What is the best mattress or mattress brand?

I researched hundreds of different mattresses to find one for my personal use over several weeks.

I am an expert on mattresses.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a mattress buyer for a large furniture chain.

During my 6 years in that position I purchased over $20 million of mattresses.

In my recent mattress search I was not surprised to find that there were almost no points of comparison among different mattress brands. That was true 30 years ago also.

But I was surprised to find that it is now virtually impossible to compare different products within a single brand.

Mattress-stack

There are hundreds of different mattress models within each major brand. Many look alike, but all have different specifications.

There is no easy way to compare these specifications – even for an expert.

For example: Is a mattress with 1000 coils using 16 gauge wire better than a similarly priced mattress that has 850 coils with a 15 gauge wire?

I actually know what these specifications and terminology mean. It doesn’t help!

I still can’t tell if one is better than the other.

Then there are different layers, densities and types of foam — and a choice of firm, gently firm, medium firm, luxury firm, extra-firm, pillow-top, luxury pillow top, and on and on.

Many brand name mattresses had been “marked down” by 50 – 75% off . It was hard to resist such “great” values.

But they “looked” very similar to other mattresses that were the same price but not on sale.

mattress-sale

Comparing different mattress models appeared to be impossible. Except that there was one common measurement for all mattresses that actually could be compared.

After several weeks researching the topic I eventually began to realize that there was a consistent relationship between the price of a mattress and its weight.

In almost every case, the higher the price being charged, the more the mattress weighed. This applied no matter what the original pre-discount “suggested retail price” had been.

For example mattresses “on sale” for $1000 marked down from $3000 almost always weighed approximately the same as $1000 mattresses that had not been marked down.

Mattresses that actually sold for $3000 always weighed substantially more than the heavily discounted mattresses that claimed to have originally sold for $3000.

The weight of a mattress and the price it is sold at correlated very closely in almost all cases.

This conclusion was the result of dozens of comparisons I made among mattresses from three different major brands with widely varying specifications.

I also looked at at mattresses from smaller brands with fewer model variations.

Those few exceptions, where a particular mattress is heavier than similar priced competitors, represent the best values.

Once you have determined the weight of a mattress there are 5 simple steps to make an effective comparison and find the best mattress value:

5 simple steps for choosing the best mattress value:

1. Decide whether you have a preference between foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses or hybrid (springs and memory foam) mattresses. [This comparison system does not work for some outlying technologies such as air or water beds. Comparisons of different technologies (e.g. foam mattress vs. innerspring mattress) are also inapplicable.]

2. Decide whether you prefer a mattress that is soft, firm or somewhere in between.

3. Decide how much you are willing to spend.

4. Compare the weights of mattresses that fit the first three steps. The ones that weigh the most are the best mattresses.

5. The best values are those mattresses that are heavier than the competition but cost less.

I had been searching specifically for an innerspring or hybrid queen-size mattress that was 12″ – 14″ thick, made by an established brand name company with a cost of under $1000.

The mattresses I researched that were priced at $800 – $1000 typically weighed 80 – 100 lbs. I also looked at several mattresses which were selling for approximately $2000 and found that these all weighed approximately 110 -120 lbs.

This confirmed my theory that more expensive mattresses typically weigh more.

There was only a small increase in weight for mattresses costing twice.

This indicates that a substantial part of the additional cost for the more expensive mattresses can probably be attributed to cosmetic improvements and increased profit margins.

Many mattresses are sold at deep “discounts.” It quickly became apparent that the higher “suggested retail” prices were completely fictitious.

I compared the weights of more than 20 deeply discounted mattresses to other “non-discounted” mattresses made by the same company.

In every single comparison the discounted mattresses weighed approximately the same as the non-discounted mattresses and less than the mattresses that were actually being sold at prices comparable to the high “suggested retail” price.

Since writing this article I have been asked by many people on my furniture blog The Insider’s Guide to Furniture and the Home Furnishings Industry, what the difference is between super premium mattresses that cost $3000 or more vs. mattresses that sell for $1000.

More expensive mattresses do have more “good stuff” inside, but not nearly enough to account for the difference in price.

My best estimate is that the extra $2000 that you pay for the $3000 mattress breaks down like this:

Quality improvements: $500
Cosmetic improvements: $500
Additional profit margin: $1000

Update: It has been well over a year since I first published this answer.

I had expected at least a few comments from mattress retailers complaining about my blanket conclusion that “all deeply discounted mattress sale ads are phony.”

Instead, there has not been a single negative response to this article from any mattress retailer or manufacturer.

I have received several comments from bedding professionals confirming the accuracy and methodology of my research.

