June 2020

How to buy a mattress online: 5 tips for sleep success

If like many you're looking to bed a mattress online this guide could save you hundreds of pounds. You don't need to try a mattress in a shop to get the right mattress. You don't need to endure busy shopping centres and showrooms to get the right mattress. In fact, it is in your interests not to. This article will ensure you set off with the right criteria when searching for a new mattress online, making sure you know exactly what to look for and how to avoid costly mattress mistakes.

Updated 2020: It might initially sound strange to buy a mattress online without ever visiting a showroom. Did you know that the National Bed Federation reported that in 2019 51% bought their bed online vs 49% in a retail store? Meaning more than half of bed sales now take place online. In fact, buying a mattress online is now the defacto method for people needing a mattress with busy lives. The problem lies with mattress retailers paying to grab your attention when Googling new mattresses by using affiliate sites. You’re going to be met with a barrage of ads that just want to sell you a middle of the road mattress as quickly as possible. None of which are tailored to your exact requirements leaving you with a convenient but possibly unsuitable mattress.

Origins Pocket spring 1500 mattress
Buying a bed from a retail store or affiliate site online can leave you sorely out of pocket. Click to view our range of hand made models which can save you money.

This article is going to help you understand how buying a bed online can prove to be a wiser move than visiting the bed retailers themselves if you can dodge the affiliates. Especially if you follow our 6 top tips. We will detail everything you need to know and look out for when buying a mattress online. Saving you from making costly bed mistakes!

  1. Why you don’t need to try a mattress is a showroom
  2. How buying a bed in a box could be a mistake
  3. Save money with an independent mattress retailer
  4. How to compare online mattresses
  5. Choosing the best mattress for your budget

1. Try a mattress in a bed shop

You really don’t need to try a mattress in a showroom. Don’t believe us? Let us explain.

It is a well known and accepted statistic that most people (80%) try out a mattress in a shop for less than two minutes.

This is not long enough at all. There is no better way of finding out if a mattress is suitable for you than to try it over at least 2 weeks in your home environment. Obviously, you do require the correct guidance and information before being presented with a list of ‘Suitable’ options, but getting this is so unlikely. You don’t need a showroom to buy a mattress, in fact, it’s in your best interests not to.

Mattress shopping in White top
Unless you know exactly what’s inside the mattresses (which retailers won’t tell you) then visiting a mattress shop is pretty much useless.

After 2 mins of bouncing on and off mattresses, a salesperson tries to upsell you whatever has the biggest markup, you pick, get it home, find you don’t like it and then have to pay to return it or choose another from that store or the alternative. You’re limited by whatever ever they have and you always have to pay to rectify. Have you ever noticed that there are no specifics about the fillings, the grams per square meter or any other details?

The only way a salesperson can accurately recommend a suitable mattress model is by knowing, exactly, your height and weight. However, they hardly ever ask this question. Without this information there is no way to choose the correct spring tension, it’s just guesswork. The only other questions they will ask are what your budget is and how does this one feel?

Luxury mattress retailer
Retailers will never tell you the GSM of their mattress. If they did it would allow you to correctly compare them.

There is no way that in 2 minutes you’re going to get an accurate representation of how you will sleep on that mattress. Meaning you’re going to have to gamble and then get stuck in their tricky returns or exchange process.

2. Buying a bed in a box online

You may have seen the influx of ‘bed in a box’ sold online from different companies such as Simba, Eve and Casper. The issue with these mattresses that arrive boxed is that they are a one size fits all these companies only offer one model, no spring tension options just a few different foam options. There again is no consideration for your body weight or height. Most of them just state a ‘medium feel’ with a ‘softer sink’. So unless you’re the ideal weight for the foams contained within these beds you have no idea whether it will be suitable until you get it home.

No turn mattresses
Nearly all beds in a box are one-sided heat retentive foam models. Great for some but not if you’re a warm sleeper or have back problems.

Of course, they won’t give you the exact data sheets of the foam making it impossible to know or compare to other mattresses. How frustrating! The bed in a box marketing machine is fierce. It will bombard you with Facebook ads, endless discount codes (which makes you wonder how much value the mattress really has) pictures of dogs on mattresses and will invade your news feed with affiliate ads. All without asking a single question about how you sleep or your bodyweight which is key when finding a suitable mattress.

Boxed mattress
Boxed Mattresses like Eve, Casper & Simba are all one-sided foam-based mattresses with a one-size-fits-all approach.

We’ve written extensively about why you should approach these models with caution. A high-quality pocket spring mattress simply can’t be crushed and rolled like cheaper foam alternatives. It’s worthwhile also noting that boxed mattresses are nearly always one-sided. Which means they have a considerably shorter lifespan than a two-sided mattress as you can only ever sleep on side of them.

Boxed rolled mattresses are crushed then boxed. You need to let them unroll and return to shape when they arrive over time.

