Inside a Mattress

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the terms and technical jargon you hear while mattress shopping? If so, don't worry, because there's an easy way to find out what's inside of a mattress. There are three major components in a mattress:

  • Upholstery layers (the padding)
  • An innerspring coil unit
  • The box spring or foundation
These components are responsible for the comfort and support of a mattress. By understanding what role each plays, you can easily find the right mattress for you.

Upholstery Layers

The upholstery layers account for most of today's mattress cost. Twenty years ago, the average mattress height was nine inches. Today, the average mattress height is fourteen inches. While the coil unit itself hasn't gotten much taller, the upholstery layers (commonly referred to as padding) add height to the mattress. Research has shown that a greater quantity of high quality comfort materials provide a more comfortable sleep surface and allow for a longer comfort life.

These layers can consist of man made materials, natural fibers, and a variety of foams. Every mattress has approximately 3 to 8 layers of padding, with each layer composed of a different material. Of the three major components, the padding alone costs more than the innerspring unit and foundation/box spring combined. Materials like wool, cashmere, silk, memory foam, and latex foam usually signal a better overall quality. Padding layers also come in different grades, so you shouldn't expect the wool in a $1,000 mattress to be as good as in a $3,000 model.

Innerspring Coil

The innerspring coil unit is the base of a mattress. It allows for even distribution of your body mass while you rest. The innerspring, often called the coil, will hold its strength for many years. The coils offer support to your body where you need it most. Sealy, Serta, and Simmons beautyrest offer a variety of innerspring coil units, and price usually dictates the quality. Stearns & Foster does not alter coil count, as they use the same high quality coil count throughout their entire line.

Many people ask about the importance of coil count. A greater amount of coils is beneficial when the manufacturer spaces the same size and type of coils closer together, providing more coils in the same size mattress. You cannot compare the quality of mattresses between brands based solely on coil count. There too many variables in design, function, and durability for coil count to be the definitive measure of quality. You can be sure that all of the premium line mattresses we sell have a good innerspring unit. Focus on selecting the right comfort level and model for your needs.

Box Spring or Foundation?

Today, a box spring and a foundation are essentially the same. Some manufacturers still use a true box spring that has a coil or modular coil spring system within it. The coils act as little shock absorbers, so when force and weight are applied to the top of the mattress, the box spring will give slightly underneath.

Recent advances in technology have eliminated the need for a true box spring, and most mattresses are designed to work with a foundation instead. Framed in either wood or steel, foundations look like true box springs but have no give or shock absorbing abilities. For example, the Simmons Beautyrest mattress sets are built on a foundation. The non-flexing base makes for the deep sleep that Beautyrest mattresses are known for. The base has no components to wear out, and provides a more rigid feeling.

Try not to get overwhelmed by technical jargon when you're shopping for your new mattress. Keep these three major components in mind, and trust that you'll make the right choice. If you'd like more help finding the right mattress for you, you can speak with one of our friendly mattress experts by calling 1-800-455-1052.

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