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April 2020

Buying a mattress online: the ultimate bed buying guide

Buying a mattress can be a tricky and murky experience. How do you know if the retailers are telling you the truth? Why can't you find out exactly what's inside their mattresses? If you find the thought of wading through all of this bed information daunting, which it can be, then bear in mind that these are just the basics of what we think you will need to know to prevent you from being potentially ripped off. Let us help you cut to the chase so you know what to look for.

Updated 2020: We know how confusing buying a mattress can be. In fact, the bed industry has made it intentionally secretive and confusing. Meaning that when it comes to buying a new mattress you’re faced with thousands of models, material names, upholstery, spring types and other jargon. We want to change that so read on to find out the main tips you need when buying a new mattress before using our mattress comparison tool to quickly shortlist your new mattress model.

Artisan Bespoke 002
View our range of hand made mattresses. We list absolutely every component so you can compare.

Over the years, our site has grown and developed to share with you the information that we have gained through our work the best way we can. Our John Ryan By design site has over 6,000 pages on all things bed related. We don’t profess to know everything, but we do know considerably more than most when it comes to mattress making and comparing beds. This guide will help you when buying a sprung mattress online in avoiding scams and tricks that retailers use to get you to part with our hard-earned cash!

Buying a mattress online Guide

  1. Set your bed buying budget
  2. Knowing the 3 types of mattress to choose from
  3. Choose the best Pocket Spring mattress
  4. Find out exactly what is inside the mattress
  5. Check out the mattresses brand reputation online
  6. Research the guarantees on offer
  7. Ask each company for tailored advice on mattress suitability

1.Set your bed buying budget

Before you set off looking for a new mattress it’s really important to set your budget first. This will help save you from falling for bargains that simply can’t exist and will help your budget creeping out of control.

By knowing what budget you have to spend you can first establish what you can expect for that budget. Have a look below to know what to expect.

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.

Once you know the amount you have to spend on a new bed you can then start looking at how much you can get for that price point!

2.Mattress Types explained

When looking for a new mattress online there are only three kinds of mattress to choose from:

Mattresses can be categorised based on their quality in the following order. Ascending from the cheapest to the most expensive/highly well-made types.

  1. Open Coil / Traditional Bonnell Spring Mattress
  2. Memory Foam / Mattress in a box Mattress
  3. Hybrid Foam Mattresses
  4. Latex Foam Mattresses
  5. Pocket Spring Mattresses

Again, your choices become easier once you know what components could feasibly be used within these ranges. For example, there is no way that polyester would be the main component in an expensive, high-end mattress. Equally, there is no way that Horsehair, Cotton or Wool would be the main component in a cheap ‘open coil’ mattress.

3.Choosing the best pocket spring mattress

A quick waltz around any bed showroom will no doubt fill you with horror when confronted with all the choice and in reality, there is only one thing that you should remember and be the main focus in your selection and that is a Pocket Sprung mattress is far superior to any cage sprung or open coil offering. With an array of different spring names and trademarks, it can be easy to be duped into buying an inferior spring type. This is why when looking for a new sprung mattress online you should always be ‘is this a pocket sprung mattress?‘.

The best mattress buying tip is this: A pocket sprung mattress is far superior to any cage sprung mattress.
The best mattress buying tip is this: A pocket sprung mattress is far superior to any cage sprung mattress.
You should always opt for the best spring your budget can afford
You should always opt for the best spring your budget can afford

All cage sprung mattresses are far substandard compared to pocket sprung mattresses. They are cheap to make, uncomfortable to sleep on and ultimately, they are a complete and utter waste of your money. Don’t let the marketing, fancy names, sales spin or advertising fool you Miracoil, Posturetech, Orthopaedic, Continuous Coil, Open Coil, or whatever, are all cage sprung mattresses.

If the mattress does not contain pocket springs then walk away.

cage sprung open coil mattresses2
Rows of mass-produced uncomfortable open coil cage sprung mattresses. Click to view Pocket Spring Mattresses here.

Are pocket sprung mattresses expensive?

A pocket sprung mattress does not need to be overly expensive especially if you have set your budget. In many cases, they are more cost-effective than a comparable open coil unit and in real terms, they are cheaper now than they were many years ago. Bear in mind though that the bulk of pocket sprung mattresses are now mass-produced.

The ultimate pocket spring is calico encased, used by the likes of Vi-Spring and Savoir beds (our Artisan Range is an ideal Vi-Spring alternative). We can’t think of any other manufacturer who uses calico encased pocket springs, but there will be less than five manufacturers in this country who do so.

The best pocket spring mattress

The best pocket spring mattress will contain calico pocket springs. These are encased in a breathable natural cotton cover and are the finest method of mattress manufacture in the UK.

We have seen examples of descriptions where the mattress is described as containing calico springs when in fact they’re synthetic polyester covered cheap springs. Complete and utter deceit. This is akin to describing a sofa as being leather when in fact it is PVC. The bulk of all pocket springs are polypropylene encased mass-produced units where the individual units are glued together to make a complete spring unit.

