Mattress survey

See which mattresses rate the best for comfort. Our members give their verdict on 14 major brands.
 
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01 .Introduction

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It's that time of year again, when mattresses go on sale with price tags boasting up to 40% off. So it's timely that the results of our mattress satisfaction survey are in. This survey of 3500 members ranks the major brands and retailers. The results are based on genuine user-experiences. Coincidentally, our US and UK sister publications, Consumers Report and Which?, also ran mattress brand satisfaction surveys, with very similar top results to ours – Tempur brand mattresses took out the number one slot in all three countries.

While you’ve asked CHOICE many times to test mattresses, experts tell us that bed comfort is all about personal preference (see our mattress buying guide for tips), so shopping around is vital. With retailers selling so many brands, mattress types and models – which are often the same brand under a different name - the choice is never easy. Furthermore, the bed industry is driven by discounts and conspires against meaningful price comparisons.

Something else that came through strongly in your feedback were issues around returns and general dissatisfaction with the terms of the warranties. It seems in the subjective world of mattress comfort, the manufacturer has final say. CHOICE's Fair Warranties campaign is compulsory reading, so you know your rights before you hand over your money.

For more information on Bedding, see Living and Bedroom.

Brands surveyed and rated in this report for member satisfaction

  • Tempur
  • Sleepyhead
  • Sultan
  • Makin Mattresses
  • Madison
  • Simmons
  • Dunlop
  • Sealy
  • Slumberland
  • A.H. Beard
  • Sleep City
  • Dunlopillo
  • Sleepmaker
  • Crown

How we survey

Mattresses 3500 CHOICE members who bought a mattress in the last five years:

  • Rated how satisfied they were with their mattress
  • Told us the main reason they purchased a brand (price, comfort, durability, recommended by someone else)
  • Identified whether they purchased an inner spring, foam or latex mattress, and how much they paid
  • Advised if they would buy the same brand again
  • Identified whether the mattress had improved their sleep.

Mattress retailers More than 2500 CHOICE members who bought a mattress in the last three years:

  • Rated their retailer on cost, product range and customer service 
  • Identified if they tried out their mattress before buying, and for how long
  • Advised whether they received a discount from a particular retailer
  • Told us if they returned their mattresses to the retailer – and, if so, their reasons and any problems they experienced.
 
 

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Mattress brands

Mattress brand satisfaction
Brand Overall satisfaction (%) Would definitely buy again (%)Reason for purchasing brandSleep improved with purchase (%)Average price ($) ^
Tempur (88) 88 64 Comfort 88 3300
Sleepyhead (35) 83 36 Comfort * 2180
Sultan (47) 80 48 Price 77 650
Makin (81) 79 47 Comfort 83 1770
Madison (30) 77 37 Comfort 87 2420
Simmons (99) 76 42 Comfort 80 2160
Dunlop (39) 75 33 Comfort 67 2010
Sealy (599) 74 39 Comfort 68 2000
Slumberland (43) 74 26 Comfort 84 1950
A.H. Beard (296) 74 40 Comfort 72 1910
Sleep City (46) 73 29 Comfort 78 1260
Dunlopillo (55) 71 28 Comfort 73 2710
Sleepmaker (293) 70 26 Comfort 65 1830
Crown (35) 69 28 Comfort * 1650

TABLE NOTES * refers to sample size less than 30. ^ refers to how average price is calculated - by taking the mid-point of the brand's price range selected by members who took part in the survey. prices are rounded off to the nearest $10.

Tempur, a memory-foam mattress, topped our survey with an 88% overall satisfaction score. It also rated highest for the brand of mattress our members would “definitely buy again” (see table). Memory foam, also known as visco-elastic polyurethane foam, was first developed in the 1970s by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in space shuttle seats to relieve the G-force pressure astronauts experienced during take-off. The material was commercialised by Tempur, which markets its products for their pressure-relieving qualities. Members did report some drawbacks with Tempur though. According to CHOICE member Michael, “the mattress hardens up in winter and gets very uncomfortable”. Some also noted that Tempur is a comparatively expensive brand.

