Bed Mattress Selection Guide

How to choose a mattress and bed

bed mattress

Since we spend about 1/3 of our life sleeping, choosing the right bed mattress should be a carefully thought-out decision. Your health and welfare could weigh in the balance. Here are some important things to consider:

What are the key elements to keep in mind when selecting a mattress?
The four most important factors are comfort, support, space and matching sets. First of all, if the mattress doesn’t feel comfortable when you lie down on it, find one that does. A mattress should provide ample support for all parts of your body. A firm mattress that supports your body is better for your health in the long run compared to a very soft one. Also, make sure there is enough space for free, easy movement. A couple needs to have a king or queen size mattress. Finally, a mattress and foundation (box spring) are designed to work together. Buy them as a set to ensure optimal support and comfort.

What do I need to know about the coil count?
Coil construction and quality vary from manufacturer, but coils should at a minimum be 300 for a full size mattress, 375 for a queen and 450 for a king. Also, ask about the diameter or gauge of the coils: the lower the gauge, the thicker the wire. As the number of coils increases, wire size decreases so that the mattress still has some “give”.

What are the typical sizes for a mattress?
Bed mattresses come in six different sizes:

King 76″ wide x 80″ long (note: this is sometimes referred to as an Eastern King)
California King 72″ wide x 84″ long
Queen 60″ wide x 80″ long
Full (or Double) 54″ wide x 75″ long
Twin (or Single) 39″ wide x 75″ long
Twin Extra Long 39″ wide x 80″ long
Crib 28″wide x 52″long

What about mattress depths?
Mattress depths vary from 8″-17″ (6″ for cribs). You will need to find out the depth of your mattress before you purchase sheets, mattress pads and comforters for your bed.

What is the ideal size bed mattress for a child or an average sized adult?
A twin-sized bed is best for one child or adult. You want the child to be able to grow into his or her bed over the years. An extra long twin is 5″ longer than a standard twin size and are typically found in dorms and camps.

Should I be concerned about the material the mattress is made of?
Yes. Many mass-produced mattresses (and cribs) are made from polyvinyl chloride covered with cotton and/or polyester layers. Chemical emissions or “outgassing” from these synthetic materials have been linked to toxic carcinogens. Natural mattresses are made from organic wool, organic cotton, and pure latex. Organic wool is an excellent choice because it is naturally fire, dust mite and mold-resistant. Organic cotton mattresses need to be treated with a flame retardant or require a doctor’s note for not treating them . Natural latex is a relatively new product in the bedding industry and is also resistant to mold, mildew, bacteria, and dust mites. Latex covered in wool is fire resistant. Latex mattresses contain no metal and moving parts to wear out, so they are exceptionally quiet. Most latex allergies that people suffer from (gloves, catheters, etc.) are typically not a problem with latex mattresses.

What about bed materials?
Solid hardwoods are best that contain a non-toxic finish. Beds that contain plywood or particleboard made with glues can release formaldehyde fumes. Make sure to inspect the construction of the bed.

What about delivery and installation?
This is an important question to ask so you find out the additional costs up front if it’s not included in the regular price. Some companies also offer old bedding removal and disposal for a fee.

What is a typical warranty for a mattress?
Most premium mattresses come with at least a 10-year warranty. Note that many warranties can be voided if the mattress has been burned, stained or soiled in any way.

How can I tell if I need a new mattress?
The average life span of a quality mattress is eight to ten years. Mattresses older than this can suffer from deteriorating comfort features and support capabilities. The most obvious sign is that you don’t wake up refreshed and rejuvenated in the morning. If this is the case, you probably need to begin looking for a new mattress.