Searching for a mattress...take 4

My wife and I have been on quite the mattress searching journey over the past 8 months. We have tried and returned 3 mattresses (thankfully at no net cost financially as we got great trial periods), and are currently trying to figure out what to do.

Here’s a brief summary of us. I am 5’11" & 165 lb and have historically slept on my stomach, although I am making some progress towards sleeping on my side some and back occassionally. I have some minor neck and lower back issues, and I am currently dealing with a frozen shoulder, which makes sleeping difficult. My wife is 5’6" and 125 lb and starts on her side but ends up occassionally on her stomach, and she also suffers from occassional neck and upper back pain. She likes “softer” mattresses, and I like “firmer” ones, although I think we really both want a mattress that conforms well to our body (“soft”) yet provides good support (“firm”).

So far we have tried the following king-sized mattresses over the past 8 months:

  • Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud: We tried this for ~40 of our 100 day trial period before swapping with another tempurpedic. We found it to be “too soft”, meaning that we just sunk to far into the mattress. We didn’t like the feel, and it wasn’t curing our back/neck pain.

  • Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Contour: We tried this for the remainder of our 100 day trail period (~60 days). In general, we both liked it better than the Cloud, but my wife continued to have neck issues. In hindsight, I was fairly pleased with the mattress, but she wasn’t quite as happy, and neither of us were excited enough about it to justify the expense. We had minor issues with the off-gassing as well.

  • Comfortaire Bella: We switched gears and tried this air-bed that is similar to a Sleep Number, but from my research, higher quality and less expensive. We tried this because we like “different firmness levels”. Ultimately, I found that I had too much pressure in my shoulder area to sleep comfortably on my side, and I would end up on my stomach and had some lower back pain. Overall, we just didn’t like this bed.

We decided that we probably should have just gone with the Tempurpedic RhapsodyBed (we tried split king with adjustable base initially, and this was quickly eliminated due to price), because we have slept on a friend’s before and like it. When we went back to the Mattress Firm to confirm that was what we wanted to try next, we encountered what seemed to be our best salesman. Citing some of the reasons I have read on this site, he actually directed us towards a few cheaper alternatives because he thought that the comfort layer of the Rhapsody didn’t allow either of us to sink in as much as we needed for our spines to be aligned. After a decent amount of time in the store, we left thinking we would decide between 2 beds: Revolution iComfort by Serta & Glen Oaks Comfortpedic by Simmons.

After reading some things on this site, I am now re-evaluating and thinking perhaps we should consider a local or regional chain. However, I am a bit discouraged about starting over from square 1.

Based on what I have shared, does anyone have any guidance for us?
Are either of the options we are looking at good? (I recognize they probably aren’t the best value.)
Are there any good places in the Houston, TX area we should check out before making a purchase?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.


Hi adamseals,

As you already know … a combination of side sleeping and stomach sleeping is one of the most difficult combinations to deal with because the needs of each are completely opposite. Stomach sleeping needs a thinner/firmer comfort layer to help prevent sleeping in a swayback position and the back issues that can come with it while side sleeping needs a softer/thicker comfort layer to accommodate the need for better pressure relief in this position. Normally the best option in this case is to use the thinnest/firmest comfort layer that provides “just enough” pressure relief on your side but no more. Including materials in your mattress that can be both soft and also supportive as you sink into them more (such as latex) may also be helpful. Of course this will also vary with individual weight and shape and each person’s tolerances to pressure relief and alignment issues.

Some comments about each of your choices follow …

  • Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud:

While this model is among the thinnest memory foam comfort layer of all their models (2.8" of memory foam) … it also includes the Tempur ES which is the softest and allows you to sink in more deeply than higher density memory foam. This in combination with your slimmer body shapes (which can use thinner comfort layers) is the most likely reason it “didn’t work” for you.

  • Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Contour:

This has a thicker comfort layer (3.6") which would be a little more “supportive” (when compared with the ES memory foam but not with other materials) but even denser memory foam can still often lead to alignment issues because over the course of the night you can still sink too far into the material so even though you may start off the night in good alignment … as the memory foam “relaxes” (this is called foam “creep” and viscoelastic materials do this more than other materials) it can allow you to sink in deeper. This too would likely be a little on the thick side for a stomach sleeper. As it went through the initial softening period, this could become a bigger issue as well.

  • Comfortaire Bella:

IMO … an airbed is generally the worst choice of all because air is either “completely compressed” or “not compressed at all” and there is no gradual change from one to the other so it is poor at adapting to different positions. There’s much more about the pros and cons of an airbed here (mostly cons).

Tempurpedic RhapsodyBed

This may have been an OK choice but it would come with it’s own set of challenges. While I don’t agree that it would not allow you to sink in enough (and it still may be too much) … the HD foam certainly would feel firmer at first because it needs time and heat to become as soft and conforming as it can be so initially or with movement it can feel firmer than it really is. This one too could be a little on the thick side with 4" of memory foam … even though some of it is denser.

-Tempurpedic Bellafina:

While you didn’t mention this one … it may also have made a good choice. It only has 2.8" of memory foam (the 5.3 lb tempur material) but has latex underneath this and then the support layer. The latex would be more adaptable in terms of being supportive in different sleeping positions and that along with the thinner layer of memory foam (less to sink into over time) may have made this the best choice of all.

-Revolution iComfort by Serta:

My thoughts on many of the iComfort lineup including the Revolution are in post #11 here. I also think that the softness and thickness of the Revolution comfort layers (5.75" and it is cose to the softest of the lineup) would likely be too thick and soft for you in the long term … and particularly as it softened.

-Glen Oaks Comfortpedic by Simmons:

This mattress includes 3" of 3.5 lb memory foam which IMO is too much low quality (low durability that will soften much more quickly) memory foam to even be considered as a realistic option at this price level.

Bear in mind that each person will interact with each mattress in different ways and that all of this is “theory” and thoughts about different layering and how it may affect you. Only your own experience can be completely accurate for your individual circumstances. Bear in mind too that memory foam will go through an initial more rapid softening period over the first few weeks which is followed by a more gradual softening over a much longer period of time so what feels “right” in the store may not feel as good or perform quite as well in a few months.

In terms of where to go next … your experiences can be very valuable but I would tend to use them by going in a different direction and work with someone that may be more knowledgeable about different materials and constructions than just memory foam. As you probably know from reading some of the information on this site the best odds would be a local manufacturer that sells factory direct or a sleep shop that has knowledgeable people that sells alternative or local brands that use higher quality materials at better value.

Overall … I would probably tend to suggest “thinner than average” layers of memory foam for your circumstances which would be much “safer”. If this thinner layer was on a very firm support layer though (which would be helpful for your alignment) … it may feel too firm because the thinner memory foam layer would not isolate you from the firmness of the support layer enough for side sleeping (although it would be better on your stomach). Because of this … a “transition” layer in between the memory foam and the support layer that could help with both the extra softness that may be necessary on your side and the firmness that would be helpful on your stomach may be a good idea. Latex would be a good choice here (although a high quality polyfoam could also work well) because it can be soft with initial compression but gets firmer much faster and can be more supportive with deeper compression and is more adaptable to different positions. Latex can also make a great comfort layer in it’s softer versions but it has a much different feel and is more responsive than memory foam so this would also be a matter of preference. It may be worth including in your research though.

Some of the better choices in Houston are in post #2 here

Hope this helps and if I’ve forgotten anything … let me know.


PS: I should also mention that a pillow that is suitable for a particular sleeping position or combination of sleeping positions can be very important for alignment and with neck and upper body issues can play a vital role that is at least as important as the mattress. A pillow that “works” on one mattress may also not work as well on another that allows for either more or less sinking in (which changes the amount of the “gap” between your head and the mattress that the pillow has to fill in to keep you in alignment).

Thanks a ton for the thorough response Phoenix. It is very helpful in both understanding our past struggles and in helping us move forward with a bit more direction.

If I have any follow up questions as we begin the next stage of our search, this will certainly be the first place I come!


I thought of one other point of clarification that might slightly alter your recommendation.

To make things even more difficult for my side/stomach sleeping, I have pretty broad shoulders, a thin waist, and a long neck, which I believe would make me need a softer/thicker comfort layer than my height/weight might lead one to believe for side sleeping (perhaps I am wrong, but that is what it seems like to me.) My wife also has a rather vuloptuous figure and broad shoulders for her height-weight combo, which probably means that she also needs a softer/thicker comfort layer than one might expect for proper side-sleeping.

I have been very intentional about sleeping on my side over the last year, but I have tended to end up on my stomach frequently throughout the night. My wife also starts on her side but often ends up shifting somewhat onto her stomach. I am hoping that if we get the proper mattress, the pressure points that likely cause us to shift to a stomach sleeping position during the night would not be as much of an issue, and perhaps we could stay on our sides.

Would this additional info change your initial recommendations at all?

Thanks again!

Hi adamseals,

Yes … this body shape and the combination of sleeping positions would present an even bigger challenge. This would be similar to an athlete that has trouble buying clothes because their body proportions (usually the “drop” between their waist and shoulders) are outside of the norm and need some degree of customization or adjustment to an “off the shelf” choice.

In cases like this … some form of zoning can be helpful because the firmer middle area under the heavier and thinner pelvis will hold it up better which in turn allows the shoulders to sink more into the softer portion under the shoulders and upper body. While this is not normally necessary with latex, it can provide an “edge” with more difficult circumstances. The long neck would be more dealt with by pillow selection than with the mattress although the mattress will have an effect on the best choice of pillow. Pillows that are “scrunchy” so that they can be both flatter on the stomach and thicker and firmer on the side can make good choices.

While your wife’s shoulders may be wider than normal … most women also have wider hips than men which means that they are often in a more “even” proportion than broad shouldered men. Of course each person can be very diffeent here and even differences in sleeping positions can make a difference in the surface area of various parts of the body that come into contact with the mattress.

Yes … in cases of more “curvy” profiles … then it is often a good idea to consider thicker and/or softer layering to allow the recessed curves to be filled in better but this conflicts with the needs of stomach sleeping which is a much flatter profile with no real recessed areas to be filled in. Zoning can help with holding up the pelvis on the stomach at the same time it can allow for the use of softer foam under the wider lighter shoulders so the sinking in can be more even in all sleeping positions.

It’s very difficult to change sleeping positions as most people who try discover although it can be done and sometimes it is part of natural changes that people go through from time to time (like changes in taste) but it can be very difficult to make these changes consciously. If a stomach sleeper can achieve good alignment … then it’s not as “risky” as it would otherwise be although it also has other effects because it requires a very thin pillow and there is no avoiding the twisting of the neck for extended periods of time. I would certainly take the stomach sleeping into account in the selection of your mattress by using the thinnest possible comfort layers rather than making a selection that you will be able to avoid stomach sleeping.

You have many “competing” influences at work here which can make actual testing with the help of a knowledgeable person who can help you in real time and actually see you on the mattress even more important. While this may not lead to an actual purchase or a “perfect” mattress … it will at the very least give you much better reference points for your own needs and preferences.

Two other points that would be well worth considering.

One is that I would want to know how much a memory foam mattress I was testing had “beoken in” to get a clearer sense of how much a new version would change over the first few months. If it is brand new … then take into account that it will soften to some idegree over this period of time.

Second … bear in mind that it is easier to “adjust” or fine tune a mattress that is a little too firm with a topper or in various other ways than it is to fine tune a mattress that is already too soft or where parts of you sink down too deeply. In other words … alignment in all your sleeping positions (with lots of time on each mattress, fully relaxed, and with no tension in the muscles similar to just before you drift off to sleep) is the most important part because improving pressure relief can be more easily adjusted.

Hope this helps


Here is an update after a Satruday of mattress shopping. Unfortunately I woke up Saturday morning with a stiff neck which made the whole process a bit difficult. My wife was a trooper, but she is understandably struggling a bit with how technical and thorough I am making this process.

