Sealy mattress

Hi, I’m looking for advice on Sealy or Stearns & Foster mattresses. I realize that the key advice on the website is to steer clear of the big brands, but I can’t in this case. I purchased a Sealy mattress from Vdara Hotel about two years ago. Almost immediately, it began to develop impressions. (I wish I had known of the Mattress Underground at that time, because Phoenix warns of the exact problems I encountered here). Sealy has honored their warranty, so I now can choose another mattress, but of course my choices are limited to Sealy or Stearns & Foster products. I will get the mattress direct from the manufacturer, but will go to retailers to try them out.

I’m a side/back sleeper (5’10", 160lbs) and commonly have lower back pain. I’m leaning toward the Sealy latex line, but will also try out the Optimum line (Destiny or Radiance). The Sealy website doesn’t give a great description of the construction on their mattresses. Any suggestions on how to navigate their choices? Is the Stearns & Foster a “better” brand, or just marketing? Why does the Sealy Latex only have a ten year warranty, while all their other products have 20+ years? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hi gmike416,

As you know you are in a somewhat difficult position when you need to make an exchange for a mattress where none of the mattresses in the store have particularly good quality or value.

You are in a similar position to several of the forum members who have been on a merry go round of multiple warranty exchanges (or comfort exchanges) and none of them have been any better than the last. Some of the thoughts in this post and the threads it links to would be very applicable to your situation. This thread and post #6 here and this thread and this thread are also about exchanging a major brand mattress and would probably also be helpful as well.

To recap them though … there are really two directions you can go to make the best of a difficult situation.

The first of these is to choose a mattress that is a good “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your Personal preferences) AND where you can find out the type and quality/density of all the materials and components in the mattress (see this article) so you can confirm that the mattress uses higher quality and more durable materials that have much less chance of softening and breaking down relatively quickly. Unfortunately the major manufacturers don’t make this easy because they don’t usually disclose any meaningful information that will help you assess the quality of the materials and for the very few mattresses that do disclose this and may use higher quality materials, their prices are generally very high. Keep in mind not to go by prices to determine quality and durability though because many very high priced mattresses will still have far too much lower quality materials in the comfort layers that will soften and break down much too quickly. The only way to assess the quality and durability of a mattress is by knowing the specifics of the materials and components in a mattress that are listed here.

The second option is much more practical and realistic even though it can also be somewhat challenging and this is to choose a firm or an extra firm mattress which minimizes the use of questionable, unidentified, or lower quality polyfoam or other materials in the comfort layers (less lower density or unknown foam to soften prematurely) and then add your own comfort layer in the form of a topper that uses higher quality and more durable materials and which can also be replaced without replacing the whole mattress if it softens or breaks down faster than the deeper layers or components of your sleeping system. A mattress will soften and breakdown from the top down so the quality and durability of the upper layers is always the most important part of the durability and useful life of a mattress.

Which of these may be best for you or even possible for you depends on the price of a mattress you are able to exchange for, the transparency of the store or manufacturer you are dealing with, and the mattresses they have available for an exchange.

In a nutshell no. There are many members here who have had the same issues and multiple exchanges with Stearns and Foster because they share the same issues with the rest of the Sealy line which is the use of too much lower quality polyfoam (or other materials) in the comfort layers which will soften or break down much too quickly. In most cases the comfort layers are the “weak link” of a mattress and will soften and break down the most quickly leading to the loss of comfort and/or support. Even some of the more “premium” models (such as their luxury latex line) will often have issues around the 3 - 5 year mark because the materials they use above the latex in the top layers include too much lower quality foam.

The Embody latex line would be one of the better options because even though the latex they use is synthetic and lower quality than you will usually find in a latex mattress made by a smaller manufacturer. It is still a more durable material than other types of foam though. Unfortunately their base layers are lower quality foam but if I had to choose between lower quality comfort layers and lower quality base foam I would would choose the lower quality base foam.

Some of the extra firm Stearns & Foster luxury Latex mattresses such as this one that only has an inch of polyfoam on top and this is a little higher quality can also make a good base for adding your own comfort layer in the form of a topper.

If I was to go with the Embody line I would tend towards the Insightful which is the firmest of the line, has no polyfoam on top, and has the thinnest layer of synthetic latex and would also make a suitable base for a topper to add any extra comfort/pressure relief you may need.

If you go in the direction of their other mattresses then I would work towards a choice that had the absolute least amount of polyfoam in the upper layers.

I would tend to avoid the Optimum line because they are not particularly good value and use medium density memory foam (which would also tend to soften over time) but because you are a lighter weight these could also make a suitable choice in the models with less memory foam (and again you could add a topper to add any comfort/pressure relief you need which would also improve the durability of the layers below it). ADDED: some of the newer Optimum latex line may be worth considering because they use latex in the comfort layers which is a durable material although they are not particularly good “value”.

