When purchasing a new mattress, the conditions of the warranty should be one of your primary considerations. How long is the warranty valid? What are the prorated and non-prorated terms? How does the warranty address issues like sagging? These are some of the questions that all potential mattress buyers should ask before finalizing the sale. This guide will cover key terminology, processes and risk factors associated with mattress warranties. But first, let’s discuss some basic information about what warranties are and what they are designed to do.
What is a warranty and how important is it?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a warranty as a promise made by a seller or manufacturer to ‘stand behind’ a given product. A warranty guarantees that any product sold with structural flaws, faulty parts or other defects will be replaced or repaired at no added expense to the buyer. For this reason, most major purchases ― such as automobiles, homes, household appliances and electronic devices ― come with some sort of warranty. Per federal law, all product warranties must be available to consumers before a purchase is made.
For mattresses, two types of warranties typically apply.
The manufacturer or seller of the mattress will provide a written warranty, which promises to repair or replace a defective product as long as certain conditions are met. Written warranties provide coverage for a given length of time; most written warranties for mattresses are valid for five, 10, 15 or 20 years, depending on the brand and the seller. Written warranties are not required by law.
Implied warranties, on the other hand, are protected by law in all 50 states. Implied warranties include two fundamental components. A warranty of merchantability ensures the product will perform all essential functions and meet consumer expectations. Additionally, a warranty of fitness guarantees that the product can be used for any and all specific purposes agreed upon by the buyer and seller.
For example, ‘warranty of merchantability’ is a promise that a mattress sold to a customer will provide a suitable place for sleeping. If the customer chooses to buy a self-heating mattress, then ‘warrant of fitness’ guarantees the mattress will be self-heating.
It’s important to note that even products not covered by a written warranty are still protected under implied warranties unless the product is sold ‘as is’ to the consumer. ‘As is’ sales are prohibited by law in several states and the District of Columbia.
What Is Covered in a Mattress Warranty?
Next, let’s look at problems that are protected ― and are not protected ― under most mattress warranties. Although specific warranty conditions vary between brands and sellers, most mattress warranties include certain conditions.
Sagging, or sinking, is the most common mattress defect covered under warranty. Today’s mattresses are designed to retain a firm, comfortable shape for long periods of time. While some sagging will naturally occur after years of use, premature or excessive sagging is often the result of a product defect ― faulty inner springs, in most cases.
Mattress warranties will include a specific sagging depth; if the mattress sags below this threshold, then the manufacturer must replace the product free-of-charge. The sagging depth for most mattress warranties is 1.5 inches, although the warranties for some brands ― such as Tempur-Pedic, Serta and Tuft + Needle ― will cover products that sink more than three-quarters of an inch. To accurately measure the sagging depth, first stretch a length of string over the entire width of a fully stripped mattress; when the line is taut, use a ruler or tape to measure the distance between the string and the deepest indentation.
Other physical defects covered under most mattress warranties include:
Coils that break, bend or burst out of the side.
Seams that come undone.
Irregular bunching in certain areas (usually associated with foam mattresses)
What Is Not Covered in a Mattress Warranty?
Warranties are designed to protect consumers against product defects, but not normal wear and tear that occurs after prolonged use. For mattresses, normal wear and tear may include:
Sagging that does not reach the minimum depth threshold as covered in the warranty.
Lumpiness or uneven surfaces caused by long-term use.
Discoloration as a result of machine or hand washing.
Furthermore, warranties do not cover structural damage caused by the owner. Examples include scuffs or tears that occur when moving, pet-related scratches or bites, and permanent indentations caused by someone jumping or falling on the mattress.
Another important consideration: mattress warranties do not guarantee that the buyer will ‘like’ the mattress after using it, or that he or she will be satisfied with the product for as long as the warranty is valid. Unless caused by a measurable product defect, problems like ‘reduced comfort’ or ‘lack of softness’ are considered normal wear and tear, and will not be covered under standard mattress warranties.
Finally, warranties will not cover the cost of replacing non-defective pieces or parts. If, for example, a mattress comes with a single defect, then the manufacturer or seller is only responsible for replacing that particular component.
Things that Void a Warranty
The most common factors that lead to a mattress warranty being voided by the seller or manufacturer include the following:
Removal of the Law Tag: All mattresses will be sold with a small tag attached, usually somewhere on the back surface. This tag, referred to as the law tag, will read ‘Do not remove this tag under penalty of law’. The ‘penalty of law’ in this case only applies to the seller or manufacturer, and the buyer is allowed to remove the tag at will without facing any legal repercussions. However, the law tag is considered a proof of purchase, and removing it will automatically void the warranty.
Improper Support: Warranties assume the buyer will utilize a box spring and/or bed frame that provides adequate support for the mattress. A warranty may be voided if the box spring is old, misshapen or damaged, or if the bed frame is not equipped with a stable metal bar that supports the mattress in the center. A standard mattress warranty will include specific support guidelines that the buyer must follow.
Stains: Many liquids can corrode mattress foam, causing the product to break down and lose its structural integrity. Mattresses with irremovable stains are also considered unsanitary, and thus legally unfit for storage in company warehouses. For these two reasons, even small stains from water, coffee and other innocuous fluids can void the entire warranty. In order to keep their mattress stain-free, buyers are encouraged to use a mattress protector starting with the first night of use.
