The Definitive Mattress Buying Guide – A-Z Complete Guide

Finding the perfect mattress for your bed can be a task far more challenging than you think. You see all these different offers of materials, thickness, firmness and sizes and you might feel a little bit lost. But don’t worry, we are here to help you.

We have created this comprehensive buying guide that covers all aspects of mattresses you have to evaluate before you buy one. Along the specifications of each type of mattress, we also include suggestions on who should use each one and why. So, if you have some special requirements for your mattress, like one that helps with your back pain or that doesn’t trigger your child’s allergies, then here you will discover which mattress is the best for you.

Why Buying The Best Mattress Is Important

Of course, getting high-quality and well-made products is always desirable, but in the case of mattresses, a poor choice will cause you more than regret and a product on the dumpster. Getting the wrong mattress, or just an all-around bad one, will affect your quality of life and even your health.

You must get the right mattress if you want to:

  • Sleep well and comfortably every night, without waking up in the middle of the night because you feel uncomfortable.
  • Feel relaxed every night and not toss and turn, struggling to find a comfortable position.
  • Keep sleeping soundly even if your partner wakes up at night or goes to bed later than you.
  • Avoid back pain, neck pain and other joint and muscular pain derived from a bad sleeping position.
  • Rest at any time of the day feeling cool and without suffocating or sweating because the mattress is too hot.

Also, if you have children, you need the right mattress if you want them to:

  • Wake up rested and in a good mood.
  • Go about their day, performing well at school and other activities.
  • Grow up healthy and naturally – studies show that sleep is fundamental for growth and wound healing.
  • Enjoy a night of rest without allergies.
  • Be safe from bacteria and other threats to their health that might build up on the mattress.
  • Sleep safely on bunk beds with no risk of falling over.

Again, don’t worry. In this article you have all the information that you need to buy the right mattress for every member of your family.

Mattress Types And What’s Best For Each Case

Not all mattresses are the same – far from that, they come in many sizes and materials and so on. In order to help you understand what kinds of products are available in the market, we have created this comprehensive guide that is divided in sections, each section discussing a different classification of mattresses.

Most retailers and online sales portals detail this information about the mattresses they sell. If you don’t see all of this information, then never feel afraid to ask. The wrong choice in just one of these aspects could completely ruin the experience, and we don’t want that to happen, do we?

So, let’s get started.


Mattresses come in different sizes that are suggested for certain ages and/or number of sleepers. In essence, there is no size that is better or worse than the other, but it definitively has to fit the size of the bed.

If you already have a bed, which is the most common scenario – since mattresses are replaced more often than bed frames – then the size of the bed will dictate the size of the mattress. However, if you are planning to get both a new bed and a new mattress, then deciding the right size is fundamental.

Here is a list of available sizes as well as what kind of sleeper they are best for.

Twin Size

This is the smallest size you will get, and standard measurements for Twin mattresses are 39” x 75”. A twin mattress is ideal for young children.

Since twin mattresses are for kids, you are more likely to find them with specific features that parents look for in a child’s mattress. Many Twin sizes will be advertised as hypoallergenic and of medium thickness, but still we suggest that you check those features before making your purchase.

If you have, or plan to buy, a bunk bed, then you will more than likely need a mattress of this size.

Twin XL Size

Twin XL mattresses are just as wide as Twin mattresses, but longer. The standard measurements are 39” x 80”. They are still too small for an adult, but since they are longer than a Twin size, these mattresses are ideals for tall kids or young teens.

If your kid is growing fast, perhaps buying a Twin XL mattress is a better investment, if a couple years from here you’ll get a new one anyway – unless there is a younger sibling that could use the Twin size mattress once the older one has passed on to the next stage.

However, Twin XL beds are less common than Twin beds, so make sure you have the right bed before buying this mattress.

Full Size

Also known as double size, these mattresses average 54” x 75”. As you can see, they are just as long as a Twin size mattress, but far wider.

Full size mattresses are great for a youngling or teen who wants more space to toss around at night, or two siblings who enjoy sleeping together. In most cases, parents get a full size mattress for a guest room or a second mattress in their kid’s room, since they come in very handy for slumber parties or sleepovers. Two kids can easily fit here, and even make room for a third one if the situation calls for it.

Full size mattresses are often not suited for adults, because even if they are wide enough, they are too short.

Queen Size

Many adult beds use this size of mattress, which is standard 60” x 80”. A queen size mattress fits two people and is one of the most popular sizes for couples.

If you are a single adult and want to have extra room in your bed for some occasional company, or just love the feeling of spreading around and rolling on a wide bed¸ then a Queen size mattress is the answer to your needs.

It might be narrower than the King size, but for most adults it is completely serviceable. However, if you want more comfort or if you are a bit too big for a Queen size, then you should look below at your other options.

