Sterling Bedding Double Sided Mattress purchase help

So glad to find this forum after months of casual research for a new mattress purchase, so thanks in advance for any advice. I was shocked to find that it is so hard (and expensive) to find flippable mattresses anymore. So much so that I gave up hope and started looking at single sided mattresses. To my surprise I stumbled upon a Craigs List ad for a Sterling Bedding Double sided Mattress that had been a showroom floor model (size Queen). The seller owns a local small mattress warehouse (Buffalo Steve’s Beds) and he invited me to come and see it. I have not gone yet, but after reading some of your articles, I now have a good list of questions started!

Since I have not been able to find any solid reviews for Sterling Bedding Double sided mattresses online, I am hoping someone here might provide some insight. Many thanks. Cindy

Guess I should note that I do not have any more details about the model at this time, but wonder if a double sided mattress will wear out faster since the internal core layers must be thinner to account for top layers on both sides, no?

Also, I was told they stopped making them this way because of the cost of fire retardant materials for top layers. Is this true?

I have had many people (salespeople and friends and family) try to convince me that single sided mattresses are better (and they are certainly the norm these days), but I still like the idea of flipping it every 6 months like the really old mattresses we have at our cottage.

Once again, any insight is welcome. Thanks, Cindy

Hi Cindy in buffalo,

There are several manufacturers with “Sterling” in their name across the country so I don’t know which one made the mattress you are considering but regardless of the manufacturer … any mattress is only as good a the quality of the construction and the materials that are inside it. Without knowing the quality of all the components and layers … there is no way to make a meaningful assessment of any mattress or make meaningful quality or value comparisons with other mattresses. Because the top layer of a mattress is generally the “weak link” of a mattress (a mattress will generally soften and break down from the top down) … the quality of the materials (often foam or fiber of some type) in the upper layers is the most important part of durability.

Most good manufacturers or retailers that understand the importance of knowing what is in your mattress will willingly provide you with a layer by layer breakdown of any mattress they sell. The information needs to include the thickness and density of any polyfoam or memory foam and the type and blend of any latex foam in the mattress to be meaningful (in other words … the amount and quality and position of the material not just the type of material)

Two sided mattresses are still commonly made by most of the smaller or regional manufacturers across the country but the larger manufacturers who generally make lower quality and value mattresses rarely make them any more.

The main reason that one sided mattresses became popular is because when one of the larger manufacturers (Simmons) introduced them a little over a decade ago (long before the current fire regulations) … much to most people in the industry’s surprise they had a “showroom feel” that many people liked and actually purchased because you could use thicker layers of inexpensive softer foam on one side of the mattress which was much cheaper to make than a two sided mattress. What consumers didn’t realize was that this “showroom feel” didn’t translate into sleep quality in real life use and also led to greatly decreased durability of the mattresses. Once other major manufacturers realized that they could make cheaper one sided mattresses that needed to be replaced more often and that people would actually buy and that had greater profit margins … they were quick to follow suit.

The fact that most of these break down much more quickly has been part of the “built in obsolescence” of most of the most common mattresses sold in the industry today. It’s amazing how much affect marketing over substance has on people’s beliefs and buying habits. In the same way … many consumers believe that a mattress warranty is an indication of how long a mattress will last and believe that a long warranty somehow protects them. The reality is that warranties have little to do with the longevity of a mattress and don’t cover the softening of the materials or the loss of comfort and support that is the real reason people need to replace a mattress. Warranties have exclusions which includes a certain depth of permanent impressions in the mattress (with no weight on the mattress) and this rarely happens because most foam has enough resilience remaining to weakly come back close to level … even if a foam has softened so much that the mattress no longer provides you with the comfort and support you need.

Most of the hundreds of smaller manufacturers that are more responsive to their local customer base than they are to shareholders or investment groups that own them hasn’t stopped making two sided mattresses but they don’t advertise in the same way and because people tend to “follow the advertising” and shop at mass market retailers and chain stores that generally sell mainstream mattresses with much higher profit margins made by larger manufacturers … many people have come to believe that they are not made or only rarely made today when this isn’t the case. You just need to know where to look.

A two sided mattress that is flipped allows the foam in the top layers to wear more evenly and recover from the constant compression that it is subject to when only one side of a mattress is used. While it may not last twice as long as an equivalent one sided mattress … it a reasonable expectation would be that it would last 60% to 70% longer than a one sided equivalent if it is maintained and actually flipped.

While there are some advantages of a one sided mattress because you can use thicker layers than you can with two sides (too much soft foam at the bottom of a mattress can affect support) which in turn allows for increased design flexibility … in most cases the materials used in one sided mattresses are not durable enough in a one sided construction and the mattress will lose it’s comfort and support much more quickly. A one sided design needs higher quality materials to be durable than a two sided design and in most of the mattresses sold today this isn’t the case. The ones that do use high quality and more durable materials are worth considering but these are much less common. Smaller manufacturers once again are the exception and tend to use higher quality materials in their mattresses (both one and two sided) in every budget range.

So one sided designs and the pillowtops that they made possible have been one of the biggest reasons that mattresses made today are so much less durable than most of the mattresses made 15 years ago or longer. They are also much more profitable because of the use of thicker layers or relatively cheap materials that soften and break down much faster than higher quality and more expensive materials.

Unfortunately … your family and the salespeople you have been talking to (like most of the industry and most consumers) are misinformed and making buying decisions based more on “marketing stories” than on factual information.


Thank you so much for your quick and insightful response. I will be recommending this site to a few friends who are considering mattress purchases. You rock, Pheonix!