Shifman Mattress Review + deciphering web Mattress Comments

I get mail, lots of mail asking for advice.  Most of it is help in navigating the mattress jungle.  If you send me a short essay that tells me enough about the people who will be using the mattress and any other facts, I can try to match needs with brands and styles.  This letter has to identify age, gender, height and weight, sleep interfering physical issues, health issues, and always, financial challenges when appropriate .  I can not recommend one mattress being good for all.  I will not grade your paper for spelling or grammar, but completeness is important. Points for telling me what you now sleep on, or a mattress you tried while traveling, or something you have seen but think is overpriced.  Armed with this information, I will think it through, and apply information gained from 1948-2002 hands-on, + a retirement spent “shopping” my local NYC and suburban outlets with an occasional trade show.  I also have a rapidly shrinking group of mattress buddies, usually former competitors or employees, many almost as experienced as myself who know and share with me what I can’t remember or amazingly, never knew…. READ MORE

2014 Consumer Reports Ratings:
Serta, Charles P. Rogers, & Simmons Earn Top Grades in Lab Tests

The top-rated mattress retailer  again is a factory-direct franchise operator, Original Mattress Factory with most stores in Ohio,  and  at the bottom of the list and the least best for two years in a row is Sleepys, an East Coast large specialty retailer who apparently has been unable to shake off  an unenviable earned reputation.  These opinions are from many thousand CR subscribers who share their good and bad experiences with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports,  the nations’s premier product rating organization  published its annual mattress report in their March issue.  Consumer Reports does not accept advertising or any anything  else that might compromise their judgment and reputation. Their sole source of support is annual dues and donations from members.

I consider their reviews to be a highly reliable source for any mattress shopper… READ MORE

Which Is Best: Platform Bed, Box Spring, or Foundation?

The simple answer is, “all of the above”, but there are rules. The accurate answer depends on the type of mattress that will go on top.  If you follow these simple rules you will get a lot more satisfaction from your new mattress and platform, foundation, or box-spring. A  box spring has a small number of…. READ MORE


  • Scott Kearns says:

    I am in the market for a new mattress and was wondering what constitutes a “proper” foundation.
    I currently have a solid foundation (not a boxspring) I purchased 4 years ago with my mattress and would just like to replace the mattress itself.
    I have found that some places say it is no problem to use a new mattress on my foundation, while others say it will void the warranty.
    Please let me your thoughts on this.
    Thank you,

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Scott, I think that the answer(s) you seek have been pretty thoroughly dealt with in the body of the blog, but I will go a bit deeper for you. Your understandable confusion is because, and you can correct me, you have not yet read Consumer Reports as I actually beg my readers to do. Don’t underestimate the value of this advice. They do not take payoffs and they actually test, and the reviews are from actual users. This is not the usual case in my former industry. You also likely have just skimmed my blog. You may even have been captivated by review sites that are paid openly and/or under-the-table for skewing their advice to push specific products. You may have been further confused by the myriad of miracle mattress sites that are popping up weekly on the net. None have a store or a usable history. Virtually all of these new scamming sites such as Saatva, Tuft and Needle or Casper are run or owned by incredibly skilled wordsmiths. Truthy and “truthlike” raised to a new level. Beats any politician. When a site has no physical place of business and ships shape-changing mattresses, impossible to return, and probably has hundreds of favorable $5 paid reviews, let the buyer beware. An hour or two properly spent on the internet can change you from a confused to an informed customer.

      The above paragraph is just for me to let off steam. I got a mailbox full today where people in real need of help, help I can give and want to give, didn’t bother to send any personal statistics. This adds at least an hour to the process for me, and at 85, I haven’t got so many hours to waste. I expect that if you decide to not go solo on the mattress purchase, you will find the need-to-know list here in the comments somewhere and many places in the body of the blog.

