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Best Mattress for a Back Issue 27 Jun 2011 17:06 #1

I'm new to this site and read the Phoenix review on the Sealy Posturepedic one day after I tested the Sealy Cason Bay Posturepedic Ultrafirm Set on sale at Sears for Approx. $650 ( Around my budget).Also the Phoenix advice to a member with back problems. I hope I can get some of the same help in choosing the best mattress. The specifics are; Male, 6'2", 210lbs., athletic, sleep mostly on side, have back issues live in the Los Angeles area.
My thoughts are getting a continuous spring, border rod, tight top, flippable, Full XL(which Sears has although the posturepedic is not 2 sided ). I would appreciate any help especially regarding Phoenix's approach via local manufacturers.

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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 28 Jun 2011 06:44 #2

Hi Recap ... and welcome to the forum

Your budget may be a little on the low side for a quality mattress however here are a few ideas that may help you.

As you probably know from reading this site, a mattress really has two basic functions ... these are comfort/pressure relief and support/spinal alignment. When a consumer has some back issues, the spinal alignment part of this is particularly important as sleeping out of alignment can certainly aggravate back issues.

Also as a side sleeper, while it is likely you will need a firm support layer to prevent your hips from sinking down too far, it is important that the comfort layer of your mattress provides the pressure relief you will need while sleeping on your side. A good starting point for a comfort layer in your testing is approximately 3" of a good quality pressure relieving material. As far as an innerspring, I would not worry too much about which type in your price range as long as it has at least a 400 coil count (in a queen) and has a gauge of 14 or better (for a lower coil count). More information about different innersprings can be found here www.themattressunderground.com/mattresses/support-cores/innersprings.html

I personally believe that memory foam is not a great choice for a comfort layer for someone with back issues as it can soften over time and it will also "creep" during the night which can result in sleeping out of alignment as you sink down deeper over the course of the night. It is also very tricky to "get right". Latex foam or alternatively a high quality polyurethane foam (HR polyfoam) are in my opinion better choices. Latex in particular has similar pressure relieving qualities to memory foam, will last much longer, and will not change in softness and support with changes in temperature or over the course of the night.

If you are willing to include a polyfoam support core as an option, you will also have more choices than limiting your choices to an innerspring. For example Walmart sells a mattress with a polyfoam support core and 3" of Talalay latex in the comfort layer for $505. While some of these have had issues decompressing after shipping (the support core did not fully expand), they are also returnable with Walmart's return policy if this happens.

I would also tend to avoid the major mattress manufacturers (Sealy, Simmons, and Serta are some examples) who almost always use lower quality foams and who in my opinion charge too much for their mattresses in comparison with local manufacturers who use higher quality materials and charge less for them. While they do make some good mattresses, they do not usually represent good value when compared to other options.

The Cason Bay for example in the Ultra Firm has over 3" of lower quality foam over the innersprings which is the weakest link in the mattress and the first part of the mattress which will wear out and degrade. This is what leads to loss of comfort and support and body impressions. The less firm models have even more of this foam. Having said that, they are often available for well under $500 (in queen size) at the Sears discount outlets and at that price they may be worth considering if you know from field testing that they are suitable for your comfort and support needs even though they may not last as long as a higher quality mattress.

Flippable mattresses, particularly in a lower priced mattress, are well worth it as having two sides can result in significantly longer life and retention of comfort and support for a longer period of time. In the case of a latex comfort layer, a flippable mattress is not as important as the latex is extremely durable and resilient.

A Full XL is not a "normal" size and it may be wise to look at Queen as there may not be a lot of difference in price in many cases and it will give you more options to look at.

As I mentioned, a $650 budget is on the low end and if you can I would increase it slightly but if that is not possible ... I would probably be looking at either latex over polyfoam or latex over innerspring construction in your mattress and if that is not possible then a high quality HR polyfoam over similar support cores.

Some manufacturers or direct outlets in the LA area that may be worth a call or visit to see what they have available are ...

paramountmatt.com/
www.roomandboard.com/rnb/subcategory/list.do?catalog=room&category=rm_bedrooms&subcategory=mattress
customcomfortmattress.com/
www.comfortpedicmattress.com/index.php
www.flexuscomfort.com/stores.php

Good luck and if you need any further ideas or have questions please feel free to post them

Phoenix
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Last edit: by Phoenix.

Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 28 Jun 2011 12:28 #3

Thank you for your prompt reply.Could you comment on the following issues regarding durability.
Border rods vs Foam encased.
Two sided vs No Flip.
Continuous Coil vs Independent coil.
Box spring vs Foundation

Thanks again.

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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 28 Jun 2011 20:17 #4

Hi Recap,

The overall durability of a mattress depends on its weakest link which is usually any polyfoam in the mattress ... particularly in the comfort layers. As far as the specific comparisons you are asking about though my thoughts are ...

Border rods vs Foam encased.

Usually border rods will last longer than a foam encasement but like so many things in mattresses, the real answer is it depends to some degree on the gauge and type of the border rod, the type of foam encasement, the overall mattress construction, and the use of the mattress.

If a non hinged border rod is bent (by bending the mattress on an adjustable bed or in moving it for example), then it is not usually fixable. Border rods are found in many mattress innersprings as they are part of it's construction and used to keep the shape of the mattress and as an attachment point for the coils on the edges of the mattress. Foam encasements can also be used to keep the shape of the mattress (in pocket coils for example) but are used more often to "stiffen" the edges so they don't sink as much when sitting on the edges. Some non innersprings will use both ... a border rod to attach to the coils and a foam encasement to stiffen the edges of the mattress. Some mattresses use a hinged border rod so they can be used on an adjustable bed. Some mattresses such as the Simmons natural care elite use a foam encasement made of firmer polyfoam which surrounds a latex foam core which is somewhat of a shame because while it will create a firmer edge of the mattress for some time, the polyfoam encasement will not last as long as the latex foam inside it and the mattress can end up with sagging edges. Overall though, even though their fiunctions do not completely overlap, border rods and innersprings in general will usually last longer than polyfoam materials.

Two sided vs No Flip.

Here there is no question ... two sided mattreses will last significantly longer than no flip mattresses (assuming they are actually flipped and rotated). An exception to this may be latex which already is so durable that flipping may not have as obvious benefit in extending its life ... although even here it would certainly lengthen its life and help keep its comfort an support properties. One of the saddest events in the industry was the general introduction of one sided mattresses which were promoted as a "benefit" while the reality was they were just cheaper to make.

Continuous coil vs Independent coil

This would also depend on the construction of each type of coil (gauge, number of turns, tempering, number of coils or coil equivalent, method of packing the independent coils, methods of connection the coils, and useage). While there would be a wide variety here and they can both outlast the polyfoam on top of it, I would give the overall nod to high quality independent coils over a continuous coil which tends to have a cheaper construction. Cheap independent coils would probably not last as long as a typical continuous coil.

Box spring vs Foundation

These are not strictly comparable as they have different uses. Box springs are part of the overall performance design of many innerspring mattresses and are part of the "sleep system". The mattresses which are designed for use with a box spring depend on the boxspring for some of their qualities including durability. Foundations on the other hand are simply a support structure for a mattress and are used for innerspring mattresses that do not require a box spring and for most foam core mattresses (which do not perform well with a box spring) including most memory foam and latex foam mattresses. Overall though, a foundation would generally last longer as there are no moving parts and no springs to wear out. A mattress that is designed for a box spring would last longer with one than with a foundation.

Hope this helps ... and thanks for the interesting questions :)

Phoenix
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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 29 Jun 2011 17:24 #5

Thanks again for your insight. I will do some retooling on my planning and try some field testing. Maybe I'll have another question or two.

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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 30 Jun 2011 03:33 #6

Field testing "with a plan" is one of the best parts of a mattress search ... especially if the places you are testing are open about the construction of the mattresses that seem suitable for your needs and aren't too focused on selling a "story". If they're not, then at least that information is usually available elsewhere.

Once you know the materials and construction (layer thickness and ILD etc) that works for you ... then it's just a matter of finding the best value for that type of construction.

