Jenny and I have both been suffering from a number of muscular and back pain problems lately. We initially put it down to our lack of exercise and generally unhealthy lifestyle, and while that’s all too true, we eventually discovered that the mattress was the main culprit.
The one that we have was the one we bought when we first got married, so we didn’t skimp, and got a fairly expensive model with a pillow top. This seemed like a good idea at first: it was comfortable, had good support, etc.
Fast forward a few years and the pillow top was showing distinct signs of the many hours we’ve spent asleep. There were two body-shaped cavities caused by the sagging foam; these shapes were not “contoured to the shape of our bodies to maximise support, blah blah blah” but horribly uncomfortable averages of all of our sleeping positions over the years. We found that we’d be constantly be sleeping slanted no matter how we positioned ourselves on the thing, not to mention the hill in the middle. 10 year warranty? Bleh. Not covered.
As a bargain hunter, my natural instinct was to go shopping for a new mattress. It’s then that I discovered the sad truth that almost all mattresses come with pillow-tops now – the manufacturers have got this scam down to a fine art (several sales people admitted as much to me).
We went to several places and tried many mattresses, but after several such failed expeditions I decided to take matters into my own hands. Going from advice that I found through Google, I decided to remove the pillow-top foam layer. Here’s a brief description of the process:
- Unstitch the edge – relatively straightforward because it’s easy to see where the layers are, since the thing is literally just an extra layer sewn on top of the mattress. We tried to unstitch as little as possible but still ended up doing 2 adjacent sides.
- Detach the foam layer – our model used long thin plastic thingies to keep the layers in place. Y’know, like those things that hold tags onto clothes in the shops with a wide bit at either end and a stringy part in the middle. Yeah, that. I just used a hobby knife to cut them all. If you’re a little less fortunate yours might be glued on, which will require more effort to extract.
- Remove the foam layer – this is a lot harder than it sounds. The friction between the layers meant that it wasn’t simply a matter of yanking it out. That’s why we ended up having to unstitch two sides, so that we could separate the layers as much as possible and make it easier to pull.
- Sew the top back on – in theory you could just toss the whole thing and just buy a new mattress topper, pad or overlay to replace it, but on ours, the top layer had some foam cells and a thinner foam layer glued directly underneath. These probably wouldn’t have contributed much (if anything) to the sag, so we decided to keep it and sew it back on. Jenny comments that the stitching will require a thick and sturdy needle to get through the heavy fabric – the wee little one from your hobby sewing kit might not be good enough (or at least make it much more difficult). Better still would be a curved needle.
End result: an almost good-as-new (firm) mattress, and anywere between $700 – $1500+ saved. Let’s be realistic about the results though. It’s not as if the springs themselves hadn’t sagged in 5 years – the middle still has some height to it, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was with the foam.