What You Should Know About Mattress WarrantiesUpdated on September 23, 2020
Anytime you’re making a significant investment in a new product for your home — whether it’s a TV, an appliance, or a mattress — it’s natural to think about what happens if things go wrong. A warranty that kicks in if the product is defective can offer both protection and peace of mind.
But anyone who’s ever had to file a warranty claim can tell you that while warranties may sound simple, they are actually defined by detailed terms and conditions. This fine print can affect how and when you may use a warranty and what you’ll receive if you successfully file a warranty claim.
In the mattress industry, there can be many variables that affect a warranty and how much protection it actually offers to you as a customer. In this guide, we’ll cover the important concepts and terminology related to mattress warranties, and we’ll help make sure that you can confidently assess how valuable any specific mattress warranty will be for you before you make a purchase.
What is a Warranty?
At its most basic level, a warranty is a way that a customer is protected if a product is faulty. It works to make sure that customers have recourse if the product they purchase is a “lemon.”
While there are some unstated warranties that apply to most products — known as “warranties of merchantability” and “warranties of fitness” — the more relevant type of warranties when it comes to mattresses are written warranties. That means that they are explicitly offered by the company and have defined terms and conditions.
Almost all mattresses are sold with a written warranty. Though they share many characteristics, not all warranties are created equal. For this reason, we strongly suggest reading the fine print of any warranty before purchasing a mattress.
If the mattress seller does not have the warranty terms available for you to read, we suggest waiting to make your purchase until those terms are provided to you.
How is a Warranty Different From a Sleep Trial?
One of the keys that have enabled the rapid expansion of the online, direct-to-consumer mattress industry is the in-home sleep trial. After purchasing the mattress and having it delivered, the sleep trial gives you a grace period during which you can return the mattress and get a refund if you’re unsatisfied with the mattress for any reason. Most sleep trials are for 100 nights, but they can range from 30-365 nights depending on the company. Most sleep trials also offer free return shipping or even pickup of a mattress from your home if you decide to return it.
This sleep trial model is distinct from a warranty. The point of the sleep trial is to let you test out the mattress to see if you like it. The point of the warranty is to protect you as the customer if the mattress was built improperly. The sleep trial usually allows returns for any reason, including general dissatisfaction with the mattress, whereas a warranty applies specifically to defects with the mattress. Warranties last much longer than sleep trials and tend to be much more restrictive in their application.
You can read more about sleep trials in our guide, How to Buy a Mattress Online.
Does a Warranty Apply to the Whole Mattress?
A mattress is made up of multiple different parts including its internal components and its cover. In most cases, the warranty will cover defects or flaws in any of these parts. However, it is important to read the warranty carefully because some may be more restricted when it comes to the cover.
In addition, some mattresses are built with electrical components. For example, airbeds have remote controls and pumps that regulate air in the mattress. Mattresses that have sensor technology (often referred to as smart mattresses) may have these sensors built into a layer of the mattress. Keep in mind that often these components are not covered under the same terms as the other mattress components. Usually, they have a shorter time period for warranty coverage. If you’re buying this type of mattress, make sure to look closely to know for how long the warranty will apply to these parts of the mattress.
What Is Covered By a Mattress Warranty?
Mattress warranties do not provide coverage for everything that can go wrong with your mattress. Instead, they tend to focus on specific problems that may arise. Remember that every warranty is written with its own specific terms, but this section gives an overview of what is usually covered.
Mattress warranties typically provide recourse if the mattress starts to sag significantly. However, the way that the mattress company defines “significantly” may be different from the way that you would. In order to have a warranty claim, most mattress companies require that an indentation in the mattress measure 1.5” in depth. Though you might notice indentations of a lesser depth, they would not be covered unless they reached the 1.5″ level. This also means that the warranty generally provides no coverage for minor sagging that just occurs as a result of regular use. Instead, it has to be a pronounced and deep level of sink for the warranty to kick in.
