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How to Buy a Mattress and Box Spring

How to Buy a Mattress and Box Spring


Mattress Sizes

The first step in choosing the right mattress is often the easiest: Selecting the size. If you have a bed already, simply purchase one that matches the size of your bedframe. If you are considering a new bed, refer to the chart and image below to find the right size mattress for your needs.

Tip: Generally a couple will require at least a queen sized bed to comfortably accommodate both people.

Bed Size Dimensions
Twin 39 inches x 75 inches
Twin XL 39 inches x 80 inches
Full 54 inches x 75 inches
Queen 60 inches x 80 inches
King 76 inches x 80 inches
California King 72 inches x 84 inches
Mattress Sizes image

Types of Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are the most common type of mattress sold in the U.S. They consist of a core of metal springs topped with a plush layer or pillow top for comfort. The springs and comfort layer come in various styles and thicknesses that can offer varying levels of firmness to match just about anyone’s preferences. Innerspring mattresses are a great choice for most people as they come in a wide range of thicknesses and comfort levels, and are usually the more affordable option.

Memory foam mattresses feature a visco-elastic memory foam core instead of spring coils. This material is a supportive layer that offers both comfort and the right amount of firmness to facilitate proper spinal alignment.

Memory foam mattresses are suitable for any sleeping position and are a good choice for people who need a comfortable and supportive mattress that doesn’t put undue pressure on whichever side they sleep on.

Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam mattresses, but feature a latex foam core instead. Latex is an anti-allergenic material and foam made out of it features better ventilation and temperature control than memory foam. While this isn’t as commonly available as memory foam or spring mattresses, many prefer latex for both health and comfort reasons.

Inner Spring Example
Memory Foam Image
Spring Mattress Top Image

Mattress Firmness

The next step in selecting the perfect mattress is deciding what level of firmness you are searching for. Whether you prefer an extra firm surface or something more cushy, there are options to suit every taste. We sort our mattresses by a number system indicating their level of firmness as follows:

  • 1-2 Extra Firm
  • 3-4 Cushioned Firm
  • 5-6 Plush
  • 7-8 Pillow Top
  • 9-10 Ultra Plush
  • Memory Foam

Let’s Talk Box Springs

Box springs and foundations are often a source of much confusion when it comes to buying a new bed. So, let’s start at the beginning:

What’s the difference between a box spring and a foundation?
Technically, a box spring features metal coils inside that provide a bit of give, while a foundation is more of a hollow framework that offers a rigid structure. However, it is important to note that today these terms are often used interchangeably. Box springs that feature actual springs have fallen out of style because of improved mattress materials and construction techniques, so they are only produced by a few companies now. Their name though, is irrevocably paired with mattresses, so as foundations have risen in popularity the term “box-spring” is often used to refer to either of these options.

What is a box spring for?
A box spring is intended to provide an even base to fully support a mattress so that it stays level and won’t sag between slats. Because it has a solid framework but still offers a bit of give, a box spring can lend a bed an overall softer feel, while the support also can help your mattress last longer. A box spring can also provide extra height to raise a mattress to a more comfortable level on a low bed frame.

What is a foundation for?
A foundation is designed specifically to support a mattress with its rigid structure and allow you to add height to your bed as needed. They come in a range of heights, from compact 2 inch variations that will stay neatly out of the way, to high profile 9 inch foundations, so they offer plenty of options to customize bed height as needed.

When do you need a box spring or foundation?
You need one of these options if your bed does not have slats or if the slats it has are spaced widely enough that they would affect the comfort or condition of the mattress. You also would need a box spring or foundation to adjust the height of your mattress if your bed is particularly low or your mattress is a nonstandard height. Alternately, as mentioned above, you may need a box spring for comfort if your mattress is a smidge too firm.

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