Author Topic: Fight the mattress industrial complex and reincarnate your used foam mattress!  (Read 1300 times)

Daley

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Okay, so, about a month ago we finally had to retire our nearly decade old and horribly busted memory foam mattress, and we replaced it with another one despite my past expressed interest in doing a DIY buckwheat hull mattress the next go around. Part of it was resources and time, and another part of it was the need for getting an adjustable base for personal reasons. Budget, time, etc.

Of course, all this foam generation and waste bothered me a bit, so I got to thinking about it, and that lead me to tear the old one apart to confirm a long held suspicion I've had about the things. Here's where I discovered something really interesting about our old mattress. It was only the three inch memory foam layer that was old and busted, and that foam layer wasn't so heavily glued that darn if it didn't mostly just separate off from the base layer without much effort. And what did I find underneath it? Five inches of premium, high density open cell foam with no evidence of any wear and tear at all. The mattress was literally worn out only due to the memory foam layer. Of course, the factory mattress cover was removable and washable, too (as is most of these things that aren't TempurPedics), which is also worth noting.

This got me thinking. If the base layer is still good, why not reuse it instead of throwing it out? We'd already replaced the mattress, so reusing it that way was out... but given this new information, it will definitely change how we "replace" our mattresses in the future.

In the future, the current mattress when it gets busted enough will get a similar autopsy, the mattress cracked open with the failed upper layer(s) gingerly removed, and new cheaper than a new mattress toppers of equal thickness and quality glued back in place before stuffing it back into its zippered cocoon. Considerably less foam waste and definitely cheaper.

As for our current old mattress? Well, our living room furniture just turned 20 years old this year. The fabric is still in decent shape, as is the frame and springs, but the pillows and cushions were getting a bit busted. Fortunately, and this is one of the reasons why it's a good idea to get furniture made like this in the first place young'uns, the cushions and back pillows weren't tacked to the frame and had zippers so it was easy to restuff 'em. Lo and behold, all the cushions used a 5" foam pad, and all the cushions from all three pieces worked out to just under the size of a queen size mattress. Score! The old mattress base layer was perfect! $40 worth of 3/4" upholstery sheet polyester from a DIY friendly local upholstery supply shop (this stuff is way cheaper if you can get it locally over ordering online), two cans of spray upholstery foam glue for $12, an $8 electric carving knife, and a few hours of patient cutting and gluing later, our living room furniture has been wholly revitalized and is more comfortable now than when it was even new, and it was quite comfortable when it was new. The new foam is considerably higher quality than the foam that came out of it. We already had spare pillows from the living room set that were unused, so we borrowed stuffing from those to perk up the remaining back pillows, but if it was needed, extra/replacement fluff from a upholstery supply store isn't too expensive.

Here's the thing with foam, it's expensive when it's new, even slow boated from China. At the same upholstery shop we got the cheap batting from, the same amount and quality of foam I effectively scavenged for free off our old mattress would have cost us nearly $300... just for the foam. The guy at the shop even commended me for scavenging it from our old mattress, saying he's done similar for his own furniture, and commenting that the foam's the most expensive part of restuffing cushions. And here's the best part, if we'd had them make the cushions for us with their foam, their polyester, and their labor, it would have cost us nearly $600 for pre-assembled replacement cushion inserts. Online, the cheapest I found was nearly $1000. So, for a little personal elbow grease and time, we were able to replace all our cushions for 1/10th the price, and kept perfectly good foam out of the local dump! (Oh, how I wish we had a local way of recycling foam, but that's another topic.)

So, here's my challenge to all of you. If you own a memory foam mattress that needs to be replaced soon? Get creative and either try and replace the worn out layers on your own, or see if you can reuse the base layer on something else, like re-stuffing older furniture. Just be careful of memory foam mattresses that aren't safe for use with adjustable beds and when you're pulling things apart. Apparently some of the cheaper ones can be wrapped with a layer of fiberglass fabric, which can become an absolute nightmare plague on your home to clean up after if shredded inside the house. Other than that minor caveat, you really have nothing to lose but less foam waste.

