Our 2nd bed from the Internet: cheaper than the competition and super comfortable

We’re back from hiatus! We’ve moved to a new home, in a new state, and we have a brand new bed from the Internet!

Just like our first bed from the Internet, the bed frame, mattress, and mattress toppers are all from Amazon.com. 

Unlike the first bed, though, this time our bed is king size, with a memory foam topper and a new style of bed frame (this time with a headboard). After two months of sleeping on it, we are happy to recommend this awesome bed. Here’s the bed everyone in my family wants to lay on and never get off of.

Meet our (2nd) bed from the Internet:

(from top to bottom)

All told, we spent just under $800 on this bed, which includes everything you see below (bed frame, mattress, plush topper, memory foam, and waterproof mattress protector).

Here’s what it looks like with no covers – everything fits perfectly right up to the edge of the mattress. There are no gaps or misaligned layers. In 2 months, nothing has shifted.

About us

We’re both 5’8″, but I’m a squishy female with wider hips (I weigh about 185 lbs) and my partner is a lean male (he’s about 150 lbs). I prefer a soft bed, he prefers a firmer bed.

My most common complaint about beds is that I “bottom out” – my butt and/or hip bones dig into the mattress past whatever cushioning layer is present. I also dislike mattresses typically described as “firm”.

How the bed feels

I think we’ve managed to find the perfect bed: it’s soft and luxurious on top, but it’s still supportive. I love laying on it. This stuff is subjective but I’ll try to explain why I think this bed is so awesome, starting with the base and working our way up.

Zinus platform bed review

See the Zinus platform bed frame on Amazon.com

Aside from general sturdiness, our requirements for a bed frame were that it include a headboard and that it be a platform design (so that we didn’t need to buy a box spring). Prices on frames/headboards are all over the place, but we quickly ruled out the $800-$2000 bedframes/headboards at our local furniture based on price alone.

The Amazon search results for bed frames and platform beds were dominated by a company called Zinus. I didn’t like how squat and short the headboard was but I was unable to find a suitable taller headboard at our price point so we accepted its squatness and ordered it.

It arrives with all the parts packed inside the headboard itself. Simply unpack, follow the instructions, and the assembly process is about 30 minutes start to finish.

Here is our Zinus bedframe assembled. It is sturdy and it looks good.

I do wish the headboard was a couple inches taller but oh well, it wasn’t a dealbreaker and everything else about the Zinus bedframe is great.

When I was researching bed frames/headboards I initially did not like the Zinus bed frame because the headboard is so short. I found it hard to verify the height, and I wondered if my pillows would be fully contained within its height. As it turned out, there is about 15″ worth of height between my mattress (10″ mattress, 3″ pillow topper, 2″ memory foam layer) and the top of the headboard. My pillows are contained by it.

The sleeping surface of the mattress/topper/memory foam ends up about 25″ off the floor.

Support is an important thing to get right, as we discovered with our previous bed. We had our queen mattress on a frame that supported the mattress with rows of springs. This frame was fine for us until I got pregnant and gained 50 lbs. My weight approached 220 lbs near the end of my pregnancy, and at 220 lbs, I could feel the mattress and frame sagging too far down. We put the mattress on the floor and the problem was gone, which suggested to me that the frame wasn’t actually supporting us that well.

We had a hard time deciding on a bed frame so we ordered the mattress first and used it on the floor in the meantime. It felt quite good there, and it felt just as good once it was put on the Zinus’s slats.

10″ king size Signature Sleep Contour mattress review

See the Signature Sleep Contour mattress on Amazon.com

The first thing to know about ordering a mattress online is it’ll probably arrived rolled up, vacuum packed in a box. That’s how the Signature Sleep arrives at your front door. Oh, and the box is heavy.

The box is made of a very thick cardboard and was quite difficult to cut open and remove. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being a wet paper bag and 5 being Dwarven mithril, this box is a 10.

We knew from previous experience that once you cut the vacuum seal, the mattress is going to literally explode out of the packaging (or try to, anyway).This mattress enters the world with a BOOM.

We cut the packaging, which caused the mattress to instantly triple in size while still partially contained in the wrapping. Cue panicked rush to get all the plastic off so the mattress can take a more traditional mattress shape.