      A “proper foundation” is language used to void your warranty when the mattress is obviously damaged by a competitor’s product. New or old doesn’t matter. This is an empty threat as the Federal Trade Commission periodically cracks down on this practice and considers it unlawful. To me, a proper foundation mainly depends of the nature of the mattress it is providing a foundation for. I also go into much detail on this in the blog so now, just sparse info. Innerspring Mattresses upholstered on (usable on) two sides, either new or old, are not designed to be used on a firm top foundation. The mattress is designed to work in tandem with a flexible box spring. This coil filled box-spring has larger coils than the mattress and is much firmer. Nevertheless, when you sit on the edge or a corner it will go down as much as five or six inches and is a real box spring. If you sit on the base you wish to keep and it it remains rigid, it is not a box spring. It is what used to be called a foundation. The mattress industry under the leadership of some of the major makers has just changed their language and calls anything with steel in it a box spring. It can be what was a foundation for the last ten years, but if it has formed wire similar to but no torsion bars, and a heavy gauge wire mesh on top, most advertisers have decided to rename it. Just makes shopping that much harder.

      I will try to help you sort through this if you can answer all or most of the following questions. Whichever you answer, please include the maker’s name from the white law label and date if it is there.
      Do you own a coil box spring?
      Do you own a foundation with a wood base and a steel top?
      Do you own a foundation with a wood base and a padded cardboard top? Plenty out there under cheap sets, maybe 30% of the marketplace today.
      Do you own a foundation with a steel base, steel rods between the base and the top, and a steel grid top? Grid boxes are big enough for you to easily feel or see.

      Can you identify who the “others” are who have supplied you with information? Just the retailer, not the names of the hard working well trained salespeople.
      A commission sales-person in a retail store?
      An internet mattress selling site?
      Your own independent research?
      Have or will you consider a platform bed as a third choice?
      Name or names or mattresses and brands that you are considering?
      Why are you replacing your mattress now?
      Your zip code?
      “Unless you actually supply me with enough to know about you, I can offer you little personal help on your new one. If your bed has been called on to hold up above average weight, four years are easy to understand. If you have teenagers who use it for a trampoline when you are not home, also easy. But now that you have started to think about getting honest advice, maybe this time you will be able to amortize your investment for fifteen or twenty years.

      Unless you have one of the cheapest kinds of foundations, it is more than likely I will advise you to hold on to it.
      Your zip code.

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Scott: I sent you a personal letter dealing with your interests. I am sharing this with other readers. No mattress maker can force you to purchase a matching foundation/box-spring to validate their warranty. Your responsibility is to provide a decent quality foundation with a strong flat top surface. I know of no foundations that can do the job well and last as long as or longer than the mattress. A good foundation has a top surface grid made of interlocking strong wire. This grid is supported by various shapes of wire formed to resist shock and to provide a tiny bit of resiliency. To my knowledge, one company, The Leggett and Platt Company in Carthage, Mo. manufactures and supplies all major makers with ready-to-cover foundation. L&P is a huge and “invisible” B to B supplier. They are global with most of the production import warehousing
      in strategically sited US factories to minimize shipping costs. It would be a challenge to identify mattress makers who still may make the innards of their own foundations or box springs. Beckley, Charles P. Rogers, Gold Bond, Shifman Brothers, and McCroskey are not the last standing complete makers, but I can not name any of the others.

      Leggett and Platt along with a major trade association recently added to the confusion by dropping most of the use of the word foundation. If the object under the mattress gets its support from formed steel in any configuration, it is now a box-spring. L&P supplies ready made coil box springs to almost all of the 600 mattress assemblers and some of the mattress makers. It is possible that these pre-formed support systems are made with imported parts from L&P’s extensive Chinese manufacturing facilities and sources. You can now also buy Chinese made innerspring mattresses that contain vital parts, locally made by L&P near them in China.

  • Peter says:

    What do you think of the sleep science folding foundation? It has a solid wood surface. I was also thinking of buying the Nomad wood bed frame. It is slatted though. I’m not sure if it works with a futon mattress.

