Quality mattresses don’t come cheap. Even with the new online mattresses that are delivered in a box, you can still expect to fork out at least $800 for a good queen size mattress. A natural or luxury online mattress can cost more than $1,500.
With that kind of spending, you of course want to get full value for your money. You’ll want a mattress that is comfortable, properly supports your back, stays cool and lasts long.
But it’s not always easy to find a mattress that checks all these boxes. Online mattress reviews can help you find the best mattress. You can also use our own mattress comparisons and reviews to help you in your search.
As well as looking for the best features in mattresses, make sure you also watch out for problems that could affect how comfortable and supportive the mattress is. Here are the red flags to watch out for.
1. Poor support
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Support is the most important feature of a mattress. A mattress with poor support will not just ruin your sleep; it will negatively affect your life. You’ll have back pain, less productivity because of low quality sleep and poor general health.
So be very careful when buying a mattress. You are better off spending more money on an $800 mattress that will let you sleep well rather than save on a cheap $200 one that ruins your health.
The best way to determine how supportive a mattress is to sleep on it. That’s why I recommend you also pay attention to the return policy (see last point). This ensures you can return the mattress if it’s not the right fit for you.
But there are a few telltale signs that can indicate good or poor support. One of them is the construction of the mattress. The thickness, number and material of layers can tell you a lot about the quality of a mattress’ support.
Quality mattresses will often have three distinct levels. There is the comfort level at the top, the support level in the middle and the base, which is the thickest. Overall, a supportive mattress should be at least 9 inches thick.
If you have a heavier body, get a 12-14 inch mattress and check that the support layer is thick enough to support you.
Watch out for cheap mattresses that contain just one continuous slab of foam. They’ll either be too soft (no support) or too firm (no comfort). Both are just as bad for your sleep and health.
You probably already know that memory foam is terrible at keeping cool. It acts as a heat sink, retaining all your body heat within the mattress and creating an uncomfortable sleeping experience.
But that’s not to mean that all memory foam mattresses are bad. Some memory foam mattresses incorporate special cooling technologies such as open cell design or gel-infused foam to improve airflow.
Other mattresses put the memory foam layer in the middle where it doesn’t cause heating. Materials such as latex foam or pocketed coils are then used to keep the mattress cool.
Watch out if a mattress consists of just memory foam. Such a mattress will not only be hot, it will most likely have poor support too. Also be careful if a mattress uses memory foam as the top layer but there is no cooling technology used.
I’d also recommend you go through online mattress reviews from customers to hear their experience.
3. Toxic off-gassing (and overall safety)
Harmful off-gassing is not a major issue with most online mattresses today, even those shipped compressed in a box. If you experience any smell, it is most likely normal fresh foam smell and is harmless.
But you should still take particular note of the materials used in the mattress you are about to buy. Do they use CertiPUR-certified foams? What fire retardant is in the mattress?
Watch out for hazardous chemicals such as Formaldehyde, Benzene and Toulene. If you want to be completely safe, buy an organic or natural mattress like Avocado Green Mattress, Amerisleep and Plushbeds Botanical Bliss.
Look through customer reviews to check whether the mattress holds up after months and years of use. If many customers say it sags to soon, avoid it. If there are reports of the cover getting torn or the materials in the mattress shifting, also avoid it.
Only buy a mattress whose expected lifespan is at least 10 years. If you have a bigger budget, get a luxury mattress that can last 15 or even 20 years. A good way of predicting a mattress’ durability is the warranty. If it’s 10 years, you can expect the mattress to last around that long.
Talking of warranties, watch out for…
5. Short-term or no warranty
The minimum warranty a mattress should have is 10 years. If it’s less than that, find another mattress. If there is no warranty, don’t even think about buying the mattress. You’ll be throwing your money down the drain.
Some pricier mattresses may have longer warranties of 15, 20 or even 25 years.
Don’t just check the warranty period; also check the type of warranty. If the warranty is 10 years long, it should be non-prorated. That means the manufacturer covers all repair or replacement costs thorough the coverage period.
If it’s longer, it alright if the coverage is divided into full and prorated warranty periods. Maybe in the first 10 years they cover everything and then from there you pay part of the replacement costs.
Don’t forget to check what kinds of damage or deterioration the warranty actually covers.
6. Limited and tedious return policy
If possible, don’t buy a mattress from a brick and mortar store. Their return policies are often tedious and will cost you money if you attempt to return a mattress. Amazon is better but you get just 30 days to test a mattress.
Buy from online sellers like Casper, Leesa and Nest Bedding. They offer generous no-questions-asked return periods of at least 100 days. This is enough time to actually decide whether you like the mattress or not.
Watch out for companies that offer very short return periods and attach a lot of conditions or demand a fee when you make a return.
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