STOP 1: Angelbeds/Tranquility Showroom

Fortunately this is very close to our house and right by where we had to pick up some hardwood floors we are having installed later this week. The salesman was somewhat helpful, but seemed to be similar to some of the better ones that we had encountered at national chains…he was somewhat knowledgeable and helpful, but I felt like I may have known as much as him (if not more) after reading this site.

It was good for us to lay on latex, but overall I think we decided we just don’t like the feel quite as well as memory foam. (Not that we would eliminate it, but we thought staying focused on memory foam would be best.)

Regarding the Angelbeds, they were very much made to compare directly with Tempurpedic, an interesting marketing approach. The 2 that we might consider would be the Angelbed 13" Allusion (similar to Tempurpedic Allura) and the Angelbed 12" Riviera (similar to Tempurpedic Rhapsody).

The Alllusion has a 1" 7# + 2" 5# pillowtop, a 1" 5# layer, and then a 7" polyurethane base.
The Riviera has a 1" 7# layer, a 3" 5" layer, 1" polyurethane airflow, and then a 6" polyurethane base.

Typing it out, they both seem very similar, except the Allusion being put into a pillowtop format. I actually found both of these to feel a bit firm initially, perhaps because of the density of the top layer.

The salesman noted that with the pillowtop setup, he could even put in different layers on each side to suit our individual preferences. I didn’t understand exactly how that would work, and I can’t remember which layer he suggested doing that with.

Overall, it was a decent experience, although we were discouraged they didn’t make an equivalent to the Bellafina since it is what you had suggested. If you think these are quality mattresses that would potentially suit our needs, we may consider them due to the (hopefully) better value than the Tempurpedics.

STOP 2: Mattress Firm

We were hoping to lay on a Tempurpedic Bellafina, so we stopped at a Mattress Firm. It was a quick stop, as we found out that none of their stores carry it anymore as it has been discontinued. I have called around to a couple of other places that carry Tempurpedic and found the same issue. This is somewhat discouraging, as I was hoping to be able to test it out and see if the type of bed you were initially recommending seemed to be a good fit.

STOP 3: Houston Mattress Factory

This was definitely the most interesting stop of the weekend. I believe we delt with the owner, Mike (I think). He was passionate about mattresses and had plenty of wisdom to share, although he couldn’t quite make it through a thought without getting sidetracked on something. This made things take a long time, which was tough for my wife, considering the conditions of the “showroom”. This was as ghetto on the inside as it appeared on the outside, and it was extremely difficult for us to get a feel for any of the mattresses because they were all wrapped in plastic.

After explaining what we were looking for, we somewhat focused in on a mattress that had the following build. Top layer, 1" of 2# Visco Memory Foam. Next layer, 2" latex ILD 24-28. Next layer, 2" of 5# Visco. Base layer, 4" trizoned latex (lighter at head and foot). It seemed reasonably priced, I think it was ~$2100 for a king.

My main concerns with going with this bed are as follows:

  • We didn’t really get to truly test it (covered in plastic)
  • It would probably be hard to get my wife back to the “showroom” to test it even if they would remove the plastic (although she says she will be ok if I decide we should buy from them)
  • Their warranty, while fantastic as you noted, makes me a bit uncomfortable, because I would be essentially locked into buying from them (unlimited exchange, but no refund), and it would be super inconvenient to swap

Overall, it was a somewhat frustrating search, probably because neither stop 2 or 3 was as expected. Actually, typing this out helped get my thoughts cleared a bit, but at this point I am fairly clueless about where to go next. We may consider checking out Texas Mattress Makers as well I guess.

Any thoughts on the above mattresses and where we might ought to go from here would be greatly appreciated.


Hi adamseals,

Probably not surprisingly … I would suggest that #1 and #3 would be your better options. While the Tempurpedic would be well worth testing … it is also less “memory foam” like than their models that have only memory foam and the entire lineup is not the same value as your other options IMO. This is not to say they are low quality … only that their quality comes at a price that is very difficult to justify when compared to similar quality but more reasonable options. They are doing some shuffling around with a new line of mattresses. They also used to have a mattress called the BellaSonna which had latex “cylinders” which had some potential but these types of hybrids are not what people who are looking for Tempurpedic are generally looking for and their name is built on the feel and “reputation” of memory foam so these tend to not be as popular. Reverie has a similar concept although they use latex on top of the cylinders.


As you saw they have some better options for testing. They do use American made certiPur certified foam and IMO are certainly better value to the equivalent Tempurpedics. The HD memory foam is very dense which means it has an initial feel of being firmer but it is actually more conforming over time when it warms up (it can take on the shape of the body better). It also modifies the layers below it so that you don’t sink in quite as far so in that sense would be more “supportive”. Like all memory foam though it will go through an initial softening period followed by a more gradual softening over it’s lifetime. IMO … it’s always wise to buy a memory foam mattress a little on the firm side to make up for this (depending on how much of the breakin period the floor model has gone through). It’s also important to spend a little extra time actually lying on memory foam to give it a chance to warm up and come closer to your actual sleeping experience. Testing how it feels once it’s conformed to your shape when you change positions is also an important part of testing memory foam. While they are not the lowest priced memory foam mattresses, they are certainly better value than Tempurpedic. Compare for example the Original Mattress Factory Serenity set to the similar Riviera.

Mattress Firm.

These are the types of outlets that I certainly tend to stay away from although I know you were only there for the Tempurpedic.

Houston Mattress Factory.

As you mention … a lot of the smaller independent owners are very passionate about what they build and for someone in a “hurry” it can take a little extra time. They have the long term experience though and the willingness to help that this sort of old style approach can also be a breath of fresh air compared to higher pressure outlets. As you can see … many of them are much more focused on the value of their mattress than the style of their showroom. Some of them even use a part of their factory for the showroom :). Of course they’re not all like this but the “cost cutting” often translates into better quality and value which in this case is apparent. They put their moey into their mattresses in other words.

