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Mattress information gathering 15 Dec 2013 07:33 #1

  • Kopo
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I have recently been looking for a mattress and have been using this site to gather useful tips and educate myself so that I can make an informed buying decision. I have read through many posts where the forum member posts information on their beds seeking advice only to realize they did not collect enough information upfront to allow the experts to make informed decisions.

Are there any post that detail out useful questions to ask for a specific mattress type. For example:

General:
1. Specific material at each layer
2. Material density at each layer
3. IDL rating
4. Price
5. Mattress construction: Differential vs progressive

Latex:
1. Latex material
2. Where is latex sourced from

Interspring:
1. Spring type: Pocket coils, Offset coils, Bonnell coils, or Continuous coils
2. Spring material, tensile strength, guage?

A list like this would accomplish a number of things IMO, like save the mattress buyer time, save the expert time, allow meaningful comparison between shops, avoid missing critical questions.

It would also be awesome if the importance of each question could be rank ordered as well as typical response to each question and the response impact. This might be asking a lot, but would obviously be an extremely helpful resource.

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Mattress information gathering 15 Dec 2013 11:55 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi Kopo,

I'm not quite clear on what you are asking and many of your questions are preference issues where there is no "better or worse" but hopefully I can point you in the direction where some of your questions are discussed. In general though I would avoid using a "formula" to choose a mattress.

The most important information is in the tutorial post here and the links inside it. Most of the links in this post (and others as well) are included there.

Are there any post that detail out useful questions to ask for a specific mattress type.


I would focus on researching retailers more than mattresses at first so that you know you are dealing with a knowledgeable, experienced, and transparent retailer or manufacturer. Everything else follows after that. This article talks about some of the things I would look for and the questions I would ask.

For example:

General:
1. Specific material at each layer


I don't know any other way but to ask "can you show me the details of all the layers in your mattress?". The tutorial post includes links about what to look for and some of the minimum guidelines I would suggest once you have the information. The actual choice of material type is a personal preference.

2. Material density at each layer


Again ... the only way I know to find out is to ask "can you tell me the type and density of all the polyfoam or memory foam layers and the type and blend of any latex in this mattress?". #4 in the guidelines here has the minimum guidelines I would use for foam densities and there is also more information in post #2 here as well about the factors that can affect durability.

3. IDL rating


ILD is not important when you are testing locally or if you don't have specific reference points about how different ILD's feel in different materials and combinations. With careful and objective testing your body will tell you much more than any ILD information whether a mattress is a good match in terms of PPP (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ). It's also not something that I would expect a local retailer or manufacturer to disclose (because they know it's not important and is usually a sign that a customer is focusing on specs that aren't particularly relevant) although some will.

4. Price


This is one part of each person's personal value equation (and arguably not the most important part) and would depend on what they are looking at and the specifics that are most important to each person. There is some information here relative to price and materials but this is so relative and there are so many variables involved in mattress pricing that at best this is only the most general of guidelines and certainly not any kind of "formula" to determine the "value" of a mattress (which is relative to the criteria or each person) or to follow too closely.

5. Mattress construction: Differential vs progressive


These are just concepts that are meant to illustrate some of the ways that a mattress can be made in different ways to create different "feels" and be suitable for different people. There is no specific line between a differential or progressive construction and it's not something that I would use as anything but some generic information to help you understand why different types of layering can feel and perform differently. It certainly wouldn't be something that I took into account when I was testing mattresses because your own personal testing will show you the end result of any mattress construction and how well it matches your specific needs and preferences and bypasses the need to understand the more technical or complex information (except the quality of the materials which are always important). Once again without personal reference points based on your own experience in testing many different combinations where you have identified the differences between two mattresses that use the same materials but have different designs, this type of information would have little practical meaning in most cases.

Latex:
1. Latex material


This article and post #6 here are two of the articles or posts that talk about the different types of latex.

2. Where is latex sourced from.


This doesn't matter nearly as much as the type and blend of the latex. There are many manufacturers who legitimately don't wish to disclose their wholesale suppliers for competitive reasons and it really makes little difference.

Interspring:
1. Spring type: Pocket coils, Offset coils, Bonnell coils, or Continuous coils


There is more information about innersprings in this article and post #10 here .

