In market for a mattress? Lie down on the job

January 20, 2007|By Terri Jo Ryan | Terri Jo Ryan,Cox News Service

Tossing and turning about that big decision to buy a new mattress?

The choices can be bewildering, as it's tricky to tell one box of fuzz, foam, fabric and frame from another. Model names vary from shop to shop, making it difficult comparing the features of similar models.

To help you not lose any more sleep as you ponder the options, consider these shopping tips.

If you share your bed, take your partner. Make sure you won't be fighting for space.

Wear clothes that are comfortable to lie down in (pants are a good idea) and shoes you can remove easily.

Lie down and relax for several minutes. Ask the sales clerk for a pillow. Lie on your side, to see if your hips and shoulders are comfortable. Do you feel your weight being supported? You shouldn't feel any pressure points.

Roll from the center of the mattress to the edges, to see if the support is the same at all points. Verify that the mattress has extra support around the edges where you would sit most often.

Look for a sturdy frame. A good frame has 2-inch-wide wheels. Look for a center support for queen and king mattresses. Even full-size beds benefit from the extra support.

Be sure to try out several models before you make your final selection.

If you can afford it, buy a complete "sleep set" -- mattress and box spring. They are designed to work together. A quality box spring acts as a shock absorber to help the mattress last longer and provide more consistent support.

Haggle for the best price. Shopping for a mattress is a lot like buying a car in that often there is some wiggle room built into the price for negotiation.

Examine the warranty. Most premium mattresses come with at least a 10-year warranty. A note of caution: Many warranties are voided if the mattress has been stained or soiled in any way.

Check to see that the retailer offers free delivery and set-up, removal of old mattress and box spring, a free frame, several credit options and a 30- to 60-day comfort guarantee. (It is not unusual to take three weeks to "settle into" an unfamiliar bed.)

After you get it home:

Try to rotate the mattress every three months and to turn it at least twice a year. Although some thicker mattresses are being marketed as "never rotate" beds, they, too, need to be rotated to reduce the inevitable wear patterns that develop on all mattresses.

Buy a mattress pad that can be easily laundered and will extend the life of your mattress.


Before you buy

Before you buy a mattress, you should know:

Coil type - With coils, which are made of steel, the heavier the wire, the more support the mattress will give you. A lower gauge number denotes a heavier wire.

Coil count - Most mattress boast from 300 to 700. In general, more coils equal more support.

Connections - Interconnecting wires keep the coils in their proper place in the mattress. Too few, and the coils can become misaligned.

Ticking - Read labels to see what the ticking is made of. Quality ticking will be a cotton blend or damask, but ticking may also be a synthetic, such as polyester or even vinyl.

Get the whole story. Study all of the available information, read the labeling and insist that the salesperson tell you about product features. Ask to see the spec sheet if you want to know what you are getting.

What you want to pay depends largely on what you need the mattress for. If you are looking for a mattress for a guest room that is used less than a week each year, there is no reason to buy a premium mattress.

But if you seek a mattress that you will sleep on every night for the next decade, don't skimp. A $500-$700 set, for example, will last eight to 10 years. Should you purchase a top-of-the-line, premium product - which can cost thousands of dollars - you will slumber in luxury for 12 to 15 years.

Standard mattress sizes (width by length)

King size -- 76 inches by 80 inches

California king size -- 72 inches by 84 inches

Olympic queen size -- 66 inches by 80 inches

Queen size -- 60 inches by 80 inches

Full size -- 53 inches by 75 inches

Twin XL size -- 38 inches by 80 inches

Twin size -- 38 inches by 75 inches

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