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The Serta iComfort mattress ... what's the buzz
Narrowing these down to 2 or 3 is rather difficult because there is a wide variety of different mattress styles, materials, and pricing represented in the list and what may be great for one may not be the preference of another. If you forced me though I would probably go in the direction of these 4 and I would spend some time with them on the phone asking questions about your specific preferences and budget range and letting them know of your testing experience before deciding which to visit.
www.shovlinmattress.com/ Now a member of this site.
scottjordan.com/category/mattresses/ Also now a member of this site.
You sense correctly
If you were to talk with 100 independent mattress manufacturers who have their choice of any material they want to put in their mattresses ... a large percentage of them tend to downplay memory foam and many won't even make it ... even though they have access to high quality memory foam and could easily include it in their designs.
There are several reasons for this ... including some of the real reasons behind the new fire codes in the US which were more than anything IMO part of an effort to drive independents out of business because of the difficulties of prototyping a memory foam mattress (which to some degree has worked) but a bigger reason has to do with memory foam itself and its strengths and weaknesses and durability. These manufacturers are often multigenerational and depend on their local reputation more than anything else and many of them are not willing to risk their reputation on any type of memory foam. There is an article here which explores this in more detail.
Part of this as well is connected to the misinformation about memory foam and to the confusion and lack of understanding about memory foam in general in the consumer market.
Memory foam is only suitable for use in the upper layers of a mattress because by its nature ... all memory foam is too soft to provide support for the body profile. It is a pressure relieving material that needs a firmer layer underneath it (usually polyfoam) to provide correct support. The support layers under the memory foam are also responsible for a big part of how a memory foam mattress feels.
In addition to this ... there is a huge variety of different memory foams ... some of which are really bad and only last a few months and some of which are much higher quality. Many consumers don't realize that a "memory foam mattress" only means a few inches of memory foam over something else used for support. They also believe that "more is better" whereas in actual fact thinner layers of memory foam are actually much better. There should never be more memory foam in a mattress than is needed for an individuals pressure relief needs based on their height, weight, and sleeping positions.
I personally believe that latex ... or even the highest quality polyfoam is a better material in many cases than memory foam but I also realize that some people like the unique memory foam feel. My personal favorite layering for memory foam is thinner layers mixed with either high quality polyfoam or latex foam in the comfort layers. This can help overcome some of the weaknesses of most memory foam such as its lack of breathability, it's slower response, the difficulty of changing positions on it, and the heat issues that are connected to many memory foams. Latex is also far more durable than even the best memory foams (5 lbs and over made by a quality foam pourer), and low quality memory foams are among the least durable of all foams.
Because of the extreme amount of misinformation on the web about memory foam ... many consumers believe that the cheap knockoffs that compare themselves to tempurpedic have some truth to them. While there are memory foams that are equal in quality to Tempur foam ... most of the "junk" that is advertised and sold can't compare to these higher quality foams.
So all in all ... memory foam has its place in mattress manufacturing but it is not even close to the "panacaea" that many people believe it is. Many people have never compared memory foam to the pressure relieving abilities of higher quality materials such as low ILD latex which not only relieves pressure as well as memory foam but is far more supportive and durable so their feeling about memory foam is in a narrow frame of reference.
More thoughts about either Tempurpedic or memory foam in general are in post #2 here and post #20 here .
thanks for the lengthy reply Phoenix. As the saying goes to each his own, and I myself prefer a memory foam bed over latex rubber foam. I don't like the spongy almost springy feel of latex. BUT I am curious as to how long you expect a bed to last before you body requires a new fit? I believe 7-8 years is a good estimate. And would a memory foam bed last for 2 particularly light individuals for 8 years? Probably IF it was made with quality materials.
This can help overcome some of the weaknesses of most memory foam such as its lack of breathability, it's slower response, the difficulty of changing positions on it, and the heat issues that are connected to many memory foams. Latex is also far more durable than even the best memory foams (5 lbs and over made by a quality foam pourer), and low quality memory foams are among the least durable of all foams.
The irony here is that both my gf and I never felt the Icomfort had a slow response or was difficult to change positions. It was a bit weird for about 2 seconds after turning. The gel memory foam rebounded very well. We did try the latex icomfort and did not prefer the springy feeling.
There certainly are people who prefer memory foam over other materials including latex and it does have good pressure relief and a unique feeling.