This type of layering (memory foam/latex hybrids) are one of my favorites and for some people represent the best of both worlds. Their latex would be better quality than say tempurpedic who would likely use a synthetic blended Dunlop and while the plastic can get in the way, you can still get a good sense of the mattress. People who have been around for a long time are often very good at matching people to mattresses as well and as he probably told you they will make adjustments if the layering isn’t quite right.

Manufacturers like this often offer the ability to make adjustments to their mattress if necessary (by swapping out a layer for exampleor making other changes) which I believe is far more valuable than a refund or exchange. I am not a fan of refunds for local purchases because they add more to the cost of a mattress than they are worth and they can also encourage customers to make poor choices that are not even close to their needs and preferences under the “managed” environment of a showroom. With a local manufacturer you will usually end up with a much more suitable choice with better quality and value and if there is a need to do any fine tuning it is more effective to adjust what you know than to start all over again. Each adjustment that could be made would keep the good and adjust what was needed so the choices are actually better and more accurate than at an outlet that has a dozen “alternative” mattresses for exchange.

Texas mattress makers would also be a good place to visit. They do make some good quality gel memory foam mattresses that use some of the better type of gel memory foam that would be worth testing. They normally only sell wholesale but their outlet is attached to their factory and they carry the full range of mattresses that are made by Noah. They only have one mattress with any latex in it but they do carry a selection of memory foam.

Overall of the choices you have tested I would definitely be leaning towards the model at Houston Mattress in terms of quality and value but of course your experience on the mattress is just as important than the quality of the materials because even the best quality mattress may not be suitable for any particular individual and pressure relief, alignment, and the overall feel you like are the most important part of testing. The specs are always a guideline for both quality and suitability and if the manufacturer knows his foams and uses high quality materials and good construction then it can help save you the time from learning what they already know.

Based on my conversations with the choices you have … you have some very good options available :slight_smile:

Hope this helps.


It seems like the Houston mattress bad almost has like a pillow-top layer with the very low lb. memory foam (2 lbs). Although it’s just an inch, I would think even with sleepers who are light weight-wise it would break down. So I would it hope it would be able to be replaced easily in a layering scenario. Otherwise from a quality perspective, the layers look to be good. I don’t know how effective the 2" of memory foam between the layers of latex would be, but ultimately how it feels is more important.

Hi benjammin,

An inch of low density memory foam in the top layer would not be a big issue for me and is used to modify the feel of the firmer latex layer below it. Even if it softens … it would still perform it’s function which is more for the surface feel of the mattress. It’s actually a 2.5 lb density (I asked him specifically because I had never heard of a 2 lb memory foam) and would perform a similar function to a inch of quilting foam (an inch or so is usually fine for those who are looking for a certain feel that gives the mattress a feel that they prefer). Thicker layers of low density foam would have a much greater risk of softening and breaking down in a way that affected the performance of the mattress.

The memory foam between the layers of latex certainly will make a difference in the feel and it gives it a “slow sinking in” feel in between latex and memory foam which for some can be very attractive. It “slows down” the feel and resilience of the latex. It’s actually the mattress that he sleeps on and he discovered the layering possibility as a result of some muscle injuries that he had and seeing the difference that putting a latex layer on top of his memory foam mattress made and he then decided to make it into a mattress that he would sell.


Phoenix, thanks for the thoughts and explanation. I’m especially intrigued by the memory foam slowing down the feel and resilience of latex. Very interesting!

Hi benjammin,

I should have mentioned too that latex is more breathable than most memory foams and the latex would reduce the sleeping warm that some people experience when sleeping directly on thicker layers of memory foam. Latex compresses in a more “valley like” shape while memory foam tends to compress in a more “canyon” like shape that rises up beside the body more so because it is also more insulating and less breathable in its cell structure than latex, it can sleep warmer.


Thanks for the follow up Phoenix. It sounds like you actually spoke to the guy at Houston Mattress Factory about the mattress I described, which is great.

Considering your (supposed) discussions with him and what I have described about our situation, I have a few follow-up questions:

  • Do you think this mattress would be a good fit for our situation? Would you change/tweak anything?
  • Do you think this is a high quality mattress and that we would be getting a good value by buying from them, even if it required swapping it out once or twice to get it to work well for us?
  • How would you compare this in terms of fit/value with the Angelbeds we looked at?


Hi adamseals,

I did talk with him yes but not as much about the mattress you described (which was clearly high quality based on your description) but more about the types of mattresses he is building and about his overall approach, thoughts, and ideas. It was a great conversation and like many manufacturers that have been in business for a long time … he had lots of stories about the industry and also shared many of his thoughts about mattresses and materials in general. I hadn’t talked with him before and didn’t know he was using latex or any of the details about the types of mattresses he was building so based on your description and because I hadn’t talked with him before … I thought I would call him to find out more. I’m glad I did because he is building a much wider variety of mattresses than his website indicates and the conversation confirmed my impressions about his overall approach, quality, and value.

I think that once you have reached the stage of research that you have … your own personal testing and the guidance of someone that is skilled in fitting their customers to a mattress is much more accurate than any “theory at a distance” that I could offer. Specs are a good starting point for testing and can certainly give a good indication of the quality of a mattress and help to exclude many choices and they are also great in terms of knowing the quality and relative durability of a mattress you are seriously considering but the part in between … actually fitting a mattress to a person … is better done locally and in person when there is a local manufacturer or sleep shop with the quality, value, and knowledge that justifies a purchase close by. As a good alternative … a good online manufacturer with the specialized skills to fit their customers at a distance to the specific mattresses and layering that they make is the next best alternative.

To give suggestions about “tweaking” a mattress … I would need a reference point of knowing exactly what you were trying to achieve after testing a specific mattress (and why you wanted to tweak it) and the manufacturers themselves who can get “real time” feedback while you are there and can actually see how you respond to the mattress is usually a much more accurate assessment than what I could do at a distance.

The quality and value is certainly there and the knowledge is also there to give you good guidance but the actual decision about what is best beyond initial guidelines (such as for weight and height here and for sleeping positions here) is better when it’s based on actual testing rather than theory (which has too many variables to accurately predict what any one person may find “best”).

