The Ultimate Mattress Buying Guide

All You Need to Know About Mattresses and How Select the Right One for You

Looking for a mattress? Choosing a mattress isn’t as easy as simply drawing one from a hat. There are many different features, types, and materials available. There are also many factors to consider when buying a mattress, and if you don’t know where to begin, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This guide will help you find the best mattress for your needs, covering everything from budget, different mattress options, and what to do when you and your partner just can’t seem to agree.

How do I choose a good mattress?


When looking for a mattress, you need to treat it as an investment in your health and wellbeing. Aim to purchase one that is as expensive as you can afford. A mattress is extremely important for posture and comfort while sleeping, and by looking at is as an investment rather than just finding the cheapest solution, you’ll not only notice better quality, but also find that your mattress lasts longer, is more comfortable, and is better suited to your needs. Even if you are just buying a mattress for a spare bedroom or guestroom, having a decent mattress will ensure that your guests or relatives get a decent night’s sleep.

Work out what your budget is and how much you are willing to spend. If you are willing to spend $5,000 then stick with that price. There may be better mattresses that are more expensive, but only choose what you can reasonably afford. In saying that, be as generous with your budget as possible to ensure you purchase the best quality mattress. Remember, a salesperson will also want to try to upsell items such as mattress protectors, pillows, and linen, which you may or may not even need. If you don’t need these items, leave them out and use that money to invest in a higher quality mattress.

Research and looking around

One thing that many people are afraid to do when looking for a mattress is to thoroughly test them out. We don’t mean going to a store in your pyjamas with a blanket and having a nap, but you should make sure you properly test the mattress out.

The easiest way to do this is to lie down on them. Don’t be afraid to put your shoes on the beds, as stores will usually have protection on the mattresses around the area where your feet go. If needed, just take your shoes off!

If you have a partner who will be sharing the mattress with you, make sure they come along with you and test it out as well. If you both move around, you’ll be able to feel what kind of disturbance the other person might experience and see how well it can handle your weight. Be sure to also turn over on the mattress, as this is something we often do in our sleep. It will take extra effort to turn if the mattress is too soft, so be aware that your movement may be restricted while sleeping and you may need a mattress that is more supportive.

Researching mattresses before you set out will also save you a lot of legwork. If you check out mattress stores online and see what they have on offer, you’ll be able to narrow down your search quickly. Some stores stock different brands, ranges, and models to others, so it’s a good idea to have a good look at a few. If you find there is a good sale on a particular mattress of interest, be sure to be as quick as possible in making the purchase as many stores will only keep a handful of sale items in stock.

Remember, while one mattress may be perfect for you, it could be awful for your partner. Test more mattresses and look at our section on What to do when you disagree if you find yourself having trouble coming to a compromise.

Things to look for

Mattresses are sorted into categories depending on how firm or soft they are. You’ll see them labelled as Extra Firm, Firm, Medium, Plush, or Ultra Plush. You may also find firm mattresses with extra cushioning within a pillow top, making them softer yet still firm enough for those needing a good support while sleeping. Test the different types and get a feel for what makes them firm or plush, and what is more comfortable for you. Remember to try to replicate the movements you normally make while sleeping.

Many mattress retailers will try and sell you on a mattress that will claim to have many health benefits. If you’ve done your research, you’ll know what certifications to look for that will match what you and your family’s need. We should list some of those certifications here – this is the research piece they should use to advise what to look for. Look at durability tests, natural, organic, the fabric used, any Australian standards etc etc.

We should also put in a section about awards – like choice etc. Better to have a product review than choice as it’s based on actual customer reviews.

Guarantees – are they worth the paper it’s written on? Read carefully about depth of indentation, what consititutes a refund/replacement etc etc. Inspections, Care Instructions, Expectations to be valid for the guarantee?

Mattresses that have the Australian Owned and Made Certification must pass higher inspection standards than those set by Fair Trade controls in other countries. The National Asthma Council of Australia also has accredited select mattress retailers with their sensitive choice certification for those that suffer with asthma or allergies.

To make a mattress from scratch requires a large amount of resources that have a massive ecological footprint. Think of the energy and resources that are put into a single mattress. One million mattresses are thrown into Australian landfills every year. Many mattress materials are not biodegradable and leach toxic chemicals into the soil and water. Look for an environmentally friendly sleeping solution or even better: a biodegradable mattress. Longevity of the mattress is an important factor on your footprint – throwing a mattress into landfill every 5 years or one that can last up to 30 years can have a significant impact. Select something that will last a long time and maintain it’s

Can we outline some of the chemicals that are used in mattresses or materials – i.e. fire retardants, fillers?

What about country of origin and travel distance on the customers sustainability footprint?

A good sign to look for is how long the mattress retailer has been in business. This is a sure sign of their claims of selling a good product that has stood the test of time. A recent flooding of the market of ‘mattress in a box’ companies who have not been in business for more than a few months or years, yet are offering a 10 year guarantee. How can the consumer know that the product will last up to 10 years if the company itself isn’t 10 years old? Look for a reputable company that has been in business for at least as long as their warranty states to be sure of your investment.