While there is always some risk and uncertainty involved in adding a topper if you haven’t tested the combination in person because the specifics of the mattress itself along with your own body type, sleeping position, and preferences can affect which specific topper would be a suitable choice on any specific mattress … if you do decide to add a separate topper to a mattress then there is more information about choosing a topper in post #2 here and the topper guidelines it links to which along with a conversation with a reliable supplier that can provide you with good information about how their toppers compare to each other or to other toppers they are familiar with that are available on the market can help you use your sleeping experience as a reference point and guideline to help you choose the type, thickness, and firmness for a topper that has the least possible risk and the best chance for success. It also includes a link to a list of some of the better online sources for toppers I’m aware of and a link to the online suppliers that have good exchange/return policies as well.

If a mattress/topper combination is a good “match” for you in terms of "comfort and PPP then it also has the advantage of being able to replace just the topper without replacing the entire mattress if it softens or breaks down before the upper foam layers in the mattress (which is very likely because the upper layers of a sleeping system tend to soften or break down before the deeper layers) or if your needs or preferences change over time and a topper can also help extend the useful life of the mattress underneath it as well.

The retail price of the mattress you are looking to exchange for and the size would make a difference in what you could choose for your exchange but the principle of avoiding or minimizing lower quality materials in the upper layers would be the same and then you would also need to be OK with the added expense of a topper to go on top of it to “customize” your mattress for your needs and preferences.

Hope this helps and if you have more questions or more information you can add about your price range, the size you need, or any material preferences you have (such as memory foam vs latex) feel free to add them here.


Thanks very much, that’s very helpful information. I’ll be shopping later this week, so may have more questions.

The hardest part about dealing with something like this (ask me I’m a pro) is that they never want to tell you what is an even exchange. To me I felt that when I hit the Stearns Luxury Estate line the quality of support picked up. Be it the dual coil design or the heavy Caress Flex foam immediately above the coils they just felt the best. No Sealy ever came close. Problem is, this is a $2000+ mattress.

What I did was pay a bit extra to get the Stearns and Foster Felisha model in Luxry firm euro pillow top. This was a sight/test unseen purchase based on teh fact that the Stearns Mailyn felt decent, but too poofy up top and the Felisha has some latex in the upper. This mattress is here standing in the basement waiting to be activated as a guest bed. I bought a configurable latex set from SleepEZ so now if I have problems I just open up and swap or replace a layer. Consider the “loop” broken and good thing as Sealy wrote off my warranty…

I called Sealy today to determine if the mattresses I was considering was an upgrade or comparable to the Vdara mattress I am exchanging. They informed me that, despite what they stated in the letter, I am only permitted to do an even exchange, i.e. the same Vdara mattress that failed in 2 years. This is because I purchased the mattress from a hotel and not from a retailer. Essentially they are not honoring the offer they made to me in the letter approving my claim. The letter stated:

“Your mattress will be replaced with the closest comparable model that we have in our current line unless you choose to upgrade to a different model…We strongly recommend that you try mattresses locally before you make your selection…”.

The form then asks for me to note the model and comfort level of the selected mattress. There is no reference to a “hotel limitation” or anything like that. The most the Sealy representative would agree to was to send me a “corrected letter.”

So I am obviously frustrated and angry about this situation. A couple questions:

  1. Is there any recourse to make them honor the terms of their original letter “offer” (their term)–which expires in a few weeks? I think I should be able to choose a comparable model in the Sealy line, and not be limited to a “choice” of one. I’m trying to follow Phoenix’s suggestions and think I will be able to do that if they let me exchange within their line.

  2. If I am stuck exchanging for the same mattress and decide to do so, should I purchase a topper to avoid the same problem?

Thanks for any feedback; I greatly appreciate it.

Hi gmike41t,

I don’t blame you at all for being both frustrated and angry. I would be in a similar situation as well although it doesn’t particularly surprise me with a hotel mattress which is a different sales channel from their “regular” mattresses.

This is more of a legal question than anything else and I don’t think I would be qualified to provide advice there but I would certainly pursue it further and let them know that you believe in no uncertain terms that they should abide by the terms of their original letter and that you will be doing what you can … including filing a complaint with the state attorney general’s office, the BBB, and online forums … if they are not willing to keep to their original commitment. Of course they are not generally as responsive to customer service issues or customer complaints as smaller companies. Your best odds may be applying some pressure … with the actual intent to do what you are saying … in the hopes that they will be more reasonable and ethical.

A full topper is only a good idea if you need to make the comfort layer thicker or softer. While it’s true that a topper can increase the durability of the foam below it … if you add a topper to a mattress that already has fairly thick and soft comfort layers then you could be creating additional alignment issues because you will be further away from the support layers of the mattress and could turn the softer comfort or middle transition layers into support layers and they may be too soft for that type of use. A topper is only really useful or suitable if the comfort layers are either too thin or too firm.