Failure to Follow Rotation Schedule: In some cases, mattress warranties will require the buyer to periodically flip over the mattress. This process rejuvenates the upholstery fabric and internal foam layers, and can prevent premature sagging.
The Mattress Has Been Sold or Given to Someone Else: Warranties normally do not extend to anyone who buys or receives a mattress from the original purchaser. Therefore, most mattress warranties will be voided if the mattress changes hands.
Warranty Length and Mattress Lifespan
Next, let’s take a closer look at warranty length and mattress lifespan expectations. For the purposes of this guide, the ‘lifespan’ of a mattress is the length of time it is considered useful and comfortable for sleeping.
Source: Sleep Like the Dead
Many buyers assume that a warranty will cover a mattress for its entire lifespan. However, this is rarely the case. According to a recent survey by Sleep Like the Dead, the lifespan of a mattress usually falls short of the warranty length. Findings from this survey are featured in the table to the right.
The Better Sleep Council notes that most good-quality mattresses should be replaced after seven years ― regardless of the warranty length. For this reason, prospective buyers should carefully consider purchasing a mattress with a warranty that extends beyond 10 years.
Prorated vs. Non-prorated Warranties
Warranty coverage is not always cut-and-dry when it comes to costs for the owner. Most warranties include non-prorated and prorated coverage.
Non-prorated coverage means that the owner will not pay out-of-pocket to repair or replace a mattress that has been deemed defective. However, the owner will often be responsible for transportation and inspection costs. Most mattress warranties of 10 years or less will feature exclusively non-prorated coverage; for warranties longer than 10 years, the non-prorated coverage will usually be in effect for some ― but not all ― of the warranty length.
Prorated coverage means that the owner is responsible for covering a certain percentage of repair and replacement costs. Prorated coverage will kick in as soon as non-prorated coverage is invalid, and will continue until the warranty expires. In most cases, the percentage paid by the owner for prorated coverage will gradually increase every year until the warranty expires. Let’s say a mattress has a 20-year warranty with 10 years of non-prorated coverage. When prorated coverage begins at the beginning of the 11th year, the owner will typically be required to pay 50% of the replacement and repair costs; this number will then rise by increments of 5% for each successive year until the warranty ends.
Mattress buyers should carefully study the non-prorated and prorated terms of their mattress warranty. The two most important considerations are:
The length of non-prorated coverage compared to the overall warranty length
The percentage owed by the owner for repairs and replacement expenses during the prorated coverage period
How to File a Warranty Claim
If a mattress is defective or not performing up to par with the conditions of its written and implied warranties, then the owner is most likely eligible to file a warranty claim. Consumers should be aware of certain costs they stand to incur during the claim-filing process.
Mattress companies will usually send an inspector to the owner’s home, where they will take measurements of the mattress and evaluate its overall condition to ensure the claim is valid. If the inspector determines that the mattress is defective, then this service may be covered by the manufacturer or seller. However, many owners will be required to pay for the inspection out-of-pocket. Home inspection services typically cost between $40 and $60. In some cases, the mattress owner will have the option of performing a ‘self-inspection’ using a kit that is mailed to them. This option costs roughly $25 to $30, and kits generally arrive within five to seven business days.
If a claim is filed during the warranty’s prorated coverage period, then the owner will be responsible for a percentage of the repair or replacement costs. This percentage will depend on the prorated coverage schedule listed in the warranty (see previous section).
Individuals who purchased their defective mattress are typically required to pay shipping fees for for their replacement mattress. New mattress shipping costs usually start at $80 to $100, but some sellers and manufacturers will discount the shipping fee if they are replacing a defective mattress.
Now that you’re familiar with standard mattress warranties, let’s compare the length, non-prorated/prorated terms, sagging depth and other warranty terms for some of the nation’s leading mattress brands.
Non-prorated for the first 2 years. Years 3-20 include prorated coverage; owner is responsible for 20% of costs, plus 4% for each year since original purchase or invoice date (whichever occurred later). Years 21-25 are prorated; owner is responsible for 96% of costs.
Some Sleep Number products feature a SleepIQ® module. Regardless of the product’s warranty, the module will be covered under separate warranty for up to 2 years.
5- and 10-year warranties are non-prorated for the entire warranty length. 20-year warranties include prorated coverage after 10 years; the owner responsible for 1/20 of costs. 25-year warranties include prorated coverage after 15 years; the owner responsible for 1/25 of costs.
Bed frames with center bars that extend to the floor must be used to support king- and queen- sized mattresses; otherwise the warranty may be voided.
Most products come with a 3-, 5- or 10-year warranty.
Varies by model. Most 3- and 5-year warranties include non-prorated coverage for the entire warranty length. Some 10-year warranties also have entirely non-prorated coverage, while prorated coverage will kick in for others after 5 years.
1.5 in. for latex or innerspring mattresses; .75 in. for foam mattresses
Non-prorated coverage for the entire 10-year warranty, with the exception of transportation, removal and inspection costs.
A mattress warranty ensures that the manufacturer or seller will cover costs related to defects and other specific problems. You can further protect yourself from by exercising the following precautions:
Make sure the law tag is intact once the mattress has been installed.
Use a mattress protector from day one. This will shield the mattress from stain-causing liquids and substances.
Make sure the box spring and bed frame are in good condition.
Flip the mattress according to the warranty’s rotation requirements.
If the mattress is defective, research inspection, removal and replacement costs to make sure filing a claim is within your budget.