Yes … I would consider them to be a high quality/value manufacturer and wouldn’t hesitate to buy any of their mattresses that “fit” my budget and also my own needs and preferences. Most manufacturers have similar quality and value all across their model lineup (relative to budget of course). I would suggest too that the “best” way to buy a mattress is with the approach that whatever you buy will be your final choice but of course in this case (like with many local manufacturers) if it needs tweaking then the option is there. This is not the ideal though and it’s always better to be accurate the first time and a knowledgeable manufacturer or person that is helping you makes this much more likely.

In terms of “fit” … this would be based on how your personal testing showed you interacted with each mattress. They are two completely different types of outlets however. Houston mattress is an actual manufacturer which has been making mattresses for a long time and has the knowledge and experience that comes with actually making mattresses. They know the “details” that a marketing person would likely never have to learn. Local factory direct manufacturers like this (and sleep shops with knowledgeable people and who deal directly with a factory) tend to have better value than most other options. Angelbeds is a marketing company which also has better than average value but are not the actual manufacturers. They have quite a few websites and focus mostly on online purchases. They all lead back to . This is not a knock on any marketing group … and Angelbeds is certainly better value than many other options … but simply a recognition that a local manufacturer which tends to run on lower margins and has decades or in some cases generations of experience in the industry has better odds of having better knowledge, quality, and value.

So overall … assuming that they carried a mattress that fit my needs and preferences (and it’s unlikely they don’t considering they can make pretty much anything) … my personal choice between the two would tend towards Houston mattress both because they have great value and because they would have the knowledge and experience to help you select the best choice for your own personal needs and preferences.


Here is our latest update in the mattress seach. Saturday we visited Texas Mattress Makers and then made a return trip to the Houston Mattress Factory.


Texas Mattress Makers had a much nicer showroom than the Houston Mattress Factory, which my wife certainly appreciated. We layed on a few different mattresses, starting with the memory foam and then also trying some inner-spring that the sales rep encouraged us to consider. He was nice and somewhat helpful, but I didn’t feel like he was a mattress guru by any means. Before we left, he introduced us to the owner (can’t remember how to pronounce his name). He certainly seemed knowledgeable and confident of his product, but he was adament that inner-springs were a superior alternative to memory foam. I asked him why he made a memory foam mattress if the inner-springs were so much better, and he said it was really just because so many people wanted the memory foam. He also insisted that thinking/researching too much was counter-productive and we just needed to focus on what felt best to us. I do think there is a take-away on that point for me, but I obviously don’t agree entirely.

Maybe it’s because I had focused so much on memory foam, but I had certainly not thought of inner-springs as a superior option. You don’t agree with this statement in general, do you? Perhaps the inner-spring beds they make are great quality and their memory foams are not as good, but I would be surprised if this principle (that inner-spring is superior to memory foam) was true in general.

The bed they recommended was the Bel Air Gel Euro Top. It is supposedly constructed of 1" 3# gel, a pocketed coil topper, and high performance foam. I didn’t get any further information than that, but I was hoping you might have more information. My wife and I did find the bed to be somewhat comfortable, and the price was great (~$1300), but I would certainly need to feel confident that this was a good quality bed and that there wasn’t anything I was overlooking. Regardless, I will still have reservations about buying from them because all sales are final (no return, exchange, or altering available).


We actually had to cut out from there earlier than we would have liked to make it over to the Houston Mattress Factory again. This time we brought our own blanket (to lay on top of the plastic) and pillows so we could better evaluate the mattress we were looking at. As noted above, this bed was constructed of 1" of 2# visco memory foam on top of 2" latex ILD 24-28, then 2" of 5# visco. The base layer is 4" trizoned latex (lighter at head and foot). We found out the price was a bit higher than we had thought, just under $2500 for a king.

After laying on it for quite awhile, I actually was concerned it was a bit too firm for our liking. I was able to get comfortable on my back (which, by the way, I have been sleeping on more recently). On my stomach it wasn’t bad either. However, on my side, it just felt a bit too firm and I could never get comfortable. My wife agreed that it was a bit firmer than she would prefer.

Mike provided a yard-stick for us to check our alignment, but I must confess I really struggled to tell whether my wife was in alignment, and I don’t think she was too sure of what to think about me either. Mike didn’t exactly provide an assessment for us either.

I shared our concern with Mike (the owner) that the bed might be a bit too firm for us, and he suggested that we just increase the top layer of 2# visco from 1" to 2". He was hesitant to adjust the ILD of the latex or any other layers. This seems like it would probably be a good option, but I am a bit concerned about the impact of the top layer breaking down over time if it were 2" thick. Wouldn’t this breaking down of such a soft top layer have more of a negative impact on the bed if it were 2" thick? Might we consider switching to a denser top layer (maybe 3# or 4# if we increase it to 2"?


We were really hoping we would like the bed at the Houston Mattress Factory as-is, but I really just feel like it’s a bit too firm for us. Perhaps we should go with it and account for the fact that it should soften over time, but I would hate to have to bring it back for softening a few months from now when we have already identified it as a potential concern. Or, perhaps we should alter it in advance to make it a bit softer by increasing the thickness of the top layer, but I would hate to ask them to make a special mattress for us to purchase when I had never actually laid on it.

Any advice? Should we seriously consider the inner-spring bed from Texas Mattress Makers? Should we go with a thicker 2" foam on top of the bed at Houston Mattress Factory, or might that cause problems? Should we go with the bed as is from Houston Mattress Factory knowing that it will soften over time?

Thanks again for all of your help Phoenix. We are really hoping to draw this process to an end soon!

Hi adamseals,

You are bringing up some good points so this will be a “longer” reply :slight_smile:


There are many manufacturers across the country that try their best to have as little to do with memory foam as possible. Some of them carry it only because consumers have a strong “marketing created” belief that it is a superior material and some don’t carry it at all. Of course there are also many who feel differently about it but it would be fair to say that memory foam mattresses in general are not as well liked by long term manufacturers as much as other alternatives because they take the “rap” when they have problems and they tend not to like making mattresses where the returns or problems are more than they want to deal with.