How to know the best type for you

So you know there are different types of mattresses based on firmness and softness. But which one is best for you? It’s a bit easier to determine this by looking at the way you sleep.

  • Back sleeper – If you sleep on your back most of the time, a medium-firm mattress is best. A decent support core will help to care for your back, spine, and neck while keeping you comfortable.
  • Side sleeper – You’ll need to look at a mattress that allows you to profile more into it if you sleep on your side. Sleeping on your side means that you need support amongst the curves of your body as you sleep, which a softer mattress will be able to do for you.
  • Tummy sleeper – If you predominantly sleep on your stomach, a firmer mattress will help keep your spine aligned while you sleep. Although not an ideal sleeping position health-wise, a firm mattress will help to alleviate any issues you may have while sleeping in this position.

Different mattress options

Continuous or open coil

These are generally one of the cheaper types of mattress, however some of the premium models can cost thousands. A continuous coil mattress is made up of a single piece of wire looped into strings, while an open coil mattress is made of single springs fixed together by a single wire.

Pros – Usually more affordable than other types of mattresses. They are also generally lighter than other types of mattresses, so it will be easier to turn over or move.

Cons – This type of mattress is not responsive to your body, as the springs generally move as one unit. This also means that your movement will likely interfere with a partner’s sleep.

Memory foam

The most well-known memory foam mattress is the Tempur, which was originally developed and designed by NASA. Memory foam mattresses are topped with a layer of memory foam or temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material.

Pros – You will generally feel your weight being absorbed by the mattress, which will help to relieve pressure points in the body. This will also help to increase circulation.

Cons – Because the mattress is close to your body most of the time, you may feel as though it warms up your body more. This could be a problem in warmer climates. Also, a memory foam mattress is manufactured from man-made petro-chemicals that are toxic to those with sensitivities.


Latex mattresses mould to your body’s shape. Natural latex is a white liquid produced by rubber trees. Latex mattresses comprise of a network of millions of ultra micro-cellular structures distributed evenly amongst the entire mattress, promoting natural breathing and durability.

Pros – Latex is a great option for allergy sufferers as it can’t harbour dust mites. It’s a durable and breathable material, and the way it contours to your body relieves pressure points, relaxing the muscles and allowing for optimal alignment of your spine.

Cons – The expense of a quality pure and natural latex can be an expense some might not be able to afford.  However, their longer durability offsets the initial higher investment.

Pocket sprung

Up to 3,000 springs are sewn into individual fabric pockets to make up this type of mattress. This is one of the more popular mattress choices.

Pros – The mattress is breathable due to its open-spring construction which allows airflow through the mattress, however the polyurethane comfort layers on top of the springs can be hot to sleep on.

Cons – This type of mattress can worsen allergies in some people. It can also be hard to move for certain sleepers, and it’s quite a heavy mattress.

What about the Goldilock effect – a mattress that has everything, what do you do?


Think ahead for the logistics of installing a new mattress and base in your home. Questions to ask yourself are: Will it fit through my doorways? Do I have to take it up stairs? Most companies offer a door to door freight service only, so if you need assistance installing your new sleeping solution, look for a company that provides in home installation to take the burden off your hands. Spring, Pocket Sprung and some foams can’t be bent around narrow doorways. Most Latex mattresses are rolled or folded for delivery which is a great option to bend around any doorway and not scrape the roof when transporting up and down staircases.

Latex vs memory foam

Latex and memory foam mattresses are both quite distinct, but what are the best features of each and what sets them apart?

The point about reducing tossing and turning for latex – seems a little too one sides. Could we say as latex supports you so you sleep on top of the mattress rather than surrounded by it, so you ultimately have a deeper sleep?

What to do when you disagree

When you’re sharing a bed with another person, it’s possible that you may both want a different kind of mattress, with different levels of firmness or comfort feel. Different sizes, shapes, weights and feels of mattresses can make the buying decision even harder for some couples, as they both might need different kinds of support.

So what are some common reasons that couples disagree over mattresses? And just what can you do when there’s a clash in opinion?

  1. Different tastes

So one of you wants a firm mattress, while the other prefers something a little more plush? It’s not the end of the world!

Solution #1 – Latex mattresses can offer two different levels of firmness on each side, thus accommodating two different needs. Also by offering different densities or firmness in the latex layers, a mattress can be tailored to both partner’s preferences.

Solution #2 – Add a topper to one side of the bed under the fitted sheet. This may make the fitted sheet sit a little unevenly due to the different heights, but could be enough to make one side of the mattress softer for the plush mattress fan.

Solution #3 – A less popular option is to have two single mattresses sitting next to each other on the one frame. This way each individual has a mattress that suits their needs while still being able to share the same bed frame with their loved one. This isn’t less popular – I think we should highlight more about split kings (particularly as it’s great for our demo)

  1. You feel smothered in bed

Maybe one of you wants to snuggle all night while the other prefers being left alone. What’s a person to do?

Solution #1 – Buy the largest possible mattress size that will fit into your room. Queen size mattresses are the most popular option for couples who need room to stretch and flail around while sleeping

Solution #2 – If you have a large bedroom, a King size mattress will allow for an extra 30cm enabling each person to sleep comfortably. Make sure you measure the space you have available beforehand, and account for room to walk around all areas of the bed.