King Size

The biggest option for an adult bed, the King size mattress extends for 76” x 80”, more than 25% wider than a Queen size.

King size mattresses are perfect for spreading out and enjoying a roomy bed. Many couples prefer this size because it is way more comfortable and they are less likely to bump into each other or accidentally kicking each other during the night. Also, the wide format helps reduce motion transfer, which we will discuss again in the appropriate section.

This is a very good size for you if your kids often crawl on your bed, and you like to share bedtime stories or breakfast with the whole family on the bed, because everyone will fit very comfortably.

If you want a King size bed, first make sure it fits into your room. Sometimes people have to buy a Queen size because the King is too wide and leaves a space too narrow between the edges of the bed and the walls. Make sure to check this before upgrading the size of your bed.

California King Size

This is a rare size, and as such, it could be precisely what you are looking for or, rather, a nightmare to work with. Its standard measurements are 72” x 84”. The width is between Queen and King size, but it is longer than both of them.

Since this size is so rare, it is more difficult to find a bed that fits. So we suggest you skip this size, unless the measurements are too perfect for you. If you are tall, or sleep with someone tall, and would like a bed longer than a standard Queen or King, then a California King could be the best for you.


There is a variety of materials available for mattresses. From the more traditional metal springs to the latest technology in memory foam, gel beads and adaptive foam. Each material has its properties, and therefore, its advantages and disadvantages.

There are hybrid mattresses that combine two or more of these materials, so if they are built in the right way you can enjoy the properties of all components. If they are not well-balanced or just don’t add up to each other, hybrid mattresses are not the best choice for you.

Here is a list of the most common materials for mattresses along with their basic features.

Pocket Spring

For many people, pocket springs are the best material of all. In these mattresses, small metal springs are wrapped individually in cloth and distributed under the surface of the mattress. This setting has many advantages you shouldn’t overlook.

Pocket spring mattresses tend to be relatively expensive, but it is for good reason. For starters, you can choose how firm or soft the springs are (see below the section about firmness) so you get the exact resistance you want for a great night of sleep. Also, pocket springs are very durable, and you will enjoy years and years before your mattress gets too old and needs replacement.

This type of mattress is the best at movement isolation, which is basically how much the weight or movement of another sleeper is transferred to your side of the bed. Since the springs are not physically connected, you can move, stand and lie down without disturbing your partner’s sleep.

On the downside, pocket spring mattresses are often the heaviest type of all, so if you want to flip them or move them around you might need some help. Also, the materials used in pocket spring mattresses could cause an allergic reaction to people who are sensitive, so pocket springs might not be the right choice for little children or people who are known to be allergic, asthmatic or anything of the like.

Open Spring

These mattresses are comprised of a cloth cover and inside they have long metal wires that loop up and down creating a compact bed of springs. These springs are often densely tangled together with no empty spots so when you lie down it feels like a continuous, supporting surface.

Coil mattresses are the most breathable you will find, especially when compared with the rising trend of memory foam mattresses. Since they are made of metal springs with space between them, the air flows very easily inside of it, so the heat doesn’t accumulate and you feel cool during the night. Coil mattresses are great for people who feel too hot when they sleep, or those who live in a hot climate.

Open spring mattresses are among the most durable you can find, but in that regard, they are no match to pocket springs. Still, they provide a firm support for a couple years and offer great value for their money. An open spring mattress is the perfect middle-of-the-road option for budget buyers who want a firm enough mattress that will serve its purpose.

Memory Foam

A more modern option – but not necessarily better – to coil springs in a memory foam mattress. It is made out of polyurethane and has some interesting properties that helped it become one of our favorite materials when it comes to comfortable mattresses.

Memory foam can very easily adapt to the temperature, the weight and the shape of your body or anything you put on top of it. Its structure rearranges under pressure so the mattress takes the shape of your body when you lie down on it. Memory foam is used for both pillows and mattresses because of this.

Memory foam mattresses often have a top layer of memory foam and then a bottom layer of firmer foam that helps support the whole structure and prevents you from sinking too deep into the memory foam. The thickness of the layers will depend on the mattress’ thickness as well as the model. Some manufacturers like to add a third layer in the middle, to help provide breathability or heat dispersion.

One advantage of memory foam is that the material, unlike cotton and womb often used in coil mattresses, is hypoallergenic, so a memory foam mattress could be great for a child or someone with allergies.

Also, the adaptive nature of memory foam makes it perfect for providing support to anyone in any sleeping position, including side sleepers, who are the ones who have more trouble finding a comfortable mattress. Memory foam helps the spine rest in a horizontal position without bending or suffering from excessive pressure, so it is often advised for people with back pain or joint pain.

