Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

How to buy the best mattress


A good mattress can go a long way to ensuring you get a good night's sleep.

Woman smiling while lying down on a bed with head on pillows

How do you find a mattress that's 'just right'?


Finding a mattress you find comfortable and suits your budget can be tricky.

Five minutes of feeling things out on a bustling show floor won't help you figure out which brands and models are comfortable and long lasting. 

We can help you work out what type and size of mattress is best for you, and even how to save 50% or more on your next purchase.

Looking for the best spring mattress?

See our expert product reviews.

How to choose a comfortable mattress

Comfort is subjective, but understanding mattress firmness and the differences in mattress type will help you narrow the field when it comes to testing a mattress instore.

How firm should my mattress be?

It all comes down to your preferred sleeping position:

  • Firm: If you sleep on your stomach, a firm mattress will keep your spine aligned.
  • Medium: If you sleep on your back, it'll provide support for your spine, back and neck while keeping you comfortable.
  • Soft: Great for sleeping on your side because it'll support and contour your body's curves.

But be warned: we've found that most retailers' firmness claims don't match the bed being sold. We do body support and stability tests when we test mattresses, so check out our spring mattress reviews and foam and latex mattress reviews to see what we found.


Woman lying on her side on a mattress with a red line running down the length of her back

If you're a side sleeper, a soft mattress will support your body's curves.

What type of mattress is best?

It really depends on your personal preference. For example, you may find a spring mattress supports your spine while a foam finish feels a bit too solid.

We explain the pros and cons, and price range, for the different types of mattresses.

Coil mattress illustration

There are two types of coil mattresses:

  • Continuous coil mattresses are made from a single piece of wire looped into springs.
  • Open-coil mattresses are made of single springs fixed together by one wire.

Price

  • $400 to $10,000*

Pros

  • They're usually lighter than other options.
  • Typically cheaper.

Cons

  • Can wear out quickly. 
  • Because the springs move as one unit the mattress is less responsive to your body. 
  • Any tossing and turning is likely to disturb a partner.
  • Springs can rust.
Coil mattress illustration

* Typical retail for a queen-sized mattress.

Memory foam mattress illustration

Topped with a layer of temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material, aka memory foam.

Price

  • $1500 to $6500*

Pros

  • Absorbs your weight as you sink in, taking pressure off your joints and increasing circulation. 
  • Can mould to the shape of your body.
  • No risk of rust (if foam only).

Cons

  • Can make you feel "encased".
  • Can feel too solid and dense (not springy). Not likely to please someone wanting a softer, more cushioned night's sleep.
  • Can get warm easily due to limited air circulation.
  • Can be cumbersome to move due to their weight and heft.
Memory foam mattress illustration

* Typical retail for a queen-sized mattress.

Latex mattress illustration

A blend of natural and synthetic latex that moulds to body shape.

Price

  • $1800 to $4900*

Pros

  • Durable and breathable.
  • Better for people with allergies.
  • Doesn't gather dust mites.

Cons

  • Has a solid feel, so they're not likely to please someone wanting a softer, more cushioned night's sleep. 
  • Can be cumbersome to move due to their weight and heft. 
  • Cheaper versions can get lumpy after a time.
Latex mattress illustration

* Typical retail for a queen-sized mattress.

Pocket spring mattress illustration

Has up to 3000 springs sewn into individual fabric pockets.

Price

  • $1200 to $6400*

Pros

  • Good air circulation.
  • Firmness can be set by tweaking spring tension (by manufacturer).
  • Good support by distributing your body weight evenly.
  • Can support two people of two different body weights well because the springs are separate.

Cons

  • Can be heavy to turn, as they're filled with natural materials, such as lambswool. 
  • Natural materials can exacerbate allergies. 
  • Springs can rust.
Pocket spring mattress illustration

* Typical retail for a queen-sized mattress.

A cross-sectional example of the parts in a pocket spring mattress 

A cross-sectional example of the parts in a pocket spring mattress.

These combine elements of memory foam and spring mattresses. They have the same pros and cons.

What size mattress do I need?

Retailers and manufacturers recommend buying the largest bed your room can accommodate, and the length of the mattress should be at least 10–15 centimetres longer than the tallest person sleeping on it.

