Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Mattress in a Box

Mar 7, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images/Design: Kenzie Mastroe/SheKnows

We buy everything online these days, from books to groceries to lingerie to, yes, mattresses. And though buying something so large and so tactile online can seem strange — is it really wise to buy a mattress without testing it first? — there are a ton of benefits to going the mattress-in-a-box route over the traditional innerspring mattress showroom experience. If you're considering buying a boxed mattress, here's everything you need to know.

What makes a boxed mattress different?

Boxed mattresses vary from traditional innerspring spring mattresses in a number of ways. The best is probably that you don't have to go to a mattress showroom to deal with pushy salespeople and confusing seasonal pricing in order to get your hands on one. Companies like Casper, Leesa, Tuft & Needle and more all sell online.

Delivery: Traditional mattresses are hugely bulky, and getting them inside your home can require an extra set of hands and pricey shipping and delivery. Mattresses in a box are compressed and stuffed into a large box you can easily fit through your door, and most companies offer free or cheaper-than-average shipping.

Material: Boxed mattresses can be made of a variety of materials. Most of them do not have inner springs and are instead made up of layers of memory foam, latex and other proprietary materials. It depends on which company you go with, so make sure to do your research if you have a preference.

Cost: In general, mattresses that come in a box are less expensive than their showroom counterparts (the exception being Ikea). These companies don't have to worry about footing the cost of rent for all their showrooms, nor do they have to worry about paying salespeople to staff them, so the cost is lower. You can get a mattress in a box starting at about $600 for a queen-size depending on the brand you choose.

Setup: Most mattress-in-a-box companies ship their products straight to your door. Once you unbox, the mattress will need up to a day to properly fluff up to its full size. You can use a traditional box spring with your mattress in a box, though most work just fine on a platform bed or a slatted base too. Many companies have a generous trial period, so you can sleep on your mattress for a while before deciding if you need to return it. That's a relief — mattresses are an investment, and making sure yours is comfortable is essential.

More: Things to consider when buying a new bed

How supportive are boxed mattresses?

Like traditional innerspring mattresses, you can find boxed mattresses at different levels of firmness. In general, they offer more consistent support than a traditional mattress, though some models offer variable firmness in each mattress to support the contours of your body. They do also tend to be a little softer than an innerspring mattress due to their foam content.

How long do boxed mattresses last?

Most companies selling mattresses in a box claim that their mattresses will last at least 10 years, though some, like Nectar, offer a lifetime guarantee. Traditional innerspring mattresses will last at least seven to 10 years, but often longer.

More: How to clean a mattress in 6 simple steps

Will boxed mattresses make me hot at night?

The first boxed mattresses that came out were mostly made of memory foam, which is notorious for making hot sleepers feel even warmer than usual at night. Luckily, these days, most companies use different layers of foam to create channels that will keep you cool.

More: How to make your bed the most comfortable place on Earth

So, is getting a boxed mattress worth it?

That depends! If you do have the chance to try one out (at a friend's or at a store) before making the purchase, then you should definitely do that. But even without testing one first, if you're on a budget, don't want to deal with salespeople at a mattress showroom and don't have any super-specific support needs, then it's definitely worth a try. Since most of the mattress-in-a-box companies have generous trial periods, at worst, you'll end up sending it back and getting a traditional mattress, but at best, you'll have a hassle-free experience that costs hundreds of dollars less than buying an innerspring mattress. Sounds pretty good to me!