I also lean in this direction personally although not as far as many of the manufacturers. It certainly is a “tricky” material and has many problems connected to it that other materials don’t have. If I were to choose memory foam in a mattress it would be in layers as thin as possible and/or mixed with other materials such as latex to “modify” the feel and performance.

An innerspring is a support component and not so much a “type” of mattress itself. In the same way … memory foam is a comfort material and not so much a type of mattress either. They are just materials that can be used under (in the case of innersprings) or over (in the case of memory foam) other materials. Common useage though has led to people calling any mattress that has a few inches of memory foam over a polyfoam support core or even other support systems a “memory foam mattress” and any mattress that has an innerspring as a support system an “innerspring mattress” even though it can use any materials on top.

Because memory foam is only used in top layers and an innerspring is only used in bottom layers (except for the mini springs called microcoils which are used as part of a comfort layer) … they really can’t be compared as a type of mattress and there would never be a choice between them. Innersprings can be compared to other support components like latex, polyfoam, air, or water and any of these can use any comfort materials that a customer chooses. In the same way … memory foam can be compared to other comfort materials like latex, polyfoam, microcoils, natural or synthetic fibers, buckling column gel, or gel foams (if you put this in a separate category) but are not comparable to innersprings. They are used for completely different purposes in a mattress

I personally would compare the benefits of different support systems to other support systems and the benefits of different comfort materials to other comfort materials and there is no right or wrong here. They all have different qualities and pros and cons and can be added either under (in the case of support materials) or over (in the case of comfort materials) any other material. I wouldn’t exclude any type of material in other words. Everything depends on how well each material provides pressure relief, posture and alignment, and the preferences that each person likes better. An innerspring for example can be superior for one person based on whether it helps more with PPP (pressure relief, posture and alignment, and preferences) while it may be inferior for the next. Memory foam is the same. While all memory foams have issues that other materials tend not to have (and each material or component has it’s own challenges or design considerations), they also have a unique feel to them which many people love.

All of these materials have higher quality and more durable versions and lower quality and less durable versions and they all come in a range of prices. There is more information about all of these and how they can go together in the mattresses section of the site. The good quality versions of all these materials (except air) all have a valuable place in mattress construction.

While it may sound strange for me to say this considering the details of some of my answers and the information on the site … I agree here. IMO … there is “enough” research which is a good thing because it helps ask better questions and helps to be able to tell when someone is speaking from knowledge or from hype or sales techniques. Knowing the difference between a story and factual information depends on having “enough” information.

Researching either less than this (not enough) or more than this (too much) can certainly be counter productive and I have seen both lead to poor decisions on many occasions. On the one hand … not enough makes a consumer very vulnerable to marketing hype and stories and they will likely pay little attention to the quality of materials in their mattress. On the other hand … too much leads to consumers trying to buy a mattress based on specs and overanalyzing at the expense of paying more attention to PPP and the suitability of their mattress to their own unique needs and preferences.

These all appear to be quality materials to me. If the gel is the G foam from flexible foam … it is a good material that I have heard some very positive comments about. It has the a gel polymer infused rather than added as particles and this actually can strengthen the foam it is added to. I also like microcoil comfort layers (the mini innersprings that are used in the comfort layers of a mattress) and a good innerspring can be a high quality component. High performance foam (polyfoam) can also be a high quality material. What this means is generally a foam that used high performance polyols which gives it better properties than conventional foam. HR polyfoam is an example of high performance foam that meets certain minimum density standards but if the density is lower than HR but it still uses high performance chemicals … they often call it either high performance or high comfort. Density is still the key to durability though even with high performance foams.

I would probably have some reservations about this as well. while I understand their focus is more wholesale through retail outlets … I think part of the service if they also sell factory direct should be the ability to make adjustments at a nominal price. I’m not a fan of refunds except for online purchases and I think that it is always wise to approach the purchase of a mattress as if you only had one chance to get it right (it’s more accurate) but of course there are always “mistakes” and I think they are missing the boat by going factory direct without giving their customers any recourse if they make a mistake.


I would assume (hope) that this would include a high quality foundation. On the face of it this seems to be a little on the high side to me but not a lot and this can be misleading just by looking at the inner layers alone. One of the most costly parts of a mattress is the ticking/quilting and in this case there is also the benefit of having the ability to adjust or switch out layers without “hassle” for the warranty period of the mattress. Because their warranty is focused on actually doing what warranties should do … this too has value and personally I would be willing to pay a premium for a high quality mattress that I have personally tested for PPP vs the risk of buying a mattress online that I haven’t actually tried.

Compare for example to something like this which has a thicker tri-zoned latex layer, 4" of 5 lb memory foam, and some high performance polyfoam included in the mix as well as a foundation for about the same price. There are also all latex options with 9" of latex with a wool/stretch knit cover (which is high quality) in King for under $2000 but you would need to add a few hundred more for a good quality foundation. In the end … if the difference is about 20% or less (just an arbitrary number that seems reasonable to me) … then I would probably go local … especially if there are other factors like an unusually good and effective warranty that goes with it and the knowledge that I have a mattress that “works”.

If you are a “all over the place all position” sleeper … then I would tend to go a little firmer than I may otherwise choose if I didn’t spend any time on my stomach. The memory foam will soften over the initial 90 days and with stomach sleeping there is always the danger of having a comfort layer that is too soft which would risk back issues. While normally I wouldn’t suggest adding a thicker layer of low density memory foam to the mix … in this case it may be worth while because the lower density will allow you to sink into the mattress more evenly (shoulders and hips) which would lead to better alignment. A firmer or denser foam on top may hold up part of you but still allow your heavier pelvis to sink in too deeply and this is a big risk of stomach sleeping in particular and to a lesser degree back sleeping. With the warranty they offer … I may be tempted to add to the soft memory foam layer rather than risk alignment by softening up the deeper layers below them … especially when there is already 2" of memory foam in the mix which will gradually sink in more deeply over the course of the night as the foam relaxes with constant pressure (this is called creep and viscoelastic materials are much more prone to this than more resilient materials).

