Mattresses: Measuring Durability, Good NYC Store, and How Much Money?
October 31, 2004 4:45 PM   Subscribe

How should I buy a mattress? [more underneath]

I've heard that paying a little more for a really good mattress will mean that you won't have to replace it for a good long time.

How can I assure, besides the obvious lying-down-on-it-in-the-store test, that I've got a good, durable mattress that will last? How long should I expect it to last? How much should I expect to spend for, say, a queen-sized mattress + box spring of decent quality? Any recommendations of places in NYC or the metro area to shop?
posted by Vidiot to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Macy's has a yooge selection of mattresses, maybe you could check them out. Also Sleepy's and Rockaway Bedding are two other stores here in NYC that have a sizeable collection. If you are looking for Tempur Pedic, go to Brookstone at Rockerfeller Center for an in-store demo.

I am not sure about the rest, but at least you can check these places out for an idea of what you like and prices.
posted by riffola at 4:56 PM on October 31, 2004

I spent about $1600 on a mattress in SF back in early 2000, and the bed is still comfy as ever. I believe at the time we shopped for it, we looked for really long warranties and good spring construction. One good test is to have someone sit on one side of the bed while the other person flops down on the bed on the other side. A good mattress shouldn't transmit any of the energy across the bed. Try doing it on a $400 mattress and you may bounce a friend right off the bed. Try it on a $4000 mattress and they shouldn't feel a thing.

After that, I remember just striving for the correct firmness, which involved lots of laying on mattresses. I like a firm bed, but then I weigh almost twice as much as my partner, so we got a pillow top that made the top comfy for her so it wasn't too firm.

I've been thinking of ditching the whole conventional mattress/spring and getting one of those tempurpedic foam things instead. I guess I need to try a test sleep on one first though.
posted by mathowie at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2004

Here's a Slate article that was linked to in the recent boxsprings thread.
posted by donth at 5:10 PM on October 31, 2004

i spent 100.000 pesos, which is about $160, on the cheapest bed (price included sheets, pillows, a light duvet and base, as well as mattress) i could find last year. it's still comfortable (like new) just over a year later. however, it usually has only one person sleeping on it, for half the days in the year.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:17 PM on October 31, 2004

i went to Sleepy's and tried different ones, then i left off the last S for savings and called-- I asked what they had comparable to the one i had liked best--I ended up with a Perfect Sleeper that i love.
posted by amberglow at 5:41 PM on October 31, 2004

We went middle of the road and are happy 2 years later. Eventually it will end up in the guest bedroom, and we'll buy one a little higher in quality.

Try it on a $4000 mattress and they shouldn't feel a thing.

If I spend 4000 on a mattress, it better give on demand orgasms.

(there have been several mattress threads in the past if you look for them)
posted by justgary at 5:49 PM on October 31, 2004

Mattress manufacturers have this sleazy thing they do. They make the exact same mattress, but change the quilting on the top and the brand name for nearly every retailer. So you walk into one store and see a Sealy Wondersleep but if you go to price shop at another location, you won't find it. This makes it next to impossible to compare apples to apples without knowning much more about what the actual specifications are. Therefore, copy down the specs!

Also a good frame will make a big difference. The metal rails they give away with the mattress can be made usable. I put sturdy blocks of wood under the cross bars to give central support and that helps immensely.
posted by plinth at 5:52 PM on October 31, 2004

Man, I paid about $100 for a used waterbed twenty years ago. I replaced the mattress a dozen years ago, then again this past year with a super-waveless one. I built a new base about six years ago, when I was rearranging the bedroom; and will build a new mattress-holder this month.

All told, it has cost me well under $1k. I don't anticipate I'll ever spend money on it again after this last bit of rebuilding.

Modern waterbeds are as wave-free as spring-coil matresses; and correctly filled they are, I believe, as supportive. Plus they're toasty warm.

