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Mattress Durability & Longevity
How to Find a Mattress That Will Last

Last updated on September 9, 2019

How to Find a Mattress That Will Last

A good mattress typically lasts 8 to 10 years. Unfortunately, many mattresses 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.

Pay attention to the top layers

In most cases, longevity problems relate to the top layers of the mattress (e.g., foam padding) not the underlying support layers (e.g., coils). By far the number one complaint related to durability issues are complaints about the surface integrity of a mattress—its ability to resist body impressions: depressions in the top of the bed that fail to spring back once you get out, creating a ‘hole’. (Sometimes people refer to this as “sagging,” but if an entire mattress is sinking in the middle, that typically indicates an issue with the mattress foundation.)

With mattresses that contain foam (including memory foam and latex), durability is most closely tied to the “density” of the foam (not how hard or soft it is). Density is expressed as a measurement of pounds per cubic foot of material. A foam that weighs 1.5 lbs. or 1.8 lbs. per cubic foot is a lower density foam. We often see this type of foam at the bottom of the mattress as a support layer.

But at the top of the mattress, in the comfort layers (usually the top 2" to 5" of the mattress), we like to see foam densities in the 3.5-lb. to 5.5-lb. range. In our experience, these higher density foams are more durable, and more resistant to body impressions.

Most (but not all) mattress websites will list the densities of their foams and memory foams, but some do not. When we can get it, we include foam density information in our expert reviews, and give our assessment of longevity and durability.

Pillow tops and heavily quilted covers can also tend to give out before the rest of the bed, something to keep in mind if you prefer a heavily tufted and pillow-bed. One option if you have longevity concerns is to buy a more traditional bed, then add a soft and/or fluffy mattress topper which can easily (and inexpensively) be replaced.

Coil gauge and strength

Many mattresses employ a pocketed coil support unit under the comfort layers. For mainstream mattresses of good quality in that $800 to $2,000 sweet spot (queen size), coil support unit have a proven durability.

If you are a heavier than average person (over about 250 pounds), you may want to consider a mattress with a stronger coil support unit. Coil gauge refers to the thickness of the wire used to make the coil; most mattresses use coils with a gauge of about 14; the lower the number the stronger the coil. A mattress that uses 12.5-gauge wire, for example, will have stronger and potentially more durable coils. A mattress using 16-gauge wire will generally be ‘springier.’

It’s also common for manufacturers to use some stronger coils along the edge of a bed, helpful if you like to sit or lay right on the edge.

We have a page on mattress coils and how they’re made if you really want to dive deep.

Can user reviews help?

Consumer reviews are a good way to steer clear of mattresses that fail right away, but they won’t necessarily help you determine which mattresses last the longest. That’s because most mattress reviews are either for products that are too new to determine their longevity (e.g., less than a year old), or they are for older products that are no longer on the market. Product specs for any given brand typically change every year or two, and new components and construction introduce new uncertainties with regards to longevity. That said, brands with a history of putting out high quality products that receive fewer durability complaints are likely to continue putting out high quality products to protect this reputation.

GoodBed’s owner-written reviews include information on how long the mattress has been used, which can be helpful.

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.

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