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Peter, I think that the Sleep Science folding platform bed, as that is what it really is, has the potential to be a useful product. It is about twice as costly as the dozens of all steel similar platforms you can see if you visit Amazon or Walmart with a search term, “metal bed spring”. Some of them are now well under $100. All are imported from China. Not always a bad thing, just almost always. I like the ease of assembly on the Sleep Science. I would be more accepting of it if more detail was available on the net. There is a YouTube video of the assembly process. I sat through it several times hoping to see what kind of supports will hold up the very thin looking plywood. Cheap foundations, the kind that have no formed wire or grid top, only wood and cardboard inside, are all something to avoid. This new-ish import, if made well, could be used on any one sided mattress, not just memory foam. Slatted foundations are subject to the slats having no more than 2.5″ of airspace between them when supporting an innerspring mattress.

      I hope, for your sake, if you are getting a new mattress, that you are not experimenting with the super-cheap imports now being sold by Amazon and other large stores. Many have bogus labels claiming that they are American made. They are not. The glowing five star paid-for reviews are mainly made(written and placed) from India and Pakistan. The people who sell these mis-represented mattresses used to pay five dollars for five star reviews, but now, the same people who work the call centers in South Asia are coining cash writing reviews for as little as $1. You can go to and see how the process works. This has turned me off from believing any review that can not be verified. Most internet sites with customer reviews that are quite trustworthy are from sites that have real businesses. Real land addresses, real reputation. Macy’s or Penny’s and most other real stores only post reviews from people who have bought the product from them. The other ultra-phoney reviews are all over Yelp and Google.

      Marshall Coyle

  • Roger says:

    Hi Marshall,

    I wanted to see if it is true that a new mattress needs “breaking in” period.

    Do new mattresses really need time to break in? And if so, how long?
    If a new mattress is much harder than the one in the store, doesn’t that mean that it will continually soften over the life of the mattress?

    Thank you! – Roger

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Roger,
      It is false that a new mattress needs breaking in. Breaking in signifies that the padding or the springs are supposed to change, beneficially, from the weight of the sleepers. The opposite is true. The goal of mattress engineers is to design a mattress that never “breaks in”, the foam doesn’t sag, the natural and synthetic fibers do not crush down, and the spring retain their resilience.

      People write to me every day asking for mattresses just like that, and when they supply all of the data I need, I can find something in your price range that will be as good as new for a minimum of ten years.

      Mattress padding, other than various foams, will get harder as it is crushed down. Any decent innerspring unit will not get tired and soften for many years. None of what you are asking is true.

      If you are seeking advice specific to your needs, just fill out the blanks and send it back to me for a free personal mattress evaluation. I will answer only completed forms.
      Height and weight,
      Exercise and/or physical sport activity,
      Specific sleep-interfering physical issues such as leg cramps, sleep apnea, and/or numbness
      Number of times each of you awakens enough to leave the bed on average,
      Do you usually wake up on side, back, or stomach
      Approximately how many hours of sleep do you get each week
      Does your spouse/partner snore in a manner that you sometimes talk about,
      Do you regularly read or watch TV in bed prior to sleeping,
      Are there any over 25# pets with the run of the bed
      size of desired new mattress
      Are you willing to order on the internet or 800#, or do you plan on purchasing direct from a retailer.
      The zip code where you live or usually shop.
      If your budget is limited, please share your needs with me. You may have to settle for less than the very best. Nevertheless I will only recommend the best in your price range and never anything that can be when new, and/or years later, hot, smelly, or saggy

  • George says:

    Good Day Sir,

    I am having a hard time finding a mattress that doesn’t feel as if it is trying to kill me when I wake every morning. I bought a CR membership, read through a ton of data, read about the testing & reviews & came away a little concerned about some of their “recommended” mattresses. Mostly because a found many complaints about sagging or lack of firmness on many of their higher rated items & alternatively, I found some low rated items, like mattresses from Saatva that seem to have nothing but positive reviews from CR’s very own members. I have tried many items from numerous retailers & am now considering some smaller local manufacturers like the Mattress Factory in Fort Worth Texas, not to be confused with the Original Mattress Factory, who seems t also have a lot of complaints from consumers to the BBB.

    At any rate, I am hoping you might be able to help me find something I can count on, constructed with solid engineering design & materials, that can enjoy for the next decade.

    So I am emailing you now, in the hope that I might finally get a decent nights sleep.

    Thanks for all your insight.



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