Best Mattress Industry Overview and Buying Guide 2021 Edition
Best Mattress Industry Overview and Buying Guide 2021 Edition
State of the Mattress Industry
There may be no more confusing and frustrating purchase than buying a mattress. The industry is highly promotional with online and in-store retailers all vying for your attention at every turn.
Online retailers focus on the ease of purchase with kitschy brand names, promotional trials, and incessant online ads that start showing up the moment you search for a mattress. Most of these online retailers vacuum seal low grade foams shipped from overseas and sell them as high end beds. In-store retailers emphasize highly promotional pricing to get you to come in. Once you are in the store these promotions rarely live up to their promise. Many of these companies also have pushy sales associates that try to upsell you to products you didn't want or ask for.
Even worse, supposedly unbiased mattress review sites are in many cases paid through affiliate marketing to recommend the very products they are rating highly. The negative impact of affiliate marketing between manufacturers and review sites to the consumer cannot be understated. Effectively mattress review sites are tricking you into buying "reviewed" products that they make a commission on. With all of the disinformation out there, you can start to see why most consumers hate the process of buying a bed.
All of these sales tactics miss the essence of why the average consumer is searching for a mattress in the first place. They want and need a better night's sleep than what they are currently getting.
At Sleep Galleria, as a retailer of all things sleep we only carry products we believe in. We have curated our selection through 25+ years of experience, and truly believe we carry the best value for your money at any price. Simply put, we have done our research.
That said, we don't think you should take it from us. Below you will find our comprehensive guide to finding the right mattress based off the comfort, durability and construction considerations that really matter in getting a high quality and durable sleep solution for years to come.
How do you find the right mattress?
Today we would like to remove the veil of secrecy that makes up the mattress industry, and help our consumers make more educated decisions.
First, and most importantly, mattress shopping should start by understanding what is actually important in making a buying decision that will lead to a comfortable and durable mattress.
3 Keys to Find the Right Mattress
- Quality & Durability
- Additional Considerations
A mattress can be made in countless variations of quality, and unfortunately the lack of information has led to many brands selling marketing fluff over true quality products for some time now.
- Background: The influx of cheap foams from overseas has led to countless online retailers vacuum sealing cheap low grade foams and selling them as a high quality brand name product. Affiliate marketing and clever review solicitation practices leads to claims of 1000's of 5 star reviews, which are mostly received directly after the consumer has received the product and before they have had an opportunity to truly evaluate their new sleep surface. It is essential that you take time to find out where your mattress is being built and what steps have been taken to create a true high quality product that will stand the test of time.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: Always take time to find out where your manufacturer actually built the bed, what type of manufacturing and quality controls they use, and seek to understand what practically the features in the bed really mean. Generally, the more marketing terms and less specs that are used the more you can expect that the process of building the bed was focused on how the consumer felt about the purchase more than what they were actually getting for their money.
- Background: Steel is significantly more expensive than an extra layer of foam. As some high quality all foam mattresses became more popular over the last 20 years, many manufacturers saw an opportunity to reap the rewards. By reducing the density of the foam layers of a bed a mattress can be made for less money, and higher profits were gained through this approach. By using similar materials in a lower grade build the manufacturer could claim the same quality of mattress was being made for a fraction of the price. The problem with this approach is lower density foams without steel support oxidize very quickly, and leads to a mattress with major dips and sags after just a short period of time. In traditional coil beds many manufacturers have also found ways to reduce the coil count, quality and gauge of the steel, and have reduced or eliminated the tempering process to further reduce costs. All of this has led to greater profits while leaving the consumer with a lower quality mattress at around the same price.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: Do not accept marketing fluff from online or in-store retailers. Saying a mattress has memory foam does not mean it is actually a good mattress. What is the density and quality of the foam? What is the gauge of the steel and tempering process of the coil? What type of cover is being used and what was it's manufacturing process? Ask these questions as you shop and you will quickly find out whether the product is a high quality or layered with marketing lingo.
Types of Construction
All Foam Mattress
- Varying types and amounts of foam layers are used to construct all foam mattresses. The foams could include polyurethane, memory foam, gel foam and/or latex foam in varying amounts and densities. Changing the density of the foam can impact the durability and conformance of the foam. Different foams can provide a broad array of different benefits from heat dissipation, improved conformance to increased durability and support.
