So You’re Thinking About Buying a New BedApr 11, 2007 (Updated Apr 30, 2007) Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Spending more time up front doing your homework you'll be more likely to enjoy the bed you finally choose without necessarily having to refinance your house to do it.
Not all that many years ago purchasing a new bed seemed like a relatively simple matter. You went to a bedding store, put yourself in the hands of a mattress salesperson and he or she took you through the S s. Sealy, Simmons, Serta, Stearns & Foster were the major brands.
So what kind of mattress do you like you were asked. Soft, medium firm, firm, extra firm? A given was that these were all going to be traditional inner spring mattresses. Sure, by the late 1960s waterbeds had started to become popular, but they never really made up more than a tiny segment of the market.
The salesperson probably told you that this was the only bed you would probably ever buy. Indeed, many beds boasted warranties of 20 and even 30 years! So you lied down on several different beds, found your preference and probably got out of the store with a delivery date for your new bed for something less than $500 for the mattress, box spring and frame.
That Was Then, This is Now
So, whats changed? Well, actually many things. Were smarter. We understand that nothing is made to last forever (regardless of what the warranty claims). Theyre smarter. They make sure they dont last forever.
We have many more choices today. Inner spring, foam (all kinds), air, and yes, even waterbeds compete for our attention.
We, as consumers have changed as well. Probably more than ever before we are a self-indulgent comfort oriented society. And, where better to exercise our desire for comfort? Arent we going to spend as much as a third of our lives in bed? And that third doesnt even include the amount of time we lie there scanning the Now Playing List on our Tivos. This is not lost on manufacturers. For a price, they will indulge us to our hearts content. I recently saw a king sized European visco-elastic foam bed on a showroom floor for just over $6,500!
So, before you go out and commit a substantial amount of your hard earned money on a purchase that youll likely live with for at least several years there are a number of things to think about and understand. A little homework and preparation up front might make it unnecessary for you to write an outraged rant here at Epinions only days, weeks or months after taking delivery of your bed.
Establish your budget
Remember those sub-$500 bed sets I mentioned at the start of this article? Well, for the most part theyre gone. Okay, maybe youll find a childs bed at this price point (maybe), but expect to pay more for something intended for your bedroom. The question is how much more?
Were playing in a pretty big ball park here. Just how much are you willing to spend? Its important to be realistic here. Waiting until youre in the showroom can be a costly mistake. A good salesperson can easily convince you that your comfort over 10 years is worth just a couple or three more dollars a week. And, this might be true. But that couple or three dollars a week amounts to $1,000 - $1,500 over the period. So, set a realistic price range before you go shopping. What can you afford to spend?
Familiarize Yourself with Bed Construction and Styles
This is especially important if its been awhile since youve last shopped for a bed. There are so many choices. Fortunately, in the Internet Age this isnt as daunting a task as it might sound.
Inner Coil Spring mattresses still account for the overwhelming majority of bed construction today. Conventional coil springs are generally larger (3-4 inches) and are joined top and bottom into a network of springs that support your body. They are covered with a bedding material or foam so you never actually feel the springs. Generally speaking, the more springs used in the construction of the bed the better.
Pocket Coil Springs feature a somewhat smaller coil spring (2 inches) that is pre-compressed and housed in a fabric pocket (duon). Unlike conventional springs they are not joined to one another top and bottom. But rather, each fabric pocket is attached along its side to the next. The advantages of this construction are, many more springs are used and the method of their attachment better isolates movement of sleeping partners.
Foam beds are increasingly popular. While the term memory foam is being hurled about by everyone, there are actually different types of foam being used. TempurPedic, probably the best-known brand uses a visco-elastic foam that is extremely dense and responds to the heat of your body. It is about as firm as foam mattresses get. Many people note that this type of foam traps and radiates heat back into the sleeper. If you like warn and snuggly, this might be good. But, if youre a kick the blankets off type of sleeper you may not find it to your taste. The visco-elastic foam is generally the most expensive variety of foam.
Poured Polyurethane, though less commonly discussed is another popular type of foam used. Jamison Bedding uses this foam in the manufacture of the Marriott Hotel Bed. Less firm than the visco-elastic variety it is nonetheless a very comfortable sleep experience. It is less prone to trap and radiate heat back into your body.
Finally, there is Latex, the softest of the varieties of foam. Generally, this is the least expensive variety of foam. While it is not likely that your skin will ever make contact with the latex, since there are many who are allergic to this material, this might be something worth studying more closely.
Air-Chamber beds such as offered by the Select Comfort brand are among the most expensive beds to purchase but among the least expensive to manufacture (go figure!). They are usually adjustable via an internal or external air pump and in larger sizes may allow two sleep partners to sleep on a bed of varying firmness. Keep in mind that this is an air mattress. It will over time leak some air and have to be firmed up some with more air. From my experience reading reviews on beds, consumer satisfaction with this type of bed varies the greatest.