Take that, furniture and mattress industrial complex!

AlexMar

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Memory foam mattresses sell for under $100 nowadays.  The cost of the topper, all the labor, etc. etc.  Seems like a battle that's truly not worth it.

You can get a brand name queen memory foam mattress for $250, delivered, as well.  Which is a far cry from your $1000+ claims.

Mountainbug

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The poster above is giving very low end prices for mattresses. Especially queen size or larger. Also, way to be super negative for no fucking reason.


Anyway, Daley great job! Thank you for taking the time and energy to save that foam from the landfill. Itís so cool that you had just enough foam to fit your cushions! I love it when things work out nicely like that. I will keep this in mind when our cheap but amazing Costco foam mattress needs replacing.

G-dog

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Memory foam mattresses sell for under $100 nowadays.  The cost of the topper, all the labor, etc. etc.  Seems like a battle that's truly not worth it.

You can get a brand name queen memory foam mattress for $250, delivered, as well.  Which is a far cry from your $1000+ claims.

He was relating the cost quotes for having the furniture refurbished from a local upholstery business ($600) compared to an online quote for the furniture refurbish - in each case the businesses would supply the materials.

Daley

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Memory foam mattresses sell for under $100 nowadays.  The cost of the topper, all the labor, etc. etc.  Seems like a battle that's truly not worth it.

You can get a brand name queen memory foam mattress for $250, delivered, as well.  Which is a far cry from your $1000+ claims.

He was relating the cost quotes for having the furniture refurbished from a local upholstery business ($600) compared to an online quote for the furniture refurbish - in each case the businesses would supply the materials.

Not just that, but specifically using the same quality and density of foam pulled from the old mattress and the same polyester batting purchased (we're talking 3 lb. foam at 5" thick - this stuff is not cheap, and is the type of foam you'd find stuffed in a $3500+ new couch). If I used some real low quality, ultra cheap foam pad on those prefab insert quotes, it only would have saved around $150-250, and the stuff would've deteriorated in a couple years of use needing to be replaced again, like the foam in most cheap modern furniture where the cushions are tacked down or in those really shoddy and thin, ultra cheap foam mattresses @AlexMar mentioned that get uncomfortable and saggy after only a few weeks of use. The foam quality that got pulled from our used mattress was the stuff the guy at the shop said should easily last for another decade of regular to heavy wear in a couch.

Just further proof that not all foam is created equal, and you get what you pay for. If you have to buy something with foam in it, or restuffing something with foam, make sure the foam is actually of a decent quality and will last. Better to use a single chunk of 3 lb. foam for a decade plus than replace a 1.2 lb. chunk at half the price five times as often, or even a 1.9 to 2.2 lb. chunk at 2/3rds to 3/4ths the price that still only lasts for around five years. And if it's on the base layer of your mattress? It's really not being used at all, as all the memory foam and stability layers above are what actually break down... unless, of course, you paid less than $100 for your queen size memory foam mattress in 2019, then all bets are off as you got exactly what you paid for.

A poor man can't afford to buy garbage, and a rich man doesn't keep his wealth buying garbage either.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 08:02:57 AM by Daley »

Daley

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Anyway, Daley great job! Thank you for taking the time and energy to save that foam from the landfill. Itís so cool that you had just enough foam to fit your cushions! I love it when things work out nicely like that. I will keep this in mind when our cheap but amazing Costco foam mattress needs replacing.

Thanks! I'll admit, roughly the same amount of foam is ultimately going to wind up in the landfill despite all our juggling, which still depresses me a bit... but at least all of the foam that is going to the landfill is actually thoroughly worn out and trashed, and we got new cushions to boot! Still better than throwing out perfectly good foam just because another layer glued on top was worn out. After all, it's not always about saving money... it's about stewardship and trying to do the least harm with the choices we make and make the most out of what we already have. The fact that we did in the process is just gravy.

