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Why Are Mattresses So Expensive?

Feb 10, 2013

I mean, they are just a box of fabric and spring, right? What makes a mattress so expensive, and some more than others?

When comparing mattresses, price is not really the best way to compare. Take buying gas for example. When you are at a light and on one side of the street gas is $3 a gallon and on the other side of the street it is $2.79, you are likely going to go to the lesser expensive one. Gas is a commodity, it is a necessity, if you are driving of course. And you want to get it for the cheapest you can. Gas is gas.

Consumers sometimes look at mattresses the same way: a commodity. If you don't care support, feel or durability, a mattress can be just a commodity and you will want to find the cheapest mattress available. However, where gas is gas, not all mattresses are created equally. Cheap mattresses are made with all plastic materials, such as polyester fabric, polyurethane foam and inexpensive steel coils. Some mattresses are made in China, where workers are paid less than a dollar an hour, which makes the cost of the mattress very low. Mattresses made in the USA are typically more expensive and a better quality because they are made locally, by employees who are paid a living wage and have health benefits and care about their craftsmanship. Also, the mattresses made here are not shipped across the ocean, so they have a smaller carbon footprint.

So, now that we have talked about mattresses in general, why are some more expensive than others? Are they worth more, or just cost more?

Take for example the leading foam mattress. You can go into any mainstream store and easily spend $3-$6k for a new mattress. Come into a Nest Bedding store and you can get a comparable to high quality mattress at about half the price. Why? Most of these major brands know that you, the consumer, will associate a high price with higher quality.  It is not that they are necessarily worth more, they just hold a higher price point because people think they are getting a better mattress. 

I can tell you from experience that most mattresses are very similarly made, and it is just that some mark up their prices very high so consumers will think they are a higher quality, when in fact, they are not. 

How do you get a good quality mattress at a reasonable price? 

  • Don't shop by coil count - coil counts are no guarantee of quality nor comfort
  • The higher the density of foam doesn't necessarily mean the higher the quality of the mattress
  • The higher the price doesn't always translate to a better night's sleep

Find a mattress store that will educate you on their mattresses and make sure they have proof to back up their claims. Ask questions. Shop around, gather information, check websites such as TheMattressUnderground.com and SleepLikeTheDead.com. Ultimately, you want to find something in your price range, which should be $800 to $2000. Anything more is just excessive. And something well made with a great warranty and return policies. There are good foam and organic mattresses out in the marketplace, you just have to do your homework and shop a bit. But a mattress is a big purchase and your hard work will pay off with a great night's sleep.
  • mattress shopping