To help you with your mattress "lingo", we have compiled this handy list of definitions for some of the mattress industry's most common terms.
Type of bed distinguished by its ability to bend and elevate into upright or other positions. Sometimes referred to as an electric bed or hospital bed. See our Adjustable Bed Guide for more information on the various features and benefits of adjustable beds.
Type of bed distinguished by its use of an air-filled Core, rather than Coils, for Support. Depending on its purpose and price point, may be upholstered with Cushioning, Quilting and/or Ticking. Also known as an air mattress. See our Air Mattress Guide for more information on high-end upholstered air beds, and our Portable Air Mattress Guide for additional information on portable air beds.
Term that refers to the air containment area of an Air Bed.
Term that refers to the bending of an Adjustable Bed. An adjustable bed with "two-point articulation" folds in two separate places, dividing the bed into 3 sections — head, foot and middle — each of which can be elevated and/or angled to achieve the desired position.
Several layers of Cotton Felt.
A metal or wood frame used to support the mattress and/or Foundation. Usually comes with legs and wheels (known as castors) with a conventional height of 7 1/4 inches. All Queen and King frames must have a center support bar and center leg for proper support (and in some cases so as not to void the Warranty).
The "L" shaped metal or wood sides of a Bed Frame that hold the mattress in place.
Any commercial or industrial product (excludes food or feed) that is made from (in whole or a significant part) biological products, renewable agricultural materials (plant, animal or marine materials) or materials from the forest. The USDA has established a minimum bio-based content standard for many product categories; included are bedding and bed linens (but not, however, mattresses) which must be comprised of at least 12% bio-based products. Source: http://www.biopreferred.gov/ProposedAndFinalItemDesignations.aspx
Term usually meant to imply that an entire product (or a package) will decompose back into nature (breaking down to water, carbon dioxide and/or organic matter) after its disposal. The time period for biodegrading varies widely depending on the material: from 2-5 months for paper, to virtually never for plastic bottles. Note that there is no legal definition for the term "biodegradable" and when the term is used it doesn’t necessarily mean that it biodegrades into benign elements; some products can break down into harmful environmental toxins. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does issue some useful guidelines on what kinds of products or packaging can/should be categorized as "biodegradable," "degradable," or "photodegradable." Source: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/grnrule/guides92.htm#G2
Term that refers to the water containment area of a Waterbed mattress.
Indentations on the surface of the mattress resulting from the normal compression of mattress Quilting and Cushioning layers over time. Should not exceed 1 1/2 inches in depth. Often mistakenly characterized as Sagging.
The original and standard Innerspring Mattress Coil design, characterized by hourglass shaped springs. Today, used primarily in lower-priced beds. See our Coil Guide to learn more about the various types of mattress coils and how to compare them.
See Border Rod.
See Slatted Base.
Mattress size that measures 72"W by 84"L. Slightly narrower and longer than a standard King, which measures 76"W by 80"L.
Mattress size that measures 60"W by 84"L. Slightly longer than a standard Queen, which measures 60"W by 80"L.
Many third-party organizations oversee this certification. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) handles organic certification for food and certain other agricultural raw materials, and the Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS) does so for fiber and textile handing/production.
Labeling a mattress (or any finished product) "USDA Organic" is strictly forbidden by USDA regulations. But mattresses can contain organic ingredients and be certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) for fiber and textile handling and production.
Term used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regards to certain chemicals that raise "serious environmental or health concerns" or may present an "unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment." Many such chemicals are environmentally persistent, bio-accumulative (meaning they can build up in your body over time), and toxic. Chemicals flagged by the EPA include: phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). See also: Phthalates and PBDEs.
Spirals of wires that form the supportive Core of an Innerspring Mattress or Foundation. Specific coil designs include Bonnell, Offset, Marshall and Continuous, each of which comes in various sizes and Gauges. Also known as coil springs. See our Coil Guide to learn why coils are important and how to evaluate coils across different mattress models.
Term that refers to the way the surface of the mattress feels against your body. On an objective level, can be thought of as the "hardness" or "softness" you feel when you press the mattress surface with your fingertips. Can also encompass other features such as Motion Separation and breathability. See our Comfort Guide to ascertain the right comfort attributes for you.
