The lovely Dallas writes:
Dear pretty Mir —
I’m a longtime reader and finally moving into an apartment with no roommates (holler for being a grown up, even in a recession!)… I’m upsizing from a twin bed (I’m 27, it’s time) to a queen bed. Any suggestions on how to pull off getting a good deal on a mattress, quality tips, etc? I’m totally clueless… and you know everything 🙂
You know what? I do love Dallas! She’s exceptionally pretty. And that’s not even just because she’s also an accomplished suck-up.
Speaking as someone who enjoys researching products before I buy them and then finding the best deal, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the mattress industry is in cahoots with the liquor industry. That is, even the most savvy and conscientious among us want to drink when we have to shop for a new bed. That’s because it’s confusing, time consuming, and there’s no possible way to find a “standard” for pricing. But let’s see what we can do.
You’ll want to do some basic research before you go shopping. There’s four types of mattresses: Innerspring (this is the conventional type, and most common), memory foam (think Tempur-pedic, though they aren’t the only brand), air-filled (seen the commercials for the “Sleep Number beds?), and latex (a non-innerspring option designed to appeal to people who kind of want memory foam, but want something either cheaper and/or with slightly more “give”). Innerspring mattresses are always going to be your cheapest option, but those mattresses vary widely, which is where the research comes in.
Here’s two pieces you should read before you shop: Here’s a simple overview from Good Morning America, and if you don’t mind a bit of snark, here’s an 11-year-old Slate piece which is still my favorite (both because it’s entertaining and informative). The bottom line is that you must…
… shop in person, and don’t be afraid to lie down for a while. Yes, you’ll feel silly lying there in the middle of the store. You still need to do it. And yes, there are mattress deals online, but I do not recommend buying a primary sleeping surface for an adult without trying it first. (Was that enough qualification for you? Confession: We bought my daughter a new mattress from Overstock and it’s fine. But at the time she weighed about 65 pounds, and we also picked a major manufacturer. These two things combined meant I knew it would be reasonable quality and that she was unlikely to weigh enough in its 10-year lifespan that it could end up lacking sufficient support.)
… assume a 10-year lifespan. Some mattresses will come with a longer warranty, but 10 years is really the reasonable expectation for an innerspring or latex mattress (memory foam and air last longer). If the warranty is only 5 years, move on.
… buy from a store with a 30-, 60-, or 90-day trial period. Sometimes what you love in the store you loathe after a week. You’re going to spend a third of your life on this thing, plus you’re spending a decent chunk of change, so make sure you’re going to get what works for you.
… reconcile yourself to the reality that all mattresses are marked up and comparisons across brands or even models is close to impossible. The good news with this is that you can almost always get a lower price or some extras (free delivery, free removal of your old bed, free pillows, something) if you’re willing to bargain, but the bad news is that it’s very hard to know if you’re truly getting a deal. Stick to the major brands, a reputable seller, and a 10-year warranty, though, and you should be okay.
Enjoy your new place, Dallas!