How to Buy a New Mattress

What You Need to Know Before Picking Your Mattress

mattress showroom

krblokhin / Getty Images

If you've had more sleepless nights than you can count, have been waking up with a sore back, and can never get comfortable in your bed, it may be time for a new mattress. As a general rule of thumb, a mattress lasts for five to ten years, so if yours is approaching that age, start thinking about replacing your mattress with a new one.

Buying a new mattress may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task, and a big investment, but we've done the work for you with this ultimate mattress buying guide. From figuring out what mattress type and size of mattress you need to how and where to shop for one, this guide will help you determine the right mattress for you for the good night's rest you deserve!

Buying Considerations for Mattresses


If you are thinking about getting a new mattress, this may be an exciting opportunity for a small, or perhaps complete, room makeover! Perhaps your lifestyle has changed and you live in a larger home and have a bedroom that can accommodate more than the old queen-sized bed you've had for a decade. Or maybe you moved to the city for a new job, have a much smaller apartment, and it makes more sense to downsize your bed. Whatever your situation, size is a huge factor to consider when picking a mattress.

Bed Size Guide

The Spruce / Alex Dos Diaz

Start out by measuring your room, figuring out whether you want to keep your bed in the same spot or move it somewhere else and determining what size bed and mattress the space can accommodate.

Mattress Dimensions
Mattress Size Dimension (inch) Dimension (cm)
King 76 x 80 inches 193.04 x 203.2 cm
California King 72 x 84 inches 182.88 x 213.36 cm
Queen 60 x 80 inches 152.4 x 203.2 cm
Full XL 53 x 80 inches 134.62 x 203.2 cm
Full 53 x 75 inches 134.62 x 190.5 cm
Twin XL 38 x 80 inches 96.52 x 203.2 cm
Twin 38 x 75 inches 96.52 x 190.5 cm


To figure out what kind of mattress you need, ask yourself a couple of questions first: do you like a firm, plush, or bouncy surface to sleep on? Do you usually sleep on your back or your side? Do you get hot at night, and do you toss and turn a lot? Answering these questions for yourself will help you narrow down your options and help you out once you start shopping.

While the mattress industry does have what they call a firmness scale, each individual brand will have their own definition of what the terms "firm" and "extra firm" actually mean when it comes to their products. The firmness scale runs from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest mattress available and 10 being the most firm on the market. While this does give you some information when you shop, nothing will inform you more about the firmness and comfort of a mattress than trying it out for yourself.

Necessary Additional Accessories

Depending on the type of mattress you are buying and the style of bed that you have, you may need a box spring or bunkie board to lift the mattress. If you have a platform bed, you won't need any sort of lifting foundation because that style of bed sits lower to the ground. If you already have a box spring and you are not buying a different sized mattress or bed, then it's perfectly fine to keep your box spring and use it with the new mattress.

You may also want to think about purchasing a mattress topper or pad that enhances comfort and makes the bed feel more plush without causing the mattress to lose any of its firmness. When choosing a new mattress, you may also want to opt for a pillowtop version if you're looking for extra padding and comfort. Know, however, that pillowtop mattresses do tend to sag and lose their plushness over time, while costing you additional money to purchase in the first place.

Types of Mattresses

The mattress market has become huge, with many different types of mattresses offered at various price points. You may be familiar with the three most common types—the memory foam, innerspring, and adjustable air mattresses—but as with every large purchase, it's a good idea to do some research and weigh the pros and cons of each type of mattress before making a decision. The following are the types of mattresses most commonly sold in stores and online today.

Innerspring Mattress

This is the most common and traditional of all the mattresses on the market, and it's available at various price points, including very affordable ones. It's supported by metal springs or coils and tends to be on the firmer side, so for someone looking for a softer, more plush option, this may not be the right choice.

Memory Foam Mattress

This type of mattress is softer and conforms to the shape of your body, making it a great choice if you want extra support and pressure relief. It will suit you if you don't want extreme firmness, and if you are someone who gets cold at night. For anyone who is always warm, there is a cooling memory foam option that will prevent you from feeling too hot at night. Memory foam mattresses tend to be more expensive, so if budget is a concern, that's something to keep in mind.

