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Roll-up mattresses explained

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Roll-up mattresses offer a convenient and inexpensive alternative to traditional mattresses. The mattress is usually made from foam, springs, or a mixture of both. During the manufacturing process, the mattress is compressed using a vacuum to around 25 to 30% of its original size. It is then rolled up to fit into a box or tube.

Most bedding manufacturers offer roll-up mattresses or bed-in-the-box products. These mattresses are compressed, vacuum-packed and can be delivered or taken home in conveniently sized packaging.

Emma roll up mattress close up

Bed-in-the-box technology has changed the way consumers shop for beds. In the past, shoppers would visit their local store and try out a few mattresses. But the introduction of boxed mattresses has become a game changer. Shoppers can conveniently purchase online from the comfort of their homes without having to travel. Many online brands offer fast deliveries and extended sleep trials where the user can return the mattress within a specified period if they find it uncomfortable.

During the manufacturing process, the mattress is compressed using a vacuum to around 25 to 30% of its original size. It is then rolled up to fit into a box or tube. Unlike traditional (flat) mattresses, boxed mattresses are specifically designed to be rolled up and vacuum sealed. Rolling up the mattress will not cause any lasting damage.

However, some people are sceptical about the quality of a mattress rolled up and placed in a box. So are they worth the hype? Here’s what you need to know.

Is a roll-up mattress suitable for everyone?

Buying a new mattress is often a confusing and frustrating process. With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when almost every brand claims their mattresses are the answer to a better night’s sleep.

Boxed mattresses are appealing because they offer a no-frills alternative to traditional mattresses. In most cases, you can even return the mattress after a period of time if you’re not satisfied.

However, there are limitations to this one mattress fits all notion. After all, comfort is subjective, and what’s comfortable for one person may not be for another. Some people prefer a firm bed, while others prefer mattresses that offer a plush, cloud-like feel.

Besides comfort preference, correct support depends on your build, weight, height, and preferred sleeping position. A medium support mattress may be suitable for someone of average build, but a heavier person weighing 18 stone may find it too soft and not feel adequately supported.

For this reason, sleeping partners of widely different weights may prefer a mattress with different spring tensions on each side to ensure correct spinal alignment. Another option is zip and link, where two separate mattresses can be zipped together, creating one large mattress.

What are the benefits of a roll-up mattress?

There are several reasons you may prefer a rolled mattress to a traditional mattress.


Roll-up mattresses tend to be cheaper compared to traditional mattresses. One of the main reasons for this is that rolled mattresses are often sold by online brands that tend to have lower overheads than physical stores. As a result, online companies can pass on these savings to their customers.


Shopping online is convenient as you can often complete a purchase within a few clicks without travelling to different stores and dealing with crowds or pushy salespeople when you arrive.

Easier to manoeuvre

Roll-up mattresses are easy to carry and manoeuvre, eliminating any problems regarding access to the bedroom, such as doorways, staircases, and bends.

Sleep trials

Testing out a few mattresses in-store for a few minutes may help you decide which one to choose. But how can you be sure you will be comfortable each night?

One of the key attractions of buying online is the generous mattress trial periods offered by many online brands.

Some trial periods can last up to a year, allowing you to sleep on the mattress from the comfort of your home with the option of returning it if you change your mind. It can often take time to adjust to a new mattress. Having the luxury of a lengthy trial period will help you decide whether the mattress is right for you.

Just remember to check the terms and conditions of the trial period beforehand. A condition of most sleep trials is that a mattress cover must be used to keep the mattress in good condition. Failure to do so may invalidate the trial period. Some mattress companies may require you to pay the costs for returning an unwanted mattress or only allow an exchange rather than a refund.

Can you sleep on a rolled mattress straight away?

Before you sleep on a roll-up mattress, you must allow it time to air and expand to its true dimensions. This process can take several hours.

First, remove the mattress from its packaging as soon as possible and allow it to unroll. Once the mattress is flattened, remove the plastic wrapping and allow it time to air in a well-ventilated room to disperse any odours from the packaging. If necessary, open the windows and doors to allow good air circulation and remove any bedding if you have placed the mattress on your bed.

You need to wait until the mattress has expanded and flattened before considering sleeping on it. You also must ensure the mattress is facing the right side up, as rolled-up mattresses typically have one sleeping surface.

New mattresses usually come with instructions providing further information about unpacking and caring for your mattress.

Types of roll-up mattresses

A mattress in a box is usually made from foam, springs, or a mixture of both. It helps to evaluate different mattress types to help you decide which is right for you.