How long memory foam lasts depends on the type of memory foam itself and for low quality it could be as little as a couple of months and for the highest quality 10 - 12 years wouldn't be unreasonable ... depending on various factors including the weight of the person on it. I personally doubt though that the gel memory foam will last that long but time will tell for sure.
Latex can be expected to last much longer and there are even latex cores that have been in use for 30 and 40 years or longer but 20 years would be a reasonable expectation.
The response rate of the iComfort, like many of the newer generation memory foams, is faster than the older type of memory foams so that is not as big an issue with them ... although they still absorb energy rather than return it so natural movement on any memory foam is not as easy as either polyurethane or latex foam. Some people like this and some don't.
We did try the latex icomfort and did not prefer the springy feeling.
The iComfort doesn't have a latex model or anything that would feel anything like latex ... although the prodigy does have an inch of slow recovery "memory foam like" latex under the other foams and the Renewal also has 1.5" of "gel infused latex" also buried under other foams.
To their credit though ... Serta has done a good job of creating a certain "feel" that is quite popular in a showroom environment and between that and their marketing they are selling very well. The gel foam has been used for a few years but Serta has also done a good job of identifying itself with the material. Many manufacturers are now coming out with their own "unique" versions as well to grab their own share of the gel memory foam market ... some of which may give some competition to the Serta version of the gel memory foam.
I talked to Colin at Labbe briefly about some options in building a memory foam bed, and he mentioned that he could only warranty the 5lb memory foam for 10 years.. and this changes everything again. Why would Serta warranty their beds for 25 years giving you 15 years of free replacement.. if their product was bound to fail within 6-9 years? Is it because memory foam won't compress to 3/4", more like 1/2" max; and its warranty is just a gimmick? Or are they just living up to being the best manufacture of beds since the beginning of bed building? I'm no Serta bias man but the difference in warranty is night and day. 15 years more than the local guy using "better materials". Certainly the cost is there as they are about half price but why would they bother giving such a long warranty? Tempur included, their's is 20 years am I correct?
I am interested in getting Labbe to build me a bed using multiple thin layers of memory foam for comfort and what they do have is a good poly base material. Would using latex in the comfort layer prolong the lifespan of the mattress?
Question: Does 4lb memory foam feel "softer" to the average user? Or is it all dependent on body weight and sleeping position?
I liked the Icomfort Revolution bed and the Tempurpedic Cloud ES and they were both softer than the Tempurpedic Classic that uses 5.34lb foam.
This will be a longer reply because both the question about warranties and about 4 lb memory foam and softness deserve more detailed replies because they are not as "simple" as most people would think.
Your warranty question highlites one of the major differences between manufacturers who depend on their local reputation and manufacturers who depend on their advertising. It also brings up the wonderful world of warranties themselves ... and more importantly warranty exclusions.
Major manufacturers want their ownership or shareholders to be satisfied ... local manufacturers want their customers to be satisfied. There is a big difference.
Warranties are very misleading and are one of the "managed perceptions" that has allowed the major players in the industry to introduce lower quality mattresses while increasing the warranty so that consumers don't realize that they are being "misled". This is particularly true of mattresses which use lower quality polyfoams and memory foams.
Polyurethane foam and memory foam (which is a type of polyurethane foam) ... can soften beyond the point where it is suitable for sleeping on long before there will be an indentation which is deep enough to trigger a warranty claim. Even worn out polyfoam or memory foam after you have been off the mattress for a few hours (which is a requirement for the indentation to be measured by an "inspector") will usually have enough residual resilience left to come back to a level within depth of impression that is inside the warranty exclusion. This and the other warranty exclusions (such as any type of stain on a mattress) are almost always enough for a major manufacturer to deny a warranty claim. This is why warranties always exclude what they call "normal softening" and the loss of comfort and support that goes with it. Only in the last stages of foam breakdown (or with an actual defect in the foam which will normally happen early in the life of a mattress) will there be impressions that are deep enough to be deeper than the exclusion which would be allowed for a warranty exchange (and believe me this is part of what they test before a mattress is "released" to the public).
Local manufacturers on the other hand "want" their customers to be satisfied and tend to feel much more responsible to honor a warranty claim even when they could "get away with" not doing so. They will for example often offer to rebuild a "problem" layer of a mattress at a minimal charge if the circumstances or legitimate dissatisfaction of their customer seems to warrant it, even if they could get away with a warranty claim.