An Innerspring Mattress coil design wherein each row of Coils is constructed from a single wire shaped into a series of S-shaped ringlets. The concept behind this design is that by attaching each coil to its neighbors, the Innerspring Unit will have improved strength, stability, and Durability. See our Coil Guide to learn more about the various types of mattress coils and how to compare them.
Foam shaped similar to an egg carton, giving it the more common name "egg-crate foam," used to provide additional surface cushioning. Creates softer feel than a flat slab of similar Foam, and can improve circulation by reducing Pressure Points.
A soft, breathable, natural Fiber used to make numerous items. In certain mattresses, can have a tendency to absorb moisture and compress over time.
A mattress designed for use in a baby crib or toddler bed. Typically made with special vents, high firmness, and water-resistant covers. See our Baby-Crib Mattress Guide for more information on what to look for in a crib mattress.
Condition wherein a mattress is slightly higher in the middle than on the sides, creating a convex surface.
Layers of material that lie between the Insulation and the Quilting of an Innerspring Mattress. Cushioning materials include Latex, visco-elastic foam (better known as Memory Foam), Convoluted Foam (also known as egg-crate foam), Felt, Cotton, polyester, non-woven fiber pads, wool, goose down, or even silk and cashmere. See our Upholstery Guide to learn more about the key elements of mattress upholstery and how they differ across mattresses.
A thick fabric used for mattress Covers whose design is typically woven into the fabric rather than printed onto it. Certain types of damasks are considered particularly high quality, such as Belgian (softer, high thread count), matelasse (raised design), jacquard (made with special loom), and tapestry (extra heavy).
Type of Dual-Purpose Bed consisting of a Twin mattress configured in such a way as to allow for easy use as either a seating or sleeping area. Typically enclosed by a Bed Frame on 3 sides, creating a sofa-like feeling when combined with pillows.
Refers to the top surface of a specially-designed Platform Foundation that supports the Frame of a Hard-Sided Waterbed. Together with the Pedestal below, evenly distributes the weight of the mattress, so as to minimize strain on the Bladder seams as well as the floor.
Measurement of weight over volume, typically referred to in pounds per cubic foot. Considered an important characteristic of Foam mattresses that typically correlates with Durability, and sometimes (though not always) with Firmness.
Bed Frame that is compatible with both a headboard and footboard.
See Full Extra Long.
Reference to any sleeping device that has a secondary function. Examples include sleeper sofas, Futons and daybeds.
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.
Term that refers to the length of time a mattress will continue to provide you with adequate Support along with your desired level of Comfort. See our Durability Guide to determine the appropriate durability requirements for you.
Label that identifies an ecological benefit of a product or service. Eco-labels indicate that a product has met specific environmental criteria or standards and is verified and awarded by a third-party organization.
Term that refers 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 or sliding off the side of the bed.
Plastic piece mounted onto the edge of the mattress that provides additional support to the mattress sides and protects the Cover from damage.
See Convoluted Foam.
Term that describes the flexibility and Resiliency of an object or material.
See Adjustable Bed.
Term often used to suggest that no harm has been done to the environment in the production or delivery of a given product or service. However, there is no national or international standard for this term, and neither the International Organization for Standardization nor the Federal Trade Commission recognizes this label since it is considered too "vague." Terms that are similarly lacking in quantifiable data or third-party authentication include: "green," "ecologically-safe," "eco-safe," "eco-smart," and "environmentally preferable." Source: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/grnrule/guides980427.htm#260.7
Term defined by the U.S. Department of Energy as: "Acquisition of products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose."
Layer of additional padding sewn on top of a mattress. Similar to a Pillow-Top, but attached more firmly to the mattress.
Strands of material, made from natural or synthetic elements, which are used extensively in mattresses. Fiber strands have air between them, meaning that fiber tends to compress over time.
Motion dampening materials, such as layers of Fiber batting, placed inside the Bladder of a Waterbed in order to absorb motion in the water as well as increase the Firmness of the bed. In general, more fiber filling results in greater Motion Separation and firmer Support.