CHOICE members most commonly bought the Sealy brand of mattress, but its satisfaction score was lower than the less commonly bought Madison mattress (a brand only available at retail chain Snooze). “The $3000 Sealy mattress I bought is uncomfortably hot at night,” says CHOICE member Heather. “We’ve had to sleep with the air conditioning on all night, yet I still toss and turn a lot. I go and sleep in another bed in the house, or on the sofa, half the time.” Other members voiced similar negative sentiments about both Sealy mattresses and the brand’s customer service (see case study).

Sleepmaker was close to bottom of the list for overall satisfaction. Says CHOICE member Rachel: “Both the retailer and Sleepmaker refuse to replace or fix our sagging mattress, saying we did not flip it often enough. We will never buy a Sleepmaker mattress again.” Comfort is the number one priority for members buying a mattress – except for Ikea’s Sultan brand, where price is the key factor. On average, a Sultan mattress costs about one-fifth the price of a Tempur, yet still rates third-highest for overall satisfaction. According to CHOICE member Graham, Sultan offers “a great product for the price, with a three-month exchange option and 25-year guarantee”.

Mattress retailers

Mattress retailer satisfaction
Retailer# (number of respondents)Overall satisfaction ** (%)Customer service (%)Product range (%)Cost (%)Number of times
discount received (%)
Makin (66) 80 83 78 79 6
Ikea (53) 80 70 83 88 6
Sleepy's (81) 80 86 77 77 69
David Jones (173) 80 82 77 80 87
Forty Winks (299) 78 78 79 76 66
Sleep City (103) 77 77 76 78 52
Domayne (98) 76 76 79 74 68
Bedshed (108) 76 78 76 75 50
Myer (140) 76 77 73 78 84
Beds R Us (61) 75 79 72 75 48
Snooze (224) 75 77 77 70 52
Harvey Norman (347) 75 73 76 73 64
Super A Mart (36) 73 71 71 76 36
TABLE NOTES # Physical stores only. Online stores excluded due to insufficinet sample size. ** Overall score is an average of customer service, product range and cost scores.

CHOICE members are savvy enough to buy mattresses on sale or haggle for a discount. About 61% of CHOICE members bought on discount from all retailers surveyed including franchises such as Forty Winks and Snooze, while a staggering 87% bought from David Jones on discount.“You can always barter down on anything from Harvey Norman,” says Denis. “It wasn't too difficult to get a couple of hundred off the advertised price for a mattress I was keen on.”

Makin, a manufacturer with retail warehouses in Adelaide, Albury, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Canberra and Newcastle, came out tops for overall satisfaction (80%), along with Ikea and bedding franchise Sleepy’s (which has the highest score for customer service satisfaction) as well as David Jones. Members raved about Sleepy’s 60-night comfort exchange guarantee, which allows customers dissatisfied with the comfort or feel of their mattress to be exchanged for another of equal or greater value.

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CHOICE members told us the problems they experienced with their mattresses. Common complaints include how their mattresses were “too hot”, sagged too much forming ridges in the middle of the mattress. Mattress expert, Nick Ristevski, who has 37 years' experience selling and custom-making mattresses, explains: “A mattress is made up of many layers. The fabric on top can be made of polyester, cotton, viscose or bamboo and it covers the foam or latex layer, or a pillow top made up of thicker foam or latex. Below this, at the core is the memory foam, foam, latex, or springs. These materials react differently to weight, impact and body heat. Their capacity to retain and release heat depends on the nature of the material, its density and how all the materials are layered to allow the mattress to breathe.”

For example, some latex mattresses feel “too hot” because the perforations (or cells) in the latex core are small (see photo) and does not allow much airflow, compared to say, a latex core with much larger cells or a pocket spring mattress. “Unfortunately, consumers almost never get to see the cross-section of mattresses and this is critical in choosing the mattress that’s best suited to you,” says Nick, who shops regularly for mattresses and cuts them up after he buys them to analyse how the mattress is layered. He showed CHOICE the cross-section of a branded $4000 latex pillow top mattress, which was marketed to Nick as comprising a “full latex core”. Cutting through the mattress at his Rockdale Mattress Factory, Nick found the latex core sandwiched by several cheap foam layers. “Foam is less resilient compared to memory foam, latex or spring, and it allows good airflow, but it also loses its shape easily,” he says. That's how ridges or humps form on foam pillow top mattresses.