Good luck :)

Phoenix
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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 06 Jul 2011 17:30 #7

Hi Phoenix,

First of all...love the site. Very helpful as we begin to dip our toe into the pool of mattress buying. We live in the LA area so i checked out the links you posted:


paramountmatt.com/
www.roomandboard.com/rnb/subcategory/lis...subcategory=mattress
customcomfortmattress.com/
www.comfortpedicmattress.com/index.php
www.flexuscomfort.com/stores.php

They all look like very hi-quality places but don’t seem to be any cheaper than any of the big brands. I was thinking memory foam but you have me thinking more about latex now...although we still need to go test drive the mattress to see what we really like. Are these local places really about better quality and value and not less expensive? Also, you seem ok on costco mattresses. Is that were you get cheaper but not great quality? Like i said, we are new to this and trying to figure it. So far the site has been great.

Thanks again

Chris

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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 06 Jul 2011 23:37 #8

Hi Chris ... and welcome :)

You've asked some great questions ... especially about finding value ... so I hope you don't mind if my reply is a little lengthy.

First about Costco/Sams Club/Walmart type of outlets. In general, I wouldn't look at most of the mattresses they carry (particularly the "S" brands which as you know I don't believe have real value) however they do have some mattresses which have great value such as a few that I've linked in other posts. The reason I like them ... especially in the lower price range ... is that they are "no risk" because of their return policy and these few use good quality materials for the prices that they charge (have good value). If you have done some field testing and know the specifics of a mattress construction that is suitable, then a mattress from an online store like these is far less of a risk because you already know what a mattress that is made almost exactly the same way feels like and if you are completely wrong, then you are only out some time if you end up returning it. They also on occasion have higher quality mattresses available with good value and if someone was not able to find a high value manufacturer near them and did not want to order a mattress sight unseen and risk return charges, then these would be a risk free way to purchase a mattress that would not cost you anything to return. My preference in the case of a higher cost mattress would be to do some field testing and then order from an online factory direct outlet such as some of our members as I believe they have greater value yet and offer more flexibility and better advice however they would normally have some charges involved in making an exchange while Costco etc doesn't.

Some of our members specialize in online purchases an ship across the country and if your field testing gives you a clear idea of the specific construction that works for your needs, then it is a simple matter to duplicate the construction that "works" using the same or very similar materials. Some of these online members also have great return policies if you "get it wrong" and if you are only a "little bit off" they also offer "layer exchanges" to fine tune your mattress to your preferences without having to exchange the whole mattress.


In general terms, there are really two broad parts to finding your perfect mattress ...

The first of these is finding the best construction for your needs (which is the first 3 of the "5 steps to your perfect mattress" outlined on this site. This can be done using the information on this site and doing field testing at any store that will tell you what is in every layer of the mattress that works best for you. Once you know the makeup of these layers, then it is easy to duplicate that specific construction with a reasonable certainty that it will feel the same as the one you field tested.

The biggest advantage of doing field testing at local manufacturers is that almost all of them will tell you exactly what is in their mattress. This gives you the chance to do comparison shopping both at local outlets and through online merchants. Not every local manufacturer of course offers great value however as a group the value there is better than other "categories" of outlets and they are great places for field testing. Other stores that will tell you exactly what is in their mattresses (show you cutaways with each layer and describe each layer) are also good places for field testing.

For example if you go here www.paramountmatt.com/comfortline_coolmax.htm

You will see a mattress that has what looks like some polyfoam and some latex over an innerspring and a very general description of this mattress. If you were to phone them or go there, they would (or at least should) give you much more specific information about the density, thickness, and ILD of all the layers and even compare their polyfoam layers to the polyfoam layers of major manufacturers. You would likely find that the polyfoam they use is higher quality (HD or HR polyfoam) than the major manufacturers which means it would last longer and would probably cost less ... and possibly substantially less ... than a major manufacturer using the same or almost the same materials. They would (or should) also give you more specific information about the latex they use and how thick the layer is. If for some reason their "equivalent" mattress was the same price as an almost identical mattress made by a major manufacturer, then they would still be good for field testing to find out what construction works for you but I would not buy from them.

