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The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 15 Feb 2012 15:15 #1

First of all, I am extremely new to the search for a quality mattress. In this initial post I'm looking for more information about where to start and what to look for. Pointing me in the direction of relevant information would be most helpful.

I nor my wife have really ever experienced a "quality" mattress. The most comfortable mattress I've ever owned was a serta spring mattress with a decent memory foam topper, and I haven't had one nearly that comfortable since. My wife has only known a futon mattress in recent years before our marriage.

To start with I'll give some information about the two of us.

I am 5'7" 160 lbs
She is 5'5" 120 lbs

She seems to be a mostly side or stomach sleeper, and I am primarily a back sleeper (which she would probably like to change if she could considering how bad I snore on my back...) The only time I tend to sleep on my side is when I can't get comfortable on my back. I can't seem to get comfortable at all 0n our current mattress.

Some of our requirements would be.... I believe I would prefer to have a mattress that would allow me to sink in slightly but not swallow me. I think this would lock me into a comfortable position. I feel that my wife would prefer to sleep more on top of the mattress with still a good level of softness. I have a nasty tendency to get reflux at night as well. We tied the knot if November of 2011. So, there are other considerations on our bed as well... I am extremely hot natured, and I've heard that some of the more dense memory foam tends to make you rather hot. All of these requirements being said.. I realize that you can't really have a good opinion of what would make you comfortable unless you've actually tried some of the different types first hand.

So, what should we look for/think about if we go try some mattresses at a store front?

I'm really attracted to the idea of custom building our own mattress to suit both of our needs separately. I am not opposed to buying one already put together though.

I came across this website when searching for foam. They offer a pre-made bed with custom firmness for both sides. Anyone have an opinion on this? www.foamorder.com/memory.html

If I were to build a bed to suit our needs, where would my price point likely be if it were constructed out of quality materials that would meet the level of higher end mattress manufacturers?

Again, I hope that my vague questions and ambiguous post don't rub anyone wrong as not having been made with any research to back them. I am so unfamiliar with the science of mattress selection that considering any information I've come across makes my head spin. So, any information or direction to helpful threads and links to give me a bearing on where to start would be extremely helpful.

I will also use this thread to detail my mattress search from beginning to completion as well.

The search begins!

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Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 15 Feb 2012 16:24 #2

Hi rockscreation16,

First of all, I am extremely new to the search for a quality mattress. In this initial post I'm looking for more information about where to start and what to look for. Pointing me in the direction of relevant information would be most helpful.


The first thing I would do is read this article . By eliminating the worst outlets and choices it will help you focus on the better outlets and choices in your mattress search. Better outlets will have mattresses that use higher quality and more durable materials, will tell you what is in your mattress, and tend to be much more focused on fitting you to a mattress than using sales techniques which steer you towards a mattress based on vague notions of comfort that will help their profit margin more than provide you with long term satisfaction. The information they provide you will also be more accurate and they will help to educate you more than confuse you with misleading "stories".

Since Foam Order is in the San Francisco area ... I'm assuming you are there too and post #2 here will give you a list of the factory direct outlets and better sleep shops in your area (and Foam Order is one of them).

The next thing I would do is go to the mattresses section of the website and read the overviews. This will give you some basic knowledge about mattresses and the materials that are in them so you can ask better questions and make better choices based on your height, weight, sleeping positions, and preferences. I would read them with an eye to getting a general sense of mattresses and their materials and construction rather than "studying them" to become an "expert" (unless of course you prefer to know all the finer details in which case all the individual pages in the section and on the site may also be worth reading).

It helps to think of a mattress as a firmer support layer (or layers) which keeps you in alignment and a comfort layer (or layers) which help to cushion you from the firm support layer, spread your body weight over a larger surface area to relieve the pressure points that the support layer alone would cause, and fill in the gaps in your sleeping profile (like the small of your back or your waist). There are many different ways to accomplish this and the different materials that are used to give you pressure relief and support will play a big role in accommodating your preferences (such as sleeping hot, sleeping "in or "on" your mattress, and how "springy" or responsive you want your mattress to be). The different materials and the quality of the materials you use will also play a bit part in the cost and durability of your mattress. Low quality materials can make a pressure relieving and supportive mattress but it won't last as long.

Once you've done this ... then the next step is to make some phone calls and talk with some of the outlets on the list and tell them a bit about you and your budget (height, weight, sleeping positions, preferences) and ask them which of their mattresses they carry they think would be worth testing. If you have developed a sense of the types of mattress materials you would like to test based on the overviews, then I would also ask them questions like "do you carry any all latex mattresses" or "latex over innerspring mattresses" or "memory foam over polyfoam mattresses" etc and their answers and the conversations which follow will give you a good sense of what you can expect when you go there.

