This is a ‘Complete Buyer’s Guide’ to help you through the process of buying a new bed and mattress in 2021.
Buying a new mattress is one of the most important household items that you will buy – and one of the most confusing. With an endless selection of stores and products, choosing the right mattress is very overwhelming.
To make this process easier for you, our team of qualified health professionals and sleep experts have compiled a step by step guide to ensure that you are fully informed before you make your final purchase.
Don’t be put off by the long list of items that this guide covers! Each section is short, concise, and easy to follow. We have listed the full set of topics below to give you a broad overview of what we will discuss.
This guide will cover:
- Mattress vs. bed
- Old mattress removal
- Bed sizes
- How much should I spend?
- Bed sales
- Retail store or online
- What firmness is best?
- Springs, foam, or latex
- Australian made
- Negotiating the best deal
- Payment & finance
- Health considerations
- Delivery times & cost
- Choosing a bed base
- Sleep accessories
- Trial periods
- Customer reviews
- Sleep hygiene
- Best mattresses
Let’s get started!
1. Mattress vs. bed
It’s important to clarify the difference between a ‘mattress’ and ‘bed’. These terms are often misused in Australia so let’s start by explaining the difference.
Technically speaking, a bed refers to the bed ‘base’ that your mattress sits on. The bed base may also include a bedhead as seen with the Noa Venice Bed (pictured below). A bed (base) can be purchased ‘ready to use’ or in need of assembling.
A mattress is the ‘case of fabric’ that forms your direct sleeping surface. Most mattresses involve a system of metal springs inside (termed a spring mattress or innerspring mattress), but full foam and latex mattresses have become more common in recent years.
The first thing we must clarify is what exactly are you looking to buy? Do you simply need a new mattress, or do you need a mattress and a base. If you are simply replacing a mattress, then there is a good chance that your current bed base will be sufficient. If you are changing the size of your mattress, you will obviously need a new bed base to match.
There will often be the option to purchase a mattress and bed base together (commonly referred to as an ‘ensemble’ or ‘bundle’) but it’s important to note that a mattress and bed base are somewhat seperate purchases.
This guide will focus more on the mattress purchase, but we will discuss the different types of bed bases in point 20 below.
2. Old mattress removal
When purchasing a new mattress, it is likely that you will have to dispose of your old one. You may want to keep your old mattress (for example in a spare room), but if you want it removed, you have a few options.
Firstly, you can try your luck selling it on online (e.g. Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace). Many people also find it easier to simply ‘give it away’ (list it for free online) or pass it on to a family or friend.
Alternatively, there are a number of mattress removal companies that will collect your old mattress and even recycle it. Soft Landing is a popular Australian mattress removal company who focus on an eco-friendly operations model.
3. Bed sizes
Before you even think about what mattress or bed base you want to buy, you need to decide on what size bed is best for you. This will depend on your life situation (e.g. regular sleeping partner) but will also depend on what size bed you can actually fit into your bedroom.
As mattresses can be ‘squeezed’ through spaces to some degree, it will usually be the bed base that will limit your options. Many bed bases these days require assembly which does make it easier to carry up flights of stairs.
So the key point here is to make sure that you can fit your mattress (and bed base) through the spaces into your bedroom. There’s no point in buying a king bed if it doesn’t fit!
4. How much should I spend?
This is a hugely meaningful topic to most bed shoppers so it’s important that we discuss this early in our guide. Mattress prices (Queen size) in Australia range from $99 all the way past $20,000, so it’s understandable that many of us our unsure as to what is a reasonable amount of money to spend.
Generally speaking, you can get a good mattress for $1000 – $2000 (Queen size). Now, we must emphasise that this is a very general rule, and the amount of money that you spend on a new mattress will be unique to your individual needs, preferences, and life situation.
Sherman Mattress – $1399 (Queen size)
If you’re happy to spend a more than $2000, the quality and durability of a mattress will generally increase. Having said that, we would be cautious once you move into the $5000 plus range. We don’t believe that you have to spend many thousands of dollars to get a good mattress.
You can read more here about the price considerations when buying a new mattress.
When it comes to the bed (base), prices range from under $100 up to several thousand. In our experience, you can get a very good (queen size) bed base for $500 – $1000 (please see further discussion about bed bases in section 15).
5. Bed sales
As well as navigating through all of the of stores, products, and prices, it’s important to be familiar with ‘bedding sales’. Here are some common examples of of sales in the bedding industry:
- Calendar event sales (e.g. Boxing Day Sale)
- Stocktake sales
- Percentage off sales (e.g. 50% off)
- Dollar amount sale (e.g. get $200 off)
- ‘Any size mattress for the price of a single’ sale
Example of a recent mattress sale
As much as these sales create an attractive incentive to buy, you can usually negotiate a ‘sale price’ (in-store) at any time of the year. If a mattress has a retail price of say $2999 and is not ‘on sale’ you should be able to negotiate at least 30-40% this price, meaning that you could get the mattress for at worst $2000. In many cases, you can even negotiate around 50% off the retail price.
