Buying a Mattress Online: Step-by-Step Guide
Finding the right online mattress is a fairly painless process. Follow these steps to learn about, purchase, and receive your new mattress.
Step 1: Research Your Options
When picking out an online mattress, you’ll be able to choose from virtually hundreds of different options. Before deciding which one is best for you, we recommend researching various brands and models. Mattress reviews can also be a helpful resource, as can online forums dedicated to sleep products. Chat with online customer service personnel as needed, and reach out to companies via email or phone if you still have questions.
Step 2: Select Your Mattress
Before finalizing your purchase, take one last look at your top candidate to make sure you’re content with its firmness, thickness, material composition, and cost. Also be sure to read the fine print on shipping, sleep trials, and warranties to avoid hidden fees or additional steps you’ll need to take.
Please note: if you live in Alaska or Hawaii or in a country outside the U.S., standard ground shipping is rarely free – and can cost as much as $600 for a mattress order.
Step 3: Place Your Order
The process of ordering a mattress online is much like buying any other product. First, double-check the product page to make sure you’ve selected the right size and firmness level. You may also be able to bundle your mattress purchase with other sleep accessories and save some money, depending on the brand.
Once you’ve completed your review, add the mattress to your shopping cart and then finalize your order. You’ll be asked to enter pertinent contact information such as a phone number, email address, and a physical address to send the mattress. If you have a discount code for the mattress, you’ll also enter that during this step.
After reviewing all of your information to make sure it’s accurate, you’ll be ready to finalize the order. Your debit or credit card will be charged shortly thereafter.
Step 4: Track Your Delivery
Most online brands ship mattresses using standard ground delivery. If this applies to the mattress you’ve chosen, then you’ll receive an email with a tracking number as soon as the mattress leaves the company facility. This will typically occur in two to five business days after you’ve placed the order.
A few online brands deliver mattresses via White Glove couriers, who bring the mattress to your home, assemble it in a room of your choice, and – in most cases – remove your old mattress and box spring. In these instances, the couriers will typically reach out to you ahead of the delivery date to schedule a date and time window.
White Glove delivery might be free if this is the only shipping option, but most brands that offer standard ground delivery will charge a surcharge of at least $100 for White Glove service.
One thing to keep in mind: most standard ground and White Glove deliveries are coordinated with third-party couriers. Once the mattress leaves its company’s facility, you’ll no longer deal with the brand and should instead reach out to the couriers with any shipping-related questions. That said, feel free to contact the company if delivery hiccups occur.
Step 5: Receive Your Mattress
Mattresses shipped via standard ground shipping will be delivered directly to your doorstep. You don’t need to be at home or sign for the package – but depending on where you live, you might want to stay near the door on your expected delivery date to bring the box inside as quickly as possible. If you live in an apartment, check with the courier to see if they can leave the box at your lobby or front desk, rather than in your hallway.
White Glove deliveries normally require an adult 18 or older to be on the premises throughout the setup process. This person will also need to sign for the mattress. Before the couriers arrive, make sure there is a clear path from the front door to the room where the mattress will be assembled. The full setup process typically takes 30 minutes or less.
Step 6: Unbox Your Mattress
If White Glove couriers provide your delivery, the mattress will not be compressed for shipping and “unboxing” will be a non-issue.
For other mattress deliveries, the first step will be bringing the mattress inside – no easy feat, as some of these boxes can be quite heavy. Enlist in a lifting partner to assist you with carrying the mattress into the room where you plan to set it up.
Mattresses are shipped in boxes using a process called roll-packing, during which the bed is compressed, wrapped in plastic, and vacuum-sealed. After setting the box on the platform or foundation you plan to use – or the floor, for that matter – open the box and then carefully use a knife to cut away the plastic. Once all the wrapping is removed, the mattress will immediately begin to expand. Most compressed mattresses will reach their full shape in 48 hours or less.
You may notice some initial odor after unboxing your mattress, especially if it contains foam layers. This is known as off-gassing, a process that occurs when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released from the plastic wrapping. VOCs are considered relatively harmless but they do emit a noticeable chemical smell. Off-gassing odors should clear out in a matter of days, but you may want to avoid using the mattress until the smells completely dissipate.
Important Considerations for Buying a Mattress Online
Before purchasing your mattress, we recommend reviewing the following information to ensure your experience as a customer is positive and headache-free.
Sleep trials have proven so popular over the past few years that virtually every reputable online mattress brand offers some sort of trial period. The majority of these trials are at least 90 nights in length, but can span as long as a year to 18 months.
Your sleep trial may begin on the day you purchase the mattress or the day it arrives at your home. A large number of trials include a mandatory “break-in period,” which means you’ll need to test out the mattress for a certain number of nights – usually 30 or less – before you qualify for a full refund.
