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A Simple Mattress Buying Guide – How to Choose a Perfect Mattress

how to choose a mattress
Sep 15, 2020

In this article, we are going to offer you the most detailed guide on how to choose a mattress that will be perfect for you. Here you will find the following information that will help you to improve your night’s sleep:

  • When you should change your mattress;
  • What are the most common types and sizes of mattresses on the market;
  • What factors you should consider when choosing a mattress (sleeping position, weight, firmness, thickness, etc);
  • Average costs on most popular types of mattresses;
  • Average lifespan of each mattress type.

The main factors to consider when choosing a mattress

The process of selecting the most suitable mattress for you is not that difficult. Here are the main factors that you need to consider - remember them and you’ll never miss the perfect mattress:

  • Mattress’s size
  • Type of a mattress
  • Density, thickness, and firmness
  • Price of a mattress
  • What kind of sleeper are you
  • Lifespan of a mattress

Now let’s dive into each factor and discuss them all in detail.

Mattress sizes

There are 6 most popular mattress sizes, and below you can find them all. Please, kindly note that different brands may have slightly different dimensions.

Size nameDimensions (in)Dimensions (cm)Suitable for
Crib27.25” x 51”69.2 cm x 129.5 cmA baby only.
Twin38” x 75”97 cm x 190 cm Ideal for one person, even though two people may fit. Very often, a Twin mattress is purchased for kids or bunk beds.
Twin XL38” x 80”96.5cm x 203cmPerfect for tall teenagers, single adults, or if you have limited available space.
Full53” x 75”134.5cm x 190.5cmIf you like to cuddle with your partner, a full mattress is going to be perfect for you. It is also suitable for single young adults.
Queen60” x 80”152.5cm x 203cmOne of the most common choices. It is perfect for a master bedroom. It is a large mattress that can fit two or more people
King76” x 80”193cm x 203cmThis mattress will surely make you feel like a king! A huge mattress that can fit a family with a pet or a large group of friends
California King72” x 84”183cm x 213cmThe most luxurious option available on the market. For those who want to feel free while sleeping. An excellent choice for anyone

How to choose the needed size that will fit the room perfectly?

You can start with getting the dimensions of the room and consider the number of other furniture, and then block off the needed space in your room with the tape - if you need a Queen, block an area of 60” x 80” and see if it fits well. Then perform some actions in your room - anything you usually do, and see if you can do it freely without feeling cramped.

You should consider the furniture you want to purchase in future, too: it may influence your choice of the size as well. Also, think about the most important thing: do you need more space or a more luxurious bed?

Most common types of mattresses

Memory foam mattresses

Memory foam offers comfortable sleep, great pressure relief, and quite good motion isolation. Foam mattresses mainly consist of polyurethane foam or foam infused with gel to absorb heat. It is perfect for people who are not hot sleepers, who have problems with back pains, and do not want to disturb their partners during sleep. The price range on memory foam mattresses - 130-300 USD and 1,100-2,500+ USD for Queen size (low-end and high-end respectively).

Pros

  • Foam is very durable, meaning that you will enjoy a great lifespan of the mattress
  • Ideal for side and back sleepers as it provides that amazing soft feeling and almost “hugs” the sleepers
  • Usually offer great pressure relief
  • Pretty good motion isolation
  • Foam mattresses aren’t noisy at all
  • Modern models have gel-infused layers which can make night’s sleep comfortable even for hot sleepers

Cons

  • Not ideal for hot sleepers due to high heat retention
  • Usually quite heavy and difficult to relocate; one person is usually not enough to bring the mattress to the needed room
  • At first, the chemical-like smell can be annoying, but it depends on the mattress/brand/quality of material
  • Foam mattresses often come rolled in a box and the customers have to wait for the mattress to inflate
  • Often don’t offer proper edge support and the sleepers might feel like they’re falling off the bed if they sleep near to the mattress edge

Innerspring mattresses

Innerspring mattresses usually have individually encased coils or pocket coils, offset coils, bonnell coils, or continuous wire coils. They can be made from titanium or steel. Innerspring mattresses are ideal for people with back pains, stomach sleepers, and people with asthma or allergies. Innerspring mattresses are usually quite affordable - you can find a mattress that costs around 150-350 USD for Queen size, but a more or less good and comfortable mattress price is 1,200-2,000+ USD and more (again, for Queen size).

