5 Minutes Guide to Understanding Different Mattress Types

The mattress industry is an annoying industry. They have been well-known for marketing the same mattress under different names and different brands and at different prices. Well, we still need one anyway, if not, what will we sleep on anyway?!

In fact, I still remember the first time I stepped into a mattress retail store, I was totally blown away. Talalay mattress, pocketed spring, titanium-made spring. Like what are all these?! I was totally in a state of shock at the number of keywords being shoved into my brain that I was almost convinced to purchase a 4 grand queen-sized mattress.

Lucky I didn’t, else, I’m just another victim of the mattress industry. Looking back, I should have done some reading/research before entering the lion’s den.

After visiting countless retail stores, neighborhood stores, and OEM manufacturers, I realized that those bombastic words sprouted by those salespersons were pretty standard after a while. Strip down the long complicated product name that each brand gave their mattress, forget about their historical branding and they are almost the same.

For those who want a quick reading before you slay the brain-washing mattress salesperson, here you go.


Mattresses are generally made up of 2 sections, a core support section, and a comfort section. The core support section is mainly made from either an innerspring system or foam. They can be further broken down into their different structure and materials. On the other hand, the comfort section is usually made from foam, fiber, or even gel.

Innerspring Mattress

What are innerspring mattresses?

Innerspring mattresses are mainly made of spring as their core support material. In general, good-quality innerspring mattresses can adapt to body contour and maintain the correct spinal position while sleeping.

Inner Spring Mattress
Inner Spring Mattress

Innerspring mattresses tend to be of a softer material type than other materials. It is generally good for those who are looking for a mattress that is not as firm, yet not as soft.

The more coil the innerspring have, the more responsive and motion-controlled it is to the body contour of the sleeper. This means greater comfort for the sleeper.

Advantages of innerspring mattresses

For those who are side-sleepers, this type of mattress is good for their spinal position as it sinks in at the shoulder and hips portion, maintaining a right-back posture.

While for people who usually sleep on their back (sleeping flat), an innerspring mattress can evenly spread the body weight across the mattress, which also maintains an ideal spine position while sleeping.

Inner Spring Mattress Effect on Spine
Inner Spring Mattress Effect on Spine

Innerspring mattresses are known to be one of the most durable mattresses, with a lifespan of 10 years and more. They are also great for countries with humid or hot weather as their structure makes them good for heat dispersion. Wow, less money on air-con electricity bills then?

The wires used in the mattress have varying thickness, and are known as “wire gauge”. The higher the wire gauge number, the thinner the wire, and the softer the mattress. The magic number in the industry standard is a 14 gauge wire.

Innerspring mattresses are rarely seen by themselves, as they usually come with an extra layer of comfort section material at the top and bottom of the mattress.

What are the common types of innerspring mattresses?

  1. Bonnel Spring Mattress
  2. Continuous Coils
  3. Pocketed Spring

Types of Inner Spring Mattress

What is bonnell spring mattress?

Bonnel Spring
Bonnell Spring

Visually, the springs in the mattress are shaped like an hourglass and are joined together at the top and bottom by spiral wires to form the spring system.

Bonnell Spring Full Frame
Bonnell Spring Full Frame

Thereafter, the structure is reinforced with strong border wires, known as “rod edge”, to form the mattress shape. Better quality bonnell spring mattress may come with optional support wire passing through the spiral wire to the border wires.

Are bonnell spring mattress any good?

Bonnell spring mattress tends to be more bouncy and affordable than other spring mattress types. However, as the springs are interconnected, it may cause sleep disturbance when there is motion on the bed. Obviously, if you are a single sleeper, this may not pose an issue to you.

For those who are buying a bonnell spring mattress for two sleepers, it may also cause a problem that is called “the valley”. This is caused when 2 people are sleeping close to each other. This “phenomenon” will create a valley between them, which they will roll into and collide in the middle.

For those who tend to roll over to the edge while sleeping, it may be easier for you to fall off the bed if not enough edge support is there. As the border wires can be hard, sleepers may also feel the border wire while lying on the mattress with inadequate support or cushioning.

What is continuous spring mattress?

Continuous Spring
Continuous Spring

Continuous spring mattresses are made by forming rows of coils from a single piece of wire. It is actually one of the cheapest options for mattresses in the market as it can be mass-produced at a low production cost. A standard queen-sized continuous spring mattress typically consists of about 300 coils.

Are continuous spring mattress any good?

Continuous springs provide good support for the back due to their firmness. They are also lighter and easier to turn, which is good for people with lesser upper body strength. Continuous spring mattress are usually found in low to mid-tier mattress range, which is wallet-friendly for those who are on a tight budget.

