Most mattresses sold today are one-sided and should never be flipped over. This is because they are usually feature base layers made of dense foam and, in some cases, steel springs; using these surfaces for sleep can lead to aches, pains, and pressure points. However, some mattress brands offer flippable mattresses with suitable sleep surfaces on each side. Some offer the same firmness on both sides, which can extend the lifespan of the mattress, while other models have different firmnesses on each side to accommodate sleepers with preferences that vary from night to night.
This guide will look at common designs of flippable mattresses and benefits of using them, as well as tips for first-time buyers and our picks for the best flippable mattresses that are currently available for sale.
First, let’s clarify the difference between flipping and rotating. Rotating refers to the process of shifting the mattress 180 degrees while using the same sleep surface; when properly rotated, the areas that were the head and foot of the bed will be reversed. Most mattresses should be rotated in order to preserve the sleep surface. Innersprings and hybrids should be rotated twice per year, while foam and latex models usually need to be rotated once per year. Airbeds are an exception; they never need to be rotated. Flipping, on the other hand, refers to the process of turning a mattress upside down and sleeping on the inverse surface.
Another important clarification is the difference between ‘flippable’ and ‘dual-sided’ mattresses. ‘Dual-sided’ mattresses have one sleep surface with a different firmness on each side; they are a good option for couples with different firmness preferences. However, ‘dual-sided’ mattresses should never be flipped.
Historically, flippable mattresses were somewhat common — and even considered an industry standard at one point. However, as construction technology has evolved, most manufacturers have transitioned to one-sided models with stronger, more durable support cores. This measure has also been somewhat cost-effective for manufacturers, as one-sided mattresses will wear out and require replacements much sooner than two-sided models. Flippable mattresses are fairly rare today, but the available selection includes foam, latex, and hybrid models.
Common features and characteristics of flippable mattresses include:
Symmetrical construction: One-sided mattresses have two main components: the comfort layer/cover on top, and the support core on the bottom. The comfort layer cushions the body, while the support core is made of sturdier materials that help reinforce the sleeper’s weight. In order to provide a design that is both comfortable and supportive, flippable mattresses usually feature two comfort layers — one on each side — and a shared support core that provides optimal support from both ends.
However, flippable mattresses with two firmness options are never completely symmetrical. The foam/latex components in the comfort layers have different densities and/or indentation load deflections (ILDs) to ensure unique firmness on each side. Additionally, one of the sides may feature components like microcoils or extra foam layers.
Thicker and heavier than average: Due to their dual comfort layer construction, flippable mattresses tend to be thicker than one-sided models. The baseline for most is 10 to 11 inches, and some are much thicker. This may make them less suitable for certain sleepers, such as shorter people or people who weigh less than 130 pounds, as higher-profile beds can be more difficult for getting on and off. However, thicker mattresses are also more suitable for couples and heavier individuals.
For the same reason, flippable mattresses tend to be on the heavier side. Most weigh at least 100 pounds, and some weigh 120 pounds or more. This is important to note because, for many, flipping the mattress will require assistance; lifting a heavy mattress alone can cause serious back injuries, as well as lingering aches and pains.
Flipping frequency: Flippable mattresses with two different firmness options may be flipped whenever the owner wants to adjust the feel of the mattress. For flippable mattresses with the same firmness on each side, experts recommend flipping the mattress once or twice per year. This will help preserve both sleep surfaces and may extend the overall lifespan of the mattress.
Flippable mattress benefits include the following:
- Longer lifespan: Flipping, when done frequently and properly, can prevent significant sagging and extend the lifespan of a mattress by years.
- Versatility: Not all sleepers have one set firmness they prefer. Some enjoy sleeping on a different surface night after night. Additionally, comfort preferences may evolve over time — but most mattress warranties strictly forbid mattress replacements based on comfort preference changes.
- Comparable costs: The cost of a flippable mattress is typically no more than the cost of a one-sided mattress constructed from the same materials.
Some notable downsides of flippable mattresses include:
- Limited availability: Due to the low number of flippable mattresses sold today, shoppers may have a difficult time finding a model that suits all of their needs.
- Difficult to move: As we mentioned above, flippable mattresses usually weigh 100 pounds or more — and flipping/rotating them can lead to injuries and pain unless the owner has assistance lifting them.
- May not be suitable for some: Due to their higher-than-average profiles, some flippable mattresses may not be the best option for shorter and/or lightweight people. However, some flippable models measure seven to 10 inches thick.
When shopping for a new flippable mattress and comparing different brands and models, here are a few factors to take into account:
- What kind of mattress do you want? Flippable mattresses sold today include foam, latex, and hybrid models. The type of mattress is the determining factor for price-point; flippable foam models will most likely be much cheaper than latex or hybrid models. Flippable innersprings and airbeds, however, are virtually non-existent.
- What are your firmness preferences? The majority of flippable mattresses offer two different firmness options — typically a firmer side and a softer side. If you have one set firmness preference, then a flippable mattress with the same firmness on both sides might be most suitable. Otherwise, research the specific firmness settings on both sides of different flippable models to determine which one will best meet your needs.
- How heavy is the mattress? Keep in mind that flipping the mattress requires lifting it and turning it over, which can be a difficult task if the bed weighs more than 100 pounds. If you live alone, consider asking a friend or relative for help every time you wish to flip the mattress.
- How tall is the mattress? Some flippable mattresses are 10 or 11 inches thick, which is comparable to a thicker-than-average one-sided mattress, but others measure as much as 15 to 16 inches thick. Generally, shorter people and those who weigh less tend to feel more comfortable on lower-profile mattresses.
- Does the mattress manufacturer offer a sleep trial? Many mattress brands allow purchasers to test out a mattress for a certain length of time — typically 90 to 120 nights — and return the mattress if they are not satisfied with it before the trial period expires. Sleep trials are useful because they give customers an opportunity to see if a mattress will work for them without committing to a full purchase.
- How long is the warranty coverage? The average one-sided mattress will perform for seven years, but flippable mattresses may perform for longer if they are regularly flipped. The average mattress warranty provides coverage for 10 years and some may cover the mattress for 20 years or longer, but be sure to read the fine print — some only provide nonprorated coverage for two to three years, which can lead to high repair or replacement costs down the road.