3. Buying a mattress online from an independent mattress maker

So we have established that neither the mattress stores nor online ads are really going to suggest a mattress that’s ideal for your sleeping requirements. Which leaves us with the most suitable and surprisingly cost-effective way to buy a mattress. Choosing an independent mattress specialist can help you identify the following:

Independent UK mattress makers are experts that can advise on a suitable mattress based on weight, height and your tension preference. For example, here at John Ryan By Design, we use our in-depth knowledge of mattress upholstery and spring counts/tensions to recommend a truly suitable mattress. We then offer a no quibble  60 day love it or return it guarantee without the hidden nasties of other online guarantees. If it is unsuitable you can either exchange for a different tension/model or return it free of charge. No ifs or buts. It is a risk-free option.

Artisan Bespoke
You should always match your weight to the spring tension then choose the comfort layer preferences such as soft, medium or firm

Your bodyweight should dictate what mattress is right for you. An 18 stone man needs support, an 8 stone woman doesn’t. So how on earth a mattress that is described as “medium” for example, be suitable for the individual requirements of these two people? Spring tensions change dependant on your weight and this is the first area you need to consider.

Spring TensionWire diameter (Gauge)Weight Range
Soft1.2mmBespoke Tension (Please Call)
Medium1.4mmUpto 16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus

The next area to consider is how you want to comfort layers to feel and this is based on the fibres and layers on top of the spring unit. Our team can provide a number of options based on your height and weight to get your prefered feel.

Why settle for a pushy sales person when researching a mattress when you could speak to an expert?
Why settle for a pushy sales person when researching a mattress when you could speak to an expert?
Surely you deserve to find a mattress individually tailored just for you?
Surely you deserve to find a mattress individually tailored just for you?

What are you comparing these mattresses to?

Usually, it is the mattress you already have at home. The one that you are looking to replace because it is worn out. Sales staff and affiliate mattress sites online know this and they also know that anything they show you will infinitely be better than the one you are looking to replace.

In addition to this, the mattresses in the stores are new so will feel different again after they have bedded in. Any new mattress will also take a few weeks to fully get used to and then will bed in over time. This is why mattress maintenance is vital to ensure that this bedding in is even across the mattress. 

artisan bespoke mattress
You can only compare a mattress if you know the GSM of the fibres and spring types within the bed. This is information that the retailers don’t want you to know as it allows you to shop smarter if you do!

So apart from physically seeing the mattress, the cover and whatnot, your not really trialling the mattress at all. You’re just going through the motions, the awkward lying fully clothed on a show bed, the sales patter about foams, NASA and such. By all means, go and inspect the build quality and general feel of mattresses in showrooms but don’t expect them to be completely accurate and certainly don’t just buy the first bed that ‘feels alright’ as you may well regret it after the first few weeks of bedding in.

At John Ryan By Design we don’t have showrooms. We prefer having our small friendly team providing you with tailored recommendations based on your requirements. We don’t have huge overheads of retail stores and marketing campaigns. This means we can offer you significantly more for your money.

We have over 6,000 detailed Q&A’s on this site from people which is a great way to get a tailored recommendation or troubleshoot your existing mattress.

4. How to compare mattresses online
It's really easy and can help save you time

Comparing mattresses is easy once you know the grams per square meter (GSM) of upholstery and the details around the Spring type/count. The issue is that many manufacturers and bed retailers don’t want to readily show you this.

Why? Because if they show you it will allow you to see exactly what you’re getting for your money and work out if its a good deal.

Reputable mattress manufactures will always provide the details of what’s in the mattress. If you don’t know what’s in the mattress then visiting mattress retailers becomes rather pointless. This is because you’re making a considered buying decision based on 2 mins of lounging around of mattresses rather than understanding your exact needs, spring tensions and upholstery requirements. If you don’t know this then buying a mattress from a store is really hit and miss.

Furthermore buying a mattress online from a Google ad can also leave you with an uncomfortable nights sleep. This is because affiliate sites and ads are targeting you based on your budget and not your sleeping requirements.

What we offer at John Ryan By design is a free advice service to help identify your needs and requirements. We can then advise if suitable mattresses that can meet your specific needs. We’re so confident in our expertise that we offer a 60 Day Love it or Return it Guarantee so if we’re not quite there with your perfect mattress you can exchange for a different model or return it for a refund at our expense.

