Note from the editor: I recently had to buy a mattress for my son's twin bed. I found one at IKEA for $99. Plus, a zip-off washable cover was included. In my search, I couldn't find a mattress anywhere else for under $300. They may just have the best deal going.
Buying a mattress can be overwhelming these days. Mattress companies release dozens of different models every year, costing anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars each. The only real way to tell if a mattress is a good choice for you is to lie down on the mattress to see if you like it. Otherwise, most mattresses are really pretty much the same, no matter how much they cost.
Ignore the Names
Mattress companies have come up with long, complicated names for each mattress. Unless you shop at three or four mattress stores in your search for the best deal, you probably don't realize that the same exact mattress can have a different name at each store you visit. The names are used as marketing tools to draw you in and make the mattress seem more impressive. Ignore the mattress names and look for the information about how the mattress is constructed. Or better yet, lie down on the mattress to see if you like how it feels. Your sheets will cover the name most of the time anyway.
Choosing Between Thick and Thin Coils
Some mattresses offer thicker coils, while others offer a higher density of thinner coils. The thicker the coils are, the firmer the bed will be. Contrary to popular belief, how hard your bed is has very little to do with how healthy your back is. If you like a bed that is a little more firm, you may prefer one that is made with thicker coils. For more give, choose something in a smaller coil size. Many people cannot tell the difference between a bed with larger or smaller coils since they both have the same basic construction.
Most Mattresses Composed of the Same Parts
Mattresses are basically constructed the same exact way. Each mattress has a cover, padding, and coils. The majority of the coils for every big brand of mattress manufacturer are made by the same company. So the exterior will have a label from a certain mattress company, but the interior is made from materials that came from the same place. That means that a mattress that costs hundreds more than a less expensive model probably has the same exact coils inside. There is no reason to spend extra money on a mattress that is manufactured using the same materials as a less expensive option.
Don't Pay for Extras You Don't Need
Mattresses are being made with more interesting gadgets these days. Pillow tops and no-flip designs are probably the most popular extras on the market today. The real benefit of a pillow top mattress is that it looks better on a showroom floor than other mattresses. Pillow top mattresses can cost much more than standard top mattresses, even though you could simulate the pillow padding with an inexpensive foam mattress top on your own. The no-flip design sounds like less work until you realize that the bottom of the mattress is not designed to be on top at all. When you buy a no-flip design, you limit yourself to a mattress that can never be flipped for any reason.
Thickness Does not Indicate Better Quality
One of the latest mattress trends has been toward thickness. Manufacturers are creating mattresses that have inches of foam to make them larger. The difference between a thicker mattress and a traditional mattress is really just the weight of the mattress itself. You will not be able to notice any benefit from that extra padding, and the bigger mattress could look strange on your traditional bed frame. Some extra thick mattresses weigh too much to be moved comfortably, which limits your options when you want to put the bed somewhere else.
Price Makes Little Difference
The bottom line is that a comfortable mattress does not have to cost more. When you shop for a mattress, look at the least expensive options first. There is a good chance that you will be able to find a comfortable mattress that costs hundreds of dollars less than some of the fancier name brand mattresses. Find the mattress that feels the best to you when you lie down on it. Ignore all of the advertising and go with the mattress that you like the best.
Heather Hollingsworth is a single mother raising three teenagers while she attends graduate school and feeds a budding freelance writing career. She's always looking for a new way to stretch a dollar as far as it can go!