My personal preference though would be to go with a slightly firmer mattress and then add a topper if necessary rather than add to the built in thickness of low density memory foam to add to the pressure relief if it was necessary. I am guessing it will be less desirable or necessary after sleeping on it for 90 days once the initial softening is over but if it is … a thin topper is a good option rather than having more lower density materials in the mattress itself.

I would probably talk with the owner about this and see what he had to say about a topper. Like you though … I would tend to avoid going thicker with the quilting memory foam when a topper option would accomplish the same thing.

So hopefully I have dealt with the pros and cons of all your alternatives so you can add them into your own value equation. The only thing I would caution you about is going too soft for the sake of your side sleeping and would probably take the approach of adding surface softness very carefully. With stomach sleepers … “just enough” for pressure relief (taking into account the possibility of initial foam softening) and no more is usually the best.

Hope this helps … and I hope you have the time to read this "“tome” all the way through :slight_smile:


I certainly had time to read your post (twice in fact!)…thanks for taking them time to give specific, personalized device.

It sounds like if I want to seriously consider the Texas Mattress Makers mattress, I’d need to follow up and get details on what type of gel they use in the comfort layer and what the density of the “high performance foam” is, especially considering that all sales are final. Although it felt “comfortable” in the store, I am a bit concerned that the mattress might be too soft for our particular needs based on the information on their website.

If we were to by the Houston Mattress Factory mattress as-is and sleep on it for a while to see if it softens up to our liking, what sort of mattress toppers should we consider? I’m wondering how much cost that might add, because I believe he said he would increase the thickness of the top layer to 2" of foam without an upcharge. I think that we are leaning towards purchasing through Houston Mattress Factory, but I’m just not sure which direction to go. I may call the guy and ask him about the idea of adding a topper to get his thoughts.

While adding a topper certainly sounds easier than returning the mattress for modification, it honestly seems kind of silly/odd to me to buy such a high-quality mattress from a place that can make one as requested and then throw a topper on it. Also, wouldn’t it be odd to throw a topper on top of such a low-density memory foam?

I ask these questions above because I hadn’t thought of the idea of adding a topper to soften the mattress and want to consider that possibility before deciding whether to go 1" or 2" on the 2.5# foam comfort layer.

Thanks again for all your advice and counsel!

Hi adamseals,

[quote]It sounds like if I want to seriously consider the Texas Mattress Makers mattress, I’d need to follow up and get details on what type of gel they use in the comfort layer and what the density of the “high performance foam” is, especially considering that all sales are final. Although it felt “comfortable” in the store, I am a bit concerned that the mattress might be too soft for our particular needs based on the information on their website.[/quote]

That makes sense to me. My understanding is that they use the better type of gel foam (infused vs particulate). I personally like the softech microcoil comfort layers but I have only tried them with more resilient foam over them (latex or polyfoam) and I would think they would be very soft with memory foam over them. While there is little doubt that this would be great for pressure relief, I would make sure that it works for alignment in all your sleeping positions. I am thinking this could be risky for someone who spends time on their stomach.

Quilting layers are used to “modify” the feel of the comfort layer below them and while they provide part of the pressure relieving properties, they are mostly for what is called the “surface feel” of the mattress. Because they are also quilted … they are more pre-compressed than the layers below them and because they are already very soft … further softening has less effect on the overall feel of the mattress because you are already “going through” it anyway and feeling more of the layers below.

Once you start adding thickness to the quilting layers though … they start to become a more integral part of the mattress comfort layers and softening can have a bigger overall effect on the mattress itself. The advantage of a topper is that it can be changed at a relatively low cost when it softens too much or wears out or if your needs and preferences change (like sleeping positions changing) without having to open up the mattress. It’s much easier to adjust a mattress that is a little too firm than it is to adjust a mattress that is too soft.

Low density memory foam toppers (an inch or two) are a relatively low cost item and they are a common way of fine tuning a mattress. Adding a topper to further soften a mattress can be a good strategy. Adding a firmer topper to try to “firm up” a mattress that has thicker layers of lower density softer materials wouldn’t work well because the topper will just follow the soft spots of the thicker softer materials below it. A topper can be memory foam or polyfoam (less expensive), latex or natural fibers such as wool (more expensive). Each has it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages but they are a great way to get to your best layering and adjust the feel and are also a “safer” way to use lower density materials if you like the feel of them without affecting the overall durability of the mattress. With the sheets and mattress protector over them they are just another layer of your sleeping system. I also think talking to him would be a good idea because he will have a lot of experience with the materials he uses in the thicknesses he uses and based on my conversations with him I have no doubt that he would tell you anything but the truth of his own experience and customer feedback.

Once further comment would be to make sure that you spend at least 15 minutes or more while you are fully relaxed on this mattress in the showroom (like when you are in the pre-sleep state and all your muscles have "let go) and spend some time in all your sleeping positions. The reason for this is because when there is memory foam deeper in a mattress it will take more time to soften and for you to get the true feel of the mattress. Once it starts to soften … as the heat reaches it, then the layers over it will follow and “bend into” the softer response of the memory foam. Memory foam is a slow response foam even when you are sleeping directly on it so even here it’s important to spend enough time when you are testing memory foam but it is much slower when it is deeper in the mattress and it can feel firmer initially until it starts to soften with a little more time. I would really hesitate to soften this mattress by adding more memory foam in the quilting unless you know for certain that it is too firm when you have laid on it for a longer time in all your sleeping positions (especially your stomach and also your back). My sense is that you may be tending to a mattress that may be a bit on the soft side for your sleeping positions (depending on how much time you spend in each position).

Hope this helps



We ended up taking the plunge and purchasing the mattress from Houston Mattress Factory. I debated between the standard 1" top layer of Memory Foam and increasing it to 2" and ultimately split the difference and asked him to use a 1.5" top layer.

