Help finding a quality innerspring set for $800-$900

Hi there,

First of all, I would like to say thanks for putting this site together. It has been tremendously helpful in understanding the types and construction of mattresses, as well as understanding the differences in the function of the different parts of the mattress.

I have read through each of the overviews as well as some of the posts on the forum. I have spent a decent amount of time going to the big name stores in my area just to get a sense of what feels good. I live in Washington, DC and found this list of recommended shops on this forum (post #2 here). However, I have not ventured out to them primarily because I’m afraid they are out of my price range. I was hoping to present my situation and get some feedback from some of the more knowledgeable folks out there.

Here are my specs: 5’10" and 190 lbs. Predominantly back sleeper. Just me for now, but hoping the mattress is good enough to outlast my bachelorhood.

I have always slept on innerspring mattresses and have found that I don’t like the feel of memory foam. I am primarily looking at pocket coil innerspring mattresses. (In fairness, I have not spent any time trying foam mattresses during this search.) After lying on a lot of “big S brand” mattresses, I think I am looking for medium-firm support layer (not sinking very far DOWN) but a medium to medium-soft comfort layer (sinking a little bit IN).

My goal is to find the best queen mattress set I can for about $800-$900 all-in (including delivery, box spring if necessary, and bed frame if necessary). So, before I get too much farther along, my biggest question is whether it is reasonable to think I can get a decent quality innerspring mattress for that price?

I know this puts me in a more budget-constrained category, but I should also say that I’m not looking for a mattress that will last 20+ years. What I really want is something that will provide good pressure relief and back support/posture alignment for the next 5-8 years. I’m in my late 20s now. There is a good chance I will move and/or have a partner with different sleep needs within that timeframe and may need to get a new mattress anyway.

Next, I wanted to mention the specific mattresses I’m considering and get feedback. I did a decent amount of looking around at all the big name stores in my area, and I limited it down to 3 mattresses at Macy’s in my price range. If nothing else, perhaps these will give an indication of my preferences… though I know the specs are not very detailed. Here are the links:

Serta Perfect Sleeper Elite (Serene Breeze Tight Top Plush)

Sealy Posturepedic (Valley Falls Tight Top Cushion Firm)

Sealy Posturepedic (Valley Falls Tight Top Plush)

All three mattresses are pocket coil innersprings with tight tops. The Serta has gel foam in the comfort layer, which I found to be a bit firm even though it is a “plush.” The two Sealys have the same support layer, but differ in the comfort layer. I liked the plush Sealy a lot in the showroom actually, but I was afraid that the comfort layer may be cheap and deteriorate quickly leading to imprints and back pain. But perhaps that’s just traditional wisdom causing me to confuse the function of the comfort layer. (?) I believe the Sealy’s also have gel memory foam in the center 1/3 of the mattress in the comfort layer.

I asked the sales person for details about construction. As this website predicted, they were not able to give me any details about the grade of foam used in the comfort layer. They only had details on the support layer, such as number of coils and gauge of wire. Furthermore, the Sealy mattresses include “features” such as SuperSoft ActiveFlex ™ foam and the PostureGrid ™–but there is no info on the Sealy website as to what these things really are.

So, my final questions are:

  1. Can you make any recommendations as to which of these mattresses may be the better (or “least bad”) choice in terms of quality of materials? (Is there even enough information to make an informed decision?)

  2. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives that may fit within my budget constraints?

Sorry for the long post. Thanks in advance for any help! :slight_smile:

Hi WildStringdom,

The first place I would start is post #1 here which has the basic information, steps, and guidelines you will need to make the best possible choices … and perhaps most importantly eliminate the worst ones. Unfortunately either the places you have tested mattresses or the specific major brand mattresses you tried don’t provide the information you would need to make any kind of meaningful comparisons or assessments so spending time there is mostly wasted unless you intend to purchase one of the mattresses you tried based on the showroom feel alone and as you can see in an earlier reply today here I certainly wouldn’t recommend this.