In mattress upholstery, 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 the resulting latex less costly, but also stiffer and less Durable.
Material applied to a mattress in order to reduce its flammability. In the United States, all mattresses sold to the general public since 2007 have been required to meet certain flame-resistance standards.
The compression resistance of a mattress. Typically used in reference to a mattress' Support (particularly as provided by the Coils of an Innerspring Mattress), though sometimes also used to describe the softness or hardness of a mattress' surface (which relates more to its Comfort).
The act of periodically turning over and/or rotating a mattress. Recommended to prevent Body Impressions.
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.
Any base or support placed beneath a mattress. Term often used in reference to a Box Spring, but could also refer to a Torsion Module Foundation, Slatted Base or Platform Foundation. See our Foundation Guide to learn why foundations are important and how to evaluate different types of foundations.
Term that most commonly refers to a Bed Frame. In the case of a Hard-Sided Waterbed, refers to the rigid wood box that supports and contains the mattress, resting on top of the Deck and Pedestal. In the case of an Adjustable Bed, refers to the base unit that also provides the characteristic flexing motion.
Term that refers to a conventional Waterbed whose Bladder contains a single chamber with no Fiber Filling or other motion dampening attributes, such that the water is allowed to flow freely within the mattress.
Mattress size that measures 54"W by 75"L. Also referred to as a double bed or a standard bed. Was the most common mattress size as recently as the 1970's.
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. See our Coil Guide to learn more about coil construction and what to look for in mattress coils.
Term generally intended to mean that a product will not harm the environment and/or has positive environmental attributes. However, like the term environmentally friendly, labeling a product "green" is not quantifiable and is not verified by a third party.
The act of a company or business misleading consumers by putting a false, positive environmental spin on a product or service.
See Adjustable Bed.
Waterbed design wherein the Bladder is divided into numerous small compartments. Water is allowed to travel between the compartments in a controlled manner via small holes, enhancing both Support and Motion Separation.
Term that suggests a product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction when used (when compared to similar products). Note that this claim makes no assertions or guarantees that it is allergen-free.
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).
Refers to any mattress constructed around a Core of Tempered Coil Springs. The Innerspring Unit is typically surrounded by several layers of Upholstery in order to provide additional Comfort. This is the most widely purchased type of mattress on the market. Also known as a spring mattress. See our Innerspring Mattress Guide for more information on how to distinguish one innerspring bed from another, including details on each component of the innerspring mattress.
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. See our Upholstery Guide to learn more about the key elements of mattress upholstery and how they differ across mattresses.
Bed that consists of two Twin Extra Long mattresses, each 39" wide x 80" long.
Fabric used in mattress Covers that is knitted rather than woven, creating a 'stretchier' and softer feel.
A spongy material produced from either natural or synthetic rubber. Used primarily in premium mattresses. See our Latex Mattress Guide for more information on the different types of latex mattresses and their various features and benefits.
Technique to assess the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process, or service.
See Safety Liner.
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.
High-end mattress produced with specialized materials, hand-crafting, extra features, and/or customization. Although 'luxury' is a highly subjective term, GoodBed typically reserves this classification for mattresses that retail at or above $2,000 in a queen size model. See also: Ultra-Luxury Mattress.
See Pocketed Coil.
A type of high-density polyurethane Foam known for its slow Recovery Time and its sensitivity to both weight and temperature, giving it a delayed Resiliency and allowing it to conform very closely to the shape of your body. Available in many depths and Densities, as well as different levels of Firmness. Also known as visco-elastic foam. See our Memory Foam Mattress Guide and Innerspring vs. Memory Foam sections for more information on memory foam mattresses and how they compare to Innerspring Mattresses.
See Torsion Bars.
Refers to the degree to which movements on one side of the bed can be felt on the other side of the bed.
Wool from a sheep that has not been subjected to a controversial surgical task that is intended to protect the sheep from disease. The Mulesing procedure is most commonly performed on Merino sheep in Australia to prevent an infection known as flystrike. Animal rights advocates claim that the procedure causes pain and suffering to the animals, and that there are animal-friendly alternatives to the surgery. See also: Organic Wool.
