Differences Between Expensive & Cheap Mattresses

Comparing Mattress Cost and Materials

What’s the difference between a low cost mattress and a five thousand dollar mattress?

Often, less than you think. Sometimes it’s just retail markup or the manufacturer’s name that makes for the added expense on the mattress cost.

The modern mattress business has changed
Since being taken over by private equity, and bed in the box people, it is all about the pennies in mattress construction. Because you’re unlikely to see the inside of the mattress, the cheapest possible materials are used.

This, however, does not change the price being charged
Usually what’s used is cheap polyurethane foam under various names (eco, soy, supersoft, memory, visco or some proprietary name). It feels great at first.

The mattress industry is built on illusion and false promises about new, miracle materials being used in mattress, or that there is some magic in their construction or business model.
Otherwise, why would you pay outrageous amounts for their product? They are passing on the magic in the form of mattress cost, but I can tell you that there are no new miracle materials, and mattress construction is really quite simple. What you will see, however, are some gorgeous fabrics and thick, elegant looks; none of which makes a difference in how the mattress will perform or hold up. What really matters is on the inside of the mattress.

An old time mattress rep once told me to buy mattresses by the pound; meaning that good materials are heavy. That resonates even more today as most of mattresses now are so light; it is all about the, not durability (or being light enough to UPS).

The things that can legitimately add value to a mattress are:

  • Natural Fibers like wool, horsehair, silk, etc.
  • Cotton
  • Latex (botanical, not synthetic/”natural”)
  • Higher coil count springs
  • More natural fibers
  • Two-sided, flippable versus one-sided, can’t flip mattresses
  • Locally sourced materials creating local employment may have more value than an import or something needing to travel great distances.
  • Heavy weight polyurethane foams (5lb destiny or greater)

Things that don’t add value:

  • Adding extra thickness to a mattress
  • Light weight poly foams or design for design’s sake
  • Gel (it’s a gimmick – see our blog on temperature regulation)
  • “No Flip” or “Can’t Flip” mattress

These are aesthetic enhancements and marketing techniques, only added to extract more money from consumers. Some of these actually take away from the value. Extra thickness and lightweight poly foams reduce the usable life of the mattress.

Longer warranties don’t add value
The life of most mattresses with 20 year warranties is 5 to 7 years. Warranties do not cover comfort, durability or usable life – only manufacturing defects.

Things we have heard our customers share with us that are simply NOT true!

  • Two-sided mattresses are not made anymore because they are too heavy (we can flip them for you anyway)
  • It is illegal to make two-sided mattresses
  • Consumers demanded one-sided mattresses

How do you protect yourself?

  • Know how heavy it is; lightweight mattresses will fail fast, particularly if they have no coils. Queen mattresses under 100lbs should be cheap.
  • Understand that two-sided mattresses last 3 times as long as beds that cannot be flipped.
  • Expensive mattresses better be very heavy, otherwise their retail markup is too much.

A flippable mattress changes everything
Make the most of your investment. Get a mattress you can flip & rotate.


One thought on “Differences Between Expensive & Cheap Mattresses

  1. Rick says:

    Good morning
    I enjoyed reading your article. Very refreshing and to the point. I especially liked your view points on the two sided mattress.
    I will be back to read more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.