Here is some information regarding the various techniques and components used to produce the humble mattress.
This info may answer any questions you have but if you find that you still need to know anything related to any of our products, feel free to drop us a line by email or phone. We are always happy to chat. We have been in "the trade" for several decades and know pretty much everything there is to know when it comes to mattresses and beds but are always willing to learn something new!
MATTRESS SPRING SYSTEMS
Mattresses made with an open coil spring system are generally found at the lower end of the price scale but quality of construction can vary wildy. The spring system is usually made up of individual springs which are clipped together to form one "continuous" unit which runs continuously throughout the mattress. Open coil mattresses are by far the most common mattresses on the UK market. All but the most basic/budget designs usually have a heavy gauge border rod or wire, top and bottom which runs round the perimeter of the spring system which offers edge support.
Open coil sprung mattresses can vary from very soft through to ultra firm depending on the gauge of spring used and the number of these springs in the mattress. 13.5 gauge is probably the most common for softer to medium tension mattresses with 12.5 gauge being popular for firmer "ortho" type mattresses. The number of springs can vary but in general you find a minimum of 288 open coil springs in a double (135 cm 4'6") mattress.
Why are they usually the cheapest? Open coil spring systems are simple to construct so are the most cost effective mattresses to produce. Don't be put off though, less expensive doesn't always mean they are of low quality. Many of our open coil mattresses are in our humble opnion superior in every way to many of the poor quality pocket spring units we have seen over the years. We deal very closely with our suppliers to ensure value for money is top priority, not just sale price.
Pro's: Low cost, availability, massive range, all tensions available.
Cons: The softer the mattress the less support you get (particularly relevant for heavier people) and because the springs all work together you can get movement and "roll together".
DOUBLE SPRUNG OPEN COIL
The double sprung or "dual" spring system is generally found in the lower to middle of the price range. Our range of double sprung mattress literally have approx twice as many springs as a conventional open coil system and rather than being clipped together we use a helicoil wire system which runs the length of the mattress from head to toe rather than side to side as found in other systems. This patended design was developed in Switzerland and is manufactured here in the UK. This system offers increased support and durability and offers the benefit of "no roll together" just like a pocket spring unit. Some manufacturers do their own variations of this system using a cheaper method by using one continuous wire rather than individual springs.
Pro's: Supportive feel, good value for money if quality good, large range, all tensions available.
Cons: Lower quality models can suffer from spring noise, some movement will be noticeable if sharing the mattress.
Pocket spring mattresses are radically different to the open coil designs, although they do both rely steel springs to support you. Pocket springs are individual springs that are crafted and then glued or stitched into their own fabric pockets. Each spring acts independently to allow the contours of the body to be gently supported. The number of springs in a modern pocket sprung mattress can vary massively depending on the diameter and shape of the springs used and/or the spacing between them. In general, a spring count of between 800 and 1500 in the doudle 135 cm (4'6") mattress size is the most common. Not so many years ago a pcoket sprung mattress was something of a luxury and would set you back a considerable sum of money, these days due to mass production and (sadly) poor quality construction methods and materials they can be found for "budget" prices. Be careful, if something seems to cheap to be true it may well be a waste of your hard earned money. We have seem some shocking pocket sprung mattresses over the years and have learned from experience that it always pays to spend a little more to get something much better. We do not stock any pocket sprung mattresses, regardless of supplier which do not come up to our very high standards.
Pro's: Excellent support on better qualty ranges, "no roll together" so ideal if mattress shared with a partner, all tensions available.
Cons: Buy budget at your peril! Pay less than £240-£300 for a double 4ft6 may result in a wasted purchase. If using on a hard slatted base, a pegboard is required.
VISCO ELASTIC "MEMORY FOAM"
As most mattress retailers will tell you, memory foam was initially developed for the space program for astronauts seats to deal with the immense pressure when taking off. Pretty useless information if you ask us unless you plan taking your mattress onto the the next commercial space shuttle and experiencing 50g's on takeoff.
Good quality memory foam is a fantastic substance that literally settles around you and moulds to the shape of your body. It is thought to encourage correct spinal alignment when sleeping and alleviate pressure on the body. It provides very limited support where it is needed so don't believe all the wild claims made that it does otherwise. The support always comes from what is underneath the memory foam. Any retailer claiming that a memory foam mattyress will make aches and pains upon waking a thing of the past is either lying to you or they believe their own sales hype. Don't get us wrong, a good memory foam mattress is every bit as good as any other type but it is not the answer to all health problems! Memory foam has become so popular that it is now the most popular mattress type in mainland Europe although the UK market is still catching up.
