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Mattress Glossary

Written by Tuck Staff

You may not think much about mattresses beyond how comfortable they feel when you sleep on them. However, there’s a lot to know about mattresses— including sales terms, materials, construction details, and descriptive terms for feel and comfort level. By familiarizing yourself with mattress-related definitions, you can make it easier on yourself to find the sort of mattress you’re looking for—and avoid ending up with a bed that doesn’t suit your personal tastes.

That’s why we created a comprehensive mattress glossary. This page serves as an up to date list of the most important and commonly used mattress terms. The glossary explains concepts such as mattress size, composition, comfort level, and much more. Our goal is to make it so that you understand practically every relevant term related to mattresses. With our ultimate mattress glossary, you’ll find out everything you need to know while shopping for and comparing mattresses.

Mattress Types

The most common and practical way to categorize mattresses is by material. Below we’ll start with a list of the most common mattress materials and then move on to other terms.

Mattress Materials

Air Bed: This type of bed uses an air chamber for support rather than coils or foam. Air beds typically have a foam or fabric comfort layer on top.

Hybrid: Mattress made of at least two different types of materials, such as innerspring and memory foam or memory foam and latex. Hybrid mattresses often combine the best features of each material.

Innerspring: A type of mattress made of tempered coil springs at the core surrounded by layers of upholstery. This is the most common mattress on the market today with a wide variety of firmness levels. Innerspring mattresses can be Bonnell, offset, continuous coil, or pocket coil.

Latex:  A mattress made primarily of latex foam materials. Can be natural, synthetic, or a blend of the two. Can be manufactured under the Talalay or Dunlop process.

Memory Foam: A mattress made primarily of memory foam. Typically offers excellent comfort, support, and conformability. These mattresses typically offer superior support and pressure relief as well. Mattresses made with memory foam are available in multiple firmness levels. Some memory foam mattresses absorb heat and may be too slow to respond, though more advanced memory foams do not have these problems.

Waterbed: A type of bed that uses water for support instead of coils or foam. waterbeds are available in hard sided and soft sided versions. They offer adjustable support and can often relieve pressure.

Other Mattress Types

Adjustable Bed: This type of bed is placed on an adjustable base and can be bent or elevated. They are similar to hospital beds and can be used to alleviate symptoms of snoring, sleep apnea, acid reflux, heartburn, and other medical issues.

Daybed: A twin mattress enclosed in a bed frame on three sides. Can be used as both a sleeping and sitting area.

Dual Purpose Bed: A bed that has an additional function beyond sleeping, usually sitting. Can include daybeds, futons, and sleeper sofas.

Electric Bed: See Adjustable Bed.

Euro Top: A type of mattress with an additional padding layer sewn onto the top. Euro top mattresses are similar to pillow top, but more firmly attached and with a sleeker profile.

Free Flow: A waterbed with a single chambered bladder. This type of bed will allow the water to flow freely without fiber filling or motion dampening.

Futon: A thin mattress and frame designed for dual use as a bed and seating area. Futon mattresses are constructed of filling (usually cotton or foam) and a cover, sometimes with innersprings.

Hard Sided Waterbed: Type of waterbed with an unstructured bladder inside a wooden foundation used to hold the mattress in shape. The traditional waterbed design.

Hospital Bed: See Adjustable Bed.

Hydraulic Waterbed: A type of waterbed with a bladder divided into multiple compartments. Water travels between the compartments through small holes.

Luxury Mattress: A mattress designation that is subjective. Typically refers to mattresses sold for $2,000 or more with high quality or specialized materials, special manufacturing processes, customization, or extra features.

No Flip Mattress: Mattresses that do not need to be flipped to reduce sagging or maintain support.

Organic Mattress: Mattress made with organic natural materials produced without the use of pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic fertilizers. Mattresses as a whole cannot be certified organic, but mattress materials can be.

Pillow Top: A type of mattress with a pillow-like layer on top. This layer is attached to the surface of the mattress and made up of thick cotton, foam, wool, or other material. Pillow top mattress are also known as plush.

Smooth Top: A mattress without a quilted cover.