The logic of airflow also follows with the bed base. For example, a bed base comprising of slats allows more airflow than a box base.


 

Your mattress questions answered

Why are so many mattresses sold on discount?

Retailers mark up mattresses so they can heavily discount them, knowing most customers want to buy on sale. In reality, a “sale price” is usually the true retail price. However, mattresses discounted at more than 50% may have been repaired or returned. matress023

Why do mattresses sometimes feel hot?

The density of materials (such as latex) compressed under your weight restricts air flow, which means the material under your body absorbs and retains your heat. Always ask how big the open cells in a latex mattress are; the bigger the cells, the less heat absorbed. Lack of airflow means a latex mattress will at first feel stiff and cold in winter, but becomes more malleable when it warms up from your body heat. Foam allows more airflow, but is the least resilient of mattress materials and loses shape quickly.

Why do ridges form on a mattress?

Ridges and body indentations are normal on almost every mattress, but bed buyers aren’t usually told this at the point of sale. Foam, memory foam or latex pillow tops are more susceptible to higher ridges. Body indentations up to 32mm are normal, but deeper dents formed during warranty may indicate a mattress defect.

Do more dollars always equal a more comfortable mattress?

Yes. Put simply, fewer materials are used in cheaper mattresses. Also, a mattress with Bonnell springs (an older spring system) is cheaper than one with multiple pocket springs. Ask about its composition and how much material is in the mattress – an expensive mattress will be considerably heavier.

Should I return a faulty mattress to the retailer or the manufacturer?

Under warranty laws, you should first contact your retailer. The sale of contract entitles you to insist that the retailer provide you with a refund, replacement or repair, even if it’s a manufacturing fault. If your retailer is unable to assess the damage, it should arrange delivery of the item to the manufacturer. You can also approach a manufacturer for replacement or repair, but not refunds, because your sale of contract is with the retailer, unless the manufacturer is also the retailer.

Go figure:

  • 10% of survey respondents tried to return their mattress because they were dissatisfied and 36% of these members found difficulties doing so. See our warranties article so you know your rights.
  • 41% replace their mattresses every six to 10 years.

Here's what you've told us about your mattress buying experiences:

“The whole return process is crap. Apparently the only party fit to judge the quality of a mattress is the company that makes it! It seems consumers have no rights at all in this area.” - Neil

"I bought the Simmons mattress because it had a pillow top but was firm. I thought this would make it more comfortable to sleep on. The disruption in sleep from movement from your partner was also supposed to be reduced. I was sadly disappointed with my mattress as both myself and my partner have made decent sized dents in our respective sides of the mattress and there is a distinct lump between us where we don't sleep. This is despite the fact I turn my mattress every week or two when I change my sheets as I was instructed to do by the shop. I tried to return my mattress but the measurements the company required of me were confusing and difficult to do so I guess I gave up. I will never buy a pillow top mattress again as I like to be able to flip my mattress and therefore prolong its use. I will invest in a sheepskin cover to soften my mattress instead. My previous mattress is in the spare room and anyone that sleeps on it comments on how comfortable it is and it is over 10 years old!" – Sue

"We were not told that the air pressure would vary during the night so I have to wake 5 to 6 times a night to set it back to the correct pressure. I would not recommend this Sleep Number mattress to anyone. " - Clare

“I did find that being latex it does make you overheat at night thus less blankets make you cold on top and your hot underneath. I don't recommend using a doona with a latex mattress.” – Jackie

"I would never purchase a mattress through Bedshed again. They do not inform you that there is a no exchange policy. The mattress is not suitable for my back. Trial time in store is not sufficient to actually properly try a mattress. I have had back pain ever since purchasing the new mattress almost four weeks ago. We will probably need to buy another mattress. Very costly mistake to purchase a mattress through a store that does not allow for an exchange." - Fiona

