My Attempts at Frugal Mattress Shopping

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It’s time for a new mattress. Our current one was found 10 years ago from a university mailing list for $75. It’s actually a nice mattress and the seller said it cost $400 new and was only a year old. I remember believing her because she lived in a luxury apartment complex and the top to her red Mazda Miata convertible was also in the apartment. Anyways, it served me very well for a decade, but now the bed is really starting to sag in the middle and I’ve been waking up with a sore back every morning.

In addition, we are having our relocation expenses reimbursed, so we figure buying now won’t cost us any more, and we can avoid paying sales tax while still in Oregon.

Keeping in mind the previous story was my only mattress-buying experience, we set out to find a new place to sleep. After seeing an ad for $99/piece at a local mattress store, and decided to check it out. I figured, if $200 is cheap, then $500 should buy us a decent set, right?

Would I like to try laying down on a pillowtop? Sure… $1,500!

How about a Tempurpedic foam mattress? Nice… $2,500?!

Wait, what about the $200 set? Here it is… Yikes, you can feel every spring! This is supposed to be a new mattress? It might work for a guest room, assuming you don’t like having visitors. Teaser mattresses… who knew.

After trying several beds with enormous price tags and being subjected to too many choices, we left. Next stop – trusty Costco! I was surprised to discover they even have their own Kirkland line of mattresses! But this one caught my eye – the NovaForm Queen Fresh Dreams Memory Foam Mattress on sale for $550.


After reading a couple of online reviews, it seems like a solid bet. Older models had a certain smell to them, but the newer ones apparently don’t. Also, there have been scattered comments about the mattress not expanding properly into a perfect box shape. Since it doesn’t come with a platform, I know that I’ll have to make my own or just buy a piece of plywood to put on top of our current boxspring since foam mattresses need to be on a solid surface.

Either way, I’m not too worried because of Costco’s great return policy. I’ve read that they will even pick up the mattress again from you for free. I’ll have to confirm that, but this is looking tempting. Anyone out there with any experiences with this mattress? I’ve heard great things about memory foam mattresses in general, and from my test-drives I think I would like them.

Another idea was to simply buy a $100-$200 foam mattress topper, and add that to my current bed. But since my mattress was already sagging, I decided against it. Costco does sell a basic Serta queen mattress for $400. Madame X over at My Open Wallet also bought a new mattress recently.

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  1. Remember reading years ago that attached to each mattress (at least in the stores) that there is a tag attached that has stars imprinted on it. The higher the stars the better the mattress. Mattress manufacturers deliberately make the same mattress for everyone but change the model # and name for each retailer so the consumer cannot directly compare mattresses. This tag is supposed to equalize that tom foolery. Four stars on a mattress for say a Serta in one store is equal to four stars on another Serta mattress in another store. This info is really old so take it with a grain of salt.

    I thought that if you replaced your mattress it was also a recommended you replace the box spring as well.

  2. Beware!
    Those memory foam mattresses really are as good as they say. We chunked out the money for the second-from-the-bottom mattress from Bragada. Three inches of memory foam atop six inches of regular ol’ foam.

    It’s so nice that it’s costing me extra money, because my wife wants to buy one for the guest room at my parents’ house so she can still have her memory foam mattress when she’s away from home. 😛

    And the memory foam comes in different densities. A low-density memory foam has less material in it than a high-density one. You want the higher density one so it doesn’t squish completely flat. The density is the real comparison among these mattresses.

    Definitely grab that sheet of plywood. Just a thin one will do, you don’t need half inch or 3/4.

    Sadly I can not speak to longevity.

  3. John Tarnok says

    Geez, I didn?t expect to make an article out of it, but I hope this helps. Your site has helped me so I?m giving back.

    When I was shopping for a mattress here’s some tools I found useful:

    Mattress Name Comparison:
    (Click on the Manufacturer Icons)
    Comfort Scale:
    Durability Scale:

    Print all of these out and bring them with you to the stores. It gives you paper to make notes on and you can circle and compare models you like, then ask for equivalent models at other stores to compare with models the first store did not have. It also gives you a perspective as to the quality even though the number of comfort ?years? might not be accurate.

    Great read:

    This store owner, Peter Cancelli, of answers tons of questions about mattresses:

    New Forum:
    Old Forum:

    Here’s another forum to get your questions answered from

    Corporate Ownership:
    -Sealy also makes Stearns and Foster and Bassett mattresses.
    -Spring Air also makes Chattam & Wells and Nature’s Rest
    -Kingsdown also makes Dormo/Body Diagnostics

    Mattress Naming:
    -Generally the further into the alphabet you go with mattress names, the better quality and comfort you get. For example mattress model names of the same brand starting with “V” are better than mattress models of the same brand starting with the “B.” However, just because a mattress has a letter like “S” does not mean it is more comfortable to you. A notable naming exception is the Stearns & Foster Plaza Hotel line for Sleepy’s in comparison to other S&F beds. Treat the “Plaza” line like its own brand.
    -Generally the first letter of the model name is the same across different stores.
    -Generally mattresses further into the alphabet are softer and have more/thicker layers.
    -Almost each store has their ?exclusive? mattress labels/names for the same actual mattress
    -The stores generally all price match each other and potentially beat prices in part because they don?t expect you to know how to compare since you can’t find the same name. They will price match/beat the “equivalent.”
    -If you find a mattress you like in one store, another store can look it up in their system and show their re-labeled model.

    One thing to be careful with is making sure that the stores are actually providing a fair comparison. If you settle on one mattress model and are just looking to buy based on price, verify that EVERY foam & latex layer is the same to make sure the comparison is fully accurate.

    A couple Sealy models are re-labeled with the Stearns and Foster label for Macy*s to give the appearance of being higher end. Most are actually S&F beds though. This may be the same for some of Costco’s Kirkland line too.