Soft Sided Waterbed: A type of waterbed with foam or upholstery surrounding the bladded. Soft sided waterbeds look similar to innerspring mattresses.

Spring Mattress: See Innerspring Mattress.

Semi Waveless: A type of waterbed with fiber filling in the bladder. This filling significantly reduces the motion of the waterbed.

Tight Top: A mattress with a traditional quilted surface but without a pillow top.

Ultra Luxury Mattress: A step above luxury mattresses, ultra luxury mattresses typically retail for $5,000 or higher and feature customization, high end materials, hand crafted processes, and special features.

Ultra Waveless: A type of waterbed with significant fiber filling in the bladder. This filling reduces the motion of the water to nearly nonexistent, with almost no movement of water.

Wall Hugger: An adjustable bed that keeps its alignment along bedside tables even when the position is adjusted. Wall hugger beds shift the bed backward or forward as it is elevated or lowered.

Whisper Quiet: A term used to describe beds that have quiet operation, typically air beds, waterbeds, or adjustable beds with sound dampening housing for motors or pumps.

Mattress Sizes

Here you can learn about all the different mattress sizes and their dimensions. Please note that there are also custom sizes with different names, but these are the standard sizes and terms.

Twin: A mattress size measuring 39? wide by 75? long. Also known as a single.

Twin Extra Long (XL): A mattress size measuring 39? wide by 80? long. Slightly longer than a twin, also known as a single extra long.

Full: A mattress size measuring 54? wide and 75? long. Also known as a double or standard.

Queen: A mattress size measuring 60? wide by 80? long.

King: A mattress size measuring 76? wide by 80? long.

California King: A mattress size measuring 72? wide and 84? long. The California king is longer and a few inches narrower than the standard king.

Split Bed: A mattress that’s made up of two different mattresses, each side offering different levels of firmness and softness. Can be applied to all other sizes.

Extra Long: A mattress slightly longer than the standard size. Can be applied to all other sizes.

Mattress Construction and Materials

In order to find the perfect mattress for you, it’s crucial to understand the construction of the mattresses you’re considering. Below you’ll find a list of terms for the components found in mattresses and other descriptive terms for various mattress qualities.

100% Natural: See Natural.

Air Chamber: Air chambers hold the air that makes up the support layer of an air bed.

Air Flow: How much air can flow through foam, upholstery, and other mattress construction materials.

All Natural: See Natural.

Anti Microbial: Fiber or foam that is anti microbial has undergone special treatment. This treatment prevents the growth of microbes including mold, bacteria, dust mites, and fungi.

Articulation: Adjustable beds bend on specific points. Articulation refers to the number and location of these bending points. Adjustable beds with two point articulation will bend in two places to give the bed a middle, head, and foot area that can be moved up, down, or angled.

Avena Foam: A patented foam similar to latex with many of the same properties, but improved durability.

Batting: A soft padding used to cover springs or foam inside the mattress. Cotton is the most common type of batting.

Bio Based Product: Products that are made entirely or significantly out of biological products. These can include forest materials or renewable agricultural materials such as plants or animals.

Biodegradable: A product or packaging that will decompose following disposal, breaking down into organic matter, water, or carbon dioxide.

Bladder: The supportive water area of a water bed.

Blended Latex: A blend of natural and synthetic latex. This typically combines the durability of synthetic latex with natural latex’s elasticity.

Bonnell Coil: An hourglass shaped mattress spring and the first mattress coil design for innerspring mattresses. Bonnell coils are now used mostly in low priced innerspring mattresses.

Border Rod: A heavy wire that maintains the shape of an innerspring mattress or box spring. This wire follows the perimeter of the mattress or box spring, connecting the helicals and outer layer of coils.

Border Wire: See Border Rod.

Buckling Column Gel: A material used in pressure relieving layers. Buckling column gel can support recessed areas of the body with needed stiffness.

Certified Organic: Materials or products that are made without the use of pesticides or antibiotics. Fiber and textile production is organically certified by the Global Organic Textiles Standards. Note that mattresses can not be labeled USDA Organic, but mattresses can be made with certified organic materials and production methods.

