Over the past 25 years, the bedding industry has changed the way they think about making and marketing mattresses. The idea of "The Firmer the Better" had been found to be incorrect. And while that meant that something with a bit more give...somewhat more contouring and somewhat more cushioned, the notion of a softer mattress as been taken to absurd extreme of becoming a "Luxury" item. Mattresses are marketed by the manufacturers and pushed by salespeople to appeal to your sense of luxury. And while comfort is certainly an important part of a good night's sleep, support is most important. Many of today's luxury mattresses are very thick with way too much padding. Those mattresses produce that "Cloud" like feeling, when trying them in the store. The problem with them is that you are now too far from the support. You'll spend thousands of dollars expecting a great night's sleep, only to experience a variety of aches & pains from sleeping on a "Too Soft" mattress. Factory Reps used to present their products with a certain amount of pride, as to how well they were made. Now-a-days, they present their products with an enthusiasm, as to how well they sell. By and large, quality is no longer the goal. Today, it's profit...almost exclusively.
MATTRESS STORES IN GENERAL
25 years ago, your store choices for buying a mattress were primarily department stores and furniture stores. Mattress stores were a fairly new concept. The idea was, to provide the shopper a greater selection, more specialized service and expertise, and at a discounted price. Today, the large "mattress store chains" have joined the ranks of the high priced department stores. Their advertising misleads you into believing that they have the lowest prices. The fact is their prices are usually higher than anywhere else you can shop. The "media blitz" of this advertising is so great, that many people don't even think to shop. In every market place, there are a number of smaller independents...family run stores, where the prices are truly discounted and the personalized service is far better. You may actually need to open the phonebook to find them. Ask the BBB about any retail store you're considering buying from.
MATTRESS SALES PEOPLE
When you go shopping, the salesman's job is to "Step You Up" into the most expensive mattress he or she can get you to buy. They do this quite easily by appealing to your sense of luxury and employing the flawed logic that if it costs more, it must be better. Another sales ploy is to step you up by stepping down. This sales tactic starts you at the "Top-Of-The-Line", brings you down to a more moderately priced model, and then steps you back up to a higher end mattress. Salespeople are trained in how to "Make the Sale"....and usually, not much more. Because you are likely to shop at a high profile store...one that advertises heavily, you're sure to encounter some high pressure sales tactics..."the sale ends today", "leave a small deposit to hold the price"...that sort of thing. You have to understand, that because you aren't likely to return to buy once you've continued to shop, the salesperson is under pressure to make the sale the first time you go in. Also, at these high profile stores, the salesperson will "Push" a brand that isn't easy to shop elsewhere. Name brands are much more competitively priced, while the off brands have greater profit margins. You'll usually make out better with a name you know and trust, than with something you need to be "Sold", to buy.
HOW TO CHOOSE A MATTRESS
This is the hard part. A mattress is a blind item, so you do need to be able to trust that what the salesperson is telling you is good advice. The factors to consider are: Body weight, body shape, existing physical ailments and sleeping position....if for a master bedroom, finding the right mattress for two people who may not agree as to comfort....if for a child's bedroom, the age, gender and size....if for a spare bedroom, the amount of use and if a specific person will be using it, (like parents), and whatever issues those people need addressed. SO, WHERE DO YOU START? Think simple and basic. Despite what you're sure to be told, a mattress should neverbe thought of as a luxury item. It is a utilitarian product, which is supposed to provide you with the rest your body needs to repair and refresh itself. Different types of mattresses provide different types of support. Regardless as to which type of support is best for you, start by trying the basic models. More than what the salesperson says, listen to what you're body is telling you. It's important to try them in the positions in which you sleep. The key to sleeping without pain is spinal alignment. The key to sleeping deeply is comfort. Comfort is the tricky part. What your body finds comfortable and what your conscious mind tells you are comfortable may be two entirely different things. It's at this point, where you have to avoid being seduced by the luxury feel of the high end beds. Thick, overly plush pillowtops have a great deal of eye and feel appeal. They all feel good when they're new, so finding comfort isn't a problem. The problem is in finding one that will still be comfortable for a number of years. For the most part, the thicker and plusher the mattress is to begin with, the shorter the comfort life will be. It's easy to spend thousands of dollars on a luxury mattress and find that it has nowhere near that same comfort in only a few short months. There are physical conditions, like fibromyalgia and arthritis, which require a soft surface feel. In such cases, the best solution is adding a soft topper to a well made mattress. In this way, you can have the soft feel you need without having to replace the mattress every year and without sacrificing support. It's much less expensive to replace only the topper when it wears out.
