Mattresses: Choosing the best type of mattress How to buy a new bed mattress

Couple in a shop, looking at mattresses

Follow our tips to get the best mattress for you

Once you've decided which type of mattress you want – for example, a memory foam mattress or a pocket sprung mattress – you'll be ready to hit the shops.

A bed mattress can cost up to £3,000, and the average spend is about £800, so it can be a significant investment. Follow our five top tips below and you’ll sleep happily.

Our video guide to buying a mattress has even more information and tips on how to buy a mattress in the shops.

1. Buy a mattress from a trusted brand

46% of Which? members bought their mattress because it's made by a brand they trust. If you're not sure what the best mattress brands are, the best thing to do is check out our mattress brands review, which has customer satisfaction scores for 19 major mattress brands - including Silentnight, Sleepeezee and Sealy.

2. Try the mattress before you buy

Buying a mattress online may be cheaper and more convenient but, if you can, it’s best to try a mattress before you buy. Two thirds of Which? members we surveyed bought their mattress because it felt comfortable in the shop. Over a third of members feel intimidated trying out a mattress in the shop, but a good mattress shop (see our review of the best mattress shops) shouldn't mind you doing this.

When you go shopping for a new bed mattress, wear comfortable clothing and remove your outdoor gear. Lie on a mattress for at least 10 minutes, in positions that you normally sleep in.

Sit on the edge of the mattress – it should be firm, not saggy. Don’t shop for beds when you’re tired, as all the mattresses will feel great.

If you’re buying a memory foam mattress, relax in one position, then move into another. Was it easy or did you struggle to move? If the latter, you might find the memory mattress will restrict your movement too much, especially in cold weather when the memory foam will be harder.

Don't let sales assistants influence you – they can’t decide whether the mattress is comfortable. If the bed is for two, shop together.

Couple lying on bed mattress

Try out a mattress with your partner before you buy it

3. Make sure your mattress fits your bed base

Manufacturers encourage you to buy a mattress and bed base together, and this is a good idea if you’ve had your old base for many years.

If you buy the mattress and base separately, or are going to keep your old base, measure carefully to make sure they’re a good fit. Dimensions can vary so don’t rely on a new double mattress being exactly the same size as your old one.

Make sure that, if you put it on a slatted base, the slats are no more than 6cm wide or more than 4cm apart. This ensures sufficient ventilation whilst preventing the mattress sagging through between the slats.

4. Check the guarantee/warranty on your mattress

Our mattress brands review has information on the different guarantees that come with each mattress, so you know what your rights are if there's a problem with your mattress.

Most guarantees for mattresses will not cover gradual wear and tear leading to loss of support.

Certain things you do can render the mattress guarantee meaningless. Before you buy your mattress, check whether there’s anything in particular, such as removing labels or using a base other than a recommended one, that would invalidate the guarantee.

5. Don't worry if your mattress is smelly at first

Most bed mattresses have a distinctive chemical odour when you first unpack them, but some can be particularly smelly. Leave your mattress to air for a week before use and the fumes will disperse.

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