Insider's Guide to Furniture & the Home Furnishings Industry

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How long should a mattress last before being replaced?

Mattress lifespan is not an easily determined number. Industry insiders have a vested interest in convincing consumers to purchase more frequently.

The current mattress industry trend seems to be to encourage consumers to believe that high quality mattresses last about 8 - 10 years and lower quality mattresses last shorter times before they need to be replaced.

This answer ignores several critical factors that are needed to actually answer the question.

Mattress-stack

A one-size-fits-all answer that ignores the size, weight and physical condition of the person(s) using a specific mattress is nothing more than an attempt to convince potential customers to buy a new mattress sooner than they would otherwise.

This question of mattress lifespan (and the appropriate warranty to offer) has been hotly debated within the mattress industry for the past 60 years. The answer changes periodically.

Over the past half century various brand name mattress manufacturers and industry "councils" have experimented with 10 year, 15 year, 20 year and 25 year warranty recommendations for their top of the line mattresses trying to find the perfect balance between perceptions of quality and encouraging obsolescence.

As far as I know there have never been any conclusive scientific studies on the topic that account for both the type of mattress being used and the physical characteristics of the person (or people) using that mattress.

In general brand name mattress manufacturers try to encourage low warranty periods so that consumers will purchase their products more frequently.

On the other hand generic and less well-known brands (who do not expect long-term consumer loyalty) often offer higher warranty periods.

The higher warranty period gives the perception of higher quality and allows the no-name mattress to compete with the national brand name. [Would you choose the name brand mattress with the 10 year warranty? Or the store brand mattress at the same price that features a 20 year warranty?]

Warranty periods for brand name mattresses that are advertised nationally (Sealy Posturepedic, Serta Perfect Sleeper, Simmons Beautyrest and many others) are determined by the mattress manufacturers.

Warranties for lower quality mattresses or non-brand name mattresses may be determined by the store buyers.

In the end there is really no set amount of time when a mattress should be replaced. Mattresses may be fine structurally for 20 years or more, but that is not the only factor to be considered.

It is really impossible to tell whether a mattress is right for an individual after a few minutes of testing in a mattress store or even after a few weeks in your home.

Even if you have found the "perfect" mattress it may not be as comfortable a few years down the road. Injuries, weight gain or other physical factors can affect how comfortable your mattress feels.

Basically, the question of how often you should buy a new mattress is best answered, "Whenever you feel that you are not getting a good night's sleep and that the problem can be corrected with a different mattress."

Update:

Recently I came across an article in a Mattress industry trade publication.

The article congratulated mattress manufacturers and retailers for their success in convincing consumers that their products had a maximum 8 - 10 year lifespan.

Many mattresses currently being made are far superior to those made 10 or more years ago. Yet, consumers are replacing them more often.

A true marketing success!

The good news is that most good quality mattresses feel OK to most people most of the time.

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