Mattress Tips - Your Furniture Buying Guide

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Mattress Tips Furniture Buying Guide

Standard Mattress Sizes:

  • Crib: 27” Wide x 52” Long
  • Twin: 39” Wide x 75” Long
  • Extra Long Twin: 39” Wide x 80” Long
  • Full: 54” wide x 75” Long
  • Queen: 60” Wide x 80” Long
  • King: 76” Wide x 80” Long
  • California King: 72” Wide x 84” Long

Various manufacturers build their  Mattresses in different ways and may have different terms to describe the same thing.

Here are some of the more common terms (and their explanations) that you'll run into.

The support needed for a good night’s sleep is supplied by the spring system.

The Innerspring:

This is the support system utilized in a mattress.  While there are a  variety of support systems...most will fall under one of these categories:

  1. Pocketed Coils: The spring unit is composed of pre-compressed coil springs individually encased in fabric pockets.  (You may also see them referred to as "Marshall Spring Units")
  2. Coil Spring:  The spring system is held together by small continuous coil springs called helical springs. Offset Bonnell units are very much the same.  (You may also see them referred to as... “Bonnell Coil Springs”.)

All quality manufacturers of mattresses use coils made from high carbon steel measuring between 12 ¾ and 15 ½ gauges.  (The thicker the steel, the lower the "gauge"  number.)

12 ¾ gauge steel is the thickest used to produce mattress coils. Steel thicker than 12 ¾ would be too firm to depress properly under the sleeper’s body weight.

 Steel thinner than 15 ½ would be too thin and could not support our body weight over an extended period of time.  While I am not aware of any manufacturer using steel thinner than 15 1/2 gauge...there may be some out there.  My advice...don't be tempted by a low price...stay away from them.

What Else Makes Up A Mattress?

The Insulator: A pad, netting or wire arrangement. Almost all mattresses have some form of insulation over the spring unit to prevent breakdown in the don't want the padding to start migrating down into the springs.

The Padding: The cushion that determines the comfort factor  is supplied by the padding overlaying the insulator. This cushioning material is usually made up of cotton, felt, foam or a synthetic fiber.

The Outer Covering:  This is what you see when you look at a mattress.  It's referred to as the  “tick” or ticking and is the cover used for the exterior of your mattress. As with almost everything else...the grades of fabric used for the outer cover vary greatly.

What Determines the Quality Of An Innerspring Mattress?:

  • The spring support system
  • The insulator and padding used
  • The ticking
  • The quality of workmanship

What Other types Of Mattresses Are There?

Waterbed: (Make sure your Waterbed comes with a heater)

Full Flotation: This type of waterbed consists of a water filled bladder that rests in a liner. The liner offers protection against water damage due to a bladder puncture or leak. It is supported by a ridged frame.

A pedestal with a flat top called a "deck" supports the flotation frame.

Motion Reduced and Motionless...incorporates baffles, fibers or hydraulic wave reduction systems inside the mattress to dampen wave motion.

 Individual cylinders can also be used to eliminate side to side wave motion.

Hybrid Waterbeds...combines the look of an innerspring sleep set and the “feel” of a waterbed.

 They can be used with your existing bed frame and furniture, uses standard bed sheets and are easy to get in and out of.

A hybrid mattress fits on top of a specially constructed base and looks just like a conventional foundation/box spring.


Slab: Mattress made from a single piece of foam cut to size.

Lamination: These are produced by combining two or more types of foam for special “feels”. Such as the use of convoluted foam (egg carton type) or foam cores with an extra firm boarder.


Air mattresses are made up of a vinyl bladder filled with air, covered with cushioning material and ticking. Looks like a conventional mattress and it can be adjusted to a desired firmness by adding or releasing a small amount of air.


Compare quality first and price second.

Don't get caught up in the Salesperson's pitch...they're pitching the unit that the store makes the most money on or that they receive the highest commission on or bonus for selling.

Now, in all fairness, I must add, quality does play a big part in what an ethical salesperson promotes...after all, they don't want to returning the unit and they want you to come back and purchase.

But, remember...they balance their hip-pocket (wallet) with quality and offer you a have to be educated enough and assertive enough to make your own hip-pocket (wallet) and comfort your number one concern.

Never put feelings of the salesperson over your own best interests...remember, you're just a number to them, as soon as you leave another customer will take your place...followed by another and another and other.

It's the duty of a salesperson to make you feel like their only customer.  It's your duty to remember that you, your family and your pocket book are your prime concern.

Additional Furniture Buying Tips
Leather Furniture
Distressed Furniture
Foundation and Box Spring
Furniture Types
Cases and Chests
Measuring Tips
Joinery Tips
Leather Basics
Leather Markings
Manufactured Wood
Mattress Tips
Style Guide
Wood Finishes
Wood Types

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