Furniture Buying Guide: Mattresses

Furniture Buying Guides


Expert Tips For Selecting the Right Mattress

Want a sound sleep every night? One bedroom piece is especially key: a good mattress. Figuring out which one will work best for you can be daunting, but this guide offers smart advice to help you make the right choice so you can rest easy.

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Help Me Choose

Types of Mattresses

There are four main options, each with different features. Here are the pros and cons to consider:

Innerspring Illustration


Memory Foam Illustration

Memory Foam

Gel Memory Foam Illustration

Gel Memory Foam

Hybrid Illustration


Mattress Sizes

Size Dimensions Details
Twin 39" x 74" Fits one person comfortably; ideal for kids
Twin XL 39" x 80" Slightly longer than a standard twin, for taller individuals
Double/Full 54” x 74" Fits a single sleeper who likes to spread out, or couples who don't have a large bedroom
Queen 60" x 80" Popular with singles who sleep with pets, and couples
King 76" x 80" Popular with couples who enjoy extra space, co-sleepers, and couples with pets
California King 72” x 84" The extra length is ideal for taller couples

Another Option: Mattress in a Box

At one time, if you wanted a new mattress, you had to visit your local bed store or mattress retailer. Today, you can go online and buy a "mattress in a box" from an online retailer, and have it shipped right to your door. These mattresses are typically made of foam, or a similar material. Manufacturers compress and vacuum-seal the mattress before placing it into a box for shipping. Once you receive and unwrap your mattress, it expands to its normal size.

Mattress-Shopping Strategies

There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but it’s easier to narrow down the options if you ask yourself these five questions before you shop for a new mattress.

  • Do you like a little bounce? Innerspring mattresses with 12-gauge coils offer the firmest support, and those with 18-gauge coils offer more give.
  • Are you looking for less motion transference? Memory foam mattresses give you extra support without the bounce. You'll also notice that your sleeping partner can toss and turn and you won't be disturbed.
  • Do you prefer firm-springiness? Like memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses come in varying degrees of firmness, but they offer a little more buoyancy than memory foam.
  • Do you have allergies? Latex and foam both naturally resist mold and dust mites and they are antimicrobial. If you choose an air-filled or innerspring mattress, buy an allergen-resistant cover to encase it.
  • Are you a hot sleeper? Avoid mattresses with a latex or foam topper, which retain body heat. Ideal options include fiberfill-topped innerspring mattresses or memory foam with a gel layer on top.

The Details

Consider Your Sleep Style

There’s an ideal option for each type of position. Find the mattress that’s a match for your sleep style.

Side Sleepers: You’re most comfortable with pressure relief and support. The best options include memory foam, latex foam, and an innerspring with a very cushy topper. Avoid overly firm mattresses.

Stomach Sleepers: Memory foam may leave you feeling smothered, while a firm latex, air, or innerspring mattress will give you optimal support.

Back Sleepers: A combination of support and conformity keeps your spine aligned. All mattress types work well, so you can make a choice based on your personal preference.

Types of Mattress Foundations

Box Springs Illustration

Box Springs

Cloth-covered wood frame that contains springs

Foundation Illustration


Fabric-covered, slatted structure

Bed Frame Illustration

Bed Frame

Elevates the mattress off the floor and typically works with or without a box spring or foundation

Platform Beds Illustration

Platform Beds

Integrated slats provide support, eliminating the need for a box spring or a foundation

3 Mattress Myths Debunked

  1. 1. Firm mattresses are the best option for bad backs

    Fact: Firm mattresses can cause pressure point pain. Instead, choose a mattress that combines support with the ability to conform to your body while you're in your favorite sleep position.

  2. 2. A new mattress should be perfectly comfortable from the moment you purchase it.

    Fact: People typically need approximately 30 days to adjust to a new mattress.

  3. 3. You need to flip a mattress every few months.

    Fact: Most modern mattresses are made to be one-sided, eliminating the need to flip it. Instead, rotate the mattress 180 degrees every month for the first six months and then every three months after that.

Mattress Accessories

In addition to buying a mattress, most buyers also invest in one or more of the following accessories:

  • Mattress cover: Varieties include hypoallergenic and waterproof covers to suit individual needs
  • Mattress topper: Plush cotton, memory foam, and memory foam gel toppers add a few extra inches of comfort
  • Bridge: Handy device that eliminates the gap between two mattresses
  • Pillows, sheets, blankets, quilts and comforters: Decorative and functional items that protect the mattress and enhance your sleep comfort

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