MATTRESS NUTS & BOLTS
Most bedding is composed of three basic parts: the coils, the padding, and the boxspring. There is more to a coil system than the number of coils. The most durable coil systems have coils which are turned once for each inch of height. For instance, if the coil is 5 inches tall, the optimum number of turns is 5. More, or fewer, than 5, will reduce the degree of resiliency. Also, the gauge of the wire and size of the coil are huge factors in the durability of a mattress. A 15 gauge wire is 1/15 of an inch thick. So, a smaller number like a 14 gauge (1/14 of an inch), is thicker and heavier than a 15 gauge. The thicker the wire, the better it will hold its shape over the years. A 12 3/4 gauge is about as heavy as is available. 15 1/2 is very thin. Tempering of the coil is extremely important for durability. Tempering is the heating and cooling of the metal for strength. Most coil systems are tempered. Some are tempered twice, others not at
all. Usually, units with a greater number of coils have smaller coils with thinner wire. The coil rating of a mattress is the number of coils it has in a queen size.
The padding is a combination of support layers and comfort layers. The padding is the most expensive part of the mattress and the quality of the padding can vary greatly between brands. With all the talk of coils, they are the least expensive items in the mattress. The price goes up when the padding increases in quantity, or quality, or both. Boxsprings don't always have springs. Some boxsprings are nothing more than a wood frame with some slats and cardboard on top, and wrapped in fabric. These are called wood foundations. These are normally found under very cheaply made mattresses. Many of the steel boxsprings are referred to as limited deflection. This consists of a metal grid with wire that is vertical and horizontal. These are stronger than the wood foundations.
WHAT'S THE BEST MATTRESS ON THE MARKET TODAY?
The best mattress today has been the best since the 1920s. Latex has always been "King of the Hill", when it comes to support, comfort and durability. Proven technology...latex was first developed in the 1880s and first used for making a mattress in the 1920s. They were always much more expensive than innersprings, but lasted a considerably longer period of time, giving them a better "cost per year" value. Today, it's difficult to find an "all latex" mattress. In the recent past, even the most trusted names have changed their latex lines to having latex layers on top, supported by a polyurethane foam core. When they first started making them this way, they called them "latex hybrids". And while the phrase is disingenuous enough, they no longer go to the trouble of pretending. Now, they just call them latex mattresses. So, as with any mattress, it's important to know what's inside. Comparison shopping is next to impossible, only knowing the model name. The model names for nearly every mattress will differ from store to store. Latex comes in natural, a blend of natural and synthetic, and all synthetic. All are very durable. All three have their pros and cons when compared to each other, but all are more durable than any other type of foam used today. The allergens, commonly associated with latex, (the protein), is removed from natural latex and non-existent in synthetic latex. Stearns & Foster and Simmons Black are making the best one-sided innerspring mattresses, as a whole. Our two-sided mattresses are more durable than anything else out there....a particularly good value for people who are heavy.
Your school-age children are expected to absorb a tremendous amount of information each day. The human brain is very much like a computer, in that when
your children sleep deeply over the course of a night, they remember much more of what they were taught the day before. It's almost as if that information downloads, and so they don't have to study as hard to get better grades. Studies have proven that school-age children do much better when they've had 10 hours sleep per night. 6 - 8 hours is recommended for adults. Many children suffer with ADD & ADHD. A good night's sleep will do a lot to help reduce the effects of those conditions. There are many nice beds at the lower mid-range price points that are not expensive, but still provide a nice combination of support and comfort.
STEARNS & FOSTER
Stearns & Foster is and has always been considered the Cadillac of the industry. "The best you can buy", for innerspring mattresses.