  1. One of you is hot while the other is cold

We all hate it when our sleeping buddy wants to sleep with a huge doona and we wake up sweaty throughout the night.

Solution #1 – Purchase a mattress that is breathable and won’t make either of you overly warm while sleeping. Avoid memory foams that don’t allow circulation due to their chemical construction.

Solution #2 – Look for a mattress with pin cores to allow for circulation of air flow. Pure latex has an open cellular construction that is breathable and doesn’t retain body heat so both body temperatures remain regular throughout the night.

Solution #3 – Purchase a blanket or doona that has different weights on each side. One side will be denser and therefore warmer.

  1. You have different schedules

Perhaps one of you rises early every morning, disturbing the other’s sleeping pattern. No worries!

Solution #1 – Avoid a spring mattress as movement is often felt by the other person when one moves.

Solution #2 – Choose a latex mattress, as movement is often absorbed a lot better by latex, allowing one person to keep sleeping while the other gets up to begin their day.

  1. You have different sleeping positions

As mentioned earlier in the article, the best mattress for you can depend on the position in which you sleep. So, what happens if you and your partner have different sleeping positions?

Solution #1 – One of the easiest ways to resolve this issue is to choose a mattress with different comfort levels on either side. One side can be firmer than the other to allow for different needs

Solution #2 – Find a mattress that offers enough support for all preferred sleeping positions with enough soft comfort on top to factor in a partner that prefers to sleep on their side.

Solution #3 – The less popular option is to have two separate mattresses sitting together on the one base. You’ll be able to have a mattress suiting your needs while your partner can have one for theirs. This isn’t less popular – I think we should highlight more about split kings (particularly as it’s great for our demo)

What about Protecting your Investment – the importance of a good base and mattress protectors etc.

What about keeping your room comfortable – natural linen, doona etc. I have some great stuff written for Trio that could work here too.

Choosing a mattress for the guest room

Because everyone has different needs, not all guests are going to want the same kind of mattress. However, you’re likely to have a budget, and don’t want to purchase a mattress that’s too expensive when it will only be used for the occasional visitor. Here’s some advice for choosing a mattress that will be comfortable for all types of guests, without breaking the bank.

What kind of mattress should you get?

Although everyone has different needs, buying a latex or memory foam mattress is your best bet as they both have the highest satisfaction rating amongst mattresses. It’s likely to be the best, universally comfortable, mattress for your guests.

How firm or soft should you buy?

It’s best to buy a mattress that’s more on the firm side. That way you can add a mattress topper that can soften the mattress if need be. If a guest arrives who wants a firm mattress, simply remove the topper to make it a little firmer.

What size should you buy?

You should go for a mattress size that is suitable for the size of the room. As you may generally have couples staying over, the smallest size to consider should be a standard double. If space allows, buy a Queen size mattress. If you have a large guest room, the best option is to buy a King size bed. This means that no matter how a couple sleeps, or however large they may be, they’ll have enough room to sleep either snuggled up or as far from one another as possible.

Is it just for guests?

Not necessarily. If you or your partner come down with the flu you may want to avoid sleeping next to them to allow for a rest and ensure you don’t get ill yourself. You can sleep in the guest room if your partner is snoring, or you need to wake up early in the morning and don’t wish to be disturbed. So when looking to purchase a mattress for your guest room, be sure to buy one you feel you could sleep on yourself.

Latex mattress options

Not all latex mattresses were created equal. Some mattresses have extra features that others may not.

Natural vs Synthetic

Some mattresses will be labelled as latex but only a very small percentage of the mattress is comprised of latex. It is also common to find latex mattresses that contain both natural latex from rubber trees as well as synthetic latex. If you’re looking for the best option, be sure that your mattress is made of 100% natural and pure latex with a globally recognised certification.we should list some of those certifications to make it easy for them.

Simple design

When buying a latex mattress, look for a mattress that is designed simplistically. Some mattress designs may have zones and cut up designs that provide ‘extra features’ without really offering anything extra in terms of comfort. All these extra bells and whistles hike up the labour involved and therefore the overall cost of the mattress. The best choice is to choose a latex mattress that is pure and simple, just a latex mattress. I don’t understand this – we have zone and layers. Are they extra features? What extra features are you talking about? Do you mean like a cooling gel foam layer?

Breathable outer cover

The outer cover of your latex mattress shouldn’t be overly thick and should be made of a breathable material such as a bamboo, wool blend or Tencel. It’s important that there are no chemical fire retardants and a moisture wicking quality to the fibres. You don’t want an outer covering that is so thick it separates you from what you’re really buying – a latex mattress. You want to be as close as possible to the support of the mattress itself.

What about durability – talk about the balance between natural and lasting. Wool won’t last but Tencel will???

Solid warranty

Look for the best possible warranty while shopping. A solid warranty and guarantee on the product for at least 10 years is suitable enough and shows that the company is prepared to stand by their product. A reputable dealer will provide an extended warranty for their product because they believe in it and stand by what they sell.

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