The main disadvantage reported is that memory foam tends to be too hot for some people. The material doesn’t allow airflow, so the heat and the moist of sleepers tends to accumulate and make the sleeping experience uncomfortable for some.

Some manufacturers offer to fix this problem by treating the memory foam with materials that make it more breathable, like gel-infused memory foam, or adaptive foam which is memory foam infused with graphite.


Perhaps a bit more uncommon, but still with great things to offer, a latex mattress is made out of natural latex foam. In some regards it has been compared with memory foam, and it does have some pros and some cons when put side to side to polyurethane foam. So, let’s see what’s the difference between the two.

Latex foam lacks the adaptability of memory foam. It doesn’t sink that much and it doesn’t adjust to the shape of your body. Rather, offers a firm support, so for some people it might feel a bit too hard to sleep comfortably, but those who don’t quite like the sinking feeling of a memory foam mattress will be glad to experience latex. Belly and back sleepers in particular will benefit from a good latex mattress.

One great advantage of latex – yet again, especially compared to memory foam – is that, just like coil mattresses, latex ones are very breathable. The structure of latex foam allows airflow and prevents the heat and moist from your body from building up and waking you up at night covered in sweat. Latex foam is great for people who suffer from heat at night or who sleep in warm, humid climates.

Other advantages include durability, because latex is very resistant and can be used for many years without getting permanently compressed or deformed, so it offers a great value for its money. Also, latex is hypoallergenic, so with a latex mattress you can enjoy all the advantages of a coil mattress plus the benefits of not sneezing or feeling itchy during the night.

Now with the disadvantages, because latex mattresses do have a few. First of all, these are perhaps the heaviest mattresses you can get. All mattresses need to be flipped after a couple weeks of use to prevent deformations, and this one in particular will be difficult to turn due to its weight. Also, removals and changes of placement will also be more difficult to perform than with a lighter mattress.

If you want a latex mattress, you have to be sure you get one of good quality. Cheap, poorly made latex mattresses can get oddly deformed with use. The surface can turn irregular with bumps and dents, which is definitively what you don’t want on your mattress!


Firmness refers to how hard or soft the mattress is. The less firm the mattress is, the more the sleeper will sink when lying down on it.

There is no firmness that is objectively better than the others, but rather, different levels of firmness will be best for different people depending on factors like their weight, their size and their preferred sleeping position.

Some materials tend to be firmer or softer, while others can be regulated depending on the manufacturer. For example, latex mattresses tend to be on the firmer end, while memory foam mattresses are often much softer. Coil mattresses are found all along the spectrum, because the coils can be softer or harder and that will determine the overall firmness of the mattress. Also, some mattresses have varying firmness on different sections in order to better adapt to your body.

Let’s quickly review different firmness levels for a mattress and study which kind of people are more likely to enjoy and benefit from each one of them.


A soft mattress will sink very easily under the weight of your body. Few people benefit from a soft mattress because if your body bends too much due to its own weight, you will feel pain in the morning. Also, soft mattresses are not advised for small children, because they have the highest risk of suffocation.

However, some people find soft mattresses to be perfect for them. Particularly, side sleepers will benefit greatly from a soft mattress. This level of firmness will allow the mattress to adapt to the curves and shapes of the body when we sleep on our side, so our spine will be aligned horizontally when we rest, which is much healthier than sleeping on a forced position.

Medium Soft

A medium soft mattress is slightly firmer than a soft mattress and provides a little bit more of support for the body. You should opt for a medium soft mattress if you want to feel that your bed adapts to your shape and our weight but find soft mattresses too uncomfortable, and you’d like to sink a little less.

Medium soft mattresses are recommended for people who change sleeping positions, and sometimes sleep on their side, their back and their belly. It is still soft enough to adapt to side sleeping but provides extra support to your back for when you sleep on your back or your belly.

Medium Firm

Now closer to the harder end of the spectrum, medium firm mattresses are among the most popular ones among buyers. Many find here the perfect balance of support and adaptation.

Firmer mattresses are safer for children since they reduce suffocation hazards, because even if your child sleeps facing down the mattress will not sink enough to prevent them from breathing.

Also, firmer mattresses are ideal for belly and back sleepers, because they need more support to keep their spine aligned. If they sleep on a softer mattress, the weight of their body will make their spine bend in odd places and put their vertebrae under too much pressure.


A firm mattress almost doesn’t sink and provides more support to your body than any other type of mattress. Side sleepers should just skip this one and go to softer options, because it is almost impossible to sleep comfortably on a firm mattress when you lie on your side.

Firm mattresses are often advised for heavier people who need a stronger mattress to support their weight without bending. Also, it is the safest option for young children, and many back sleepers in particular appreciate the feel of a firm mattress.


