Boy Have Mattresses Changed In 20+ Years

We have a 21-23 year old Stearns & Foster that I think is causing back issues, so we went out to test some mattresses. We both want something firm. We are both back sleepers. My wife is 165lbs, I’m 240lbs. I have read that a heavy person should not get a full foam bed due to durability issues. Instead should seek out a hybrid due to the springs lasting longer than foam. I went out to try some mattresses at a local store concentrating on hybrids. Of 18 mattresses I tried only a few stood out. A Sealy innerspring (Ivy Rose) a Casper Original and a few Stearns & Foster’s. The Casper was way too soft as where other foam mattresses including a Nectar. The Stearns & Fosters all seemed just like the one at home. The Sealy was marginally the most comfortable. But how can you tell laying on something for a few minutes? I’ve been reading online and I was leaning toward getting the Plank Firm Luxe because it seems to be the firmest and is doublesided. So I can flip this and have two choices firm & firmer just in case the one side is too firm I have a second option. Then I read that many are finding the Plank is only lasting for a couple years. Another interesting option is getting a Haugesund from Ikea a inexpensive firm innerspring that I can change the feel inexpensively buy putting on toppers. Since the Haugesund is basically a innerspring with a thin foam top, it may last a long time. One thing the salesman said that I keep thinking about is “The Stearns & Fosters are built like tanks”. I already have a tank! Maybe I could somehow replace the foam on the tank I already have. Right now I’m going to stick a piece of plywood between the boxspring and the mattress and see if it stiffens up the old tank. Any suggestions?

I put a 4x 5 piece of plywood between the boxspring and the mattress last night and my back feels much better. Hopefully that will stiffen up things enough.

I’d imagine the metal will last longer than the memory foam. I went with latex since the memory foam gave out after 12-13 years, but it looks you solved it with plywood. If the plywood mod doesn’t work out, you may want to look at latex.

Hi redmed and welcome the Mattress Underground :slight_smile:

Sorry to hear that your mattress is no longer performing as it once did - although 20+ years is quite a good run for a foam mattress! Keep in mind any mattress you consider ideal sill be based on your Stats (height, BMI, sleeping position(s) and any underlying health conditions), and your PPP (Posture & alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences). It seems like you have been doing some research, but if you have not already done so, you may want to refer to the

Mattress Specifications You Need To Know to the Mattress Durability Guidelinesto see how certain materials hold up over time.

For foams, Higher BMI sleepers need to be aware of the densities of the foam used if they choose memory foam mattresses, as any insufficiently dense memory foam can hide inexpensive ‘filler’ foam, which can breakdown prematurely, leaving ‘ridges’ and ‘valleys’ after a short time, which could exacerbate your back pain and can even cause alignment issues. We suggest any foam in a potential mattress has no more than an inch or so of lower grade foams (for memory foam no lower than 4 lbs/cuft for normal range weights, and 5lbs/cuft for higher range weights) and if polyfoam is used, with at least 1.8 lbs/cuft density, just to ensure you have support. This goes for all foam mattresses as well as hybrids; hybrids provide a different robust support system if it matches the sleepers preference in how it feels, but the

criteria for the top foam comfort layers is the same.

A few notes on the testing you have already done…most of the mattresses you describe fall into the ‘big brand’ category, in which specifications like density, materials used, and layer composition are obfuscated by marketing jargon and trademarked foams for which details are often nonexistent. Any mattress which does not disclose the density of their foams raises red flags for the informed consumer. You have also correctly determined the issue with in person restring - it can take weeks for any sleeper to ‘break in’ a mattress to see how it performs with their sleep profile, and yes a few minutes cannot give a proper sense of compatability! Best to focus on the specifications and therefore support and durability…this is one reason any good mattress manufacturer provides 90+ day sleep trials. It can also take a while for a sleepers body to adapt to a new mattress as well. And of course, the big brands have sales associates who will extoll the value of their particular mattress, as they commonly work on commission, and usually have no more insight into the products specifications than a consumer off the street…’built like a tank’ is certainly a strange way to promote a mattress; you’re not going into battle, you want to sleep comfortably!

Not sure where you are located and if you have access to any smaller independent mattress manufacturers…but if you are considering online purchases, you may want to consider the offerings of the Trusted Members of the site, many of who carry foam and foam hybrid mattresses in a variety of configurations, firmnesses and price points. These all have proven track records on quality, transparency in materials and construction, great customer guidance and generous return and exchange policies.

If you provide your Stats and any specific mattresses (that you have not discounted for various reasons!)that seem compatible, we may be able to comment on their suitability and durability.

Remember, a knowledgeable consumer is the best consumer…ignore the hype and consider the practical aspects as discussed above, and you will likely find your perfect sleep solution!

