What’s the difference between a bed-in-a-box and a traditional mattress?
The differences between the two types of mattresses keep getting hazier every day.
When online mattresses were first introduced, they were mainly made of foam. The biggest benefit was the at-home trial period, where you could sleep on the mattress for several nights before deciding whether or not you wanted to keep it.
However, these days, online retailers offer a range of mattress types, including hybrid or innerspring mattresses. Some brick-and-mortar stores now offer trial periods. Retailers on both sides are trying to neutralize the benefits of the other.
For instance, many bed-in-a-box brands now let you test out their mattresses in showrooms across the country. You can go to a physical store, try out a mattress for 15 minutes or so, and then buy the bed online.
“You get overall cost savings because you aren’t paying the additional fees that come with the in-store shopping experiences, such as shipping, delivery, and setup,” saud Russell Jelinek, the senior director of engineering, quality, and compliance at Casper.
If you’re concerned about a salesperson trying to pressure you into buying a mattress, going online and skipping the in-person experience is the way to go.
What happens to mattresses that are returned?
This varies by manufacturer. Once you sleep on a mattress, the manufacturer can’t resell it. They may coordinate with a local organization to recycle your mattress or donate it to those in need. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact your returned mattress might have, we encourage you to ask the manufacturer about what they do with returned mattresses in your area.
How do you unbox a bed-in-a-box?
First off, we recommend you unbox your mattress within a day or two of its arrival. The beds are not designed to stay in the box for long periods, and prolonged time spent in the vacuum seal (a month or more) could impact the structural integrity of the mattress. Jelinek said Casper mattresses can stay in the box for at least six months without experiencing structural damage. However, this is from the manufacture date, which could be months before you received your mattress.
We recommend unboxing the mattress in the room where you will sleep on it. Some companies provide you with an envelope slitter to safely cut the packaging without cutting the mattress. If you don’t have an envelope slitter, use extreme caution when removing the packaging and cut parallel to the mattress, not towards it. Also, have another person help you with the process since most mattresses weigh around 100 pounds. I’ve injured my back trying to do it on my own.
Cut open one end of the box and tip it onto your foundation or bed frame. Lift the unopened end of the box and shake the sealed mattress onto the foundation. Take a second to look for any instructions or materials that may have come in the box. This is when you might find an envelope slitter.
You can use the slitter or other cutting implement to cut through the first layer of plastic, but I’ve found it’s easier to just unroll the plastic with a yanking motion. Once this plastic is removed, unfold the mattress onto your foundation. You may need to flip it so the top is facing up. If you can find the seam in the second plastic layer, you can pull at it, and the plastic should be easy to remove. I rarely find the right place to pull at the plastic and instead end up using my cutting implement to cut the plastic along the length and width.
Then I push all of the plastic that’s on top to the far end of the mattress. Lastly, I use a yanking motion while trying to keep the mattress in place so I can remove the plastic from the bottom of the mattress, kind of like a magician might pull the tablecloth off a table. This should be the final step.
Jelinek says you can then sleep on the mattress right away. “However, we recommend giving it some time to acclimate to the room temperature,” he said. He also warned that some mattresses may take longer to expand to their full size. I’ve found it rarely takes more than a few hours for a mattress to fully expand.
For answers to general mattress questions, check out our guide to the best mattresses.