Another important feature of a mattress is how thick it is. Mattresses are often classified by thickness in sales catalogues, and the measurements in inches are usually displayed with the title of the product.

There is a range of 8”-12” which is the most common choice for most buyers, but it doesn’t mean this is the best option for anyone. Mattresses thicker than 12” are very rare because past that thickness there is no difference in the sleeper’s experience. The body very rarely sinks so deep a 16” mattress feels different than a 12”.

On the other end of the spectrum, thinner mattresses do exist, especially in small sizes like Twin or Twin XL, because they are usually made for children. There are mattresses as thin as 4”, but these are often called “mattress toppers”, as they are meant to go on top of another mattress to make it softer, cooler and/or more comfortable. You will find memory foam mattress toppers as well as gel mattress toppers.

6” mattresses are common for children, since kids are much lighter than adults, so they sink less. And adult is very likely to find a 6” mattress too thin, regardless of whether or not the bed has a box spring. Since children’s mattresses are changed more often than adult mattresses because they grow up and need a bigger one anyway, a thin mattress is often enough for a young child.

Also, if your child sleeps in a bunk bed, or in a bed with guard rails, then you shouldn’t get a mattress thicker than 8”. Thicker mattresses will be too high and the child will be sleeping too close to the edge of the guard rail. A thinner, 6” mattress will provide more distance between the top of the mattress and the guard rail, helping keep your child safe.

8” and 10” mattresses are very popular among adults, and this range is often ideal for their weight and their size. Many mattresses come in these thicknesses, including most Queen and King sized mattresses which are meant for adults.

If you are particularly big or heavy or want a high-tech mattress with many layers of different properties, perhaps a 12” mattress is the best option. Especially if you are looking for a soft or medium soft mattress, a 12” will sink and receive your weight, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable night of sleep.

Try-Outs, Warranty And Return Policy

These are not mattress properties as much as services that your retailer provides. Getting the right mattress is fundamental for your wellness and your health, but even if this guide can help you get very close to the mattress that you need, then it is always advised that you try it for yourself and make sure it really works for you or whoever is going to sleep on it.

The Try-Out At The Store

If you go to a showroom or store, then chances are you will be allowed to test the mattress. We suggest that you go to the store with comfortable clothes and lie on the mattress for at least five minutes. Sometimes this isn’t conclusive, and in order to make sure you will have to try it a couple nights – see below – but trying it before you buy it can give you an idea on whether or not the mattress will work for you.

If you shop online, as most people do, you can’t try the mattress before you buy it. That’s why you have to make sure you go through the warranty, the try-out period and the refund policies. If they are not displayed on the site, don’t hesitate to ask the seller about them. This can be the difference between a good and a bad purchasing experience.

Trial Periods At Home

Some brands offer a trial period, which is an amount of days you can use the mattress at home and see if it works for you. If you decide it’s not what you were looking for, they might allow you to return it for free or to change it for another one from the same brand. The period of the trial can range from a couple weeks to over a hundred days. However, this is not always the case.

Some companies won’t allow any refund or return, and you should stay away from those. Instead, choose a seller than will accept returns, but make sure you go through the terms and conditions before you make your purchase.

For example, some companies will accept a return but make you pay for the pickup, unless you want to carry the mattress back to the store by yourself. Others will pick the mattress up at your doorstep but ask for a return fee. Some will give you your money back, while others, will only allow you to exchange your mattress for another one of the same brands, which is priced the same or higher – and you will pay the difference.


Suspect of any mattress that doesn’t come with a warranty, because any manufacturing defect will not be covered and you will be left with that you have. Usually, no warranty means that the product is poorly made, so it is not convenient for the company to take responsibility for every defect in their mattresses.

Lower quality products are covered by short warranties, such as 1-year, and those are also a sign of concern. You should buy mattresses with at least 10 years of warranty, and some companies offer as much as 25 years of coverage.

Remember that warranties only cover manufacturing defects, which means that if you use it poorly, ruin it yourself or break it with use, the warranty will not cover it. You can only get coverage if the mattress has problems derived from the way it was made or any mistakes during the production of the item.

Also, make sure you check the warranty is in full effect when you buy the mattress. Some brands will require you to register your purchase online as a requisite for your warranty to be in effect. If this is the case and you don’t make the registration, then you won’t be able to enjoy your warranty.


Mattress come in different sizes and materials, each one of them with different properties, advantages and disadvantages. It is impossible to rate these features from best to worse, because each sleeper is different and has different needs and preferences.

Use this comprehensive buying guide to get a clearer picture on the type of mattress that is more likely to work for you. There are countless models in the market that combine sizes, thickness, firmness and materials in different ways to create unique sleeping experiences.

Use these tips and this information as an aid to decide which is the best mattress for you, and then go make the right purchase!

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