Finally it's time to go and visit a few of the outlets based on your phone conversations and test different materials and layering patterns. Once you know the type of mattress that works best for you and have compared a few that seem to fit you perfectly ... then all that's left is to make your purchase based on which seems to meet your needs and preferences the best and has the best value based on the materials in the mattress.

If you have questions along the way (or as you say just want to share your experiences for the benefit of the many others who are in exactly the same position) ... feel free to post them here.

Take your time (the better outlets have better prices all year long and don't rely on fake sales to entice their customers) and focus on PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Preferences) and you will do fine and end up with a great mattress that will last you for a long time.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 15 Feb 2012 18:15 #3

As many others have said, it's astonishing at the detail in which you reply to the questions of those in search for answers about their mattress needs. So, thanks very much for that.

I think you've given me a very good starting point with these sections to read.

In my original post I mentioned building my own mattress. Would you say that as a first time user of a quality mattress it would be better for me to buy a pre-built one? I have a compulsive interest in building things that are important to me. that way I can know what's in them and that they are put together well. The hands on understanding of the piece I use also gives me the sense of accomplishment knowing exactly how it works. Is it cost effective to approach it in such a way?

Also, could you point me in the direction of some good reading on the different kinds of raw materials for use in building a mattress?

As far as Foam Order is concerned. I just found them online. I actually live near Myrtle Beach, SC. Pretty well all the way across the country from San Fran. Do you have any information on quality manufacturers and factory direct locations nearby?

Thanks again for all of your help and information!

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Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 15 Feb 2012 23:47 #4

Hi Rockscreation16,

In my original post I mentioned building my own mattress. Would you say that as a first time user of a quality mattress it would be better for me to buy a pre-built one? I have a compulsive interest in building things that are important to me. that way I can know what's in them and that they are put together well. The hands on understanding of the piece I use also gives me the sense of accomplishment knowing exactly how it works. Is it cost effective to approach it in such a way?


Yes this can be a very rewarding and cost effective approach but it has it's own set of challenges and frustrations. There are also several "degrees" of building your own. Hopefully the rest of this post won't put you on "information overload" and if it does ... just take what you need and leave the rest :)

The first degree is to become knowledgeable of the materials and layering schemes in a mattress and then choosing a pre-built mattress that fits what you want in theory and in testing in terms of materials and layering. All the better outlets and factory directs will tell you layer by layer what is in their mattress so if they already have one that is the same as you would build (or you discover is perfect in your testing) and they have the value you are looking for (local factory direct manufacturers and sleep shops that sell mattresses made by local manufacturers or smaller brands tend to have the best value), then you don't have to re-invent the wheel. Some of these may not have exactly what you want but can make custom adjustments in their "standard" mattresses and some local manufacturers will build a mattress that is exactly what you want in every detail even if it is completely different from any of their standard models.

The second degree of DIY is to buy a mattress through an online manufacturer who specializes in mattresses that to differing degrees you can choose the materials and layers in your mattress and they will ship it to you with a custom zipper cover and all you have to do is put the layers in the cover, zip it up and you're done. The challenge with these is that you don't have a chance to lie on them first so local testing of materials and various layering patterns using mattresses where you know what is in them can be used as a rough guideline for your choices. This can be a source of great value for those who don't have a factory direct manufacturer within reasonable driving distance (which has similar value but you can actually test the mattress in person). Most of these also offer various forms of layer exchanges so if your layering isn't right ... then you can exchange layers to make it right usually at the cost of some shipping. If you go in this direction ... then it is up to each person how much they want to be involved in the design of the mattress and how much they want to follow the manufacturers recommendations based on "averages" of other people who have a similar height, weight, shape, and sleeping positions. The members of this site that specialize in these types of mattresses (usually using latex which is the highest quality and most durable mattress foam) is in post #21 here . Along with some of the better local factory direct manufacturers that are scattered across the country, they offer some of the best value in North America. Some of the better choices for a memory foam mattress with some degree of custom design are in post #12 here .

The final degree of DIY is where you buy the actual materials from anywhere either online or from a local foam shop (unlike #1 where everything you need is in one place and bought from an actual mattress manufacturer) with an eye to the absolute least cost. You may buy a layer from here and another one from there and a mattress ticking from somewhere else. The difficulty with this approach besides the fact that it takes a great deal more knowledge is that many places don't describe their materials well or accurately and many places which specialize in the "cheapest" materials have little knowledge of mattress construction and will gladly sell you whatever they can whether it is correctly described or suitable for your mattress or not. If you buy a material or layer that is incorrectly described ... then you are dealing with an unknown and it can become impossible to know how to compensate for a material which is something other than what you thought you bought. If you do go in this direction ... then the reliability of the outlet, the accuracy of their descriptions, and their knowledge levels of mattress construction and their own materials becomes very important.