    Macy*s Hotel Collection line is made by Stearns & Foster.

    Basically the whole industry seems set up to confuse.

    Non-coiled beds such as TempurPedic and others may make some activities feel very different according to some article I read.

    They also hold/release heat differently and may respond differently in different temperatures. Also, I?m not sure if direct sunlight or extreme heat affects latex beds or warms TempurPedic. Inquire with the companies about this.

    Mattress types:
    -Latex (may be better for allergic people)
    -Air (I don?t buy into the Select Comfort idea, as soon as you move I realized I needed to deflate and re-inflate the bed to become comfortable again)

    Mattress Sizes:
    Crib Mattress Size: 28″ x 52″
    Twin Mattress Size (Single): 39″ x 75″
    Full Mattress Size (Double): 54″ x 75″
    Long Twin Mattress Size: 39″ x 80″
    ?Most beds in college dorms have long twin mattresses?
    Queen Mattress Size: 60″ x 80″
    King Mattress: 76″ x 80″
    California King Mattress Size: 72″ x 84″

    For tall people interested in the Cali King, many mattress models in stores also come in this size even though the tags do not list it. The salesperson can look that up very quickly.

    Here are some other things I’ve learned:

    Testing, Comfort and Quality:
    -Generally firm is not good for your sleep or your back.
    -Have both partners try out the bed. A medium firm mattress to a 200lb person could be a very hard mattress to a 120lb person.
    -Before buying it, lay on it for like 15 minutes if possible.
    -Test the motion to see if is moves too easily when another person moves.
    -Check the quality of the edges and springs in different places to see if it?s uneven.
    -Lay on each side in each area of the mattress, stomach, back, sides, upside down, opposite side of the bed, etc.
    -It seems that the mattresses may be slightly more firm when they arrive and feel different than in the store. This could occur from people not testing it out sufficiently or customers.
    -Beds in different sizes feel different (try a queen in the store, a king version may feel softer)
    -Generally lower gauge coils are found in higher quality more expensive mattresses (i.e. 12 3/4 in many S&F vs 14 guage in many Sealys).

    Other tips:
    -If you visit a hotel and like a mattress, look at the name of it. I’m sure hotels don’t like to replace their beds all the time so I’m assuming these would also be more durable.
    -Higher end hotel rooms within the same hotel use higher end mattresses.

    -Stearns and Foster mattresses are price fixed so many stores cannot sell them below a certain price. This is why they do not generally price beat on S&F beds by much. Look for yearly clearances with the introduction of new models each year to circumvent this.
    -Negotiate on extras such as pillows, sheet sets, protectors, frames, etc to help get around price fixing.

    -A slightly torn edge or speck of dirt on the edge of a mattress from moving it on the bed could easily reduce the price of a bed you like by as much 50-75%. Seek out “damaged” and mislabeled beds. A slightly torn edge will be covered up by sheets anyway and will easily save you many hundreds. I do not recall if this is because it invalidates the normal warranty or if you receive the same one. If you receive the same one with damage, get this in writing by the store on your receipt, as well as detailed descriptions of each damaged part.

    -Especially if you’re in the market for a Stearns & Foster, consider looking at ?high end? stores which may offer better customer service such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy*s. Due to the price fixing of the Stearns & Foster line, Bloomingdale’s mattress ?sales? actually bring the prices down to within dollars of stores like Sleepy’s. They may also price match/beat, I forget. They may have vastly different customer service handling such as the way they handle you not liking the mattress after receiving it. Inquire.

    -Beware of the fine print! Mattress salespeople are pretty sleazy. They’re like used car salesmen. They?re commission based. There seems to be universal respect for the quality for the Stearn?s and Foster made beds. I?m not referring to the couple re-labeled Sealy beds although Sealy does have a better than average reputation. Many comfort exchange policies specify if you don?t like the initial bed, and want to exchange it for another, that you have to pay REGULAR price for the second ? even if there?s a sale. Beware of this and try to get this stripped from the agreement if possible.


    If there is ANY damage such as dirt, torn edges, marks, discoloring or whatever on the mattress you receive due to the movers who set up your mattress or how it arrived, your warranty will be probably be invalidated. IF IT?S DAMAGED, A LITTLE SQUEAKY, FEELS WEIRD, ETC, DO NOT SIGN FOR IT IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR WARRANTY! IT SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY OF THESE PROBLEMS. SEND IT BACK ON THE SPOT EVEN IF IT WAS JUST SET UP! WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT SIGN UNTIL IT IS FULLY INSTALLED AND YOU ARE SATISFIED! They may try to trick you saying to sign and just call the store that they?ll take care of it. DO NOT SIGN.

    Needless to say, because I became so frustrated with the process and my current room doesn?t support a Cali King (I?m 6? and like to sleep with my feet pointed down and arm above my head), I still have yet to buy anything 🙂

    -John Tarnok

  4. IKEA sells some pretty comfortable foam mattress. Might want to check them out.

  5. Macy’s is another alternative. They also offer free delivery and setup, a 30-day comfort trial, and interest free financing for up to 12 months. Three months ago, I bought a plush top Simmons queen mattress set with the firm seating edge support on a closeout at 50% off for about $750.

    Don’t skimp too much on your mattress purchase. You can get a great set in the 700-1000 price range. It’s not worth saving a couple hundred bucks on something that you will be spend 1/3 of your life on for the next ten years.

  6. We went with a $250 memory foam (3″ memory, 5″ stiffer stuff) mattress from Wal Mart of all places. I don’t have high hopes that it’ll last for 10 years, but it’s uber-comfy so far.

  7. Chris in Boston says

    Not all “memory foam” matresses are alike.

