Mattress Buying Guide

A good mattress promotes sound sleep and a healthy mind and body. This mattress buying guide will help you find the right one for your bed, your back, and your budget.

Mattresses 101

Many factors affect the quality of your sleep. But a comfortable, supportive mattress specific to your needs will improve your chance of getting a good night’s sleep. If a restless partner keeps you awake, a good pocket-coil innerspring mattress can help to isolate movement. A memory foam mattress can help to relieve chronic back pain. From a comfort perspective, you may drift off easier if your body is cushioned on a pillow-top mattress with its extra surface layer of softness. The sheer variety of mattress types and materials means one of them is bound to be right for you. 

Types of Mattresses


Innerspring Mattress

The most familiar type of mattress also has the widest range of features, price points and sizes. Innerspring mattresses are built on a foundation of steel coils and foam layers to provide you with cushioned back support while you sleep. The quality of an innerspring mattress is directly related to the strength of the coils and the density of the construction materials. Some innerspring mattresses come with pillow tops.

Pillow Top Mattress

You can tell a pillow top mattress by the separate top layer of padding attached to the main mattress. This additional cushion can offer relief if you suffer from chronic back pain. The pillow top itself can be made of memory foam, regular foam or other synthetic padding. Some users report more heat buildup with memory-foam pillow tops. The top layer also tends to compress and sag more quickly than non-pillow-top mattresses. 

Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam is the commercial name for a synthetic rubber product that conforms to your body shape when you lie on it, but “remembers” to rebound to its normal state when not in use. Memory foam gets good reviews for its high comfort level and ability to isolate movement. In other words, you are less likely to be disturbed or awakened by a restless partner sharing the same king-size or queen-size bed. More expensive memory foam mattresses contain a higher ratio of memory foam to regular foam. The memory foam layer itself is denser in higher-quality models. Many consider this the best mattress for relieving back pain.

Organic Mattress

Environmental sensitivity has opened the way for a category of mattresses built with sustainable, renewable resources. The decision to buy an organic mattress could be a lifestyle choice or related to a health issue. If you're allergic or sensitive to the chemicals used in synthetics, then you may benefit from a mattress made of certified organic materials. Natural latex, organic wool and organic cotton are commonly used in organic mattresses by companies that specialize in this product. Organic mattresses rely on alternating layers of latex and organic fill to provide strong support and comfort. Some also feature pillow tops.

Futon Mattress

If saving space is your top priority, then a futon could be the answer. A combination of folding couch and fold-out bed, a futon answers two needs in a single item of furniture. This type of mattress tends to get a lot of wear, so they're made extra durable with dense, recycled fibres and cotton or synthetic covers. A futon can be a good temporary sleep option when your floor plan or budget leaves you no other choice.

Air Mattress

Air mattresses can be inflated to your personal level of comfort and usually come with a built-in pump. These mattresses are lightweight, portable and ideal for cottage vacations or temporary use by houseguests. Air mattresses are typically made of durable polyurethane, with a flocked cover to reduce slippage. Available in king size, queen size, full size and twin size, they blow up readily and deflate easily for convenient storage in a closet or car trunk. Some deluxe models, called airbeds, may include memory foam pillow tops, built-in legs or frames and separate air chambers for top and bottom layers.

Mattress Buying Tips:

  • Choose a model with support right to the edges of the mattress
  • Innerspring mattresses offer the most variety and price points
  • Memory foam or latex foam mattresses provide extra firmness
  • Ask for a low-profile box spring to reduce the overall height of your bed

Mattress Features

Innerspring Coils +

There are many different types of coil configurations found in innerspring mattresses. The technical descriptions can be confusing but knowing your own needs will help. If you're shopping for a king- or queen-size mattress to share with a partner, then you might want to consider a coil “system” that reduces the transfer of motion. For example, pocket or wrapped coils are designed to operate independently, so they help prevent your partner’s movements from disturbing your rest. This feature is less important for single sleepers in twin- or full-size mattresses.

Pillow Tops +

This feature is commonly available as a permanent fixture on most types of mattresses, including innersprings, organics and inflatables. Pillow tops vary in quality and density and are usually made from foam (memory or polyurethane) or latex (natural or organic). A memory-foam mattress topper can provide instant relief to back-pain sufferers. Be aware, though, that pillow tops tend to compress rapidly and begin to sag within the first three years.

Box Springs +

A box spring provides your mattress with support and helps to extend its life. Mattresses and box springs are designed to work together; if you replace your mattress, you should also replace your box spring. The new generation of mattresses and box springs are thicker and deeper, so consider asking for a low-profile box spring to avoid having the overall profile of your bed rise too high, or force you to alter your bed frame.

Treatments +

Some mattress materials such as all-natural latex are naturally hypo-allergenic and immune to bacteria and dust mites. Synthetic substances are not. Check to see if the mattress you are considering has been treated with anti-microbial protection.

Edge Support +

Your mattress should provide firm support right to the outside edges. An easy way to test the strength of a mattress is by sitting on the edge. You should feel solid support with no sagging. A good-quality mattress has sturdy wire or rod around the perimeter that's connected to the inner mattress to provide stability and support from side to side.

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Mattress Maintenance Tips:

  • Rotate or flip your mattress according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Use a mattress protector to safeguard against stains
  • Avoid rough handling or twisting when moving or transporting
  • Launder mattress pads and covers regularly
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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