- Uses a steel coil support system. This type of mattress can use a variety of coil structures that vary in construction, quality of steel used and gauge or thickness of the wires depending on the quality and durability of the product. The innerspring coil system is covered by varying types of foam layers at the top of the mattress to provide comfort and conformance to improve your sleep.
- Hybrid Mattress
- The combination of a thickly layered memory foam and/or latex materials with a traditional coil system. Different types, amounts and densities of foam are used within a hybrid mattress depending on the brand and quality of the product. Most hybrid mattress models utilize a marshal or wrapped coil system (steel coils encased in fabric) to limit motion transfer and improve conformability. Hybrid mattresses tend to provide a more traditional mattress feel while providing some of the conformability and pressure relieving benefits of an all foam mattress.
- Air Mattress
- Air mattresses can range from a simple blow up bed to an adjustable air mattress that you can inflate or deflate to adjust the feel.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: The type of construction of the mattress is much less important than the quality of the manufacturing process and durability of the materials used inside the bed. Select the type of mattress based off comfort and choose the model of mattress based off its quality of construction for the price
Quality & Durability
A common experience with a new mattress purchase happens when a consumer loves the new bed the first 6 months only to experience a complete change in its feel and comfort after a relatively short period of time. Many of the changes in the quality of construction noted above has contributed to this outcome. Here we will dive deeper in what to look for in a bed that will deliver a consistent feel for years to come.
- Bonnel Coil: The oldest and most prevalent coil in the value price range for bedding. Bonnel springs are knotted with an hourglass shape steel wire, which reduces the cost of steel to produce, but can impact the durability of the product depending on usage. The coil system uses a variety of different gauges (steel thickness) of wire depending on the manufacturer and quality of construction. To complete a bonnel coil they are laced with either vertical or horizontal helical steel wires to tie the coils together. These coils are best purchased for guest rooms or kids beds where they are used less often. Durability can be a concern with a bonnel coil.
- Offset Coil: Provide a traditional hourglass coil design but supply the added feature of flattening the top and bottom convolutions of the coil. Offset coils use a hinge like rounded top that provides improved conformance and reduced noise compared to a bonnel coil. There are proprietary variations of the offset coil that can be found out there so make sure to find an associate that knows the difference between a standard bonnel and offset coil.
- Continuous Coil: An innerspring system in which a continuous piece of steel wire is used to construct the coil system. The coil system is hinged together in the manufacturing process by helically laced steel wires like an offset coil. This system is traditionally more durable than a bonnel coil due to its hinged design and higher amount of steel used in production. It generally provides a quieter and more conforming sleeping experience as well.
- Wrapped Coils: Wrapped coils, also called a marshal coil, are barrel shaped coils without knots that are encased in fabric. Due to the fact the coils are not tied together the steel wires move independent of each other. This separation of coils provides a reduction in the sensation of motion.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: If you are selecting a mattress with coils as a master bed purchase we highly recommend you get a mattress with wrapped coils. Wrapped coils dramatically limits motion transfer and improves the pressure relief of the bed. Keep in mind though, just because a mattress has wrapped coils does not mean the steel quality and durability is what it needs to be. Make sure to check the gauge and quality of the steel as well.
- Coil Gauge: The gauge or thickness of the steel in a coil system is an often overlooked, yet essential part of any decision-making process for a mattress with a traditional coil structure. The lower the gauge of the coil the thicker the steel wire is within the coil system. A lower gauge provides a firmer and more supportive feel while a higher gauge coil provides a plusher and softer feel. Lower gauge coils also provide improved durability and a more consistent feel over the life of the mattress.
- Coil Count: The number of coils in a mattress can impact the space between coils and as a result can play a factor in the durability, conformance and support of the mattress solution. As the dimensions of a mattress do not change this benefit can be offset after a certain point by the limitations of the size of the bed. Adding more coils can lead to using thinner coils with less steel that can significantly impact the quality and durability of your mattress. It is most important to find the right balance between coil count, coil gauge and the quality of steel used in the construction of your mattress
- Quality of Steel: The most important factor in determining the quality of the steel in your coil system is looking to see if the mattress uses tempered steel. Tempering the steel hardens its molecular structure and tightens the bonds of the metal. This process ensures that the coils will maintain a consistent feel long into the future. The highest quality coil systems will twice temper their steel using heat and electricity to further advance the hardening process. Some manufacturers will add substitute steps such as using titanium plating or high carbon steel substitute which can also be effective and provide a degree of protection against the failure of the coil system.