"Latex mattresses are good for the first year but after that not very good. We were recommended to turn & rotate our mattress once a month, which we do. If we don't we get sore backs. It's a pain to turn mattress so often & I'm in my mid 30's. How difficult this would be for older people. Would like to go back to a inner spring mattress. Worth paying the extra money." – Sally

"We found Sleepy's great to deal with. They kept our new mattress in storage for months while my husband built our new bed frame. Exchanged mattresses happily when our sleep quality showed no improvement after more than a month. Have since purchased a mattress for our son from the same shop. Shop seems to have changed owners, but we had another trouble free experience. Recommended! " – Jenni

"The mattress was not fit for purpose. We had to return it three times. Each replacement was of a different level of firmness and/or failed within a few months of receiving it. We will never buy Slumberland or from Captain Snooze again - we'd rather sleep on the floor."- Phil

" I have spent almost $10000 on mattresses in five years and am still not happy. I found that in both cases the retailers discouraged me from testing the mattress for any more than a few minutes at a time and seemed to continually steer me to the higher end range." - Gail

"The Snooze staff sells mattresses based on a body profile system, which suggested I needed a softer mattress than I previously had. This was stated as being 100% accurate. Based on this information I purchased the mattress that was softer than what I had slept on before. I ended up being in horrible lower back pain and shoulder pain which I hadn't had for sometime due to shoulder surgery. My physiotherapist said my pain was from the softness of the bed as it was rotating and compressing my tendon. Snooze were not interested on my pain and said I would have to wait for one month for my body to adjust. Meanwhile I was in horrible pain. I went and has another body profile done at another snooze store and it was different again saying I needed an even softer mattress. After numerous phone calls we exchanged the bed after one month for another mattress, but Snooze refused a refund of the price difference and said we had six months to use the difference to buy something else from them. We have since taken it to their head office but as the stores are franchised it is out of their power. I have now written to the store owner to try and settle this before I lodge a complaint with consumer affairs. I believe we have grounds based upon the mattress being unfit for it's purpose and being different from what's been described. I did also have a letter from my physiotherapist which the owner has merely dismissed." – Tania

"The mattress is a pillow top. We thought it was ideal but it turned out to be very warm in summer because of the polyester top filling." - Jim

“It has a latex pillow top, which makes it extremely comfortable, but also makes it quite hot, which is uncomfortable in warmer nights. This was not explained to us before purchase.” – Tony

“The brand is not as important as the material used which was latex. We have had difficulties adjusting to the heat that latex generates. It was supposed to be balanced off by the flexigel and other materials used in the mattress but the end result does not come out quite the way intended and it still generates heat. Forty Winks has been very helpful and have offered to change it but in our calls to AH Beard they have been very disinterested in our complaint and have tried to fob us off as quickly as possible.” – Ian

Tempur mattresses are only sold through Forty Winks and they are only warehoused in Melbourne - so you have to wait for it to be delivered to you from interstate. It took a month! The mattress had a strong mildewy smell when you lay on it and air was pushed out of the mattress. The retailer tried to claim that it was glue that was still damp inside the mattress and that it would pass. However, it was DEFINITELY mildew. Eventually they agreed to return it.” – Dan

“Buying mattresses can be very overwhelming. Ikea was helpful in showing what material and firmness level to choose and why. We ended up purchasing elsewhere, but had an idea of why we were choosing medium (which the salesperson also recommended), so it gave us some buying confidence, especially when you can't return a mattress easily.” – Solvieg

“In Western Australia we found purchasing a mattress very confusing. Every bed shop sells mattresses under different brand names so its makes it near on impossible to shop around and compare prices. We were very confused until one retailer let the secret out that many of the brands have different models names for the same product and many brands come from one manufacturer!. We dug deeper and tried to find out the different brands and names for the model we liked to compare prices. It was a difficult task as retailers like to keep this to themselves but we were able to get some leads and indeed tried virtually the same mattress under a completely different brand name and model name in different shops. Only then were we able to work out which shops were giving us a reasonable price. Different bed shops which could be right next door to each other selling virtually the same mattress under different brand names and prices. Most consumers have no idea and are trying out mattresses thinking that they are different. No wonder it gets very confusing!” - Evonne

