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Mattress Glossary

Shopping for a mattress can be complicated. Many times sales people will use words you don't quite understand. We have prepared this glossary of the most used mattress terms to help make shopping for a mattress an enjoyable experience.



Adjustable Bed: A type of bed that can be adjusted into various positions for the perfect comfort.

Adjustable Bed Frame: Frame of bed that moves into different positions to provide a more comfortable resting position.

Air Bed: Bed that gives support and comfort by using air-filled chambers.

Antimicrobial: A chemical process used to lessen bacteria and deter dust mites.

Allergen Reduction: Foam mattresses provide a natural reduction in allergen build-up in the mattress because of the process used in making them, whether open or closed cell foam by reducing the ability of the allergens to penetrate the mattress.

Articulation: The points on an adjustable bed that move.

Avena: Newest type of foam mattress. More eco-friendly, fire-retardant, and more breathable than other foam mattresses.


Bed Frame: Metal or wood frame that is used to support the mattress and foundation or box spring.

Body Impression: Compression of a mattress from where pressure is placed by the sleeper. Indication of needing a new mattress.

Box Spring: Traditional support for a mattress. Still popular today.

Bunk Bed: A two-tiered wood or metal frame designed to accommodate two mattresses, typically twin-size, one above the other. Some models allow the upper and lower units to be detached and used as separate beds. Very popular now is a twin/Queen combination.

Bunkie Board: Lightly padded board that is used instead of a box spring to provide support for a mattress and/or a lower profile.


California King: Mattress size that measures 72"W by 84"L. Slightly narrower and longer than a standard King, which measures 76"W by 80"L. California king mattress

Coils: Spirals of steel wire that make up the innerspring system of the mattress. Coils provide support for the sleeper.

Coil Count: The total number of coils in an innerspring mattress.

Comfort Layer: The quilt and upholstery layers of the mattress that contain the various foams that determine the comfort of the mattress.

Continuous Coil: Each row of coils is made from a single piece of wire. This promotes strength and stability.

Convoluted Support Foam: Foam that is machine-perforated to provide breathability.

Cooling Gel: Water based polymer that pulls excess heat from the body to keep you cooler while sleeping.


Daybed: Dual-Purpose bed that functions as a couch and converts to a bed.

Delivery – Boxed or White Glove: Boxed: Mattress is delivered to your curb, you take it into your home and place it where you want it. White Glove: Mattress is delivered and put in place, sometimes old mattress is removed at the same time.

Density: Mass per unit of volume. How much material is in the measured amount. The higher the density, the better the mattress, in general.

Double Mattress: Same as a Full Mattress.

Double Sided Mattress: A mattress designed so both sides are suitable for sleeping. Makes flipping the mattress end-over-end possible.

Dunlop Process: One of two processes used to make foam mattresses. You can equate Dunlop to pound cake versus angel food cake.



Edge Break Down: Refers to the loss of support around the outer edge of a mattress. Over time it will seem like you’re rolling/sliding off of the mattress.

Edge Guard: Plastic mounted on the mattress edges which provide extra support and protects the mattress cover.

Euro Top: Similar to a pillow top, the difference being that the Euro Top is sewn into the mattress seamlessly, whereas the pillow top is semi-separated.


Fire Retardant: A material applied to a mattress in order to reduce its flammability. Since 2007, all mattresses in the United States are required to meet stict fire retardant standards.

Firm Mattress: Contains less foam and other materials which produces a firm sleeping surface.

Firmness: Describes the overall “feel” of a mattress.

Flipping: Rotating or turning a mattress. Helps reduce body impressions over time.

Foams and Fibers: Padding materials made of various components to enhance the cushioning or “feel” of a mattress.

Foam Encasement: Rails of stiff foam around the perimeter of the mattress. Helps prevent against edge break-down and provides a larger sleeping area.

Foundation: Another name for a box spring.

Full: Sometimes called a “double bed” is bigger than a twin bed (a.k.a. single bed) and smaller than a queen-size bed. A full size bed is 54 inches wide by 75 inches long. full mattress

Full Extra Long: Mattress size that measures 54"W by 80"L. Also referred to as double extra long.

Futon: Flexible mattress that can be folded and used as seating or bedding depending upon how the frame is adjusted.



Gauge: Refers to the thickness of coils in an innerspring mattress. The lower the gauge, the thicker the wire. Innerspring mattresses are typically made from 12.5 to 17.0 gauge wire.

Gel Foam Mattress: Foam infused with a special gel which creates extra comfort.


Hybrid Mattress: Combines the best features both types of mattress. Has the innerspring on the bottom of the mattress with a foam top.


Impression: Breaksown of upholstery and quilt layers of a mattress.

Indention Force Deflection (IFD): Measurement of foam firmness.

