Here at TastefulSpace, we’re all about keeping up with the trends of modern interior design. That means paying close attention to details and new emerging (or in this case, re-emerging trends) in the industry.
One trend that we’ve noticed to be overlooked as it’s slowly creeping back into the mainstream is inflatable furniture and air mattresses. Jut until a few years ago, an air bed was a piece that you’d never think of until that phone call from your family in Ohio about their plans to visit.
That’s not the case anymore.
What happened in the industry to allow the shift?
After the brief spurt of popularity back in the 90s, when inflatable chairs with Britney Spears’ face on the box was all the rage, the inflatables turned out to be a dud. There were just too many quality issues for the trend to last.
The inflatables looked more like they belong on the beach than in your house.
After that, the inflatables turned back to what they were before, a beach or a camping piece.
The change that allowed the shift to take place happened a few years ago when a few companies noticed the gap in the market and launched a few airbeds that are nothing like what existed on the dormant market up to that point.
Fast forward a few years, and inflatable furniture is (slowly but surely) creeping in into the modern home. It’s not just about the quality, the design has changed to respond to the modern trends.
But it seems that the interior blogosphere is lagging with the response. Today, we set out to right that wrong and take a fresh look at the niche – there’s more to choosing the best air mattress for your buck that we can cover in a thousand words or so, but it’s a start.
Know the materials
Most of the better air mattresses from well-known and trusted brands are made from vinyl. It’s a form of plastic that’s mealable enough to craft a piece of furniture that can take the weight and still pack down small when not used.
What to look for
It’s easy to get confused because if you set out to choose a good air bed, it will seem like it’s all the same – you’ll see claims from the companies that the vinyl they use is “puncture-resistant” or even “puncture-proof”.
Let’s be blunt – with inflatable beds, there is no such thing as “puncture-proof”. Even the best air bed can be punctured. To choose right in terms of materials, don’t take the claims at their face value but look at specifics like these:
Is the vinyl reinforced and how?
Instead of just taking the company for their word look for the specifics of why the material of their blow up mattress might be better. There are a few ways that the high-quality air bed material will stand out:
- One-layer vs. multi-layered – multi-layered vinyl can take much more “abuse” than regular one-layer. The brands that do make their airbeds from the former will stress it in the fact sheets.
- Reinforced – keep an eye out for specifics about how and why the material is reinforced to be more durable. Is it nylon-encased? Is it coated with an extra fabric layer? The higher-quality airbeds will make it clear, while the ones on the lower end of the spectrum will just make the claim and leave it at that.
- Virgin Vs. recycled – we won’t get into how environmental-friendly the two types of vinyl might be. We’ll only stress that virgin vinyl will be more durable. There aren’t many models out there made using virgin vinyl, but when you stumble upon one, you can rest assured that it’s superior in terms of durability.
Inners-structure – coils vs. beams
Probably the most important change that happened in the industry is the shift from beamed designed to air coils. This is the change that allowed the better air beds to feel more like a regular mattress than the older models.
So, you can make it a rule of thumb to go with a coiled inner structure. It’s better at distributing weight, makes the edges sturdier and doesn’t allow sinking. Sinking was a major issue with lower quality models – it’s just a word describing that you might slide towards the middle of the air mattress.
This one is especially important if two people are sleeping on the bed.
A vast majority of the best air mattresses out there will come with a built-in electric pump. Don’t spend too much time stressing about the inflation/deflation time, a minute more or less will not make much of a difference.
Instead look for some of these options/features:
- Is it a “smart” pump – the “smart” here refers to the fact that the best air beds come with pumps that are not only meant to inflate/deflate the bed. They do much more – they maintain your chosen pressure and firmness so that you (or your guests) never wake up on the floor.
- Auto shut-off – the better inflatable beds will come with a pump that’s “plug-and-play, meaning that there’s no guesswork about how much air is enough. You choose your firmness level and once the airbed is inflated, the pump shuts off by itself. It might not sound like a big deal, but over-inflation is one the most common causes of leaks.
Is the air mattress true to size?
The most popular air bed sizes are Queen and Twin. A good Queen-sized airbed will be just right for two people while a twin-size is best used for a single sleeper.
Although listed as Queen or Twin-sized, there are many products out there that are simply not true-to-size. Choosing one that is calls for a bit more research on your end.
Before deciding, take a few minutes to read through the air mattress reviews. They are listed with most retailers that carry them. So, even if you’re buying locally and not online, take the time to read the reviews of the airbeds you like before making a decision.
Go with a trusted brand
We said that many new companies and models have hit the market in the last few years, so choosing a brand can get confusing.
Apart from the well-known and trusted brands of air mattresses (Serta, Insta, Coleman, Aerobed, Intex, Fox) there are a few brands that have earned the trust of the customers (at least judging by the reviews of their products). Perhaps the best example of a “young” company that belongs to the group is SoundAsleep.
Their first product – SoundAsleep Dream Series is the air mattress that’s most deserving for the change in quality shift we’ve seen over the last few years.
Rule of thumb – look for an air bed that has at least 100+ reviews with the online retailers and has been on the market for at least a year.
Back to you
As we said, the purpose of this guide isn’t and cannot be to make specific recommendations. It’s not possible to know what you need – is an air mattress for your guest room or one that you want to take hiking or camping.
The purpose was to outline the basics of choosing the best value for your money.
If you had the patience to read the guide and make mental notes as you did, you’re now better prepared to make a smart choice than 90% of people will ever be.