    The TempurPedic brand is what I own, and I love it. A brother bought the cheaper Costco model and last time I was a guest at his house I was able to try it out. I asked him why he was not using it… his answer? Because it is not the same as tempurpedic foam. The costco brand turns out to be made with a different type of foam, and while looks and feels the same it is NOT breathable and you literally sweat your A$$ of in bed. He and his wife bought the Tempurpedic and they are now very happy. After spending a night on it. I can say…its HOT, not as comfortable as my Tempur bed, and I can certainly say it is not as breathable.

    You theoretically spend 1/3 of your life in bed. I don’t think this is a place you want to be penny wise and pound foolish. Spend the money and get a GREAT matress. Your body, back, and mind will thank you for it 1,5, 10 and 15 or more years from now.

  8. Negotiate with the mattress store! Most people don’t think you can do this or will accept an initiatl 10% off. But I have had success on several occasions negotiating between Rockaway Bedding, Sleepy’s, and 1-800 Mattress. General Rule of Thumb: You should have no problem getting 40% off the listed price for the mattress. Getting to the 50 – 55% range is a little tougher. Basically, you need to find the mattress you want, get the price, then find out what that model is at the other store. They all have similar ones, but of course named differently so it’s harder to comparison shop. Check the mattress at the other store too and then you basically have to go back and forth. This can be done on the phone and within an hour, you’ll see the price drop. The salespeople have leeway up to 40%, and after that you’ll prob have to go through the manager. Best time to shop for a mattress, in my opinion, is December. When people are buying Christmas and other holiday stuff, no one really thinks of buying a mattress as a present so you might get an even better deal.

    The salespeople will try to get you to stay in the store and close the deal with something like “if we give you 10% off today, do we have a deal”. don’t fall for it.

  9. If you go cheap on a matress you will regret it.

  10. About 4 years ago, I was on my quest for the perfect mattress. I had been coveting the TempurPedic sleep system for 5 years before that. At the time I had a gig as a host on a radio station and did commercials for the Relax The Back stores whcih carried the TempurPedic line; and the offered me 30% off. I purchased the top of the line… soup to nuts… Visco-elastic melee… king mattress, king foundation, king pillows – price: well over $3000 in 2003. I am glad that it came with that “test in house for 90 days” warantee. I hade it out in exactly 33 days. By the time it left my abode I was feeling like an 80 year old cripple… mind you I was 35 at the time. I found that people either love TempurPedic or hate them. The guys above are lovers, I am a hater. I found that it conformed enough to my body that it inhibited any natural sleeping movements and I awoke so stiff that (no exaggeration) it would take me minutes to force myself out of bed. I am not sure if all the memory foam mattresses are like this, or if it was particular to my body construction. But it was a happy day when the TempurPedic left. But, so long as you can return it… I’d say try it.

  11. Yeah, I saw that Tempurpedic guarantee too. Perhaps I will try that as well. I’m thinking that enough years have gone by that they have started to get the “generic” memory foam right.

    I’m all for getting a decent mattress, the other option was the Serta Belmont or Serta Pillowtop for $700-900. I just hate shopping for things that you can’t easily determine how good they are without actually sleeping on it.

  12. I bought a king size serta pillow top from Sam’s about three years ago and saved nearly 50% of the what the same mattress went for in dept stores. I have really enjoyed this bed. We also have a guest bed that had a mattress that I did not like because it was too firm, but we bought one of the novaform foam mattress toppers from costco for ~$150 and it completely transformed that bed. Now I love that bed. So I’ve been thinking that when the pillow top mattress dies in the master bedroom I may just buy a cheaper firm mattress and top it with nice high quality memory foam to save a few bucks. But that whole foam costco mattress is a good deal, too. Hmmm….

  13. Maybe I am weird, but I think the cheap IKEA mattresses are way more comfortable than anything else, including the foam ones when I tried them.

    I guess it depends on the person so I wouldn’t want to buy a mattress without having tried it though I guess your options may be limited in that regard.

  14. Mattress shopping is such a complex, personal decision. Others mentioned that it is difficult to compare prices because most mattress companies sell the same mattress under different names at different stores.

    After many, many years of using a waterbed (sheets were getting difficult and expensive to find and replace and the bed was beginning to give my wife’s back problems) we went shopping last year. We ended up buy a top of the line pillow top mattress from a local military shopping center (I am retired military) and we could not be happier.

    As others have stated, there are times to buy the cheapest model/brand and other times when comfort is paramount. I think a mattress definitely falls into the latter category.

  15. Who would have though mattresses would have sparked so many comments? I guess it is because we all have to sleep.

    We shelled out big bucks the last time we purchased new mattress and box springs, but we figure we spend about 1/3 of our day laying on it. We also purchased a bed with a long guarantee so when you amortize the cost per year, it is not so bad. It was painful to write the check, but we are still sleeping comfortably on it 5 years later and it still seems new.

  16. I purchased the 2″ foam topper from costco and love it, and when it’s time for a new mattress I am definitely going to get the foam one from coscto. You really can’t go wrong with costco w/ their great return policy.

  17. If there is an Original Mattress factory near you give them a try. Awesome prices for dual side mattresses. I own 3 and have purchased a couple as gifts. I couldn’t be more happy with the mattresses or the company.

  18. I tried a Tempurpedic pillow on my traditional bed– I find it to be very hot to sleep on. It is also very firm; if I turn over on my side, my ear folds over uncomfortably and it hurts enough to wake me up. Anyway, I quit using it– I don’t think that I’d want to sleep on a whole bed made out of that stuff.

  19. I just bought this exact mattress from Costco. It arrived on Monday. We bought the King and it came to $811 shipped. My wife and I love it. I did quite a bit of research before making my purchase.