Chemicals of Concern: Chemicals identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that have serious environmental or health concerns or can present a risk of injury to health and the environment. These chemicals include phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBE).

Chintz: Printed fabric used to cover mattresses.

Coils: The supportive layer of innerspring mattresses or foundations. Made up of wire spirals in designs including Bonnell, Marshall, offset, and continuous. They can come in a variety of gauges and sizes.

Coil on Coil: A type of innerspring mattress construction. Mattresses with coil on coil support have two layers of coils, one of top of the other One layer is usually a comfort layer with a higher coil count, while the second layer offers support with a lower coil count.

Coil Springs: See Coils.

Coir: The coarse fiber extracted from coconut shells.

Comfort Layers: Upholstery layers that give the mattress surface comfort.

Continuous Coil: A coil design used in innerspring mattresses. Continuous coil mattresses use rows of coils constructed from one wire. This design improves durability, strength, and stability by attaching each coil to its neighbors.

Continuous Pour: This latex mattress process uses a moving conveyor instead of a old to shape the latex in a mattress. Continuous pour forms a single piece of latex without glue seams.

Continuous Quilting: See Multi Needle Quilting.

Convoluted Foam: Convoluted foam offers advanced support with a columnar system within the foam. This system offers foam with breathability, deep compression support, and cooling abilities. Sometimes known as egg crate foam.

Core: The supportive layer of a mattress. Can be made from foam, innersprings, or another material.

Cotton: A natural fiber often used in the construction of mattresses, particularly upholstery. Cotton is soft and breathable, but may compress over time and absorb moisture.

Cover: The fabric covering of a mattress.

Crown: A condition in which a mattress has a a greater height in the middle, sloping down on the sides.

Cushioning: Comfort layers of an innerspring mattress between the insulation and quilting. Can be made of many materials including foam, cotton, felt, down, or wool.

Damask: A woven mattress cover fabric. Tapestry, matelasse, jacquard, and Belgian damasks are considered especially high quality.

Deep Compression Support: How much support a mattress offers under heavy pressure. Typically important for heavy weight sleepers. Mattresses that have good deep compression support are usually thicker and have more transitional layers, usually of a higher quality.

Density: The weight over volume. In mattresses, refers to the density of foam. Higher density foam is typically more durable and often firmer.

Differential Construction: A mattress construction method that places soft comfort layers over firm support layers with a big difference between the two. The soft comfort layer provides pressure relief and support for the lumbar area, while the support layer keeps the body from sinking down too far into the bed.

Double Heat Tempering: An innerspring mattress process. Double heat tempering heats, cools, then heats coils again. This process is designed to improve resiliency and durability.

Dunlop: A latex foam process which whips liquid latex with air, turning it into a wet foam. The foam is poured into a mold and hardened by baking. The Dunlop process is used for natural and synthetic latex and is known for its high density and progressive compression with the firmest and most dense support on the bottom. Dunlop is typically used for support instead of comfort. Latex made with the Dunlop process often has a lower cost and is considered more durable than Talalay latex.

Eco Friendly: See Environmentally Friendly.

Eco Label: A label used to identify environmental standards met by the product. Standards are typically awarded by a third party organization.

Edge Breakdown: A loss of support on the edge of a mattress. This can give sleepers the feeling that they are falling off the bed. Most common in older beds.

Edge Coils: The coils placed around the edge of a mattress. These coils are typically a heavier gauge to protect against edge breakdown and provide additional support.

Edge Guard: A plastic piece that protects the cover from damage and offers support to mattress sides. Mounted on the edge of the mattress.

Egg Crate Foam: See Convoluted Foam.

Elasticity: The resiliency and flexibility of a material.

Environmentally Friendly: An unverifiable term highlighting the light or nonexistent ecological impact of a mattress. This term is not recognized by the Federal Trade Commission, as it is vague and lacks third party authentication.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP): A U.S. Department of Energy term. The acquisition of products with a reduced effect on human health and the environment than other products.

Fatigue: A mattress state when it does not offer adequate support anymore, usually from coil compression or softening.

Fiber: Fiber is often used in mattresses. It is made up of strands of material and can be natural or synthetic. Over time, fiber compresses, as fiber strands have air between them.

