Why Are Mattresses So Expensive?
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If you are shopping for a new mattress, you might catch yourself wondering, “Why are mattresses so expensive?” The realization of how much mattresses cost hit me like a truck when I needed to buy my first mattress on my own in college — I was taken aback when I saw a $1,000 price tag on a mattress. I truly had no idea what an average price was and I, too, wondered why they cost so much.
But there are many reasons mattresses cost what they do! Mattresses are more expensive than they used to be, because they are better designed and made with better materials so consumers can find the right match for their specific needs.
So whether you are a college student or young adult shopping for a mattress on your own for the first time, a newlywed couple searching for a new bed for two, or you are simply curious, let’s break down exactly what makes mattresses so expensive, as well as how to save money on a mattress, why it’s worth investing in a good mattress, and some FAQs.
Why Mattresses Are So Expensive
What is it that drives up the price of mattresses nowadays? There are many factors at play, but a main driver is manufacturers have added many improvements to the mattresses of yore, beyond just better materials and higher-quality construction. Additionally, mattress companies have other costs to consider, from overhead to marketing and advertising.
As with many products, materials are one of the main factors that affect the price of a mattress, aside from the cost of labor to manufacture it. There are a wide variety of materials used to construct mattresses, so let’s go over a few of the main types of mattress constructions.
- Memory Foam: Memory foam is made from polyurethane and has rapidly become one of the most popular materials to use in mattresses because of its soft, pressure-relieving nature. Mattresses made entirely of memory foam may be a solid block of foam or include several layers of different foams. Memory foam mattresses tend to be among the least expensive mattresses, because memory foam is not an especially expensive material. There is variation in price, though, as some memory foams are open-celled or gel-infused for cooling. Additionally, higher density foams are more durable, and thus more expensive.
- Latex: Latex foam is another common mattress material. Made from the sap of rubber trees, latex foam is often considered a more natural alternative to memory foam. Latex mattresses offer a supportive, bouncy, and responsive feel. However, latex is considerably more expensive than memory foam is.
- Innerspring: Innerspring mattresses are among the more traditional styles of mattresses. They are made primarily of coils, with a softer layer on top of the coils. Many older innerspring beds use interlocking coils, but more modern innersprings use individually pocketed coils to reduce noise and motion transfer. However, pocketed coils tend to be more expensive.
- Hybrid: Hybrid mattresses are a blend of two types of mattresses, usually foam and innerspring. These beds utilize multiple materials to achieve a “best of both worlds” feel. Many hybrid mattresses feature a top layer of memory foam or latex, with a supportive coil layer beneath.
- Adjustable/Smart Beds: There are a variety of smart beds or adjustable mattresses on the market today. These high-tech mattresses can be made with a variety of different materials, including features like adjustable firmness or sleep sensors, but their techy nature tends to increase their price significantly compared to other styles of mattresses.
In addition to the primary materials of a mattress, there are other construction factors to consider. For example, many mattresses feature a cover, which can be made from as cheap a material as polyester to as expensive a material as cashmere. Or some beds feature additional pillow top or Euro top layers for additional comfort, which can drive up prices as well.
Natural, Organic, and Hypoallergenic Mattresses
Another consideration for materials is if you want a mattress made with natural, organic, or hypoallergenic materials.
Natural and organic mattresses are often more expensive than other styles, because they include higher-quality and more expensive materials. These can include latex (which is more expensive than memory foam, as discussed above), wool, cotton, and other natural materials. Many of these products also receive third-party certifications to help consumers understand what components of the mattress are natural or organic.
Hypoallergenic mattresses typically include materials that are resistant to mold, dust mites, and other allergens. This could also drive up the price of a mattress, as it is an additional consideration for the manufacturer.
Increasingly, customers are looking for mattresses made without fiberglass. Wondering what fiberglass is and why it is in mattresses? Essentially, fiberglass is a glass-plastic composite which is used in mattresses as a flame-retardant (mattresses need to have some kind of flame-retardant to prevent the mattress from catching fire while you are sleeping on it).
While fiberglass has been considered generally safe to use in certain contexts, it can present a health hazard if you are directly exposed to it. Learn more in our guide on what you need to know about fiberglass in mattresses.