- Polyurethane Foam
- A polyurethane foam with a ridge shaped design, traditionally called an "egg crate" foam. This type of foam is generally lighter and a lower density than other types of foams and does allow for added air flow.
High Density Polyurethane
- High density polyurethane foams provide anywhere from 1.8 lbs per cubic foot weight to 6.0 lbs per cubic foot weight density. This type of foam lasts longer than a lower density foam, improves conformance and pressure relief while increasing comfort for the customer. Many manufacturers cut costs by using lower density poly foams which have a direct impact on the quality and durability of the product for the consumer.
Low Density Polyurethane
- Products below 1.5 lbs per cubic foot weight would be considered definitively a low density polyurethane foam. These types of foams are generally found in lower priced value beds but can also sometimes be found in higher end mattresses as well. A low-density poly foam can quickly oxidize and lose their shape even without heavy use due to the buildup of moisture and humidity.
- Viscoelastic Polyurethane Foam or "Memory" Foam
- "Memory" foam is a visco elastic form of polyurethane foam. It is known for its ability to absorb and redistribute pressure away from you by better contouring around the surface of your body. By reducing pressure, it generally allows you to go into deeper more restorative stages of sleep. As with all types of polyurethane foams the density of the material has a direct impact on the quality, durability and conformance of the foam. Memory foam generally is a less supportive foam than some other poly foams and is generally designed as a conformance layer on the top of the bed to reduce pressure. One known weakness with memory foam is the closed cell structure of the foam, and the fact that it covers a larger surface area on your body, can lead to a hot sleeping experience for some consumers.
- Gel Memory Foam: Memory foam infused with layers of gel are used to provide a distinctly different feel and aid help improve the heat dissipation effects of memory foam. Just like memory foam varying grades of quality density, durability and comfort can be found. Make sure to educate yourself on the quality of gel memory foam used inside your mattress.
- Elastic Polymer: An elastic polymer is an interchangeable term with rubber. Grid like mattress toppers and bed in a box mattresses distribute various forms of this material. Generally a polymer has a bouncier feel and is suitable for individuals that like a very firm mattress. It has a similar feel to latex which is a natural form of rubber. This material has only been used in the industry for the last few years. Some concerns have been expressed around its safety and efficacy due to the high degree of processing necessary to make the material.
- Latex Foam
- Natural forms of latex are produced by pulling the material from the hevea-brasilienis rubber tree. The process of removing this material is very similar to that of maple tapping.
- Talalay Latex
- Talalay latex is a natural rubber taken from the sap of a rubber tree and molded into a durable foam. Talalay latex is very soft and to use in a mattress requires cutting and pasting latex layers together.
- Dunlop Latex
- This process produces a 100% natural form of latex. As Dunlop latex is poured into a mold and allowed to settle it generally is denser in the bottom of the mold and softer towards the top.
- Synthetic Latex
- Synthetic latex uses specialized chemicals to mimic the feel of latex.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: Do not buy a mattress based off the name of the proprietary foam. What does it mean? Is it a denser or more durable material? Does it go through a special manufacturing process? What is it actually made out of? Is the product a proven and safe solution for you and your family? Foams are in most modern mattresses are made with one of the materials listed above, and the proprietary names simply are marketing terms to describe them.
- A mattress can have huge swings in price dependent on the retailer's promotions, brand name and product quality. Keep in mind that a higher price does not always mean a better quality. It's important you do your due diligence on the quality of materials that are used in building your new bed.
- Here are a few general price guidelines in today's marketplace
- Promotional: Promotional prices suitable for a guest room or kids bed in a queen range from $149 to $599
- Premium: Premium solutions suitable for a master bed with daily use can range from $599 to $1799 in a queen
- Luxury: If you are looking for the ultimate in comfort and luxury top quality mattresses range from $1799 and up
- Sleep Trial
- Most retailers now offer trials on a new mattress. It's important you read the fine print as you research options. Many retailers hide fees, penalties and delivery service charges as part of the trial process. Fees can end up ranging from 10% up to 35% of the cost of your overall purchase. In addition, many online bed in a box retailers that offer no fees as part of the purchase, price an assumed return rate into their beds. Effectively you end up paying for the price of other people's returns. As with any aspect of your purchase it's important you do your research and fully understand your rights prior to purchase.
- Mattress warranties range from one year up to lifetime coverage. The industry standard for warranties require a 1 1/2" dip or sag to make a claim on the bed. The dip or sag requirement can range higher or lower depending on the manufacturer. A mattress warranty means very little if the coverage does not specify a reasonable dip or sag requirement to make a claim. It's also important that you read the fine print surrounding support requirements beneath your bed.