    In response to Chris’s comment:
    Costco sells several memory foam mattresses. This particular one has a layer to dissipates body heat. Costco also sells a foam mattress that does not have the cool wave foam, and that is the one that retains heat. Not this one.

    You cant go wrong buying the mattress while it is on sale. At $550 it’s a steal.

  20. forget all the recommendations. you have to test the mattress yourself to see what is comfortable with you. after all you will spend 1/4 of your life on it.

    oh and don’t forget you can extend the life of your mattress by rotating and flipping it every month.

  21. Something no one has suggested yet.. When shopping for a mattress, get factory seconds or floor models! We bought a month-old factory second mattress with a small rip on one side for about 50% off, saving about $500. A handful of stitches later, it was ready to go. You’re going to put a sheet over it anyway so it’s not like you’ll even have to see any rips of blemishes it might have.

    Another suggestion (originally from Consumer Reports I think) is to buy the firmest mattress that you find comfortable. It’s better for your back.

  22. Just checked at Sams Club. They have a Tempurpedic knockoff for $487.

  23. I’ve seen some TempurPedics on Ebay and Craigslist for good deals. Unless it comes in a box, I understand the warranty is invalid as it must come from a certified reseller. Many Ebay sellers say the box was “damaged” during shipment, but that’s not true. Anyway, you are looking a rediculous savings over the normal price.

    You probably know that TempurPedics do not go on sale. If you get on their mailing list they send direct from factory deals which vary from time to time — free shipping, free pillows, 24/36/48 mos. no finance charges etc. etc. Plus they have a 90 day trial (but you do pay shipping charges if you return).

    If I were you (ie. had money!!!) I’d go for the TempurPedic. We have a NovaFoam topper and it gets pretty warm at night. The newer mattresses say Cool in the title, which is either an improvement or marketing scheme. Good luck and thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  24. John, Ikea is opening a store in Portland this summer, they’ve got some good prices, although I’m not what their quality is like…

  25. SavingEverything says

    My only word of wisdom is that you will spend almost a third of your next life on your new mattress. Dont be cheap. Comfort and good support for entire body is more important, for both you and your wife!!! The ad for the new Simmons (i think) says you can put a win glass on one side and jump on the other side without it falling and spilling. So, you will have an emormous selection to choose from, and as mentioned earlier, every store will have different models so that you cannot compare. But, the price range and type (firm, xtra firm, plush) are generally close to each other. My suggestions for you to consider: Simmons, Sealys, Sertas, Tempurpedic, Stearns & Foster, Chattam & Wells, and Spring Air, to name a few national brands.

  26. Next year for me. Im still using the college mattress, but expect to invest in a king bed next year after the assignment. Ill be interested in what you find.

    2 notes
    1) I remember reading recently in a book that we should not skimp on a mattress — its one of the few things that we can spend not too much more on and be sleeping as well as multi billionaires.
    2) I recently stayed at a wealthly friends lakehouse for the weekend. Best sleep of my life. I enjoyed it so much i had to lift up the sheets to find out what the mattress was — It was a Simmons BeautyRest Black. When I go shopping I will be taking a hard look at this one.

  27. One point to note is that these mattresses are incredibly hard to move as they don’t hold any shape and are pretty heavy. If you are moving yourself, I would wait till you move and pay the sales tax. It will be money well spent.


  28. I bought the Costco mattress you refer to in your article in early April – king size. We paid $1000 for it. Both my wife and I love it. I think it is definitely worth the money. The way I see it, even if it lasts 1/3 the time as a Tempurpedic brand, it is still worth it, because it’s a third the price.

    We also bought a complete bedroom furniture set from Costco at the same time. Extremely high quality. Well worth it!

  29. Does anyone know about the quality of mattresses sold from They seem to have some pretty good deals.

  30. I wouldn’t consider it cheap but I bought a kingsdown mattress at sleepy’s for $1100 and I have never slept better. They have various models but the one I purchased was perfect for me. I lay down and am asleep withing 10 minutes (i’ve always had difficulty falling asleep) Check them out.
    The only negative for me is that they are mainly sold at sleepy”s ( I had a very very bad experience with them and refuse to purchase a mattress through them again). Def. don’t just look at price. Calculate what it would cost you if you keep the mattress for 10 years. Isn’t a great nights sleep worth $100/ year?

  31. I, too, bought a Costco mattress.

    After sleeping on a $200 California King mattress for 10 years I was surprised at how much mattresses cost once I went shopping.

    But………I waited for a sale at Costco & jumped. It was like $700, but it’s a waaaaay better most mattesses I’ve ever slept on.

    Surprisingly, my favorite bed of all time was my water bed. It probably wasn’t great for my back, but I just loved how a water bed truly conforms to every part of your body.

    If I had to do it again, I’d do the exact same thing.

    Hilarous how big a business mattresses have become in the last decade. INSANE!!!

  32. I used to have a waterbed too! I would find it hilarious if one day they are found to be superior to visco-elastic foam beds.

  33. Yikes, the mattress people have really driven that “you’ll spend 1/3 of your life on it. so don’t cheap out!” phrase home to people. That must be the first thing they teach at mattress selling school.

    While it’s not a false statement or anything, and it’s worth noting, it’s still a little manipulative. I spend 80% of my life in underwear, that doesn’t mean I should spend $100 a pair on it. While you certainly shouldn’t get something that you’re uncomfortable on, you also shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for getting a cheaper mattress, or not getting the last possible incremental comfort upgrade only offered by owning the Ultimate Sleep Solution System or whatever.

  34. Ha, very well put, dex. There’s always a balance to be had. I do plan on putting some more thought into our purchase, so thanks everyone for their input.

  35. Go to George Smith Warehouse. It has some pretty good mattress there. I recently bought a Beauty Sleep mattress for under $400. It was priced at around $1000, including the frame.