-Reprinted with permission from Jeff Frank’s blog. Jeff is a 40 year furniture professional and owner of simplicitysofas.com.

His opinions do not always reflect those of Furniture Works, but we find his ideas & expertise always interesting and worth reading. For more useful articles, visit our blog.

What is the best fabric for upholstered furniture?

The best fabric will depend on a number of different factors:

  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • How important is stain prevention?
  • How long do you expect to own the furniture?
  • What texture(s) feel best to you?
  • Do you want solid colors or patterns?
Fabrics 548716_1280-1024x683

If stain prevention is important stay away from the natural fibers like cotton and linen. Removing stains from silk can be almost impossible.

Over the past few years there have been many new fabrics developed that are specifically designed to be practically stainproof.

There are now many high performance American Made fabrics with built-in permanent stain-proofing technology. Some of these brands include Crypton, Sunbrella, Revolution and BellaDura. There are several others as well.

If long term durability is important check out the Abrasion test rating for the fabric.

The most common (but not the only) abrasion test is the Wyzenbeek double rub test. According to this scale fabrics below 15,000 double rubs are considered light duty for residential use. 15,000 – 30,000 are medium duty and above 30,000 is considered heavy duty.

The price of the fabric has very little relationship to durability. There are many inexpensive heavy duty microfibers, polyesters and others.

Expensive fabrics are often delicate (and difficult to clean.)

Fabric mills have come a long way in the science of creating new looks and textures using common fibers. For example 100% polyesters can look and feel like suedes, velvets, linens, wools, cottons and other textures.

In recent years polypropylene (also known as olefin) fabrics have become very popular as durable, stainproof options.

Most (but not all) of these synthetics are solid colors. More exotic looks and textures can be found in fabrics made with a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. There are thousands of different fabric blend combinations available.

Cottons and cotton blends still give the best choices for colorful prints. Most (but not all) of these will be less durable and more difficult to clean than most of the synthetics.

Regarding “scotchguard” or other after market fabric protectors — When aftermarket fabric protectors were first introduced about 50 years ago they were silicon based and worked great! Unfortunately they were also determined to be carcinogenic and banned from sale.

Today’s fabric protectors are water-based – much safer but also much less effective. Basically my feeling is that they add some protection to cottons, linens and other textured loose weave fabrics.

This protection is not permanent and should be renewed every 6 months to a year to maintain the protection.

I have not seen any conclusive evidence that these fabric protectors add any significant protection to microfibers or fabrics with built-in protection such as Scotchguard, Teflon or the Crypton, Revolution, BellaDura or Sunbrella fabrics.

Aftermarket fabric protection is a big profit maker for retailers. You can generally get the same protection at a fraction of the price by buying a spray can of the stuff at your local supermarket or hardware store.

One warning about added fabric protection – check your warranty before adding any type of fabric protection.

Many furniture warranties will specifically exclude coverage for any fabrics that have been cleaned or had fabric protection added.

(The same warranties will usually exclude most of the most common types of problems that may occur even if you don’t have fabric protection.)

-Reprinted with permission from Jeff Frank’s blog. Jeff is a 40 year furniture professional and owner of simplicitysofas.com.

His opinions do not always reflect those of Furniture Works, but we find his ideas & expertise always interesting. For more useful articles, visit our blog.

What Everyone Needs to Know Before Buying Their Next Couch

Cushion construction is the single most important factor in determining the comfort and lifespan of your couch, sofa, or chair.

A furniture industry survey recently indicated that most consumers expect their new couches to last only 3–5 years.

That estimate is probably pretty accurate. The reason for this short lifespan, however, is very surprising to most consumers.

Uneducated consumers concerned about the durability of their furniture often ask first about frame/foundation construction and fabrics.

In reality many “cheap” frames and inexpensive fabrics will last far longer than 5 years.

Cushions are almost always the first part of a sofa or couch that will wear out and need replacement.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers and retailers make it very difficult to replace worn out or damaged cushions.

Cushion replacement generally requires working with a professional custom upholsterer and can be expensive.

Most cushions sold with low and mid-priced upholstered furniture will begin to lose their shape and comfort within 1 – 3 years and will need replacement within 3-5 years.

There are three basic types of cushion construction for most couches and sofas sold in the U.S.

Foam
Coil springs
Down/feathers
Many cushions are made using a combination of two or all three of these various constructions.

Foam is the most commonly sold cushion construction. It is available in several different densities.

Each foam density is available in a wide variety of different firmnesses.

Although most people think that density and firmness are synonymous they are actually very different.