Because fiberglass is a cheaper material to use as a flame-retardant, fiberglass-free mattresses might be more expensive.
Modern mattresses also often include premium features that weren’t considered in the construction of older mattresses. Here are a few common ones:
- Edge Support: Edge support refers to how well the perimeter of the mattress bears weight. Many mattresses include reinforced edge support to allow sleepers to use the entire surface area of the mattress. Additionally, sturdy edge support will increase the mattress’ durability.
- Motion Isolation: Motion isolation is a bed’s ability to stop motion at the source. This allows one partner to move around on the bed without disturbing the other partner.
- Cooling Capabilities: Many mattresses include special features to promote heating or cooling. These can include gel, charcoal, or copper infusions in foam, Phase Change Material, or ventilation holes.
- Zoned Support: A mattress with zoned support features different levels of support and pressure relief across the mattress to target different areas of the body. For example, the mattress might be more supportive around the hips and softer around the shoulders for pressure relief.
Mattresses come in a variety of different sizes and the bigger the bed, the more it will generally cost. Because a larger mattress requires a greater amount of materials to construct, it will have a higher price than a smaller mattress of the same material.
In addition to the size of the bed, you may also want to look at the height of the mattress. Mattresses are generally around eight to 12 inches tall, but there are many taller options available. If you opt for a taller mattress, it will also likely cost more. As with bigger sizes, more material for a taller mattress means more money.
Support and Durability
Support and durability can also play a role in how expensive a mattress is. Good support and durability are usually an indicator of good quality, which likely means a more expensive mattress. Additionally, another reason mattresses can be more expensive now than they were in the past is many are designed to be supportive enough to use without a box spring. Instead, most modern mattresses can be used on a platform bed frame, eliminating the need to purchase a box spring on top of a mattress and frame.
Delivery and Shipping
“Free shipping” is never really free — if you order a mattress online, you likely won’t be charged a shipping cost as you check out, but the expense of shipping a product as large and heavy as a mattress is coming from somewhere. Many online mattress companies cover the cost of shipping, but will bake that charge into the listing price of the bed.
Even for brick-and-mortar stores, shipping is a consideration. Unless the company manufactured the mattress right where they sell it, it likely had to be shipped from somewhere else. That cost adds to the overhead and will likely be made up for in the end price of the mattress. And if you can’t move the mattress yourself from the store, odds are you will have to pay an additional delivery fee for someone to bring it to your home.
In every business, the cost of selling the product is more than just the cost of materials plus labor. Businesses have overhead costs, such as rent and utilities, to factor into their pricing schemes. If you purchase a mattress in-store, part of the price you pay will be covering the overhead of the store.
Marketing and Advertising
Like overhead on a physical store, marketing and advertising costs can factor into the price of a product or service. Particularly because of the increased competition in the mattress market, brands have to work harder to stand out or gain the attention of consumers.
Secondhand Market Is Small
Due to the nature of the product, there is a very limited resale market for mattresses. If you buy a mattress secondhand, you truly don’t know how clean or well-cared for it is. While lots of people do opt to buy a mattress secondhand to save money, it’s a gamble. Most people prefer to buy a mattress new to be sure it’s in good condition and clean. This makes it more challenging to find inexpensive mattresses, compared to other types of furniture which many people take no issue with buying used, such as tables or lamps.
With so many mattress brands in the market, having a well known or reputable brand name can allow a company to sell their mattress for a higher price. Many consumers would rather purchase a slightly spendier product with confidence it will be quality than take a risk on a cheaper bed, which may be low quality.
Mattress companies are ultimately businesses seeking to turn a profit. With everything considered — the cost of materials, labor, delivery and shipping, overhead, marketing, and so on — companies still usually need to charge above the sum total of those costs to make money on their product. You can probably see now how it all adds up to make mattresses a fairly expensive product.
How To Save Money On A Mattress
Even though mattresses are a big purchase for many people, there are ways to save money. (Hint hint — check out our Sleepopolis coupon page to get started on saving!)
Holidays and Sales
Always keep an eye out for sales. There are some usual sales you can expect — Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday being some of the best ones of the year. But many brands run sales even for smaller holidays, so check the calendar for upcoming holidays that might prompt mattress brands to run a sale.
