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Guide to Buying Memory Foam

Updated on December 3, 2012
Memory foam mattress stack
Memory foam mattress stack | Source

Introduction

I am not trying to sell you anything. I just know what a pain it can be to find a mattress online. I also know how annoying it is to have to go to a store and deal with the sales folks who push you toward the most expensive mattresses in the store. For that reason, I have created this guide to help you sort out what is true and what is garbage in the world of memory foam.

Fact-finding is difficult

When it comes to finding data (I mean, real data) about memory foam mattresses, there doesn't seem to be a single helpful resource. Wikipedia does a great job explaining what memory foam is, and some facts about how it is made. Wikipedia doesn't, however, in any way help me in my hunt to find out what makes one Tempurpedic better than another Tempurpedic. Thanks to some clever advertising, unsupported "facts" and outright lies, Google is a horrible source for finding real information on the subject.

That being the case, I have done something that I don't think has been done before by someone who is not trying to sell you something: I found a local memory foam mattress manufacturer and drove over to ask them questions!

Why? Because my back hurts and I don't have $3,000 to drop on a mattress. I am guessing that most folks who have hunted for mattresses asked the same question I did: "are these knock-off brands as good or better than the gold standard--Tempurpedic?"

The results are in (sorta)!

I read the same reviews you have read. Almost all of them are fake. How do I know this? Because the same verbiage is posted on multiple review websites (I compared eOpinion with lots of mattress review websites (yes, they exist)). The reviews are mostly useless, but this is fine for our fact-finding mission: we are simply trying to figure out if Manufacturer A sells a similar product to Manufacturer B and why there is a $2000+ cost difference.

Here is what I learned after meeting with a memory foam mattress manufacturer in my hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana:

  1. There is no magic dust in Tempurpedic: they simply have a patent on their formula. Most all memory foam manufacturers (of which there aren't many) use incredibly similar formulas. They only have to deviate a bit to avoid the patent.
  2. Memory Foam sleeps hot. They don't tell you that in the show room, but it is true. The reason is that, unlike coil mattresses, there is nowhere for your body heat to escape so it simply stays in the foam.
  3. As a general rule, the higher the density, the longer the mattress will last.
  4. Tempurpedic actually sleeps hotter than most of the knock-off brands due to the fact that their formula involves mostly-closed cells (don't ask, I didn't understand) which doesn't allow much of any airflow. The knock-off brands, to avoid the Tempurpedic patent, use more open-celled foam which apparently allows the material to breath easier.
  5. Many of the knock-off websites import cheaper, Chinese foam mattresses which almost never have accurate density measurements (think about it, would you even know how to find out what the actual density of your mattress is?)
  6. American Made mattresses are super hard to come by and often carry a higher price tag than their Chinese counter-parts. (see #5)

Are the knock-off brands as good?

I can hopefully help you out here with the multi-billion dollar question: are restava (angel, us mattress, etc) as good as Tempurpedic?

After my very limited research, I can tell you that some are and some are not. The fact is that we all have different expectations for our bed and the way it sleeps. A great bed for me may be the worst thing that has ever happened to you. I can't help you find your mattress, but I can help you find a good manufacturer. Here is a quick check list that you can use to find out if the brand you are researching is on par with your name brand of choice:

  1. Is your brand manufactured in America? I figured out an easy way to answer this: either call the manufacturer and ask or look on the about us page for an address, pictures of employees and a building with their company logo on it (yeah, a bunch of them just put banners up in some South Carolina factory and don't actually manufacturer their own mattresses).
  2. Is the foam density at least 5lb? It should be, or you should get used to sleeping in a you-made ditch.
  3. Were you able to find YouTube videos of "real" customers talking about their purchase of the product (unboxing would be best)? I trust videos way more than text when it comes to highly-competitive markets like mattresses.
  4. Will the manufacturer let you send the bed back if it is not what you expected? Reputable brands will.
  5. When you call their Customer Service prior to your purchase (which you need to do), did they leave you on hold for 30 minutes, or did you get to talk to someone. Even if you just want to say "oops, wrong number", at least call: this is a large purchase so do your homework.

If you are interested in learning more, I just created a new website with the sole purpose of training people how to buy mattresses. Specifically, there are review-listings for each of the major online brands.

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    • foamexpert profile image
      Author

      foamexpert 5 years ago

      If you like my article, then please let me know! I did a bit of research and it would be cool if it actually helped someone. :D

    • profile image

      Bob 4 years ago

      "would you even know how to find out what the actual density of your mattress"

      It's actually not that hard. Weigh the mattress (when it's vacuum-packed is easier). The divide the weight by WxHxD. There's your density, in lbs/cu-in.

    • profile image

      Bob 4 years ago

      I just noticed that foam density is in lbs/cubic foot, so use W, H, D in feet (don't round up, use decimals). And this method won't work if the mattress isn't entirely of the same material.

    • adjustablebeds profile image

      adjustablebeds 4 years ago

      Very good info. The "Memory foam sleeps hot" point is important to consider, though it's important to understand that only certain types of memory foam get warm during the night. Not surprisingly, these are the cheaper varieties that are made with clay/petroleum "filler" and thus block air flow. If you want a memory foam mattress but are concerned about heat retention, opt for a model with "channeled airflow" or something similar. Anyway, very good Hub. Thanks for sharing!

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