Size Measurements (W x L)
Single 92 x 187cm
Single extra long 92 x 203cm
King single 106 x 203cm
Double 137 x 187cm
Queen 153 x 203cm
King 183 x 203cm

How to test a mattress instore

  • Take your time: Most people need seven to nine hours sleep a night. A couple of minutes on your back won't come close to replicating this experience. Lie down for as long as you need – though you probably shouldn't spend the night.
  • Move about: Roll over, sit up, get in and out of the bed. Ease of movement contributes to comfort. It will take more effort if the mattress is too soft, and will feel uncomfortable on your hips and shoulders if it's too firm.
  • Sleep on slats (or a base): Make sure the bed base in the shop is similar to the one you have at home. If you have fixed slats or a hard surface, a soft mattress will feel very different on top of that, rather than the ensemble base it's resting on in the shop.
  • Bring your partner: If you share a bed with someone regularly or every night, bring them along and ask them to lie in the bed and move around. Be aware of how the bed moves on your side when your partner moves.
  • Don't shop tired: All the mattresses will feel great if you're already sleepy!
  • Ask the salesperson to leave: While they may be friendly and helpful, few of us are able to really relax when someone is hovering around.
  • Ask questions about the display model: The mattress you test in store could have been on display for two days, two weeks or even two months, with hundreds of customers potentially trying them out over that period. This will affect sag, firmness, support and so on.
  • Ask if there's a comfort guarantee: Most manufacturers don't offer a guarantee on comfort, so you probably can't return it if it doesn't feel right. That said, there are a few brands that do, so it always pays to ask. Jump to Can I return a mattress? for more info.
Woman instore looking at and touching a mattress
Take your time when buying a mattress in store, and don't be afraid to ask the salesperson to leave you to it.

How to get the best deal on a mattress

Retailers leave a significant amount of wiggle room in the price. In fact, you're getting ripped off if you settle for RRP. 

We shaved at least half and even two-thirds off the asking price while shopping for most of the mattresses in our recent tests by using the following tricks:

  • Wait for a sale: They take place regularly and can bring the price down by as much as 50%. 
  • Head in store: Deals are generally better instore than online.
  • Haggle: We rarely encountered a salesperson who wasn't willing to shave a few hundred dollars off the asking price, even during a sale.
  • Buy in bulk: Our discounts improved when we bought at least two beds at once, which may be handy if you're refurnishing a house.
  • Consider exclusive ranges: Retailers such as Snooze, Forty Winks and Fantastic stock exclusive brands. We found that salespeople are much more inclined to sell these over third-party brands. Snooze, for example, offered us a much better discount on their exclusive Madison range when we expressed interest in buying a Sealy.

Retailers leave a significant amount of wiggle room in the price. In fact, you're getting ripped off if you settle for RRP. 

How to haggle

Haggling can be tricky, particularly if you're not overly confident. But you don't need to be a smooth-talking, wheeling and dealing sort to take advantage of potential savings. 

After a little back-and-forward with salespeople, we asked this question:

  • "What's the best you can do?"

That's it – or some sort of variant. 

Remember, you're there to buy, they're there to sell. You're not establishing a lifelong friendship, and they're not going to throw you out for asking.

Mattress mark-ups are so high, you don't need to do much when it comes to saving money, which is why this question works. 

Should I buy a mattress in store or online?

Bed in a box is an online only mattress industry. Manufacturers cut out the middleman by selling directly to the consumer, and they deliver compressed mattresses to your door in a box, hence the name. Once opened, the mattresses slowly expand into the full size (single, double, queen etc).

  • As well as being a cheaper, and much more convenient, almost all brands let you assess the mattress after purchasing.
  • If you don’t like it, you can return it for a refund, making the purchase more or less risk free.

However, this does not mean online shopping is always the best option.

Bricks and mortar mattress store illustration

Pros

  • Can try before you buy.
  • Opportunity to haggle.
  • Lots of options from multiple brands in one place.
  • Point of return if faulty.
  • Many types available.

Cons

  • Generally no trial period (some exceptions such as Forty Winks).
  • Can't change your mind once it's used.
  • Shady sales practices (e.g. tested firmness doesn't match advertised firmness).
  • Sales situations can be high pressure.
  • Need to take it home or pay extra for delivery.
Bricks and mortar mattress store illustration
Desktop computer with arrow clicking to buy a mattress

Pros

  • Delivered to your door.
  • Cheaper.
  • Trial period (e.g. Koala allows 120 days, no questions asked returns).
  • Can change your mind.
  • No pressure to buy.

