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Updated November 2022
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Buying guide for best firm mattresses

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? For some people, it’s been longer than they care to admit. If pillows, sheets, and holistic sleep aids aren’t doing it for you anymore, consider upgrading to a firm mattress.

Firm mattresses are popular for the level of structured support they provide. Unlike softer mattress styles, firm mattresses won’t significantly collapse or shift. Support isn’t compromised even if you toss and turn. Most importantly, given their integrity, firm mattresses evenly distribute your body weight. Since they don’t buck or bend under pressure, your body won’t contort or sink into positions that become uncomfortable.

Catch up on all those winks of missed sleep with a firm mattress. Here’s our buying guide with all the tips you need to choose a model that will help you rest easy every night. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at some of our favorites, too.

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When upgrading to a firm mattress, consider upgrading your other bedding at the same time.

Key considerations

Sleep style

Stomach sleepers: Firm mattresses are often preferred by those who sleep on their stomach. The mattresses compress much less than softer mattresses, meaning the lower spine isn’t drawn into a more pronounced curve. As a result, firm mattresses are more effective at maintaining optimal spinal alignment for stomach sleepers.

Restless sleepers: If you share a bed with someone else, you’re probably concerned if your restlessness affects them, or vice versa. Firm mattresses minimize the transmission of movement. While softer mattresses compress or bounce, firm mattresses retain their integrity.

Firm mattresses are also less susceptible to dipping or sinking, which is characteristic of softer mattresses. This is especially important if there is a significant weight difference between sleepers, causing the lighter sleeper to slide toward the heavier one.

Hot sleepers: Sleepers who struggle with night sweats can benefit from sleeping on a firm mattress. Because the materials don’t compress with pressure, there is more airflow between the layers. This aids in temperature regulation even if the firm mattress doesn’t have additional cooling technology in its design.


Mattresses are identified by their firmness level. The higher the number, the firmer the mattress.

1 to 3: Extra soft to soft

4 to 6: Medium soft to medium firm

7 to 10: Firm to extra firm

While the firmness scale is used by all mattress manufacturers, there is some variation in the way each one classifies or describes its mattresses. If you’re not sure which firmness level to choose, or you can’t gauge the mattress firmness by the description, consider taking advantage of a trial period.



Layers: Firm mattresses are usually designed with multiple layers for support and comfort. Most are innerspring mattresses, which have coils sandwiched between the upper and lower portions of the mattress. Hybrid mattresses are innerspring mattresses paired with other supportive materials.

The inner layers of firm mattresses can be made of memory foam, eggcrate foam, high-density foam, latex, rubber, or gel. Some mattress manufacturers patent their own materials or adopt unique layering processes in their construction.

Shell: The shell of a firm mattress is usually made of a cotton and polyester blend. The shells are sometimes quilted or contoured with additional stuffing. There are also pillow-top mattresses, which feature a compressed pillow sewn to the shell. Many firm mattresses with cooling technology have a layer of gel just beneath the upholstery.

Trial period

Trial periods are immensely popular for mattresses, which is why so many manufacturers use this as a selling point. They’re the type of product that needs to be used and felt over the course of a few weeks or months to judge whether it’s worth the large investment. After all, you spend more time in your bed than anywhere else.

Trial periods typically range from three months to one year. Certain manufacturers offer a money-back guarantee within this period, though some only apply the purchase price to another mattress in their line.

In the event you return your mattress, you need to contact the manufacturer directly to provide registration and return information. You’ll also need to coordinate a pickup time, either with the manufacturer or a third-party delivery company.


A mattress is no small investment, which is why most come with a warranty. Most manufacturers offer warranties of between 5 and 25 years — and even lifetime warranties — but there’s fine print. When you use your warranty within the time frame determines which type of warranty service you're eligible for. If it’s early on, you might get a total replacement at no cost. If it’s later down the line, you might get a total replacement as well but need to pay the cost of delivery and removal for both mattresses. In other cases, you’re only given a partial credit toward a new mattress. If, upon inspection, your mattress is deemed misused, you’re probably not eligible for any warranty coverage.


You’ll also need to consider the logistics of your firm mattress purchase. More often than not, you’ll need to schedule delivery with the manufacturer. That also means you’ll need to make plans to remove your current mattress. Some companies take them at no charge when they deliver your new mattress. If that’s not an option, you’ll either need to pay for a mattress removal service or find out how and when you can dispose of your mattress through your municipality.

Firm mattress prices

Firm mattresses cost between $600 and $4,000. It’s quite a broad range, which is mostly due to the size, quality of materials, and firmness level.

Inexpensive: For $600 to $1,200, you’ll find entry-level firm mattresses. They include a few perks, such as moisture regulation or pillow-top styles, but they’re fairly limited.

Mid-range: If you spend between $1,200 and $2,200, you’ll find a variety of firm mattresses with more features. These often come with longer warranties and better overall customer service.

Expensive: At the top of the price range, $2,500 to $4,000, you’ll get top-notch sleep technology, construction, and comfort. There are also smart beds in this range, which track your sleep and automatically adjust to the firmness and support you require. These warranties are usually the longest, and they offer impressive customer service to boot.


  • Clean your mattress regularly. When you change your sheets, vacuum your mattress to pick up dust and debris. It’s also a good opportunity to spot clean and determine whether any odors have settled in and require treatment.
  • Compromise on firmness level. If you and your partner can’t decide on a firmness level, go for one in the middle of the range. You could also choose a mattress with adjustable firmness on both sides, though these are significantly more expensive.
  • Inquire about mattress disposal. Ask your municipality about the right way to dispose of or recycle your mattress. Some municipalities don’t do curbside pickup at all for mattresses, while others require notification and charge a fee.
  • Account for the box spring. Most firm mattresses, especially premium models, don’t come with a box spring. You’ll need to use the one you have, if it’s compatible, or include the cost of a box spring in your budget.
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While some people recommended flipping mattresses regularly, it really depends on the construction. Many firm mattresses have unique designs to maintain their structure and shouldn’t be flipped like regular mattresses.


Q. What information will I need for the warranty on my firm mattress?
You’ll need proof of purchase with the original receipt. Many mattress manufacturers recommend registering your mattress with them. This makes it easier and quicker to process a warranty claim. If you’re not sure where to store the receipt, scan a copy into your computer or take a photo of it with your phone.

Q. How soon will I be able to tell that my firm mattress isn’t a good fit for me?
Some people can tell right away, in a matter of a few nights. Others prefer to give themselves more time to adjust and use the mattress to the end of the trial period. If you’re on the fence after a few weeks, it’s best to contact the manufacturer to discuss your concerns and begin the return process.

Q. I’m worried about incontinence issues and possible stains on my firm mattress. What should I do to protect it?
Many consumers opt for incontinence pads, which are often placed under the sheet and on top of the mattress. These absorb moisture and liquid so they don’t transfer to the mattress. You can also invest in a waterproof mattress protector. These can be noisy to sleep on, but they are effective at protecting your mattress.

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