However, it also faces “the valley” problem whereby a valley will be created between two sleepers, which they will roll into. In addition, as the springs are basically created using a single wire, you will feel the movement from your partner. For those who are single sleepers, it is highly likely that you won’t face this problem.

What is pocketed spring mattress?

Pocket Spring
Pocketed Spring

Pocketed spring mattresses can be identified easily whereby the springs are wrapped inside each individual fabric case. The individual springs are attached to each other via the fabric to maintain the shape. As the coils are wrapper individually where only the fabric is attached, the coils can move independently. You will rarely see pocketed spring mattresses using border wires.

Are pocketed spring mattress any good?

For those who have 2 sleepers and more on the mattress, and tend to move around easily while sleeping, the invention of pocketed spring mattress is good news for you. They have literally “zero motion transfer”, whereby movement of one party will not be felt by the other party. This is because the spring moves independently and is not connected directly. Pocketed spring mattresses also provide better pressure point relief.

Foam Mattress

What are foam mattresses?

There are in general, 2 types of foam mattresses, natural and synthetic types. They are manufactured with varying weights and densities for different types. Most synthetic mattresses are usually made of polyurethane with a portion of plant-based content.

Foam Mattress
Foam Mattress

What are the common types of foam mattresses?

  1. High Density Polyurethane Foam Mattress
  2. Memory Foam Mattress
  3. Latex Foam Mattress

Types of Foam Mattress

What is high density polyurethane foam mattress?

Polyurethane Foam Mattress
Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam mattresses are a synthetic product, which means it is purely a chemical product. It is somewhat similar to memory foam but contains lesser chemical than memory foam. There are 3 types of polyurethane foam –  regular grade, high density, high resiliency. However, only high-density polyurethane foam is used for mattress production.

Are high density polyurethane foam mattress any good?

Polyurethane Foam mattress tends to be more bouncy and springy than other mattresses. They are also very light and easier to flip. For those who have lesser body strength, polyurethane foam mattresses are good when you do your bi-yearly flip of the mattress.

However, they have lesser support for the spine and body, and may not be as comfortable as a latex or memory foam mattress. Due to its bouncy nature, movement from one sleeper can be easily transmitted to the other sleeper. The structure of the mattress also means poor ventilation of air, and you may feel hot and sweaty after sleeping for a while in humid weather.

Polyurethane foam mattresses have short lifespans and will break down faster. Good thing is, it’s definitely cheaper to replace as compared to latex or memory foam mattresses.

What is memory foam mattress?

Memory Foam Mattress
Memory Foam

Memory Foam is fully synthetic, which is a fully chemical product. They are also mainly made of polyurethane, similar to foam mattresses, but with added chemicals to increase viscosity and density. They are in general, energy absorbent and soft.

Are memory foam mattress any good?

Memory foam mattresses will mold to the contour of the body when in contact with heat and pressure, and can evenly distribute body weight. It will then returns to their original shape once heat and pressure are removed. Hence, it can support the body along the curves and natural lines of the body very well.  Due to the structure of foam, you will hardly feel movement from others on the bed.

However, due to the high viscosity and density of the material, memory foam lack the ability to dissipate moisture and body heat and has poor air circulation. Hence, you may wake up uncomfortable, hot, and drench in sweat, especially in warm weather. This high viscosity property of memory foam also means that you will take more energy to roll over on the bed. For those who literally sleep like a rock, won’t make a difference I guess?

For first-time buyers of memory foam mattresses, memory foam has an odd smell called off-gassing when new. However, you can just air the mattress for about 24 hours for the smell to disappear before placing bed sheets on it. Over time, you will notice the memory foam mattress getting slower at springing back to its original foam until it totally loses this ability. This effect will be even obvious and quicker for those who are heavier.

What is latex foam mattress?

Latex Foam
Latex Foam

Latex foam mattresses are made from natural materials, with no chemicals added. They are naturally mold and dust resistant. Latex foam provides good air circulation for the sleeper, as it has an open-cell structure and is usually manufactured with a pin-hole in them. No more waking up to sweating backs and humid mattress!

Are latex foam mattress any good?

Latex foam mattresses can keep their form, comfort, and softness for a long period of time, without sagging down. This is good for people looking for a durable mattress. In addition, it also has the “zero motion transfer” property whereby movement by one sleeper cannot be felt easily by the other sleeper.

Final Words

Now you’re ready to slay those mattress salespeople without being thrown into a confusopoly. Have any terms that you are looking to understand? Drop us a comment below and we will get back to you shortly! Otherwise, do check out ShareHook take on pillow top mattress!

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