Returns, Exchanges, and Refunds
If you have completed your required break-in period and the trial hasn’t ended, you’ll be able to return the mattress to the brand. In most cases, you’ll receive a full refund. Some brands impose a return fee, but this rarely exceeds $100.
Most brands offer at least one of the following options for mattress returns:
- Free pickup: Couriers will come to your house and pick up the mattress from your doorstep. They will then transport the mattress to be recycled or donated to charity.
- Donation or recycling: The brand may ask you to take care of donating or recycling the mattress yourself, then issue a refund after you have submitted photographic evidence or a receipt.
Some brands allow you to exchange your mattress for the same model in a different size or firmness level, or another mattress model altogether. The process for exchanges will be the same for returns – either couriers will pick up the old mattress and drop off the new one, or the company will ship the replacement bed once you’ve provided proof of donation or recycling.
However, exchanging your mattress often ends the sleep trial and you won’t be able to return the new model for a refund. If you aren’t satisfied with your first choice, make sure the mattress you exchange for will be a much better fit. Otherwise, it will probably be more worthwhile to return the mattress for a refund and check out some different brands.
During the trial period, take precautions to keep the mattress clean and protect it against stains, spills, and other types of damage. Online brands will never restock used mattresses, but they may not issue a refund if the bed is returned in unsanitary condition.
All reputable mattress brands offer a warranty of some kind. The standard warranty length is 10 years, but 15-year, 20-year, 25-year, and even lifetime warranties are fairly common. The warranty is an agreement between the manufacturer and the owner, stating the former will repair or replace any mattress with recognized structural defects.
These defects typically include excessive sagging in the sleep surface, deterioration of internal components, and issues with the cover like broken zippers or unraveling seams. Other issues will not be covered, such as physical damage that occurs after the mattress has been delivered, minor sagging, and allergic reactions. The warranty won’t cover customer dissatisfaction either – so if you decide your mattress doesn’t feel comfortable after the sleep trial ends, this won’t warrant any intervention from the company. Most warranties include detailed lists of what is and is not covered.
One key provision of any mattress warranty is whether the coverage is partially prorated or fully non-prorated. If the latter, then you won’t need to pay anything for the mattress to be repaired or replaced aside from some shipping and handling fees. If the warranty is partially prorated, then after a certain number of years you’ll pay a certain percentage of the bed’s original sticker price to have it replaced. This percentage will likely increase the longer you own the mattress.
For example: let’s say a mattress comes with a 20-year warranty that includes 10 years of non-prorated coverage. During those first 10 years, repairs and replacements are free. Then, when prorated coverage kicks in, you’ll pay 5% of the original price for each year you’ve owned the mattress – and since this is year 11, the percentage will be 55%. This percentage will increase by 5% for each subsequent year, so you’ll pay 60% in year 12, 65% in year 13, and so on. During the last year of coverage, you could potentially pay 95% of the original asking price to replace your mattress.
Most mattresses need to be replaced after seven to 10 years of use, so prorated coverage may be a moot point if it kicks in after 10 years. Then again, some warranties become prorated after only two or three years of ownership. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you don’t face unexpected replacement costs down the road.
If your mattress has a structural defect covered under its warranty, then you’ll need to file a claim. This usually requires photographic proof of the defect itself. The “law tag” attached to your mattress (usually on the side or bottom) must be intact, and the warranty only extends to original owners. Check your warranty for specifics on filing a claim, as requirements vary by brand.
What Types of Mattresses Are Available Online?
Every mattress is uniquely constructed, but most online mattresses fall into one of the following five categories:
How They’re Made: A foam mattress is constructed with a comfort layer of memory foam or adaptive polyfoam. Transitional and support layers are made of denser foam to reinforce the comfort layer. The average foam mattress costs between $900 and $1,200 in a queen size.
Pros: Memory foam and adaptive polyfoam contour more closely and evenly to the body than other comfort layer materials like latex. This can distribute your weight, improve spinal alignment, and alleviate pressure points throughout the body. Most foam mattresses also excel at motion isolation and don’t make any noise, so couples can sleep soundly without disruptions.
Cons: Foam mattresses lack the structural support of other mattress types, so sleepers tend to sink more beneath the surface and edge reinforcement is typically fair at best. Many foam beds also absorb and trap body heat, causing sleepers to feel uncomfortably warm. Another issue is above-average off-gassing – expect more initial odor from these beds.
How They’re Made: Latex is derived from the sappy extract of rubber trees. An all-latex mattress features a softer, more adaptive comfort layer and denser support layers to prevent sleepers from sinking too much. The average latex mattress costs between $1,500 and $2,200 in a queen size.
Pros: Latex is naturally durable, so these mattresses often have longer-than-average lifespans. The material also absorbs less heat than foam, allowing sleepers to stay cooler. Latex contours to the body but not as much as foam, so this type of mattress will be ideal for people who don’t enjoy a deep “body-hug.”