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.
Term that is typically meant to imply that the materials in a product come from natural sources (i.e., extracted directly from plants or animal products), rather than synthetic ones. There are many products that carry this term, but it is not governed or certified by any federal agency or third party. See also: Bio-Based Product.
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. See Synthetic Latex and Organic Latex.
The evaporation of chemicals from a material into the air. The EPA warns that off-gassing of certain chemicals (see "Chemicals of Concern") can potentially be harmful to humans. See also Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Type of Innerspring Mattress Coil that 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. Relative to Bonnell coils, Offset coils conform more to your body, make less noise, and are typically found in more expensive mattresses. See our Coil Guide to learn more about the various types of mattress coils and how to compare them.
Mattress size that measures 66"W by 80"L. Slightly wider than a standard Queen, which measures 60"W by 80"L.
Term that most often refers to an agricultural product that has been grown, raised and/or harvested in accordance with specific governmentally-regulated standards, but in some cases can also be applied to a finished product for which the production methods and raw material sources have been formally certified by an independent third-party. In bedding and mattresses, certification can be obtained through the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).
Cotton grown using farming methods that have low impact on the environment; no pesticides or synthetic fertilizer are used. Third party certification organizations verify that the cotton is grown under these strict USDA guidelines.
There is no such thing as an "organic latex" mattress. The only products that can be certified organic are foods and fiber. Third party certification (necessary for something to be labeled "organic") does not exist for latex foam since it is a manufactured product. See Natural Latex.
A mattress made with natural materials, designed to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals or other irritants, and to minimize environmental impact during production and upon disposal. See our Organic Mattress Guide for more info on what to look for in an organic mattress.
Wool that is produced in accordance with U.S. federal standards for organic livestock production which includes feeding animals organic feed, no use of synthetic hormones or genetic engineering and no synthetic pesticides. Organic wool is also a natural flame retardant. See also: PBDEs and Mulesing-Free Wool.
Chemical used as flame retardants in plastics, foams, fabrics and other materials. The benefit of adding these chemicals to these products is to slow the ignition time and rate of the spread of fire in order to increase the escape time. See also: Chemicals of Concern.
A sturdy box that forms the base of a specially-designed Platform Foundation for a Hard-Sided Waterbed. Together with the Deck surface above, evenly distributes the weight of the mattress, so as to minimize strain on the Bladder seams as well as the floor.
Chemical widely used in manufacturing since the 1950s to soften plastics so that they are not brittle. Used in a wide range of products including toys, electronics, adhesives, plastic containers, shower curtains and other products made of vinyl or PVC. Used primarily in baby and children’s mattresses to create a soft, pliable waterproof surface. In 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banned three varieties of phthalates (DEHP, DBP, and BBP) for use in baby and children’s mattresses and other baby products. See also: Chemicals of Concern.
Deep, cylindrical holes spread throughout a Latex mattress to help soften its feel. Larger pincore holes create a softer feel.
Consists of a mattress placed directly on a Platform Foundation or other rigid platform.
Term that refers to a softer level of surface Comfort.
Type of Innerspring Mattress Coils that are individually wrapped in separate fabric pockets, providing more Motion Separation than other types of innerspring coils. Also known as Marshall coils. See our Coil Guide to learn more about the various types of mattress coils and how to compare them.
Refers to a form of mattress wear wherein layers of padding begin to settle into the Coils.
See Platform Foundation.
Material from finished items that a consumer or business has already used. This type of recycling makes use of materials that would have otherwise been discarded.
Material from the factory floor that never made it to the consumer – includes trimmings, scraps, and rejected containers. These materials can be re-purposed for new consumer products. This type of recycling diverts these materials from the waste stream.
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.
Term that refers to a model or line with a very low advertised price, meant to entice mattress shoppers into a retailer's store. Since it is often the least expensive mattresses that are featured in such promotions, this term is sometimes used more generally in reference to very basic or lower quality mattresses.