Memory foam

Memory foam is commonly used in boxed mattresses. It is a pressure-relieving material that moulds and adapts to the body, distributing your weight more evenly. The material also absorbs movement, meaning that sleeping partners are less likely to disturb one another in bed.  


Latex comes from the sap of rubber trees. Like memory foam, it conforms to the body and provides good pressure relief. The material has a slightly bouncier feel and recovers its shape quickly when pressure is removed.

Latex is breathable and generally cooler than other types of foams. It is extremely durable and resilient. The material is also hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant.

Pocket springs

Pocket springs are individual springs encased in fabric. The springs work independently, allowing the mattress to conform to the shape of the body. There is also less movement across the mattress, ensuring that sleeping partners are less likely to disturb one another when they turn over in bed.


A hybrid mattress combines different foams, such as viscoelastic, gel, or latex, supported by a spring unit. It is the perfect compromise for those who prefer the pressure-relieving benefits of foam with the ‘bounce’ and feel of springs.

Tips for buying a roll-up mattress

If you’re considering a roll-up mattress, you will likely purchase it online rather than from a brick-and-mortar store. Here are some online shopping tips to consider:

  • Research the options beforehand. A new mattress is a significant investment, so you will want to compare different brands to ensure you choose the right one.
  • Try not to get sucked in by clever marketing. Manufacturers often use fancy names to describe their mattresses to help them stand out from the crowd and make them sound better than they actually are.
  • Look at the price, not the saving. Some stores may exaggerate the product discounts to make you think you are getting a bargain.
  • Look out for promotions. The sales are generally a good time to buy a new mattress. However, you will want to compare prices across several websites and check the mattress’s price history to ensure you’re getting a genuine deal.
  • Only buy from reputable online retailers. Look for independent reviews and recommendations.
  • Ensure the website is secure before providing payment details and personal information.
  • Ensure you are satisfied that the product descriptions are accurate and trustworthy.
  • Check the store’s privacy policy and terms and conditions.
  • Does the store provide full contact details, phone numbers, emails, addresses and the names of people to refer to?
  • Be wary of reviews posted on the store’s website. Anyone can write them, and the store may cherry-pick the reviews they want to share.
  • Keep an eye out for special offers and promotions.

For more shopping tips, see our Bed buying guide.

What type of bed base is suitable for a roll-up mattress?

Rolled-up mattresses can be used in combination with various bed bases. However, it’s vital to ensure the two are suitable for use together and that the mattress is adequately supported. Also, be mindful that the type of base you choose will affect how the mattress feels and performs.

The mattress will conform to the shape of the base, so ensure everything is level before you use the mattress. You should avoid placing a mattress on an old worn-out bed base. Not only could this damage the mattress and shorten its lifespan, but it may also invalidate its warranty.

If placing a mattress on a slatted base, ensure the gaps between the slats do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Some manufacturers allow you to place their mattresses directly on the floor for sleeping on. However, you should avoid this where possible.

Do you need to use a mattress topper with a roll-up mattress?

A mattress topper is an extra comfort layer that can be placed on top of the mattress to help soften its feel. As toppers are sold separately from the mattress, they are often unnecessary. However, a topper may provide a cost-effective solution if your mattress is uncomfortable and you can’t return it.

Is it normal for a new roll-up mattress to smell?

Some people may detect a slightly unpleasant odour when unpacking their new mattress. This is no cause for concern, and the smell should dissipate within a few weeks. Allowing the mattress to breathe in a well-ventilated room may help to eradicate the smell sooner.

How long do rolled-up mattresses last?

Several factors affect the lifespan of a mattress, such as usage, construction, material quality, and how the mattress has been looked after. In general, a roll-up mattress can last between 6 and 10 years.

A limitation of roll-up mattresses is that they are single-sided and cannot be flipped over for sleeping on. As all the wear and tear is concentrated in the same areas, they tend not to last as long as double-sided mattresses. Though most roll-up mattresses are single-sided, it helps to rotate the mattress occasionally to help even out the wear.

There are various ways you can help extend the life of the mattress. You should use a mattress cover which fits over the mattress providing an extra layer of protection.

Though some rolled-up mattresses come with removable, washable covers, a mattress protector can help prevent any liquids from penetrating the mattress. Furthermore, some manufacturers offer sleep trials with their mattresses and often stipulate that you use a mattress protector for the duration of the trial period.

Final thoughts

Roll-up mattresses offer a convenient and inexpensive alternative to traditional mattresses. You can complete a purchase online with several clicks and have the mattress delivered to your doorstep within a few days in a conveniently sized box. Most online brands offer generous trial periods allowing you plenty of time to adjust to the new mattress and ensure you’re satisfied with your purchase.

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About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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