Pillow-top, Plush-top, whats the dif?
Pillow-Tops have become increasingly popular and controversial over the last several years. These usually down-filled layers add a plush softness to the underlying firm mattress. You usually love that feeling or hate it. We really love it. It feels like its coddling your body. The controversy seems to center around the question of whether or not the pillow-top compresses and mats down, potentially creating permanent impressions and lumps. Pillow-tops usually cant be flipped periodically like most mattresses.
An alternative is the plush top. Usually this employs an extra layer of bedding to the surface of the mattress, that while soft, is more compressed than a pillow-top. Although its not as cuddly as a pillow-top still it imparts a luxurious plush feel to your body. This is really a matter of personal preference.
A Good Foundation
The box spring is the foundation of your bed. Its important, very important. This is not the place to try to save some money. Most beds are sold in sets with a matching box spring. Sometimes you may have a choice of two or more that are recommended for a particular mattress. As a general rule I recommend purchasing the heaviest box spring recommended for the corresponding mattress. Something that is not commonly known is that most mattress warranties are voided if the matching box spring is not used. More on warranties later.
Buy the Right Size
Okay, so youre living in an apartment or your first home and you have a smallish bedroom. No one wants a wall-to-wall-bed (at least I dont think so), but within reason Id recommend purchasing the largest bed that fits the application. Your child may not need a queen or king sized bed, but you probably do. Remember, most people own the same bed (10 years) longer than they own their house (avg. 7 years). Youre going to be sleeping on this bed for a very long time.
The Frame, Dont Forget the Frame
Make sure you have the appropriate frame for the bed you purchase. Often, the purchase of a frame is an afterthought. In fact many of us have frames at home that are adjustable from full-size right up to king-size. But, its not just a matter of size. You need support. For queen-sized or larger beds a center support leg or beam is a must if the bed is not to sag over time. And, once again, your mattress warranty can be voided if you use a frame without this support.
Try it Out
Once youre at the mattress store you have to try them out right? So jump on a few. Lay in the positions that you prefer to sleep in. Makes sense to me. But also try some of the positions you employ while watching TV from bed. I usually lie on my side with my elbow dug into the bed and my head propped on my hand. I dont sleep that way, but I do tend to watch TV and often read that way. How about you?
Now, I recommend trying only a few mattresses at a time. In the store, pretty much any quality bed is going to feel at least pretty good. The more beds you try out at one time the more youll find you are desensitized. Youre on sensory overload. Its precisely at this point that you can be talked into just about anything. Resist. Try a few at a time.
The Ultimate Test Drive
The best test of course would be to sleep on the bed. Wouldnt you agree? Well you can, you know. Many hotel chains (Westin, Hilton, Marriott) feature their own beds manufactured by the likes of Simmons, Serta, Jamison, etc. I personally like and recommend the The Heavenly Bed by Simmons. It features pocket coil construction and a pillow-top and it isolates sleep partner's movement nicely. The Cloud Nine Bed by Serta (Hilton) features conventional coil construction with a plush-top and runs a close second for me. Finally, Marriott in concert with Jamison Bedding offers the foam Marriott Bed. Made with poured polyurethane, it's body conforming without being heat radiating. These beds are actually sold by the hotel chains and can be had for about $1,500 (King-sized) or less plus about $200 for shipping. Most importantly, for the cost of a room for the night you just might make a much smarter long term purchase decision, save hundreds of dollars and enjoy a romantic evening as well. Not a bad homework assignment, is it?
When I purchased my The Heavenly Bed by Simmons I was a bit surprised to find it was only 10 years. My original Stearns&Foster Super Firm was warrantied for 20 or 30 years. What happened? Well, it really doesnt much matter. Whatever your warranty, youll find it difficult if not absolutely impossible to exercise once the mattress has been used for any period. Often, the mere presence of a stain on the mattress is enough to void the warranty. Body indentations in the mattress have to be virtually cavernous for a manufacturers inspector recommend its replacement. In the event that you are authorized to return it, restocking fees, shipping and handling charges, etc will often amount to several hundred dollars.
With so many choices confronting us, youll be amply rewarded by spending a little more time up front doing your homework before you commit your money. Youll be more likely to find the right bed for you. A bed that hopefully youll be sleeping in for years.
And, waterbeds? Yup, theyre still out there.
Now go get a good nights sleep.
Some helpful bed & mattress links:
Your Mattress: Care for it, itll care for you. Read, turn, flip .
The Heavenly Bed by Simmons
The Cloud Nine Bed by Serta
© Rudi Xeno 2007
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