Cons: Like all-foam beds, latex mattresses often lack perimeter support and sink a bit when people get in and out of bed or sleep close to the edges. These mattresses are also fairly expensive and may exceed the budgets of some shoppers.
How They’re Made: A traditional innerspring will contain thin comfort layers of polyfoam or memory foam, followed by a support core of steel coils. Some newer innersprings include minicoil transitional layers, as well. The average innerspring costs $800 to $1,100 in a queen size.
Pros: Coil layers promote steady air circulation, so innersprings will usually sleep quite cool compared to foam models. The coils also offer robust support to protect the edges and make moving across the mattress relatively easy. Many couples prefer the springy feel of innersprings for sex.
Cons: Innersprings generally offer little to no contouring, so they may feel too stiff for side sleepers and those who deal with constant pressure points. These mattresses are also associated with more sagging after a few years of use. Since they tend to be quite responsive and squeaky, innersprings may cause sleep disruptions for couples as well.
How They’re Made: While technically considered innersprings, hybrids have become popular enough to warrant their own category. These mattresses feature thick comfort layers of foam or latex, and support cores with individually pocketed coils. The average hybrid costs $1,500 to $2,200 in a queen size.
Pros: Hybrids offer very balanced feels thanks to the combination of deeply conforming comfort layers and supportive coil systems. Many hybrids are offered in different firmness levels to accommodate different sleepers based on their body type or sleep position.
Cons: Since hybrids share the same price range as latex mattresses, they are also considered fairly expensive. Other disadvantages boil down to specific models. Hybrids with softer feels tend to lack edge support and sleep hot, while firmer models may not conform closely or isolate motion well.
How They’re Made: An airbed – not to be confused with an air mattress – features air chambers in the support core that can be inflated or deflated to adjust the overall firmness. Traditional airbeds are constructed with thin foam comfort layers, but some newer models have deeper comfort systems with memory foam or latex layers. The average airbed costs $2,000 to $2,600 in a queen size.
Pros: The biggest strength of airbeds is their customizable design. Most models offer a range of firmness options, allowing you to find a feel that best meets your needs. Many are also constructed with dual firmness in mind so couples with differing preferences can optimize their side of the bed, and some include sleep tracking sensors and other high-tech features. Thanks to their modular designs, you can easily swap out individual components if they become faulty, rather than replacing the entire mattress.
Cons: Airbeds are considered the most expensive mattress type, so expect to spend a great deal on a high-quality model. Their electrical components are also prone to breakdowns and malfunctions, and some airbeds produce a fair amount of noise when you adjust the chambers.
How to Choose an Online Mattress
Important qualities to look for in an online mattress include:
- Mattress Type: As we discussed above, each type of mattress carries its own unique pros and cons. Decide which characteristics appeal to you most before choosing a type. Some people find it helpful to visit a brick-and-mortar store and briefly test out different mattresses to see how they feel, but sleep trials can also be helpful in this regard.
- Size: Most mattresses today are available in six standard sizes. Twin and twin XL are the smallest sizes, and intended for one person. A full size mattress can comfortably sleep one person, or two in a pinch – but some couples find this size too crowded. Queen, king, and California king sizes should all be suitable for couples. Check product pages for exact dimensions.
- Firmness: Mattress firmness is measured on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 the firmest. Most models sold today fall between 3 and 8. People who weigh less than 130 pounds typically favor a 3-4 feel with close contouring, those in the range of 130-230 pounds may prefer a 5-6 with moderate contouring, and sleepers weighing more than 230 pounds will probably find a 7-8 with sturdy support most comfortable. Sleep position may also affect your preferred feel, since side sleepers often need more softness and cushioning than back or stomach sleepers.
- Durability: The average mattress performs for at least six to eight years before you’ll need to replace it. Latex mattresses and airbeds are usually the most durable, whereas innersprings and foam models tend to be the least durable. Hybrids often fall right in the middle.
- Temperature Neutrality: Some mattresses are made with materials that retain and trap body heat, causing sleepers to feel uncomfortably warm. Foam mattresses are particularly notorious for poor temperature control. Other beds made with breathable comfort layers and internal components that promote airflow will sleep cooler by comparison.
- Motion Isolation: A mattress that absorbs movement and reduces motion transfer across the surface can ensure few – if any – sleep disruptions for couples. Foam and latex mattresses usually perform best in this category. Innersprings and hybrids generate more transfer on the surface due to their springy coils.
- Edge Support: If a mattress has strong perimeter support, you won’t notice much sinkage when lying or sitting along the edges. This can make you feel more secure when you sleep close to the edge or get in and out of bed. Innersprings and hybrids generally provide the best edge support.
- Price and Value: The price of an online mattress depends on factors like materials, size, and brand, and costs vary considerably. Our advice: research the sticker prices of a few different mattresses, then create a realistic budget – and stick to it. You can choose from an extensive selection of online mattresses, so chances are you’ll be able to find a suitable model within your price range.