Are mattresses in a box worth it or a waste of money? I’m a sleep writer —here’s my take

Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress in a box
(Image credit: Future)

Mattresses in a box have become increasingly popular over the last decade thanks to their affordable prices and quick deliveries. But are mattresses in a box worth it, or are they a waste of money? 

A lot of beds in our best mattress guide come in a box, with more and more brands offering boxed mattresses. A more convenient way to buy a new bed, mattresses in a box are ordered online and delivered straight to your doorstep. 

Here, I'll break down what mattresses in a box are, how much you expect to pay for them, and if they're worth it. If you do decide that a mattress in a box is for you, I've rounded up three top boxed mattress deals to buy in this month's mattress sales to kickstart your search. 

What is a mattress in a box? 

Mattresses in a box are mattresses that have been compressed and tightly rolled up in heavy duty plastic so they can be shipped to your doorstep inside a cardboard box. You can then open the box and plastic wrapping before placing the rolled-up mattress on your bed frame. After allowing your mattress to expand to its original flat shape (usually around 24 to 48 hours), your mattress is then ready to sleep on. 

Helix Midnight Luxe mattress seen on a wooden bed frame on a black and white rug

(Image credit: Helix)

If you're looking for the best mattress in box for your sleep and budget, the good news is that boxed mattresses come in a wide range of designs and prices. While most of the best cheap mattresses come in a box, the best luxury mattresses and best organic mattresses are boxed, too.

Are mattresses in a box any good? 

Nectar Memory Foam Mattress on a yellow background

(Image credit: Nectar Sleep)

Traditionally, mattresses were only purchased in a brick-and-mortar store and then taken home flat. When buying a mattress online vs in store, you're more likely to be buying a rolled mattress. Mattresses in a box are just as good as traditional mattresses - provided that you buy the right one for body type and sleep position from a reputable brand. 

While some luxe mattress brands such as Stearns & Foster and Saatva only ship their mattresses flat, there are plenty of high-quality, top-rated mattress brands that ship their mattresses in a box. Ultimately, boxed mattresses are the same as traditional mattresses - the only main difference lies in the way they are shipped. 

How much do boxed mattresses cost on average? 

DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid mattress in a light bedroom, with colorful bedding

(Image credit: DreamCloud)

Mattresses shipped in a box tend to be more cost-effective, with the average cost of a queen-size boxed mattress being just under $1,000. The average price of queen-size boxed mattress from good-quality budget brands (such as Zinus and Siena) is around $370. 

Meanwhile, mid-range mattresses in a box from brands such as DreamCloud and Nectar usually sell queen sizes for just under $700, while premium brands such as Helix usually sell queen boxed mattresses anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500. 

Are mattresses in a box worth it or a waste of money?

The benefits of a mattress in a box 

 They're cheaper. Boxed mattresses tend to be more cost-effective and affordable than a lot of traditional mattresses.

✅ They come in a variety of designs. Mattresses in a box can have hybrid, all-foam, and organic latex designs. 

✅ The purchasing and delivery process is easier. Boxed mattresses are readily accessible and can be purchased online then delivered to you in as quick as two days. 

The drawbacks of a mattress in a box 

They are prone to off-gassing. Due to the way they are packaged, boxed mattress can give off a strong chemical smell known as mattress off-gassing

❌You have to wait for it to expand. Once opened, you need to wait for your boxed mattress to full expand before sleeping on it. This can take up to 72 hours, which can be a huge inconvenience.  

 You'll need help setting up: While traditional mattresses often come with free installation, once a boxed mattress arrives at your doorstep it's up to you to set it up - which can be a problem if you have mobility issues.  

The top 3 mattresses in a box to buy today

1. DreamCloud Hybrid Mattress: $839$449 at DreamCloud Sleep
Our testers for our

1. DreamCloud Hybrid Mattress: from $839 $449 at DreamCloud Sleep
Our testers for our
DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid mattress review rated this the overall best mattress thanks to its affordable luxury and pressure-reliving support. An evergreen DreamCloud mattress deal slashes a queen down to $665, and extras include a lifetime warranty and 365-night sleep trial. 

2. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress:  $699$359 at Nectar

2. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: from $699 $359 at Nectar
A regular Nectar mattress sale takes a queen size down to $659, and you'll get a 365-night trial, free shipping and a forever warranty, too. Our Nectar mattress review loved the outstanding value and the comfort it provides to side and back sleepers, but be aware t can take a while to expand.

3. Helix Midnight Luxe mattress:$1,373 $1,099 at Helix Sleep

3. Helix Midnight Luxe mattress: from $1,373 $1,099 at Helix Sleep
Our Helix Midnight Luxe mattress review loved the cushioning comfort this premium hybrid offers, making it the best mattress for side sleepers. The Helix Midnight Luxe is regularly 20% off, which means a queen is available for $1,899 (was $2,373). Extras include a 15-year warranty, 100-night trial, and free shipping.

Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.