What Does Mattress In A Box Mean? Definition + 10 Burning Questions Answered
What does mattress in a box mean? Well, it means exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mattress that has been packed down into a box. This means easier delivery and lower prices, but you probably have a lot of questions. Is a mattress in a box any good? How does it get into that box? How the heck would you return it if you needed to? I’ve got the answers to all these questions (and more) in this detailed mattress in a box FAQ.
Now that you know that a mattress in a box is exactly what it sounds like, here’s what else I’ll cover in this “What Does Mattress In A Box Mean” explainer:
- Is A Mattress In A Box Any Good?
- What Types Of Mattress Can You Buy In A Box? (+ My Favorite Type)
- How Does The Mattress Get In The Box?
- How Long Will A Mattress In A Box Last?
- How Much Do They Cost?
- What Are The Pros And Cons Of Buying A Mattress In A Box?
- Can You Sleep On A Mattress In A Box Straight Away?
- Does A Mattress In A Box Need A Box Spring?
- Any Tips For Buying A Mattress Online?
- How Do I Return A Mattress In A Box? I Can’t Get That Back In The Packaging!
1. Is A Mattress In A Box Any Good?
Like with anything, you’ll find a range of different quality here. Some mattresses in boxes are amazing, some are duds.
The first thing to know is: just because a mattress came in a box, does not make it bad, or lower quality than one from a store. In fact, there are countless mattress in a box options that are amazing quality.
The quality of the foams used inside a mattress in a box (higher density = better quality), the materials used in the cover (natural fibers or blends vs polyester) and the customer service offered by the brand you’re buying from are good indications of whether the mattress you’re looking at is going to be any good.
I personally own an Ecosa mattress, which is a firm mattress in a box. It’s lasting really great, and feels like it’s going to be with me longer than my previous mattress which was an expensive one from the store.
Of course there are some low quality mattresses in boxes. These tend to be the cheaper ones, as they contain cheaper foams that start sagging more quickly than high quality foams. Many of the cheap mattresses in boxes on Amazon do this, but they can still be great if you’re looking for something for a child (their lighter body will create less sagging with regular use than an adult) or a spare room.
Want to see a mattress in a box coming out of its box? Here’s me and my husband opening ours last year:
2. What Types Of Mattresses Can You Buy In A Box?
The most common mattress in a box types are:
- All foam (usually memory foam comfort layers with polyfoam support foams, some may combine memory foam and latex)
- Latex foam (fully made from latex foams, either in one or several layers of different densities)
- Hybrid (this means a mattress with a pocket coil support core and foam comfort layers, these could be latex or memory foam or both)
There is a big range of all these mattress types out there in the market. My personal favorites tend to be mattresses that have a hybrid construction and some latex in the comfort layers, because latex is durable and cooling. Avocado is a great example.
3. How Does The Mattress Get In The Box?
A mattress needs a lot of compression to get into a box small enough for your courier to deliver. A big, industrial machine called a roll packer is used to do this: basically, the mattress gets rolled flat like a pancake, then rolled in plastic, then put in its box.
Here’s a short video of a mattress roll packer in action (skip to 1:22 to go straight to the roll pack footage):
4. How Long Will A Mattress In A Box Last?
The higher quality the mattress, the longer it will last. A good quality mattress that comes from a box should have the same life span as a quality one from a store.
Latex (especially natural, or even better: organic) is the most durable mattress material, and you’ll often find latex mattresses have the longest warranties.
In general, you can expect an average life of ANY mattress to be around 8 years, if it’s reasonable quality. That means mattress in a box or not!
You’ll find that mattresses in boxes come with warranties ranging from one year to lifetime.
The cheaper mattresses in boxes that use cheap foams will probably only last 1 – 3 years if they are used regularly. That’s why I recommend them for either kids or guest rooms. If you’re looking at spending $1000 – $2000 on your new mattress, you’ll easily find one that will last the expected 8 year minimum.
5. How Much Do They Cost?
Prices start at under $100 for a single size budget mattress in a box. The most expensive I’ve seen for an ultra luxurious one with all the extras is between $2000 – $3000.
I think you can pick up an exceptional quality mattress in a box (King size) for around $1000 – $2000. You’re probably wondering how these companies can offer you such high quality at a drastically lower price than stores can. Here’s how:
- They don’t have to hire sales staff
- They don’t have to run a store with all the overheads that entails
- They either work directly with a manufacturer, or they are the manufacturer
The cost of your mattress in a box will pretty much always include delivery, and if the company has good service, returns as well.
