Published on March 8th, 2014 | by Mattress Journal1
Consumer Reports Releases Mattress Guide for 2014
Every year, product review magazine Consumer Reports tests and compares mattresses, offering tips for shoppers and selecting their top picks. The Consumer Reports mattress guide for 2014 was released this year in their March and January issues. The researchers tested two dozen mattresses from well-known companies and surveyed people regarding what qualities they felt were most important when choosing a new bed. Let’s see what Consumer Reports 2014 Mattress Guide has to say this year, and how their recommendations compare to other sources and reviews.
Consumer Reports 2014 Mattress Guide
Every year, the Consumer Reports magazine tests a variety of mattress brands to compare them on comfort, durability and value. The tests released this year compared 24 mattresses including spring and foam models from a range of popular brands. Both cheaper and more expensive beds were included. Consumer Reports conducted the tests using electronic sensors to measure how well the mattresses supported sleepers’ alignment, defined as supporting a natural curve for back sleepers and horizontal alignment for side sleepers. They also tested durability with a 308 pound roller designed to simulate 8-10 years of use, as well as stability and claimed versus measured firmness. The mattresses were ranked on performance and also compared on price, with publication choosing a couple of models that performed well at a good value as CR Best Buys. The report also features survey results from shoppers and shopping tips from the publication’s editors.
Consumer Reports Top Mattress Picks for 2014
While Consumer Reports reserves their full rankings and test results for paid subscribers, they have released highlights in articles and press releases that offer consumers some insight. They suggest that overall, shoppers do not need to spend big to sleep well, but also found that the cheapest beds were also not necessarily a good value when support and durability were factored in. Here are Consumer Reports’ best and worst mattresses, as highlighted by their January and March 2014 articles:
Consumer Report Best Mattress Picks for 2014
- Novaform Serafina 14-inch Mattress with memory foam is a CR Best Buy that the magazine says offers support almost as good, but at the more affordable price of $800.
- Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause was the top-rated innerspring mattress with good back support and durability scores. It is also a CR Best Buy with a price of $1075.
Consumer Report Worst Mattress Picks for 2014
Not all mattresses in the two dozen tested impressed the Consumer Reports researchers. Here were the models with the least favorable comments.
- Ashley Sleep Ellis Bay 15-Inch Pillowtop memory foam mattress was the only model to earn Poor scores in the support testing and ranked lowest overall. It has a moderate price tag of $1200.
- Duxiana Dux 101, the most expensive mattress at $4800, did not impress researchers due to lackluster back support, lack of motion isolation, and a lack of interchangeable springs that come with other Dux models (like the 515 and 818). But, it did score well for side sleeping and on durability tests.
- IKEA Sultan Holmsta costs just $580, but was found to be mediocre and subpar for side and back support.
- Spa Sensations SPA-1000Q 10-Inch Memory Foam mattress is also cheap at $360, but it earned the lowest score on durability.
How Do CR’s Picks Compare?
In another survey of 12,000 of their readers, top-rated brands included Original Mattress Factory, Costco, Ikea, Denver Mattress, Tempurpedic and Sleep Train, all of which scored as more comfortable overall than major names like Sealy and Simmons. While this differs somewhat from their physical product tests, what researchers find performs well in laboratory tests and what consumers find feels comfortable at home may differ, and models within brands can also be quite dissimilar. Here is a quick overview of how Consumer Reports’ best and worst mattresses compare with others in their categories. Information is from brand websites and reviews from retailer websites and third party review websites.
Comparison of a variety of memory foam mattresses between 10-14 inches thick.
14” high; 3” gel memory foam (3.5lb)
Ashley Sleep Ellis Bay
15” high; 6” memory foam (3-4lb), 2” foam
Spa Sensations MyGel SPA-1000Q 10”
10” high; 3” gel and regular memory foam (3.0lb)
Tempurpedic Cloud Supreme
11” high; 2.8” memory foam (4.1-5.3lb)
12” high; 3” memory foam (4.5lb)
Serta iComfort Savant
12” high; 2.75” gel memory foam (3.0lb); 2” memory foam (5.0lb)
Consumer Reports discusses three models of memory foam, praising the Novaform while finding flaws with the Ashley and Spa Sensations. Above, we compared those three models with three from other leading lines that we’ve previously written about. Tempurpedic, iComfort and Amerisleep all earn higher reviews than three models tested by Consumer Reports and the Novaform Serafina recommended as a best buy has somewhat high complaints of impressions/sagging within the first few years, which could be due to lower density foam. Consistent with CR’s report, the Ashley 15” Ellis Bay did seem to have unusually low ratings compared to other memory foam lines, however the Spa Sensations bed rated about average overall. The Amerisleep Revere had the highest average owner satisfaction rate among the above memory foam lines and very few complaints of durability issues, though is more expensive than the Novaform (though still considerably cheaper than Serta and Tempurpedic).
Comparison of a range of innerspring beds including lower-end and luxury.
Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause
Pocket coil in coil, 924 count
12” high; 1” memory foam + regular foam
Duxiana Dux 101
Interlocking coils, 1776 count
12-3/4” high; 2” removable latex topper; Wood frame
IKEA Sultan Holmsta
Pocket coils, 484 count
12.6” high; 1.5” synthetic latex
Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid Cushion Firm
Pocket coils, 825 count
12-14” high; 0.5-1” gel memory foam
Simmons Beautyrest Recharge World Class Alexandria
Pocket coils, 1000 count
11-14” high; 1-2” gel memory foam + 1-2” memory foam
Denver Mattress Madison Plush
Pocket coils, 567 count
12” high; 5” regular foam
Three innerspring beds were mentioned by Consumer Reports from IKEA, Serta, and Duxiana. We contrasted these with popular Sealy and Simmons models as well as Denver Mattress model. The Serta iSeries Applause did earn higher than average ratings from reviewers consistent with Consumer Reports’ scores. The applause tied with the Simmons Beautyrest Recharge World Class Alexandria in reviews, though the Alexandria has a higher list price (but more memory foam). Despite Duxiana 101’s high price tag, reviewers reported higher rates of satisfaction with the Serta and Simmons models as well as the Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid Cushion Firm. Though the Dux has fewer durability complaints and luxurious styling, it is almost 4 times as much and doesn’t appear to make owners much happier. Among the two cheaper options, the IKEA Sultan Holmsta rated slightly lower than the Denver Mattress Madison Plush, with the Madison costing $20 more and having a higher coil count.
Consumer Reports’ Tips for Choosing a New Mattress
The 2014 mattress report also includes the results of a subscriber survey which gathered answers from over 6000 respondents. Consumer Reports finds that choosing the right retailer is important, but that consumers should not rely on price tag alone to choose a bed as both expensive and cheap beds can disappoint. For example, 11% of respondents stated they wished they would have spent more for their beds. Here is the summary of Consumer Reports’ tips for getting a good bed:
- Don’t rely on price or brand name. Both expensive and cheap mattresses earned positive and unsatisfactory marks, so assuming an expensive mattress is good or an affordable one is bad may not hold. However, their tests did show that cheap mattresses (less than $600) did indeed perform poor on durability and mediocre on support and comfort.
- Don’t spring for gimmicks. Consumer Reports cautions that extremely low advertised prices (like $299 for a queen) are either misleading or representative of very low quality beds.
- Understand warranties. They caution that consumers should understand that mattress warranties usually only cover manufacturing flaws, and the some may require sagging of over 1.5” before action is taken. Premium mattresses are found to have an average lifespan of 10 years, regardless of inflated warranty terms.
- More coils doesn’t necessarily mean a better mattress for innerspring beds.
- Don’t believe the gel hype. Consumer Reports derides gel foam mattresses a “facade”, as the layers are usually buried under other foam or thick fabrics, rendering them irrelevant.
- Latex allergy concerns. Their report says latex foam could be a source of concern for those with latex allergies (although this has never been document in the US or Europe). Read more about latex mattresses here.
- Keep your old box spring to save money. The magazine suggests cutting costs by keeping your old box spring or foundation. This only holds true if your old one is still in good condition, and if it is compatible with your new bed however.
- Shop during the holidays and don’t be afraid to haggle. Like many other retail industries, mattresses often go on sale during major shopping holidays (think July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Black Friday, after Christmas etc). Many stores are also negotiable with pricing or may be able to throw in extras like pillows (but some brands are stricter).
Mattress Journal’s Words of Wisdom
Consumer Reports offers helpful information for shoppers seeking a new bed, but we think the following tips are also helpful to keep in mind when looking for the right mattress and right retailer.
- Know what size you need. If you are going to use the same furniture frame, make sure you measure to make sure you are shopping for the correct size, which can affect your budget significantly. For couples, more space is usually equated with better sleep. Twin size is 38” x 75”, full/double size is 54” 75”, queen size is 60” x 80”, standard king is 76” x 80” and california king is 72” x 84”.
- Explore a variety of options. Although innerspring beds are most common, they also have the worst overall owner satisfaction ratings while memory foam, latex, and water average 15-20% higher. Don’t stick to one mattress type out of habit, but rather find what actually feels best to your body.
- Don’t stick to one firmness just because it’s what you’ve always bought or been told to buy. Your needs may change with age and weight fluctuations. Additionally, firmness descriptions are not consistent across brands. Medium to medium-firm beds have been found most effective for reducing back pain in studies, but how you sleep also will play a role.
- Utilize the internet. There are many resources for mattress research online, from brand information to owner reviews and comparisons. Shopping for a mattress online versus in a showroom can also give you a better selection and better pricing, just check into return terms and other retailer policies.
- Compare what is actually inside the bed. Some big name manufacturers just change a few cosmetic features to allow different retailers to market their collection as unique (making consumer comparisons more difficult). When you are shopping, look at the quality of the bed’s support system and materials used within, then compare prices and extras like warranties, returns, and add-ons. Depending on mattress type, what you are looking for will vary (ex. density and thickness for memory foam, coil type/count and topper layers in innerspring, or latex type/content for latex beds).
- Check return policies. A showroom test is often not enough to determine if a mattress will provide comfortable sleep (as evidenced in a study by RTI explained by BedEd), and it can take time to adjust to a new bed. Make sure you can return or exchange your purchase for a reasonable cost within 30 or more days.
The main things to keep in mind while mattress shopping, according to virtually any expert source, are to shop around, get informed and research before buying. While it may be tempting to just take home the first bed that feels okay, your mattress sets the stage for sleep and is something you will be spending a considerable amount of time on. Before you begin visiting the showrooms, take some time to learn about the different mattress types and materials, what makes them different, and how to differentiate poor from high quality so that you will know what questions to ask. The retailer should be able to tell you the details about each layer and the quality of materials that are in the bed so that you as a consumer can make informed comparisons and buying decisions. The buying tips and 2014 mattress guide from Consumer Reports provide a helpful starting point, and you can also find other guides on memory foam, latex and spring beds on our website and from other online sources as well.