Like pocket springs, memory foam mattresses offer you and your partner your own support system (providing of course what it under the foam is supportive) regardless of differences in height and weight.
Pro's: Relatively inexpensive now for a decent quality model, can offer pressure relief for sufferers of joint pain, a good quality model can offer outstanding support combined with pressure relief on the body. Most "tensions" catered for, from soft to very firm feels. Most are "non turn" and suitable for any base (pocket sprung/foam combinations require pegboard if used on hard slatted bases). Dustmite resistant to a degree.
Cons: UK market flooded in recent years with low grade, low density foam, resulting in massive differences in quality and feel whilst usually all marketted as the same miracle "memory foam". Will be warmer to sleep on than a non foam mattress regardless of the marketing claims for models boasting cooling properties, foam insulates and there is only so much you can do to disperse it.
Latex comes in different forms, natural and synthetic. Natural Latex in it's unprocessed form is the white substance taken from the bottom of a rubber tree and Synthetic Latex is manufactured from different chemical compounds. Due to it's high elasticity and durability, Latex makes a fantastic mattress core. In mattresses it is available in a wide range of tensions depending on how many holes are punched in the latex layers during manufacture. The larger the holes the sofer the feel!
Pro's: Generally found is the higher quality ranges, health benefits for many allergy sufferers, durable and comfortable when combined with a decent supportive base.
Cons: Some users report hot to sleep on, limited availability.
FILLINGS & UPHOLSTERY
There are many different types of materials used for upholstering mattresses. The number, type, quality and quantity of fillings vary enormously between manufacturers and models.
In general, each mattress has three basic layers:-
The first layer is the layer of fillings closest to the springs. This usually takes the form of pads of coir (coconut fibre), animal hair, wool or synthetic felts and form a barriers to protect the user from feeling the surface of the springs.
The next layer normally comprises either cotton, hair, wool, foam or hollow fibre polyester and is the layer that provides comfort and durability.
The top layer is directly below the outer cover. This is not only the main comfort layer, but must also have the ability to breathe, absorb body moisture, and retain its shape. Wool, cotton, foam, latex and polyester are all used in this final layer.
Generally speaking, the cheaper the mattress, the fewer/shallower the layers used.
The covers, or "tickings", as they are known in the furniture trade are considered as the "all-important" packaging for the consumer; much effort goes into the look and feel of these fabrics. Usually, at the high end of the mattress market are the woven damasks, where the closeness of the weave determines quality and strength. A damask fabric certainly does not guarantee a quality mattress but it a reasonable indicator when shopping with a reputable supplier. Other fabrics include printed, non-woven and 100% synthetic materials known as stitch bonds - where synthetic fibres have literally been joined together by stitching or bonded by heat; or lightweight but strong knitted fabrics - usually in nylon or similar. There are various methods of finishing the mattress surface to ensure the ticking and fillings are held together securely and won't move in use - although at the budget end of the market some mattresses are completely smooth, held in place only by the stitched tape edging around the top and bottom perimeters.
A traditional method which goes back many many years and favoured by manufacturers of pocket sprung mattresses. Tufting consists of pushing a series of tapes or cords of twine through through the mattress and securing each end with a tag and/or washer - often made from felt or wool. This is normally done by hand with a special tufting needle whilst the mattress is held and turned in a special jig. The length of the tufting cord can determine to an extent the feel of the mattress but it's main function is to keep the fillings and covering in place.
Deep quilt and micro quilting
Deep Quilting creates a flatter sleeping surface and the amount of fillings used is limited. Mattresses upholstered using this method are usually found at the cheaper end of the scale but a well made model can offer exceptional value for money.
Micro quilting generally incorporates much deeper layers of fillings and has a distinctive puffy, patterned effect. Modern machines enable mattress manufacturers to stitch increasingly thicker layers of fillings in a wide variety of designs and patterns, creating an even puffier, high loft effect. A good micro quilted mattress can often be favoured over a tufted model for people who do like like the uneven sleeping surface that some tufted models exhibit.