This is the reason that so many of them are not "fans" of memory foam because they know that they are far more likely to have issues of softening and degraded performance which the customer will believe are covered by a warranty when they aren't. A 10 year warranty on a good memory foam mattress is far more realistic and anything beyond this is really luck of the draw ... or a consumer sleeping on foam which has softened significantly and is no longer even close to its original "specs" but which is not yet outside of the warranty exclusions.
Long warranties with warranty exclusions ... along with the tendency of polyfoam and memory foam to soften long before it breaks down enough to cause a warranty triggering impression are part of what has allowed major manufacturers to eliminate 2 sided mattresses and put way too much cheap foam in pillowtops and eurotops and "sell" both of them as a "benefit" without having to worry about warranty claims. They are ultimately responsible to their shareholders and ownership not the consumers who use their mattresses so "managed perceptions" in mattress showrooms work in their favor while they work against local manufacturers. Warranties only cover defects and the loss of comfort and support over time or even quickly if a mattress uses lower quality materials is not considered to be a "defect" and is not a warranty issue ... even though it may lead to the need to replace the mattress.
Warranties of 20 years or 25 years are all about justifying a higher price and have little to nothing to do with "protection" of the consumer against manufacturing defects (which is the only thing a warranty covers) which will usually show up very early in the life of a mattress. They are used as one of many methods to "step up" a customer into a more expensive mattress using thicker layers of mostly unnecessary and undesirable foam using the belief that if the warranty is longer then the materials or the mattress itself must be better. They have made enormous profits cultivating the belief and the showroom "instant gratification" perceptions that thicker is better.
I would also keep in mind that almost all warranty exchanges have costs involved and these can sometimes be significant. There is often a cost involved in having an inspector come out and check if a mattress meets the warranty criteria and or to have a new mattress delivered. Because the customer is usually responsible for getting the mattress to a drop off point, if there is shipping required then this can involve a substantial cost that is also the responsibility of the customer. This is all a "standard" part of warranties in the industry (and other industries as well). This is also a big reason to make sure you know the quality of the materials inside your mattress (especially in the upper layers ... see this article ) which can be a much more reliable indicator of the useful life of a mattress than the length of a warranty.
There is also more about all the variables that can affect the durability and useful life of a mattress relative to each person in post #4 here and the posts it links to.
I personally would be happy with a 5 year warranty (against manufacturing defects) if I knew the materials could last me 15 - 20 years ... but of course the vast majority of consumers would believe that a mattress with a 5 year warranty was an inferior mattress.
There is also a good beducation video about mattress warranties here .
As to how any density of memory foam will feel to a consumer ... the answer is that it really depends on its formulation. "Soft" depends on how it is defined ... and before I get accused of hedging the question ... let me explain.
The hundreds of different memory foam chemical formulations and manufacturing variations that are possible within the same density of memory foam have different degrees of various properties.
One of these is temperature sensitivity. Memory foam that is more temperature sensitive but also denser will feel firmer when it is colder but softer when it is warmed up. It takes longer to conform to the body shape but when it does so higher density foam will feel "softer" to many people because it can conform to the body better. So it will feel firmer with quicker movements but may feel softer when you have been in a certain position for a while. For someone who moves a lot ... they will call it firmer. For someone who tends to be more still ... they may call it softer.
Another characteristic is speed of compression and recovery. Memory foam is time dependent. If you compress it quickly ... it will feel firmer (like compressing water quickly when you slap it or bellyflop). When you compress it slowly ... it will feel softer. Some memory foam will be easier to compress quickly and these are typically the lower density foams. Because of this ... people with different weights and sleeping patterns and who tend to compress the foam underneath them either faster or slower will tend to perceive similar memory foams in different ways.
Third ... lower density memory foams will tend to also have a lower functional ILD which means that in combination with the thickness of the layer you may feel the layers under them more than higher density memory foams which can also quite dramatically affect the perception of softness of firmness.
Finally ... all of these tendencies can be altered with chemistry or mechanical processes so that even in the same density ... a memory foam can have an amazingly wide variety of performance specs (see post #9 here ). Additions to the foam when it is poured (such as latex infused memory foam or gel infused memory foam) can also make a big difference.
So ... with all these variables and more being taken into account ... I will say that 4 lb memory foam foam in the way it is usually formulated by most companies will usually feel softer than 5 lb (or 7 or 8 lb) memory foam in most uses. They will also tend to be more "responsive" (compress and come back faster) and less temperature sensitive. In addition to this ... they are usually layered in a way (as in the Cloud series) that will increase the perception of softness of a mattress.
