Question for Phoenix

I am in the Philadelphia area and looking to buy my first mattress. I am 24 years old and finally getting my own place, I am trying to do thorough research on the best mattress, as I feel it’s a very important investment. I have gone to my local Sleepy’s mattress dealer and tried out some mattresses and got the feel for what I prefer.

One I really liked was the “Beautyrest Ultimate - plush boxtop” but it was $4,899.00 and way out of my price range. My question to you is how do I go about finding what kind of construction forms this mattress? My thought process is that if I learn about the materials that make this mattress, I can use that to my advantage to find a similar one that might be more affordable.

I’m also getting kind of bogged down with the multitude of choices and I really don’t know what brands i can trust as far as quality and if the mattress will last be 5+ years comfortably. You seem to know more about mattresses than anyone that I have ever come across, so do you have a post where you discuss brands that have a reputation for quality construction and use materials I can trust? I don’t want to be one of these horror stories where you spend $1500 on a mattress and then you hate it a few months later. That is just miserable.

Any guidance would be appreciated, your site is awesome, and your knowledge is off the charts when it comes to mattresses.


Hi Joshsnyder2121,

The short version is that you won’t be able to because not only do the major brands use lower quality and less durable materials that you wouldn’t want to “match” anyway … they also won’t provide you with the information you need to make meaningful quality/value comparisons with other mattresses.

The longer version …

There is more information in post #9 here about the different ways that one mattress can “match” or “approximate” another one but every layer and component in a mattress (including the cover) will affect the feel and performance of every other layer and component and the mattress “as a whole” and mattress manufacturers generally try to differentiate their mattress from the mattresses made by other manufacturers and don’t normally try to “match” another mattress that is made by a different manufacturer.

Unless a manufacturer specifically says in their description of a mattress that one of their mattresses in the same general category is designed to “match” or “approximate” another one in terms of firmness or “feel” (or they are very familiar with both mattresses and can provide reliable guidance about how they compare based on the “averages” of a larger group of people) then the only reliable way to know if a mattress will “feel” similar to you would be based on your own personal testing or your actual sleeping experience.

All the major brands (such as Sealy/Stearns & Foster, Simmons, and Serta) tend to use lower quality materials in their mattresses than most of their smaller competitors that will tend to soften or break down prematurely relative to the price you pay and I would avoid any mattress where you aren’t able to find out the type and quality/durability of the materials inside it (see this article) and confirm that they meet the quality/durability guidelines here which would exclude almost all of the major brand mattresses and the major chain stores that specialize in them (see the guidelines here along with post #3 here and post #12 here and post #404 here).

One of the most frustrating parts of mattress shopping can be spending time testing a mattress and finding out that you like it and it’s a good match for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) only to find out that the information you need to identify any potential weak links in the mattress or make meaningful comparisons to other mattresses isn’t available and you’ve wasted the time you spent testing the mattress.

I would be very cautious about brand shopping in general because you are buying a specific mattress not the brand and all manufacturers have access to the same or similar components and materials. Many manufacturers make a wide range of mattresses that can vary from lower quality and less durable materials to higher quality and more durable materials in a wide range of prices. The name of the manufacturer on the label or the price of the mattress won’t tell you anything about whether a specific mattress is suitable for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) or whether there are any lower quality materials or weak links in the design that would affect the durability and useful life of the mattress (which are the two most important parts of a mattress purchase). There is more about the risks of brand shopping in post #5 here and post #12 here.

While I do recommend the members here “as a group” because I believe that they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, knowledge, and transparency … there are also many other sources of good quality/value mattresses as well that aren’t members of this site (at least yet). I don’t make specific suggestions or recommendations for either a mattress, manufacturers/retailers, or combinations of materials or components the first “rule” of mattress shopping is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved that are unique to each person to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components or which type of mattress would be the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort” or PPP or how a mattress will “feel” to you or compare to another mattress based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial)or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

I would “reset” how you are looking for a mattress. The first place to start your research is the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that you will need to 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 “comfort” and 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 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 (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists (based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you).

Once you reach step 3 in the tutorial then the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in the Philadelphia/Wilmington/Trenton areas are listed in post #4 here.

In its simplest form … choosing the “best possible” mattress for any particular person really comes down to first finding a few knowledgeable and transparent manufacturers that can provide you with all the information you need to know to make an informed choice and make meaningful comparisons between mattresses and then …

  1. Careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in the tutorial) to make sure that a mattress is a good match for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) … and/or that you are comfortable with the options you have available to return, exchange, or “fine tune” the mattress and any costs involved if you can’t test a mattress in person or aren’t confident that your mattress is a suitable choice.

  2. Checking to make sure that there are no lower quality materials or weak links in the mattress that could compromise the durability and useful life of the mattress (see this article and the durability guidelines it links to).

  3. Comparing your finalists for “value” based on #1 and #2 and all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.