Best of luck with your own mattress when the time comes!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 08:13:51 AM by Daley »

AlexMar

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Memory foam mattresses sell for under $100 nowadays.  The cost of the topper, all the labor, etc. etc.  Seems like a battle that's truly not worth it.

You can get a brand name queen memory foam mattress for $250, delivered, as well.  Which is a far cry from your $1000+ claims.

He was relating the cost quotes for having the furniture refurbished from a local upholstery business ($600) compared to an online quote for the furniture refurbish - in each case the businesses would supply the materials.

That's correct.  But still... $300 just for the foam alone?  Again, you can buy a queen mattress, which somehow includes all the foam... delivered within 2 days, for half that.

It's not about being negative, it's pointing out that mattresses are so dang cheap that you probably spend more money trying to piece together toppers and foam purchases than it is to just buy a new mattress.  Heck, you can then use that old mattress to fill your cushions all the same.

And to Mountainbug, my prices were from Amazon.  The queen I quoted is from Ashley Furniture, for $250, DELIVERED.  Ashley is one of the largest, if not the largest furniture companies in the US.  And what's wrong with low end prices?  Isn't that as mustachian as it gets?  Or is spending more than a new mattress to rehab your old mattress somehow a better financial decision?

I'm not being "negative for no fucking reason" - trying to convince people to waste more money and a ton of time rehabbing an old mattress is just fucking stupid.  Here's an idea, clean that cover or replace it on your old mattress.  Then donate it so someone disadvantaged has a fucking bed to sleep on instead of tearing it apart.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 09:06:49 AM by AlexMar »

Daley

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That's correct.  But still... $300 just for the foam alone?  Again, you can buy a queen mattress, which somehow includes all the foam... delivered within 2 days, for half that.

It's not about being negative, it's pointing out that mattresses are so dang cheap that you probably spend more money trying to piece together toppers and foam purchases than it is to just buy a new mattress.  Heck, you can then use that old mattress to fill your cushions all the same.

And to Mountainbug, my prices were from Amazon.  The queen I quoted is from Ashley Furniture, for $250, DELIVERED.  Ashley is one of the largest, if not the largest furniture companies in the US.  And what's wrong with low end prices?  Isn't that as mustachian as it gets?  Or is spending more than a new mattress to rehab your old mattress somehow a better financial decision?

I'm not being "negative for no fucking reason" - trying to convince people to waste more money and a ton of time rehabbing an old mattress is just fucking stupid.  Here's an idea, clean that cover or replace it on your old mattress.  Then donate it so someone disadvantaged has a fucking bed to sleep on instead of tearing it apart.

Yes! $300 for the foam alone! Not all foam is created equal, and the thicker the sheet, the more expensive!

As for your Ashley Chime mattresses... we looked into those things specifically when buying a new mattress and they're trash. Their own website and Amazon have enough reviews there to see the longer term reports show they don't hold up well at all, which means they're using really cheap foam. There's a reason why they don't have the things out on the sales floor of their stores and there's no return/exchange policy on the things, only a pro-rated "warranty" for ten years.

I'm not saying that you can't say get a really good memory foam mattress in say queen for around $300-350, Sleep Like the Dead has proof of such critters, and if you know what you're looking for and the manufacturer and seller both have enough transparency in the type of foam they're using to find it? Yeah, they're out there at reasonable prices. But, they're still nowhere near as cheap as you claim.

Also, really really cheap and thin mattresses aren't likely going to be in good enough shape to recover a decent unworn base layer from to restuff furniture, let alone be thick enough to use in the first place.

It's not just about cost. It's about waste, too. The really really cheap mattresses are crap. It's cheap, low density foam that just doesn't hold up. If you spend some decent money on a decent mattress, spending a fraction of the cost just to potentially replace the single worn layer of memory foam instead of the entire mattress is a win not just financially, but also environmentally.