6. What Are The Pros And Cons Of Buying A Mattress In A Box?
- You can get a great mattress for a much lower price than in a store
- Your mattress will be delivered right to your door for free
- Many come with a sleep trial of at least 100 nights. This means you can try the mattress in the privacy and comfort of your own home for at least three months before you have to decide if you’re going to keep it
- Mattresses in boxes tend to be lighter than traditional innerspring mattresses. This makes them easier to maneuver, and it’s easier to make the bed!
- There will be an off gassing smell from the mattress when you open the box. Don’t worry, this is a totally normal part of the foams decompressing. Open your mattress in a ventilated space if possible
- You can’t try it out before you buy it (but I think the sleep trials many companies offer are much better)
- There are so many options online it can be overwhelming to find the one that’s right for you (I’m here to help)
7. Can You Sleep On A Mattress In A Box Straight Away?
The answer here is it depends. Depends on what? How long the mattress has been compressed in its box.
If a mattress was made overseas, it will have been sitting in its box longer, and may take longer to decompress to its full height. Some brands ask you to give their mattress 48 -72 hours before you use it. However, my own mattress was made in China and it decompressed to its full height within a few hours. We slept on it the same night we unboxed it.
If your mattress has been made or order or has not sat in its box for a long time, it may well expand to its full height pretty much immediately. My parents got a new mattress last week (Napp – a local New Zealand brand who had boxed the mattress just before it was sent): it decompressed to its full height immediately. I measured it.
Top tip: always take your mattress out of its box as soon as it is delivered, even if you’re not intending on using it just yet. This helps ensure it will expand evenly.
8. Does A Mattress In A Box Need A Box Spring?
No. Your new mattress just needs any stable support that is not the ground. Why not the ground? Putting a mattress directly on the ground invites dirt and dust into the mattress, and does not allow air flow.
The best bases for a new mattress in a box are:
- A slat bed with the slats no more than 3 inches apart (to ensure the mattress is adequately supported)
- A metal frame
- An adjustable bed
If you have a box spring and want to use it, that’s fine. Just check it’s not too old and worn out because a saggy old box spring will make your new mattress feel saggy too. Traditional box springs also don’t allow for much air flow, which is especially important if you’re buying an all foam mattress where air can’t circulate through the polyfoam base.
9. Any Tips For Buying A Mattress Online?
Yes! Here are my top 3 tips.
- Before you even start looking, think about your sleep needs. Are you a light person who sleeps on their side (you’ll need a soft mattress) or are you a couple with different needs? Perhaps you’re a heavier person who sleeps on their stomach (you’ll need a firmer mattress). Thinking about these things before you start looking is extremely helpful because there are so many mattress brands out there trying to sell you their mattress as a “one size fits all” solution, which isn’t always true.
- Look for epic customer service. You’re making a big investment when you buy a mattress online. Not just financial, but also in your health. You want to feel assured you’re buying from a trustworthy brand that will keep their word if something goes wrong. I’ve got more information about customer service and online mattresses here.
- Look for sleep trials of at least 100 nights. You need at least 30 nights to try a new mattress out to see if it’s right for you. This is especially true if you’re currently sleeping on an innerspring mattress and are looking to switch to a different type: you’ll need some time to adjust to the new feel to truly know if it’s comfortable or not. 100 Nights is a very common trial period, the longest I’ve seen is a whopping 18 months (yes, a year and a half) from Haven.
10. How Do I Return A Mattress In A Box? I Can’t Get That Back In The Packaging!
Unless you have an industrial size roll pack machine in your back yard, you’re not going to get that mattress back in its box so don’t even try!
I see so many customers fretting about the fact they want to return their mattress but can’t get it back in the box. It’s never going to happen, so don’t worry! But yes, you can still return it!
The brands with great customer service will either come and pick the mattress up from your house, or work with you to find a charity to donate it to. There will be info on their websites about how this process works, and I make sure to include how a company handles returns in each of my mattress reviews.
Some brands may ask you to package the mattress up yourself (don’t try to put it back in it’s box, you’ll just need to find materials to cover the expanded mattress and package it that way) and arrange the return yourself. Luckily these are few and far between, and I haven’t seen any that expect this from you in the $500+ mattress range.
So, a mattress in a box is exactly what it sounds like. A mattress that has been industrially flattened and rolled to fit into a neat little box for easy delivery.
There are some fantastic mattress in a box options out there that offer you amazing value for money, in a range of materials.
Look for mattresses that come with generous sleep trials, good returns policies, and a feel/support level that is right for your sleep needs.