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

Pile of mattresses

Try several different mattresses out before you buy

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 don't rush into your purchase. Consider the following and you’ll sleep happily.

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 which the best mattress brands are, the best thing to do is check out our mattress brands review, which has customer satisfaction scores for nineteen major mattress brands - including Silentnight, Sleepeezee and Sealy.

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.

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

Mattress buying tips

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.

Once you've bought your bed mattress, 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.

Make sure you take a look at our How to Buy a Mattress video buying guide for more information on the different types, and tips on how to buy in the shops.

Don’t get swayed by mattress advertising claims

Medical-sounding terms like ‘orthopaedic’ and ‘posturepaedic’ usually just mean that those mattresses have more springs than most, giving increased support.

A 2003 study published in medical journal The Lancet found that a very firm bed mattress isn’t always best for bad backs, and that a moderately firm one may be better.

But there’s no definitive medical answer to what’s best, so don’t be lured by mattress adverts claiming to offer ‘the ultimate solution to back problems’.

For more about the different types of mattress, such as memory foam mattresses and pocket sprung mattresses, see our finding the best mattress page.

Mattresses and bed bases

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.

Roll-up mattresses

Some mattresses come vacuum-packed in a handy cotton bag. These ‘roll-ups’ are a welcome innovation, as you can take one home with you instead of waiting for delivery. 

Mattress guarantees

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.

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