mattress in a box on front door step
Buying Guides

What is a Mattress In a Box?

    Last Updated
    January 29, 2023
    min read

    A mattress-in-a-box works by compressing a mattress, and then folding or rolling it up for easy delivery. This type of mattress is an increasingly popular option as it allows people to conveniently buy mattresses online.

    But what is a bed-in-a-box, exactly? How does it work? And is it worth the hype? Let's find out.

    Purple Mattresses are shipped straight to your door. Featuring the GelFlex Grid to cradle your body and provide and provide the comfort you need all night.

    What Is A Mattress-In-A-Box?

    mattress compressed in a bag

    A mattress-in-a-box is usually a memory foam, polyfoam, latex, or hybrid mattress that is compressed, rolled up tightly, and packed into a box about the size of a small filing cabinet or a mini fridge, then delivered straight to a buyer's doorstep.

    For those that prefer to shop online, buying a mattress-in-a-box means getting to skip the aspects of conventional mattress shopping, traveling to a store, transporting a mattress home, or scheduling delivery. 

    The mattress-in-a-box was invented by a machine builder in Johnson City, Tennessee in 2004. However, it was Bill Bradley, founder, and CEO of Bed in a Box, who built a machine that was capable of rolling and compressing foam mattresses down into a size that could be shipped out like a parcel. Eventually, the idea took off, and now both small businesses and big brand names have started offering mattresses-in-a-box.

    How Does A Mattress-In-A-Box Work?

    how a mattress in a box works


    Packaging: The mattress-in-a-box works by passing the mattress through a powerful machine that uses pressure to flatten it and fold and/or roll it up. During the process, the mattress is also covered in heavy-duty protective plastic, from which all the air is vacuum-sucked out to make folding easier.

    Shipping: Once the mattress ships and arrives on your doorstep, carry it to your bedroom. If you haven't set your bed base or frame up, make sure to do that before opening your mattress up.

    Unboxing: Upon removing your mattress from the box (or whatever packaging it came in), place it on top of your bed base or frame before stripping the plastic wrapping off. Be careful not to puncture the mattress if you're using scissors or a knife to cut the plastic.

    With the wrapping removed, all you have to do is wait for the mattress to reinflate.

    Can You Sleep On A Mattress-In-A-Box Right Away?

    Generally, manufacturers recommend sleeping on the mattress after a few hours. Some say as long as 24-48 hours. It is best to give it a test and look at it. If the mattress has fully expanded it may be a good sign you are good to go.

    Fortunately, with Purple mattresses, you don't have to wait and can sleep on them right away.

    Is A Mattress-In-A-Box Really A Good Mattress?

    Generally, mattresses in a box make good mattresses. According to Consumer Reports, the "top-rated foam mattresses-in-a-box earn Very Good or Excellent scores in our support tests for petite, average, and large and/or tall sleepers." In short, sleepers of all body types and sleeping styles have experienced good to excellent sleep on a mattress-in-a-box.

    The lifespan of mattresses-in-a-box is also more or less the same as a conventional mattress: 8-10 years. So, all sleeper types looking for a durable mattress could be satisfied with a bed-in-a-box.

    If you need more convincing, take a look at the pros and cons of mattresses-in-a-box below.

    Pros & Cons Of A Mattress-In-A-Box


    • Affordability: Many mattress-in-a-box companies don't have brick-and-mortar stores or showrooms. Which can mean less overhead costs. Folding mattresses down into smaller packages also lets businesses cut down on shipping fees.
    • Convenience: For those that prefer shopping online, buying a mattress in a box is convenient. allowing you to skip a trip to the store. 
    • Free delivery and white-glove services for a small fee: Most mattress-in-a-box sellers offer free delivery for their products. For a minimal fee, you can also avail of white-glove services, which will move and set your new bed up in your bedroom as well as get rid of your old bed for you.
    • Lengthy trial period: Some people are put off by the idea of not being able to try a mattress before purchasing. It makes total sense – mistakenly buying a bad mattress could seriously mess with your sleep, leave you stressed, and cause all kinds of aches and pains. To remedy this, mattress-in-a-box sellers often offer lengthy sleep trial periods that typically last anywhere from 90 to 365 nights.


