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When Should You Replace Your Mattress?

Does your mattress feel lumpy and uneven on the surface? Has a trench developed in the middle? Do you notice excessive sagging when you get in and out of bed?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, there's a good chance you're due for a new mattress. As mattress materials deteriorate over time, your bed will lose some of its structural integrity. This may lead to added aches, pains, and pressure points for you and your sleep partner.

Read on to learn more about when to replace your mattress. We'll discuss warning signs and expected lifespans for different mattress types, and share some tips to help your bed last as long as possible.

How Long Does a Mattress Last?

The average mattress will perform for at least seven years before a replacement is needed. Some beds are made from materials that are susceptible to early wear and tear, causing them to lose support and become uncomfortable before the seven-year mark. Others are constructed from durable components with an expected lifespan of eight years or longer.

Mattress longevity is largely tied to the bed's material components. Although each model is unique, most mattresses sold today fall into one of five categories: foam, innerspring, hybrid, latex, or airbed. The table below lists construction details and expected lifespans for each category.

Mattress Category Composition Average Lifespan Potential for Early Sagging Common Durability Issues Average Price Range Overall Durability Rating
Foam
  • Polyfoam and/or memory foam comfort layers
  • High-density foam support core
6 to 7 years Moderate
  • Loss of shape in comfort layers
  • Sagging edges
$900 to $1,200 Fair to good
Innerspring
  • Polyfoam comfort layers
  • Steel coil support core
5 to 7 years High Sagging in the sleep surface $900 to $1,100 Poor to fair
Hybrid
  • Memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and/or minicoil comfort layers
  • Pocketed coil support core
6 to 7 years Moderate
  • Loss of shape in comfort layers
  • Sagging across the sleep surface
$1,600 to $2,200
  • Fair to good (foam)
  • Good to very good (latex)
Latex Latex comfort layers and support core 8+ years Low Sagging edges $1,600 to $2,200 Very good to excellent
Airbed
  • Foam comfort layers
  • Adjustable air chamber support core
8+ years Low Malfunctioning equipment $2,000 to $2,400 Very good to excellent

What Causes Mattresses to Wear Out?

Several factors can contribute to mattress deterioration, such as:

  • Normal Wear and Tear: This issue is common across all mattress types. As your bed's materials wear out over time, you'll notice more sagging and loss of support.
  • Insufficient Support: The box spring, foundation, frame, or base you use with your mattress can contribute to wear and tear if it doesn’t provide adequate support. Support systems with widely spaced slats can be particularly problematic because the mattress is more likely to sag through the gaps.
  • Rough-Housing: Your bed is much more likely to wear out if children or pets regularly jump onto the surface. Also keep this in mind for amorous activities.
  • Exposure to the Elements: Some mattresses may wear out more quickly if you maintain an exceptionally hot or cold temperature in your bedroom. According to owners, this problem is especially common for all-foam beds.

Warning Signs It's Time to Replace Your Mattress

You might be ready to replace your mattress if you notice or experience the following issues:

  • There are deep body impressions on the surface that make the bed feel less supportive. Keep in mind impressions may be covered under warranty if they reach a certain depth (see next section).
  • You notice new aches and pains in your neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, and other sensitive areas of the body. These can arise from insufficient mattress support.
  • You have started to sleep hot, whereas temperature regulation wasn't an issue before. As comfort layer materials soften with age, you may find yourself sinking more deeply into the mattress. This can restrict airflow across the surface and cause you to feel uncomfortably warm.
  • When getting in and out of bed, you notice significant sinkage along the edges. The perimeter of your mattress is especially vulnerable to wear and tear.
  • The coils have become louder in your innerspring or hybrid mattress. You'll probably hear more squeaks and creaks from the springs as the bed nears the end of its lifespan.
  • You and your partner feel less comfortable during sex. Loss of support and surface-level body impressions can make certain movements more awkward for couples.
  • Your mattress is seven years old. Even if you don't notice any sagging or other structural issues, you should consider replacing your mattress after reaching the eight-year benchmark. Some latex and airbed models may last longer.

Understanding Mattress Warranties

After purchasing your mattress, you'll need to register its warranty. This process is free, and can usually be completed online in a matter of minutes. If you don't register your warranty within a specified amount of time after buying the bed, then you may not qualify for coverage.

Most mattresses sold today come with warranties that last at least 10 years. Some people assume a warranty will cover any sort of mattress wear and tear, while others believe that beds with lengthier warranties are more durable by design. These are both common misconceptions.

