Howard's Mattress Buying Guide

July 1, 2019 by Waverly Wilde

The perfect mattress has your back through thick and thin, through long nights of snoozing and afternoon catnaps and everything in between. For such an important job, you need a mattress you can trust. But before you start mattress shopping, make sure you’re informed about what kind of bed will best fit your needs, your budget, and your space.


The major factors that mattress pricing relies on are size, quality, and the material your mattress is made of. A standard, full sized innerspring mattress runs as affordably as $600, while a top-of-the-line memory foam or pillowtop mattress of the same size can run upwards of $3,000.

You can find beds cheaper and more expensive than either of those price points, but we really don’t recommend spending less than $300 on a mattress, and beds in the $4,000 range usually come with specific luxury features like adjustable firmness that you’ll likely already know if you want or not. Decide what end of the scale you’re going to focus on before you start shopping.


Do you prefer to curl up or sprawl out? Are you on the shorter or taller side? Will you be sharing your new mattress with a co-sleeper? Take your lifestyle and personal preferences into account when deciding on the right size mattress—and don’t forget to measure your bedroom first to make sure it’ll fit!

• Twin

Best suited for children or shorter adults, a twin-sized bed is 39 inches wide by 75 inches long. Just enough space for a solo sleeper!

• Twin XL

Twin XL beds pack an extra five inches of leg room at the end of a twin-width mattress. This bed is more common in college dorms than it is in homes or apartments, but if you’re a taller person who’s short on bedroom space, a twin XL is the perfect way to keep your toes from dangling over the edge.

• Double/Full

Sometimes called a double, sometimes called a full, this is really the Goldilocks mattress size. Perfect for a single sleeper or an especially cozy couple, this 54-inch by 75-inch mattress is a great option for any occasion.

• Queen

A queen is a more comfortable option for co-sleepers than a double bed, but it’s a bit more room than a single sleeper typically needs. At 60 inches by 80 inches, its the best balance of comfort and economy for most couples.

• King

Made for a more luxurious snooze, king-sized beds measure 76 inches by 80 inches and offer plenty of space for two sleepers to spread out and really get comfortable. It also leaves room for Fido or a little one who can’t sleep to cuddle up and get cozy.

• Cal King

The ultimate in nighttime comfort, the Cal King bed is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long –four inches longer than a standard king, though it’s a few inches slimmer. This option is great for tall sleepers, or couples living in studio apartments who could use a little extra floor space.


The type of mattress you select is the factor that will likely have the biggest impact on your nightly sleep. There are benefits and shortcomings to every variety, but ultimately the choice has to come down to your personal comfort. The best thing you can do to decide which one is right for you is to stop by one of our showrooms and test them all!

• Innerspring

Also called pocketed coil or just spring mattress, this mattress type is exactly what it sounds like: a classic design that hinges the heft of its support on springs tucked inside the mattress. This mattress variety often ends up being the cheapest, as springs are more widely used and cheaper to make than foam, but there are plenty of high-end innerspring models too. They’re a sturdy choice that tend to have more support than the other options.

• Memory Foam

Spring mattresses have been around for over 100 years now, but memory foam is a more recent invention. Originally developed by NASA as padding for spaceship seats, memory foam is designed to conform perfectly to your body and ease pressure on hips and joints. Mattresses made from memory foam are beloved for their ability to give your body personalized support. They do tend to run on the expensive side and some people claim that they trap heat, especially during summer. But the support they provide is often worth the expense, and many memory foam mattresses now include a layer of cooling gel to disperse heat more evenly.

• Hybrid

A mix of memory foam and innerspring, a hybrid mattress is perfect for someone who prefers both the conforming comfort of memory foam plus the more traditional support of springs. They usually fall along the mid-range of the pricing scale and are the perfect happy medium for any mattress need.


There’s no exact science to finding the perfect level of mattress firmness for you. Firm mattresses are not inherently more supportive, and soft mattresses aren’t necessarily going to feel more comfortable, so it’s important to try a variety of mattresses and listen to what your body needs.

When you’re testing out a mattress in the store, one way to tell if a mattress is in that just-right zone of not too soft and not too firm is by laying on your back and trying to slide a hand under your lower back. If it slides under easily, the mattress is likely too firm, but if you can’t get your hand under at all, it’s likely too soft.


Though not technically required, it’s a good idea to get a foundation for your mattress. Having a foundation can both make your mattress more comfortable and supportive, and also help prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Be sure to check the terms of your warranty carefully when mattress shopping too—many mattress brands will actually require that you use a foundation in order for coverage to apply.

• Box Spring

This is the most basic and widespread foundation type. You can find versions that sit directly on the floor or ones with legs, to give the space a little room to breathe. Either way, a box spring provides a little extra bounce to your bed, and some circulation to the underside of the mattress.

• Slats

A slatted foundation serves much the same purpose as a box spring but gives your bed a slimmer profile. Some people prefer slatted foundations because they give the bed better air circulation, but the difference between the two is fairly minor.

• Adjustable

An adjustable foundation lets you turn your bed into a personal recliner – or a recliner for two! Some adjustable foundations come split down the middle, so you and your partner can both decide on the most comfortable position for sleeping, reading, or lounging before bed.

Testing Your Mattress

There’s nothing wrong with buying a mattress online, but be sure to stop in and test any mattress you have your eye on before you buy it. Mattresses can be a tricky business, and because your sleep style is so personal to you, it’s important to get up close and personal with a potential new mattress as soon as possible.

Just sitting on the edge of it won’t tell you much either. When you stop by our store, it’s important to spend at least 10 minutes lying down just how you would if you were trying to sleep on a potential new bed. Only by giving your body time to relax and settle into the shape of the mattress can you be sure that it’s going to give you the support and comfort you need.

Care Tips

Once you finally find that mattress of your sweet, sweet dreams, be sure to care for it well and make sure to make the most of its lifespan.

 Invest in a mattress protector. Whether it’s a six-sided mattress encasement that encompasses the entire mattress, or a five-sided protector that is placed over the mattress beneath the fitted sheet, a mattress protector gives additional protection from spills, stains, mites and normal wear-and-tear. Some manufacturers also require mattress protectors as a condition of their warranties.

 Vacuum your mattress regularly to keep dust mites and skin flakes from building up on it and rotate the mattress when you can.

 Most mattresses don’t need to be flipped anymore, but especially if you sleep with a partner, it’s important to vary the weight distribution on each side of the bed to make sure the mattress doesn’t wear unevenly.

 Keep track of when you purchased your mattress. Though some types can last upwards of a decade, most mattresses will need to be replaced every 8 years to maintain maximum body support.


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