Faulty Workmanship or Materials
You likely have a legitimate warranty claim if there is a clear example of poor workmanship for your mattress. Some examples of this could include:
- Defective seams that do not hold and that come apart
- Coils that break and/or puncture the mattress exterior (in the case of an innerspring mattress)
- Broken or torn mattress handles
- Significant bunching of materials
What Is Not Covered by a Mattress Warranty?
Unfortunately, the list of things that are not covered by a warranty tends to be longer than the list of covered items. Items not covered by most warranties include:
- Sagging below the stated threshold: if your mattress starts to give out or indent, but it’s less than the stated threshold in the warranty (1.5” in most warranties), there won’t be any coverage provided, even if this sagging is having a major effect on the support and comfort that you receive from your mattress.
- Natural wear and tear: if the problem with the mattress comes about from its use rather than from faulty construction or materials, then you shouldn’t expect the warranty to provide any coverage. This includes natural weakening of materials, scuffs, scratches, discoloration of the cover (from use or washing), or minor lumps or bunching.
- User-inflicted damage: if you accidentally rip your mattress or cause damage to it in regular use or in moving it, it won’t be covered. This also includes damage that might be inflicted by a pet or by a child jumping on the mattress. If the damage happened by your hand, don’t expect warranty coverage.
- Dissatisfaction with size, feel, or performance of the mattress: the warranty is not designed to assure your satisfaction with the performance of the mattress from the perspective of support or comfort. It also doesn’t cover any issues related to the size or height of the mattress, whether it sleeps hot, whether it’s good for sex, or whether it permits too much motion transfer.
It’s critical to know in advance that your warranty won’t cover your purchase in these cases, and it makes it all the more important that you choose wisely when shopping for a mattress.
How Does a Mattress Warranty Become Void?
In order to be able to file a warranty claim if something goes wrong, the warranty has to be valid. The fine print of a warranty generally states various actions that can cause the warranty to become voided. For example, almost all of these issues would be likely to void a mattress warranty:
Removing the law tag
Every mattress has a tag on it that gives some basic details on the mattress. On the tag, you’ll see some variation of this phrase clearly printed: “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law.” That phrase is why this is known as the “law tag.” For mattress makers, this is part of your proof of purchase, and they generally will immediately reject a warranty claim if this tag has been removed from the mattress.
A standard stipulation in the fine print in mattress warranties is that any transferring of the mattress to another person voids the warranty. This means that if you sell the mattress or give it to a family member or friend, they will not be able to make a warranty claim even if something goes wrong.
Because the warranty is designed to offer protection if the mattress was not built properly, mattress companies are quick to void a warranty if there are signs of customer misuse that could relate to the problem with the mattress. Examples of customer misuse that can void a warranty include:
- Not following instructions for supporting the mattress: most warranties state that the mattress must be used with a certain type of support base in order for the warranty to be valid. Make sure that any frame or box spring that you use complies with the terms stated in the warranty in order to avoid this issue.
- Failure to rotate the mattress as directed: the warranty may state a certain frequency with which the mattress must be rotated in order for the warranty to remain valid.
- Stains: many warranty claims are denied because of stains, even small stains and even ones that may not appear to be related to the issue that the customer is having with the mattress. A mattress company may take stains as a sign of general misuse that can void a warranty. For tips on avoiding stains and cleaning them up when they happen, check out our guide, How to Clean Your Mattress.
As you look at different mattresses on the market, you may notice that there’s a wide variation in the length of the warranties that are offered. Warranties may range from 5 years to a full lifetime warranty. The most common range is between 10 and 20 years.
It’s common for shoppers to assume that the length of the warranty is the same as the expected lifespan of the mattress, but this is not the case. In most cases, a mattress gives out from wear-and-tear well before the end of the warranty period. In order to judge the likely durability and useful life of a mattress, look at the quality of its materials and construction, not at the length of its warranty.
One important element of mattress warranties that you need to be aware of is that some are prorated while others are not. This relates to what kind of remedy you are entitled to if you have a valid warranty claim. As a general rule, non-prorated warranties are better for you as the customer.
