Is your old mattress bowed, sagging, or lumpy? Does it creak when you move or change positions? Does your body ache or do you not feel fully rested after sleeping? If the answer is “yes” to a majority of these questions, then you will need to know some of the basics of how to buy a mattress.


Mattress sizes are twin or single, double, queen, and king size.

Mattress thickness can be up to 20” deep.

Mattresses with Springs

Mattresses with springs or coils are available in innerspring coil and pocket coil spring styles. Pocket coil springs provide smaller springs. These options feature firm support for children and adults weighing up to 90 or 100 pounds. The extra firm mattress is the most popular bedding chosen, and super firm provides the proper support for heavier people.

The mattress label specifies the number of springs and the gauge or thickness of the spring wire. More and thicker springs offer better support. Better support and durability are offered if the springs are connected or networked to each other.

Foam Mattresses

This type is available in memory foam, polyurethane foam, and latex foam which is the softest foam. Foam mattresses should be at least 3” thick with a minimum of three to four pounds of foam.

This material offers support as it molds to the sleeper’s body. Medium support is for small to average sized people. The most popular is the firm bedding chosen by average-sized people. Extra firm is a bit harder for larger people.

Alternative Options

Waterbeds and expensive air mattresses are very durable. Desired firmness is achieved based on the amount of water or air in the mattress. Pets with sharp toenails should not be permitted on these mattresses to prevent puncturing.


Large manufacturers include Bassett, Sealy, Simmons, Serta, and TemperPedic. These manufacturers often offer the same mattresses under another company name at a more economical price. That is why the most popular brand name or the most expensive are not always the best.

Tips When Buying

One sided mattresses offer padding on the sleeping side only. The opposite side is too hard to sleep on. The more popular two-sided mattress can be flipped and slept on both sides.

Check for handles on the sides for easy flipping.

Check for ventilation holes.

Read the label to ensure the mattress is stain resistant. This is important for children and adults in times of sickness or if eating in bed is a routine occurrence.

In 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to require all mattresses sold in the United States to endure fire exposure for 30 minutes. Check the label to ensure the mattress is flame resistant.

Mattresses are often covered by warranties for any faults in materials and workmanship. This does not guarantee the level of comfort or if it wears out prematurely.

Inquire about the store’s return policy if the mattress is found to be too firm or not firm enough.

A person’s sleep pattern of sleeping on their side, back, or stomach helps determine the firmness needed. Do not be embarrassed to test mattresses by lying and bouncing on them.

Women tend to purchase mattresses with pretty designs. Keep in mind that the bedding will be covered by sheets and a blanket or comforter.

Stick to a budget. Do not get talked into a more expensive mattress or a larger size if that is not desired.

Mattresses on sale are not always defective or inferior. Mattresses sold “as is” may have defects and can wear out prematurely.


Flip two-sided mattresses regularly for uniform wear and comfort.

Clean and vacuum mattresses often.

Mattresses should be replaced every ten to fifteen years. A new box spring should be purchased if used for added support. Knowing the basics of how to buy a mattress provides a restful sleep for the continued good health and welfare of the consumer.

Related Video:

How to Buy a Mattress : Mattress Testing


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