Help me Buy a New Mattress

The time has come for Ms. Cups and I to upgrade our mattress and buy a new one.

The problem is, I’ve never bought a mattress before and I have no idea where to start.

I know they have stores and such for it, but do people even get them at stores anymore? I’ve read a few articles that buying them online is the newest fad, but then how do I get it? Shipping? Do I have to be home for it?

Can anyone who has done this recently give me some tips?


The ones sold online are, mostly, the solid foam kind without any springs. (Think of a Tempurpedic mattress.) If that’s what you want, look at Tuft & Needle, Saatva, Caspar or one of the other companies doing this. But I didn’t want that type and am not comfortable buying a mattress unseen and untested.

I bought a new mattress a couple of years ago, by going to one of the local mattress chains and trying out several. The one I bought was $800 ($400 for the mattress and $400 for the boxspring) for a double-size mattress. I didn’t try to negotiate very hard.

As always, after some really heavy investigation and research a few years ago, I recommend a custom-selected latex mattress from a good online supplier, and a euro-slat base. It will be more than a middling-good standard mattress, but it will last 20+ years and is continuously adjustable as your sleep needs and patterns change.

Most innerspring mattresses today are crap, even the 'orribly expensive ones. You’re lucky to get five good years from them, often even fewer before they stop being completely comfortable.

Would you classify a “good online supplier” one of the ones that Dewey Finn mentioned?

I have been hearing Casper a lot…

We got our first mattress at Original Mattress Factory. It did well for us for fifteen years.

We saved up and bought our next mattress at Sleep Number. Ivylad has severe back issues and we’ve found the adjustable air mattress quite comfortable.

You want a specialty maker/seller, not a reseller. Most resellers moved into latex after the market fell apart about fifteen years ago, and not all of them sell the real thing (you get pretty much regular mattresses with a latex top layer, that kind of thing). It went from meaning a very specific style and method of manufacturer to a buzzword, and you have to avoid even the well-intended fakers. You want a solid, natural latex stack of three to four layers, which can be different on each side of a larger mattress. is who I’d recommend. Tell them everything about your sleeping habits and preferences, and they’ll help pick a latex stack that suits you. (And can be re-stacked over the years for different support.)

Any good euro-slat base will do, and they let you change the underlying support to get more support under lower back, hips, shoulders, wherever you like it - and you can change the support any time you like, for years and years as your body ages and changes. (There are cheaper suppliers than SleepEZ, by the way.)

I just tore apart and rebuilt our king, made from two stacks of three layers. After six years, there’s not the slightest collapse or indentation in any layer. Latex doesn’t slowly compact and settle like poly foam, not for decades.

You may find this site useful:

There is a site called The Mattress Underground that will give you far more information than you ever want to know. It will make you more knowledgeable about the components of mattresses, but I am not sure how much it will help you buy the right mattress for you. They generally recommend going to local mattress makers as they often use higher quality materials than the big boys. That is fine if you know exactly what you want in a mattress. I find that knowing what you want is the hard part.

Trying out a mattress in a showroom has never helped me.

It’s a crap shoot. I have gone through this process many times and although I love me some straight dope, I consider the time I spent online looking for mattress recommendations and information to be wasted. Buy from the online folks, sight unseen. Don’t like it? Return it. Rinse, repeat.

I agree to do research online, since the number of types of mattresses had exploded between the last time we bought one and this time.
And don’t pay attention to what other people like. Mattresses which are loved by lots of people felt awful to us. We went to a bunch of mattress stores and kept lying down on them until we found one we liked. It is a type of memory foam, and it made my back pain disappear, but you might like something else.
I’ll never buy one online. If I went with the most popular, I’d have been miserable.

The problem with trying out mattresses in mattress stores is that it’s such an artificial situation; you’re fully dressed (probably with shoes on), lying on a bare mattress with some salesperson hovering around.

Some of the hotel chains now advertise that their rooms are equipped with this or that name-brand mattress. So if you slept really well at a Westin Hotel, for instance, perhaps you would like the same mattress they use. (And these hotel chains are willing to sell new mattresses of the same type. They’ll even sell you the mattress and all of the bed linens that go with it, if you want.)