Innerspring: Wire coils inside a mattress that provide flexibility and support. Transfer of motion when two people sleep on the same bed is an issue for some.



King Size: Measures 76"W by 80"L, and is the largest commercial mattress size available. Sixteen inches wider than a queen bed. King Mattress


Latex: Spongy material produced from rubber. Latex is typically used in high-end mattresses.

Low-Profile Box Spring: Shorter than a traditional box spring. Low-Profile box springs are typically 5.5 inches compared to the nine inches of a standard box spring.

Low-Profile Foundation: Shorter than a traditional foundation. Low-Profile foundations are typically 5.5 inches compared to nine inches of a standard foundation.



Mattress Handles: Faric handles on a mattress which make rotating and postioning the mattress easier.

Mattress Height: Measurement of the height of a mattress. Typically rendered in inches.

Mattress Protector: Pads designed to protect the mattress from stains, dust, and debris. Available in many styles and materials.

Mattress Topper: Additional layer put on firm mattresses to provide a softer, more comfortable bed.

Memory Foam: High-density polyurethane foam that conforms closely to the shape of the sleeper.

Motion Separation: Degree of motion transfer from one side of a mattress to the other.

Murphy Bed: Primarily used for small spaces, the bed can be stored vertically to give more living space when not in use.


Natural Latex: See Talalay.

No-Flip Mattress: Constructed so only one side is fit for sleeping. Must be rotated, but do not require flipping end-over-end.


Open Cell Foam: A type of foam that provides a more comfortable sleep experience by keeping the body cooler than a closed-cell foam mattress.


Pillow Top: Extra layer placed on the mattress for a softer, more comfortable feel.

Pincore Holes: Deep, cylindrical holes spread throughout a Latex mattress to help soften its feel. Larger pincore holes create a softer feel.

Platform Bed: A bed that does not need a box spring, as it has support for the mattress built in.

Plush Mattress: Very similar to a firm mattress, but contains more cushioning for a softer feel.

Pocketed Innerspring: Coils are wrapped individually, providing flexibility, support, and less motion transfer if two people are on the bed.

Pressure Relief: The primary need when shopping for a mattress is how well it relieves pressure on the primary points of contact. (Shoulders and hips.)

Prorated Warranty: Mattress Warranty that does not cover the full mattress purchase price or replacement value, depending on the use and other factors involved.



Queen Size: Mattress size that measures 60"W by 80"L. Currently the most common mattress size. Queen Mattress

Queen Split: Bed that consists of two mattresses, each 30" wide x 80" long. Rare to find.

Quilt: Upholstery layers, fibers, and cover of the top of a mattress.


Recovery Time: Term used to describe the speed with which a material returns to its original shape after being compressed.

Responsiveness: How quickly the mattress adjusts to changes in pressure. Quicker is better, this is the main feature that helps keep you comfortable on a foam mattress.


Sagging: Occurs when springs of an innerspring mattress breakdown.

Set: Refers to a mattress and box spring.

Single Mattress: Same as a Twin Mattress.

Split King: Bed that consists of two Twin Extra Long mattresses, each 39" wide x 80" long.

Super Single: Mattress size that measures 48"W by 84"L. Significantly wider and longer than a standard Twin, which measures 39"W by 75"L. Rare to find.

Support: How the mattress distributes and stabilizes body weight and maintains proper body alignment.

Support System: Typically an innerspring system or foam core center. Various types of support systems are available depending on mattress manufacturer and mattress line.


Talalay Process (Natural Latex): A natural liquid rubber latex that is used in manufacturing memory foam mattresses. This type of mattress does not contain VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). It is valued because of this because it does not use petroleum products. You can equate Talalay to angel food cake vs. the pound cake feel of a Dunlop mattress.

Tape Edge: The cord-like seam that runs along the edges of the mattress surface.

Tempur *TM: Trademarked brand by Sealy that was first developed by and used in applications for NASA.

Ticking: Fabrics for covering mattresses and foundations.

Tight Top Mattress: Another name for a Firm Mattress.

Topper: A removable bedding that sits on top of your mattress providing more comfort.

Trial Period: A time frame in which a customer may test the mattress for comfort.

Trundle Bed: A bed that is stored underneath a Day Bed for an extra mattress as needed.

Twin: Mattress size that measures 39"W by 75"L. Sometimes referred to as a single bed. twin mattress

Twin Extra Long: Mattress size that measures 39"W by 80"L. Sometimes referred to as single extra long. twin xl mattress



Visco-Elastic Foam: Another name for memory foam. They conform to the body and distribute pressure using body heat and dynamics. Denser foams are preferable, as they provide support but do not let you sink too far into the mattress, making it difficult to adjust position.


Warranty: Companies provide written assurance that the product they offer will maintain the characteristics as advertised, or will repair/replace the item purchased by the original buyer.