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Things to Know About Buying a Mattress

Updated on December 29, 2016

Buying a bed should be easy once armed with some criteria about them. Of course, the size may be an issue, but unlike how many describe sizes, bed size causes confusion. The smallest is called a Twin (39 in. x 75 in.), the next is Full (54 in.x 75 in) which can handle two short adults, but the Queen (60 in. x 80 in.) is usually selected for two adults at a modest increase of cost over the Full by around $40. The King (76 in. x 80 in.) is large.

After the size, the most important thing to know about innerspring mattresses (those with steel springs, not foam, for support) are all about the coils. Hundreds of coils in tight rows and columns create support while you lay down. The best beds have independently moving pocket coil systems individually wrapped, which move freely in three directions. These allow for much better support than the coils that are called Bonnell, offset, and continuous coils. If you are not sure, ask to see the specifications of the bed. You want encased coils in order to prevent motion transfer when your partner moves next to you.

Coil count is also important for support. Here are the minimum counts: full mattresses need at least 300 coils, queen mattresses need 400 coils, and king mattresses require 480 coils.The higher the count, the better, as your mattress will support more and last longer. The coils themselves should be tempered steel and have low coil gauge wire that will spring back when the weight is lifted. Most coils are between 12-15 gauge (thickness), but in general, lower the better if you want a firm feeling and higher if you do not. Mattresses with thicker coils will last much longer than those that do not. Also, the coil gauge determines how firm or springy the bed is. Lower gauges pushback when weight is lifted off, while higher gauges do not.

Your bed should have some foam or memory foam at least 1-2 inches thick above the springs to provide a comfortable feeling when laying down. Price is always an issue. There are some good quality inexpensive mattresses if you know what to look for. These are generally made in China, and under $250 for a Queen size.

In most cases, most beds, regardless of costs, will last between 5-10 years. Even high end brands will wear out around the 8-10 year limit. Keep all of the about when shopping!


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