    • Less questions answered in person: Employees at a showroom can quickly answer questions people have about mattresses and what is ideal for them. shopping online provides a little more research to get answers. although people can call businesses and communicate online to get answers.
    • No "try before you buy": Consumer Report advises its readers to lie on a mattress in a store before making a purchase. Its mattress survey showed that the longer people tried a mattress before buying, the higher the likelihood of them being satisfied with their decision. Unfortunately, buying a mattress online means skipping this process altogether.

    Mattress-In-A-Box Rather Than a Traditional Mattress?

    The main difference between a mattress-in-a-box and a traditional mattress is how it makes its way to your home. 

    Traditional mattresses are transported in their full length and width, meaning handling can be physically challenging, especially for just one person.

    Mattresses-in-a-box, on the other hand, are compressed and shipped like large parcels. They're usually packed in boxes and/or heavy-duty plastic and are delivered straight to the buyer's address. The packaging makes it easier to carry to your bedroom.

    You may enjoy reading our guide on Bed in a box vs traditional mattresses.

    How To Choose A Mattress-In-A-Box

    If you can't try a mattress-in-a-box out before buying one, how do you decide whether it's worth buying? Here are other factors you can consider when shopping for mattresses-in-a-box:

    Choose Mattress Size

    When shopping for mattresses, whether online or in real life, it's important to know the difference between mattress sizes. Single sleepers with petite body types may feel comfortable in a twin bed, but couples will need something like a queen-size or king-size bed to sleep comfortably. 

    Bed size is especially important to note if you already have a bed frame or foundation at home. Double-check your frame/foundation's product dimensions to make sure your mattress fits well.

    Choose a Firmness Level

    Know what mattress firmness you prefer. Knowing what mattress size is ideal for you can be difficult to know. read our mattress firmness guide to learn more. 


    Delivery Speed And Quality Of Service

    Ask yourself the following questions when assessing the manufacturer/seller: 

    • How fast is the buying process? The delivery process? 
    • How does the seller resolve issues such as delivery delays; lost, stolen, or damaged packages; failed delivery attempts, and the like? 
    • What are the charges for shipping (if any)? Do rates differ for same-day shipping and standard shipping?

    Additional Delivery Services

    If you don't want to handle setting the mattress up yourself, look for mattress companies that offer white-glove delivery services. With these services, the seller sends a team to set your new bed up and dispose of your old mattress.

    Return And Exchange Process

    It can take several weeks to adjust to a new mattress. In many cases, the break-in period can last up to a month, so look for shops that offer trial periods of at least one month or longer. Make sure to check the refund policy and whether you have to cover any fees for returns/exchanges.

    Financing Options

    Some mattress companies offer a variety of financing options and payment plans. Make sure there are no hidden fees or markups when buying a mattress through a payment plan. Also, check whether paying via installments limits your ability to benefit from lifetime warranties, free trials, and standard return/refund options.

    Bed Base

    Different mattress materials require different types of bed bases. Use the wrong bed base, and you may shorten your mattress' lifespan and cause gradual sinkage. Mattress foundations are best for heavy mattresses like hybrid and memory foam, while box springs are designed to support innerspring mattresses.

    Upgrade Your Sleep With Purple

    To summarize a mattress in a box is simply the method the mattress is delivered. Mattresses-in-a-box is a convenient option for those who don't want to go through the rigors of conventional mattress shopping. Delivered straight to your doorstep in a compact box, a mattress-in-a-box is easy to transport and set up at home.

    Purple conveniently ships mattresses straight to your door. Mattresses are packaged in a sturdy protective bag. That conveniently has handles for easier moving.

    All Purple mattresses come with our patented GelFlex Grid, a hyper-elastic foam comfort layer that offers gentle pressure relief and body contouring without sacrificing support and breathability. The Purple Grid comprises over 1,400 air channels to keep users cool throughout the night.

    Mattress-In-A-Box FAQs

    Is a mattress-in-a-box a good option?

    A mattress-in-a-box is a good option if you're looking for a convenient way to purchase a mattress and easy to unpack. Boxed mattresses last about eight to 10 years – the same average lifespan as a regular mattress.

    Is a mattress-in-a-box cheaper than a traditional mattress?

    A mattress-in-a-box can at times be less expensive than a traditional mattress. This can be due to less overhead and lower costs for shipping.

    Why are mattresses-in-a-box cheaper?

    Mattresses-in-a-box from online mattress brands is often cheaper than traditional mattresses because sellers don't have to operate showrooms or brick-and-mortar shops. This saves them money and allows them to sell their mattresses at a lower price point.


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.