Finally on to your question about the lightly used Tempurpedic. I believe that Tempurpedic is a high quality memory foam mattress (although I would also consider that there are many other memory foams that have similar quality/density) and the issues I have with them are more to do with their value compared to other mattresses that use the same or higher quality/density materials and sell at much lower prices. If the price was right and you didn't have an issue with who had used the mattress before you ... then this could very well be your best "memory foam" value since there should be lots of life left in it.
I thought I would add this to the iComfort thread because it seems to be relevant to many of the "gel bead" infused memory foams that are available.
This comes from the PFA Glossary (Polyurethane Foam Association which is an organization of polyurethane foam manufacturers and a great reference source for polyfoam information).
Filled Flexible Polyurethane Foam - Flexible polyurethane foams that have inorganic materials, such as marble dust, barium sulfate, graded sand or clay added to the foam during polymerization to increase foam density. These inorganic fillers are not chemically bonded into the foam polymer. They are instead mechanically trapped within the molecular structure of the polymer. Substantial amounts of filler may increase the foam's support factor, but may be detrimental to resiliency, strength, or durability.
In essence ... the "gel beads" that are added to memory foam are a "filler" and may well be subject to the same issues that any filler creates. It will increase the density and "support factor" (which are part of the gel bead claims) but at the cost of durability and other performance factors of the foam.
There is a "new generation" of gel memory foam being manufactured which seems to be integated into the chemical structure of the foam and which according to testing may actually make memory foam stronger. Several manufacturers I have talked with are in the process of introducing mattresses that contain some of these newer versions of gel memory foam (including several of the members here) and there is some cautious optimism and even excitement that it may be a real improvement over some of the current "gel memory foam" formulations. A couple of examples or manufacturers who are in the process of introducing it are post #14 here and post #139 here .
More choices and hopefully "better" choices ... and certainly better value choices.
My husband and I are searching for a new mattress. We are not set on anything inparticular like inner spring, memory foam or laytex but the more I do research the more terrified I am to make the commitment. We visited a local store and fell in love with the icomfort revolution and the nxg which has springs and foam. The price of the two mattresses is comparable to one another which puts them on an even playing field but....I have read reviews for both. Our current innnerspring pillowtop has a mountain in it...some reviews for the nxg are saying that is an issue. We didn't pay a lot for our current mattress (obviously) but I would hate to put a lot of money into something only to have the same results...on the other hand all the reviews for the i comfort are glowing. If we went with the icomfort we'd really like to do the adjustable base because man does it make your back feel wonderful!!! The base is more than the mattress....ugh
Can I find a comparable QUALITY mattress that I can actually try out before I purchase? Please help!
Buying a mattress is one of the most important purchases we make in terms of how much it can affect our lives and yet it is also one of the most blind purchases that we make. For most people ... buying a mattress is little more than buying something that "feels good" in the managed environment of a showroom (which has little resemblance to how suitable a mattress may be when you actually use it over the coming years) without any real idea of what is actually in the mattress or with little idea about what the real differences are between different types of mattress or "mattress ingredients".
This is made worse when people try to educate themselves about the different types of mattresses and materials and become overwhelmed with conflicting information by hundreds of so called "expert" sites ... most of which are promoting an agenda and provide information which is either a distortion of the facts or worse yet completely incorrect.
For all these reasons ... and for most people ... the most important part of buying a mattress is to find an outlet which has a combination of several qualities.
1. Employees and/or owners who really know the difference between different types of mattresses and materials and can explain them in both factual and laymans terms that make sense.
2. Outlets and people who are more interested in fitting you to a mattress than they are in the profits they will make (they understand that profits are a side effect not a "cause").
3. Outlets who understand that the value of a mattress is based on the materials in the mattress and how they are put together. These are the type of outlets who will show you how to compare a mattress based on what is in them rather than the stories that are "attached" to them. These are the outlets who WANT you to know what is in their mattresses and can tell you why each material is used and how durable it is rather than making meaningful comparisons more difficult.
4. Outlets who have a short supply chain and less "mouths to feed" in between the manufacturing of the mattress and your purchase. Outlets who base their prices on the real cost of what is in the mattress and putting it together more than the stories or sales techniques that will convince you that a mattress is worth more than it really is.
