Mattress Terms and Definitions

Mattress terms

There are so many product terms thrown around when mattress shopping. Now what do they all mean?

We spend more time in the bedroom than any other part of the home. Viewpoints defines the mattress terms you are likely to hear on your mattress shopping journey.

Product definitions


Indicates the mattress has been chemically treated to prevent the growth of bacteria, dust mites and mold.


Several layers of cotton felt.


Term that refers to the chamber which holds water in a waterbed.

Box spring

A foundation for a mattress which consists of coils mounted on a wood frame with no padding.

California king

Mattress that measures 72″W by 84″L. Slightly narrower and longer than a standard king which measures 76″W by 80″L.


A fabric used to cover mattresses that typically has a design printed onto it.

Coil count

Refers to the total number of coils in an innerspring mattress.


Heavy duty wires formed into a coil spring that form the supportive core of an innerspring mattress.

Continuous coil

A design where each row of coils is constructed from a single wire shaped into a series of S-shaped springs.


Refers to the underlying support layer of a mattress.


Measurement of weight over volume.


The length of time a mattress will continue to provide adequate support.


A term used to describe the softness or hardness of a mattress’ surface.


The act of periodically turning over and/or rotating a mattress.

Foam core

Slab of foam below the surface layer of a mattress which functions as the main support system.


Mattress that measures 54″W by 75″L.


A measurement of the thickness of the wire used in a coil. The lower the gauge, the thicker/heavier the wire.


Indicates the mattress is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Innerspring Mattress

This is the most common type of mattress on the market. Also known as a spring mattress.


Mattress that measures 76″W by 80″L.


Term that describes the height and fluffiness of a material or padding.

Memory foam

A type of high-density polyurethane foam known for its sensitivity to weight and temperature.  Memory foam mattresses have a delayed resiliency and conform very closely to the shape of your body.

Offset coil

Type of coil that has an hourglass shape designed to contour more to your body.


A thick, soft layer of foam, cotton or wool that is attached loosely over the entire surface of the mattress for extra comfort and padding.

Pocketed coils

Innerspring mattresses that have individually wrapped coils in separate fabric pockets.


A mattress that includes additional support in the center as a way to prevent sagging.

Pressure points

Specific places on the body where blood flow is restricted due to pressure from the mattress.


Mattress that measures 60″W by 80″L. Currently the most common mattress size.


The top-most layer of padding inside the mattress.

Recovery time

Refers to how quickly a foam mattress returns to its original shape after being compressed.


Term which refers to the loss of support in a certain section of the mattress.

Spring wire

The strong, durable wires used to make  coils for an innerspring mattress.


Material made by a chemical process, rather than created in nature.

Synthetic latex

Type of latex that is made through a chemical process using petroleum-based materials.


Process by which coils are treated to ensure that they return to their original shape and height.


Outer layer of fabric that encases the mattress and/or box spring.


Stitching that holds the mattress padding in place.


Mattress that measures 39″W by 75″L. Sometimes referred to as a single bed.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Gas emissions from materials that contain certain chemicals which the EPA states may have adverse health effect to humans.

Amanda Bryant (56 Posts)

Amanda Bryant is a design professional with an interest and expertise in products for the home and office. She is founder and principal of HangItUp Chicago, a fine art rental business partnering exclusively with Chicago-area companies.