Help for an Islander!

Hi there, we live on one of the Caribbean islands and have such a poor selection of mattresses here. It’s also too expensive to fly to the US to try out mattresses. We (couple in early 30s) are looking for an innersprung king size mattress with firm support at around US$1,000. Any recommendations would be gratefully received! Thank you.

Hi JennyF,

I know next to nothing about the manufacturers or market in the Caribbean so I’ll limit my comments to suggestions that would work well anywhere. These guidelines would probably be as appropriate to the Caribbean as they are to North America.

So I would focus my efforts on finding local manufacturers who either sell direct to a consumer or through local sleep shops that are more knowledgeable about what they are selling and why a particular mattress may be suitable to a particular individual.

I would also make sure that the outlets you are considering are open about the materials in their mattress. This is usually a good sign that they want you to compare what they are selling to other options rather than trying to discourage you from finding similar mattresses so you can make better value comparisons.

There are several different types of innersprings and all of them can provide either firm or less firm support depending on how they are made. While coil count is part of this … there are also many other pieces to what makes a particular innerspring “firm” so I would avoid the trap of putting too much emphasis on coil counting as a way to tell how good a mattress is. The two “better” general categories of innersprings are either an offset coil or a pocket coil. Even here though there is a wide range of different qualities in each innerspring category. A knowledgeable salesperson that is working for you rather than just their own profit margin will be invaluable and in the end your own experience and mattress testing can be far more informative than trying to interpret the “specs” of the many different types of innerspring.

I would also pay a lot of attention to the quality of the foam layers that are on top of the innerspring. This is generally the weak spot of any mattress and the higher quality of foam or materials that are in the top of your mattress the more durable your mattress will be.

I would specifically test different mattresses that use both latex and memory foam in the comfort layers to get a clear sense of which type of material you prefer. High quality polyfoam is also a good option but most larger brands don’t provide the information to really know the quality of the polyfoam they use in the comfort layers (and its usually not the best quality anyway).

If you come across any mattresses with a link to them and you can provide some feedback about how a particular mattress felt for you along with your height/weight and sleeping positions I’d certainly be happy to give you any other ideas or suggestions I may have.

Hopefully this can help you with at least narrowing down your options and helps you to focus on the materials in a mattress rather than the brand name that is on it.


Hi Phoenix, Thanks for your response it is much appreciated. There are no mattress manufacturers here at all and we would need to ship a mattress having bought it in the US. This is no problem (as we can conveniently ship from Miami) but we need to buy something without trying it first (I know that this goes against your advice!). This means that we can buy one from any of your reccommended manufacturers provided that they are happy to ship to Miami. We would really appreciate a suggestion!
Details for a suggestion-We are both usually sidesleepers (sometimes changing position to sleep on our backs during the night). Weight him- 225lbs (6 feet or 182.88cm) me- 160lbs (5 feet 8 inches or 172.72cm). We prefer latex in the comfort layers (but he is not keen on comfort layers and would prefer a tight top rather than a euro or pillow top). He is also a hot sleeper. Firm but not too firm. Let me know if you need anymore info.
Thanks again.

Hi JennyF,

A “typical” suggestion for both of you with a 3" comfort layer and then 6" in the support layers would be (bottom to top) XF/F/M (for him) and F/M/S (for you). With a 2" comfort layer then the layer(s) underneath would typically be a little softer overall to “help” the comfort layer with pressure relief but then become firmer with deeper compression. A side by side split is also a good option if the needs and preferences of a couple are different.

All mattresses have a “comfort layer” and perhaps it would be more accurate to call it the “comfort zone” since it’s not always an actual separate layer of foam or enclosed in a separate fabric surrounding layer. Even a mattress that had a single 6" layer of say Dunlop latex would have a comfort zone (the top part of the layer) and a support zone (the deeper parts of the layer). A tight top and a pillow top can use exactly the same materials and layer thickness even though in practical terms a pillowtop usually has more softer foam on top and can help a certain layer to “act” softer. If you took the foam in a pillowtop in other words and put it in a different type of mattress with a smooth top you would have exactly the same foam in your mattress even though they looked (and to a degree felt) different. In essence a pillowtop and eurotop is more about how the upper comfort layers are “attached” to the deeper layers. The materials in the tight top, pillowtop, or eurotop and the thickness of the layers used are more important than the specific type of construction.

Latex, and especially Talalay latex, is a good choice for those who sleep hot because it is so breathable. Wool quilting can also help with temperature regulating although this is also possible to add as part of a mattress protector or pad rather than as part of the quilting of the mattress itself. The more fiber or other materials there is on top of softer latex, the more it can affect the pressure relieving qualities of the latex.

All of the manufacturers who are part of this site and specialize in shipping a mattress anywhere in the country would have no problem shipping a mattress to Miami. They include …

Each of these offers different choices and options and are all more than happy to discuss which of the options they offer may be best suited to your needs and preferences. They also offer different types of “customization” and different options for exchange after you have made your purchase. Of course the ability to exchange either a layer or a mattress may be more difficult or costly from where you live so getting it “right” the first time may be more important to you.

Local manufacturers in Miami may also be good choices as they would also “deliver” in the general area but they may not have as much experience in fitting a mattress to a person over the phone as those who specialize more in this area.

Hope this helps