~ Basilio

It’s quite fascinating how your mattress has lasted over two decades – definitely outliving many others. Kudos to you for maintaining it so well! Now, this doesn’t always happen; some folks with the same mattresses found they lasted only five years, so there’s no one-size-fits-all lifespan.

When it comes to brands like Stearns and Foster, people often wax nostalgic about the good ol’ days before Sealy took over in the 1980s, believing that the quality was better back then. But your mattress seems to be the perfect contradiction, proving that products can sometimes defy the norm and perform for much longer than expected!

If you’re looking for a firmer sleeping surface, try moving your mattress to the floor for a night or two. This may seem a little unusual, but it’s a practical way to check if the issue might be with your bed frame or box spring rather than the mattress itself - think about replacing worn-out tires on a car, not the entire car.

If you find your mattress more comfortable on the floor, you might need to upgrade your bed frame and/or the foundation. Just like a house, a good mattress needs a solid foundation to perform its best.

On the other hand, if the floor trick doesn’t work, you could consider a more hands-on approach - ‘mattress surgery’, which involves cutting open the mattress and adjusting some of the inner layers. However, this could be risky, as messing with the structure of your mattress might lead to discomfort if not done right. So, this should only be done if you’re okay with a bit of uncertainty and willing to put in some effort. The important thing to remember is that mattresses are complex structures designed for comfort and support, and altering one part could affect the whole.

If you decide to get a new mattress, try sticking with something similar to your current one. Hybrids are great, but they use pocket coils, and your Stearns and Foster probably uses open coils. These types of mattresses aren’t sold online because they can’t be roll-packed for shipping, but you could find a local shop that sells them.

And one last thing, when you’re looking at reviews, remember that people are more likely to leave a review when they’re unhappy than when they’re satisfied. So don’t let a few bad reviews sway you, trust your own instincts and comfort!

The plywood between the box spring and mattress has stiffened things up and made a difference. I’m starting to think the difference is not enough. I have been focusing on the mattress. How much does the box spring play in the stiffness and comfort? We have a large solid oak bed (Amish made) with wood slats. Am I correct that some place the mattress directly on the wood slats, with no box spring? Would removing the box spring and playing with the number and placement of the wood slats be a option? Or would I be wasting my time? If I try to place the mattress directly on the floor I’m going to get a lot of grief from my wife. So I need to know if it’s worth the grief. I figured out my BMI 34.4.

Hi redmed,

A box spring unit is basically for additional support. As you are a higher BMI sleeper, it really depends on the type, thickness and firmness of the mattress above which determines comfort level. Many consumers do place their foam or latex mattresses directly on the frame of slats. it sounds like you have a great Amish foundation but as far as how integral the box spring is to your body profile…trying the mattress directly in the floor, ( I would use a tarp or blanket to avoid getting the bottom dirty & annoying your wife!) if possible, can let you feel how the mattress itself feels on your pressure points, and at minimum will provide some reliable data points!

~ Basilio

She said I’m not sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Because of ants. She is constantly battling ants in the house, around the house and in the mailbox. I was shocked at her reason. Like you I assumed she was afraid of getting the mattress dirty. I talked her into at least turning the box spring. The box spring has been in one position for 20+ years. If the slats look as good as I remember I’m going to put the mattress on the slats. The box spring will temporally go into the spare bedroom. Slowly progressing.

Hi redmed,

Sorry for the confusion (and accidentally stressing your wife!)
The mattress on the floor is simply for you to lay on to see how it feels on your back, joints, pressure points without the box spring so you can get an idea of whether you might be comfortable on the mattress placed on the slats or if you in fact need the box spring - as a test, not a new sleeping arrangement!

Oftentimes when there are questions on the comfort/firmness of layers, just trying the layer(s) in question directly in a floor can give you valuable data points and feedback on how your body responds to it. This way you can get an idea of how the mattress would feel for you and your wife directly on the slats before you commit to it.

~ Basilio

We put the mattress on the slats with the 5’x4’ plywood board. My initial impression is that the mattress is softer than with the box spring. This was surprising too me. I expected the mattress to be stiffer directly on the slats. Especially since the box spring it was on was never turned in over two decade’s. We are going to give this a try. Maybe my impression will change after spending a full night on it.

There is a local mattress store that we did not even think of going to because of a news story we saw a few years ago. The story warned of local companies putting a new cover on a old mattress and selling for new. After reading some of the info here I’m going to visit this local mattress store. They do post the materials used to make the mattress. I’m interested in the double sided mattress so tomorrow I’m going check it out. The materials are posted here:
Capitol Bedding - Michigan Mattress Manufacturer - Capitol Bedding - Hand Crafted Michigan Mattresses
not sure of the quality of the springs and foam. They list the spring count as 650 which seems not enough for a queen.
Any insight?