The mattress looks pretty bad at this point, uneven, curving toward the ceiling, lumpy. At this point, the mattress should be left undisturbed for 48 hours so it can slowly take its final form.

48 hours later, the mattress was puffy and laying flat on the floor.

There’s no denying it: this is a very low-priced mattress. Anyone feeling skeptical that this mattress feels good is right to feel that way.

When I got my first Signature Sleep Contour 2 years ago for our weekend place, I went into the whole experience with low expectations, but I was totally blown away. I came to prefer this inexpensive mattress over my apartment’s $1200 name-brand mattress.

Best of all: it’s surprisingly comfortable all by itself. I would describe it as a firm mattress, but that’s okay – we loaded it up with a pillow topper and a memory foam layer because we like our beds soft.

One thing that’s great about this particular mattress: you can flip it! We like to flip and rotate our mattress every 4-6 months (ish) to help prevent butt dents from forming.

3″ Lucid plush topper review

See the Lucid plush topper on Amazon.com

We put the 3″ Lucid plush topper directly on top of the mattress.

Manufacturer’s photo of the Lucid bed topper. It is plush and snuggly.

This is my third Lucid plush topper – I buy them for every bed I sleep on regularly. It’s like the pillow-top layer that mattress manufacturers sometimes add to beds, except you can remove it, fluff it, flip the mattress, wash it, etc.

My previous bed had this exact mattress topper on it for 2 years (in queen size) and I didn’t notice any flattening, which was a concern when I first bought it. I figured it would be a pancake in a month, but – impressively – it kept its thickness.

It doesn’t shift around, thanks to the elastic corner straps and its general weightiness.

It has no smell and never developed any bunching or unevenness, even after a trip through the washer. (I still have my queen-size Lucid topper – I use it to make our IKEA sofabed more comfortable for guests to sleep on).

Alveo Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper review

See the Alveo gel memory foam topper on Amazon.com

We put our 2″ thick Alveo memory foam layer on top of our Lucid plush topper.

The Alveo memory foam topper features little “gel” dots to help keep it cool.

Memory foam is a polarizing thing, apparently. If you read the reviews on any memory foam topper or bed you’ll see people who hate it and people who love it. I wanted to try memory foam because so many of my friends recommended it, but no one could recommend a particular brand or manufacturer so I was on my own for that part.

Amazon has dozens of memory foam toppers on offer, but I went with Alveo because it was relatively lower priced and had no negative reviews at the time I bought it. Some common complaints about other memory foam toppers were complaints about crumbliness and odor.

My Alveo topper arrived in a somewhat smallish box, considering it is a king size topper:

Box was smaller than I expected (baby for scale).

Out it comes! Overall, it was very easy to open up and unpack. It weighs 23 lbs.

I didn’t know how fragile it would be, so I wanted it mostly “in place” before I broke the vacuum seal.

I broke the plastic seal, removed the packing, and let the Alveo topper fluff up. I didn’t lay on it for 2 days. The creases and dents you see here went completely away within the first day of “fluff up” time.

I think it has a pleasing “give” to it – when I’m laying in bed, I like to press my hands and feet into it just to feel its satisfying squish. It had only the faintest odor when it came out of its packaging, and no noticeable odor once the mattress protector and sheets were over it.

Some of the memory foam detractors complain of it “sleeping hot”, but I haven’t noticed any temperature problems. We got ours in September, during the last heatwave of the summer, and we both slept fine on it. (For whatever it’s worth, I think I tend to “run cold”.)

Memory foam is sold in layers of 2″ thick, 3″ thick, and sometimes 4″ thick. I had no good metric for which thickness to go with so I picked the cheapest option (2″) and I think that was a fine choice.

As it turns out, the memory foam is pretty tough and survived being moved to the master bedroom just fine. We didn’t drag it, we gently rolled/folded it up a bit and then carried it. It held up perfectly at the corners. Under normal use, it is the top layer and held in place by its own weight and by our SafeRest waterproof mattress protector.

Should the plush topper go on top or should the memory foam layer go on top? Surprisingly, I couldn’t find many people talking about this online, so we tried it both ways. We strongly preferred the memory foam layer on top. With the plush topper on top, the memory foam’s effect felt diffused, and the plush topper felt poorly supported.

