How to buy the best mattress

Mattresses

How to buy the best mattress

by Ben Slater

A mattress can cost up to £3,000, but you don't need to pay this much to buy the best. We explain how to find the best one for you.

Deciding which type of mattress you want is all well and good, but if you want a mattress that you'll be happy with for years to come, you also need to make the right decisions right up to delivery.

Before you can even hit the shops, you need to decide whether you want a pocket sprung or memory foam mattress, or another type, like continuous coil or latex.

Most Which? members buy pocket sprung mattresses. But while they're cooler to sleep on than memory foam, they don't mould to the shape of your body. It all comes down to what you find most comfortable, so be sure to try mattresses out in the shop before buying.

We've put mattresses of all types through our tough tests - go to our mattress reviews to find the one that's best for you.

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, we can help. 

Check out our mattress brands review. This reveals what people think of the brand of mattress they own, and includes major brands such as Silentnight, Sleepeezee and Sealy.

How much do I need to pay for a new mattress?

A new mattress can cost anywhere between a couple of hundred pounds and several thousand. Factors like brand, size and the type of materials used can all have a significant impact on cost.

But we’ve found that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a mattress that will support your spine and last for years to come. Sort our mattress reviews by price to find our cheapest Best Buys.

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 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.

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.

Is your mattress going on a slatted base? Then make sure that 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.

Check the guarantee/warranty on your mattress

Make sure you know what your rights are if there's a problem with your mattress. Our mattress brands review has information on the different guarantees that come with each mattress, so you won't get caught out.

Most guarantees for mattresses will not cover gradual wear and tear, which leads to loss of support. So make sure you use our mattress reviews to pick out a durable mattress that will stand the test of time.

Most mattress guarantees will not cover gradual wear and tear.

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.

Don't worry if your mattress is smelly at first

It's important that you unwrap your mattress as soon as you get it home - leaving the plastic wrappings on could lead to rot. 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.