It also means you have more resources and developed talents to actually better meet the needs of someone else less fortunate instead of just giving them your old, unusable, broken down crap you don't want anymore so you can pretend you're actually helping.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 09:36:52 AM by Daley »

AlexMar

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It's all good man.  It's a discussion forum, people have differing opinions.  Hearing differing opinions helps us form our own or even change our minds.

The Ashley Chime mattress has 450 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5/5 star rating.  I have a hard time thinking it's total trash or that the reviews for it are bad.  Because nearly all the reviews are glowing.

Personally, I haven't had a memory foam mattress break down.  Cheap or expensive.  I have quite a few mattresses and all are just fine.  I still have one that is 15 years old on the guest room and use it from time to time.  Sleep great and I have serious back issues.  But your experience is obviously different.


Daley

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The Ashley Chime mattress has 450 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5/5 star rating.  I have a hard time thinking it's total trash or that the reviews for it are bad.  Because nearly all the reviews are glowing.

Yes, it does have a high rating, and nearly all those positive glowing reviews are for a brand new mattress fresh out of the package. The reviews you really want to pay attention to are the ones where people have been using the thing for more than three months. Those reviews are in a minority, and nearly all of them are the negative reviews.

Personally, I haven't had a memory foam mattress break down.  Cheap or expensive.  I have quite a few mattresses and all are just fine.  I still have one that is 15 years old on the guest room and use it from time to time.  Sleep great and I have serious back issues.  But your experience is obviously different.

The quality of foam mattresses have progressively gotten shoddier over the past decade and change, as manufacturers have cut costs to hide inflation and weaker buying power out of a country that hasn't had its average consumer income keep up with said inflation by lowering material quality. Mattress warranties have halved over the past decade, too. The memory foam mattress we replaced originally only cost $200... in 2009, and I'd made sure it had decent, high quality foam in it at the time. Buying the same quality mattress today had cost us nearly double... which does kind of support the quote of raw, unfinished, unglued virgin 5" 3 lb. foam from the upholstery shop costing $300, what with the availability of higher density 3" memory foam pads in queen running about $80-100 currently. (The same can be seen in bulk white t-shirts - a 6 oz. ring spun, 100% cotton t-shirt a decade ago could be had for $1.75, now you can't find much heaver than 5.5 oz. and they cost over $3.00.) If I'd known the base layer was still any good before replacing the mattress, I probably would have just replaced the top layer, but that would have meant that I'd still have to spend that much more to have rehabbed everything else. So it was a win all around that I could reuse it the way I did, and I'll just replace the top layers on the mattress in another decade or so, when/if that time comes and concerns of that nature are still relevant.

But it still doesn't change reality. Foam wears out over time, cheaper quality foam wears faster, and it's cheap foam that's in most cheap mattresses now. The use it up, wear it out mentality isn't compatible with our modern planned obsolescence and consumer driven financial culture, because most people are like you and don't look at the bigger picture. The reality is, being cheap is not the same as being frugal.

I'm glad you've gotten such great mileage out of your existing foam mattresses thus far, but foam can get dirty and does eventually wear out to the point of being unusable or needing toppers. When it does, actually consider dissecting your existing mattresses first before replacing it wholesale... even and especially if you do want to donate the old mattress. Wash that cover up, rip off the nasty old memory foam layer if it'll come off easily, check the base layer for wear, toss a replacement topper the same thickness as the old memory foam layer over the old base layer (for under $100 currently, up to 3" queen and under), stick the cover back on, and then donate it so the mattress is actually fresh, comfortable and usable by the next person and not saggy and soaked in years of dried sweat. Or keep using it. Either way, you've kept foam that's still usable out of the waste cycle, and have a higher quality product for the money and time spent. That's all that's being suggested here.