Companies also run sales that aren’t tied to any specific holiday. They might need to rid themselves of excess inventory or might be trying to get their name out there with a great sale. Spring can be a great time to buy a mattress because many companies are launching new models and need to clear out the old ones to make space in their inventory.
Shopping online can be a great way to save money on a mattress. Online mattress companies often can reduce their overhead costs by not spending money on brick-and-mortar stores and on employing salespeople. Additionally, shopping online allows you to quickly compare prices between brands and to shop without the influence of salespeople.
Mattress and Bedding Bundles
If you need a whole new bedroom setup, look out for mattress and bedding bundles. Frequently around peak sales times, mattress brands will offer not only a discount on their mattress but also additional free gifts, like pillows, sheets, or a bed frame. If you were planning on purchasing these items anyway, this can be a good way to save a little extra money.
Choose A Low APR If You Finance
Because mattresses are fairly expensive, purchasing one can have a big financial impact on many people. For that reason, many shoppers choose to finance their mattress purchase and pay it off over time. If you opt to finance your mattress, be sure to choose a low APR — preferably 0 percent — to ensure you won’t end up paying more than the mattress cost to begin with.
Create A Budget
Before you start shopping, figure out how much you actually can afford to spend on your mattress. Knowing your maximum ahead of time will help you eliminate mattresses that are out of budget. No use in falling in love with a bed only to realize it’s out of your price range.
Determining a budget can also help you start saving, since a mattress can be a big expense. If you don’t have enough money on hand to purchase the mattress you want now, you can start putting away smaller amounts of money over time to save up towards your larger goal. To get started, check out some great options in our roundup of the best mattresses for the money.
As with any major purchase, it’s important to do your research. (Congrats — you are already doing that if you are here on Sleepopolis!). Having more knowledge about the product you are shopping for will help you understand what is a good deal.
Why It’s Worth Investing In A Mattress
We have discussed extensively why mattresses are expensive and how to save money on your mattress purchase. But I’d also like to go over why it’s worth investing in a good mattress.
You Will Sleep On It For Years
The average mattress should last seven to 10 years, so think carefully when you purchase your bed. It could potentially be with you for the next decade. And considering the average person spends six to nine hours a night on their mattress for sleep (and that’s not even counting reading, napping, or sex), you will likely be spending a lot of time on your bed.
While the upfront price of a mattress can look steep, if you consider the cost over time, it feels much more reasonable. Paying $1,500 for a mattress might feel like a lot, but if you are able to sleep on it for 10 years, that is only $150 per year. That is actually a great value for 10 years of comfort and quality sleep.
Of course, you still have to pay that high price upfront, which is no small purchase for the majority of people. But thinking of your mattress as an investment in your quality of life for the next decade can make it easier to swallow that bitter pill.
Back, Shoulder, and Hip Pain
Having a good mattress can play an important role in your physical health, including preventing and alleviating back, shoulder, or hip pain. While a new mattress isn’t a panacea to all your physical ailments, it’s worth investing in a bed that will provide proper support to your back, as well as pressure relief to your shoulders and hips.
If you struggle with sleep apnea, having the right mattress can also be beneficial for alleviating symptoms. Many folks with sleep apnea try side sleeping to keep their airways open and reduce sleep apnea incidents. A softer mattress will reduce pressure on the shoulders and hips, allowing sleepers with apnea to rest more comfortably on their sides.
Restless Leg Syndrome
While no mattress can cure restless leg syndrome (RLS), having a more comfortable mattress can help sleepers dealing with the discomfort of this syndrome. Additionally, choosing a mattress with low motion transfer can reduce how much a sleeper with RLS disturbs their partner’s sleep.
Beyond specific physical issues like back, shoulder, and hip pain, getting good sleep is imperative to your overall health. Having a mattress that you feel comfortable on and that doesn’t disrupt your sleep — such as with excess motion transfer from your partner, from overheating, or from being too soft or too firm — will likely help you sleep better in the long term.
How Much Do Mattresses Cost?
“Expensive” and “cheap” are relative terms, considering everyone places different values on things and everyone has different budgets. For many people, any product that costs $1,000 is an expensive one, but it might not be “expensive” within its market.