Filler: Material used in a mattress. Used under a mattress cover to create a quilted appearance, or added to latex mattress foam. Can also be used to dampen motion and increase firmness in waterbeds.

Fill Level: The level of water in a waterbed bladder.

Fire Barrier: See Fire Sock.

Fire Retardant: Flame resistant material applied to mattresses to reduce flammability.

Fire Sock: Material around the core of the mattress that is designed to melt in a fire and smother flames. Fire socks are usually made out of wood pulp or sand.

Flipping: The practice of flipping a mattress over to prevent body impressions. Flipping is not usually recommended for modern mattresses.

Foam: Material used to create layers in a mattress. Can be used as support core, comfort layers, or cooling layers, as well as a mattress topper. Includes memory foam, latex, and polyurethane.

Foam Core: Foam layer that serves at the supportive core.

Foam Encasing: Foam rails on the edges of a mattress used to protect against edge breakdown or to contain an air chamber or waterbed bladder.

Gauge: The thickness of a innerspring coil wire. Heavier and thicker gauge will be lower. Most innerspring mattresses have a gauge between 12.5 and 17.0.

Green: An unquantifiable term meaning a product is environmentally friendly. Not verified or awarded by a third party organization.

Greenwash: The practice of putting a positive environmental spin on a product that is false or misleading.

Grid: The surface connecting the top ends of the coils in a box spring. Made of steel lattice and also known as a grid top.

Helicals: Wire spirals that secure rows of innerspring mattress coils together. Can also be used to secure border rods and coil rows.

Hog Ring: A ring or staple that attached the cover edge and insulation to innersprings.

Hypoallergenic: A term referring to the decreased likelihood that a product will cause an allergic reaction.

Indention Force Deflection (IFD): A foam firmness measurement. Determined by the amount of force needed to compress foam to 25 percent of the original height. Mattress foam IFD is typically between 10 pounds for soft mattresses and 80 pounds for hard mattresses.

Inner Quilt: The layer of quilting a pillowtop is sewn onto.

Innerspring Unit: The spring and wires of an innerspring mattress. Made up of coils, border rods, and helicals.

Inner Tufting: A method for combining padding layers below the quilted cover. This is a durable method that prevents shifting and settling.

Insulation: Material used to prevent upholstery from entering the coil area of an innerspring unit. Used on the top and bottom and typically made of fiber or foam, fabric, wire mesh, or netting.

Indention Load Deflection (ILD): See Indentation Force Deflection.

Knit: A type of mattress cover fabric. Knit fabrics are knitted instead of woven and can be softer and stretchier.

Latex foam: A material used in mattress construction. Spongy and made from natural or synthetic rubber formed in the Dunlop or Talalay process. Latex foam is available in a variety of firmness levels and is noted for its responsiveness, bounce, and cooling.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): The assessment of the environmental impacts of a product.

Liner: See Safety Liner.

Loft: A material or padding’s height or fluffiness measurement.

Low Profile Foundation: A type of mattress foundation. Designed to be thin to accommodate thick mattresses while still maintaining a traditional bed height.

Marshall Coil: See Pocketed Coil.

Mattress Handles: Fabric handles attached to a mattress to facilitate moving and positioning.

Memory Foam: A material used in the construction of mattresses made of high density polyurethane foam. Memory foam is known for sensitivity to weight and temperature with good resiliency and conformability.

Microcoils: Microcoils are tiny innersprings used in mattress comfort layers. They are designed to relieve pressure and offer support.

Migration: The displacement and movement of mattress fibers that occurs over time. Migration can be reduced with quilt patterns and high quality fibers.

Modules: See Torsion Bars.

Motion Separation: How much movement can be felt on one side of the bed from the opposite side. Also known as Motion Transfer.

Motion Transfer: See Motion Separation.

Mounting: A box spring that is attached to a bed frame.

Mulesing-Free Wool: Wool from sheep who have not had the Mulesing procedure. This is a controversial procedure used to prevent infection, but criticized for causing pain.

Multi Needle Quilting: The use of multiple needles in a continuous quilting pattern. Tighter multi needle quilted patterns will have a firmer mattress surface.

