Custom Mattresses — Worth the Cost?

Custom mattresses fall into two specific categories: one type is made individually to order, customized to your unique specifications. The other is one you can customize in your own bedroom, because it provides different settings for firmness, positioning, and so on. Adjustable beds and quality air beds like Sleep Comfort, and Natural Form fall into this category.

Other mattresses have “custom” in the name (such as Custom Comfort) but in fact do not offer customizable mattresses either in factory or in house. They just use the name to make it sound like a good mattress.

And still others will simply customize size and shape of the mattress but not what goes inside, which is very useful if you really need a round or octagonal bed, or perhaps just an RV mattress or one that accommodates taller than average height.

To return to the custom-made mattress… the options aren’t unlimited, but you usually have a choice of firmness, type of padding, thickness of both mattress and the padding, and covering. All of these can make a big difference in comfort.

It’s time to consider a customized solution when…

  • You can’t find what you want in the ready-made, mass-produced product lines… if you have tried many name-brand mattresses and can’t find one that meets your specific needs.
  • Perhaps your body type is a little different than average, perhaps your perceptions of what is comfortable is a little different, perhaps you have very specific requirements you need from a bed.
  • You want a unique configuration, for example, a very firm base with a very soft cushioning.
  • You have special requirements, such as musculoskeletal conditions that need a certain bed for comfort
  • You want a custom size cut to your specs
  • You have money to spend on a lavish bed built to your dream

Are custom mattresses more expensive?

You would think they would be, and often they are, but not always. Sometimes they end up costing less as you can eliminate features you don’t need. Regular “luxury” mattresses often add layers of padding to make the mattresses thick and cushiony. Some of this padding might not be necessary for your comfort, but gives you the impression that you are buying a good mattress. Sometimes this doesn’t work out as well as you hope.

A truly custom made mattress is one that allows you to choose…

  • coil spring size, number, tension, and type etc., (for an inner spring)
  • total thickness of the mattress
  • layers of cushioning, the padding materials, the thickness of the cushioning
  • firmness/softness levels of both innerspring structure and the padding on top
  • covering material and fabric (wool, organic cotton, and so on)
  • size, shape and even have the option of splitting the bed in two (for a king) and having each side build differently.

You may also be able to specify zones in the mattress of varying firmness so you can have it firmer at your lower back area and softer at your hips and shoulders to avoid pressure points.

For a latex or memory foam mattress, you would ideally be able to choose the firmness/softness of each layer, starting with the core base and moving upward to various layers of padding, plus materials used and type of covering.

Expect to pay more as you increase the level of customization.

How to buy a custom mattress

When you choose your custom made mattress supplier, first check out the website, of course, if it exists. It will tell you what they have to offer in the way of customization. If it looks promising, have a phone discussion or in person consultation that tells you exactly what you’ll be getting and the pricing structure. Often you will simply be choosing from a limited number of options (mattress type, firmness level, padding type, padding materials, thickness, and covering).

But if you go the ultra-custom route, you may have an array of choices that could sound so wonderful that you could get carried away and order features you don’t really need or even want. Start with a budget and stick with it, even if you are paying big bucks, just to simplify the process. You don’t want a mattress so thick with goodies that you will need a ladder to climb onto it. Use your head, in other words.

Your best source of customized mattresses are local, smaller shops and factories that have the ability and desire to create mattresses one by one and to give you the personal attention that such a service would require.

It is possible to order a custom bed online, and that might work if you know exactly what you want, but it does entail more risk than working person-to-person with your mattress maker.

The exception to this rule is when you customize your own mattress using layers of latex or memory foam either alone or on top of an existing innerspring foundation (see below).

Make sure you understand how to care for your custom mattress, if it needs turning, flipping or any other special treatment. Make sure you know how to clean it, if necessary, and most of all what kind of warranty you’ll be getting and what it covers.

Some custom mattress shops will allow you an evaluation period that may range from 30-day to 180-day during which you can exchange your mattress for a different one that better suits your needs. They will generally only exchange it once.

The range of custom made mattresses:

  • Air-filled beds that you customize yourself (Sleep Comfort)
  • Innerspring mattresses
  • Latex foam mattresses
  • Memory foam mattresses
  • Combination mattresses (innerspring base, foam padding)

Can you customize your own mattress? Yes, you can, within limits, of course.

You can buy a firm, well made mattress without the luxurious padding, and then add toppers as necessary. You can also customize a mattress using slabs of latex, memory foam or poly foam.

When you layer foam slabs, make sure the bottom one is the firmest you can manage, then add either one softer layer or two progressively softer layers.

Thickness can vary according to how heavy you are and how much support you need. In general, the larger you are the thicker your mattress needs to be. If you are quite heavy, you may want to start with a firm spring-support foundation before you add firm and softer layers or toppers.

The advantage of a custom built mattress is, you get exactly what you want. The disadvantage is, you will likely have to pay quite a bit for the privilege. You can adjust your budget by choosing a mattress maker that offers lower-cost mattresses with enough customization options to give you the comfort you want while still being affordable.

The other advantage is, once you have discovered a mattress maker who provides a quality bed to your specifications and gives you personalized, friendly service, you have a real treasure. You can avoid the many trips from store to store trying to find that ready made mattress you like, and dealing with salespeople who care a lot more about the size and timing of their commissions than your desperate need for a comfortable night’s sleep.

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