We have slept on the bed 2 nights so far and I am optimistic that it will work. I know it’s always an adjustment trying out a new bed, but I haven’t had too much trouble adjusting and am not waking up with as much lower back pain.

It is actually softer than I was expecting (it felt a bit too firm in the store), and I’m not sure if that is due to the slight increase in the thickness of the top layer or because I am laying directly on the mattress rather than on top of plastic and a blanket.

Thanks again Phoenix for all the advice. Hopefully I won’t be asking for your input on how to modify this mattress. :slight_smile:

Hi adamseals,

Congratulations on your new mattress :slight_smile:

You did well in terms of value and from the sounds of it, it also sounds like you “hit the mark” in terms of your needs and preferences as well!

I hope you have a chance to report back when you’ve had a chance to sleep on it for a while.


First off… incredible, Houston-local thread for the mattress purchaser. My brief story: I moved to San Antonio to go to law school for three years and picked up a Serta Eurotop Firm from Sams. (when I first tried to return it, I thought Costco, which has an amazing, just drop it off return policy). I am still working on getting the paperwork together to return the mattress to Sam’s. The mattress had a noticeable sag in the middle. If I were sleeping there with another, we’d wind up in a cute or not-so-cute sluice in the middle of the mattress. I picked up a quilt topper off Woot and that seemed to fix the problem, but I still want to step it up from Reebok cross trainers to a nice jogging shoe, so to speak. I know that VALUE is very important in the mattress world, but there is also a lot of “you get what you pay for.” That being said, I think I could find something very good in the $1,000-1,3000 range. Speaking to a buddy at work he told me he and his fiancee just lucked into a Temperpedic for free from a relative. He said he loves it, but it sleeps a little too hot. (still trying to figure out what that means: I sleep with fans pumped on me all night, so I guess that’s an indication that I’m a hot sleeper).

I moved from San Antonio to Houston on a Sunday to start work that next Monday. This was at the beginning of November. I have been sleeping on my old bed in Houston at my parents house and just was able to move into my apartment. The buddy told me about Texas Mattress Makers, and I did a google search. This Assistance Requested in Houston came up. So me and a friend went to check out first Houston Mattress Factory, then we went to Texas Mattress Makers, were my trusted co-worker told me he had a friend who had an excellent experience.

  1. Houston Mattress Factory:

At that point, I’d only skimmed this extensive, and amazingly helpful website, I was out of my element. And yeah, when you go in, there are just a bunch of mattresses all piled up. I tried out a few, and she told me all about them. The woman who showed me around was extremely knowledgable, but I had no idea what I wanted or what she was talking about and I couldn’t give her any feedback. I felt as if I were a NASCAR driver that just ran a few laps and the crew chief asked what needed tweaking. I’m thinking, “well the car ran. And it ran fast. Where’s the next one?” I couldn’t explain what I was looking for or why one mattress was better or what material was good, I just basically wanted to get the best bang for my buck. Hey, the same materials used in a mattress for half the price and twice the attention to detail, I’ll take that one! But she was very thorough and I left my first mattress store ready to try the second.

  1. Texas Mattress Makers

Now that I’d laid on a few mattresses, we headed over to the place my buddy at work recommended his friend had a very good experience with (that goes a long way with me). At this point, I’m wondering why these stores don’t just have one mattress so you can walk out knowing you got the best one! The showroom was very clean and enticing. I was helped out by Lax, who was also very knowledgable, patient and courteous. First I told him what I know about mattresses. Then half a minute later, he had me going all throughout the room trying out different mattresses. I assume this was so I could develop a palate to refine my tastes. I checked out the (1) Spring mattress first. This was just your average guest bedroom mattress. Good enough to get the night done, about as comfortable as soft carpet. After a few more mattresses and a little more conversation about sleeping and mattresses, he suggested that I would prefer a softer mattress. I then tried out the London Eurotop Deluxe. I stopped for a few moments on it to figure things out. And really liked it. It was soft. He was explaining about the microcoils and the thin layer of cooling gel in the topper and I was listening. He actually said he had this model in his house for two years and his kids and everyone love it. Sounds good.

I’m thinking, where’s the foam? The good stuff I was supposed to get cheaper for a higher quality? So I checked out a couple foam mattresses and my body didn’t sink in. It contoured. It wasn’t all that soft at all. I don’t know what I was expecting. After reading this forum, I realize now that I didn’t lay on it long enough to give it a shot to warm up and work its “magic” (a word nobody would ever use with unsexy coils). He showed me a sidecut (along with the actual materials to squeeze), one that emulates the best “S” brand foam, and one with his foam. Showing (with pride I might add), why his was superior. It did seem the materials and craftsmanship were on par with the very best and the thought that went into it was undoubtedly extensive. Feeling the different densities of foam gave a template for my later online research. So then he showed me a final model Rome that had many-many wound coils throughout the entire inside the mattress. I found this one too firm. He said it is always better to buy a mattress that is too firm and then soften it up with a topper than to go the other way around. He likened this mattress to having lots of little fingers holding you up, responding to you as you move. I said, “the same theory as a bed of nails.” We both laughed.

So after all that, I still went back to the London to give it one more shot. I just liked it. I don’t want to just like it in the store because it’s like sleeping on a pillow, I want to like it in real life. What am I missing about the gel memory foam? From what I have read on the site the microcoil/thin layer of gel will take the place of anything deep in the mattress supporting that layer. Is this mattress a good value at $1,235 for the set? Should I buy a mattress based on what I’m certain I will grow accustomed to and not what feels the best for the 10 mins in the store? Finally, are the box springs that are used to support the comfort layers of the mattress going to hold up for 5-10 years? I know they won’t hold up like a full foam mattress, but what life should I expect? Is this VALUE?

Thanks again so much for the tips and steering me away from a mattress outlet with a sales pitch. I told my mattress story to a guy I sit next to at work and he said a guy once told him “never be afraid to spend a bit on anything that facilitates your body touching the ground: shoes, mattresses, chairs, tires…”

– Would really appreciate your opinion on the mattress and any other opinions you may have in general.