If I had a choice ... I would prefer #1 ... buying from a local manufacturer who already has or will customize a mattress according to what I need and want and has good value. It is even worth a premium IMO to be able to buy a mattress that you have personally tested. My second choice would be to choose my own layers to whatever degree possible through an online manufacturer or outlet that had the materials I wanted and who sold mattresses.

I would tend to avoid #3 because it is somewhat the luck of the draw in terms of what you get from the "cheapest" outlets and takes a great deal of knowledge and skill to know how to put different materials and layers together without the guidance of someone who has been doing this for years. The small cost savings that this approach sometimes leads to over option #2 IMO isn't worth the much greater risk of ending up with a bunch of foam that isn't suitable for what you want or need but with knowledge and lots of research it can sometimes be a project that some people may enjoy.

The closest local manufacturers to you are unfortunately about 100 miles away in Charleston and about 150 miles away in Columbia. Post #2 here has a list and a few comments about each.

There is also a list of some of the better retail options or possibilities I'm aware of in the Jacksonville / Wilmington, NC area listed in post #5 here but this doesn't include any manufacturers.

In the other direction there are several manufacturers included in the Fayetteville list in post #155 here .

While your local outlets may not have the same degree of options or value available ... if you want to do some local testing for different materials and layer combinations then I took a quick look and I would focus on the following list. Before you go to any of them though, I would call to make sure that they make the details of the materials and layers in their mattresses available to anyone who wants to know through an accurate spec sheet or cutaway or you won't know what you are testing (and they may tend to "forget" some of the layers or not describe them accurately). I've included some of the brands that make mattresses that may be worth testing (but only after you confirm that there is no more than an inch of polyfoam in the top layers of their mattresses because I didn't check the specs of the mattresses they carry). Most of these brands have online sites which have general descriptions of their mattresses. One of the signs of an outlet that has some knowledge and can be the most helpful in your search is their willingness to encourage meaningful comparisons based on the materials and layers in a mattress. While the value of these types of outlets is usually better than more mainstream outlets and chain stores ... sometimes they may have some surprisingly good value that may even compare well with some factory direct outlets.

www.bedman.com/ Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, SC. Eastman House Pure Latex Bliss, Southerland.

www.beddingworldmurrellsinlet.com/index.html Murrells Inlet, SC. Anatomic Global, Glideaway, and Symbol

This next list includes some of the manufacturers who manufacture in the Carolinas but only sell wholesale to retail outlets. All of them will provide a list of local outlets in or near Myrtle Beach (with a phone call, email, or by using the retail finder some have online) if you see a mattress on their website that you are interested in testing and their value is often better than larger national brands.

sleepworthy.web.officelive.com/default.aspx Licensee manufacturer for Therapedic and their own brand

www.parkplacecorp.com/ Medium size regional manufacturer that makes a wide range of traditional and speciaty mattresses. (They also have their own factory direct store in Greenville, SC)

www.restmaster.com/ Smaller local manufacturer that makes mainly traditional mattresses (layers of polyfoam over innersprings) including one and two sided mattresses and a memory foam mattress as well. They now also have their own factory direct showroom in North Augusta, SC.

www.riversidemattressinc.com/index.html Smaller local manufacturer that also makes mainly traditional mattresses

More information about the raw materials and the different designs of a mattress, which layers the materials are suitable for, and how to fit them to your particular needs and preferences are in the pages that follow each of the overviews. There is more detailed information yet about the pros and cons of latex and the pros and cons of memory foam (the two specialty foams that you will generally encounter) in the articles section. The third type of foam that you will encounter is polyurethane foam (polyfoam) and since the versions of this found in most mainstream mattresses (outside of local manufacturers) is usually lower quality ... the challenge with this is usually avoiding it rather than finding it.

Personal testing and your familiarity with the different types of mattresses and materials though are a much more effective approach than theory that doesn't include your own personal experience.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 16 Feb 2012 15:08 #5

Thanks for all of the recommendations and informative threads. I've done quite a bit of reading over the last day on this subject. I've also called or researched most of the factory direct manufacturers that are in state. I have found interest in a few of them, especially columbia bedding store and charleston bedding.