Understanding how mattress warranties work and what they do – and do not – cover can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Repairs and Replacements

In most cases, the mattress manufacturer will repair or replace a mattress that develops a defect before the warranty expires. If your mattress is completely non-prorated, then the manufacturer will cover most costs associated with repairing or replacing a defective mattress. You may need to pay some shipping and transportation charges, but some brands will also cover these costs.

Prorated warranties are a bit different. The warranty coverage period will begin as non-prorated, but after a certain number of years you'll need to pay a percentage of the original mattress price to have a defective bed replaced.

For example, let's say you have a 20-year warranty with 10 years of non-prorated coverage. During the first 10 years, you'll pay very little – if anything – to have a defective mattress replaced. Then, once prorated coverage kicks in during year 11, you'll need to pay 5 percent of the original mattress price for each year of ownership to replace a defective model. For year 11, you'll pay 55 percent of the original price (5 percent x 11 years); in year 12, you'll pay 60 percent; and so on.

Prorated coverage is more common with longer warranties. You may be enticed by a 20- or 25-year warranty, only to learn it offers no more than two to three years of non-prorated coverage. The bottom line: always read the fine print.

Defects

Your mattress warranty will most likely provide a list of defects that are and are not covered. Commonly covered defects include:

  • Body impressions on the surface that reach a certain sagging depth. This depth will vary by warranty, but it usually falls between half an inch and two inches.
  • Physical flaws in the mattress that lead to foams, latex layers, and other components deteriorating prematurely despite proper handling and care.
  • Defective springs protruding through the side walls of hybrids and innersprings.
  • Manufacturing defects associated with the cover, such as unraveled seams or cracked zippers.

If a defect occurs, you should contact the manufacturer to file a warranty claim. You'll be asked to complete a form and provide photographic evidence of the defect in question. The process can take weeks before you receive a repaired bed or a replacement model. Also, keep in mind that virtually all mattress brands will ship you a new mattress free of charge if the original model is damaged during production or delivery.

Mattress issues that usually don't count as defects include:

  • Body impressions that do not reach the prescribed sagging depth.
  • Comfort issues that occur because the owner's firmness preferences change.
  • Damage to the mattress that occurs due to an improper support system, or because the owner has left the mattress in its shipping box for too long.
  • Physical damage such as burns, cuts, and stains that does not occur during manufacturing or delivery.
  • Allergies to certain materials in the mattress.
  • Infestations of bed bugs, dust mites, mold, and other pests and contaminants.

The manufacturer may choose to void the warranty if certain types of damage occur. For example, many warranties list specific measurements and requirements for bed frame slats and other support systems. If you ignore these guidelines and your mattress begins to fall apart, you'll probably lose your warranty in the process (the manufacturer will ask for photos of the support system).

Mattress warranties are also non-transferable. This means only the original owner will receive warranty protection, and coverage will not extend to anyone who buys or acquires the mattress from the owner. This is important to remember before buying a mattress from a private seller.

Is a Longer Mattress Warranty Worth It?

Since the average mattress performs for seven years before a replacement is needed, a 10-year warranty will be sufficient in most cases. You should avoid buying a bed simply because it comes with a longer warranty. This is especially true if the warranty is mostly prorated.

Tips to Make Your Mattress Last Longer

You can extend your bed's lifespan by taking the following measures:

  • Rotate the Mattress Regularly: Rotating the bed head-to-foot every three to six months can prevent deep body impressions from forming.
  • Use a Topper: Toppers are individual cushioning layers placed on top of the bed's surface. They are designed to make the bed feel softer or firmer, but they can also protect the surface from impressions and dents.
  • Evaluate your Support System: Your box spring, foundation, frame, or base is also susceptible to wear and tear, and an older support system can also cause the mattress to deteriorate rather quickly. Consider buying a new support system with your mattress if this is within your budget. Also, make sure the support system's size matches that of the bed, and check the mattress warranty for information about acceptable foundations, slat spacing, and other requirements.
  • Use Pillows to Even out the Surface: Pillows can be used to pad dents and impressions to an extent. Keep in mind that pillows should also be periodically replaced, and worn-out pillows can contribute to your discomfort, too.
  • Maintain a Hygienic Bedroom: Keeping your bedroom clean will protect the mattress from dust mites, mold, and other contaminants that can cause major damage to the bed's internal and external components.