Having said that … it may be a good idea to add a thicker mattress pad which will have less effect on alignment than a full topper and will also help the foam below to be more durable. This is what the hotels themselves often use to extend the durability of their mattresses. While there are many options here with many different types of materials including cotton, synthetic, and natural fibers in many different thicknesses … wool would make a good choice because of it’s ability to help with temperature and humidity control and its natural resilience. Like all fibers it will compress over time (about 30% of its thickness) but then it will stay about the same and this is normal for a natural fiber. There is more information about this in post #10 here.

I hope you let us know how this goes for you … but I really would “go up the line” as far as possible.


Thanks for the advice; that’s very helpful. I am still pursuing it, and am writing letters to the CEO/Board of Directors. I also intend to file complaints with the BBB and AG’s office. I’m also writing to Vdara–they have their name on an awful product and should take note re: what it does to their own brand to be associated with this product.

I’m glad to report that, after receiving my letters to the CEO and the complaint I filed with the Better Business Bureau, Sealy contacted me and is allowing me to complete an exchange with the Sealy line.

I’m leaning toward exchanging for the Embody Insightful, as Phoenix suggested. This has an upgrade fee of about $300. The Stearns and Foster River View Valley Firm and the Optimum was about $600 additional. The mattress I am exchanging is a king.

One (hopefully) last question before I take that step: based on what I read here and my preferences, I narrowed my options down to a latex mattress. Considering that I am going to add a topper to the mattress, is a latex mattress really my best value? Are there other (cheaper) mattresses, e.g. innersprings, that would serve me just as well? It seems that my “budget” for the exchange is about $1,500 retail.

Thanks again for the advice. This site and forum are fantastic resources.

I am in a similar situation as you in having to choose a replacement of a Stearns and Foster harbor view villa latex mattress. In the research I did, I could not find any Sealy or stearns innerspring model that did not use at least 2-3 inches of cheap poly foam in the comfort layers. I ended up ordering a stearns private vineyard villa latex and a rejuvenite 3 inch 28 ILD talalay topper. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Hi gmike416,

Way to go!

Sometimes persistence pays :slight_smile:

I think that Fiddler’s comments reflect my own thoughts as well. The upper layers are the weak link of a mattress and while the “smart latex” is not the best quality latex (its mostly synthetic Dunlop) … it’s at least better quality than the alternative choices which have too much lower quality polyfoam in the comfort layers and would likely start you on the same cycle all over again. when you are making the choices you are making the goal is always to minimize lower quality foams as much as possible in the top half of the mattress.


Hi Fiddler,

As you know … I think you made the best choice possible in your circumstances. It’s always amazing to me how difficult it is to find a single mattress in their lineup that doesn’t use questionable materials in the top layers … and as you mentioned in your previous post … how it may not even be available unless you know to ask for it specifically.


Thanks for all the great advice Phoenix.

I am stuck making a decision between the Embody Insightful at $353 upcharge or the SF River View Firm at $890, plus $140 delivery fee. I am nearing the end of the original warranty so this will definitely be my last mattress for quite some time. Is the additional $540 worth the SF River View over Sealy Embody? I need something that will last for the next 8 years so I can stop dumping money into mattresses for a while.

Any input would be appreciated, I just don’t want to give Sealy any more money that I need to sleep soundly.

Thanks again.

Hi geearle,

This would depend entirely on how well each mattress matches your needs and preferences in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, pressure relief, and Personal preferences). My guess is that since both of these are fairly firm that you would likely need a topper for both of them (unless your testing confirms that one or both of them work well without a topper). The suitability of a mattress in terms of PPP is just as important as durability because if a mattress is very durable but not suitable for you then you wouldn’t be able to sleep on it no matter how durable it was.

The Embody Insightful has 3" of smart latex in the top layer which is mostly synthetic latex but is more durable than polyfoam. The Riverview Villa firm has some high loft fiber and then 1" of polyfoam above the smart latex in the comfort and support layers. While both of these would be among the better options for an exchange where you were looking for a base mattress and planned to add a topper for pressure relief and comfort … the Riverview firm (not cushion firm by the way which is different) has lower quality polyfoam and fiber in the upper layers that would be more subject to softening and impressions over time than the latex in the Insightful so I would give the edge in terms of durability to the Insightful even though it has a lower quality polyfoam support layer.

The risk of a mattress/topper combination is that it can be difficult to choose the best topper unless you have tested them together. If you exchange for a mattress without the topper (and buy the topper elsewhere), then the topper guidelines in post #2 here and the posts it links to will be helpful. The benefit of a topper is that it can be easily replaced if it softens or breaks down faster than the mattress and you can replace it at a much lower cost without replacing the entire mattress.