  36. Hey, that’s the same mattress I got a few months ago! I love(ed) it as well! Now i have to sell it to pay my debts, but it was nice while it lasted. Too bad you aren’t in seattle, I could have sold you my clean one for cheap!

  37. I shopped around about 6 months ago and found Ikea to have the best value. They had a good selection of mattresses, both foam and spring with varying levels of firmness. I bought their sultan mattress ($399 Queen) and it is wonderful for my wife and I. I also like using the slats instead of a box spring as it is better support and there is no cheap wood frame to crack.

    I actually thought I wanted a foam mattress, but I didn’t find the comfort to be better than the mattress we chose. I even tried the Tempurpedic brand. I did however love the Tempurpedic pillow.

    Another thing I like about Ikea mattresses and beds is that I don’t get this gigantic mattress that is 2 feet tall so I have to use a step stool and buy special sheets.

    Ikea proved to me that you don’t need to spend outrageous amounts of money for a quality mattress and as an added bonus, no annoying sales people to haggle with.

  38. Another thing I forgot to mention: Ikea actually sells you a full mattress. It used to be “in the old days” you got a mattress that was actually two sides and you flip it every so often for better wear. Well, all the rage is “no-flip” these days and I think it is actually a way to cheapen the mattress so that there is only one good side. Brilliant marketing!

  39. Ikea sells some pretty decent memory foam mattress. I have one that’s 6″ thick and I love it. It’s been 3 years and it’s still holding its shape like new. It’s not that expensive either (~$250 for queen). You might want to check it out too.

  40. My husband and I bought the previous gen of the Nova foam mattress from Costco.. (I think we have the Elite line), and we love it!! It has been 2 years, and still no sag. My husband is 6′ tall and a bit bigger then me, and even so, I don’t see or feel a difference on his side of the bed even after two years. (He had a regular mattress before that he slept on 2 years, and the sag was definitely there. We got rid of it and replace with the memory foam.)

    BTW. If you ask Costco to ship the product to you, and you don’t like it, call them, and they will send ppl to pick it up for free.

  41. dex, that’s not quite a good comparison. you might want to try boxers rather than micro briefs anyways. just like most women wear the wrong bra…if oprah’s show was correct.

    many people get the wrong mattress because they focus on cost rather than comfort. i’m not saying there aren’t good mattresses that are inexpensive, there are. you can buy a cheap one that “fits” you, just know that you may end up paying more in the long run if it wears out and you have to replace it more often than a more expensive one.

  42. you should check out Custom Comfort Mattress! just ask for their tour of how they make their beds and you are SOLD for sure! you totally get what you pay for. im a believer!

  43. Since you are in Portland, there’s a mattress store on the corner of
    NE 38th(?) and Sandy. I think they sell mismatches and stuff. I got a king
    mattress and boxspring for 300. I think it’s great, but I’m not picky.

  44. I picked my Serta mattress and boxspring at Sears. It was normally $1000, I got it for $200. My friend worked in the backroom and said people order beds and never pick them up, and Sears can’t sell them as new anymore. Try to ask one of the backroom guys when its slow if they have any back there.

  45. I have been reading your blog for some time now although this is the first time I am posting to it. Thanks for all the wonderful information.

    Regarding the mattress, my wife and I bought a king size Novaform (Sleep Innovations) from Costco about 2 months ago. We both agree that this is the best mattress we have had. We bought the mattress for about $650 bucks and also saw the same at HD for $1000. Costco rules!

    We did a lot of research online and it seemed like a safe bet. Now we need to buy a box spring but are not rushing into it as the mattress is fine even if it is on the ground.

  46. The best sleep I ever got was when I slept over my friends apartment (before I was married) and she had a Kingsdown bed (which she inherited from her brother who was getting a King size one). It had a nice soft pillowtop, but the mattress beneath was very firm. I kept asking her “what is this – what is this?” and then when shopping for my own bed I completely forgot about that. I made a mistake and bought a bed that wasn’t firm enough for me, but very expensive (a Sealy Crown Jewel). It’s a great bed and after 7 years it hasn’t lost any of its shape, but it’s meant for someone else. This is just my opinion — but I think the heavier you are, the softer mattress should be. If you are lighter, you can have a firmer mattress and you will benefit. But I have no experience with the memory foam ones – but somehow I think those are also made for lighter people too.

    One of my (male) friends had a memory foam and now will only buy that. I don’t know — maybe it’s the fond memory of jumping on a bed as a kid — but I want real springs in mine.

    But next time I’m definitely getting a firm mattress — either Kingsdown or Stearns & Foster, probably at Sleepys.

  47. You may want to go and try out a mattress before you jumpin and purchase one. Somrtimes what looks comfortable turns outno to be so.

    My tip to you is to negotiate for the best deal. I found a matress at Sleepy’s that I was fantastic, except for the $1200 price tag. I got the model name and number and called 1-800-mattres. They offered me the same mattress (just different model number) for $880. I took all the information (salespersons name and number, quote, etc) and went to back to Sleepy’s and showed the salesperson I was dealing with. He came back with $799 delivered. I bought it.

    I saved myself $400 and this whole process took me less than 2 hours over the course of a few days. So I suggest you give it a whirl.

  48. “Another idea was to simply buy a $100-$200 foam mattress topper”
    I have that. Didn’t like it. It hurts my back a little bit. Don’t know why. Maybe because of the sag?

  49. smurfett says

    Is your costco mattress only $550 because it’s only the mattress and not the boxspring? I recently went mattress shopping and found the cheapest to be from They also had a nifty comparason chart of their products so it was easy to compare and figure out what type of mattress firmness I wanted and how many years I wanted it to last. No tax and no shipping if you’re willing to move the mattress from curb delivery to your room.