Calico units are sewn together and are not attached to adjacent springs except by lengths of twine stringing them together. We use them in our high-end Artisan range. They are far more breathable and responsive than spunbond or other synthetic springs which is why they only ever feature in the top end of mattresses.

The best pocket spring mattress will contain:

  • Calico encased vanadium coated pocket springs (in a variety of tensions to match your bodyweight)
  • A thick spring insulator layer of natural fibre
  • At least 2000GSM of Natural Fibre upholstery
  • A damask chemical-free cover
  • Hand-tufted
  • Hand Side Stiched
  • Always  2-sided mattress
Applying the insulator layer of a natural fibre mattress
Calico pocket springs are more responsive and breathable compared to other springs. They work independently and are hand-tied and sewn together. Click to view calico pocket spring mattresses.

4.Choosing the best mattress fillings

The next step after choosing the correct pocket spring unit is the upholstery layers that then are used on top of this. Mattress upholstery will provide the ultimate ‘feel’ of your mattress and this is where the majority of your budget will be spent.

Care should be taken to find the best combination of support and comfort for your budget. If you scrimp on either of these then you may have plenty of time to regret given the average life span of a new mattress is 7 years. The overriding factor in your choice will be your budget which is why it’s important to know exactly what you should get for a certain price point.

There are over 5000 mattress models out there. It would be nearly impossible to go through each and everyone to see which is the most suitable for you which is where our friendly team can help cut down this number based on your requirements.

1200 gsm blended wool and cotton cross section
Always ask exactly what’s inside the mattress you are looking at. If the retailer can’t tell you then maybe be suspicious.

Knowing how much to spend on a mattress will drastically cut down on the options you’re faced with. Secondly, it will enable you to avoid ‘too good to be true’ offers if you know that for your budget the components listed are not available ie Cashmere in a £500 mattress.

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.
Knowing what you should expect for your budget is key
Knowing what you should expect for your budget is key
You need to carefully assess what exactly is in that retail mattress and they wont make it easy!
You need to carefully assess what exactly is in that retail mattress and they wont make it easy!

Why won’t mattress companies say what is inside their beds?

There is no legal requirement to tell you any quantity of upholstery by weight. A description telling you that a particular mattress “contains” Wool, for example, could mean this could be as little as 5 strands mixed in with the polyester utterly contemptible but quite legal.

You might be thinking that this is a far-fetched rationale? Absolutely Not.

There are certain keywords used that should be taken as an initial warning:

  • contains
  • includes
  • blended with
  • a blend of
  • luxurious layers of etc.

Vi-Spring, one of the top five UK mattress manufacturers to tell you exactly what the makeup of their mattresses is. They do so because they are proud to do so, and they only use the very best of mattress upholstery so they have absolutely nothing to hide. We believe that all mattress manufacturers should tell you exactly what’s in their mattress. When they refuse to it makes us question what they are hiding?

Mattress upholstery layers, wool , cotton and horse tail
All reputable mattress retailers should be able to tell you exactly what’s in your mattress including the GSM value. Click to view hand made models.
Most mattress brands wont tell you what's in their mattress
This means they can prevent you from comparing

 

If this is the start of your mattress research you will soon come to realise that nearly all manufacturers will not be as open as Vi-Spring in detailing the components used in the mattress. Why Not? You really will have to ask for the precise breakdown of fillings used in any particular mattress.

If you don’t, then, unfortunately, you will only have yourself to blame if weeks down the line you are then left lying on a completely indented bag of springs. This can be completely avoided with some advanced knowledge and planning.

You really need to be able to assess each layer in the mattress and work out what the GSM count is of each of the fillings contained. An example to the right shows what you need to know before you can accurately pick a suitable mattress and the breakdown below so you can compare mattresses.

The Artisan Bespoke 004 has generous upholstery layers of Blended British Fleece Wool & Cotton followed by Bamboo, 1400GSM total, gives a breathable and flexible Comfort Layer to this mattress. Allowing you to stay warmer during the colder months and cooler during the summer due to the high wicking properties of this mattress.

The 1200GSM of Pure Horsetail acts as a secondary spring support layer giving the medium feel to the mattress.

1600 Calico Encased Vanadium Coated Pocket Springs – in 3 tension choices – provide support for endless nights of perfect sleep.

Two rows genuine Hand Side Stitching & Hand Tufted.

The Woven mattress cover is completely Chemical-Free using a Natural plant-based fire retardancy protection.

