Types of mattresses
There are 4 main types of mattresses: Open Coil, Pocket Springing, Latex and Memory Foam (Visco Elastic).
Open Coil is the most common type of springing. There are usually approximately 350 springs in a 50 size mattress. The springs are positioned in rows and joined to each other at the top and bottom with a spiral helical wire or mesh. They come in a variety of tensions, each of which gives the mattress a different feel. This type of mattress is generally priced from budget to mid range.
A better type of Open Coil is the Continuous Spring unit, often referred to as 'Posture Springing'. This is made from a single length of wire, which is woven into springs up and down the bed and linked vertically rather than horizontally. The coils are generally smaller than ordinary Open Coil springs, giving a higher spring count.
Most Open Coil mattresses are of medium to firm feel. A softer or firmer mattress can be made by using different thicknesses of wire. Where you see the term "gauge", this relates to the thickness of the wire used to make the spring – the lower the number, the thicker the wire and the firmer the feel, so a 12.5 gauge will be a firmer mattress than a 13.5 gauge.
Pocket springs are small individual springs in a fabric pocket, hence the name. The number of springs is referred to as the Spring Count and the 5' size is used for comparative purposes. The springs are usually joined together, either by being tied through the centre of one spring to the next one, or by joining one pocket to the next pocket. This allows each spring to operate individually and to closely follow the contours of the body, allowing the spine to remain in its correct position. Each spring gives individual support and the weight of your body is evenly distributed. This effectively prevents the creation of pressure, particularly at the shoulder and hip areas. You will feel as though you are lying in the mattress, rather than on it. The added advantages of this type of springing are that when one partner turns over in bed the other partner feels little or no movement, and partners of differing weights will not roll together.
Generally speaking, the higher the 'spring count' the better the mattress, although the type and quantity of the fillings will also contribute to the overall quality. The springs can be made from different gauges (or thicknesses) of steel, in order to create different firmnesses. Some mattresses are offered in more than one firmness, for example soft, medium (or regular), firm or even ultra firm.
Side-stitching is a further enhancement to a higher quality mattress. It helps to keep the edge of the mattress firm, by attaching the border to the edge of the spring unit and this increases the life expectancy of the mattress.
Pocket springing is usually used in higher quality products and this is reflected in the price.
A top quality material that comes from the sap of the rubber tree, latex foam has natural elasticity and recovers its shape quickly when pressure is removed. Latex is hypo-allergenic and its anti microbial properties inhibit bacteria, fungi and house dust mites, so it can be particularly beneficial for people who suffer from respiratory problems. It conforms perfectly to your body's contours for comfort and back support. Latex mattresses are available in different firmnesses according to the depth and density of the foam used in the construction process and according to what other fillings have been added to it. Generally speaking, the thicker the layer of latex, the greater the quality and the more luxurious the mattress will feel. Latex mattresses do not need to be turned as there are little or no subsidiary fillings to settle.
This is a new type of foam, the technical term for which is Visco Elastic. It has its own individual feel and moulds to your body using your weight and temperature. It therefore follows the shape of the user and reverts to its original shape when the weight and pressure is removed. It has good pressure relieving properties, is hypo-allergenic and is available in a variety of qualities and depths. Different feels, or firmnesses, can be achieved by altering the thickness and density of the visco elastic used. Manufacturers also use visco elastic as a filling to put on top of a spring unit but this will be a much thinner layer and will give a different feel to those mattresses that do not contain any springs. Memory Foam mattresses have the added advantage of not needing to be turned.
A wide variety of fillings are used in interior sprung mattresses, such as coir fibre, foam, cotton, polyester, wool and hair. At the luxury end of the market, silk, mohair and cashmere are often added. The quality and quantity of filling also affects the level of comfort and, of course, the price.
Ticking (the cover on the mattress)
The colour of the ticking actually doesn't matter too much as most of the time it is covered by your bed linen, but the ticking is still an important part of the bed as it needs to be tough and tear resistant. The quality of the cloth generally increases with the quality of the product, starting with a 'stitch bonded' cover at the bottom end of the market, moving through polyester and viscose at the middle market and high quality woven damasks at the luxury end.