Hi redmed,

They do indeed list densities and thickness for the foams at Capitol Bedding - hopefully there has been a change in their procedures, that news story is certainly eye opening!

Taking a look at this mattress, you have:

Quilted Cover Milliken Silica-Based Fire Barrier
Firm Foam 3/4"
Gel Foam 1" Quilted Cover
1.8 LB 50 ILD Convoluted Foam 1"
Cotton Felt Fiber Pad Insulation
InnerAct Spring Unit with Alternating Coil Design
Queen: 650 Coils King: 832 Coils
Fiber Pad Insulation Cotton Felt
1.8 LB 50 ILD Convoluted Foam 1"
Quilted Cover Gel Foam 1"
Firm Foam 3/4"
Milliken Silica-Based Fire Barrier Quilted Cover

Keeping in mind our recommendations for foams, this is a firmer mattress which could be suitable for a lower BMI sleeper, with the normal caveats that depending on your Stats, it may not be durable over the ‘long haul’.

The coil count is not necessarily a deal breaker; coil thickness and gauge are more important…more numerous smaller diameter coils versus fewer wider diameter ones. 650 count in of itself doesn’t raise any red flags for this unit; a general rule of thumb is the higher the BMI of the sleeper, the lower the gauge to provide adequate support. That’s the one specification they don’t include! Higher BMIs would need closer to a 12 gauge range. The foam densities are also for lighter sleepers as well. Seems worthwhile to try it, if nothing else, it will provide more data points for you as you consider your options. Please let us know how it goes!

~ Basilio

12 gauge that’s easy to remember. Like a shotgun! I thought the foam was lacking but the 50 ILD seemed good. I will have questions to ask them Friday. Thanks for the insight.

Understandably, past news stories highlighting unsavory practices can create distrust in the mattress industry. However, such incidents are more the exception than the rule and usually involve less reputable vendors, often characterized as fly-by-night operations or what are referred to as “Dirty window stores” which is a colloquial term often used to refer to businesses that appear unkempt or neglected from the outside. The term suggests a lack of professionalism or care for the business’s physical appearance.

Unfortunately, these entities cast a shadow over the entire industry, including legitimate and ethical businesses like Capitol Bedding.

As for Capitol Bedding, from my understanding, they have a solid reputation and are highly regarded within the mattress industry.

To address your concerns directly, I’m not aware of any instance where Capitol Bedding has been implicated in selling used bedding or engaging in dishonest practices. The owner, Bill Buerhle, is known for his integrity and commitment to quality. His products are even built for members of The Mattress Underground.

If you still have doubts, remember that many factory direct businesses, like Capitol Bedding, typically allow customers to visit their factory. You might even get a chance to see your mattress being built. This can be a great way to quell any lingering concerns and confirm the quality and craftsmanship that goes into each mattress.

Went to try the Capital Mattresses today. Tried thee of their firmest.

Lexington Firm

Legacy Firm

Of the three I felt the most comfortable on the Melbourne. The Melbourne had the lightest foam and pocket coils. They can make the Legacy Firm as a double sided it felt similar to the Melbourne just a slight bit stiffer/firmer. It’s hard to tell laying on something for a few minutes. Since they can make the Legacy Firm double sided I’m seriously considering getting it. It has 3 3/4 of foam vs 2 1/4 foam with 1 inch being 2.5 lb 60 ILD. Versus 1.8 lb 50 ILD and 1.8 lb 32 ILD. I’m assuming the 2.5 lb foam will maintain it’s feel longer than the 1.8 lb foam. The springs are 14 gauge where the Melbourne had pocket coils that they did not know the gauge of. Since the foam is a higher quality I would guess that Legacy Firm will probably last longer than the other two. Not sure if the interact springs will transfer movement more than the pocket coils, though.

Now I’m trying to decide between putting the mattress on slats or on a box spring. If a box spring being 5" or 10". Is there and advantage of the thicker box spring? Is there any advantage of a box spring over 6x1" slats with the slats being maybe 4" apart

Hi redmed,

Thanks for adding the specifications! While Captol Bedding provides all the specs a consumer needs to know (Kudos to Capitol bedding! :blush:), at your higher BMI it would still not be a good choice as the foams will wear out faster than for average BMI sleepers. Other than this, this is a very good choice of a bed. These all look relatively similar, and have the same issue - the foams lack density sufficient for a higher BMI sleeper. Any insufficiently sense foam can therefore wear out more quickly, causing it to ‘break down’ prematurely leaving ‘ridges’ and ‘valleys’ in the foam which can cause aches, pains and even alignment issues.

