Bed and Mattress Terminology

A-Z of Bed and Mattress Terminology

Do you know your ottomans from your orthopaedics? Don’t let bed industry jargon stop you from understanding the different types of beds and mattresses and, importantly, from finding the one that’s right for you.

Here’s a list of the need-to-know bed terminology that you might see online or in-store during your bed-buying journey.

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Adjustable bed base: An electrically operated or manual bed frame construction that permits the raising and lowering of the head and/or foot portions of the mattress.

Bed in a box: Also known as mattress-in-a-box a roll-up mattress. Delivered tightly rolled up in a box and usually vacuum sealed.

Divan: An upholstered box, fitted with castors or legs to support the mattress, available as sprung edge, solid/platform top or firm edge. Can also include storage drawers or lift-up storage (ottomans).

Hypoallergenic: A term to describe a material or a product that does not provoke an allergic reaction.

Latex: A flexible foam created from a water dispersion of rubber, either from the rubber tree (natural latex) or a man-made, petroleum-based product (synthetic latex). Most latex used in mattresses today is a combination of natural and synthetic latex rubber.

Memory foam: also known as visco-elastic. Responds to individual shape and pressure, has good pressure-relieving properties and is available in a variety of qualities and densities.

Natural mattress: A premium quality material derived from the sap of the rubber tree. Has a distinctive, resilient feel, is very durable and has anti-microbial properties that offer benefits to many allergy sufferers. Its natural elasticity means it recovers its shape immediately when pressure is removed. It also has excellent point elasticity resulting in an even distribution of pressure for independent support.

No Turn or Non-Turn: Also known as ‘single-sided’, a mattress that has only one sleeping surface so doesn’t require turning (flipping) over. We recommend that you regularly rotate your mattress, however (from end to end).

Orthopaedic: A widely used term to incorrectly imply the mattress is good for bad backs and/or gives proper postural alignment and firm support. Adequate support with a degree of comfort to contour to the body is best.

Ottoman: A divan base or bedframe with lift-up storage offering a much larger capacity than drawers.

Overlay: A mattress topper.

Pocket spring: A type of innerspring construction in which thin barrel-shaped, knotless coils are encased in fabric pockets. Small, softer springs that work independently from each other and conform and adjust to body contours.

Quilting: The surface treatment is mainly on mattresses in which the cover, foam and/or other fibres are sewn together, using various stitch patterns.

Settlement: Body-shaped impressions that form where the user lies. Also known as dipping. A normal characteristic of quality mattresses where the upholstery fillings are compact. Regular turning will minimise this although it will occur to differing degrees depending on the user’s weight and the number of fillings. It does not signify that the mattress has sagged.

Slatted base: Mostly used with bedsteads, these can be either rigid or flexible. Rigid slats are often made from pine and offer a firm feel whereas flexible slats are made from laminated softwoods and are bowed to offer a softer ‘springy’ support.

Spring count: refers to how many coils are used in a mattress’s spring unit. Changing the spring construction, thickness (gauge) of the wire, the number of coils, the height of each spring and the quantity alters the tension, feel and weight distribution properties of each mattress. Find out more about the different types of spring mattresses.

Ticking: the mattress cover. Ticking needs to be tough and tear-resistant. Ticking with special qualities is now also increasingly being used by mattress manufacturers. Some of the options include anti-dust mite/anti-allergy, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-static, breathable, water resistant, stain resistant, highly absorbent, naturally fire retardant etc.

Tufting: Consists of passing cords or tape through the mattress from top to bottom, knotting and securing the loops with tufts or buttons. The purpose is to hold the mattress filling in place.

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Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive Bed Buyers’ Guide which includes lots more helpful information.