Pros

  • Innerspring mattresses provide sleepers with great edge support
  • They are less likely to have an odor
  • No heat retention, so all kinds of sleepers can choose this type of mattresses
  • Adequately priced
  • Good for stomach sleepers and even for heavy sleepers - but the latter should pay attention to actual firmness of mattresses, it may vary

Cons

  • Not the best motion isolation
  • These mattresses may be quite noisy
  • Innerspring mattresses are most likely to sag quicklier than the other types if they are used without a proper mattress base
  • They usually come non-rolled, in their original form, and it may be hard to move a new mattress, for example, upstairs

Latex mattresses

A 100% latex mattress usually consists of two layers – the first layer is thick and comfortable latex foam, and the second layer is an even thicker foam that provides proper support. Latex is a hypoallergenic material and it has pretty good cooling features, so people with allergies and hot sleepers can find a latex mattress a great option. A latex mattress can cost you 750-1,000 USD if it's a low-end option or 1,300-2,700+ USD if it's a high-end option (Queen size). There are also mattresses made using Dunlop and Talalay methods - they are expensive because to produce these two types of latex is difficult and time-consuming, but they offer luxurious comfort and are very durable.

Pros

  • Latex is hypoallergenic
  • These mattresses don’t retain heat
  • If they have a good layer of thicker foam, they provide proper spine alignment
  • Motion isolation is also among the best features of this mattress type
  • Latex is not too hard and not too soft and latex mattresses work great for almost all kinds of sleepers
  • If you’re an owner of a latex mattress, you will never see dust mites
  • Latex is a very durable material

Cons

  • Latex mattresses can be quite expensive, especially those that are made using Dunlop and Talalay methods
  • Not all latex mattresses are 100% natural
  • Some people find latex mattresses too firm

Hybrid mattresses

A hybrid mattress usually consists of latex and/or memory foam layers, underneath of which one can find a firm and powerful support layer of pocketed coils. However, you can find mattresses that combine foam and latex only.

Hybrid mattresses are perfect for individuals with different demands and health conditions, and they are the most popular and the most convenient option to buy because they suit most sleeping styles. An average cost of a hybrid mattress is 300-800 USD for a low-end mattress (Queen) and 1,200-2,200+ USD for high-end mattress (Queen).

Pros

  • Combination of softness of foam or latex with firmness of coils works great for most people
  • This mattress type usually doesn’t retain heat if the top foam row is not thick or if it is made of latex
  • Taking into consideration the fact that the coils of hybrid mattresses are usually pocketed, hybrids are not noisy
  • Great movement isolation
  • Good expected durability (7-8 years)
  • Often offer much better edge support than foam mattresses but not as great as 100% innerspring mattresses

Cons

  • Hybrids are expensive
  • Usually very heavy and difficult to relocate
  • Can cause pressure points if the top layer is too thin

Airbed mattresses

If you have ever dreamt about a bed that can be adjusted to all your needs, you should consider adjustable airbed mattresses. These are luxurious and very expensive mattresses with usually two or more air chambers. Their firmness can be customized using a remote control app - a sleeper can make each chamber firmer or softer and get the preferable sleeping condition. Additionally, they often have 4+ layers of different high-quality materials (usually foam and/or latex) which sounds quite promising for side sleepers who usually prefer to sleep on a softer surface.

These mattresses are quite pricey - they may cost from $900 to 3,000+ USD for Queen size, and they have some disadvantages which, however, pale in comparison with the comfort they provide.

