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Mattress Glossary

Here is some mattress "lingo," which may be helpful when shopping and comparing mattresses. Check out for additional terms.

Adjustable Bed
: Distinguished by its ability to fold and elevate upright or other positions. Also referred to as an electric bed.

Anti-Microbial Fiber and Foam: Treated to prevent the growth of dust mites, bacteria, mold and fungi.

Bonnell Coil: The original and standard innerspring mattress coil design, characterized by hourglass shaped springs. 

Border Rod: Also known as border wire, this heavy wire helps an innerspring unit or box spring maintain its shape by connecting the outer layer of coils to the ends of the helicals.

Coil Count: The total number of coils in an innerspring mattress.

Continuous Coil: An innerspring mattress coil design wherein each row of coils is constructed from a single wire shaped into a series of s-shaped ringlets to improve strength, stability, and durability.

Crown: A mattress that is slightly higher in the middle than on the sides, creating a convex surface.

Cushioning: Used in an innerspring mattress, this is the material that lies between the insulation and the quilting. Materials include latex, memory form, egg-crate or convoluted foam, felt, cotton, polyester, non-woven fiber pads, wool, goose down, or even silk and cashmere.

Density: Considered an important characteristic of foam mattresses that typically correlates with durability, and sometimes (though not always) with firmness; typically referred to in pounds per cubic foot. 

Double Heat Tempering: Type of tempering process wherein coils are heated, cooled, and then heated again, for additional durability and resiliency.

Dunlop: Process in which liquid Latex is "whipped" with air until it becomes wet foam, at which time it is poured into a mold, hardened, and vulcanized. Tends to result in slightly firmer and heavier latex than the Talalay process.

Edge Break-Down: The loss of support along the outer edges of a mattress, commonly experienced in older beds. Can result in the sensation that one is rolling off the side of the bed.

Edge Coils: Additional or heavier coils placed along the edges of a mattress to provide extra support and protection against edge Break-Down.

Edge Guard: Plastic piece mounted onto the edge of the mattress that provides additional support to the mattress sides and protects the cover from damage.

Euro-Top: Layer of additional padding sewn on top of a mattress. Similar to a Pillow-Top, but attached more firmly to the mattress.

Filler: Refers to padding used underneath the mattress cover to create its quilted appearance. In a latex mattress, refers to tiny particles of clay or other materials that are sometimes mixed into latex foam, making it less costly, but also stiffer and less durable.

Firmness: The compression resistance of a mattress. Typically used in reference to a mattress' support  though sometimes also used to describe the softness or hardness of a mattress' surface.

Foam: Padding material used in mattresses as a supplement or alternative to an innerspring unit. Some common types used in mattresses include latex, polyurethane and memory Foam.

Foam Core: Slab of foam that sits below the surface layer of a mattress, serving as the main support system. Sometimes known as a molded foam core.

Foam Encasing: Stiff foam rails along the interior perimeter of a mattress, generally used to protect against edge Break-Down. Also used in air Beds.

A measurement of the thickness of the wire used in a coil. The lower the gauge, the thicker/heavier the wire. Wire gauge for coils in an innerspring mattress generally falls between 12.5 and 17.0. 

Grid: The steel lattice surface that connects the top ends of the coils in a box spring. Also known as a grid top.

Spirals of wire used to secure adjacent rows of coils in innerspring Mattresses. Also used to attach rows of coils to the border rods.

Hog Ring: A metal ring or staple used to attach the cover edge and insulation to the innerspring unit.

Indentation Force Deflection (IFD):
A measurement of the firmness of a given piece of foam. Measured by determining the amount of force (in pounds) required to compress the foam by 25% of its original height. IFD for mattress foams tend to fall between 10 pounds (softest) and 80 pounds (hardest). Also known as Internal Load Deflection (ILD).

Inner Quilt: Found in a "true" pillow-top mattress, refers to the traditional layer of quilting on top of which the separate pillow-top is sewn. Not all pillow-top mattresses actually have an inner quilt.

Inner Tufting: An extremely durable method of attaching and combining layers of padding below the quilted cover so as to prevent any shifting or settling of the padding.

Innerspring Unit: The spring and wire part of an Innerspring mattress, comprised primarily of coils,  border rods and helicals.

Insulation: Material used on top and bottom of an Innerspring unit to prevent the upholstery layers from settling down into the Coils. Common insulator materials include fiber or foam pads, non-woven fabric, netting or wire mesh.

Term that describes the height and "fluffiness" of a material or padding.

Low-Profile Foundation: An extra-thin foundation made to accompany an extra-thick mattress so that the total height of the bed will be more in keeping with a traditional sleeping surface.

Migration: This refers to the displacement of fibers within a mattress over time, which can be mitigated with the use of certain higher-quality fibers and quilt patterns.

