I sell mattresses everyday. I know mattresses.
Nov 6, 2001 (Updated Feb 19, 2008)
The Bottom Line Independent coil system, multiply your coil counts by your working turns and NON-pro-rated warranty. Remember these three things and you can't go wrong.
First off let me start by giving you my credentials. I am on the management team of one of Canada's largest furniture retailers. I have been selling mattresses for two years. When I first started with the company I immersed myself in mattress product knowledge. why? simple. Of everything I sell in my store, mattresses is the one thing you HAVE to know ALL about. People spend a third of their life on their mattress so they want a good one. I'm going to run down a list of things you MUST know when buying yourself a new mattress. From this point further any specs I mention are refering to a queen size set.
First things first. This opinion is for the purpose of helping people buy a new mattress for themselves for everyday use. Occasional use mattresses (spare room, cottage etc.) don't have to be as specific as I outline in the following review.
Everyone knows that a good mattress has coils. A foam mattress is just not a good idea. Always a coiled mattress. There are three things you must know about the coils inside the bed however that most people don't find out about when buying a mattress. They are:
1)type of coil
2)coil count (how many coils are in the bed)
3)number of working turns
Now the first two may seem familiar but the third one is a mystery to 99% of my customers. I'll get to what working turns are but first let's tackle the first two.
1) type of coil
There are three main types of coils. They all have their own names for brand recognition but when it comes down to it there are truly only three. The first type is bonnell coil. A bonnell coil is a simple coil system. The bonnell coil is shaped like an hour glass and is featured in most of your low end beds. In other words, if you like your back do not get a bonnell coil. PRO: Its cheap. CON: tend to sag and "spin out" quickly.
The second type of coil system is a continuous coil system. This system takes a coil and runs it from head to toe creating a network of coils. PRO: low incident of spin out and sagging. CONS: because your shoulders are pushing on the same coils as your butt and feet you create a straighter sleeping surface which isnt perfect for your back. It's better than bonnell though.
The third type is the independent coil system. This is a system of coils than all work independently of each other. PRO: excellent back support as your shoulders and rear are pushing down the coils are pushing up on your lower back. CON: if you get one that has individually wrapped coils they can tend to sway and sag quickly as they are sometimes non-tempered.
So, now, that said, the best coil system out there is the independent coil system. Remember, get one thats NOT individually wrapped coils.
People come in everyday and ask me "how many coils does this bed have?" This is the one thing that seems to bond all mattress buyers together. The coil count is very important to a mattresses integrity and resiliency. I won't say the higher the number the better and I'll explain why when I go over working turns but around 600-800 (queen size) should be your target range. Anything lower than that and you have probably found yourself a bonnell coil spare room special.
Like I said above, everyone wants to know "how many coils?" but no one ever asks me how many working turns? A working turn is the amount of turns a coil has in its structure. To best explain it, imagine a simple spring. Now use your imagination and put your finger at the very top of the spring and run it down the spring. every time your finger goes 180 degrees around the spring, that is a working turn. So now imagine taking a spring that had only 4 working turns and strapping it to your feet, and jumping up and down. What if that spring had 8 working turns instead of 4? it would bounce higher and last longer before it broke, right? Same thing for mattresses, the more working turns in a beds coils the better and longer life its going to have. When you are looking for a bed multiply the number of coils by the number of working turns. The bed with the higher number is going to be, over time, more resilient. For example, bed 1 had 500 coils and 5 working turns, bed 2 has 600 coils and 3 working turns. Most consumers would automatically assume the 600 coil bed is better than the 500 coil bed, but if we do the multiplication we see 500 coils x 5 working turns=2500 working turns in the whole bed and 600 coils x 3 working turns=1800 working turns in the whole bed. Now we can see that for long life and resiliency of coils the 500 coil bed is by far the better bed. Any more questions on working turns email me. Working turns can be confusing but they are very important. By the way, mention working turns to your salesmen and if he doesn't know what you are talking about I personally wouldn't trust him on any other info on the bed. If he does know what you are talking about he'll be impressed and know you are a savvy consumer and not to be messed with.
A few other quick things you wanna know about buying a mattress are: get one with a NON-PRORATED warranty. A pro-rated warranty means that to get warranty work done in the future YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. I don't care if they offer you 30 years. If its pro-rated its not good. The foundation or boxspring of the set should have coils. This takes a lot of stress off the coils and helps the mattress live longer as well. Finally, if the store you are buying from offers a fabric protection for your bed, take it. Haggle the price on it but take it. I shouldnt speak for the U.S.A. but in Canada any sort of stain on your mattress, whether it be urine, coffee or juice, voids the warranty as per WCB regulations. If you have any further questions regarding buying a new mattress please feel free to email me . In your e-mails let me know where you are from. I've been receiving tons of e-mails and would love to know how far reaching my article has been.