Choosing the Right Mattress for Your Murphy Bed

And why is one mattress more expensive than another?

Choosing the Right Mattress for Your Murphy Bed

And why is one mattress more expensive than another?

The Takeaway:

Mattress quality is determined by three major factors:

  1. Foam quality
  2. Support system
  3. Fabric quality

There are actually three main reasons, or component differences, that significantly impact the price of the mattress: Foam Quality Differences, Support System Differences and Fabric Quality Differences. Believe it or not all three of these make a significant difference in both the durability of the mattress, the comfort of the mattress and most importantly the performance of the mattress. Let’s explore all three of these components.

#1: Foam Quality Differences

The quickest way to impact the price of a mattress is to make an adjustment to a better quality piece of foam. Foam is certainly the most expensive component of any mattress. To the untrained eye, so to speak, it would appear that one foam is just like the next. However, foams vary widely in durability and comfort. Industry standard testing identifies differences and foams are graded based on two factors, Density and ILD (indentation load deflection). Lastly is Mixture, this identifies specialized components added to pure foam that increase the performance, like heat reduction or pressure reduction both of which produce better sleep. Let’s first talk about density.

Density – This identifies how much actual foam and how much air is in the product. A heavier foam would indicate more product and less air. To identify density, a testing facility will weigh a cubic foot of foam. If that foam weighs 1.1 pounds, it’s classified as a 1.1 density foam. If that same size piece of foam weighs 2.5 pounds, it will be classified a 2.5 density foam. Denser foams last longer than less dense foams. There are ways that shoddy quality companies can use to “fudge” the test….if a company adds clay to the chemical mixture the result is a heavier foam that will certainly not last the test of time. This is why it’s very important to go with a quality mattress manufacturer like Serta. Serta insists on Pure Foam with no clay load. The result is a better quality sleep experience and greater durability.

ILD (indentation load deflection). This is a fancy way to calculate how much weight it takes to compress one square foot, 1 inch into any particular foam. Why does this matter you might as If it takes 30 pounds of pressure to compress that one square foot of foam (30 ILD) the foam would be much firmer to the touch than, say, a piece of foam that only requires 10 pounds of pressure (10 ILD) to compress that same size piece by one inch. As you might guess, you’ll sleep much better, toss and turn less and maintain better circulation on the 10 ILD foam vs. the 30 ILD foam.

The very best foams in the world have a High Density rating with a Low ILD rating.

Mixture – Quality, newer designed foams, include specialized additives that help a person sleep cooler and that reduce pressure, which both, scientifically produce a better night’s sleep. Some foams contain miniature pellets identified as “phase changing materials” or PCM’s. These little pellets are designed to be firm to the core if the room temperature is 72 degrees or cooler, but if the room temperature is higher than 72 degrees the core of these little pellets turn to liquid, the result is that it draws energy or heat away from the surface of the mattress. This keeps the sleeping surface cooler, for better sleep, without making the mattress feel cold. Another additive produces a “body mapping” function which reduces pressure points, so hips, shoulders and knees are more comfortable throughout the night…again, less tossing and turning, more real sleep. 

#2: Support System Differences

Support systems are varied and wide…I’m going to simplify this for our purposes today. A support system is designed to create back support. When looking for a mattress, you will find four basic choices, Foam Core, Coil System, Water and Air. Let’s look at each of these options.

Foam Core – A foam Core support system is made up entirely of foam. If you cut your mattress in half, you would find that the entire core is foam. This might make you worry a bit about durability, the truth is that foam core mattresses can be among the most durable mattresses in the industry. Products like Serta IComfort and Tempurpedic are foam core products. Additionally, you may recognize that Sealy, Spring Air and several off brands like Casper, Purple and a myriad of other brands use foam core. If you’ve read this far, I refer you back to the paragraph on foam quality. Stick with companies that offer Pure Foam without clay loads and you’ll end up with a great quality mattress that will last for decades.

Coil System – A coil core, utilizes some form of spring system made from metal springs. You will find products like Pocketed Coils, Continuous coils, LFK coils, Bonnell Coils and more. As you search you will find that coil count is very important and impacts the price of the unit. For instance, many children’s quality mattresses will use a 312 coil count, which is quite low, but it’s designed to carry just one small child, while a master bedroom set will use 500, 600 and even 700 or more coils, which is much better suited for two adults and adult body weight. More coils, generally, means more $’s, but it usually also means more durability and better back support. If I were looking for a master bedroom mattress, I’d look at a pocketed coil system with a 700 plus coil count. On the other hand, if I’m looking for a guest room mattress I’d be looking for an LFK coil in the 500 coil count. If I was looking for a mattress for a wall bed, I’d look specifically for a Wilding Wallbeds Serta Perfect Sleeper. 

Water Systems – Water Support Systems traditionally don’t support the spine but simply cradle the body. Generally speaking a water bed is a “young-person’s” game. Those of us with a bit more mileage prefer the support of a coil system. In terms of cost, a Water bed can run more than a coil system due to the cost of the plastic bladder or tubes.

Air System – Air systems act like water systems in that they don’t support the spine but simply cradle the body. The more air you pump into the air bladder, the firmer it becomes, but the unit will still act like a hammock, allowing the heavier portion of the body to sag into the middle. Air systems are typically a little more expensive due to the need for a powerful air pump and the cost of the air bladder, which is usually made of an expensive grade rubber product. The overall durability of these air systems is usually good, especially if you stick with one of the well-known brand names.

#3: Fabric Quality Differences

Fabric quality differences can dramatically impact the price of your mattress too. If you think about it, the prettier the fabrics the more expensive they tend to be. Prettier fabrics also, on an average, tend to be a little less durable. Pretty fabrics provide a sales advantage due to our being attracted to them by the “curb appeal”. In our homes though, these pretty fabrics get covered by sheets and blankets. The expensive fabrics also tends to be a bit of a “catch 22” situation, as the better quality beds, tend to use the prettier fabrics. These are wise sales tactics that provide a bit of a “win-win” situation. Companies want to draw us up to the prettier beds, and in doing so, you also usually end up with a bed that is better for you due to the fact that they would also include some or all of the better sleep components, which will help you sleep better. Speaking about the durability of the fabrics, I simply go back to my 40 years’ experience with mattresses….I’ve never personally seen a mattress fabric that wore out prior to the mattress components. My advice would be to not get too worked up about the fact that the prettier fabrics are a little less expensive.

Occasionally you’ll also find that companies have treated the fabric with a material that helps reduce the heat reflection back to the sleeper. Depending on the material used, you will really notice this as you lie down on this material in the showroom. Some of these fabric treatments are dramatic enough that you’ll actually feel the “cool” through your sheets at home. For a minor percentage of the public, this can also produce a better night’s sleep due to this reduction of heat reflection. I have found that if you use a mattress protector or a mattress topper, this “cooling” effect is entirely eliminated due to those topper type products.

Over the years, I’ve heard customers occasionally say, “a mattress is a mattress is a mattress”, obviously meaning that one is just the same as the other. This is certainly not the case. I hope the information above provides some understanding and guidance for you.

Murphy Bed Mattresses

If you are searching for a mattress for a Murphy bed, there are a few additional considerations you should make. The fact is that mattresses are just not designed to stand up on end the way they will in a Murphy bed or wall bed. In fact, most mattress warranties contain specific instructions not to stand the mattress on end. As such, it is critically important that you consider purchasing a Murphy bed mattress for your Murphy bed. Check out our guide to choosing the perfect mattress for your Murphy bed.