Motion Separation: Refers to the degree to which movements on one side of the bed can be felt on the other side of the bed.

The attachment of a Box Spring unit to a wood or metal Bed Frame.

Multi-Needle Quilting:
Quilting process that uses multiple needles but features a continuous pattern. The tighter (closer together) the pattern, the firmer the feeling of the mattress surface. Also known as continuous quilting.

Natural Latex
: Type of latex produced from serum of the rubber tree. Known for its softness and elasticity, as well as its biodegradability and inherent resistance to bacteria, mold and dust mites.

Offset Coil: This has an hourglass shape similar to a bonnell coil, but with flattened edges at the top and the bottom of the coil to create better hinging action. Ttypically found in more expensive mattresses, offset coils conform more to your body and make less noise .

: A thick, soft, cushy layer of foam, cotton, wool and/or other fibers that is attached loosely over the entire surface of the mattress.

Pincore Holes: Deep, cylindrical holes spread throughout a Latex mattress to help soften its feel. Larger pincore holes create a softer feel.

Pocketed Coils: Coils that are individually wrapped in separate fabric pockets, providing more motion sparation than other types of innerspring coils. Also known as marshall coils.

Pocketing: Refers to a form of mattress wear wherein layers of padding begin to settle into the coils.

Posturized: Refers to various types of additional support placed in the center of a mattress or foundation to prevent sagging.

Pressure Points:
Specific places on the body where blood flow through the capillaries is restricted due to pressure from the sleeping surface against that area. Known to cause discomfort as well as tossing and turning.

Pure Latex:
Term referring to Latex that does not include Fillers. Can be applied to either Synthetic or Natural latex. Most higher-quality latex mattresses use pure latex.

Quilting: The top-most layer of padding inside the mattress that consists of foam and/or fibers stitched to the underside of the ticking. Can provide additional comfort, as well as a way for the mattress to breathe, and may also include a separate layer of padding such as a pillow-top or euro-top. Also refers to the process by which the quilting layer is stitched to the ticking and other padding layers of the mattress. Common quilting processes include multi-needle quilting, single-needle stitching, and tack and jump quilting.

Single-Needle Stitching: Quilting process wherein all upholstery layers are stitched together with one long needle, resulting in a very hard mattress surface. More common in older mattresses.

Slatted Base: Type of foundation consisting of a wooden frame with slats going across the top, covered with fabric. Also referred to as a built-up foundation.

Smooth Top: Term used to describe a mattress cover that isn't quilted.

Spring Wire: Refers to the strong, durable wires used to make the coils in an Innerspring Mattress.

Support: Term that refers to the aspects of the bed that push back in order to hold your spine in proper position while you sleep, so that you do not encounter pain and/or stiffness when you wake up. Can also encompass other attributes such as the degree to which the mattress conforms to your body.

Synthetic Latex: Shares many of the same physical properties as natural latex, but is made through a chemical process using petroleum-based materials. Generally considered slightly stiffer than natural latex, but also more consistent in quality, giving it slightly better resiliency over a very long period of time.

Tack and Jump Quilting: Quilting process that uses hundreds of needles but is not limited to a continuous pattern, allowing for more Loft and a softer-feeling surface. Typically found in more expensive mattresses.

Talalay: Process in which liquid Latex is "whipped" with air until it becomes wet foam, at which time it is poured into a mold, leaving room at the top. Once the mold is sealed, air is vacuumed out of the mold, causing the foam to expand such that it fills the empty space inside the mold. The mold is then frozen and quickly vulcanized, locking in the expanded structure of the foam. Tends to result in somewhat softer and less dense latex than the dunlop process.

Tape Edge:
The cord-like seam that runs along the edges of the mattress surface.

Tempering: Process by which coils are treated to ensure that they return to their original shape and height after compression, improving their durability and resiliency. In the tempering process, coils are heated (or electrified) and then cooled, realigning the molecules in such a way that enhances the coil's strength and resistance to sagging. Also referred to as stress relief.

Ticking: Also referred to as the cover, this is an outer layer of fabric that encases the mattress and/or foundation. Common types of ticking include damask and knit.

Torsion Bars:
Heavy wire bars, typically bent in 90 degree angles, used in certain foundations to provide support for an innerspring mattress. Generally more rigid than traditional box springs. Also known as torsion modules.

Torsion Module Foundation:
Type of foundation featuring torsion bars (rather than traditional box springs) to help absorb pressure placed on the mattress.

Tufting: The stitching that holds in place the padding layers of a mattress.

Metal or plastic screens or eyelets placed in the sides of a mattress to allow air to pass through more easily.

Working Turn:
A measurement of how tightly a coil is wound. Each 360-degree revolution around the coil counts as two working turns. 

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