Keep in mind, for foam we suggest any foam in a potential mattress has no more than an inch or so of lower grade foams (for memory foam no lower than 4 lbs/cuft for normal range weights, and 5lbs/cuft for higher range weights) and if polyfoam is used, with at least 1.8 lbs/cuft density, just to ensure you have support. The mattresses listed have densities more suitable for average BMI sleepers…that being said the 2.5lbs/cuft would be denser and thus more supportive.

As for putting the mattress on slats, the recommendation from manufacturers is normally less than 2 1/2" space between slats to keep structural integrity and properly support the weight of the mattress. As for box springs, reeder the more height, the more weight you are putting on the base. I would check with the base manufacturer if possible to see if they can advise of any weight limitations, or ask Capitol what bases they recommend, so you don’t inadvertently void any warranties for return or exchange.

~ Basilio

I mentioned this on a different post. I was 245-50 when I bought my plank luxe, now i am 220, but it made no difference, it has been the best mattress experience I have had as an adult (63). And yes, mattresses quality has sure changed over the past 20-40 years. Athough new technologies have popped up, manufactures, at least the traditional names we knew and loved seem to be missing the mark a bit. I tried a boatload of mattresses before ordering the plank luxe. All in their extra or ultra firm categories. Aireloom, Shifman, S&F, BR Black, King Koil, Tempurpedic, the S’s (forget them anymore) Purple (yuk) and a few other online mattresses you can find in the stores these days. Shifman seemed like the best, but you really have a lot of maintenance with them, rotate and flip, every month for 6 months, then rotate and flip every 6 months thereafter, but they were great mattresses. Aireloom was nice, but they only make mattresses with full perimeter hi density foam encasement around the coils and I am an edge of the bed sleeper, so I didnt want to be sleeping half on hi density foam and half on the main mattress surface, plus with foam perimeters as edge support, you lose up to 10" of sleeping real estate turning your king effectively into a queen. S&F was probably the next best in the bunch, but the reviews were all over the place for a mattress set that was up to 6k. Personally, I would stay away from the globally sourced nectar’s and casper’s of the world, as you never know what you are getting and where the materials are from, and consistency in the styles become an issue. Companies like Brooklyn Bedding (and all of their sister companies) My green mattress, SOL, and Custom Sleep Tech,, all make their mattresses here in the USA. All are quality you can count on, some are mostly online and some have B&M Stores. Of course there are more out there, Mattress Makers, Spencers Ventura Mattress are a couple of a short list. If you want an all foam latex/polyfoam mattress, is the way to go. They just customize every detail of your sleeping position, probably the most customizable mattress system out there. SOL is a good choice too, but only use Dunlop Latex. I am a strong advocate of using a topper even when you find your perfect mattress, just match the top comfort layer with the topper to keep the same feel and you allow the topper to take the hit of your body rather than the mattress surface, thereby extending the life of your mattress. Even the hastens $400k mattress has a topper on it. I prefer an innerspring or hybrid for my weight, but CST has all foam solutions for that. You really can not tell laying on any mattress for a few minutes, that is why trial periods and knowing what the return policy and the costs involved need to be known up front before you consider a purchase. I literally posted my mattress selections on my computer screen and went layer by layer, side by side on the screen and analyzed each layer and what it would do for me, before I pulled my credit card out. I recommend you do the same. Learn about the different foams, materials and mattress construction before you decide on anything. Know what your support level is made out of, the comfort layer and finally the cover/panel layer. If a one sided hybrid, it should have a hi density base layer under the coils. All are equally important. Plus, when you change “feel” of your mattress, say from medium to a firm, you will most likely need to change your pillow loft as you many end up with a sore neck or shoulders if you dont. Pillow = Very important part of the complete bedding setup. Hey good luck with your choice.

Hi batmannorm and welcome to the Mattress Underground :slight_smile:

Thanks s for your insight and sharing your experiences with the Plank mattress! Seeing how others feel about a mattress can be helpful to a certain degree…but, as mattresses are such a subjective item, someone with your same affect, Stars (height, BMI, sleeping position(s) and any underlying health conditions) and PPP (Posture & alignment, Pressure relief and Personal preferences) can find a mattress you find firm not firm enough.
In person testing can tell a consumer a good bit, but the true proof is sleeping on it for a period - it can take 4-6 weeks to ‘break in’ a new mattress and for one’s body to acclimate to it as well, which is why it’s always wise to major sure there’s a good return/exchange policy, wherever one shops!

While the Trusted Members of the site have all been vetted for quality, transparency in materials and components, and generous return/exchange policies, some sleepers don’t feel comfortable online shopping for a mattress. For them, I recommend our Mattress Shopping Tutorial for tips on how to identify a good local retailer or mattress manufacturer.

Again, thanks for sharing your own mattress journey here - and we wish you many more years of comfortable sleep in the future!

~ Basilio