do i need a box spring....reg vs. foam

Hi, we have to replace our king size matress asap. Bought it 5 years ago from one of the 1-800 places. We were told we didn’t need a box spring because our king size bedframe - wood slots would be ok. In any case, there are now to huge ‘dips’ where you can almost see our body shapes! We want to replace it, don’t want to spend a fortune because we may be downsizing in approx 3 - 5 years (not sure if we’ll have the space for a king.

Our bed is already high so we’d prefer NOT to have a box spring. I’m wondering about the ‘all foam’ mattress i’ve been hearing about. I know we do not like anything super firm - not sure if we like the pillow topping either. I recently stayed at the hyatt and santa barbara on business and they’re lucky i didn’t try to pack away that mattress with me! It was not a pillow, very smooth on top (not tufted). Semi firm i would say, i slept great. any suggestions would be helpful - economy in mind please since this may only be out mattress for the next 3-5 years, that said we do want quality.

Hi digsvillelady,

Unfortunately … you are in the same position as so many others that have purchased a mattress that uses lower quality materials that are subject to premature softening and deeper impressions. This is fairly typical of mattresses that are made by larger national brands or sold through more “mass market” outlets that either don’t or won’t tell consumers the specifics of the “ingredients” in their mattresses.

The most important first step in buying a mattress is choosing a better outlet (rather than a brand or a mattress). The best of these are local factory direct outlets or smaller sleep shops that sell local brands or smaller national brands. The factory directs tend to use higher quality materials in all budget ranges that are not as subject to early softening and impressions and sell them at lower prices than anything of equivalent quality available at the “chain stores” fake sale prices. The better smaller sleep shops don’t make their own but they tend to pay much closer attention to the quality of the materials in the mattresses that they put on their showroom floor. The better outlets will always help to educate you about why certain materials are better than others and will show you exactly what is in their mattresses rather than selling you a “story” based on vague notions of comfort. They are also have the knowledge which can help fit you to a mattress based on your personal needs and preferences rather than selling you a mattress that does more for their profit margins than it does for your long term satisfaction.

This article will give you a set of guidelines that will help you avoid most of the traps and pitfalls of mattress shopping.

A brief scan of the overviews in the mattresses section of the website will also give you enough basic information to ask better questions … especially if you are making a purchase from someone (most mass market salespeople) who have little clue about most of the information they contain. A better outlet will already know most of this so it’s less necessary to know any of it yourself.

Once you have found one or a few of these outlets … then you can have confidence that any purchase you make will have better quality and value in any price range than the types of outlets that dominate the market in most areas so the second step of actually choosing a mattress that is suitable for you and has the quality of materials that should be in your particular price range (the major factor in durability) becomes much easier.

If you let me know the city you live in … I’d be happy to let you know if there are any of these better outlets that I’m aware of within reasonable driving distance.

Most innerspring mattresses do best on a more flexible or semi-flex boxspring which can absorb shock and extend the life of the mattress. With some of them the boxspring is designed to be part of the sleeping system as well. Foam mattresses generally tend to do best on a firm slatted or wire grid foundation that doesn’t flex at all.

Once you have found one or more better outlets or factory direct outlets … it shouldn’t be difficult to “duplicate” the pressure relief, posture and alignment, and preferences of the hotel mattress you slept on but using higher quality materials than most hotel mattresses would typically use in a specific price range.


Hi Phoenix,

thanks for the comprehensive answer! I will do my homework as you have suggested, thanks! We live in New Paltz, NY 12561 - thanks in advance if you could guide me to any outlets or manufacturers in our area.

Hi digsvillelady,

The Hudson valley in and around Poughkeepsie/New Palz for some reason has less selection for good quality and value mattresses than most other areas of the country. There are a few possibilities within a somewhat reasonable driving distance however.

The closest factory direct manufacturer to you is … Monticello, NY. Local factory direct manufacturer. They make traditional innerspring/polyfoam mattresses but they use much higher quality polyfoam than the major brands (2.6 - 2.8 lb foam with 1.5 lb quilting foam as necessary). Husband and wife team that has been making mattresses for a long time. They will also custom make mattresses to order including latex if requested. They carry Corsicana and Sealy as well but I would focus on the mattresses they make if you decide to go here.

Post #2 here includes the better options and possibilities in and around Middletown, NY I’m aware of (although there aren’t a lot of great options on the list either).

Post #2 here includes some good choices in Western Connecticut which are within 100 miles.

The better options and possibilities in the new York city area are listed in post #2 here and a more “categorized” list with more detailed descriptions of many of them is in post #7 here.

I also took a look more locally to see if there were some better choices closer to you but shopping at local retailers carries some risks. Most of the staff at many if not most retail outlets have little knowledge of mattress components and materials and will only tell you the “selling points” they are trained to talk about … most of which mean little to nothing and can be very misleading. When you are looking a local retail outlets … it makes a lot of sense to phone them first to find out a bit about them (along the lines of this article) to make sure they provide a spec sheet which lists complete layer by layer details (including the density of any polyfoam and memory foam) of the mattresses they carry. This is one of the signs of a better outlet along with their willingness to give you good information on the phone.

Without knowing all the components inside a mattress … there is no way to know if the mattress you are buying has real value or is just a very expensive mistake. The worst components (usually low density polyfoam) are usually the weak link of a mattress and the reason it will will soften or develop impressions prematurely. When you are dealing with an outlet that doesn’t focus on helping to educate their customers about mattress materials and are transparent about what is in their mattress … finding out meaningful information or comparing different mattresses becomes an incredibly frustrating, time consuming, and mostly impossible task. Time spent on the phone to find out how knowledgeable they are about polyfoam density, memory foam density, and the different types of latex in their mattresses will save you more time and frustration than almost anything else you could do.

I’ve included the brands these stores carry that make some better quality/value mattresses than the larger more common brands and where your odds are higher of being able to find out the specifics of the materials and components inside them because the brand name is not nearly as important as the specific materials and components that are inside a mattress. Kingston, NY. Paramount and Organicpedic (OMI) mattresses. Poughkeepsie, NY. Eclipse, Therapedic, and Natura mattresses Ellenville, Monticello, NY. Therapedic

Hope this helps.