When it comes to buying a mattress online, prices are far less negotiable but we will discuss the difference between buying online and from a retail store in the very next section below.
6. Online or Retail Store?
This is one decision you need to make before buying a new mattress. Do you want to buy from a traditional retail store, or are you open to buying a mattress online (without trying it out first).
Buying a mattress from a retail store is the familiar, ‘old-fashioned’ way of bed shopping. You walk into a store, decide on the product, and make your purchase.
Buying a mattress online is more of a recent trend where you can purchase a mattress online from the comfort of your own home. The mattress will then be delivered to your door in a compact box for you to unpack. What’s even better, is that if you decide that you don’t like the mattress you can get a full refund through a ‘trial period’ system.
Here are the pros and cons of deciding between buying online or through a retail store. As you will see there is no right or wrong decision here, it will come down to what suits your buying style best.
7. What firmness is best?
Choosing the right firmness can be a tricky part of the selection process as everyone has their own firmness preference. We often find that partners prefer different firmness levels so this can make things even more complicated!
Most retail store mattresses come in 3 firmness levels – firm, medium, and plush (soft). Some may even offer an ‘extra firm’ or an ‘ultra plush’ option. Deciding on the firmness level of a mattress really comes down to your personal preference and what suits your body the best.
Your chosen firmness may also depend on your sleeping position/s. Below is a general guide as to what firmness level you may consider based on your sleeping position:
Side sleeper: Soft or medium-soft
Back and side sleeper: Medium-soft or medium
Side, back, and stomach sleeper: Medium
Stomach sleeper: Medium or medium-firm
Stomach and back sleeper: Medium-firm
Back sleeper: Medium-firm or firm
In our experience, the most common firmness preferences are ‘medium’ or ‘medium – firm’ as this generally offers a nice balance of comfort and support.
Many people have a basic feeling of how ‘firm’ they like a mattress but to get a better understanding it may be best to try some out in-store to get a better sense of your preference.
8. Springs, Foam, or Latex?
Generally speaking, there are 3 main types of mattresses:
- Innerspring mattresses
- Foam mattresses
- Latex mattresses
Most mattresses on the market are innerspring mattresses, but there is a growing number of foam and latex products now available too. As a very general rule, we usually recommend innerspring mattress as they are more supportive, and more durable.
Each mattress type has its own distinct feel so it is something to consider when purchasing. Here is our full discussion on the differences between these types of mattresses.
9. Australian made
Based on a recent Bedbuyer survey of over 1000 people, it seems that most (over 80%) bed shoppers have a preference to buy Australian made. Thankfully, there are many, excellent locally made mattresses available in Australia so there is plenty of opportunity to support Aussie workers.
One thing to keep in mind too, is that there are also many excellent products made overseas. Even though the products are made elsewhere, if you’re buying the product in Australia, it most likely still employs Australians.
Ultimately, buying Australian made is a personal choice and certainly something to be aware of when buying a new mattress and bed.
If you’re looking for a great Australian made mattress, here are Bedbuyer’s Top 5 Aussie Made Mattresses in 2021.
10. Negotiating the best deal
When it comes to negotiating the best deal on an online mattress in a box product, there really isn’t much to know. Here at Bedbuyer, we have generally negotiated the best deals available so you can always contact us to clarify the best current offers.
As discussed earlier, you can generally negotiate at least 30 – 40% off the recommended retail price in a retail store.
11. Payment / finance
If you’re not in a position to pay all of the cost of a new mattress upfront, most bedding companies (online and retail stores) have finance options to help you manage the cost of your new purchase.
Some of the popular finance options offered by bedding retailers include Afterpay, Zip, and Humm. Here is our summary of each of the major interest free payment options available in Australia. Be sure to check with the individual store to see what finance options they offer.
As always, we strongly recommend that you use finance sensibly. Please check all of the terms and conditions outlined by each finance provider before you use their service.
12. Health considerations
Many customers these days ask us:
“Does this mattress contain any harmful chemicals?”
It is very normal for a new product (including a mattress) to have a mild ‘new’ smell upon delivery. Some people are sensitive to certain new product smells and odours, but it doesn’t mean that the smell is harmful or toxic. If you are sensitive to new product odours, we recommend ‘airing’ the product out (place mattress outside or open windows).
If you are concerned about toxic chemicals from a new mattress, many mattresses these days have been formally certified as ‘non-toxic and eco-friendly’. These certifications are usually listed within product information. We have summarised the major health certifications when it comes to mattresses in 2021.
13. Delivery times and cost
Delivery times and cost vary greatly depending on:
- Your location
- Stock levels and availability
- Type of mattress (mattress in a box, retail store)
If you are buying a mattress in a box (online), delivery is (almost) always free and is relatively fast (usually within a week). Some online companies (e.g. Sleep Republic) can even do ‘same day delivery’. Again though, this all depends on your location.
