What You Should Know Before You Buy a Floor Model Mattress

Anne-Marie Hays

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

Person sleeps on a mattress with feet hanging off

It's Saturday morning, and you've woken up from what you hope is one of your last nights sleeping on the world's worst mattress. 

You head straight to the nearest mattress showroom. 

Everything at the showroom feels like an improvement from what you are used to, but the sticker shock has you worried that you'll be stuck with the old mattress you hate. 

The salesperson kindly lets you know that there are some clearance mattresses available. Would you like to check those out?

It turns out that they are discounted because they are floor models. Phrases like barely used, like-new, and great condition are thrown around. This is the answer to your prayers!

But wait!

Before you get your hopes up about this awesome value, a once-in-a-lifetime deal, you need to know what you're really getting into. Don't let your excitement about the price tag lead you into a situation where you're sleeping on yet another mattress that you hate. 

Why are floor models sold?

"Purchasing a floor model mattress set can be a good way to get a good deal," says Lauren Taylor, President of Holder Mattress Co., Inc., a mattress manufacturer/retailer located in Central Indiana. "Often they get very little use, only a few customers a day for a few minutes at a time." 

"Sometimes floor models are being sold because that model is in a discontinued ticking or is being dropped from the line," suggests Taylor. "They may be in perfect condition, but the retailer can no longer sell the product and needs to replace it with a current model."

Buying a floor model has its advantages: "What is nice about a floor model is that it has been presumably "broken in" a bit with people testing it. So the feel shouldn't change substantially when you bring it home," advises Logan Block, from Sleepopolis

As with any large purchase, however, you want to feel confident about what you're spending your money on. We're sharing tips from the experts about what you need to know before you buy a floor model mattress:

Savings vs. comfort  

"Sleep quality is so important and it isn't a place to skimp on comfort," advises Jeanine Joy, Ph.D. from BestMattress.Reviews. "If you only need the mattress for a few years or it will be used in a guest room where it won't be used all the time, a floor model can be a way to save money on a better quality mattress."

If you are getting a mattress for everyday use, it should be a good fit for your body. "Definitely don't buy a floor model if your decision is price-driven and you're sacrificing comfort," adds Joy. "If you don't sleep well on the mattress, it will decrease your daytime quality of life — not just your nights."

Cleanliness and condition

"Floor models can often be a great deal! You just really need to spend some time with the mattresses to make sure that it's in good condition," advises Block.  

Jeneva Aaron, founder of The HouseWire home decor blog has some advice from her own experience purchasing a mattress floor model:

"Here's what you need to know: You are getting the mattress that was on display in the store, which means that other people have been lying down in it. And it gets even worse — the mattress store doesn’t necessarily clean that mattress before they deliver it to your house. 

When my husband and I bought our floor model mattress, I assumed that they’d steam clean it, or at least vacuum it off before they brought it to us. 

They didn’t, and I know this because there was a piece of chewed gum stuck to the bottom corner of the mattress when it arrived. I’m not even a germaphobe, which is why buying a floor model mattress seemed like a fine idea to me, but I’ve never been so grossed out. I had to steam clean it myself just to be able to fall asleep in it. I’m sure that there are some stores that clean their floor models before they get to you, but don’t count on it. I can tell you from firsthand experience that that doesn’t always happen."

Taking into consideration that the mattress is sold as-is, it's best that you inspect it pretty thoroughly in the store. "Really press into the entirety of the surface of the mattress, don't just lay on it in one spot to evaluate it," advises Block. "You'll of course also want to make sure that it's clean and free of any tears or obvious malfunctions."

Service limitations

Apart from the as-is condition of a floor-model mattress, the rest of your mattress experience is the same as if you bought a brand new model, right? 

Not necessarily. 

Depending on the retailer, your level of service and the applicability of the policies that are generally meant to ensure a customer's purchase experience is satisfactory can be revoked (or skimped on). This means that your purchase might be riskier than a brand new purchase, if you don't end up with access to beneficial policies after the date of purchase. 

"I wouldn’t purchase a floor model unless I receive a discount off the regular price, a full comfort policy, and a full warranty," advises Taylor. "Anything less would indicate a bad deal and possible future issues with no recourse."

She has a point. 

This is the biggest difference between standard mattress purchases and floor model purchases. Floor model purchases are often sold as-is, with exceptions to a store's standard service policies. This can affect delivery service and costs, as well as post-purchase needs, like options to return or exchange the mattress, options under a comfort sleep trial, or the possibility to make any claims under a warranty. 

Rules differ depending on where you bought it, the brand/manufacturer, the physical condition of the mattress, and what you can get help with. Accepting a deal on a floor model can mean compromising several benefits, including delivery services, in-trial periods, and warranty coverage. 

Mattress delivery

How are you going to get your mattress home? Is delivery included in your purchase? Is it even available?

"Many times, stores don't offer delivery service for floor models," says Michael Decatur from truck-sharing service, Truxx. Other times, retailers only include free delivery service with purchases over a certain threshold. Getting a big discount on your mattress may put you under the free delivery dollar limit. 