I heart my waterbed.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on October 31, 2004

We live in the NY area, and we've bought all our mattresses from Sleepy's, although that's as much from convenience as it is any kind of ringing endorsement.

plinth is right about the crazy sleazy ploy they use--any mattess store will offer you 10% off a competitor's price on any given model, but _none_ of them sell the same models as anyone else.

That being said, it's hard to go wrong with one of the basic brands like Sealy, etc. When you're dealing with a credible manufacturer, things like spring density, etc. are going to be consistent from make to make, and once you decide the parameters that are best for you, you can start comparison-pricing.
posted by LairBob at 6:19 PM on October 31, 2004

I recently bought a mattress. I knew I liked a firm one, so I went to Sleep Country USA after hearing their "All Sealy on sale" radio ad. After walking around and looking at mattresses that cost $2000 and up I finally found where they kept the reasonably priced ones. One medium-firm model had been marked down from $1299 to $899, and I could save another $100 by taking last year's model (they were light blue instead of off-white). Laid down on it. Felt all right, but then anything would after the cheapy off-brand mattress I'd been sleeping on for the last decade. So I bought it, upgraded the size to queen (yay! my feet no longer dangle off the end!), paid $50 for delivery and $50 for a new frame. The new bed is comfortable, much easier on my back, and solid -- no creaking, no jiggling, etc.

Really, it's hard to go wrong with a name-brand mattress (Simmons, Sealy, or Serta) that's the firmness you like. But be aware that the warranties are basically bullshit. They say it's a 15-year warranty but you look at the fine print and it's only warranted against sagging for, say, five. The rest only covers defects in materials and workmanship and it's pro-rated, so by the time you get to the 14th year you might as well just buy a new mattress as jump through hoops trying to get the warranty honored, since it's only worth $50 anyway at that point, and only toward the same manufacturer's product. Take it with a big grain of salt, but do turn your mattress -- it'll make it last longer.

One thing I'd advise against is paying extra for a pillow-top. For one thing, this means that one side of the mattress must always be up, reducing your options for turning it. For another, you can usually get a nice pillow or cushion (down, polyfill, memory foam, whatever you want) to put on top of your mattress for much less than the difference between pillow-top and non-pillow top, and this can be easily replaced when it develops impressions or whatever.
posted by kindall at 7:00 PM on October 31, 2004

five fresh fish - so ... which waterbed is your waterbed, the one in your room or the one which you've thrown-out piecemeal over the years? it's like jason's ship, only it's a waterbed.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:18 PM on October 31, 2004

Not sure about the US/NYC but in the UK Tempur(pedic) offer a 60-day in-home approval. I tried this out a few years ago and was sold. I can have a mug of tea on the mattress and you have to be right next to it before it starts to wobble.

Try out a waterbed too tho'. Friends of mine have one and when I've slept on it it's been really good.
posted by i_cola at 4:57 AM on November 1, 2004

You'll find epinions has many, many mattress reviews that should helnarrow down your search. I went through the new-bed-buying process this year, and after much research I bought a king-sized ComfortAir adjustable air mattress. I can't speak highly enough about it!
posted by ewagoner at 6:48 AM on November 1, 2004

We ran into all the problems described above with making price comparisons, since manufacturers do indeed rename all the 'comparables' (as they're called) for each retailer. We finally decided what we wanted to spend and chose a mattress that suited our needs in that price range. We got something that is fantastic and that didn't cost a ridiculous amount of money.

Also, one important thing that we were told in all of our shopping is that it's easy to make a firmer mattress softer with pads and featherbeds, etc., but it's nearly impossible to make a softer mattress firmer, so you're better off going as firm as you think you'll be able to enjoy. We did this, then went to Target and bought a Memory Foam pad for about $50 and have been very pleased ever since.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:49 AM on November 1, 2004

I second the Macy's recommendation. They have a lot of different kinds, you can spend as much time as you like lying on them and discussing pros and cons, and if you catch one of their sales (semiannual, I think) you can save a bundle. My wife and I got a Stearns & Foster (excellent brand) there four or five years ago and we've been happy with it ever since.
posted by languagehat at 5:04 PM on November 1, 2004

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