Tuft & Needle vs. Nectar: which popular mattress is a better bet?
Though they're both good beds, the Tuft & Needle Original comes out on top.
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With so many mattresses in a box out there, the search for the perfect bed can be dizzying at times. There are plenty of major players, including Puffy, Casper, Leesa—but all those have steep prices, ringing up at over $1,000 for the most popular queen size. We pitted two of the more affordable yet good quality options, the Nectar Mattress and Tuft & Needle Original, head-to-head to see which came out on top.
Price and discounts
Tuft & Needle and Nectar cost less than many mattresses in a box, which tend to carry price tags in the quadruple digits.
Nectar’s sticker price is nearly double that of Tuft & Needle, at $1,098 for a queen. Meanwhile a queen-size Tuft & Needle Original comes in at $695. Of course, like most other mattress companies, both offer routine discounts and promotions—they’re more or less always on sale. Tuft & Needle discounts tend to be less steep, at 10% to 15%, whereas Nectar’s mattresses are frequently about 35% off, with additional bedding freebies, like sheets and pillows, thrown in. (Though the Nectar Pillow didn’t perform very well in our tests for the best bed pillows.)
Whether you consider discounts or not, the Tuft & Needle Original beats Nectar by several hundred dollars. And at full price, it’s still cheaper than the Nectar Mattress at its highest discounts.
Our pick: Tuft & Needle Original
Sleep surface sensation
These mattresses offer very different cushioning and support. One isn’t necessarily better than the other—it largely depends on your personal preferences. The Tuft & Needle Original has firm foam. The company said it’s designed to make you feel almost as though you’re floating above the sleep surface. And, indeed, you don’t get that cushy, sink-in feeling that memory foam is often associated with. The mattress provides a lot of support, given its firmer surface. The firmness also makes it easy to roll over on because you aren’t sinking down into the bed. That said, side sleepers may find it’s too dense and unforgiving for cushioning shoulders and hips.
The Nectar mattress, in contrast, is very squishy and enveloping. If you’d rather feel as though you’re being cuddled to sleep, it may be the pick for you. Side sleepers in particular may enjoy the sensation it provides, as more forgiving foam can relieve pressure points on shoulders and hips. Stomach sleepers and back sleepers, however, may find it’s too soft to provide adequate support, causing the lumbar spine to sag.
That said, experts recommend opting for firmer sleep surfaces over softer ones, as it’s much easier to soften up a bed with a mattress topper or featherbed than it is to firm up a too-squishy one (which is nearly impossible). For that reason, T&N gets our vote.
Our Pick: Tuft & Needle
The Tuft & Needle Original and Nectar Mattress are both solid foam mattresses. Nectar touts its mattress as having five layers, but when you exclude the polyethylene ticking (which the company counts), it’s really just three layers of foam. The foam used throughout the mattress is what's called “open-cell.” This means that during manufacture, the bubbles inside the foam rupture to create a webbed network. Open-cell foam is less prone to heat retention than closed-cell foam (wherein the bubbles retain their individual chambers and shape) because it has more space for airflow. Nectar's uppermost layer is a gel memory foam. Beneath it is a “dynamic support layer,” which the company claims provides “tailored bounce back.” Finally there’s a thicker layer of “stay stable” foam, which provides support to the upper foam tiers and whoever is sleeping on the mattress. The ticking is made of a synthetic fabric that a customer service rep says feels “cool to the touch” and “wicks away heat”—though we’re dubious as to whether it does much when covered by a mattress protector and/or a fitted sheet. The Nectar Mattress sets itself apart from not just the Tuft & Needle Original but the majority of other mattresses in a box with its removable and washable cover, which could be a plus for folks with allergies or those with pets or kids who may make messes in bed.
The Tuft & Needle Original is simpler by comparison. It has two layers of foam: a 3-inch piece of “Adaptive Foam” on the top that the company claims provides pressure relief, and a 6 1/2-inch denser foam base for support. The mattress is covered in a knit polyester-blend fabric that’s spot-clean only. Like the foam used in the Nectar Mattress, Tuft & Needle's Original Mattress is composed of open-cell foam. The company has taken other design measures that aim to decrease heat retention—namely, the Original contains cooling gel and graphite, which are "embedded in the foam at the time of production," according to a spokesperson. As a conductive material, the graphite purportedly "transfers heat away from the body." Meanwhile, the gel absorbs and diffuses the body heat that the graphite takes on.
