As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, there’s so much more to a mattress than meets the eye.
One major concern for budget-minded mattress shoppers is durability — how long the mattress will last and actually stay comfortable. This is no small concern. Comfort over time is what makes a mattress more affordable. When you choose a 2-sided mattress with better materials from the start, you’re already dropping your cost per night significantly.
For instance, you can pay $1250 for a mattress that will only stay comfortable for 3 years. At 365 nights a year over 3 years, that makes your cost per night 88 cents.
Or you can pay $2500 for a mattress that will stay comfortable for 15 years. At 365 nights a year over 15 years, that drops your cost per night to just 47 cents.
When you do the math, the choice is obvious! Buy the best mattress you can afford with the highest quality natural materials, and make sure it’s 2-sided.
We’ll tell you how to make sure the mattress you’re considering can go the distance!
Choosing a Mattress for Durability
When it comes to durability, it helps to know the makeup of a mattress, so you can understand where your money goes [LINK TO Anatomy of a Mattress page].
The most common place for a mattress to have a problem is in the comfort layer. The comfort layer is directly under the quilt layer and around the core, which is the supportive center of the mattress. Problems that manifest in the comfort layers are generally body impressions or a lack of support. On the other hand, the support portion of the mattress (coil unit, latex core, air or water bladder) will have little or no failure over time.
Why do ‘can’t flip’ mattresses break down so fast?
Most manufacturers fill the comfort layers of their mattresses primarily with polyurethane foam (poly foam or poly fiber) and supplement that with a tiny bit of memory foam and, if you’re lucky, some latex. Comfort layers containing foam made from chemicals (poly foam, memory foam, gel foam), as opposed to from botanical latex, take impressions early and deeply. Then you continue to sleep on the same side of your ‘can’t flip’ mattress night after night, and easily within five years, you’ve got yourself a mattress full of dips, divots, and valleys, especially where you and/or your partner sleep. In addition, memory foam and gel foams tend to sleep ‘hot,’ which means you’re not only stuck in a valley, but you’re sweaty.
If you want a mattress with maximum durability, look for comfort layers that have latex and/or wool in them. Minimize the dreaded polyurethane foams.
The rule of thumb for durability
When selecting a mattress with durability in mind, a good rule of thumb is to select the mattress that’s the most comfortable and supportive for you, but has the least amount of comfort layer materials. That way, the majority of the comfort you’re experiencing is coming from the support system of the mattress, which is the portion of the mattress that is the most durable and changes the least over time.
Here’s the rule of thumb:
When you’re shopping, you can get a feel for the thickness of the comfort layer by first finding the top of the support layer. You’ll have to push on the mattress top to feel your way down to the support. You can then see what percentage of the overall mattress is comfort layer versus support layer. Try to keep the comfort layers to less than 50% of the overall height of the mattress. The less the better.
When it comes to buying a good mattress that will stay comfortable while standing the test of time, durability matters. Now on to Lesson 7, where we’ll talk about what to do when you’re inside the store.