Innerspring mattresses are the most commonly used mattress designs because they provide both good support and ventilation. Innerspring mattresses offer firm edge-to-edge support, and they are less likely to cave inwards at the midsection compared to foam mattresses. Because they allow air to circulate, coil spring mattresses are also very good at regulating heat.
Innerspring mattresses have a core comprised of steel coils often between layers of cushioning. These mattresses do not off-gas VOCs and they are commonly flippable (two-sided/reversible) and therefore they are more durable than foam mattresses. However, innerspring mattresses lack body contouring cushioning, and they can be squeaky. With the exception of pocket springs, most innerspring mattresses are not very good at isolating motion transfer.
There are four major types of spring coils: continuous, Bonnell (open), offset, and pocket (encased). Continuous coils are comprised of hardened steel wires that run across the length or width of a mattress in rows. These types of coils offer low-grade support and poor motion-isolating ability. Bonnell coils are interconnected steel springs in an hourglass configuration. This coil design provides moderate support and better motion-isolating ability than continuous coils. Offset coils are hinged coils that are better at body contouring and motion-isolation than either continuous or Bonnell coils. Pocket springs are individually encased coils each of which acts independently to provide superior motion-isolating properties. These mattresses are often characterized as the most comfortable.
Hybrid mattresses combine the benefits of both innerspring and memory foam. They have a coil support system like innerspring mattresses, and they also have a layer of memory foam for added comfort. Hybrid mattresses use different materials so, for example, the top layer could be comprised of memory foam, polyfoam, or quilted polyester fill while the support base could be constructed of pocket springs or Bonnell coils.
The combination of springs and cushioning provide a balance of both bounce and body contouring with less sinkage than most mattresses made entirely of foam. Hybrid mattresses are not as good as foam mattresses when it comes to motion transfer, but this can be minimized with hybrids that incorporate pocket springs.
Step 2: Find the right type of mattress for your bed or platform
If your mattress requires a base, you should choose one that works with your mattress to provide both support and comfort. There are 3 major types of mattress bases: Box spring, slat base and bunks/lofts/daybeds.
A box spring is a type of mattress foundation typically consisting of a wood or metal frame covered in cloth and containing springs. A box spring can provide additional bounce and support, its major advantage is that it helps to absorb shock. A box spring is recommended for traditional innerspring mattresses.
A slat bed base has a series of connected bars that lie across the width of the frame. These slats work together to support your mattress. The advantage of a slat base is that it provides support while promoting air flow. Slats should be close enough together to provide support for the mattress, but far enough apart to allow air to circulate freely (a standard slat spacing is 2-3 inches). The width of the slats can also impact mattress support. Wider slats provide more surface area for the mattress to rest on, while narrower slats offer less support. Memory foam mattresses should be placed on a slatted base to ensure proper air flow.
Bunk Beds and Loft Beds
There is often a maximum recommended thickness (height) for mattresses used on bunk beds and loft beds since the top of your mattress must be at least 5 inches shorter than the top of the safety rails on your top bunk or loft bed. A 6 inch mattress or less is often a safe choice for these types of beds.
Step 3: Choose the right mattress size
Your space dictates the size of your mattress. Unless you are adding a mattress to an existing bed frame, determining the maximum possible size of your mattress starts with measuring the room in which you will be adding a bed. So, for example, you can’t put a 42 square foot king bed into a 7 x 9 foot room, when it requires a room that is at least 12 x 12 feet.
Your mattress must not only fit within a given space, it must also fit alongside the other furnishings and decor in your room. Be careful not to overwhelm the space or restrict walking access. Make sure to allow a minimum of 2 feet around the perimeter of the bed. Here is a table that summarizes the minimum room requirements and room suggestions for different standard mattress sizes.