Glossary of mattress terms


The mattress industry has a language unto itself, here is a glossary of many of those terms.  Use it to help in understanding the mattress articles and posts that we offer-

Adjustable Bed– A Bed that can move into different sleep positions, either as one unit or both sides separately.  Example positions would be sitting upright or with feet raised.

Air Beds– Air is used to support the sleeper.  Air is pumped into the mattress bladders (chambers) to create different levels of firmness.

Allergens– Substances that cause allergic reactions in some people.

Alignment– Proper position and Balance of the spine, a mattress that properly supports and aligns the spine can help alleviate back pain.

Anti-microbial– Identifies foams and fibers that have been treated to prevent accumulation of dust mites, mold, bacteria and other allergens.

Baffle– Chamber used to obstruct the movement of a substance (water, air)

Bed Frame– Frame that holds and maintains the position of the mattresses (bed), can include head and footboards, and bed rails.

Bed Support– the rails and frame that that help prevent the set from warping, twisting, and sagging.

Body Alignment– the relational positioning and balance of the spine, muscles and joints.

Body Impression– Indentation in a mattress created when the mattress compresses over time.  When you notice the compressions, it’s time for a new mattress.

Bonnell Coil– an innerspring mattress system where the coils are shaped like an hour glass- the ‘original coil’ system.

Border– The side or perimeter of the mattress.

Border Wires (Border Rods)– Heavy gauge wires that keep the mattress shape and increase durability.

Box Spring– Bottom mattress with a sturdy wooded frame, covered with cloth and made with wire springs.  Generally placed on a wooden or metal bed frame.

California King– A mattress measuring 72 inches by 84 inches.

Coil– A spring in a mattress that provides resistance to support the sleepers body.

Coil Configuration– the arrangement of coils in a mattress.

Coil Count– The total number of coils in an innerspring mattress.  Generally a higher number of coils means better support, comfort, quality, and price.

Coil on Coil– Mattress construction that features an innerspring unit with a second similar or smaller unit placed on top.

Coir– a pulp derived from coconut fibers

Comfort Layers– The quilting and upholstery layers that determine mattress comfort.  The thickness, types of foam and fibers, and the order in which they are combined will impact the feel or comfort.

Continuous Coil– An innerspring mattress coil system where the coils running from head to toe are made by 1 continuous wire.

Convoluted Foam– Also known as egg crate foam, the foam you see used often for sound proofing a room.  It has a density often of 1.5 lb/cft and provides increased air circulation and support when used in a mattress.

Core– Support system inside a mattress: innerspring, encased coil or foam.

Cornell Testing- The Cornell Testing Machine forces a buttocks-shaped platen onto the mattress, at any desired amount of force, to determine firmness and surface deformation.

Corner Guard– a plastic barrier to protect the corners of the box spring or foundation.

Damask– Mattress cover that features a design woven into a thick fabric.  Belgian and Jacquard are two types of premium high quality Damask fabrics.

Density– Measures mass per unit volume.  Commonly measured and expressed in pounds per cubic foot (pcf).  Density is an important property of foam and affects durability and support.  A higher density, better quality foam retains its original properties better and provides original support and comfort longer.

Encased Coils– Coils individually wrapped in cloth to provide individualized conformance and reduce motion disturbance.  Hundreds of encased coils are joined to create an innerspring.

Firmness– describes how much resistance a mattress provides and how it then ‘feels’.

Foam– Common mattress component used for comfort, durability and sometimes the support layer.  There are a variety of foam technologies that can be used.

Foam Encasing– Additional foam support around the mattress edge providing a firm sitting edge and expanded sleep surface.

Foundation– The bottom part of a mattress set (often the Box Spring), that supports, transfers and distributes the weight of the mattress.

FR Compliant– since 2007, all mattresses manufactured and/or imported into the US are required to pass strict flammability rules.

Full Size– Mattress measuring 54 inches by 75 inches.

Futon– A bendable, foldable mattress that will fit into an upright frame.  When the frame is upright, it can be used as a couch, when folded out, a bed.

Gauge– the measurement of a wires thickness.  The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire.  Standard mattress gauges generally range between 12.5 and 16.5.

Hi Density Foam– Foam with a measured density of > 1.8

Hi Resiliancy Foam (HR Foam)- Has a measured density of > 1.8

Hypoallergenic– Describes the feature of some foams, fibers or fabrics that reduce allergens.

Innerspring Mattress– Mattress with wire coils as the support system.

Independent Coils– An innerspring mattress system of coils,  where they all work independently of each other.

King Size– Mattress measuring 76 inches by 80 inches.

Latex Foam– A high quality foam derived naturally from the sap of rubber trees.  Latex foam is naturally antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites.  It provides a plush feel with excellent resiliency.

Loft– The thickness of a mattress top, a duvet, a quilt, or similar item that is filled with compressible material.  Air around strands of filling material create loft.

Low Profile Foundation– A shorter height box spring used to lower the overall height of a sleep set.

Memory Foam– Also known as visco elastic foam or visco memory foam, it is a high density foam that conforms closely to the shape of a sleepers body.  The foam was originally developed by NASA and responds to body heat and weight to reduce pressure points.

Oeko-Tex Standard 100– An international testing and certification system for textiles limiting the use of certain chemicals.  It has become the best known and most successful label for textiles tested for harmful substances.

Pillow Top– the semi-attached layer on top of a mattress that provides an additional feeling of softness but with a firm layer of support underneath.

Platform Bed– Typically a wooden frame with slats that go across from side to side.  You don’t need a box spring or foundation.  A latex or memory foam mattress can be placed directly on the slats.  Common in the futon industry.

Plush– describes a mattress with a soft feel.

Pressure Points– Points on the body that bear the most weight and pressure when lying down.  Common pressure points are the shoulders hips and knees.

Queen size– A mattress measuring 60 inches by 80 inches.

Quilting– Process used to sew a cover to the top of a mattress.

Recovery time– the amount of time it takes a piece of foam to return to its original shape.  A factor used in determining comfort.

Resiliency– the ability to return to the original shape.

Single Sided Mattress– A mattress constructed with only one sleep surface, eliminating the need to flip the mattress.

Sleep Set– General term used to describe the combination of foundation, mattress, headboard, footboard, and frame.

Spring Mattress– developed in the late 19th Century, revolutionized mattresses, making them less lumpy.  Steel springs created a whole new feel and manufacturing process.

Support System– the basic supporting structure of the mattress.  Can consist of wire coils, foam, water or air.

Tick– a cloth case for a mattress or pillow

Ticking (Cover)– Fabric covering a mattress or foundation.

Tufting– Pre-compresses the foam layers and support layers to prevent body impressions, a sign of quality.Twin size– A mattress measuring 39 inches by 75 inches.

Upholstery Layers– The upholstery layer covers the mattress and provides the cushioning and comfort.  It consists of three parts: The insulator, middle upholstery and Quilt.

Waterbed– Modern version came about in the 1970’s.  Basically a mattress with a single or multiple chambers filled with water.

Working Turns– the amount of ‘turns’ a coil has in its structure.  What is a ‘turn’?  If you take a coil and run your finger along it from top to bottom, every time you go ½ a turn around the coil (180 degrees), that is a working turn.  A coil spring with more working turns than another will typically provide greater comfort and durability over time.

Zoning– Areas on a mattress that have been reinforced with additional support through unique foams or heavier innerspring coils.  Zoning is common through the center third of the mattress to support a sleepers hips and shoulders.

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