For all these reasons and many more ... local independent mattress manufacturers who either sell factory direct to consumers or who sell wholesale directly through smaller sleep shops with knowledgeable staff are as a group the best source of quality and value in a mattress.
This is why finding the "best" outlet as a first step is more important than finding the best mattress (without having the real knowledge to do so). A knowledgeable manufacturer or sleep shop that carries mattresses that have real value, that you can trust to give you accurate information, and are focused more on educating their customers than they are on "selling" their customers, can turn mattress shopping from one of the most frustrating experiences into one that is actually enjoyable.
This is why I put the guidelines together that you can find here ... as a way to help people eliminate most of the worst choices of mattress value and outlets that focus more on selling you what they want you to buy (instead of helping you find what you want and need). This way you can put your efforts on finding out the better sources of knowledge, service, and value that will help you buy a mattress that will not only be suitable for your needs and preferences now but many years into the future.
If you let me know the city that you live in ... I'd be happy to "point you" to the types of manufacturers and outlets that I know of where you can find mattresses that will not only "compete" with the mattresses you mentioned (the Serta iComfort line and the the Simmons NXG line) but will have real value based on the same or better materials and construction for a lower cost. They will show you HOW to choose the best mattress for YOU rather than steering you in the direction that they want you to go.
Just as an example ... the iComfort adjustable base is made by Ergomotion and has only minor variations of the Ergomotion 400 regular model here. This can at least give you a reference point for whether a feature like the "zip fit" is really worth the premium you will likely pay for it.
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Please please help. I want to get a king adjustable bed. Memory foam mattress, I think. I read this post and the more I learn, the more confusing it is.
All the stores are having sales on mattresses until the first of the year and I want to get a bed this week. I looked at icomfort and others. Price is very important and the link above to ergomotion is very appealing to me. Looks like great prices but I don't know about the quality and all. I am looking for plush not firm mattress. Tempurpedic seems too firm for me, at least the lower end ones. I am in Lafayette, Louisiana and I don't think we have a factory direct mattress store.
Your advice is highly appreciated. Please help. Thanks.
Well today must be my day for looking at Louisiana mattress manufacturers
First though I should tell you that "mattress sales" at various chain stores and for mattresses made by major manufacturers are a gimmick that is meant to create a false sense of urgency in consumers. Quality mattresses can be purchased every day of the year and the "sales" that you hear advertised only change their name ... not the prices. All of the mattresses that advertise "50% off" ... or more are based on highly inflated "suggested retail prices" that nobody ever pays.
In another thread today ... I listed a few factory direct mattress manufacturers in Baton Rouge that I had talked with and that made and sold high quality mattresses but when I saw your post I thought I'd dig a little deeper into what was available in Lafayette ... and much to my surprise there is a factory dirrect manufacturer right there.
They are irwinsmattressmart.com/
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I called them and they make any type of mattress you may want including memory foam, latex, and innersprings and they use good quality materials and construction methods that make sure that their mattresses last. They have also been around for a very long time. I talked with Scott who is the grandson of the original founder and is the third generation to work in the business.
You can go there any time you want and any day of the year and you will find better quality and value than anything that is available in the chain stores or from a major manufacturer. Of course you could still buy a mattress in the holidays but at least it's nice to know that you won't have to to get the best quality and value.
The adjustable bed I linked to in a previous post is the same manufacturer that makes the iComfort adjustable bed and is the same quality with some minor differences in features. The 3 main adjustable bed brands that they sell (Ergomotion, Reverie, and Leggett and Platt) are the same manufacturers who supply almost all the adjustable beds that are sold in this country under various other names or in combination with many major brand mattresses. For example ... Reverie makes the adjustable bed which is sold by Tempurpedic (I purchased one of these from the outlet I linked to to go under my own latex mattress and it's great)
So now I have to update the Louisiana thread to include a new discovery as well ... so thank you for posting and helping me to find another local manufacturer who is still making high quality mattresses at great prices
Thank you so much for your priceless information. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and that false sense of urgency to buy a mattress now.
I really appreciate the time you took to enlighten me and also the research you did in finding a local mattress manufacturer. I went out shopping yesterday and was not satisfied with what I found at my local chains. I will definately go to the outlet you found today.
I am going to slow down and take the time to decide on the correct choice for my husband and myself. We looked at latex beds yesterday and also I think we should get a split king adjustable. I am still not sure about memory foam or latex but I am going to see what I can learn at Irwin's.
I will report what I find.