Frequently asked questions about buying a mattress

By The Mattress Nerd

What are the different sizes?

The most common sizes are Twin (also called Single), Full (also called Double), Queen, and King. A Twin is 39″ x 75″, a Full is 54″ x 75″. A Queen is 60″ x 80″. A King is 76″ x 80″. There is also a Twin Extra-Long at 39″ x 80″ There are also some odd sizes in between, but they are much rarer (such as the Full XL, the Three Quarter Bed, etc).  If you need more information, I have a whole guide on this that can be found here:  Mattress Sizes

What’s a California King?

Contrary to popular belief, a California King is smaller than a regular King in width and overall surface area. It’s 4 inches narrower and 4 inches longer than a regular King. A California king is 72″ x 84″.

Do I need to buy a boxspring?

Boxsprings these days, despite the name, rarely contain actual springs. Most are just rigid foundations. They exist to support the mattress. As long as you have a solid surface to support the mattress, you don’t need a boxspring. This means the floor is fine and most platform beds are fine. Old boxsprings that had actual springs in it are not fine. Neither is just a plain metal frame with one bar, or a bed with 3 slats. As long as you have a platform bed with either a solid surface or enough slats that the mattress won’t be able to bend in between them, you can get away with not having a boxspring.

Do I need a frame?

Like a boxspring, a frame is there to support the mattress. You can put the boxspring and mattress directly on the floor, but that 1) doesn’t look nice, 2) isn’t as clean since you’re closer to the floor, and 3) eliminates any possible storage space under the bed. If you get a mattress a Full size or bigger, make sure the frame has a center support bar with at least one leg going from that bar to the ground.

What’s the best mattress?

The best mattress is the one that keeps you in proper alignment from head to toe while simultaneously minimizing pressure to your body. This varies from person to person. See my guide on how to select a mattress for more details.

If you’re looking at the direct-to-consumer online mattresses, check out my Mattress Quiz to help select which one might be good for you.

How much should a mattress cost?

Spend as much as is necessary to keep your body in proper alignment and minimize pressure to your body. In my mattress buying guide, I give some examples of what you get for each range.


Comments (53)

  1. I am looking for a Sealy firm queen mattress PP Caversham, #512574, SN 120524163457, manufactured on 05/24/2016 in Reg No. 14 Texas. I know model names and numbers change constantly, so I am looking for a comparable Sealy mattress. I especially want a mattress with a firm edge since I sit on the edge to put on my shoes, etc.susa

  2. Hi I purchased a Pineville LCF PT mattresses and base form Sears as is. With that being said, I need a remote and the electric parts that operate the bed a piece is broken think the item # is 82/6394 or 82/6335 Can you please help me with this

  3. My mom is looking at a Beautyrest Greenmont full mattress for sale at Mattress Firm – mattress only for sale (I think this may be a sale price at
    $ 1263.20.
    This seems pricey. What other names does this mattress go by made by BeautyRest.

  4. I’m in Australia and need to source an electric blanket for my Super King mattress / bed. This would be different to US sizing as, in Australia, a “Super King” is a square mattress, measuring 2030 millimeters by 2030 millimeters, or 79.92126 inches by 79.92126 inches according to Google conversion. I don’t suppose you would know how I would go about obtaining an electric blanket for this?

    • That’s not much different from our regular king, which is 76×80 inches. Blankets aren’t the exact same size as the bed to begin with (they’re much larger), so that 4 inch difference on one side (about 10cm) won’t make a big difference.

  5. I have a European king size bed with a center beam ( top about 1 1/2 inch wide) and two separate box springs underneath. The mattress on top seems to be much higher in the middle from front to back. we suspect the box springs are slightly lower than the center beam. Can we put in two plywood sheets on top of the box springs — or what else can we do?

  6. I have tried a bed in a box type mattress for over a month and have found that it is not supportive enough and will be sending it back. My spouse and I have always been a back and stomach sleeper and preferred firmer mattresses. With this mattress, I am only able to sleep on my side and have been feeling more tired upon awaking. I was hoping to try a different brand of innerspring before I end up going to a retail store and purchasing a well known brand, such as Stearns & Foster. Is it possible the coil gauges are not as strong in the compressed bed in a box mattresses? I am considering firmer options in the Nest Bedding Alexander Hybrid, Sapira, Aviya, Voila, and Winkbed as potential options. From your knowledge and experience, which would have good quality springs and be comparable to a Stearns and Foster luxury firm?

  7. I’ve had a Sealy mumble for the last 20 years more or less. I was very pleased until recently. :-)

    In the meant time, the major mattress makers seem to have all gone to one sided mattresses.

    Should I be concerned about buying a one-sided mattress vs. a two-sided? I am the kind of person who will flip and rotate his mattress on a schedule.

    There’s a Texas outfit called Cantwell Mattress that still makes two sided mattresses. Do you have any information about Cantwell? I’m thinking about going with them or at least taking a look, because of the two-sided issue.

    However, they’re in San Antonio and I’m in Austin, and it’s a might inconvenient, so that’s why I’m questioning whether it’s worth the effort of looking a their stuff.

    Thank you for all the great information here. Your Comparison charts are great stuff, especially.

    • 1) Two-sided mattresses were common when there wasn’t a lot of comfort material on the top. Now that there is a lot of memory foam and the like in the top layer of the mattress, it doesn’t make sense to also put that on the bottom of the mattress. It just takes away the support. So most two-sided mattresses you’ll find these days use just a thin layer of comfort material over the coils.

      You obviously can’t flip a 1-sided mattress, but you can rotate it to make the wear more even.

      2) I’ve never heard of Cantwell mattresses, so I can’t give you any information about them.

      I do know that Serta makes some two-sided mattresses, and US Mattress sells them. That may be more convenient. (Here is my affiliate link to US Mattress, meaning I’d get paid a commission if you actually bought anything there)


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