Do you have a way to get the mattress home on your own, or will the lack of delivery help be a deal-breaker for you? 

"If you want to take advantage of a great deal, but don't have a way to get your new mattress home," Decatur suggests, "consider using a truck-sharing service..." 

Truck-sharing is imilar to the concept of ride-sharing, but a truck or van driver will meet you at your pickup location with a vehicle big enough for the job. According to Truxx co-founder and CEO, Jamie Hess "mattresses are consistently a top five item users are moving with Truxx. With our service, it typically costs $39 for suburban areas and $70 if you're in a city."

Sleep trials, returns, or exchanges

A sleep trial policy generally lasts more than 90 days. It gives shoppers the opportunity to try out a mattress at home, and return and/or exchange it if it isn't a good fit.  A retailer's sleep trial policy commonly offers a return or exchange for a mattress that will be a better fit, giving you peace of mind about your purchase. Unfortunately, clearance mattresses, including floor models, are often excluded from this customer benefit. 

It all depends on how the retailer classifies a floor model purchase, and stores have varying takes, from allowing returns or exchanges, adding extra conditions, and simply not allowing floor models to be returned or refunded. 

Be sure to ask your sales associate whether the policy applies to your floor model purchase. It may not be worth giving up the easy-out clause if you are less than 100 percent certain that this is the mattress of your dreams. 

Mattress warranties

When you buy a floor model, you want to know before-hand if a manufacturer warranty will still apply. You can run into two specific issues: 

  1. Floor models are categorically excluded from the manufacturer's warranty. 
  2. The mattress, having been unwrapped and used by customers for comfort tests in the showroom, has visual wear and tear, like spots, rips, or tears. 

Most mattress warranties last for 10 years or more, covering consumers in the case of any manufacturer defects. Some manufacturers exclude floor model purchases from their warranty policy. Without access to a warranty Joy says, "In most mattress stores, that means you're buying it "as is" and if you discover a defect or it doesn't hold up well, you don't have any recourse."

If floor models aren't automatically excluded from the manufacturer's warranty policy, there may still be hope. Taylor advises shoppers: "Read the warranty carefully before purchase. If stains or marks void your warranty, you won’t want to purchase a product and lose the warranty as a result." 

She makes a great point. Most mattress manufacturers have very specific warranty policy standards. Stains and marks on the surface of a mattress, or even frayed stitching are often cited as reasons that exclude a customer from warranty benefits, regardless of their origin, they are technically labeled as signs of misuse, no matter who made them.  

Mattress floor model shopping tips

1. Try it out — If the mattress is anything less than comfy, or is a stark contrast to what you are used to, sacrificing your comfort for a good price is a bad idea.

2. Ask questions — "Try to find out why that particular model is being dropped," suggests Taylor. "If they stop selling it because of high return rates or quality issues, you will want to find a current model instead."

But those aren't the only reasons why a floor model would be available. She adds, "Sometimes they are being sold due to condition (scuff marks, general wear and tear) and depending upon the state of the product may or may not be a good purchase."

Ask the following questions:

  • Is that the best price you can do?
  • Is delivery available? If so, how much does it cost?
  • Does it come with a trial policy? If so, will I be able to return or just exchange it? And what fees are required?
  • Will it come with a warranty? 

3. Thoroughly examine the mattress — "Inspect all six sides of the mattress with your eyes and nose before you buy," advises Joy.  

"Pay attention to the sides (borders) in the middle of the mattress," advises Taylor. "This is typically where customers sit and will show more wear than other areas. A scuff mark wouldn’t be a concern, but sagging or seam tearing, for example, may indicate durability issues in the future." 

4. Document your purchase — "Take pictures if you're not taking the floor model mattress with you, including pictures of the tag," says Joy. "I've seen complaints about mattresses that were sold 'as is' where the customer claimed the mattress that was delivered wasn't the one they purchased, but they didn't have any way to prove it."

5. Do some research — "Read reviews about the mattresses sold by the store before you buy a mattress without a warranty," advises Joy. "If you see complaints about mattresses that begin sagging after just a few years, realize you may not be getting a bargain when the durability of the mattress is factored into the equation."

6. Shop around, including online — "Compare in-store and online mattress prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal," suggests Gabrielle Pastorek, writer for Finder Shopping. "You can also test out similar mattresses — or sometimes even the exact same model — in the store, then buy it online to cash-in on discounts and free delivery." 

"Online prices can be hard to beat," she points out, "since they don’t include the overhead costs of operating a physical store. The main draw of purchasing a mattress from the store is that you can try it out before you buy. But because the vast majority of online retailers offer risk-free trials, this isn’t much of a concern anymore. The one exception would be for Alaska and Hawaii residents — check to make sure shipping costs from the online retailers aren’t astronomical. This could potentially offset the savings of buying online."

7. Consider the pros and cons — It's best to weigh the costs and benefits. If you can find the same mattress, with the same or similar pricing, you might be happier if you could still benefit from an easy out, in case you aren't in love with the mattress. 

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