Unfortunately there is no way to make any kind of meaningful quality or value assessment without knowing what is inside them so you can make meaningful comparisons with other mattresses available to you.

I don’t keep a list of specific mattresses at any store or manufacturer (outside of what is on their website or some general information about the brands or types of mattresses they carry based on phone calls I have made) which would be an impossible job. They are often changing as well so even if someone was able to put such a list together it would be long out of date by the time it was complete. The best way I know is to follow the steps in the first post I linked one at a time. One of the most important parts is to talk with the retailers or manufacturers you are considering on the phone and let them know your criteria both in terms of budget and the types of mattress you are interested in testing (if their website isn’t up to date) and to make sure they are able and willing to disclose the information you need before you even step out of the house to visit them. This will give you a much more clear idea of who has mattresses on their floor that you are interested in testing in your budget range and the type of knowledge and service you can expect if you go there and then you can narrow down which ones to visit much more effectively.

You should certainly be able to find a mattress in your budget range that will last you 5 - 8 years but your initial phone research from home and who you deal with can be just as important a part of your success as the mattresses you test.


Hi Phoenix,

Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I suppose your response to my questions is more or less what I expected. I have read the “read first” post that you mentioned, but I went back and re-read it anyway. I think I got stuck at step 3. I looked through all the websites listed in post #2 here. And I was discouraged that I mostly found expensive foam mattresses, and very little in the way of foam-over-innerspring options.

I find it reassuring that you think I should be able to find a good quality/value mattress that meets my criteria within my price range. However, I feel like I’m at a loss for where to look (outside of the big name stores). I live in Washington, DC and work in Columbia, MD. So I would say anything in the Washington, DC to Baltimore corridor is reasonable driving distance for me.

Since I have only looked online so far, I plan to take to the phone and call up some of the shops listed above and see if they have anything in my price range.

I really like the idea of getting a non-big-name mattress that represents a good quality and value for my price point, but I guess I’m just having trouble finding them.

A few more questions:

  1. What type of materials should I look for in a foam-over-innerspring mattress? Would it be latex foam in the comfort layer, or is high quality polyfoam more what I should expect in this price range?

  2. I have been looking at individual pocket coils in the support layer. Is this really important for a high quality mattress, or does that boil down to another marketing tactic?

  3. Should I consider other constructions than just innerspring? I have noticed a lot of folks moving towards latex, but I am concerned that this is simply out of my price range. I also have not cared much for memory foam in the past, but I haven’t really tried them in the past few years.

PS: Here is my zip code, in case anyone out there has recommendations on local sleep shops:

20010 (home)
20723 (work)


Hi WildStringdom,

It’s a little difficult to find good quality innerspring mattresses online because there are usually many available locally and shipping costs can raise their prices significantly (they usually can’t be compressed for shipping with courier). Most of what you find online will usually be mainstream mattresses where it is usually very difficult to find out the quality of the materials that are inside the mattress. There are also so many different types and styles of innerspring / polyfoam traditional mattresses that it would be difficult to predict which one would be suitable for you without trying it in person and in most cases if you don’t make the best choice there can be substantial cost and difficulty involved in returning a whole mattress.

Some of the better options I’m aware of in the Washington area are listed in post #2 here and there is also a Baltimore list in post #2 here although most of these are duplicates.

You are probably looking at a traditional mattress with polyfoam and a good innerspring in your budget range. In a two sided construction I would look for at least 1.5 lbs polyfoam and in a one sided construction 1.8 lbs or higher would be a better choice.

You can read a little more in this article and in post #10 here about the different types of innersprings. Pocket coils are more conforming and have better motion separation than other types of coils and often need less foam in the comfort layers while an offset coil or even a Bonnell system can be stronger and a little less costly but often need more foam above the coils because they are not as conforming. In the end it’s a personal preference and a mattress that provides the best PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) would make the best choice regardless of which type of innerspring it has inside it …as long as the comfort layers are good quality because they will be the first to break down.