Nectar and Tuft & Needle's cooling features sound great, but after sleeping on each one, we didn’t feel either was exempt from the sleeps-too-warm phenomenon that plagues mattresses made entirely of foam. This will always be an uphill battle, as the material just doesn't offer the air circulation as traditional innerspring beds and hybrid mattresses that include a layer of coils.
Our Pick: Nectar
Trial and return policies
Tuft & Needle has an average-length trial period: 100 nights. If at any time within the first 100 nights you’ve had the mattress you feel it’s subpar, you may reach out to the company and they’ll get the return process rolling. The company will arrange for a local organization or recycling agency to pick up the mattress on its behalf, free of charge.
Nectar has a longer trial period: A full year. However, given its spotty customer service record (see below), it’s hard to say how easy it would be to actuate the return process. According to the website, Nectar will help you coordinate to donate the mattress, or for local disposal to pick it up.
Our pick: Nectar for trial length, Tuft & Needle for ease of returns
The Tuft & Needle Original and Nectar Mattress have thousands of positive reviews on their respective websites, but their customer service reputations are dramatically different. Tuft & Needle performs well on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website with 4.2 out of 5 stars from 235 reviews. The company has had just six complaints in the last two years, and only two within the past 12 months. Live Chat isn’t available 24/7 on the Tuft & Needle website, but when it is, the representatives are helpful, knowledgeable, and quick to reply. During off hours, you can email the company. It says someone usually follows up within a few hours, and in our experience, that’s true.
Unfortunately Nectar’s performance with the BBB doesn’t come close. The company has just 1.2 stars with 200 reviews on the site. What’s more troublesome is the sheer number of complaints launched against the company. It’s received 1,904 in the last 12 months, and 1,601 over the past three years. In addition, we’ve found customer service to be hit and miss, with some fantastic agents, and others who leave a lot to be desired. One was so pushy about us purchasing a mattress that we were off-put.
Our pick: Tuft & Needle
Warranty and set-up requirements
Nectar’s warranty outpaces Tuft & Needle’s—the mattress is covered by the company’s “forever warranty,” which, well, never expires. If the mattress develops impressions more than 1.5 inches deep, or other defect, you may request a replacement. The Nectar Mattress can be placed on box springs, divans, adjustable bases, and platforms at no risk to voiding the warranty. It can be used on slats as well and, unlike many other online mattress companies, Nectar doesn’t specify a maximum distance between slats. (Though a customer service rep told us if you’re using slats more than 6 inches apart, you should check if the mattress is sagging between each one.) By no means does this mean you should keep your mattress forever, though—the experts recommend using for 8 to 12 years before replacing it.
Tuft & Needle’s warranty is like that of most other online mattress companies (and covers the expected lifespan, more or less): 10 years. If the bed sags, cracks develop in the foam, or other manufacturer defects arise, the company will repair it or exchange it for a new mattress. The mattress is also compatible with a variety of bases, including slats (no further than 5 inches apart), platforms, box springs, and adjustable beds.
Our Pick: Tie
Company ethics and sustainability
Both Nectar and Tuft & Needle have programs in place to donate used mattresses that are returned, rather than disposing of them in a landfill. Like many mattress companies, they both also hold various sustainability and health certifications for the materials used and product as a whole. Tuft & Needle’s Original mattress carries more by way of certifications than the Nectar Mattress. The Original holds a Greenguard Gold certification, which indicates it emits low levels of pollutants and the off-gassing process won’t take a major toll on indoor air quality. It also has an Intertek Clean Air Certification, a separate label that requires products to meet stringent criteria and low values for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
Tuft & Needle and Nectar, like most other online mattress companies, both hold a CertiPUR foam certification. This demonstrates the foam used meets a lower threshold of VOC emission from off-gassing (though Tuft & Needle’s Intertek and Greenguard certifications show it meets even stricter limits in this area), and that they’re free of certain harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde and specific flame retardants. This is the only certification Nectar holds, and it doesn’t cover the mattress as a whole, just the foam components (which, yes, make up most of the product).
Our pick: Tuft & Needle
And the winner is…
Though both have their own merits, we think the Tuft & Needle Original comes out on top. Its value is unbeatable, and its firm support is a boon as firmer mattresses are recommended to softer ones. The company’s knowledgeable customer service and excellent record speak for themselves, as do the mattress’s certifications—it's met some of the more stringent standards for off-gassing, in particular.
Though Nectar’s return policy and warranty bests Tuft & Needle’s in terms of duration, the company’s less-than-stellar customer service record brings into question how easy it would be to get the mattress off your hands. We think the Nectar Mattress is a good bed, particularly for people who crave a soft, cradling sleep surface—it’s just not the best one. For our money, that designation goes to Tuft & Needle.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.