Pros

  • Sleepers can use remote control and adjust the firmness of their mattresses within a few seconds
  • Two persons with different preferences can sleep on such mattress with 100% comfort thanks to several air chambers that can be separately customized
  • Several layers of high-quality foam or latex will provide sleepers with the best sleeping experience
  • Adjustable airbed mattresses usually have great edge support
  • They are almost noiseless

Cons

  • Such mattresses are very expensive
  • They often have quite annoying chemical-like odor which can bother some sleepers
  • Their advanced air system may quickly stop working as it should and an expensive customizable mattress will transform into very expensive foam/latex mattress
  • Such mattresses are not the best option for hot or very heavy sleepers
  • Adjustable airbeds are difficult to move

Koala’s short comment on air mattresses and waterbeds

Koala doesn’t recommend sleeping on air mattresses or waterbeds, although some people prefer to have a rest on their air mattresses from time to time. Still, air mattresses are not the best option for long-term sleep at all because they don’t offer proper spinal alignment and edge support, and they aren’t durable. There are although lux adjustable air mattresses and air pressure relieving systems that are designed mostly for people with health issues who demand special care. Moreover, both of these usually have a foam layer (or several), so they cannot be called 100% air mattresses.

There are also luxury waterbeds that can be used for long-term sleep - but they have nothing in common with ordinary mattresses. They rather look like beds with a water layer between or above foam/latex layers than just something you can put on a bed frame or a foundation. They are expensive and can cost approximately $3,000 for Queen size. People often use waterbeds to relieve pain in legs and back if there is a possibility to heat the water layer with a special tool.

Density, thickness, and firmness of mattresses – how to choose your perfect bedding

Another three essential criteria that should be discussed are density, thickness, and firmness of your mattress. These three factors will define the comfort level of your sleep.

Firmness: how to choose the proper one considering weight and sleeping position

Firmness is a universally subjective factor. One may prefer firm mattresses, while others may want to find the softest option available. How to choose the right mattress firmness that will work for your body perfectly?

FirmnessFirmness scaleHeight of sinkageSuitable for (weight/sleeping position)
Super soft1-23-5 inchesPeople who weigh less than 100 pounds.
Soft3-42-3 inchesIndividuals who weigh 100-130 pounds and side sleepers.
Medium5-61-2 inchesSleepers who weigh between 130-230 pounds. Perfect for back and stomach sleepers.
Medium firm7-8Less than 1 inchHeavy individuals who weigh more than 230 pounds.
Super firm9-10No sinkageHeavy sleepers who weigh at least 100 pounds, hot sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers.

Density

Only foam-based mattresses have this characteristic. A mattress with a higher density will feel more solid and much heavier than one with a lower density. Everything depends on your preferences and needs. The heavier the sleeper is, the denser mattress they should choose.

DensityWeight per cubic foot of foamSuitable for
Low3 poundsLight individuals who prefer to sleep on the back and side.
Medium4-5 poundsAverage individuals, who enjoy sleeping on the stomach, back, and side.
High5+ poundsHeavy people regardless of sleeping preferences.

Thickness

Thickness refers to the height of your mattress, while density - to its weight and volume. Usually, the thickness of a mattress is defined by its owner’s weight. Most of the time, heavy users prefer thicker mattresses that can offer great comfort and support, while people who are light may enjoy less thick mattresses.

ThicknessThickness heightSpecialties
Low profile2-5 inchesGood for fold-away beds and cribs.
Slim5-8 inchesGreat for people with limited mobility and kids and often used for twin beds.
Standard8-12 inchesGood for queen and king mattresses; suitable for most adults.
Medium to thick12-20 inchesMost hybrid and foam mattresses fall under this category.
Thick20 inches and moreSuch mattresses are pretty difficult to move and quite rare; good for tall people

Which type of mattress match for different types of sleepers

Your sleeping habits play an invaluable role in defining what kind of mattress you should choose. This section will help you learn about sleeping positions, sleeper’s weight, and sleeping temperature that should be considered while choosing a mattress.

Type of sleeperType of mattressType of materialFirmness level
Side sleeperFoam-based, hybrids with a soft top layerMemory foam, gel-infused memory foamMedium-firm to firm
Back sleeperInnerspring, memory foam, hybridsIndividually-encased innerspring coils, pocketed innerspring coils, high-density memory foamMedium-firm
Stomach sleeperInnerspring mattresses with thin topper, hybrids with a medium-to-firm upper layer, high-end latex-based mattresses100% natural latex, memory foam, innerspring coils with a thick comfort layerFirm
Hot sleeperInnerspring, hybrids without memory foam, latex100% natural latex, traditional innerspring coilsMedium-firm to firm
Light sleeperInnerspring, hybrids, foam-basedIndividually encased coils, memory foamSoft to medium-firm
Heavy sleeperHybrid, latex, innerspring100% natural latex, traditional innerspring coils, encased springsFirm to extra firm