If you’re buying a mattress from a retail store, delivery times depend greatly on stock availability. If your product is in stock, delivery can usually be done within a week or so. If it needs to be ordered from the manufacturer, it can take much longer (e.g. 4-6 weeks). Delivery cost to metro areas is usually around $80, but delivery to regional areas can be much more expensive (e.g. $300).
Most mattresses over about $1000 (Queen size) will have a 10 year warranty to cover any major defects. These warranties must comply with Australian Consumer Law, and further details can be found on the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) website. Keep in mind that some cheaper mattresses will have a very short warranty (e.g. 1 year) or no warranty at all.
The definition of a ‘product defect’ usually refers to a problem in the structural integrity of the mattress. This can get hazy when it comes to mattresses, as body impressions in a mattress are considered normal to a certain point.
Warranty issues are further complicated when customers choose a product that ends up not being suitable for them (e.g. too firm or too soft). This emphasises the importance of choosing a mattress that is suitable for your needs.
If you feel that you are entitled to a warranty claim, please contact your relevant store or retailer.
15. Choosing a bed base
As we touched on earlier, buying a new bed (base) is an important part of the bed shopping process. Your bed base can certainly influence how your mattress feels and performs over time. Below are the main types of bed bases:
- Slat Base
- Solid Bed Frame
- Ensemble Base
- Platform Base
- Adjustable Base
Sleep Republic Pro Base (Solid Bed Frame)
The type of bed base that you choose will depend on your budget, preference for style and decor, and desire for storage space. Many mattress warranties also require certain bed bases or certain bed base specifications (e.g. distance between slats).
Here is our full summary of the different types of bed bases available in Australia.
16. Pillows and Sleep Accessories
Along with a mattress and bed base, there are numerous other bedding products that you may need to buy when upgrading your bed. These include:
- Mattress protectors
- Duvets / Doonas
A few tips when it comes to sleep accessories:
- Using a mattress protector is possibly the best thing you can do to keep your mattress clean
- If you have a Queen size bed, a king size doona is usually a great idea
- Make sure that your bed sheets are deep enough to fit your mattress (check mattress height and sheet height)
Just like mattresses, there is a huge range of bedding accessories on the market. Here at Bedbuyer, we have compiled top product lists for all bedding accessories to help you decide.
17. Trial periods
To give customers ‘peace of mind’ when they buy, many bed companies offer a ‘back-up’ system to prevent the customer being stuck with a mattress that they don’t like. This typically involves the option of a refund, or an exchange if the customer decides that the mattress isn’t suitable for them.
Two common ‘post-sale’ options include:
1. Free trial period
- Typically offered with mattress in a box (online) products
- Allows the customer to claim a refund if not satisfied with the mattress
- Can be claimed within a certain time frame (e.g. 100 nights)
- Requires the mattress to be in pristine condition
- Mattress will be collected and given to charity (or drop off by customer)
2. Comfort guarantee
- Offered at some retail stores
- Allows the customer to exchange their mattress if not satisfied
- Can be claimed within a certain time frame (e.g. 60 nights)
- The exchange often involves the same range or same price
- Exchange option can only be claimed once
Keep in mind not all mattresses on the market will offer a trial period or comfort guarantee. Make sure that you are clear on the details of any trial periods or comfort guarantees before you buy.
18. Customer reviews
Consulting with ‘customer’ reviews (e.g. productreview.com.au) is a common part of the decision making process when it comes to buying a new mattress or bed. It’s understandable that we want to read about other customer experiences before we buy.
Customer reviews can be useful for many products (e.g. dishwashers, vacuum cleaners), but when it comes to mattresses, they are not so reliable. Each person has individual needs when it comes to a mattress, so it’s likely that the same mattress product will produce a positive review from one person, and a negative review from another.
Furthermore, customer reviews of mattresses often relate to old versions of a product (which have since been refined). Some customer reviews are also fake (from competitors) and so it’s important to use customer reviews wisely.
You can read more here about why you should be cautious when using customer reviews of mattresses.
19. Sleep hygiene
Once you get your new mattress, there are some easy measures to take to maintain a clean and healthy sleep environment. Some of these include:
- Use a mattress protector (as mentioned earlier)
- Wash your linen weekly
- Rotate your mattress every 6 months
To read more about mattress hygiene, click here.
20. Best mattresses
To help you with your selection, Bedbuyer has put together numerous ‘top product’ lists to assist you. These articles discuss the best options available on the market in different categories, and will really help you streamline the process of buying a new bed.
Two of our most popular articles include:
Sleep Republic Mattress – Awarded ‘Best Overall’ Mattress in a Box in 2020
We hope that this guide will assist you in buying a new bed and mattress in 2021. With that said, we still understand that it can all be a bit confusing. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact us.
On behalf of the Bedbuyer team, we thank you for visiting our site and we hope that you find your perfect mattress!
Bedbuyer is Australia’s largest bedding website and leading independent mattress review group. To read our disclosure and disclaimer statement, click here.