Mattress Warranty that does not cover the full mattress purchase price or replacement value after a certain period of time, requiring the customer to pay a portion of the original price to have it replaced, typically depending on how long the mattress was used.
The top-most layer of padding inside the mattress, consisting 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. See our Upholstery Guide to learn more about the key elements of mattress upholstery and how they differ across mattresses.
Term used to describe the speed (or lack of speed) with which a material (typically Foam) returns to its original shape after being compressed.
Term used to indicate that a product and/or its components can later be re-used, such as in the creation of a new product. For a manufacturer to make this claim for a product, it must be practical for the product to be collected and re-used.
Term that refers to a proportion (in cost or weight) of recycled materials in a product.
Material that has been diverted (pre-consumer or post-consumer) from the landfill and re-processed into a new product.
Material that can be renewed naturally – such as wood, fiber, plant-based plastics and bio-based fuels. Renewable energy refers to energy sources that are inexhaustible or can be replaced by new growth, such as wind and solar energy.
Term used to describe the ability of an object or material (such as a Coil or padding layer) to spring back to its original form.
Refers to a type of Portable Air Bed filled with sponge-like foam that self-expands as air is let into the mattress.
Term used to describe a Waterbed whose Bladder contains a relatively small amount of Fiber Filling such that the motion of the water is reduced by roughly 50% relative to the motion in a Free Flow waterbed.
Term referring to a mattress and a Foundation. Also referred to as a sleep set.
See Twin Extra Long.
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.
Term used to describe a mattress cover that isn't Quilted.
Waterbed design featuring a Bladder surrounded by sturdy Foam Encasing and Upholstery, making its external appearance resemble that of a traditional Innerspring Mattress. Sometimes referred to as a Hybrid.
See Innerspring Mattress.
Mattress size that measures 48"W by 84"L. Significantly wider and longer than a standard Twin, which measures 39"W by 75"L.
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. See our Support Guide to determine the best level of support for you.
Type of Latex that 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.
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.
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. See our Coil Guide to learn more about coil construction and what to look for in mattress coils.
Outer layer of fabric that encases the mattress and/or Foundation. Common types of ticking include Damask and Knit. Also referred to as the Cover. See our Upholstery Guide to learn more about the key elements of mattress upholstery and how they differ across mattresses.
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.
Mattress size that measures 39"W by 80"L. Sometimes referred to as single extra long.
Term used by GoodBed to describe an extremely high-end Luxury Mattress, containing numerous specialized materials, extra features, hand-crafting and/or customization. Although mattresses can sometimes possess such features at more modest price points, GoodBed typically reserves the 'ultra-luxury' classification for mattresses that retail at or above $5,000 in a queen size model.
Term used to describe a Waterbed whose Bladder contains a large amount of Fiber Filling such that the motion of the water is reduced by 95% or more relative to the motion in a Free Flow waterbed, allowing for virtually no movement of the water from one side of the bed to the other.
Refers to all soft layers in a mattress, including Insulation, Cushioning, Quilting and Ticking. Generally provides the mattress with its Comfort. See our Upholstery Guide for more about the various components of mattress upholstery and to learn how upholstery differs across mattress models.
Metal or plastic screens or eyelets placed in the sides of a mattress to allow air to pass through more easily.
See Memory Foam.
Gas emissions from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals which the EPA states may have short- or long-term adverse health effect to humans. See Chemicals of Concern.
Type of Adjustable Bed designed to maintain its alignment with bedside tables as its position is changed. Works by shifting the bed backward toward the wall as the head is elevated.
A statement written by the manufacturer indicating the terms under which they will fix certain flaws in the design, materials and construction of a mattress. Generally does not offer protection against normal wear and tear or general deteriorations in Comfort. See our Warranty Guide to learn how warranties work and what to look for in a mattress warranty.
Type of bed distinguished by its use of liquid, rather than Coils, for Support. See our Waterbed Guide for more information on the different types of waterbeds and their various features and benefits.
A material commonly found in the Quilting or Upholstery layers of a mattress. Due to its natural fire-resistant qualities, a layer of wool is often placed just beneath the Ticking in order to meet federal fire standards with minimal use of chemicals.