Most foam suppliers typically stock 4-5 commonly used densities for residential furniture seat cushions ranging from 1.5 to 2.5. The number designates the weight (in pounds) of 1 cubic ft. of foam.

Each of these different densities may be available in 10 or more different firmnesses ranging from very soft to very firm.

The expected lifespan of a foam cushion is primarily dependent on the density and thickness of the foam.

Another important factor is whether the foam is HR (High Resiliency) which recovers its shape better after use.

The frequency of use and the size of the people using the cushion will also affect a seat cushion’s lifespan.

A foam cushion’s “firmness” has very little effect on the expected lifespan.

However since most consumers equate “firmness” with durability, cheap foams are often made “extra firm.” With a low density foam, however, that “extra firm” feeling will not last long.

Foams used in seat cushions for moderately priced residential furniture generally range from 1.5 through 2.0.

Lower density foams are typically used for back cushions or padding that goes over the arms or other parts of the frame.

Higher densities (2.0 – 2.5) can be found on more expensive residential furniture.

Furniture designed for heavy commercial or institutional use may use foam with densities of 3.0 or higher.

The higher the foam density the more the cushion will cost. Variations in firmness usually do not affect cost. HR (High Resilience) foam is more expensive than non-HR foams.

The most commonly used foam density for residential furniture sold in the U.S. is 1.8.

Foam that is described as “High Density” without any specific number is usually 1.8 density foam.

The foam core is usually anywhere from 4″ – 6″ thick and is typically wrapped in a dacron polyester fiber.

The fiber wrapping is generally 0.5 – 1.5″ thick on the top and bottom of the cushion. It softens the feel of the cushion and will add 2-3″ to the total cushion thickness, but has no effect on lifespan.

A 4″ thick foam core made with 1.8 density HR (High Resiliency) foam can be expected to last about 2 years with average use before the foam begins to lose its ability to bounce back and keep its shape .

A 5″ thick foam core made with 1.8 density HR (High Resiliency) foam can be expected to last about 3 years with average use before the foam begins to lose its ability to bounce back and keep its shape.

Foam cushions will typically still be usable for another couple of years after the deterioration process begins. Foams that are not High Resiliency will deteriorate more rapidly.

Actual foam densities will vary during the manufacturing process. A variation of 0.1 is considered normal. A 1.8 density foam may actually be 1.7 or 1.9. Larger variations are not unusual.

There are many couches sold with cheaper (and lighter weight) 1.5 density foam that will deteriorate even more rapidly, sometimes within one year of purchase.

The overall thickness of the cushion may or may not be an indication of a cushion’s durability.

“Value priced” couches will sometimes have cushions that are bulked up with several inches of polyester fiber around the foam core.

That polyester fiber will rapidly compress causing the cushion to lose its shape. Better quality sofas typically use 1″ – 1.5″ of fiber on each side of the cushion.

Lower quality couches may use up to 3″ of fiber on each side. Thick layers of fiber are a cheap way to bulk up a cushion over the short term. Thick fiber quickly compresses and causes the cushion to lose its shape – often within one year.

If you want to get more than 5 years of use from your couch you will need to find a couch with a better quality cushion.

Higher priced couches generally use thick higher density foams with at least a 2.0 density. but preferably higher.

Cushions supported by built-in coil springs are typically (but not always) more durable than lower density foam cushions.

These coil springs are surrounded by a foam border (which is typically 1.5 or 1.8 density) and then padded on the top and bottom with additional soft padding.

Down/feathers are often used as the padding in combination with coil springs. A down/feather “jacket” is used as a layer of padding on the top and bottom to soften the feel of the cushion.

Other common types of padding used in combination with coil spring cushions are memory foam and polyester fiber.

Down blend cushions use Down/feathers in combination with a foam core cushion. Down blend cushions have a shorter lifespan when compared with a solid slab of similar density foam.

When down/feathers are used with either coil springs or foam cores the mixture is typically 5% (or less) down and the remainder feathers. Down is far more expensive than feathers.

More expensive furniture may use higher percentages of down. Down is much softer and plush than feathers.

100% Down/feather cushions were extremely popular in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. They are far less common today, both because of the high cost and the need to fluff up the cushions every time you stand up. Down/feathers have no “resilience” and do not “bounce back” by themselves after use like foam or coil springs.

Regardless of the price that you paid for your cushions they are rarely covered under Warranty.

Warranties (including extended warranties) are usually written so that anything that happens to the cushions is considered either “normal wear” or “abuse.”

Either of these conditions will typically invalidate your warranty — even if the cushions are less than one year old.

Tip for the uneducated furniture purchaser – When shopping for a couch always test the cushions by picking them up.

As a general rule if the seat cushions feel “light” you are looking at a couch with a very short expected lifespan.

