Mattress Buying Podcast Transcript
Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.
Today’s topic: Mattress Buying Tips.
Considering that you'll probably be using your bed more than any other product you own – including your car, TV, computer or cell phone – the mattress you sleep on is one of the best cost-per-day values on the market.
- Gone are the days when a mattress had to be hard-as-a-board to be good for you. A too-hard mattress may only succeed in putting your shoulders and hips to sleep. You'll sleep best when your bed helps you feel cradled in comfort, cozy and secure.
- Today's top quality mattress/foundation ensembles are built for superior comfort. Luxurious new cushioning materials and extra-soft surface treatments create a plusher, more comfortable feel.
- Correct support is the essential ingredient for a healthy body. A good mattress and foundation will gently support your body at all points and keep your spine in the same shape as a person with good standing posture.
- Pay special attention to your shoulders, hips, and lower back—the heaviest parts. If there's too little support, you can develop back pain. But if the mattress is too hard for you, you can experience uncomfortable pressure.
- Don't rely on product labels to tell you which mattress will give you the right support. One manufacturer's "firm" may feel harder than another's "extra firm." The only way to find out if the support is right is to lie down and try it out.
It's the quality of the materials used and how they're put together that determines how long a mattress and foundation will provide the
- comfort and support you bought them for. The best assurance of good performance over a good many years is to buy the highest quality sleep set you can afford.
- Don't look to the warranty to tell you how long to keep your mattress and foundation. It's there to protect you against product defects, not against the gradual loss of comfort and support. A sleep set may still be usable after 15 or 20 years, but it might not give you the good night's sleep you deserve.
- Cramped quarters can turn sleeping into a nightly wrestling match. A healthy sleeper moves anywhere from 40-60 times a night, including some dozen full body turns. You need freedom of motion while you sleep and to help you relax while getting to sleep.
- If you sleep with a partner, be sure to select a queen or king size. Both are not only wider, but several inches longer than the standard "double" or full size, which offers each sleeper only as much space as a baby in a crib.
Buying the Right Mattress for You
You know what kind of mattress is best for you and now it’s time to know what to look for when you buy the mattress.
- When you see some mattress sets you like ask to see a cut-a-way sample of each mattress, and request a detailed description and thickness of each layer of foam padding. Bargain bedding contains low end foams which deteriorate faster.
- Modern spring mattress cores, often called "innersprings” are made up of steel coil springs, or "coils."
- Compare the coil count (minimum 300 for full, 375 for queen, and 450 for king), wire gauge and the number of turns in each coil.
- Coils are measured in quarter increments. The lower the number, the thicker the spring.
- Coils constructed with a higher number of working turns will result in both a softer and more durable mattress, since the work of supporting your body is spread throughout the spring.
- Connections between the coils help the mattress retain its shape. Most coils are connected by interconnecting wires; encased coils are not connected, but the fabric encasement helps preserve the mattress shape.
- Lie down on the mattress for at least 15 minutes. Don’t rely on the label to determine firmness.
- Look for polyester fabric covering. Foam-backed vinyl is used in low end mattresses.
- Pillow tops are comfy for a short time, cost more, but develop depressions.
What to Know When Shopping for the Right Mattress
Shopping at a store that sells only mattresses can be a different shopping experience when shopping at a store that sells more than just the mattress set.
- Look for a retailer that includes a “comfort exchange” in its refund policy. The Virginia Consumer Protection Act requires that a refund policy be conspicuously posted.
- To compare prices between retailers, call the manufacturer and give the model number, which is on the “white law tag” (attached to the mattress) in the first store. Then ask what model name is used for this same model at another retail store you plan to shop.
- Avoid retailers who sell mattresses without black on white law tags. If the retailer sells used bedding, tags must be yellow or red. Make sure the mattress you purchase has a white tag indicating all material is new.
- Beware of mismatched sets. Pair the mattress with its matching box spring or foundation to preserve the warranty. Box springs containing coils are more expensive than foundations which are wood frames with slats and cloth.
- Prior to purchasing your mattress set ask for a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Ask the retailer to write “new” on your sales receipt with the serial number of the mattress you select. It is located near the bar code on the white law tag. Upon delivery, verify that the serial number on the mattress is identical to the store model. If you are looking for quality, avoid “two for the price of one”.
Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.