If you go here www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product/detail.do?productGroup=19517&catalog=room&category=rm_bedrooms&subcategory=mattress

You would see some all latex mattresses that contain about 9" of latex and then have a natural cotton and wool quilting/ticking and that are about $1999 or slightly more if it is customized to have individual left an right sides. If for example you were to go there and found that they used a 36ILD core and that their soft latex was 22 ILD (and you knew the type of latex they were using either Talalay or Dunlop which they would certainly tell you) then you coul duplicate this at any mattress manufacturer and have a mattress that was close to identical. This way you could make a few calls and see if their specific mattress was the best value available to you. If you look at all latex mattresses by a major manufacturer (or even "mostly latex") you will find that they will almost always be substantially more than this.

If for example you compare this with the Sealy Embody mattress sold at US-Mattress here www.us-mattress.com/sealy-shelter.html ... you will find the embody only has 6.5" of latex (almost certainly lower quality latex) over a 5.75" "engineered core" (this means polyfoam which is much much cheaper than latex) and yet this much inferior mattress sells for about $3000 "on sale".

You could also compare this to any other "mostly latex" or "half latex" mattresses made by a major manufacturer such as the Dr Breus signature elite (the top of the line) here www.sleepys.com/en/Dr.-Breus-Signature-Elite-Firm-Eurotop-Mattress-Plus-Free-50-inch-TV_38542/ and even though it is nowhere near all latex, it still costs much more.

If you look at Custom Comfort here customcomfortmattress.com/latex-3 you will see a two sided all latex mattress with 10" of latex and quilted on both sides in the same price range as the "major" manufacturers I mentioned but for a much superior mattress. Custom comfort has a good reputation for quality in the industry even though they are a little more than many local manufacturers. They would also be a good place to find the specific construction that works for you.

If you go here www.comfortpedicmattress.com/knottingham/index.php you will see that they are using high quality materials even though they don't have their prices. They too would likely be happy to help you find the best construction for your mattress and I suspect would cost much less than an "equivalent" mattress from a major manufacturer.

Flexus comfort too would almost certainly be "materials oriented" and help you find the best construction for your needs and would likely cost less than a major manufacturer.

The second main part of the search is making final decisions on materials that otherwise seem "equal" based on durability and then looking for the best value for the specific construction you have chosen. This final step of looking for the best value could be buying from one of the places you did your field testing or it could be buying from an online outlet. In almost all cases ... you will find that a local factory direct outlet will be much greater value than a major manufacturer. While I haven't talked with every local manufacturer of course ... this is certainly the case with most of them and with certainly with The Mattress Underground manufacturer membership which is part of the reason I invited them to become members here.

So to answer your specific question in a shorter version ...

Are these local places really about better quality and value and not less expensive?


In almost all cases where the same or almost the same materials are compared ... yes.

As far as latex vs memory foam ... As you may suspect I personally prefer latex as it has far less of the "negatives" of memory foam however there are many people who also prefer memory foam. Some of these may be consumers who have never really compared memory foam to other alternatives and are just happy with "a new mattress". If you are seriously thinking about memory foam I would certainly include it in your field testing and compare it to about 3" of soft latex in a comfort layer (14-24 ILD) and see how it feels to you. I would also read the article here www.themattressunderground.com/our-articles/memory-foam-pros-and-cons.html so that you are aware "going in" about the main advantages and disadvantages of memory foam in general.

Hope this helps a bit and thanks for the great questions and comments. If you have more ... feel free to post them.

Phoenix
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Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 18 Jul 2011 18:58 #9

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Thanks Phoenix, very helpful.

We did finally end up going to (on your suggestion) RoomandBoard in LA and was very happy with their products. I thought originally memory foam. Then read your site on foam vs latex and thought latex was the better option but after going and laying on the mattresses we actually liked the ultra plush encased coil with 3 1/2" foam. We also thought it was on par with the all latex (not the encased coil and latex) but that bed is 800 more. What are your thoughts on the encased coil? We know the manufacturer is good and we now know that the quality of the products is much nicer than the big brands and this is also a lot cheaper. So, is the encased coil vs latex really a question of personal taste? I would rather spend less and we liked it a lot, but if it will be less comfortable or cause more shoulder pain in the long run, I would rather make the more informed purchase.

Thanks again for your help.