2. Spring material, tensile strength, guage?


Once again your personal testing will tell you whether a specific innerspring in combination with the other materials and components in a mattress are suitable for you in terms of PPP. Innersprings are not normally the weak link of a mattress. There is too much information that isn't available about springs for someone that hadn't studied and worked with them for years to make any meaningful assessments about them and I would stick to the basics which is the type of spring, the coil count, and the number of springs (although there are many other specs that can make a difference) but even this is secondary to your own personal testing and not a meaningful way to evaluate the "quality" of a spring or the suitability of a mattress. While it's also not a particularly accurate way to assess a spring ... the weight of an innerspring and the amount of steel it contains is probably the most relevant "quality" spec but this information isn't usually available.

A list like this would accomplish a number of things IMO, like save the mattress buyer time, save the expert time, allow meaningful comparison between shops, avoid missing critical questions.


IMO ... focusing on too much technical information can lead to information overload and "paralysis by analysis" and can become so frustrating that it leads to mattress choices based on specs instead of personal experience which can lead to just as many unsuitable choices as too little information.

It would also be awesome if the importance of each question could be rank ordered as well as typical response to each question and the response impact. This might be asking a lot, but would obviously be an extremely helpful resource.


The most important part of a mattress purchase can only be known with your personal testing or experience which is PPP.

The next most important part of a mattress purchase is knowing the type and quality of all the materials and components in a mattress and the minimum information I would look for is the thickness and density of any polyfoam or memory foam in a mattress and the type and blend of any latex.

If you have tested a mattress and it's a good match in terms of PPP, you know that the foam densities are relatively durable and good quality and there are no weak links in the mattress, and you have compared your "finalists" to each other based on all the criteria of your personal value equation that are important to you, then the odds are very high that you will make the best possible choice out of the mattresses that are available to you either in your area or online (for those that are comfortable making an online purchase).

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Mattress information gathering 15 Dec 2013 15:01 #3

  • Kopo
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Thanks for your quick response. I definitely understand what you are referring to in "paralysis by analysis" and the things I listed were merely some points that I had come across while perusing the forums and articles on this site and others. Maybe the tutorial post covers everything you should care about when looking at a mattress, but I found myself (as you pointed out) researching and ranking things based off features that may just come down to personal preference. I guess I've had a hard time weeding out the things that are personal preference and the things that are indications of quality.

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Mattress information gathering 15 Dec 2013 16:36 #4

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Hi Kopo,

I guess I've had a hard time weeding out the things that are personal preference and the things that are indications of quality.


The most important part of quality as it relates to durability is the type and density of any polyfoam or memory foam in the mattress or the type and blend of any latex (in the comfort layers especially) and secondarily the other materials and components in a mattress. The materials in the comfort layers are generally the "weak link" of a mattress.

Quality can also be defined by the properties of a material such as some types of HR polyfoam which are more elastic or resilient or have a higher compression modulus than HD polyfoam of the same density or some of the newer gel foam materials which may be more costly and have different or in some cases more desirable properties than memory foam or polyfoam of the same density that doesn't include gel but these would be more personal preference issues that you can "feel" when you test a mattress or sleep on it and are not connected to "quality" in the sense of durability. Most of the focus on quality on the site is in it's durability context because this is the part that you can't "feel" when you test the mattress and will have the most significant effect on the useful life of the mattress and the "value" of a mattress purchase.

Almost everything else is focused on things you can test or experience including the suitability of a mattress (PPP), personal preferences between "good quality" materials and components that feel or perform differently, and on the relative "value" of a mattress purchase based on the parts of each person's personal value equation that are most important to them.

If the only three things that people did when they were shopping for a mattress were ...

1. learn "just enough" to become informed about the most important basics and be able to identify the retailers or manufacturers that were knowledgeable, transparent, and experienced enough to provide facts and "real" information rather than marketing or "self serving" stories.

2. Learn how to test mattresses more carefully and objectively (rather than using the "showroom feel" of a mattress as the main basis of their choice) so that their odds of predicting their long term experience and the suitability of their mattress was higher than random chance alone.

3. Make sure that they only purchased a mattress that used good quality durable materials for their budget range and body type and had no obvious weak links (in the comfort layers especially) so that they had some assurance that their mattress would last a reasonable length of time relative to the price they paid for it.

... it would make a huge difference in the quality (by any definition), suitability, and value of mattresses that consumers are buying every day and change the overall direction of the industry towards a more "individual value" based approach that was designed to match mattresses to people instead of the current mainstream market which is based more on marketing and the "selling of stories" instead of mattresses or selling "any mattress they can convince a customer to buy" instead of a mattress that in every way possible is the best match for each individual person.

Phoenix
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
Click here for TMU Discount Codes if purchasing from Our Trusted Members.
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Last edit: by phoenix.
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