What has really caught my interest is Foam Order that I mentioned before. I called their showroom and got a very knowledgeable gentleman on the phone. After discussing some of my needs and comfort requirement as well as budget he pointed me toward their Larkspur mattress. The specific composition of the model we discussed is comprised of two layers of foam at 3" thick per for a total thickness of 6" of mattress. He seemed to think the "medium" variety would suit my needs well, but that of course it was impossible to know until I had more of a preference on the different kinds of foam , density and ILD numbers. This I agree with especially considering suggestions from you and articles on this site.

Anyway, I was hoping to get some opinions on the composition of this mattress and the price point of which it falls within.

Larkspur mattress.
6" thick, Eastern King size
base layer is poly v34 3" thick (Density: 2.6 lb/ft3, ILD: 34.) Their premium poly foam has a 15 year warranty against any dipping, flattening, or softening
Comfort layer is Dunlop "natural sense" all natural latex at 28 ILD (also available in 25 ILD in this variety)
Comes with cotton inner cover to contain both foam layers, and a zip up outer cover
This mattress delivered with 50% off shipping, and he applied a 10% discount code comes to $970



The person I spoke with seemed to think that for myself and my wife that we wouldn't need any more than 6" of mattress for sufficient support. Especially in this range of firmness. I would be perfectly happy with the height of this bed on my box spring.

I especially liked the fact that this company was selling me the foam, not the mattress with a very vague notion of what's in it. I also discussed making the comfort layer of progressively softer latex to a talalay top layer of a low ILD number. He said it could significantly change the feel, but that it's completely subjective.

Anyway, my first step is still finding somewhere that I can try mattresses where they can show me the compositions of them. That way I can get a feel for what I like. Ultimately though, the people at foam order have impressed me.

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Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 17 Feb 2012 09:19 #6

Hi rockcreation16,

If I was in San Francisco and was able to try the mattress and confirm that a 6" mattress with a dunlop comfort layer worked well for me ... I would likely give it strong consideration. I also agree with you that the staff at Foam Order are good people (I've usually talked with Alan). Ordering it online though ... especially with a thickness of only 6" ... I would be a little hesitant unless your testing indicated it may work well for you. There is no doubt that the quality of the foam at Foam Order is very high and he may well be right that 6" would work well (it would certainly be a very firm mattress). While value is always a personal decision ... here are a couple of similar but slightly thicker mattresses for reference ...

www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?ie=UTF8&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&me=APCUWEOU23BHI This uses Talalay latex in the comfort layer in your choice of ILD in the comfort layer.

www.overnightmattress.com/ItemMatrix.asp?GroupCode=CBAML&MatrixType=2&selelement1=undefined&selelement2=undefined&selelement3=undefined&selelement4=undefined&selelement5=undefined This allows you to order any ILD of Talalay latex you wish (or memory foam) and comes with a free exchange if you don't like what you ordered.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 17 Feb 2012 17:59 #7

The ultimate dreams mattress looks like a very good value. The reviews in every place I can find them are overwhelmingly positive. What are your thoughts on this mattress in as far as quality if I find that this type of foam is what I find comfortable?

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Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 18 Feb 2012 00:10 #8

Hi rockscreation16,

I think the quality for this price level is very high. The base foam is higher quality even than many mattresses in a much higher budget range (2.35 lbs) and the comfort layer is talalay latex which is one of the best quality foams available. The only "very slight" negative for me is that it uses 1.5" of quilting polyfoam in the quilting. This is a minor issue (just over the 1" maximum I normally recommend) but it's pre-compressed with the quilting (increasing durability) and is used to fill in the quilting layers to create a nicer appearance and add a little bit of softer hand feel to the mattress.

In addition to this ... the ILD of the latex can be chosen by the customer.

I also know the manufacturer and think highly of him.

Overall ... I think this is exceptional value in this price range.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 18 Feb 2012 03:16 #9

I'm very strongly considering the ultimate dreams as my purchase. I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger yet.

What are your thoughts on this mattress if I were considering a memory foam type?
www.amazon.com/LinenSpa-Triple-Layer-Viscoelastic-Mattress-Warranty/dp/B0050JL4TC/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hg_6

I think that at this point I'm in a place torn between memory foam and latex. I'm thinking that as my first purchase I'm willing to spend 600-800 dollars on one of these less expensive mattresses so that I won't be heartbroken if I decide I just don't like one or the other and want to move on. If I end up liking it then I might use it for a couple of years and upgrade to a quality mattress of that type.

Considering that I like the soft feel I get from memory foam, what firmness level do you think would be preferable in the ultimate dreams latex comfort layer? Through trying out different latex and memory foam beds in the last few days, I feel that I've determined my firmness preference to be soft. That also depends on the bed though. As long is there is a decent core that will push on my lumbar well, very soft comfort layers are fine with me. The only thing I want to avoid is feeling like I'm being folded up. That's the feeling I get from some older memory foam mattresses and when I've put cheap and thick memory foam toppers on my crappy spring mattresses.

