Newbie here in need of some general help

My name is Philip and I am 25 years old, my current mattress is over 9 years old! I wake up with back pain and I am somewhat used to it. It seems that the back pain has gotten worse recently, and it doesn’t help that I sit all day at my job. I am 6’2" and 215 pounds, and I am a stomach sleeper, while my girlfriend is mostly a back sleeper but she seems to be able to fall asleep in a more varied position than me, where I have to always sleep on my stomach. I was actually googling around for serta reviews and alternatives when I found this site. We are finally settled in to our new rental home, and I just got a promotion at work, so it is definitely time for a new mattress, and boy do our backs agree!

So, are there any good local mattress stores in San Antonio? I live in 78227, but I can drive to any nearby store, so no biggie if it isn’t too close to me. I started reading some of the material here on the site, but haven’t been able to spend too much time on it. I think we want to look into a memory foam mattress, but I honestly don’t even know what that means. So is the bottom still an innerspring and the top is memory foam? Any recommendations on which types of mattress I should be looking at?

I am also afraid that the mattress may feel great in the store, but once we get home it may not feel the same after a couple of hours. That’s how I feel about the new couches that we have in our home. Also, what type of budget should I be looking at? I am currently on a queen, but given how tall I am, I think I may need to be in a king bed? What do you think? Also do you usually buy a boxspring with the mattress? What about the whole bed set, like headboard thingy? Sorry I don’t know a lot about beds ;). Thank you in advance for any information.



Hi Philipgonzales3,

Just in case you haven’t read it yet … the first place to start your research is the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you make the best possible choice … and perhaps more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones.

Two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you’ve read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for once you sleep on it at home that are involved in each of them and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability, durability, and value.

The better options or possibilities I’m aware of in the San Antonio area (subject to the quality/value guidelines I linked) are listed in post #2 here

A traditional memory foam mattress will have a memory foam layer or layers in varying thicknesses on top of a polyfoam support core but there are also memory foam hybrids that have memory foam for one or more comfort layers on top of innersprings as well (usually a pocket coil).

The choice between different materials and components or different types of mattresses is a preference choice not a “better/worse” choice so your own experience will be the only way to know which types of materials or mattresses you tend to prefer. Regardless of which type of material or mattress you prefer though I would always make sure that any mattress you are considering uses a durable version of that material because there are lower quality and less durable versions and higher quality and more durable versions of every material (see this article).

Careful and objective testing using the testing guidelines in the tutorial post will usually result in a mattress choice that is well inside the comfort/support range that is suitable for you (see post #10 here and post #4 here).

If you aren’t confident that a mattress is a good “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) then I would make sure that you are comfortable with the options you have after a purchase to make any fine tuning changes to the mattress that may be necessary or to return or exchange it just in case your choice doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for. I would keep in mind though that return or exchange options can add to the cost of a mattress because they are built into the price of the mattress and the people who don’t return or exchange a mattress are the ones who pay for the ones who do (see post #3 here and the posts it links to)

I would also keep in mind that you can always add additional softness and pressure relief to a mattress that is too firm by adding a topper but it’s much more difficult to “firm up” a mattress that is too soft without removing and replacing the layers that are too soft so when you are considering two mattresses that both seem similar then it’s generally best to err on the side of the one that is slightly firmer.

This is entirely up to you and your individual circumstances and what you would be comfortable spending but in a queen size mattress only purchase (or about 15% - 25% more for a king) I certainly wouldn’t go below about $500 because it would be very unlikely that you will find a good quality and durable mattress in addition to being “comfortable” if you go below this and you would likely need to go a fair bit higher if you are looking at specialty foams like good quality memory foam or latex. I would only go above about $3000 or so if there was a compelling reason to do so because after this any “real life” benefits of a higher budget would be subject to diminishing returns. While they are very approximate because of course it’s not possible to describe all the mattress in the industry with any general set of guidelines and there is a large variance between different companies or stores in many cases … the budget guidelines in this article along with some testing at some good local retailers or manufacturers to get a sense of the budget ranges and materials (which have a big effect on the cost of the mattress) that you tend to prefer or that tend to be suitable for you or that you can notice a meaningful difference may be helpful.

A king size mattress has the same length as a queen size mattress but it has 16" more width (which would give you more room if you sleep with a partner). A king size is the equavlent in terms of sleeping space of having two twin XL mattresses. A california king has an extra 4" of length compared to a king or queen size but it’s 4" narrower than a regular king size. If you find that your queen size mattress is too short for you and your feet are going through the sheets at the end of the bed then a california king may be worth considering but most people in your height range would probably be fine with any of them.

A mattress will need a support system underneath it yes which in most cases would be a steel or wooden bedframe and a foundation or a platform bed that is suitable for use under a mattress that doesn’t need a foundation. Most mattresses today that are single sided don’t use or need a box spring (which has springs inside it) and foundations have replaced box springs in most of the industry. There is more about the different types of support systems that are generally suitable for different types of mattresses in post #1 here.

A headboard that is attached to your bedframe is primarily for appearance and aesthetics so it would be a preference choice.