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Your Complete Mattress Buying  Guide

Buying a mattress can be confusing. There are a lot of options on the market at a variety of price points. While you’re searching for the right mattress, it can be tempting to buy the cheapest mattress or purchase the first one you find, but remember, you spend a third of your life or more sleeping. You deserve quality and comfort. When shopping for a mattress, keep the following elements in mind.


Mattresses come in a variety of sizes and dimensions.

Common Mattress Size Guide

You should choose the mattress length based on the tallest person who’s going to be using the mattress. Twin beds are ideal for a single sleeper, while doubles provide a roomier sleeping spot for a single person or a cozy place for a couple. Queens are the traditional mattress size for a couple, but if you want lots of wiggle room or space for pets or children, a king or California king may be a better option for you.

Additional Resources:

What Size Mattress Do You Need?


The ideal mattress gives you the feeling that you are sinking into comfort, but at the same time, it supports your body. As a general rule of thumb, your mattress should cradle your body in a way that keeps your spine aligned. To explain, imagine that you’re sleeping on your side, the curves of your shoulders and hips should depress part of the mattress, but the mattress should support the other parts of your body so that your spine stays straight.

If the mattress is too firm, your curves won’t be able to fall into the mattress, but if the mattress is soft, your whole body will sink into it. Both situations cause unwanted curvatures in your spine that can lead to kinks and strains, or you may end up tossing and turning all night as you try to find a comfortable position. You need to find the Goldilocks zone that gives you the perfect amount of comfort, but keep in mind this zone can vary from person to person.

Additional Resources:

How to Buy a Mattress with Support

Pressure Relief

In addition to finding a mattress that contours to your body and helps to keep your spine in the proper alignment, you also need a mattress that doesn’t put too much pressure on your body. When a mattress is too firm, it can put pressure on your body in a way that cuts off circulation and causes parts of your body to “fall asleep” or get that pins-and-needle feeling. You need a bit of softness to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Motion Transfer

Motion transfer refers to how the mattresses translates motion from one side to the other. In a lot of commercials, lack of motion transfer is often represented by wild stunts such as dropping a bowling ball on a mattress with a glass of wine. If the mattress resists motion transfer, dropping the ball won’t create vibrations that knock over the wine glass.

In real life, motion transfer comes into play if you share your bed. If you don’t want to feel your partner rolling over or getting out of bed, you need a mattress that resists motion transfer.

Innerspring or Pocketed Coils

Another decision you may have to make is between an innerspring and a pocketed coil. Both of these mattresses feature metal coils, so they are not the right choice if you want a mattress that is primarily made of foam. With an innerspring mattress, the wire springs are continuous or connected together, and they are surrounded by soft comfort layers. In contrast, with pocketed coils, each spring is individually wrapped by comfortable layers of fabric or other soft materials.

Innerspring mattresses tend to be firmer, while pocketed coils are softer and contour more to your body. Additionally, because innersprings are connected, these mattresses tend to have more motion transfer than pocketed coils. Note that these are just general guidelines to the differences. The gauge of the coil used, other materials, and the construction techniques also affect the final quality of these mattresses.

Heat Retention

To stay comfortable while you’re sleeping, you need a mattress that stays relatively cool. Unfortunately, cheap foam mattresses can absorb and hold a lot of heat, which can be challenging in a warm climate or an area with hot summers. Luckily, quality mattresses use a variety of techniques to keep you cool. They may use phase change materials, ventilation, or advanced foams that release heat quickly.

High Quality Construction

If possible, try to find out how the mattress was constructed. For a good night’s sleep, you don’t want a mattress that involves lots of inexpensive materials glued together or even a machine-made mattress. Instead, you want a mattress that is handcrafted by professionals who know how to maintain even levels of pressure throughout the mattress.

Additional Resources:

What Makes a Quality Mattress?

Hand-Tufted or Quilted Mattresses

These are two of the most common mattress construction methods you are going to see. With tufting, a craftsperson takes a long needle through all of the mattresses materials, and they bring a sturdy stitch through the materials to hold everything tightly together. Hand-tufted mattresses generally last longer than mattresses made with other construction methods, but you need to look at how the tuft is made. Low quality mattresses have a plastic edge on the tuft that can dig into you as you sleep. In other cases, tufts can be covered with soft fabric or buttons.

As you look at different types of mattresses, you will also bump into the term “quilted”. What is a quilted mattress? That refers to a mattress that has had the top layers quilted together. This construction method results in the outermost mattress layers sitting closely and firmly together in a way that boosts insulation. Usually, you can see a repetitive pattern on the top edge of the mattress, and many people find quilted mattresses to be more comfortable than mattresses with exposed tufts, but with quality mattresses, the choice between tufted and quilted boils down to personal preference.

To Flip or Not to Flip

In the past, all mattresses could be flipped, and to maintain the mattress, you had to flip it on a regular basis. Flippable mattresses feature layers that are the same on both sides, which was the industry standard for years. Around the turn of the century, with the rise of foam and pillow top mattresses, that trend changed. Now, many mattresses feature multiple support layers and a comfort layer on top. You don’t have to flip these mattresses, but you may need to rotate their direction.

When choosing between a one-sided mattress or a flippable two-sided mattress, there is not right or wrong answer. Instead, you just need to choose what works best for you.

Shopping for a New Mattress

There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a new mattress. Not only do you want to review the above factors for each mattress that you’re looking at, you want to compare to other mattresses and find out what other people are saying about the mattress you might want to buy. When comparing mattresses to other mattresses, compare apples to apples but don’t underestimate the value of comparing apples to oranges. For example, you’ll want to compare innerspring mattresses with pocketed coil mattresses to find out what you prefer. When assessing mattress reviews, especially online, there are several things to keep in mind to make sure a review is actually worth reading. Not all reviews are good reviews, but even bad reviews can be valuable tools in your decision making process.

At Gardner Mattress, we are committed to using quality materials and top-notch construction methods in our mattresses, and because we’re a factory direct company, you get the best prices possible because there’s no middle man. We pride ourselves on helping our customers get the best mattress for the money. Contact us today to learn more or stop by our showroom to see what we’re all about.

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