Average cost of mattresses: each type with prices

Let’s take a look at the cost of most popular types currently available on the market:

Mattress Type (sorted by popularity)CategoryLow End (Twin Size)Low End (Queen size)High End (Twin size)High End (Queen size)
InnerspringBudget / Mid-range100-250 USD150-350 USD450-1,000 USD1,200-2,000+ USD
All-foamBudget / Mid-range200-300 USD250-350 USD600-1,100 USD1,100-2,500+ USD
LatexLuxury400-600 USD750-1,000 USD600-1,400 USD1,300-2,700+
HybridMid-range / Luxury200-650 USD300-800 USD1,000-1,800 USD1,200-2,200+ USD
AirbedLuxury--900-2,000 UDS1,000-3,000+ USD

Where to buy a mattress: Online or offline?

If you have selected a type of mattress that you can afford, you should think about where to buy it. There are two ways: in-store and on websites.

Offline: pros & cons

Pros

  • You can touch and feel all mattresses you want.
  • You can get your mattress delivered right away after the purchase.
  • A consultant will help you choose the best mattress for your needs, and you will be able to see if the recommendations of the consultant are really suitable.
  • Stores often offer great return policies, so you can either exchange your mattress if something is wrong with it or just return the mattress after paying a fee.

Cons

  • The range of available mattresses in one store is often limited, so you may have to visit several of them.
  • Salespersons can be quite “aggressive” trying to seel a particular mattress to you.
  • There are usually very high prices for mattresses, as the owners of stores have to pay rent and the salary to the consultants.
  • One can find it difficult to choose a mattress in a store, as some of them actively promote particular brands and it may influence the choice.

Online: pros & cons

Pros

  • There are plenty of sales during holidays, which will help you save up to several hundreds of dollars.
  • You can compare mattresses easily and quickly.
  • It is possible to find coupons that will offer you an additional discount.
  • Popular brands have exclusive offers on special days - for example, famous companies sell off their mattresses each year on Black Friday or Labor day.
  • Online stores of mattresses are exceptionally popular today, which is why you will be able to find exactly what you need and choose among thousands of offers.
  • You can order a mattress from a store in Europe and have it delivered to your door in the US.

Cons

  • You will be able to feel and touch your mattress only when it arrives.
  • Returns and refunds may take a very long time due to delivery and online correspondence.
  • Some mattress online stores offer poor customer support, so you may not get help and advice you need.

Lifespan of a mattress and how to take care of it?

One should choose a new mattress every 8-12 years. Have a look at the chart with the average lifespans of each mattress type - the lifespan is pretty different.

One of the simplest and most important tips regarding maintaining a mattress is you should rotate it regularly. Every 3-4 months rotate your mattress. It will allow both sides to recover from being used and offer you an even longer lifespan. Avoid putting more weight on your mattress as it can ruin its structure.

Please, note: warranty does not show the real lifespan of a mattress! Some companies offer a lifetime warranty, and it does not mean that your new mattress will last for several decades and provide you with proper spinal support. You can check the actual lifespan of a mattress on the website of a mattress brand you choose.

How to choose a suitable mattress - conclusion

Let’s sum up what you need to know to choose the right mattress! Ask yourself the following questions to find out what mattress type will work for you:

  1. What kind of sleeper are you? If you are a hot sleeper, then choosing a foam-based mattress is not a great option for you! Innerspring, hybrid, or latex are a more suitable choice.
  2. What is your weight, height, and body type? Heavy individuals would feel more comfortable while sleeping on thick and firm mattresses, while lighter people would prefer softer options.
  3. How much do you wish to spend? Your budget defines options that you have. If you can spend less than $700, then an innerspring or an affordable memory foam mattress is your choice. If you have a budget of $1,500, you can look for a luxurious innerspring mattress, a great latex or hybrid mattress, expensive memory foam one, or even a big airbed.
  4. What is your preferred sleeping position? Whether you are a back, side, or stomach sleeper, you need to consider the firmness, thickness, and type of a mattress. Back and side sleepers usually prefer medium firmness while stomach sleepers like to sleep on firm mattresses.