Our experience and tips for buying a new mattress

Buying a new mattress is a simple thing to add to your House To Do list, but it's not something we do regularly and when we do there's so much to consider. We recently treated ourselves to a new mattress as we worked out our mattress was easily fifteen years old...

It looked ok and while there weren't any obvious bumps, dips or sags with various online advice recommending a mattress should last from seven to ten years we knew it was something we should do.  The Housetohome website suggests we spend up to sixteen years of our life in bed - personally for me I think it'll be more! - so a good mattress is a serious investment. Other research by the Sleep Assessment & Advisory Service in Edinburgh has found that people with uncomfortable beds, which can cause muscular aches and back pain, sleep on average one hour less each night. 


1. What's your budget?

I quickly learnt you can spend as much as you'd like (and more) on a new mattress and the best advice is to spend as much as you can afford. As the John Lewis site says "when you think that every £100 you spend on a mattress represents just 2.7p a night over 10 years, it’s a small price to pay." 


We had an ideal amount in mind when we got to the shop, an amount we could be tempted up to and an amount that was too much. It's worth knowing these in advance, or having that chat as soon as you have the information to make an informed decision, as it's all too easy to be seduced by a lovely, comfortable mattress and you'll need each other's willpower and reminder of your budget to reign you in!

But even so, I had to try my hardest not to say "you want how much for a mattress" in the squeakiest voice I have. 

2. Medium or Firm?

Well, wouldn't you know - this generally isn't about preference it's about your weight.  So if you're heavier then you're more likely to need a firm mattress to support your spine and keep it neutral and in line as you sleep. If your mattress is too soft or too firm then it'll affect your spine alignment and could ultimately affect the quality of your sleep. 

Photo credit: http://physioworks.com.au

Photo credit: http://physioworks.com.au

3. What type of mattress?

So the choices you'll need to make are what type of spring and what type of fillings. The basic choice for fillings are manmade versus natural and which you choose is likely to be personal preference and budget-related. We knew that we wanted a natural filling so it was an easy choice for us.  

Mattresses are usually either made of a coil spring or pocket springs, but there are also newer technologies such as foam available:

- A coil spring mattress has row upon row of springs linked together with a spiral wire, which ensures the mattress retains its shape throughout its life and are often recommended for children or occasional use.  

- A pocket spring mattress is thought to be more luxurious and has smaller lighter springs individually wrapped in fabric pockets which work independently from one another and respond to individual body weight. 

- Memory foam mattresses are another option, and these mould and re-mould to your body contours as your body heat softens it and are often hypo-allergenic with anti-microbial properties.  

We chose pocket springs fairly quickly, but then we were faced with the real question which was "how many?" And the only way you'll find this out is by trying them out!  The higher the number the more springs there'll be - the number is measured on a king size mattress so will be scaled down for smaller sized mattresses.  And in the range we chose, the number of springs was also linked to the type of filling. At times, I thought my head might pop but it's worth staying with it...

4. Testing the mattresses on display

It's really important to do this, even though you feel a bit of an idiot jumping on and off all the beds in the showroom!  It's also worth telling the salesperson if you're buying a new bed or divan, re-using an existing bed divan or if you're using a bedstead - all of this makes a difference. We're using the new mattress on an existing bedstead, which we had no plans to replace, so with that settled and having already chosen a natural pocket sprung mattress we set about trying the many mattresses on display...

And what's really clever is that in some shops half of the mattress will be medium and half will be firm. That means you can test drive either (or both) just by being on the right-hand or left-hand side of the bed. 

We started at the lowest spring count and worked our way upwards. I'd like to say we made it all the way from 3000 to the 14000 springs, but we didn't. In truth I was worried that I'd be sold on something way above our budget and then I'd spend the next few hours, days or weeks talking myself into it, or MOH out of it. We did try a couple above our price range and then asked ourselves could we really feel x amount of £s difference. 

We tried a 1000 spring mattress and we both felt it was way too soft and squishy for us. The 3000 we thought was too firm - at which point we wondered if we were being too fussy. So back to the 1000 to check, still squishy. And the 3000 wasn't for us either. So onto the 4000, phew more comfortable than either of the previous two. Let's try the 5000 and the 6000 - both were good. And now we were truly confused. That's where we needed to apply logic as each of the mattresses have different composition of fillings, the budget and the feel the difference conundrum.  And while we were doing that we tried the 7000...

There was much walking between and laying on each of these mattresses but luckily we were the only ones intent on identifying our mattress that day. We did briefly have to queue to re-test one - which made me laugh, who queues to go to bed! - but we got there in the end.  

For us, we didn't think the 6000 felt different enough to justify the extra price tag (and thankfully although the 7000 was good it was way over our budget), so it was between the 4000 and 5000. In the end we opted for the 5000 choosing to spend at the top of our budget - remembering that 2.7p of advice from earlier. The difference on filling was the inclusion of moisture wicking linen, as let's be honest the less moisture hanging around any mattress the better. 


Thankfully there weren't any other choices we needed to make, and the range we bought from come with a white ticking outer layer, but there were other questions I had before we went ahead and they were:

1.  What's the lead time for delivery? 

2.  Will you deliver the new mattress to my bedroom (i.e. upstairs?) 

3.  Will you dispose of my old mattress too (again from upstairs)?

Thankfully the answers were, we can book a delivery slot now, yes and yes although there was a charge for this. Although the council household bulky item collection would have been cheaper, they wouldn't have collected it from upstairs so we went with the one from the shop.  


If you're thinking about buying a new mattress then hopefully this has been useful, there's plenty of advice online and here's some links to the ones I found most helpful: 

House to home essential guide to mattresses and beds 

John Lewis mattress buying guide 

Sleep Council Bed buying guide 

Is there anything you'd add?