  50. I bought a bed + box spring last year. Great deal as I got 50% off a $1500 set. I just waited for Sears to have a huge sale and headed over there to purchase one. Not many people seem to purchase from them for some reason as the lady who was working says she only sells about 1/yr. Great bed though.

  51. Funny that you mention mattress shopping – I am currently in the market for a King. I am trying to negotiate with Mattress Firm on the new Simmons Beautyrest Gladstone (pillowtop – pretty soft and comfortable for me)… it lists for $1599, the guy is trying to get me to buy it for $999. That’s only like 37% off. I’ve been told by a family friend who owns a mattress busines a long ways away from me that I should shoot for around 50% off with free shipping. If I can do that, he says I won’t be getting stung too bad by the company.

    Has anyone used Simmons Beautyrest before? What about the Gladstone model? I was going to go with a more generic and inexpensive line like AirSprung or Serta for a $300 cheaper since I don’t know how long I will be using this bed. However, I figure for $300 more it would be worth it to get the better one IF it is really that great of a brand/model.


  52. Adventures In Money Making says

    use MDF instead of plywood for the platform.

    also, spend the money on a decent bed. i spent $850 on my simmons plush-top beauty rest and i love it. (it was on sale and then I negotiated)

    however, if i had to redo it, i’d have gone for the tempurapedic – i think the one you’ve mentioned is good too.

  53. I’ve sold mattresses in the past for three different furniture retailers. So, sorry to be one of those “sleazy” salespeople that was mentioned by John Tarnok above. There are a couple things to note:

    – The lower in the alphabet you go for the Stearns line, generally the better you get. However, some retailers have their own lineup that all begin with one letter. The Mattress Firm used to have their own Rosecrest Collection. There were minor differences in some of the upholstery meant to give them a leg up. However, when it came down to it, telling someone that everything was the same at multiple stores except “ours” had an extra 1/3” layer of cashmere built into the upholstery it really didn’t help. It ultimately came down to price.

    Short story: the alphabet thing only works with certain manufacturers and certain lines.

    – Firm not being good for you… Maybe not for everyone, but it could be good for you. As long as you have the support level needed, then the comfort level is up to the individual. If firm beds were bad for you, I don’t think they’d be sold. Just my opinion.

    – I’ve never (and I was in the biz for 7 years) heard that beds feel different for different sizes. With respect… no. The upholstery layers remain the same throughout the length and width regardless of size, and the support system is proportionate. One thing I recommend doing is making sure that you have the right coil counts being given to you. If you’re buying a Queen, then get the queen counts so you can compare apples to apples at another store. DONT expect another manufacturers coil system to be the same. Yes, some manufacturers (smaller mom and pop stores) buy their coils from places like Legget & Platt, but some manufacturers have their own coil systems. Therefore, you cannot actually compare brand coil counts against each other. It’s kind of like saying a Ford v-6 is the same as a Chevy v-6. So on top of comparing coil counts, make sure you’re doing it for the same brand. If you’re weighing different brands, then you have to make sure you get ALL of your specs to compare.

    – Price… wow… Umm… At every retailer I worked for the price remained the same throughout the entire year. Two places would buy in truckloads of seconds and damaged product and would sell them as “closeouts” and “mislabeled” beds. When a new line comes in you really can get a huge savings, but if someone tells you that “This bed is on sale.”, it probably isn’t. It is FOR sale, not ON sale. They are all price pointed. If you buy a $299 bed, you’re getting a $299 bed. Think about it. When you go and look at the 299 bed and realize “I’m not sleeping on that thing”, how are they going to EVER sell it at $399, $499, or since it’s “Half off” $599?? In all honesty, that bed is and will always be $299, unless it’s being discontinued.

    Your best bet is to see if there is wiggle room in the pricing. Some places will work with you, but approach it tactfully. Learn about the product you want first. Then decide on the model. THEN talk price. As a “sleazy” former-mattress slinger, the worst approach is to come in and say “How much do I get off of this?”. It happened often and you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

    – In home testing. “Comfort guarantee”. Be prepared to get a little hassle if you want to “cash in” on this guarantee… especially if you want to plain out return the bed. The retailer is out money and let’s face it… they don’t really like that. You will probably be hit with return fees and delivery fees.

    – The best thing to do for negotiation is other merchandise. Pillows, linens, fabric treatment (don’t even get me started there), and such are the best bet instead of expecting 100’s off of your purchase. Sure we could drop the price. In my case I could sell if for cost if I wanted to because I managed two stores. Its better for the store to give what costs them 10-15 bucks away, than to give 100’s off something with a nice margin built in.

    – Fabric treatment… Ok. I had to touch on it. Yes, your warranty is technically void if you stain your mattress. They don’t know if that stain is red Kool-Aid or something else. And trust me… they don’t want to know either, and they aren’t going to pick up a bed like that and deliver it on the same truck that delivers new beds to people. Albeit the new ones are i plastic. I digress… back to treatment. Some places sell these treatments for near 100 bucks. It costs them about 5. This is something you might be able to use to sweeten the deal if offered. It’s an OK thing to have, but don’t pay big bucks for it. And make sure your retailer applies it themselves if you purchase it. Don’t take a bottle home and do it yourself. I’ve had customers tell me that they spent big money, applied it themselves, and then their retailer refused it because the fine print says “must be professionally applied”.

    – Price. I’ve said what I need, but you will get what you pay for. Remember this is a durable good. Something that you are going to buy again in 8-10 years, not in the next 6-12 months (at least I hope not). So it’s not like underwear. It’s more like a refrigerator or a car. You use them all every day, but there’s a huge difference in how they are used and how often they are replaced.