Anyway, I'm heavily leaning toward the Ultimate Dreams mattress, but I still want to give memory foam a shot too because I like the "sleeping in the mattress" feel. I just want to sink into the mattress evenly.

Any thoughts?

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Re: The start of our search for mattress comfort.... 18 Feb 2012 04:32 #10

Hi rockscreation16,

There are several guidelines I would follow before buying any memory foam mattress to make sure you avoid the worst choices.

1. Never buy a mattress that includes memory foam without knowing whether the foam has been certified by CertiPur, Oeko-Tex or a reputable testing agency for both chemicals and offgassing. The minimum alternative is to make sure that you can verify that it is North American made. If the outlet you are looking at doesn't include this information and/or won't give it to you with a phone call (or if this information isn't publicly available) ... pass them by. There are too many who do to spend any time here.

2. Never buy a mattress that includes memory foam without knowing the density and layering of the memory foam layers. Density is a main indicator of the quality and durability of memory foam and will also affect the feel and response (although the memory foam chemical formula will play an even bigger role in how it feels and responds as you can see in post #9 here ). The thickness and layering of the memory foam is a key part of how suitable a certain memory foam mattress may be for your weight, body shape, and sleeping positions. If the outlet you are looking at doesn't include this information and/or won't give it to you with a phone call (or if this information isn't publicly available) ... pass them by. There are too many who do to spend any time here.

3. Never buy a mattress that includes memory foam without knowing the type and quality of the support layers underneath it (either an innerspring, polyfoam, or latex foam). The support layers play a key role in how well a mattress will keep you in alignment and in the feel, performance, quality, durability, and value of a mattress that uses memory foam in the comfort layers. It is just as important as the memory foam itself. If the outlet you are looking at doesn't include this information and/or won't give it to you with a phone call (or if this information isn't publicly available) ... pass them by. There are too many who do to spend any time here.

4. Use the least amount of memory foam that is suitable for the pressure relief you need and never buy any memory foam which is under 4 lbs. There are too many good options that use 4 lb or higher even in the lower budget ranges to use the lowest grades of memory foams under 4 lbs density. Even 4 lb is "mid range" in terms of durability and the best quality memory foams are usually 5 lbs and up but in some cases thinner layers of 4 lb foam are often used in combination with higher density memory foams to create a more responsive (faster reacting) layer against the body or dfferent "feels" in a mattress. They are also used in lower budget mattresses where the use of 5 lb foams would increase the price of the mattress beyond the targeted price range. It can also be a good idea for those over 200 lbs to reduce the amount of 4 lb memory foam in the top layer or limit their choices to 5 lb density and higher.

The Lucid possibly fails on #1 (where is the foam made and is it certified), and #3 (what is the density of the support layer), and certainly fails on #4 (includes 3 lb memory foam). Even if #1 and #3 can be confirmed to be OK with a phone call, #4 by itself is enough for me to exclude considering it.

I would definitely pass it by.

Considering that I like the soft feel I get from memory foam, what firmness level do you think would be preferable in the ultimate dreams latex comfort layer? Through trying out different latex and memory foam beds in the last few days, I feel that I've determined my firmness preference to be soft. That also depends on the bed though. As long is there is a decent core that will push on my lumbar well, very soft comfort layers are fine with me. The only thing I want to avoid is feeling like I'm being folded up. That's the feeling I get from some older memory foam mattresses and when I've put cheap and thick memory foam toppers on my crappy spring mattresses.


The softest talalay latex is 14 ILD and this is closest to the average ILD of most memory foams but this can also be very misleading because memory foam is a delayed response foam and feels much firmer until it becomes softer with body heat and the feel is very different. 14 ILD would normally be used only by very light people and even then the normal softness level for talalay latex is usually in the range of 19 - 24 ILD with a few people going softer and a few going firmer. Weight also plays a big role in how soft a particular ILD will feel. In your case ... I'd probably play it safe and go with 19 ILD and with the extra quilting foam on top you would also likely be OK with 24. A little firmer than the softest ILD would also be better for her stomach sleeping but not so firm that it interferes with pressure relief on her side. You are heavier so firmer foam will feel softer to you.

It would be a great help for you to test the Pure Latex Bliss mattresses which mostly use 19 ILD on top in different thicknesses for different models and the 2" and 3" topper they offer is 14 ILD. It would give you a great chance to see what the different ILD's feel like.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.
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