Sealy Mattresses — Best Mattresses or Best Marketing?

In 2012 the Sealy Mattress Company reported 1.35 billion in revenue. Not bad for the tail end of a recession that caused many companies to lag in revenue and go negative on profits. But is Sealy still the largest mattress company in the world, as they claim? Not anymore. Tempurpedic has had higher revenue in recent years. And in 2012, Sealy was purchased by Tempurpedic for approximately $228.6 million.

For decades, however, Sealy mattresses have been an undisputed leader in this huge industry. Does this mean they have produced the best mattresses or are they just really good at selling and marketing?

As always, it’s really a matter of personal preference. Sealy does market the Posturepedic, a well-respected, popular, well-rated product line. And their reach is wide and far. You can get Sealy mattresses in Sears stores, in big-box sleep stores and discount centers, online, and so on. No problem finding a Sealy mattress.

What might be a problem is finding the exact model you want at the price you need. This is the problem with all mattress brands shopping, as I have mentioned in this article on how to compare mattresses.

What makes Sealy Mattresses Stand Out In Mattress Comparisons… Or Do They Stand Out?

Mattress manufacturers have become more aggressively competitive, copying various “sleep technology” ideas from each other, while devising just enough unique features to file patents on a certain type of coil or a certain way of constructing edge support and so on.

The results have been improvement in overall mattress features, but a blurring of the differences between one brand and another and between one product line and another within each brand. In other words, they are starting to become more and more alike.

When one company sees another making inroads in a certain submarket, for example, “gel memory foam” or “hybrid” mattresses, the others jump in and try to make one just like that only better—or at least they do their best to make it sound better with interesting new names and impressive marketing blurbs.

So they mostly stand out from one another in trademarked names, and marketing, but also in some technological differences which are highlighted in their ad copy.

They also scramble over each other in price ranges, offering wider ranges and more models to offer slight differences in pricing, making shopping harder than ever… or making it harder to know what exactly the differences are. Some may be very slight.

What are the newest developments in Sealy mattresses?

New types of coils and gel memory foam has been the greatest changes in Sealy “sleep technology” features.

Their mainstream Posturepedic brand still uses a linked-coil innerspring unit, rather than pocketed coils. Coils are twice tempered, making them stronger and longer-lasting. (Sealy has always been known for strength and durability in coil units—that is, of course, compared to other brands.) Recently they have worked on making their linked-spring units perform more like wrapped coils, with less motion transfer and more customized support features. The new configuration gives more stability to each individual coil so while it feels more like pocket coils, it retains the durability of the linked innerspring.

The Sealy Hybrid beds now offer pocketed coils, a relatively recent development. Memory foam beds offer various layers of memory and gel memory piled atop a firm poly core. Gel beads injected inside memory foam provides a cooler sleeping experience. The biggest complaint people have had about viscoelastic foam is its tendency to retain body heat, so gel has been one of the biggest advancements in the mattress industry.

What does Sealy offer for comfort?

Like the rest of the mattress world, they offer foams in a wide and confusing array, including memory foam, gel memory foam, all kinds of polyurethane (including high performance, hypersoft, supersoft) and “smart latex” in the higher priced models of Posturepedic.

They also offer a wide range of firmness, from ultra-firm to ultra-soft. In stores you will likely encounter Firm, Ultra Firm, Plush and Plush Euro Pillowtop.

Wondering about thickness? The Sealy products are not as thick as some, but still hefty enough to compete at a maximum of about 14 inches for an ultra-plush pillow-top Posturepedic.

Price and Quality in the Product Lines

Sealy mattresses have the typical “good, better, best” models, but what differentiates these from each other? What makes the price go up or down from one product to another? As with all other brands, the types of coil, layers of padding, types of padding, thickness of the mattress, and edge support are the features that vary according to price range.

Product lines have become a bit complicated. The basic hierarchy of models within lines as of 2013 goes something like this:

Sealy Brand (not Posturepedic)

  • Traditional Innerspring (lowest cost innerspring), starting as low as $350 on some of the discount mattress sites. These feature decent innerspring units and coil counts of either 420 or 667 for a queen. This is a budget bed that cannot be expected to last as long as a Posturepedic—however it is OK in terms of comfort, and compares favorably to others in the same price range for durability. The warranty is 5-10 years depending on model.
  • Gel Memory Foam. The newest Sealy Brand Gel Memory Foam beds are also budget-priced. They feature thick polyurethane inner cores, with layers of both poly and memory foam on top. They compete well in that category, but truthfully they are not really memory foam beds. Their warranty is good for 10 years.
  • Latex foam. If you want a true latex bed, you will not find it in the Sealy Brand department. See below for more details about their latex beds.

Sealy Posturepedic (InnerSpring)

—discussed in a separate article here.

  • Classic Coil
  • Gel Memory
  • Hybrid

Sealy Optimum (Memory Foam)

There are at least six models of the Optimum line. See article here for details.

Stearns and Foster Brand

(see article on S & F brand)

What Happened to the Spring Free Latex?

Sealy used to have a popular and highly-rated latex mattress called Spring Free. However, that line is discontinued. You can still get something called the Comfort Series Latex Mattress from the Sealy Brand, but it is not nearly as well built as the Spring Free and should really be called a polyfoam mattress with an inch or two of top latex padding, as the thickest part of the mattress, the 6-inch core, is firm polyurethane, and some of the top padding layers are also polyurethane. These mattresses may offer comfort at a more reasonable price than pure latex, but calling them “Latex” is more than just a stretch.

For the real latex experience from the Sealy company, you will have to fork over the bigger bucks and buy a Stearns and Foster model.

NOTE: some retailers are still selling Sealy Latex Embody mattresses; however, this is a discontinued product line. These contain substantial amounts of latex padding, up to 4 inches. But they are also very expensive. The 6-inch core is still polyfoam. You can do better in both price and quality if you want a true latex mattress.

In general terms, Sealy has maintained its reputation for quality at a reasonable price, despite its many changes in ownership in recent years. Some cost-cutting was inevitable during the worst recession years of 2008-2012, but as things are looking up for the industry, this mattress brand should get better as well.

It will be interesting to see what Tempurpedic decides to do with its new family member in the years to come. Will it phase out competitive memory foam models within the Sealy brand, or make them better? Will they use Sealy innerspring technology to make a new Tempurpedic bed never before seen? Only time will tell.

Innovative technology is transforming the mattress industry but whether the results are noticeable by sleepers remains questionable. In time, however, I expect some new mattresses to appear on the market that perform better than ever before in terms of comfort, durability and resilience. It may require a smaller upstart company to make it happen, though, as the big manufacturers seem to be mired in an endless struggle between making a genuinely good, long-lasting bed and the profits that come from making beds that wear out a lot more quickly!

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