    – Try it in the store. Try it like you’d normally sleep. If you are a side sleeper try your side. If you are a back sleeper do that. But also try other positions. It’s best if couples are together so they can try it together. Don’t worry about looking silly, your rest depends on it. And if you snore too loud then you just might be verbally woken up. It happened to me a ton of times.

    All in all, bed buying is extremely frustrating and it’s not something fun to do. Find a reputable retailer, try the bed in the store for as long as you’d like, and don’t be afraid to ask to be left alone if the salesperson is hovering (ugh!!). In my opinion, do your research and narrow it down to a brand first, then find the right model. It’ll make it a lot easier on you to compare brand A to brand A in your comparison shopping. You can also probably call the manufacturer directly to check and see if your comparisons are correct.

    Best of luck! Sorry for the ranting… 🙂

    Oh, and I sold the heck outta Tempurpedic beds. Never had one person call to ask to return. Everyone loved them.

    /Sleeps on a Sealy Posturepedic, will be sleeping on a Tempurpedic next.

  54. mmm… $100 underpants from Agent Provacateur… oh oops?! Was I thinking out loud there?

    Having a mattress is key to a good night’s sleep. If I’m an old mattress and sleeping in the ‘dip’, I wake really tired.

    No you shouldn’t cheap out on a mattress, but of course, you can balance that with finding a good deal. Negotiate! Negotiate! If you don’t know how, try it at one store and then try it at another. Feel free to walk out or try another salesman.

  55. Thanks for the awesome comments, I have been taking them to heart and will update soon with my final bed-finding results!

  56. Ceceil Llado says

    Thank you all for your insights on mattresses. I think I will be ready to fight off the salesmen now!

  57. I was able to find a ?scratch and dent? mattress retailer and procured a KING sized Vera Wang Love Mega-Euro-Top, which retails for $6999, but typically sells for about $2,499+tax on a good day. I scored one for only $400 delivered. The only reason being there was a 1? tear on the corner of the mattress and some scuff marks/dirt on the left side. I hand sewed the tear and bought some stain remover and cleaned up the dirt. Looks as good as new. Keep in mind these are AS-IS with no warranty. But for $400 I could literally purchase 6 or 7 of these for the price of one brand new one.

  58. I have a Gladstone Simmons Beautyrest; my wife says it’s the most comfortable mattress she’s ever tried. It ‘lists’ for $1599 but Mattress Firm actually sells it at $999: this is not a special deal for you specifically. It’s always at that price; often, they’ll have it ‘on sale’ at the store for $1199 and then, to seal the deal, will say “I’ll knock off an extra $200 for you.” All in all, it’s a good mattress and worth $999.

  59. Kevin,
    I just purchased the Gladstone Simmons Beautyrest from Mattress Firm and it was around $1500!!! They have a low price guarantee and I would like to get more information on the mattress you said its for $999. Do you know of a website where I can get that price?

  60. I just purchased a queen size Gladstone Simmons Beautyrest from Mattress Firm for $789. They had it on sale for $1199, but when I told them I saw a similar mattress at Mattress Giant for $789, they matched the price. Just shows you how much markup there is in a mattress. Unfortunately I am not very happy with it. I am a big guy about 300 lbs. This mattress is very soft, and after sleeping on it for 1 night I sunk down into it about 6 or 8 inches. Its almost like sleeping on a feather bed. I should have bought something firmer. Mattress Firm will allow me to trade it in under their comfort guarantee, but you must sleep on it for thirty days first. Then there is restocking fees, and delivery charges. I hope my back will hold out that long enough to trade it in. I miss my ten year old Serta.

  61. We have had 2 Simmons replaced under warranty in the past 4 years and are currently filing another complaint to replace our 3rd Simmons. I do not recommend a Simmons at all, each one of these beds (2 Worldclass models and 1 Exceptionale) have had the padding break down within a year and it feels like sleeping on metal springs, very painful for both me and my husband. All these beds were very comfortable in the store as well as for the first year, after that it’s down hill for these beds. We paid ~$1700USD thinking we were getting quality that would last. B.S. Make sure you know what the padding is, latex and memory foam will probably last longer than what’s called “standard padding”. Very inferior materials if you ask me, at least from Simmons. Seems like if mattresses these days break down quicker than years past, consumers buy more beds, more often, and spend more money thinking they are getting a great bed cuz they spend 1/3 of the time in it. What the mattress companies really want, at least Simmons in my opinion, is a better bottom line for themselves versus a better quality mattress and nights sleep for the consumer. Sorry for the rant, but that’s my opinion. Overall an innerspring mattress is probably not a good idea in the first place, sleeping on layers of foam on top of metal? It’s very frustrating to buy a mattress when the prices are in the thousands. Those who are satisfied for a few years please tell what mattress it is that is working out so well.

  62. This is the blog with the best information on mattress buying I’ve come across. I completely agree that this industry is designed to confuse and confound consumers and I think that some of the respondents here have really helped to clarify the issue for me.
    I went to Sleepy’s initially because it is a right of passage for the mattress buyer. My salesman laid my wife and I down on this special mattress connected to a “computer” which analyzed our body types and determined what type of mattress we needed. All that was missing was bells and beeps while the “computer processed our data” Then we were taken to the perfect bed for us- a Kingsdown (?) bed with a firm side for her and a not so firm side for me. The bed actually felt comfortable, but we refused to commit and after checking out this brand on line, realized it was probably a a P.O.S.
    In the store, the salespeople told me that this manufacturer had been making beds for 100 years. Why, then, had I never heard of them. After telling them that I didn’t want to buy right now, they went through this whole routine of calling district managers and other higher-ups to see if they could get the price down for us. Sure enough, the price dropped from $2400. to $1500. which just happened to be the top of our price range. This whole thing was such a poorly run scam that I couldn’t wait to get out. I tried to do research but quickly realized that things had changed since I bought my Simmons Beautyrest 20 years ago (still in good shape and in the guest room now) All mattress manufacturers now come out with a new line every year and all of the models change name. Every store has a mattress line all it’s own and it makes comparison shopping impossible. This is the single biggest consumer violation in the country. I finally decided to go to Bloomingdales and check out the 50% plus an additional 15% off deal on Stearns and Foster beds. Settled on a plushtop model which seemed like a lot more mattress than the one I saw at Sleepys for a few hundred bucks less and with great customer service thrown in. I strongly recommend this approach if possible.