The longest lasting cushions will be the heaviest.

-Reprinted with permission from Jeff Frank’s blog. Jeff is a 40 year furniture professional and owner of simplicitysofas.com.

His opinions do not always reflect those of Furniture Works, but we find his ideas & expertise always interesting. For more useful articles, visit our blog.





What is the difference between $1000 and $2000 sofas?

Expensive high end sofas ($2000+) may have very different constructions than less expensive mid-priced couches ($1000 or less.)


Expensive sofas may also have identical constructions as much cheaper couches.
If you take two identical looking sofas with the same fabric there should be substantial construction and quality differences if one is priced at $1000 and the other at $2000.
But it is also possible to find $1000 and $2000 couches with identical construction and quality of workmanship.


Fabric cost is a huge variable.

$1000 mid-priced sofas often use very inexpensive fabrics. There are durable fabrics available to manufacturers at a mill price of $3 per yard.
There are literally thousands of fabrics available at $4 – $5 per yard.

Some of these are very good looking and durable. It is not unusual to find $5 fabrics on sofas (with superior construction) selling for $2000 or more.

An average sofa may use 15 yards of fabric. At $4 per yard this means that the sofa has a total of $60 worth of fabric (at the manufacturer’s cost.)

High performance fabrics are becoming very popular. Although there are some available for as little as $5 per yard, many have a cost of $10 – $20 per yard (or more.)

A manufacturer using a $15 per yard fabric for the same sofa above is now spending $225 for the fabric. [$165 more than the sofa with the $4/yd. fabric selling for $1000.]

After adding in the manufacturer’s and retailer’s profit margins, that $15/yd. fabric can add $500 or more to the retail price of the sofa.

Leather is even more expensive. Even a cheap Chinese leather can cost $350 – $500 per sofa.

When you add that to the original $1000 sofa you now have the same sofa quality and construction selling for $1800 – $2000. Better quality (more expensive) leathers can boost the cost even higher.

There are genuine leather sofas available in stores for $1000 – $1500.

Those leather sofas start with frame construction and quality that are equivalent to what can be found on $400 – $600 sofas made with low cost fabrics.

-Reprinted with permission from Jeff Frank’s blog. Jeff is a 40 year furniture professional and owner of simplicitysofas.com.

His opinions do not always reflect those of Furniture Works, but we find his ideas & expertise always interesting. For more useful articles, visit our blog.

Dive into the Future with Accessible-Friendly Furniture

picture of sofa

Although it’s been over 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities act has passed, less than one percent of U.S. housing is wheel-chair accessible. According to a study by the Department of Urban Development, about a third of housing is potentially modifiable for a person with a disability but haven’t unlocked their full potential. This is all about to change with the introduction of new accessible-friendly furniture. Through advancements in technology, the house doesn’t have to be wheelchair friendly, just the furniture that people choose to go in it.  

Robotic Assistants Disguised as Furniture

1 in 5 people in the United States live with a disability, yet many home furnishings do the bare minimum to accommodate everyone. Therefore, one company is revolutionizing the industry by introducing robotic furniture designed to help people live independently within their own homes. The robot is known as Relay and is considered a cross between a multifunctional table, a walking device, and a voice-controlled assistant. Each piece of furniture performs meaningful tasks for the homeowner. The furniture can carry heavy items around the home, help someone stand up from a seated position, provide extra support while walking throughout the house, and open doors. All the homeowner has to do is say a command like “Come here”.

Smart Homes Making Smart Choices

The smart house concept started in 1996, allowing humans to interact with robots living within the walls of their house. Nowadays, smart technology is everywhere and can be fitted to help everyone with their daily activities. These smart house devices can be installed within a home and allow users to simply talk to their furniture. You can install a smart light to allow you turn lights on and off with your voice, connect a smart remote so that you can turn the TV on just by talking, or utilize smart cooking technology so that you can make a meal right from the palm of your hand.

Furniture that Turns into Whatever You Want

A new system of furniture is being developed at a lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology that uses modular robots to assemble into different pieces of furniture. Therefore, you can use these tiny robots to assemble into a full-sized couch or break apart and become six dining chairs. Researchers are currently manipulating the robots, called Roombots, through a Bluetooth device, but they are attempting to provide control via gestures and Microsoft Kinect. This will allow elderly people or anyone with disabilities to simply make a motion to move a glass of water closer, pull a dining chair in and out, or turn a table into a walker. Technology is working to make our lives easier and, in the future, non-accessible homes will be a thing of the past. Eventually, our furniture will not only be stylish but accessible-friendly as well.

For more useful articles, vist our blog.