Starting Over

Hi jostarr,

There are too many variables that are unique to each individual to be able to use a “formula” where you can plug in height, weight, and sleeping position statistics and come out with a mattress design but there are some guidelines in the mattresses section of the site which can provide some guidelines based on “averages” for different heights and weights, different sleeping positions, and different types of construction. How all of these interact together with different people can be quite complex so in general I would just scan the information for a very general understanding so you can ask better questions and have a better understanding of your choices when you are talking with a manufacturer or retailer. It’s much easier to talk with the “experts” who already know what you would otherwise need to learn than to become one :slight_smile:

Because every layer of a mattress acts in combination with every other layer (including things like the ticking, quilting, fire barrier, and minor differences in their foam layers or other components) … the most “accurate” suggestions will usually come from the person who makes or sells a specific mattress because you can have a more extended conversation on the phone with them and they can take into account their knowledge of every component in their specific mattresses and use their experience with their many customers on specific mattresses as a reference point.

In general though … lower back pain comes from either a support layer that is too soft and doesn’t “stop” the heavier pelvis from sinking in too far and preventing the pelvis from tilting or from a comfort layer that is too thick/soft and “allows” the pelvis to sink in too far relative to the lighter/wider shoulder area before it “reaches” the support layers. This could be particularly true with heavier weights where the mattress was designed more for “average” weights.

Toppers are not a good solution for a mattress that has lost it’s support and usually only provides a temporary or partial solution. All toppers will also break down and soften faster with heavier weights and lower quality materials in the topper will soften much faster than higher quality materials (the quality of memory foam and polyfoam is primarily determined by the density of the foam). If you are buying memory foam or polyfoam toppers from a box store … the odds are very good that they are lower quality/density.

There are many factors that determine the life of a topper (and many of them are in post #2 here) but in general it is connected to the quality/durability of the topper material, the position of the layer (closer to the top is less durable and toppers are less durable than the same material inside the mattress cover), and the weight and sleeping habits of the person.

I would say this is a safe assumption :slight_smile:

This is probably a safe assumption as well and I would also bear in mind that if you are looking at an all foam mattress … that a box spring is not generally the most suitable choice. There’s is more about the differences between box springs and rigid foundations in post #2 here.

This may still be fine if it provides good support for the box spring or foundation, isn’t bent, and has center support and legs that provide good support in the center of the frame. many foundations don’t require frames (you can read more about the different types of foundations and some links to some better value options in the foundation thread here.

You are right that i don’t recommend most major brands because they don’t disclose the contents of their mattress in any meaningful way and if you are able tofind out they tend to be lower quality/value than smaller manufacturers. Paramount and CMG are probably better value choices but the brand makes no real difference and only knowing the quality of the components and layers in a mattress can provide any meaningful way to make quality and value comparisons. If they have access to the layering specs from CMG or Paramount … then you would be able to make quality/value comparisions with other mattresses. Without this … you would be buying on “blind faith” without having any meaningful information about the quality of the mattress. A mattress is only as good as its weakest link.

Buying online is generally “riskier” than a local purchase but in some areas of the country they can be better value and for some people this can justify the increased risk of an online purchase. This is entirely an individual preference and the policies and exchange options of each online manufacturer or retailer as well as their knowledge and ability to help you make the most appropriate choices based on “averages”, feedback from their customers, and the information you provide them in your phone conversations about your personal “stats” and your experiences and preferences on mattresses you have slept on or tested can help reduce the “risk”. All of this as well is part of each person’s “value equation”. No matter what the quality or value of a mattress … you can’t “feel” quality and if a mattress doesn’t meet your needs and preferences (see post #2 here) … then what you spend isn’t worth it. This is why the choice of manufacturer or retailer and their quality, service, value, and knowledge can be just as important as the choice of mattress.

If you make the “best” choice of matress … then you won’t need a topper unless the mattress was specifically chosen with a topper in mind. If you do use a tompper (on a mattress that is too firm) then it should be covered because latex is subject to premature breakdown if it’s not protected. Some sources of covers are in post #4 here although if you make the “best” possible mattress choice you won’t likely need it. keep in mind that it’s easier to “fix” a mattress that is too firm than a mattress that is too soft.

Probably yes … both because of the age and because a foam mattress will generally do better on a foundation rather than a box spring.

This would depend on its condition and ability to support a foundation. Whether you need a frame at all would also depend on the type of foundation you choose.

In general and for most people, this would introduce too many variables and lessen the chance that they end up with the most appropriate choice. If you test a mattress and topper together locally then it can be a good “sleeping system” design but buying them separately or the topper before the mattress is generally putting the cart before the horse.

Hopefully this helps to clarify most of your questions but if not, feel free to post any more :slight_smile: