Autumn/Winter - Beds & Mattresses Buying Guide

Beds & Mattresses

A Guide to Buying Beds and Mattresses

Available Size Options for Beds

Small Single Single Small Double Double King Size Super King Zip & Link
2ft 6 x 6ft3 3ft x 6ft 3 4 ft x 6ft 3 4 ft x 6ft 3 5ft x 6ft 6 6 ft x 6ft 6 6ft x 6ft 6
75x190cms 75 x190cms 75x190cms 135x190cms 150x200cms 180x200cms 180x200cms

You may also have heard beds categorised as 'Queen', 'King', or 'Emperor' size, but the vast majority of suppliers and retailers currently work to the above size classifications.


Don't Compromise - The most important piece of advice that I could offer you above and beyond all the technical specifications, is not to compromise on quality.

A new mattress should be seen as an investment not an expense. A good mattress can last up to 10 years +, so it's worth making a serious investment in your new purchase.

This doesn't mean buying the most expensive mattress on the market, just the best that you can afford. Even if you're working within a budget, you should aim to buy the best that your budget will allow.

Price is reflected in quality when it comes to mattresses and it therefore follows that the more expensive your mattress is, the higher the quality of the fillings and fabric coverings used in its construction will be. Good quality fillings, combined with good quality coverings, work together to provide a great night's sleep, and afford the consumer the benefit of waking up refreshed and ready for the new day ahead.

If you break it down over a ten year period, then in reality every £100 that you spend on a mattress, represents just 2.7p a night over those 10 years - a small price to pay for a good night's sleep wouldn't you say?

Mattress Fillings

  • Today mattresses are manufactured using a range of fillings, designed to provide comfort & support.
  • All mattresses manufactured for the UK market are designed to pass UK regulated flammability tests which are far more stringent than those of Europe and the rest of the world.
  • Polyester is the most popular filling of choice as it is non-allergenic and can be manufactured to a range of weights, densities and thicknesses to provide variable comfort levels.
  • Felt, manufactured from re-cycled textile fibres, is generally used as an insulator and covering for firm spring mattresses as it provides a good foundation.
  • As mattresses increase in complexity of construction and therefore quality, more and more natural fibres are incorporated into the mattress including Wool, Silk, Cashmere, Horse Hair, Camel hair and Coir Fibre (Coconut) etc., etc. Mattress design and technology has never been more innovative.

Match your Mattress to your Bed Frame or Divan Base

bed If you already have a bedstead in good condition, it may be that you only need a mattress to suit your comfort level and budget.

However, if you have or need a divan base then the mattress needs to be matched to the type of divan base that you have. Modern divan bases and mattresses are designed to complement each other in terms of comfort, support and good posture, so it may be necessary with existing, older, divan bases to replace them as, you will not get the full benefit of the features of a new mattress alone, so it is advisable to replace both.

bed Divans act as bases for mattresses and either have springs which allow the mattress to adapt to the body's contours, or a solid top which provides firmer support.

Divan bases offer simple, generic interior style and are also useful space savers for small rooms, as they often have drawers which offer a valuable solution to storage space.

For more detailed information on buying divan bases, bed frames and mattresses see our on-line bed buying guides:
Buying Guide for Beds
Buying Guide for Mattresses

What type of mattress is best for you?

There are essentially two types of mattress - sprung or foam, but with varying levels of support. Here's a breakdown of the two types and their options:

Sprung Mattresses

Open Coil Mattresses (most commonly known as the Bonnell Spring System)

  • This is the most commonly-used springing system in the world for budget to mid priced mattresses.
  • The specifications of sprung mattresses are classified in "Guages". This refers to the number of coils (or springs) contained within a specified area of the mattress.
  • There are two specifications - 13.5 gauge and 12.5 gauge
  • The 13.5 gauge provides a soft feel mattress which is ideal for children and teenagers.
  • The 12.5 gauge provides a 'medium firm' feel and is therefore better suited for older teenagers and adults.
  • More often than not, 'Open Coil' mattresses will contain the 'softer' 15 gauge spring system.
  • In a good quality open coils mattress, a border in the form of a wire frame, running around the entire spring system, gives the mattress a firm edge and helps to retain its shape as well as providing edge-to-edge support.
  • More budget range sprung mattresses will be framed with a plastic edge and on only two sides.
  • The finish on these type of sprung mattresses will normally be a quilted and machine stitched covering, rather than a hand-stitched one, to keep them within an affordable price range.
  • Many of these types of mattresses will only have handles and air vents on the higher quality/specification models.

Pocket Sprung Mattresses

  • Pocket Sprung Mattresses are more luxurious than open coil mattresses, as the springs are housed within individual fabric pockets.
  • The springs work independently to respond to individual body weight.
  • The specifications on pocket sprung mattresses refer to spring counts from 600 to 10,000 (and more) to suit all comfort levels and price points and are suitable for older teenagers and adults.
  • All spring counts are based on a standard King Size mattress (150cms x 200cms or 5'0" x 6'6") and the biggest majority of pocket sprung mattresses will fall into the 1,000 to 2,000 spring count range.
  • Generally a 1000 spring count (and below) will provide a 'comfort' (soft) feel, 1500 spring count a 'medium firm' feel and 2000 spring count a 'firm' feel.
  • Pocket sprung mattresses often have hand stitched sides which provide strong, stable edges and within the industry, hand stitching is considered to be a visible measure of the craftsmanship and quality of a mattress.
  • Pocket Sprung mattresses are usually manufactured with handles and air vents, which further add to the quality and durability of the product.
  • Above 2000 spring count, mattresses are manufactured with layers of shallow pocket springs, allowing manufacturers to produce a more luxurious and specifically tailored range of mattresses. This quality of mattress will often incorporate more natural fillings such as wool, silk and cashmere, all adding to the 'feel' and luxuriousness of the mattresses and of course the cost.
  • Mattresses with a 2000+ spring count are recommended if there is a size difference between you and your partner, as they minimises the risk of you rolling towards each other during the night.

Miracoil Spring System

  • The Miracoil Spring System is unique to Silentnight Beds and is very well established as it has been in manufacture for over 20 years.
  • A Miracoil spring mattress is manufactured using a continuous wire, running from the head to the foot of the mattress. This continuous wire is formed into 'spring-like' shapes and each continuous wire length is joined onto the next by the use of a spiral helical wire - similar to an Open Coil spring unit.
  • This system creates a firm feel mattress, so additional filling layers are used to achieve a more comfortable Miracoil mattress, where a softer feel is required.

Posture Spring Mattresses

  • This is another continuous wire spring system, specifically manufactured by Slumberland Beds

Sealy Posturepaedic

  • This unique spring system used by Sealy Beds is a form of Open Coil mattress, but manufactured in a smaller form, providing a higher spring count which allows for greater body support.
  • The Sealy system varies the mattress feel by varying the thickness of the wire used in the spring construction.

Foam Mattresses

Visco-Elastic Mattresses (most commonly known as Memory Foam)

  • 'Memory Foam' is a product originally designed for NASA in the 1960's to help support Astronauts during their long flights.
  • Essentially very dense foam, it uses heat sensitive technology that responds to the warmth and weight of the body. Body heat softens the foam allowing it to mould to your contours, ultimately providing all the necessary support and desired comfort that you need for a restful night's sleep.
  • Hypo-allergenic with anti-microbial properties.
  • Provides support and enables natural movement during sleep
  • Helps to maintain correct posture and align spine horizontally when lying on your side
  • Although there is no medical evidence to support it, memory foam mattresses and pillows are favoured by many people who suffer with back and neck problems as they can reduce the pressure on the spine and subsequently aid pain relief.
  • Good quality Memory Foam mattresses are generally constructed with a layer of memory foam on top that is either 25mm or 50mm thick (approximately).
  • Generally memory Foam mattresses are designed as a non-turn mattress, as due to the cost of the Memory Foam itself, mattresses are constructed with the foam on the top only.
  • Memory Foam mattresses are manufactured with varying densities of memory foam, resulting in differing mattress feels, comfort levels and of course cost.
  • Cheaper memory Foam mattresses will not state the depth of Memory Foam used and this can sometimes be as little as 5mm.
  • Memory foam mattresses are very warm to sleep on. However, this is often considered to be a negative point. The foam retains body heat and prevents air flow though the mattress, subsequently creating heat build up which is not desirable during the warmer months of the year. New developments have thus seen the introduction of a range of Blue Cool Memory Foams and cool touch coverings, designed to keep the body cool during sleep.

Latex Foam Mattresses

  • The use of natural Latex is a relatively recent development.
  • Natural Latex is being used in a mattress to replace Memory Foam, providing for a more natural sleeping surface and the elimination of heat build-up.
  • Latex is a natural product, more expensive than memory foam and is therefore used in high quality, higher value mattresses and beds.

Roll Packed Foam and Memory Foam Mattresses

  • Since their conception, production techniques and specifications have improved dramatically and now both Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Systems can be incorporated into the mattresses.
  • These types of mattresses are ideal for all types of users from children and teenagers to adults.
  • Generally these mattresses come with a zipped removable cover that can be dry-cleaned, sponged, washed or replaced, depending upon its quality and the manufacturer's care instructions.

For more detailed information on buying mattresses see our on-line mattress buying guide at

Beds and Bedding Read More

Take a look at our some of my hand picked selections of beds and bedding.

Terrys Fabrics
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