Mattress in a Box

This is becoming an increasingly popular option, due to the convenience, affordability, and quality of these mattresses. As the name suggests, it's simply a mattress that has been compressed to fit inside a box. It is the most convenient of all the options, as you order it online, it's shipped directly to your door, and instead of having to maneuver a cumbersome flat mattress up the stairs and around tight corners, all you need to do is take the box into your bedroom, unpack the mattress, and let it sit flat until it fully forms its shape.

Hybrid Mattress

A hybrid mattress is a combination of an innerspring and memory foam mattress, so you get the best of both worlds. It is a good option for many different body types and sleepers. It's more supportive than just a regular foam mattress and therefore also more durable. It does tend to be more expensive, which may be outweighed by its durability.

Air-Filled Mattress

The main benefit of this type of mattress is its adjustability, since it allows you to control how full, therefore how firm, the mattress is. Not only that, but it gives you the option of adjusting each side of the bed to your preferred firmness, giving you ultimate customizability. It also can outlast conventional models thanks to its replaceable parts, which can help extend the life of the mattress. Many have a warranty of 10 to 30 years, but you will definitely pay a higher price tag for them. While a very popular choice today, one of the disadvantages of this mattress is that it can slowly deflate, causing uneven air distribution.

Latex Mattress

This is a great choice if you are looking for a mattress that forms to your body and is unlikely to accumulate potential allergens. It won't make you feel as hot as a memory foam mattress will, and it has a little more bounce and elasticity, which can either be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on what you're looking for.


A mattress can be a significant investment, so figuring out how much you are willing and able to spend is important. Prices range from a couple hundred dollars for a budget-friendly basic mattress to thousands of dollars for top-of-the-line ones. It depends on the style and quality of the product as well as where you're shopping for it. Figure out your priorities and non-negotiables for the mattress, do your research, and shop around to find the best mattress for your budget.

Where to Shop

Buying In-Store

If you are purchasing a mattress in a brick and mortar store as opposed to online, it is crucial that you test it out for yourself first. Go to the store and try out different kinds of mattresses, because you may be surprised that you actually like one that's more firm than you thought you would, or vice versa. Don't just sit on it, but lay down on it like you would at home. If you're a side sleeper, lay down on your side. If you are a back sleeper, lay down on your back. It's a big purchase, so make sure that you spend more than just a couple of minutes testing out the mattress you're seriously considering.

Buying Online

Buying a mattress online is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the growing number of companies offering high-quality mattresses that are conveniently shipped right to your door. It saves you time because you don't need to go to a physical store and spend time looking at countless mattresses, and it's also often less expensive to shop online. Plus, you don't have to worry about transporting the mattress to your home.

There are downsides to shopping online, however, the main one being you can't try the mattress out for yourself before purchasing it, and returning it is often quite a procedure that can cost you return shipping and even a restocking fee. If you do decide to go down this route, make sure to read through the store's return policy carefully in order to save yourself any future hassle.

Check the Store's Trial and Return Policies

Lastly, it's important to check the mattress store's trial and return policies, as this can save you a major headache later on. Even if the mattress seemed very comfortable when you tried it out, sleeping on it in your own home for several hours every night may reveal that it's not quite what you had hoped for. Most stores have a three- to four-month trial period, but be sure to find out what exactly that means, and what state the mattress can be returned in. Depending on the store, you may get a full refund or exchange, but may also be charged a restocking fee.

Being as knowledgeable and informed as possible is the best way to make a great purchase that you're happy with for years to come.

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  1. Bai, Dorothy Li et al. Relationship between a pressure redistributing foam mattress and pressure injuries: An observational prospective cohort study. PloS one vol. 15,11 e0241276. 9 Nov. 2020, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0241276

  2. Why Allergy Sufferers and The Sleep-Deprived Find Relief With A Natural Latex Mattress. Green America Center for Sustainability Solutions.