Natural: Term used to suggest a product’s materials are from plants or animals instead of synthetic. The term natural is unverifiable and uncertified by third party organizations.

Natural Latex: Latex produced from the rubber tree. Natural latex is known for its hypoallergenic properties, biodegradability, softness, and elasticity.

Off Gassing: The process of releasing chemicals from a mattress into the air, typically at home after the mattress is taken out of its packaging. Strong odors may be released for up to seven days. This can be potentially harmful to humans. Consumers are encouraged to off gas mattresses in a separate room or even outside.

Offset Coil: A type of mattress coil with an hourglass shape. The offset coil is similar to the Bonnell coil, but these coils tend to conform more, make less noise, and have better hinging due to their flattened edges at the top and bottom of the coils. Offset coils are often found in luxury or high end mattresses.

Organic: A material that has been produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic pesticides, or antibiotics. Fiber and textile production is organically certified by the Global Organic Textiles Standards. Note that mattresses can not be labeled USDA Organic, but mattresses can be made with certified organic materials and production methods. See also Certified Organic.

Organic Cotton: Cotton, often used in the construction of mattresses, grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizer. Cotton mattress components can be certified organic.

Organic Latex: Latex is a manufactured product and not considered organic, as it is not a food or fiber.

Organic Wool: Wool, often used as a mattress material, produced with organic feed and without the use of genetic engineering, synthetic pesticides, or synthetic hormones. Organic wool is naturally flame retardant.

Polybrominated Diphenylethers (PBDEs): PBDEs are used as flame retardants in mattresses. They improve fire safety by offering increased escape time as they slow ignition time and the rate at which fire spreads.

Phthalates: Type of chemical used to soften plastics. Typically used in crib and toddler mattresses for waterproof surfaces. Some phthalates (DEHP, DBP, and BBP) are banned from use in baby and children’s mattresses by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Pincore Holes: Holes formed in latex mattress layers in manufacturing. Used to create a softer feeling mattress with larger holes translating to a softer feel.

Plush: A higher level of surface comfort.

Pocketed Coils: Innerspring mattress coils inside of individual foam or fabric pockets. Pocketed coils offer better motion separation than other innerspring coil types, have less noise, and better comfort and contouring.

Pocketing: A condition in which mattress padding layers settle into coils.

Polyfoam: See Polyurethane.

Polyurethane: The cost common comfort layer material for mattresses, but can also be used as a core material. Polyurethane is available in three different HR grades, but high density polyurethane foam is most common in mattress cores. Also known as Polyfoam.

Post Consumer Recycled Material: Materials used in production that have been recycled from used and discarded consumer items.

Posturized: Additional support measures used in a mattress or foundation designed to prevent sagging.

Pre Consumer Recycled Material: Materials used in production that have been recycled from unused consumer products or production materials. These typically include scraps, unused containers, and trimmings.

Progressive Construction: Mattresses manufactured with progressive construction use thin and soft upper comfort layers. Supportive layers below are progressively firmer, offering more support as sleepers sink deeper into the mattress. Progressive construction can offer more accurate comfort and support than differential construction.

Pure Latex: Latex manufactured without the use of filler. Typically used by high quality latex mattresses, pure latex can be natural or synthetic.

Quilting: The top layer of mattress padding. Quilting is typically made up of foam or fibers on the underside of the ticking. This layer provides breathability, comfort, and can include a pillowtop or Euro top. Quilting can also refer to the stitching of the quilting layer to other padding layers. Processes include tack and jump quilting, multi needle quilting, and single needle stitching.

Recyclable: A term that notes a product or components of the product can be recycled or reused to create a new product.

Recycled Content: A term noting the percentage of recycled materials used in a product.

Recycled Material: Material used in production that is made from recycled content.

Renewable: Materials that renew themselves, including fibers, wood, and plastics made from plants.

Safety Liner: An additional liner on a waterbed bladder that serves as a backup if there is a hole.

Sagging: The condition of a mattress that has lost support.

Self Inflating: An airbed mattress that inflates itself using foam that expands as air enters the mattress.

Semi Fowler Position: A position which rests the back at a 45 degree angle slightly reclined.

