Mattress Glossary

Adjustable Bed
A special base unit designed to raise and lower via remote control.  Typically you can raise the back and raise the legs as well, most adjustable bases come with pretty cool features like massage, pre-set positions perfect for lounging in bed or watching TV, working on a laptop, etc.

Many individuals with acid reflux issues invest in a good adjustable base since they often have to sleep at an elevated angle.  Propping themselves up with pillows grows tiresome and they find that an adjustable base tends to keep them in a better position.

Bonnell Coil Innerspring
One of the original designs for a mattress innerspring.  Each coil is shaped like an hourglass.  Also known as an “open” coil.  Can be seen in the least expensive mattresses all the way up to the most expensive mattresses in the world, commonly as a lower support system.

Border Rod
A steel wire that surrounds the perimeter of the innerspring system, creating a strong seating edge.

Box Spring
Something of a misnomer in the industry, many box springs are not technically “box springs” as they don’t have any springs in them.  Instead, they usually have torsion modules that form a grid and are slightly flexible.  Most manufacturers call them “foundations.”  To give an analogy, foundations work like shocks on a car.  They absorb about half the weight, help the mattress last longer, and help the mattress feel the way it should feel.  Some higher-end manufacturers are still producing box springs with real springs in them.

Bunkie Board
A “miniature” foundation approximately 2 inches thick.  These are reinforced wood foundations that are covered just like a box spring.  Mostly used for platform beds and bunk beds to provide a stable surface for the mattress.

California King
The “standard” king size in California measuring 72” x 84”.  The purpose of the California King is not for “taller” people, it was actually designed to free up space in the bedroom.  Since it’s narrower than the regular King, also known as the Eastern King, it takes up less wall space, allowing for more room for nightstands or other furniture.

Coils
A system of spirals of steel wire that make up an innerspring unit.  The majority of mattresses produced today are still made with coils.

Coil Count
The number of total coils in a mattress.  While a lot of people mistakenly believe that the higher the coil count, the better the mattress, this is actually not necessarily the case.  The type of coil and construction is a much more reliable indicator of quality.  Gauge, craftsmanship and design are often much better indicators of quality.  The coil count usually refers to the number of coils in a queen size mattress.

Convoluted Foam
Foam that looks like an “egg crate” because of the dimples throughout the top layer.  These are designed to increase comfort and reduce pressure points.  They are also said to improve circulation.

Helical Wires
Steel wires in a mattress that run head to toe, typically used in offset coil or continuous coil constructions in an attempt to reduce motion transfer.

Latex Mattress
A milky substance harvested from the Havea brasiliensis tree typically grown in tropical climates around the world, used to create “natural” latex, “synthetic” latex, or “blended” latex.  Latex is often confused with memory foam — it is not memory foam.  Latex is defined as: any of several natural or synthetic colloidal polymers suspended in an aqueous solution.  In simple terms:  rubber particles in water.

Memory Foam
Short for “visco elastic memory foam,” which is a temperature sensitive, extremely dense, slow recovery foam that conforms to the body according to weight.  Originally developed by NASA and turned into a commercial product by Tempur-Pedic, memory foam tends to “firm up” where you need it, and “soften” where you need it, keeping your body in a more natural alignment.  So your shoulders and hips will sink down further, while the memory foam “fills in” the gap between your lower back and the mattress, helping to keep you in a natural position with virtually no pressure points.