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Mattress Shopping for People Who Hate Shopping

Mattress shopping is not for the meek. First, it's complicated. There are lots of different types of mattresses on the market.

Even if you can sort through them, there are many different brands, different models, and, of course, very different prices! Mattress advertising tends to be frenetic and you may notice that some mattress sales people are a little, well, overcaffeinated. Finding your way through the maze without overspending or buying the wrong mattress can be tough. Here are a few brief tips to help you before you step foot in your first mattress show room. Mattresses are not cheap. Even a relatively low-end product is still going to cost you hundreds of dollars. Before you start comparing prices, figure out what you will need.

Delivery of the new mattress, and removal and disposal of your old mattress are not necessarily included in the price. Always ask. (And if you can arrange to transport the mattress yourself and deal with your old mattress on your own, you may be able to get a better deal.) Next, narrow down the type of mattress you want. There are four main types of mattresses: the inner-spring mattress, waterbeds, foam, and air.

Airbeds are starting to gain in popularity and they definitely are a smart choice for a guest room or to be a store-away mattress you only need a few times a year. Don't think of the old air mattress. Some airbeds are regular height and can be made up to look just like a regular bed. They also inflate quickly and easily.

But most people don't want to make an airbed a permanent bed, so this is not likely the choice you'll make if you're shopping for you main new mattress. Foam mattresses, including the famous TempurPedic® mattresses, are made of a dense foam material. They mold themselves to the body's shape. They don't transfer motion well, meaning that one person can roll over and the other person not feel it. They're also good mattresses for folks with allergies, since they don't harbor dust mites and other nasty allergens. If you've never tried a foam mattress, you need to sprawl out on a couple in some show rooms to see what the fuss is about.

Naturally, you have to realize that the foam mattress has a couple of negative points to consider. Some people say they are hot, which is probably not a problem if you live anywhere outside the sun belt. They are also fairly heavy, which makes transporting them yourself a bit of a hassle. (They're not the best mattress to pick if you move constantly.) And they're expensive. Back in their original heyday, waterbeds were really just giant vinyl water balloons.

If that's what you think a waterbed today is like, you need to take another look. Waterbeds today look like regular beds but do require some special framing. They use an inner system of baffles and chambers to reduce transfer of motion (you know, that old tsunami-like effect when two people were in a waterbed and one got up). If you haven't tried a waterbed lately, you really ought to check them out. Waterbeds are a bit of an evangelist thing; some people love them in a fanatical way, others don't care that much. They are good for people with allergies and can be a bit more adjustable than regular innerspring mattresses.

The downside is that they are very heavy when they're set up. If you plan on setting up a mattress in an upstairs room or loft, check to be sure it's strong enough to support a waterbed. By far the most common mattress sold in the U.

S. is the inner-spring. Invented over a hundred years ago, it's a popular and practical design. The mattress contains a network of coils (springs) that are designed to provide push-pull support.

The coils are designed to provide give and cushion when weight is brought on them, but they also have enough spring to resist and provide some support. This give-and-take between cushion and support is the reason that inner-springs have been so popular for so long. An inner-spring is the top mattress which is meant to work with a box spring.

The box spring (bottom mattress) also contains coils that work on the same cushion-and-support principle as the inner-spring mattress. The inner-spring mattress is usually available in many tiers, from economy to top luxury models. As a general rule of thumb, you need to buy a better grade of mattress if you plan on using the mattress heavily (and that means sleeping on it every night, having more than one person in bed, and how much weight these people will put on the mattress). But once you get to the tippy-top tier, you may find that the mattress is more about luxury frills (pillow-tops, cover material, padding) than durability. If you are buying a mattress for a child's room or guest room, an economy grade is probably more than sufficient.

A mid-range mattress is better for daily use by a single sleeper (it will last longer) and top grades may be needed if two people will use the bed, particularly if they have some extra poundage. Once you've picked out the type of mattress you want, start to shop sales circulars and online before venturing into a store. Mattresses go on sale periodically, so you may be able to pick up a good buy if you're patient and study what's available for a while.

Shopping for a mattress means testing the mattress and (if you're a serious shopper) taking some notes. Note that sometimes department stores will offer their own line of mattresses which, in reality, are made by the major manufacturers and may even correspond to a mattress you could buy at a discount house. If you shop for mattresses at furniture stores or department stores, you will probably see higher-priced merchandise. The salesperson may be able to tell you who manufactures the house brand of mattress; you can then pick up the same or similar mattress at a discount outlet. Mattress stores, some discount furniture stores, and other discount houses carry mattresses and often at good prices.

The problem with discount houses is that they may have a very limited selection and a here-today-gone-tomorrow policy (that is, they may stock one type of mattress for a while but when that inventory is sold, they may replenish it with an entirely different mattress). The best approach is to figure out the type of mattress you want and keep narrowing it down until you know a size, brand, and model. This will let you do some research into prices. Once you know more or less what the going rate is, good deals will become obvious to you. (Many casual mattress shoppers also run into good deals but don't always recognize them!).

Need more information about mattresses but hesitate to ask a mattress salesperson? Have questions? Just want some inspiration? Click through to .

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