Using a (single coil) individually pocketed coil system in their Luxury Collection, and a (dual coil) individually pocketed coil system in their Estate Collection, Stearns & Foster continues to sit atop the leader board with a line of bedding that surpasses almost every other mattress for durability and reduced body impressions. Besides the double-tempered coils...and the dual coil of the Estate models, their VRT foam does more to reduce body impressions than any other type of foam, with the exception of latex.
Simmons pioneered the individually pocketed coil unit. In the 1920s, the mattress industry was revolutionized. People of that day had been used to sleeping on mattresses that were stuffed...with cotton, feathers...even money. These bags were supported by a large open coil unit that was then, the box spring.
In the 1920s, three new types of mattresses were introduced...the large, heavy coil unit, upon which every manufacturer came to rely until the 1980s....latex mattresses...and finally, the individually pocketed coil system that was introduced by Simmons, which they held a patent on for a very long time.
Simmons "Black" models now vie with Stearns & Foster as the Best Made one-sided, commercially made mattresses in today's market.
Meaning, "Let the buyer beware". If you are searching the internet for complaints about mattresses, you'll have no shortage of reading material. You'll find every brand listed...and proportionately more about the ones that sell better than those that are lesser known. If you don't look any closer than brand name, you can be easily mis-lead. Look closer and you'll find that the great majority of mattresses on those lists are either, "Pillowtop models...or...Memory (Visco) foam models". Memory foam is a temperature sensitive material that softens as it warms from your body's heat. The nightly ritual of being warmed and softening causes it to lose its resiliency in a very short period of time. Memory foam's ability to recover after you're up makes it appear to be fine when under scrutiny....but you know that the support is gone. Body impressions are to be expected with any and every mattress, sooner or later. Pillowtops, layers of padding not tightly attached to the edge of the mattress, tend to pull inward when weight is applied to the top of the mattress. Because of this, you can expect your body impressions to come quicker and get deeper in a pillowtop...compared to its "tight top" counterpart. Pillowtops and memory foam are easy to sell. That's why you see so many of them on any given showroom floor. There's no question about it, they feel great when they are new. Just about every manufacturer makes a line of memory foam mattresses. And certainly, every manufacturer makes a variety of pillowtop models. It really doesn't matter what brand it is. One is no better than another. These models are the ones to avoid.
OTHER PITFALLS TO AVOID
P.T. Barnum's most famous saying was, "There's a sucker born every minute". I hate to say it, but when I see how well all the false, deceptive advertising works, it's hard to dismiss Mr. Barnum's observation.
Who pays for all that advertising? TV and Radio are particularly expensive. When you are continually bombarded with a store or factory ads, you can be sure that the cost of it is being passed on to you.
Celebrity endorsements also add unnecessary cost to a product.
"Being Sold". When a salesperson is pushing something you've never heard of...if you feel like you're being sold, it's for a reason...and YOUR best interest is rarely the reason. What you can be sure of, is it's more profitable.
"Top of the line" is a phrase that has appeal to the average consumer. In almost every industry, medium price points are the best value. That is especially true for mattresses. The number one mistake is buying a too soft bed...a top line model. However, many stores offer a one time comfort exchange if not happy with your 1st choice. The next most common mistake is going to the opposite extreme when making that exchange. Keep in mind that most people get their best night's sleep from a medium feel....one that's not too firm or too soft.
Rotate your new mattress monthly for the first year, for even settling of the softer top layers of padding. The softer the mattress, the deeper the impressions tend to be. Pillowtops tend to allow body impressions to develop more easily. A standard king size mattress should be rotated 1/4 turn.
I apologize for spending so much space in addressing the negatives of our business. When I started in the mattress industry, 35 years ago, it was hard to buy a bad mattress or encounter a deceitful salesperson. Today, the stores are full of both. Today, there's more to be wary of.
Of course, not every store and salesperson is the same. Smaller, independent retailers tend to provide better information, better prices and better service. The pirates of this industry are more likey found in the large chain stores...The ones that do the most advertizing. To find the smaller retailers, (the mom & pop shops), go you your on-line yellow pages....or enter your zip code in the store locator on the home page of the brand you're looking for. www.beautyrest.com, www.sealy.com...and so forth.
From these manufacturer's websites, you will be able to view their warranty information.