Artisan Bespoke 004
Artisan Bespoke 004
Layers Fibres with GSM
1 1200GSM BLENDED BRITISH FLEECE WOOL AND COTTON
2 HAIRPROOF CAMBRIC COVER
3 200GSM SOFT BAMBOO
4 1200GSM PURE HORSETAIL
5 1000GSM BONDED BRITISH FLEECE WOOL AND COTTON
6 1600 CALICO ENCASED POCKET SPRINGS [ 49MM ] [1.28MM]
Total GSM: 3600
Rated Excellent Trustpilot

5.Do your mattress online research

So you’ve found a few options for your next new mattress. Before you buy your new bed online you need to do some digging around the companies reputation. Afterall there’s going to be a number of potential scam companies out there to take your money and deliver a pretty rubbish mattress to you in return. When looking for a new mattress online its important that you check as much as possible about the retailer you’re looking at. The very minimum checks should be:

  • How long has the brand/retailer been trading?
  • What is their Trustpilot review score?
  • What is their Google review score?
John Ryan By Designs Trust Pilot rating 5 star
Always check the background of the mattress retailer and customer reviews.

6.Compare Mattress Guarantees

Once you’ve found a reputable mattress company and mattress model its time to look at the guarantee they offer. This is where you can separate the true leaders of the mattress world from the masses. You’re looking for a guarantee that if the mattress is not suitable for a good nights sleep then you can either return it for a refund or exchange it for a more suitable model. Given you’ve done so much research you need to make sure that it’s actually a bed worth sleeping on.

Most retailers will only offer you a ‘comfort guarantee’ meaning you can swap the model for another in their range. However, if their range comprises of poorly made models then this guarantee only secures you yet another poor mattress! Other things to watch out with mattress guarantees are:

  • Fees to exchange your mattress
  • Proportional warranties (where if the mattress fails only a proportion of its value is returned to you)
  • Excessive requirements such as not removing packaging to be able to return it
  • Inflated collection fees for exchanges
Mattress guarantees being written by hand
A full refund or exchange without fees is what you should be looking for when buying a new mattress

We offer a 60 Day Love it or Return it Guarantee where we collect without charge. No small print. No arguing. If we provide advice and its not quite right we aim to help you correct that.

7.Ask the retailer for tailored mattress advice

The last step is really important as it helps you qualify whether or not the mattress choices are suitable for you. You’ve undertaken a lot of research and know roughly which models you think will be suitable. The last step is to ask the retailer for tailored advice based on your requirements. This will help confirm your selection. Furthermore, it will also help you avoid retailers that just want to sell you the most expensive mattress, irrespective of suitability!

Mattress retailers and shops should always ask the following:

  • Bodyweight and heights of sleepers
  • Sleeping position
  • What mattress you’re currently on
  • What your budget is
  • What issues you have with sleeping or sleep problems

Mattress shopping in White top

If they don’t ask these key questions then there is no way they can accurately recommend any mattress other than price point. Meaning you’re left guessing as to which mattress is suitable or not. The same goes for any of the detail we’ve talked about above. If a retailer or salesperson can’t tell you exactly what spring unit, tension, upholstery amount or mattress detailing their is in the model you’re looking at then walk away.

Our ultimate mattress selection

Over the years, we have developed and produced a small range of less than 20 products and put them for sale in our online matress shop. These have been specifically selected for

These are the factors you should be assessing when purchasing your new mattress. Our bed descriptions are extremely detailed including the actual weights of materials used all so you can compare. Nothing to hide just all the detail so you can compare.

Without this detailed information, you actually have no idea what you’re purchasing.

All of our mattresses are hand made here in the UK why not view our range here?

Our handmade in the UK mattress models are split into the following ranges:

  • Artisan – Natural Fibre & Calico encased vanadian pocket springs
  • Origins – Entry level pocket sprung mattress unbeatable on price and components
  • Fusion – 100% Natural Latex solid core models
  • Resilience – Heavyweight mattresses for larger sleepers, fully turnable
  • Cot Mattress – Our 100% natural cot mattress

We are John and Ryan, read exactly who we are and what we do. Our business and reputation have been built around our customer service combined with our 60-day guarantee of love it or return it on all of our mattresses. If what we select or recommend for you is unsuitable then it is only right and proper we collect free of any charge and all your money refunded in full.

Bed retailing is still a business that still defines itself on personal service and we want to be the best. You won’t be able to try our mattresses, which is why we give you the very next thing. Our service. If you still do not want to sift through all these posts then just give us a call with an indication of your budget and we will try and help to narrow down your options for you.

sue cutting material
We make everything by hand; no exceptions. Click to view made in the UK mattresses.
Summary

We hope that you do take the time to read through most of this site just so that you understand exactly what you are buying but mainly to see how to sort the good from the bad and the bad from the rubbish. If you want to find out more the next must read the article will help explain just how much should you be spending on a mattress.

Are you still struggling to choose the right mattress? Then why not call our small expert team based here in Manchester on 0161 437 4419 to see if we can help.

Alternatively, you can drop us a message below to receive our tailored recommendations just for you!

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.

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

Why not get in touch with our expert small friendly team?
0161 437 4419
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