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Mattress in a Box or Regular Mattress: Which is best?

Mattress in a box vs regular mattress
zoma mattress box

When it comes to choosing a mattress, you may find yourself torn between the newer “bed-in-a-box” options and traditional mattresses delivered flat. Both types of mattresses have their own unique set of advantages and drawbacks, and the choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences, budget, and needs.

Getting it Home

Getting a mattress to your bedroom can be a challenging task, especially if you live in an apartment with tight hallways or narrow staircases. Here’s where bed-in-a-box mattresses have a distinct advantage. These mattresses are compressed, vacuum-sealed, and packed in a compact box, making it much easier to maneuver through tight spaces and bring to your bedroom. While the packaging is more compact, it’s essential to remember that these mattresses can still be heavy, so you may need some help carrying it to your room.

Traditional mattresses, on the other hand, are delivered flat, often by a team of professionals who can help move the mattress into your bedroom. The downside is that traditional mattresses can be large and bulky, making it difficult to navigate through tight spaces. Some companies, such as Saatva, offer free white glove delivery to ensure a smooth transition from the delivery van to your bedroom.

Advantage: Bed-in-a-box. Easier to maneuver through tight spaces, but keep in mind that the mattress can still be heavy.


Shipping is another aspect to consider when choosing between a bed-in-a-box and a traditional mattress. Due to their compact size, bed-in-a-box mattresses can be stored and shipped more efficiently, often via FedEx or UPS. This can result in faster delivery times, especially if you’re purchasing from a well-known brand that ships directly from the manufacturer. However, be cautious of super-fast shipping times, as it may indicate that the mattress has been sitting in a box for an extended period, which could affect its internal layers.

Traditional mattresses are typically delivered by specialized freight carriers, and while the shipping process may take longer, it allows the mattress to maintain its original shape and integrity.

Advantage: Bed-in-a-box. Faster shipping times, but be wary of mattresses that ship too quickly.


One of the key differences between a bed-in-a-box and a traditional mattress is the decompression time. Once you’ve unboxed and unrolled your bed-in-a-box mattress, it will need some time to expand and reach its full height. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the brand and materials used. A slow decompression time may indicate that the mattress has been in its box for an extended period.

On the other hand, traditional mattresses are ready to use as soon as they’re delivered, with no waiting time required.

Advantage: Traditional mattress. No decompression time required; ready to use immediately.


When it comes to quality, both bed-in-a-box and traditional mattresses can offer high-quality options. The quality of materials and construction plays a more significant role than the delivery method. Generally, the more you invest in your mattress, the higher the quality. It’s essential to compare mattresses within the same price range to get an accurate assessment of quality.

Advantage: Draw. Quality depends on the materials and construction, not the delivery method.


Comfort is a crucial factor when choosing a mattress, and both bed-in-a-box and traditional mattresses can provide a comfortable sleep experience. Compression during packaging doesn’t necessarily affect the comfort of a bed-in-a-box mattress, provided it’s made from high-quality materials and hasn’t been stored in its box for extended periods. Traditional mattresses, on the other hand, are delivered in their intended shape, ensuring the layers are fresh from the factory.

Advantage: Draw. Comfort depends on the quality of materials and construction, not the delivery method.

Both bed-in-a-box and traditional mattresses have their unique advantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your preferences and needs. If you prioritize ease of transport and faster shipping times, a bed-in-a-box may be the better option. However, if you want to avoid decompression time and value immediate use upon delivery, a traditional mattress may be the better choice.

allswell brick unboxing

Exploring Coil Systems: Bed-in-a-Box vs. Traditional Mattresses

It is crucial to understand the different types of coil systems used in mattresses: continuous coils, Bonnell coils, offset coils, and pocketed coils (also known as Marshall or encased coils).

  1. Continuous Coil Systems utilize a single wire looped into S-shaped units, creating a robust, hinged support structure that minimizes motion transfer. These coils are primarily found in more economical mattresses.
  2. Bonnell Coil Systems feature hourglass-shaped coils, often used in budget-friendly innerspring mattresses. They offer sturdy support but can be noisier and less effective at isolating motion.
  3. Offset Coil Systems have an hourglass shape similar to Bonnell coils, but with a squared top or bottom, providing better contouring and less motion transfer.
  4. Pocketed Coil Systems consist of individually wrapped coils, allowing for better motion isolation, pressure relief, and contouring.

Bed-in-a-Box Mattresses

Bed-in-a-box mattresses often use pocketed coil systems due to their suitability for compression and decompression, crucial for shipping in a compact box. These mattresses typically layer pocketed coils with memory foam, latex, or other materials for a hybrid design. The individual wrapping allows the coils to move independently, conforming to the body and isolating motion better than interconnected coils.

Traditional Mattresses

Traditional innerspring mattresses, available in brick-and-mortar stores, use a broader range of coil systems, including Bonnell, offset, and continuous coils. High-end traditional mattresses may also employ pocketed coils. These mattresses usually have a thicker coil gauge and more substantial coil systems, offering better support and longevity but at the cost of bulkiness, making them more challenging to transport.

The choice between bed-in-a-box and traditional mattresses comes down to personal preference, budget, and specific needs. Bed-in-a-box mattresses, with their pocketed coil systems, offer excellent motion isolation and convenience but may not have the longevity of some traditional mattresses. Traditional mattresses offer a broader range of coil systems, with options for firmer support and durability but are generally more cumbersome.

Hampshire II

Customer Service

Bed-in-a-Box Mattresses


  1. Online Convenience: Bed-in-a-box companies primarily operate online, making it easier for consumers to research and order mattresses at their own pace. This eliminates the pressure of sales pitches in physical stores and enables buyers to make well-informed decisions.
  2. Trial Periods: Many bed-in-a-box companies offer trial periods, allowing customers to test the mattress for an extended period (typically 100 nights or more). If the mattress doesn’t meet expectations, it can be returned for a full refund or exchanged for a different model.
  3. Customer Reviews: Online platforms offer easy access to customer reviews, providing valuable insights into the product’s quality and performance. This feedback helps prospective buyers make more informed decisions.
  4. Direct Communication: Bed-in-a-box companies often provide various communication channels such as live chat, email, and phone support, making it easy for customers to reach out and ask questions.


  1. Lack of Personalized Assistance: While online platforms offer a wealth of information, they lack the immediate, personalized assistance provided by in-store sales associates.
  2. Delayed Response Time: In some cases, reaching customer support may take longer than expected, especially during peak hours.

Traditional Mattresses


  1. In-Person Assistance: Traditional mattress stores offer immediate, personalized assistance from knowledgeable sales associates. They can provide expert recommendations based on individual preferences and answer any questions.
  2. Try Before You Buy: Physical stores allow customers to test multiple mattresses, gauging comfort and support levels before making a purchase.
  3. Instant Satisfaction: Traditional mattress stores often have stock readily available for immediate delivery or pick-up, providing instant gratification for eager customers.


  1. Pressure to Buy: Sales associates in physical stores may employ high-pressure sales tactics, which can make customers feel rushed or pressured to make a purchase.
  2. Limited Return Options: Traditional mattress stores may have stricter return policies, with shorter trial periods or restocking fees for returns.

Both bed-in-a-box and traditional mattress companies offer unique customer service experiences. Online platforms provide convenience, extended trial periods, and easy access to customer reviews, while traditional stores offer personalized assistance, the ability to try before buying, and instant gratification.

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