Cons

  • Sold at set price. No ability to haggle.
  • You need to buy the mattress before trying it.
  • Forced to trust manufacturer claims regarding firmness, comfort etc.
  • Can be harder to return (than a traditional retailer).
  • Mostly limited to foam mattresses (small number of spring mattresses available)
Desktop computer with arrow clicking to buy a mattress

Trial period

Bed in a box brands however, offer home trial periods that range from 30, to more than 100 nights. If you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can exchange the mattress for a different model (if available), or a full refund.

  • It takes a few nights, minimum, to adjust to a new mattress.
  • You aren’t forced to speculate and make a snap decision that you may later regret.
  • You may come to like a bed that initially felt uncomfortable. This is another reason why our out of the box comfort results are not the defining scores in our test. 
  • It significantly reduces the financial risks involved.

See our bed-in-a-box mattress reviews to find out how long the different retailers give you to try the mattress at home and still return it.

Can I return a mattress?

Making a warranty claim on your mattress

This can be tricky, because arguments regarding comfort, faults and so on can be considered subjective, or part of 'normal wear and tear'. 

And while most mattresses have a 10-year warranty period, the small print is often overflowing with restrictions and conditions.

Take SleepMaker for example. While their warranty covers manufacturing faults, they won't protect against:

  • a reasonable level of dipping (25–35mm)
  • comfort concern as a result of product selection
  • heat issues.

These are just some of the terms, but they illustrate the grey areas consumers can find themselves in. 

As our investigation into spring mattresses found, advertised and tested firmness rarely match up, and it's likely that your purchase may not be as comfortable as you expect. 

However, this wouldn't fall under a warranty claim in SleepMaker's case. These terms aren't exclusive to SleepMaker. In fact, they're one of the more upfront brands when it comes to outlining their claims procedure. 

Most mattresses have a 10-year warranty period, but the small print is often overflowing with restrictions and conditions

Returning your mattress (traditional retailer)

The onus largely falls on you, the buyer, to make the right purchase if you're buying from a retailer, even when the industry practices are questionable.

Because mattresses are used in the same manner as clothes, headphones etc., getting a refund under general consumer protections can be difficult. 

These generally cover unfit for purpose, which is unlikely to include:

  • comfort
  • size (mattress not fitting your base)
  • reasonable sagging after extensive use
  • damage due to misuse or mishandling
  • smell and general wear and tear (i.e. stains).

If you truly feel that you've been sold a faulty product, be persistent. You can make a return. 

In these instances, it's worth citing the ACCC Repair, replace and refund consumer guarantees.

A rusty frame inside a pocket spring mattress  

One of the mattresses we bought from our test arrived with rust around the frame. This is reasonable grounds for a return.

Returning your mattress (bed in a box)

Almost all bed in a box brands offer a free trial period. You can return the mattress for a refund within this time, if you don't like it. Returned beds are typically donated to charity.

However, you must adhere to these general terms to be eligible:

  • Duration: Make sure you apply for a refund/return within the allocated period.
  • Minimum use period: Brands also specify a minimum usage period before you’re eligible for a return, so you can take time to properly assess the mattress.
  • Damage: You won’t be able to return a mattress if it’s damaged, sunk, stained, torn etc. It’s worth treating your mattress like fine china, keeping it well away from food, drink and so on, and making sure you’re clean as a whistle when it’s time for bed.
  • Protection: Almost all brands specify that you must use a mattress protector during the free trial period.

Check the "free trial" page on the company's website to find the specific terms

The so-called free trial period may incur a return fee depending on where you live, and how the manufacturer handles returns.

  • Metro areas: major cities and urban centres are eligible for free returns in almost all cases.
  • Rural and regional areas: about half of the brands we looked at charge a pickup fee outside metro locations.
  • Service dependent: companies will either send their own crew, a courier, or a representative from their charity they’ve partnered with to collect the mattress. You may have to organise your own courier if the brand can’t make it to your location, which will result in additional costs. This is usually determined during the return process.
Occasionally, you’ll encounter brands that charge an exchange fee, on top of the pickup costs.

How our test results can help

Learn more about the industry, it's shady practices and the mattress brands we recommend:

Looking for the best spring mattress?

See our expert product reviews.

Leave a comment

Display comments