  63. hhmmm, blog left off?

    We bought a tempur-pedic, returned it before it was delivered. Paid $2500 and that just bugs.

    Then bought a Europa, International Bedding Company. Seems like a bait and switch, not sure. Comfortable for me but not for hubby. I think it’s firm?

    So we are returning that. Thinking of the Simmons Gladstone at Mattress Firm. Our old bed was Sealy Posturpedic.

    What I’d really like to know is how is Mattress Firm? Reputable? Do we really have to wait 30 days before exchanging?? That could be a lot of pain!!

  64. Last month, I finally decided to replace my old mattress. (I had not gone mattress shopping since 1989, fresh college graduate, and I splurged my first paycheck on a Serta Perfect Sleeper Holiday mattress…… but alas, my dependable mattress had finally seen its last legs. )
    I had sticker shock when I went out to look for a mattress. I finally settled and purchased a Stearns & Foster Deacon Ridge Ultra Firm mattress from Sleepys for $1849 (came with boxspring, mattress liner, metal frame, and bedsheets). I have had this mattress for a month now, and I LOVE IT!. I spent several hours at mattress stores doing my research, laying down, getting comfortable, trying out different mattress brands, and S&F was the best and most comfortable for my back. I only hope that it will last as long as my old Serta.

  65. Has anyone bought a latex mattress like from Bragada?

  66. I heard bragada is now – not sure if anyone cares but bragada has a lot of complaints out there, just be careful.


  67. I worked for bragada. They sold out and closed the office. They aren’t the same company I can assure you that. We used to get so many happy customers calling us. When I worked there (2005 – 2010) we were selling over 1,200 beds every month. So the amount of complaints we got were well under 5%. I’d love to work them again but now I’m working for Sleepy’s.

  68. I have been mattress shopping this week as I am replacing the ‘ol mattress I proudly purchased fresh out of college. My learning curve has been worth the wait as you need to try different mattresses from different stores. There’s no other way around it in my opinion.

    Listen, the other day… I was so frustrated I bought a Sealy mattress on sale from Sleep Country. AFter testing the “Heavenly” Bed and the Stearns & Foster, which were way more comfortable for me… I kept getting lured by the awesome price of the Sealy. I purchased it, went home and started thinking how much better the other mattresses performed. So, I woke up in the am, called Sleep Country and canceled my order.

    I have since gone to different stores with a notebook and then have come home and fiddled around with research online. THe notebook is for recording brand names, coil count, types of foam used, types of memory foam used, and other details like “individually wrapped coils” versus “foam-encased coils”. This way… I start getting an idea what feels good to me. And so far, it has been the Stearns & Foster (even above Tempurpedic). Funny…. I’ve been doing the test-drives for about four days now and the Sealy’s that used to be comfortable no longer feel good. i am beginning to feel the difference. The materials on some of the Simmons and Sealys feel “synthetic” compared to the organic feel of a Stearns & Foster.

    But still…. I’ve got more work to do.

    I’ve learned coil count matters. They are more durable and longevity will persevere in such a mattress. A TIP: buy a mattress/stain protector which is different than a mattress pad (and buy that too). That way, if you accidentally bring a bed bug home in your suitcase they won’t be able to hide in the mattress and feed off your dead skin cells.

    If you really want to splurge and buy a mattress with superior engineering….. try researching a “KLUFT” or a “SHIFMAN”. The engineering in these mattresses are amazing!

    Also, research the top hotels (The Ritz, The Westin, etc). They have mid-range high quality beds that they’ve branded). They are comfortable and well made. They have a high price tag though since they consider it designer (aka, The Westin’s “Heavenly Bed”). Get the specs, foam types, etc… and go to different stores and find the same specs under the same brand. It will save you money.

    I have a bad back so finding the right bed is imperative (after 3 surgeries). Yet…. it’s a total drag to do so much work. But how I look at it is once I have this process behind me, I’ll have a mattress that I will love and then be able to buy one in the future with 75% less of the time now that I know what to look for. PLUS…. I won’t have to return mattresses that I don’t like.

    Everyone is different. Find what works best for you. Take your time. Research. Take Notes. Research some more.

  69. Any advise for Orange County, CA regarding mattresses stores

  70. Jane Allen says

    I found this thread very useful. It contains actionable advice on buying a new mattress. I would like to quickly add that consumers have a clear idea of what they want before they step out to shop for a mattress. If you don’t know what you want, a salesman can push you to get what you really don’t need.

    Secondly, I’d like to suggest you delay your purchase by a day or two. This enables you to think through your decision and avoid acting on impulse.

  71. Your options were pretty cool and wise. The last option of buying a mattress topper was perfect. But when there are mattresses like Ikea that comes with affordable rates, why would anyone buy a mattress topper. But if its a mattress that has been used for more than 7 years, you can go for buying a new mattress that lasts long with supreme performance and comfort. The tuft and Needle mattress or the Saatva is one of the popular mattresses available online. The reviews for this mattress are also very impressive. Tuft and Needle mattress is one of the highest rated mattress available online. Although selecting a mattress is purely personal choice, I just gave an option. This can help you in future buying decision.

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