It is easy to get lost in the details as you shop. Focus on the quality, comfort and durability of your mattress ahead of all other considerations. A free promotional item should never supersede your comfort for the next 10 years. As you go through the process of shopping for your new mattress you must ensure you stick to the facts. Highly promotional offers almost always place the cost of the products they are offering into their profit margin to entice you to come in. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.
We recommend mattresses Made in the USA with a long and consistent history of producing quality solutions. We also recommend you consider options with a CertiPur-US certification. This is a 3rd party non-profit company that provides a certification guaranteeing the product was not made with ozone depleters, are made without PBDE, TDCPP, TCEP flame retardants, made without mercury lead or other heavy metals, and is certified to have low VOC emissions suitable for indoor use.
Mattresses provide the best possible support system at each price point. Choosing your feel does NOT limit the support in your mattress. Select the feel based off your desired level of pressure relief and conforming comfort layers in the bed.
Soft options provide the most conforming comfort layers for those needing the most pressure relief.
Medium mattresses provide you a balanced between conforming comfort layers and connectivity to the support system underneath.
Firm mattresses provide you the closest connection to the support layers of the bed and only provides a small layer of conforming foams.
Shopping Tips & Considerations: We recommend a firm or medium for back sleepers and a medium or soft for side sleepers. Side sleepers sleep on less surface, and usually require additional pressure relief to prevent tossing and turning.
- Edge Support
- The edge support built into your bed is very often an after thought for mattress manufacturers. Poorly designed edge support can change the comfort of the sleep surface, cause a roll off effect on the edge, and impact the general life and comfort of the mattress.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: If the mattress has coils look for a steel edge support system. Most mattress manufacturers use a foam encasement with a low grade poly foam to decrease steel costs. A strong and durable steel edge will help your mattress last for years to come. If your mattress has no coils the density of the foam is of critical importance to the life of your edge support system. Be sure to ask what the density and construction process is in making the mattress.
Adjustable bases provide lifestyle and health solutions for your favorite room! Your bedroom can be more than a place you just go to sleep.
- Adjustable bases provide a variety of health benefits that can impact your quality of sleep. Adjustable bases improve your ability to match the natural contours of your spine and provide you the ability to offer support where you need it the most.
- Improve Spinal Alignment
- Digestive Issues
- Sleep Apnea
- Improve Circulation
- Reduce Pain and Pressure
- Lifestyle Benefits
- Your bedroom can be more than just a place you go to sleep at night! Our bedrooms are a sanctuary for your sleep, but with the right technology they can be so much more. Here are just a few lifestyle benefits to an adjustable base.
- Watch TV
- Read a Book
- Morning Coffee
- Catch up on the News
- Relaxing massage before bed!
- Important Shopping Notes
- Look for info on the warranty coverage, weight lift capacity, head only adjustment vs head and foot articulation along with controller features/functionality when comparing options.
- Shopping Tips & Considerations: Beware of companies that offer a free adjustable base with your purchase. These companies offer a head only adjustable option that has a very basic motor and short lived limited warranty. These "free" bases are an undesirable solution due to their limited functionality. Even worse, at many locations the customer is influenced through pushy sales tactics into choosing a different option at a much higher price. We recommend to think of a mattress and base as two separate purchases, and to seek the best value for your purchase with each decision.
- Mattress Sizes
- Sizes are approximate and different manufacturers can be off from the exact measurement
- King Mattress
- 76" x 80"
- California King Mattress
- 72" x 84"
- Queen Mattress
- 60" x 80"
- Double or Full Mattress
- 54" x 75"
- Double or Full XL Mattress
- 54" x 80"
- Twin Mattress
- 38" x 75"
- Twin XL Mattress
- 38" x 80"
Final Notes & Thoughts:
No one said shopping for a mattress was easy. Even with all of our experience, it is impossible to fully understand all of the 100's of companies that market products, and the individual and confusing ways they create proprietary materials.
As with any purchase its essential you shop some where you trust the knowledge and trustworthiness of the retailer. We encourage you to do your due diligence, as selecting the right mattress can greatly improve your quality of life.
We started Sleep Galleria to make it easy for anyone to experience exceptional sleep. All of our relaxation and sleep related products are designed to help you be your best self. Learn more at SLEEPGALLERIA.COM