort and restful sleep. Materials: Visco elastic memory foam Mattress measurement: 3 inches thick Density: 2.5 pound density Cover: Not included Care instructions: Spot clean Memory foam resistant to dust mites and naturally antimicrobial Originally designed for NASA, this space age foam cradles the body, reducing pressure points that cause tossing and turning Temperature sensitive foam adjusts to body temperature Improves circulation Disperses weight evenly Meets all flammability standards Dimensions: Twin: 34 inches wide x 72 inches long x 3 inches thick Full: 50 inches wide x 72 inches long x 3 inches thick Queen: 56 inches wide x 76 inches long x 3 inches thick King: 74 inches wide x 76 inches long x 3 inches thick Memory Foam Tips: Remove from packaging within 72 hours of receipt to maximize memory foam expansion. This product arrives very tightly packed. Unwrap and allow 48 hours for this product to return to its original shape. Being sealed in plastic packaging sometimes traps odors. After unwrapping, allow product to air for a few hours. Due to machine-cutting manufacturing processes, there may be slight variances in the dimensions of this product. Due to the nature of Memory Foam the firmness level of every item is unique. Please be advised that even similar products may produce different firmness results. Once opened this product is non-returnable. read more

Splendorest 3-inch Slab Memory Foam Topper
Dream Form
$98.99-$206.77 $249.99-$499.99
at Overstock.com

Dream Form fresh gel memory foam is the first odorless, breathable and plant-based mattress topper. The topper provides the cradli...ng comfort of memory foam and the support of gel, relieving pressure points and neutralizing foam odor. Thickness: 2.5 Density: 3 pounds Cover: Nano-tex Coolest Comfort Cover Cover care instructions: Machine washable Memory foam is resistant to dust mites and is naturally antimicrobial Originally designed for NASA, this space age foam cradles your body, reducing pressure points that cause tossing and turning Temperature sensitive foam adjusts to your body temperature so you stay warm Improves circulation while reducing pressure points that can disrupt your sleep Meets all flammability standards Dimensions Twin: 2.5 inches high x 38 inches wide x 74 inches long Full: 2.5 inches high x 53 inches wide x 74 inches long Queen: 2.5 inches high x 59 inches wide x 79 inches long King: 2.5 inches high x 75 inches wide x 79 inches long California king: 2.5 inches high x 71 inches wide x 83 inches long Memory Foam Tips: Remove from packaging within 72 hours of receipt to maximize memory foam expansion. This product arrives very tightly packed. Unwrap and allow 48 hours for this product to return to its original shape. Being sealed in plastic packaging sometimes traps odors. After unwrapping, allow product to air for a few hours. Due to machine-cutting manufacturing processes, there may be slight variances in the dimensions of this product. Due to the nature of Memory Foam the firmness level of every item is unique. read more

Dream Form Fresh 2.5-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper with Cover
Sealy
$967.50 $2,149.99
at Kohl's

Cozy up in true comfort. This Sealy mattress delivers support that will leave you smiling, morning after morning. In white. Featu...res 12"H x 76"W x 80"D 3" viscoelastic memory foam 2" resilient transitional foam 7" high-density base foam Molds to your body Knit jacquard cover Construction and Care Polyurethane foam/polyester Spot clean Manufacturer's 10-year limited warranty Made in the USA Memory Foam Tips Ships compressed in an unmarked box Remove from packaging within 72 hours Allow 48 hours for this product to return to its original shape After unwrapping, air product for a few hours to eliminate trapped odors Promotional offers available online at Kohls.com may vary from those offered in Kohl's stores. read more

Sealy 12-in. Memory Foam Mattress - King
Boscov's
$14.99 $54.99
at Boscov's

Breathable waterproof mattress pad. Cotton construction and Cotton Terry Top. Hypo Allergenic. Stretch to fit skirt, fits up to 18..." mattress. Machine washable. King size. read more

Serene Dreams Waterproof Mattress Pad - King
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