Single Needle Stitching: A method of quilting that uses one needle to stitch upholstery layers together. This is not common in newer mattresses as it creates a hard mattress surface.

Spring Wire: The wire of coils in an innerspring mattress.

Stress Relief: See Tempering.

Support Foam: High density foam used as a foundational base in a foam mattress.

Synthetic: Unlike natural materials, synthetic materials are created by a chemical process.

Synthetic Latex: The most common type of latex. Synthetic latex is made from a chemical process out of styrene butadiene rubber. This type of latex is typically stiffer, but more resilient and consistent in quality than natural latex.

Tack and Jump Quilting: A type of quilting process that uses hundreds of needles to stitch upholstery levels together. Often found on high end mattresses, tack and jump quilting results in a softer surface with more loft.

Talalay: A latex manufacturing process. Talalay latex foam is whipped into foam, injected into a mold, and sealed. Air is vacuumed out of the mold, then the latex is frozen and vulcanized. The Talalay process is used on natural as well as synthetic latex. It results in latex with a more extensive range of density and softness than Dunlop processed latex with a feel and firmness that is more consistent throughout the material.

Tape Edge: The cording seam surrounding the mattress surface edges.

Tempering: A coil treatment process. Tempering heats up and then cools coils. This process improves durability, resiliency, and enhances strength and sagging resistance.

Ticking: See Cover.

Torsion Bars: Bars used to support innerspring mattresses in some foundations. These heavy wire bars are usually bent into 90 degree angles and are more rigid than box springs. Also known as Torsion Modules.

Torsion Module: See Torsion Bars.

Tufting: Stitching that attaches padding layers to the rest of the mattress.

Upholstery: All of the soft layers in a mattress, typically the layers that offer comfort. These layers include the insulation, cushioning, quilting, and cover.

Ventilator: Components of a mattress that allow for better air flow, typically eyelets or screens.

Visco Elastic Foam: See Memory Foam.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Chemicals identified by the EPA to have a negative effect on human health.

Wool: A naturally fire resistant material often used in quilting or upholstery layers to meet federal fire standards in mattresses.

Working Turn: How tightly a coil is wound. Every 360 degree revolution around the coil is two working turns.

Wrapped Coils: See Pocketed Coils. Wrapped may be wrapped in an different material than pocketed coils.

Zoning: Mattresses made with zoning offer different firmness and support for different parts of the body. Zoned mattresses can have two to three zones with different arrangements, offering, for example, firmer support under the hips, but softer conforming comfort for the torso. Zoning can be highly effective in making mattresses more comfortable, but it is difficult to pinpoint zoning schemes and get them right for each individual.

Mattress Feel and Comfort

Descriptive terms related to feel and comfort might be most important and familiar to shoppers. These terms describe the feelings and other qualities you may experience while using a mattress. These are the words you might think most about when trying to shop for the best possible sleep experience, so they’re good to know.

Alignment: The positioning of the body, particularly the spine.

Body Impression: The indentations a body makes on a mattress over time. Impressions do not bounce back after a sleeper is off of the mattress. Body impressions should not be deeper than 1 1/2 inches.

Bounce: How a mattress pushes back on pressure. Mattresses with a high degree of bounce, such as coil mattresses, strongly transfer energy back. Mattresses with low bounce, like memory foam mattresses, absorb energy rather than pushing back.

Comfort: How hard or soft a mattress feels when you touch its surface. This is an objective term and can also include overall comfort including firmness, conformability, support, and motion separation.

Conformability: See Hug.

Durability: The amount of time a mattress can be expected to last with adequate support and comfort.

Firmness: The softness or hardness of a mattress when you touch it. Firmness is an important factor in choosing your mattress. Note that firmness and support are not the same thing, as support refers to how well a mattress keeps your spine aligned whether you’re in a soft or firm mattress.

Hug: How well a mattress contours to the body. A mattress that contours and allows the sleeper to sink into a mattress has a high level of hug. One that forces a sleeper to float on the surface layer has little hug.

Pressure points: Parts of the body where pressure from a sleeping surface restricts blood flow. This can cause discomfort, pain, and trouble sleeping.

