A good mattress typically lasts 8-10 years. Unfortunately, many mattress sold today may lose their comfort or support long before then. Knowing what a mattress is made of and how it’s constructed can help you choose one that will last.
Typically, mattresses “wear out” and begin to feel uncomfortable when the top layers of comfort material lose their resiliency. The materials used in the upper comfort layers of a mattress tend to compress more deeply and are usually the first to break down, resulting in body impressions in the mattress that make sleeping uncomfortable.
Understanding the construction of the mattress and materials used — such as the type of foam, foam density and amount of padding — can give you a good indication of a model’s likely longevity. The quantity and quality of the comfort materials not only determine how the mattress feels, but also play a big role in how long it will retain its original feel. For example, high-quality latex, blended latex and latex-over-foam mattresses often offer longer life spans than other constructions because the density of their materials is more resistant to impressions over time. The same is true for higher-density memory foam and quality hybrid foam-innerspring and air bed models.
Foam densities run from 1 pound to about 7 pounds per cubic foot. Higher numbers mean more durability; lower densities generally mean lower quality and less durability.
Information about foam densities and other construction details often can be hard to find and difficult to interpret, however. Some manufacturers provide this information up front in their product specs, seeing it as a selling point, while others play it close to the vest and disclose only the most basic descriptions.
To get a more complete picture of product features and durability, check out online reviews relating to specific models, including GoodBed’s comprehensive durability ratings found in the review section. Reviews from longtime owners often can provide helpful insights on how long a mattress will remain comfortable. However, because most mattress manufacturers tweak their products every few years, models available today may vary from the ones being reviewed. If that’s the case, look for comments about other models with similar characteristics made by the same manufacturer.
Warranties can also offer clues about a mattress’ durability, but don’t assume that the mattress’ life span and the length of the warranty will be the same. The length of the coverage matters less than how the manufacturer defines a “defect” and what it will do when one occurs. Make sure to read the fine print! Defects are typically defined as problems that can be measured or observed, such as impression depth. Problems that are not measurable or not clearly observable, such as excessive softening or loss of support, are usually not covered. It’s also important to note that most coverage on longer warranties is pro-rated, meaning that you will be responsible for some part of the replacement cost.
When shopping, look for information about the company's service track record (reviews are a good source of insight) and responsiveness in handling issues. Although this information won’t predict the likelihood that a problem will occur, it does indicate how you'll be treated in the event help is needed.
As is true for most products, models with higher quality materials and lifespans usually carry higher price tags. Where possible, choose the highest quality materials your budget will allow, particularly when it comes to the comfort layers, since a mattress will last only as long as its weakest link.