“Take your time and ask lots of questions and be prepared to go to a few stores before you decide.” - Chris

“It is a pocket spring mattress, which is the only mattress I'd buy again in the future. However, the memory foam pillow top has developed prominent indentations where we sleep and I find that it makes the mattress too hot for me to sleep on most of the time.” – David

“We have found David Jones and AH Beard in particular to be exceptionally helpful in addressing faults and returns. That is why we have consistently used their products.” -  Paul

“Generally I find that the retail mattress industry is dominated by people who know very little about matching mattress types to people. Only after 22 years of marriage and some very badly matched mattresses have my wife and I found a mattress that we both get a good night's sleep on. Thank you Sleepy's.” – Warren

“Don't hesitate to lay on the mattress for a very long time, don't be embarrassed in the shop that's the only way to know if you're going to be comfortable. That really should be emphasised.” - Fabienne

"This Sealy mattress that I purchased (plus the frame) was a nightmare experience for me last year. I received very little guidance in the first place and didn't realise how much the mattress decision could affect my sleep because I'd never had any problems at all. It ended up causing my severe back pain. I started by calling Sealy and they told me I should continue to use the mattress for around 8 weeks so I could "adjust" to it. They then advised me that they could come and look at the mattress and could potentially alter it to suit my needs for a price. I decided instead to contact Harvey Norman. One staff member was helpful and seemed interested in exploring what the problem might be - we tried different slats for the frame and later a replacement frame but this made no difference. On advice, I then began looking at other mattresses and spent a lot of time finding an alternative (Sleepmaker). The original purchase was in July 2009 and I had the final delivery of the new mattress in early February. It was a very long process and I only wish there was better advice available in the store when I first made my purchase.” - Katharine

“A mattress has to be given time to see if it suits. At first your body has to have a period of time to get used to the new bed. Maybe after a month or so you may wish to try another, but it's such a big deal to return a large bulky item back to the shop & argue it's now not suitable, I think most people are inclined to put up with a mattress that is less than perfect for an aching back & hips.” – Andy

“The retailer recommended this Slumberland mattress as a chiropractic mattress but I find it too soft with a pillow top and I wake up with a sore, stiff back. We will be looking forward to replace it soon."- Tracy

CASE STUDIES

In September 2006, CHOICE members Owen and Tricia Gerke bought a Sealy mattress. By January 2007, the mattress was sagging, with visible body indentations and a ridge. Sealy customer service told them sagging was “normal”. After two inspections and some repairs, the Gerkes are still dissatisfied. Sealy insists this is a “comfort choice issue” rather than a manufacturing defect and offered to repair it if it sags by 32mm. “The mattress had sagged by 20mm in just two months and is very uncomfortable,” says Owen. “This is unacceptable.”

Sealy spokesman Matthew Thomas tells CHOICE the body indentations on the Gerkes’ mattress are normal, as Sealy mattresses are designed to conform to body contours. “The most significant amount of height loss occurs in the first six months of use due to compression and adjustment in the comfort layers,” he argues. “When you sit in a padded lounge chair, you leave an impression and over time the seat may not be as high as when you bought it. It does not mean the chair will be uncomfortable.” Sealy resolved the Gerkes’ situation by replacing the mattress.

A similar case was reported to CHOICE last year when member Richard Levine and his wife developed back pains from sleeping on their Sealy mattress. Body impressions had also formed on his foam pillow-top spring mattress. David Jones, the retailer from whom he bought the bed, told him it can take time to get accustomed to a new mattress . The store manager also told them to call the manufacturer, Sealy. A Sealy staff told the Levines they had to rotate it every two weeks for three months to allow the pillow top to conform to their body contours. The Levines did so without success. Upon inspection, Sealy said Richard’s pre-existing non-Sealy spring base was the problem. Richard argued that he should not be liable for the problem because he was not told he needed to have or buy a matching Sealy base. David Jones refunded Richard's money in the end.





 

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