SafeRest waterproof mattress protector review

See the SafeRest waterproof mattress protector on Amazon.com

We put the SafeRest mattress protector over everything else (and under the sheets).

This is my go-to mattress protector. I prefer it over other designs that are made of thicker/noisy plastic (this one feels like cloth with a thin waterproof membrane backing) and I like that it fits like a fitted sheet. It’s deep enough to fit over the 10″ mattress, 3″ plush topper, and 2″ memory foam without being too tight or too loose.

On my bed, the protector goes over everything but the sheets. The sheets go directly on top of the protector. Since it fits like a fitted sheet, the mattress is not fully encased in the protector (it’s “open” on the bottom side) but it also means I can easily remove the protector to wash it.

Sheets, pillows, comforter, etc.

Sheets: We got our sheets as a gift, they are Home brand Egyptian cotton from Meijer

Pillows: a mix of pillows we’ve had for a few years, most of them from Bed Bath and Beyond (the Isotonic Indulgence is my favorite)

Comforter: by Nate Berkus from Target

Nightstands: IKEA Hornsund (we left the feet off)

Why buy a bed online?

We started looking for a bed online because, basically, mattress stores are no fun.

We visited a couple stores before buying our Signature Sleep mattress from Amazon. We were actually hoping to lay down on a Casper or a Purple, but neither of those online mattress sellers had in-store models to try, and most of the “brand name” mattresses were outside our price range. The one mattress model we did like enough to consider buying from the store was discontinued, and the salespeople were overly pushy in trying to steer us toward a model that was nothing like it.

Buying a mattress online is great for reasons other than getting to skip the mattress store, too.

For one, you get the mattress in a portable box. If you’re getting the mattress delivered to one location before you have to move it somewhere else (such as a dorm, your new apartment that you don’t have keys to yet, your weekend place in the woods), it arrives in a (somewhat) portable rectangular box that may fit into your car (our queen size Signature Sleep fit into our Subaru Forester).

Our particular mattress is great because it’s just a bare-bones, quality mattress that you can customize to your liking with toppers. You can add as many bells and whistles as you want to (or none at all). Most, if not all, of the mattresses we found in physical stores were deluxe models with all the trimmings. There was no “basic” mattress, just expensive ones with lots of extras.

Generally speaking, the mattresses you find online are cheaper than the in-store models. Presumably there is less overhead involved with selling mattresses online (I imagine any markup is going into marketing right now). Even the “name brand” online mattresses are two-thirds to half the cost of the mattresses we found at our local mattress stores.

And, if you aren’t sure you know what you want – this “mix and match” approach to building a bed makes it easy to try different things. We weren’t sure if we were going to like sleeping on memory foam, but we figured we could send the topper back if we didn’t like it (rather than have it be a permanent, built-in part of our mattress like mattress store models).

The only major downside to buying online is it’s difficult to return a mattress purchased online. Since the mattress arrives rolled up and vacuum sealed, there’s no way for you to get it back in the box. You’d have contact Amazon or the manufacturer of the mattress for help with a return. (Some of the other online mattress retailers have their own promises regarding returns – it depends who you buy the mattress from.)

Why not buy a Casper, Purple, Leesa, etc.?

If you’ve searched for mattresses online you’ve undoubtedly already heard of Casper, Leesa, Tuft and Needle, Purple, etc. – they’re easy to find with a Google search and they’ll fill up your Facebook feed with ads for months.

We were tempted to try one of them, but we couldn’t figure out which one to place our bet on. Negative reviews seemed to complain of them being overly firm. Finally, after literally hours of watching reviews on YouTube and reading reviews on Amazon and blogs, we came to three conclusions:

  • they were all probably too firm 
  • they all cost more money than we wanted to spend
  • they are all heavy (100+ lbs)

We were done with our bed by the time this article came out, but it confirmed another thing we were starting to suspect: some of the reviews we had been reading were not exactly “unbiased”.

The bottom line

We love our “internet bed” – and we recommend this way of buying and assembling a mattress to everyone who asks. It’s cost-effective and you can easily mix and match parts to build your dream bed in a way you can’t at a mattress store.

Here’s what we used to build our new bed, frame included, for well under $1000:

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