That is why it is important to understand generally how much a product like a mattress costs — if you get a sense of what is average by comparing different mattresses, then you can easily identify what is “cheap” and what is “expensive” in the mattress market.
Having assessed the mattress market quite a bit here at Sleepopolis, we use these price categories for queen size mattresses (the most common mattress size):
- Cheap: <$1,000
- Budget: $1,000 to $1,500
- Average: $1,500 to $2,000
- Luxury: >$2,000
For more information, check out our guide on how much money to spend on a mattress.
How To Make A Mattress Last
When you put a lot of money into a purchase like a mattress, naturally you will want to do what you can to make it last as long as possible. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your mattress in good condition.
Add A Mattress Protector
First, it’s always a good idea to add a mattress protector to your bed. Mattress protectors serve as a barrier between your mattress and the outside world — they keep allergens out, prevent liquids from making contact with your bed, and overall keep it fresh and clean. These are a popular product among sleepers with allergies, for kids’ beds, or for sleepers who share their bed with their pet.
However, they are beneficial for everyone. You never know when an errant drink spill might leave your mattress soaked and requiring deep cleaning. Better to think ahead and protect your mattress.
Rotate Or Flip Your Mattress
Next, you can increase the longevity of your mattress by rotating it or flipping it. When you sleep on your mattress in the same spot night after night, it can start to sag, creating a depression in the material. One way to counteract this is to rotate your bed 180 degrees or flip the mattress over periodically — think every six months. That way you aren’t always sleeping in the exact same spot.
One important caveat is to check the construction of your mattress before rotating or flipping. Most mattresses can be rotated, unless they contain specialized zoned support that makes certain areas of the bed firmer or softer to target support or pressure relief on specific areas of the body. However, many modern mattresses cannot be flipped because their construction is different in the top layer than on the bottom layer. Many older mattresses could be flipped (and some modern ones still can), but if your bed has a sturdy support layer on the bottom and a plush comfort layer on the top, you won’t want to swap them.
Cleaning Your Mattress
Keeping your mattress clean is another great way to extend its life. If you have a spill or stain on your bed, certainly you’ll want to clean it, but it’s also important to clean it to remove allergens, sweat, and dead skin that regularly collect in and on the bed. For an in-depth guide, check out our article on how to clean your mattress.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth spending money on an expensive mattress?
It depends on what you consider to be expensive, as well as your personal budget and needs from your mattress. For many people, it can be worthwhile to spend money on an expensive mattress to find exactly what they are looking for. However, if you aren’t too picky, you can probably save money on a less expensive bed.
Should I splurge on a mattress?
Splurging on a mattress is a big question for many shoppers. If you are weighing the pros and cons, consider: Is it within your budget? If the mattress you are considering splurging on is more expensive than you can afford, it might not be worth it. If you have a backup option that is less expensive, it might be good to do your finances a favor and save a little. But if you can afford the mattress and it offers something your less-expensive backups don’t, go for it!
How many years should a mattress last?
The average mattress should last between seven and 10 years. Keep an eye out for any visible deterioration, such as sagging, that might indicate you need to replace your mattress sooner. See our guide on how often to replace your mattress for more information.
How cheap is too cheap for a mattress?
For a queen size mattress, we consider anything under $1,000 to be a “cheap mattress.” However, you can find queen mattresses for just a few hundred dollars from budget stores. Keep in mind these mattresses are usually quite thin, use inexpensive and poorer quality materials, and might not last as long as a more expensive one. Often, cheaper mattresses are not as comfortable nor do they offer as much support as higher quality ones. But ultimately, it is up to you.
What’s the difference between cheap and expensive mattresses?
The primary difference between cheap and expensive mattresses is quality of materials and overall construction. Cheaper mattresses often use cheaper materials, which can result in a lower quality bed. Learn more in our cheap vs expensive mattress explainer. You can also check out some quality “cheap” options in our best cheap mattress roundup roundup.
Is there a big markup on mattresses?
As with most products, there is a markup on mattresses, because the company needs to generate a profit. That means they need to charge more than just the cost of the materials plus the labor it took to physically make the mattress. Companies also have to factor in overhead costs. However, just how large the markup on a mattress is depends on the company. Some companies are able to reduce the markup by eliminating brick-and-mortar stores or owning their own factories.