Recovery Time: The amount of time foam takes to recover back to its original shape after compression.

Responsiveness: The speed with which a mattress adjusts to pressure changes, typically in foam mattresses. A responsive mattress quickly changes to pressure and sleeping position changes, but one with a slow response time takes longer to change its shape. Newer memory foams typically have better responsiveness than older ones. Also known as resiliency.

Sinkage: See Hug.

Support: The ability of a bed to keep your spine aligned during sleep. Good support eliminates mattress related pain and stiffness. Note that support and firmness are not the same. Supportive mattresses offer spinal alignment without pressure points.

Mattress Shopping, Delivery, and Ownership

Once you decide on a mattress, you’ll want to know how to best navigate the process of purchasing the product. Additionally, you’ll need to know what to do if you decide a mattress isn’t for you and you need to return it. These terms cover the finer details of shopping, delivery and ownership.

Boxed Delivery: Delivery of a mattress in a box through a standard mail service such as the postal service, UPS, or FedEx. Mattresses delivered in a box are compressed and packaged tightly in plastic.

Comfort Guarantee: Guarantee that allows mattress buyers to exchange a mattress for another model of equal or lesser value if the mattress is determined to be uncomfortable. Comfort guarantees are only applicable for a specific amount of time and typically do not include refunds.

Promotional: A special price for advertised products offered at a lower rate than usual. Typically offered for a specific model or line and often used for lower priced mattresses.

Prorated Warranty: A mattress warranty that offers only partial coverage of a mattress after a certain period of time. Customers with a prorated mattress warranty will have to pay some of the purchase price to replace the mattress, paying more the longer the mattress has been owned.

Trial Period: Also known as a “sleep trial.” The period of time a mattress buyer has to try out the bed and still receive a 100% refund if they decide to return it. Trial periods are common among online mattress companies and are typically around 100 nights in length. A trial period allows mattress buyers to take their time determining whether a mattress is comfortable and meets their needs.

Warranty: A manufacturer’s guarantee that they will fix flaws in the mattress including design, construction, and materials. Everyday wear and tear and deterioration are not included in warranties.

White Glove Delivery: Delivery service that includes setting up the mattress on a bed frame with removal of debris including the box, plastic, and other packaging materials. Some companies offer complimentary removal of old mattresses with white glove delivery, while others offer this service for an additional charge.

A mattress is not the beginning and end of your sleep experience, and often, it’s only part of your buying experience. For that reason, we’ve included some additional glossary terms for bedding products related to mattresses.

Bed Frame: Used to support the mattress and/or the mattress foundation. They are made of metal or wood and come with legs and sometimes wheels. Queen and King frames also include a center support bar and leg. Standard bed frames raise the bed 7 1/2 inches off of the floor.

Bed Rails: The metal or wooden sides of a bed frame. Bed rails are used to hold mattresses in place.

Box Spring: Designed to support innerspring mattresses, box springs are often sold as part of a set with a mattress. This foundation is constructed out of a wood frame with heavy coils.

Built Up Foundation: See Slatted Base.

Deck: The top surface of the platform foundation supporting a hard sided waterbed frame. The deck and pedestal of a hard sided waterbed frame distribute the weight of the mattress.

Double Ended Frame: A bed frame that can use a headboard as well as a footboard.

Foundation: The bed base or supportive structure under a mattress. Can be a box spring, slatted base, platform, or other type of foundation.

Frame: A bed frame. For mattresses a frame is the wooden box on top of the deck and pedestal that contains the mattress.

Pedestal: A part of the platform foundation for hard sided waterbeds. This box forms the base and, along with the deck, evenly distributes the weight of the mattress.

Platform bed: A bed with a mattress directly on a platform foundation.

Platform Foundation: A type of foundation, also known as a poly-box, without metal components designed to absorb loads.

Poly-Box: See Platform Foundation.

Set: A mattress with a foundation, also known as a sleep set.

Slatted Base: A type of foundation made up of wooden slats on a frame.

Sleep Set: See Set.

Additional Resources

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with our mattress glossary, feel free to check out our related buying guides and other educational articles below!

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