In a non-prorated warranty, the remedy for a defective mattress is the same throughout the entire warranty period. In most non-prorated warranties, for example, this means that if the mattress is defective at any point during the warranty coverage, the company will repair or replace your mattress at no cost to you. Usually the only costs that you might have with a non-prorated warranty could be for transportation of the mattresses and/or for the inspection of your mattress to validate your warranty claim.
In a prorated warranty, the remedy changes depending on how long the warranty has been in effect. For example, as time elapses, the company may not offer a refund or replacement but may provide only a percentage of the value of the mattress as a refund. These types of gradual declines in the value of your remedy can be different for each manufacturer, so this is yet another reason to carefully read through the warranty before purchasing a mattress.
Not all warranties fit neatly into the categories of “prorated” or “non-prorated.” Some mattresses also come with a warranty that is a combination of prorated and non-prorated timeframes. An example would be a 25-year warranty that would be non-prorated for the first 10 years (offering a full refund or replacement) and then prorated for the last 15 years (with a gradually decreasing monetary value provided in case of a valid warranty claim).
How to File a Warranty Claim
If you notice a defect in your mattress that you think may meet conditions listed under your warranty, follow these steps:
- Take a series of photos of your mattress that provide the best evidence possible of any problems or defects.
- Find a copy of the mattress warranty and look at the terms and conditions in detail. Honestly assess whether your warranty is still valid and whether your situation meets the circumstances under which the warranty may apply. In this process, make sure to ask yourself, “how or why might this claim be denied?”
- Contact the company that you bought the mattress from. In some cases, you will need to deal with the retailer for warranty issues. If the retailer refers you to the mattress maker, or if you bought directly from the manufacturer, then contact the manufacturer to initiate a claim.
- File any required paperwork or forms in order to intiate a warranty claim. Make sure to read these forms carefully for any notations about costs involved with filing the claim. If requested, submit any photos or other evidence of the problem.
- The company likely will send an inspector to examine your mattress and review your claim. This usually comes at a cost to you of $25 to $50. This may be refunded if your claim is determined to be valid.
- If you have a valid claim, you may also be responsible for shipping the mattress back. This can cost between $50-$100 depending on the shipping method. Again, some companies may pay this cost if you have a valid claim.
- Communicate with the company directly about the process for processing your claim and determining your remedy. Make sure to advocate for yourself to try to speed this process up as much as possible.
Be aware that there is a strong chance that your warranty claim will be denied. This doesn’t mean that you should never file a claim, but it is necessary to be realistic, especially when assessing whether or not your mattress warranty will still be valid or whether it could be void due to things like stains or signs of misuse.
Tips for Extending the Life of Your Mattress
When most of us think about a warranty, what we’re really hoping for is to never have to use it at all. When we put good money into a major purchase, we want to make sure we get as much quality use out of that purchase as possible. In that vein, there are steps that you can take that will both help with upkeep of your mattress and make it more likely that your warranty will still be valid if you do need to file a claim:
- Try to keep pets and kids off of your mattress: children and animals can both put a great deal of strain on a mattress. Whether it be from spills, accidents, jumping, or sharp paws, it’s easy for a mattress to get damaged by your kids or pets, and this kind of damage is likely to invalidate a warranty.
- Use a mattress pad or protector: these are products that provide an extra layer or barrier to defend the mattress against things like spills and stains. A mattress protector offers more robust defense by fully encasing the mattress, but a mattress pad can still be helpful as well.
- Don’t skimp on your mattress base: it may be tempting to buy the cheapest frame on the market, but remember that both the frame and the mattress are involved in supporting you during sleep. In addition, a faulty frame or a frame that doesn’t meet certain characteristics can void your warranty.
- Follow a regular mattress cleaning routine: there are a number of ways that you can keep your mattress clean and fresh. For more on mattress maintenance, review our guide, How to Clean Your Mattress.