Chris

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Last edit: by Phoenix. Reason: edited for search terms

Re: Best Mattress for a Back Issue 19 Jul 2011 15:17 #10

Hi Chris,

Sorry for the delay in answering this. I logged in yesterday and then got called away for the day.

I called RoomandBoard to find out the specs on the mattress and they didn't know so I called Restwell and they were very helpful.

The 3.5" of foam in the comfort layer is polyfoam with a density of 1.2 lbs and an ILD of 15
The encasement has a density of 1.45 lbs and an ILD of 45.
The foam is made by Carpenter which is a large American polyfoam manufacturer.
The coils are tempered and as the website says have a gauge of 14.5

I don't know your specific body type (height weight etc) so the first comment I would make is just to confirm that you have tested this mattress for both comfort/pressure relief and for support/alignment. This mattress would be most suitable for a side sleeper as the comfort layer is quite soft and relatively thick and very soft.

The weakest link in this mattress would be the polyfoam comfort layer foam which at a density of 1.2 lbs would IMO be on the low side meaning that it could well develop body impressions over time. 3.5 inches is a lot of lower quality foam to have on the top of a mattress. While it would almost certainly would represent better value than a "similar" mattress made by an "S" brand ... I would still be hesitant to buy a mattress with 3.5" of lower quality polyfoam in it ... even if it is made by a well known good quality manufacturer (Carpenter). IMO ... a polyfoam comfort layer at a minimum should be HD polyfoam (1.8 lbs on a low budget) or better yet HR polyfoam (2,5 lbs or higher on a slightly higher budget).

The other issue with lower quality polyfoam in the comfort layer is that it provides little support to the "recessed" areas of your body like the lumbar area (the innerspring holds up and provides support for the more protuding parts like the hips).

Latex would be much more durable than any type of polyfoam and this is even more true when it is compared to lower density polyfoam. It is also much more supportive as it has a higher support factor even in its softer versions. I personally like a pocket coil innerspring under latex construction for those that are on a slightly lower budget or simply like the feel of an innerspring over a latex core however in this case ... I don't think the materials justify the price.

The good news though is that you have found a construction type you like (assuming you have tested this mattress for support and pressure relief as per the website guidelines). This opens up the possibility of buying a mattress with a similar construction from an online outlet including some of our members.

If you were to call them and tell them the specifics of the mattress you feel is appropriate ... you would likely find even higher quality materials in this price range ... including latex in a comfort layer. If I was considering latex over pocket coils ... and given that you prefer a "softer" feel ... I would probably go with an ILD of 19 or lower in a Talalay latex comfort layer ... or a higher density polyfoam if you wanted to save a bit of money. Your budget (based on the price of the Restwell mattress) would also put you in the range of a dunlop latex core (a typically firmer and higher density type of latex foam often used in the support layers) with a Talalay latex comfort layer (a less dense and softer more conforming type of latex often preferred in comfort layers).

Some of our members that "specialize" in selling online and give good advice regardless of whether you choose to buy from them or not ... may well be worth a call (they will be happy to discuss mattresses they have that are similar to this). All of them offer mattresses that I believe have better quality materials and better value. They include:

www.mattresses.net/ Specialize in "build your own" latex mattresses.
www.baybed.com/ Specialize in "build your own" innerspring mattresses with a latex comfort layer
www.customsleepdesign.com/ Specialize in "build your own" latex mattresses with a unique zoning method
www.mygreenmattress.com Specialize in 2 sided latex mattresses.
www.sleepez.com/ Specialize in "build your own" latex mattresses.

Most of these offer "layer exchanges" which means that if your comfort layer is a little too firm or soft you can exchange just that layer of your mattress for just the cost of shipping instead of having to exchange the entire mattress. Mygreenmattress is not "build your own" (but offers a choice of comfort layers) so doesn't have a layer exchange but offers a reasonable cost comfort exchange.

Hope this helps and if you have any questions or would like some more specific guidelines based on your height/weight or sleeping style ... feel free to post.

Phoenix

PS: If you do choose to buy from one of the members of The Mattress Underground ... don't forget to tell them you are a member here so you can receive your additional 5% discount.
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
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Last edit: by Phoenix.
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