Comparing Mattresses using the GSM
Comparing Mattresses using the GSM
John Ryan Artisan Naturals Vi Spring Regal Superb
1 1200gsm Blended British Fleece Wool and Cotton 900gsm Blended real Shetland Isle Fleece Wool and Cotton
2 Hairproof Cambric Cover Hairproof Cambric Cover
3 1250gsm Rebound Poly Cotton 1200gsm long stranded Horsetail blended with British Fleece Wool
4 1500gsm 100% Pure Mohair 1000gsm Bonded British Fleece Wool and Cotton
5 1600 Calico encased Pocket Springs [ 49mm ] [1.28mm ] 1720 Calico encased Pocket Springs [48mm ] [1.28mm ]
Total GSM: 3950 3100
Price £1295 £4555
Rated Excellent Trustpilot

5. Choosing the best mattress for your budget online

This is the part that most people get wrong when buying a mattress online due to choice paralysis. Usually, by this point, you have been totally fatigued looking at online mattress review sites and being targetted by ads for one-sided next day delivered mattresses.

Did you know that most of the mattress review sites are actually paid for affiliate sites? This is where mattress companies battle it out offering kickbacks to review sites to flog their own models? In fact, more often than not the reviews of these mattresses are pretty much meaningly. They still don’t give you any detail or relevancy of the mattresses based on your need. Each of these mattress reviews sends you to a different mattress site and you get further lost down the rabbit warren on fake reviews and bed recommendations.

Someone ordering a next day mattress online
Avoiding affiliate sites can be really tricky when buying a mattress online. Check the small print to check if they are an affiliate the take caution.

We’ve put together a handy table below of what to expect for your money when buying a mattress which should quickly help you avoid being drawn into affiliate mattress models. This is because it quickly allows you to spot what you should expect at your price point.

How much to spend on a double mattress?What can I expect for my money?
Under £500Will not get you much at best a 13.5 gauge open coil/cage sprung with a thin polyester layer or a solid foam mattress.
£500Entry level spunbond springs with some form of synthetic upholstery. Usually one sided mattresses.
£750The beginnings of a basic pocket springs unit with 800 – 1000 count. No substantial amount of filling other than foams and synthetic materials. Two sided models.
£1000Should get you away from most low ranges and into the mid-range pocket spring models.
£1250Should get you a decent pocket sprung mattress with some Natural Fibre content.
£1500Should get you many manufacturers mid-range models with Natural Fibres
£1500-£2000Should get you a Hand Made primarily Natural Fibre Quality Mattress
£2000+You should expect 100% Natural Fibres and Traditional Hand Made Construction Method.
£5000+A Bespoke Hand Made Sleep System, High-end Spring Units & Featuring the Worlds Most Luxurious Natural Fibres.
Mattress side panel detail
By this point you should be a bed buying genius; being able to quickly brush off the fakes and affiliate mattress models

We have also carefully, and independently, reviewed the best 5 or so mattress models from the UK for each price point with zero affiliations. We’ve uncovered what’s inside these models and explained exactly who they would be suitable for, and in some cases who they wouldn’t be advisable for! In fact, we haven’t even linked back to these models to show that there’s no kickback to them at all. It does provide you with some worthwhile comparison models when you’re looking to buy a mattress online.

  1. What to expect from a £500 Mattress
  2. What to expect from a £750 Mattress
  3. What to expect from a £1000 Mattress
  4. What to expect from a £1250 Mattress
  5. What to expect from a £15000-£2000 Mattress
  6. What to expect from a £2000+ priced Mattress
Artisan Sublime close
Click to view our hand made tailored mattresses for the perfect nights’ sleep with no risk.

Being educated on how mattresses are built and what the established construction methods puts you in a much stronger position when choosing a new mattress. Unless you want to physically check the finish and detailing of the mattress, then spending weekends at busy shopping centres and retail outlets is really pointless. Unless those sales assistants can tell you the exact GSM, the spring gauge and explain how those components will work for you, which we guarantee they can not, you still have to wait until you get it home to properly try the mattress.

Why not get in touch with our small friendly team of experts for guidance on your new bed on 0161 437 4419?

Don't you deserve a mattress tailored just for you?
Our small friendly team can help you choose a mattress specifically tailored to your needs. With our 60 Day Love it or Return it Guarantee its completely risk-free.

We’re here to help

  • We are the mattress experts! Ask us anything about any mattress by any manufacturer for honest advice and support.

We are here to help
Alternatively why not speak to our small friendly team of experts?
0161 437 4419
Find out why our customers love our service
Based on 2000+ reviews Trustpilot

Ask us a question.

There are over 6000 questions and answers submitted by you on all questions about mattresses and bed problems. Enter a keyword such as Vi Spring, John Lewis beds, bad back or Memory Foam and see if your question has already been answered.

You can filter popular questions by the categories below. If you can’t find an answer, ask a new question below. We aim to respond to all questions within one working day.

Ask a question
Start typing your question below:
John Lewis and Staples Mattresses Reviewed
132563 views 2 answers arrow
Simba mattress and Eve rave reviews?
63051 views 1 answer arrow
Are sprung slats better than rigid slats?
41977 views 2 answers arrow
Problems with I-Gel mattress from Bensons
33925 views 2 answers arrow
No results
Load More Questions