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Mattress Matters

You can’t beat a good night’s sleep – it leaves you feeling fit, thinking sharply and happy! The foundation of good sleep is a comfortable bed and the right mattress. It can be the difference between a restorative night’s sleep and poor quality sleep that results in tiredness and fatigue. Research shows that sleeping on an uncomfortable bed could rob you of up to an hour’s sleep – yet the deterioration may be so gradual and invisible that many people fail to make the connection between an uncomfortable bed and poor sleep.

There are literally thousands of beds from which to choose and there's no such thing as the perfect type of bed for a particular condition or situation (e.g. one ideal bed for a back pain sufferer). Although we have laid out all product descriptions very carefully to make the process simpler, only you can make the final, important decision – so take your time, read the product descriptions carefully, compare the different types and materials available and make the decision wisely!

Here's a guide to selecting the best mattress for yourself:

First things first

Signs you need a new mattress...

A mattress’s life span is affected by several factors such as the quality, care and amount you use it (e.g. reading, watching TV and sleeping each night versus occasional use of a spare bed). Changes in lifestyle (marriage, new home) and in our bodies (losing or gaining weight, ageing, etc) can also necessitate a change of bed. Here’s a few things to consider:

  • Have you had your mattress more than seven years?
  • Do you wake up with stiffness and/or aches and pains?
  • Are you sleeping as well as you did a year ago?
  • Have you had a better night’s sleep in a bed other than yours?
  • Does your mattress show signs of visible wear and tear (it sags, is lumpy etc)?

Things to considers...

Now that you've decided that you need a new mattress, here's what you need to consider:

Mattress Type

What do you like or dislike about your existing mattress? Do you prefer a firmer or softer feel?


Always shop for the best value not the lowest price! Of course, there are some perfectly acceptable, lower priced mattresses available (far preferable to an unhygienic second hand bed shaped to someone else’s body) but the better the construction, the better the support and comfort and the longer the bed will last.

Size matters

Did you know that two people sharing a standard double size bed have only as much personal sleeping space as a baby in a cot? With a larger bed you are less likely to disturb your partner. You should be able to lie side by side, with your arms behind your head and your elbows out, without touching. Your bed should also be 4-6in (10-15cm) longer than the tallest partner. We sell beds up to Super Kingsize and also custom European Sizes.

Check dimensions

Bed sizes are not standardised and even if they have the same name (eg Kingsize), they may not be the same size – especially if the mattress and base are not from the same manufacturer. European common sizes are different and many imported bedsteads come in European sizes.

Small Single 2’6” x 6’3” 75 x 190 cm
Single 3’ x 6’3” 90 x 190 cm
Small Double 4' x 6’3” 120 x 190 cm
Double 4’6” x 6’3” 135 x 200 cm
Kingsize 5’ x 6’6” 150 x 200 cm
Super Kingsize 6’ x 6’6” 180 x 200 cm
N.B. Metric and imperial sizes are not exact equivalents
After sales service

Can’t decide between two or three equally suitable products? All Home Done items comes with a 14-Day Money Back Guarantee which means if you're not satisfied with your purchase or simply want to exchange it with another, you can be sure we will do it for you! One important advice is, try the mattress without removing its plastic packaging in case you need to return or exchange it for another. Most manufacturers are a little apprehensive about accepting returns on mattresses where the packaging has been removed due to hygiene reasons. Many will still happily accept a return but help yourself by making it easier for the manufacturer to say yes!

Mattress Fundamentals - On the Outside

The Cover

The first thing you’ll notice about a mattress is its cover – known in the trade as ticking. Manufacturers spend a lot of time choosing attractive colours and designs so their mattresses will look good – but remember that 99% of the time it will be covered up with bed clothes! The ticking is not just there for its good looks: it also needs to be tough and tear resistant. Better quality cloths are woven or knitted in high quality viscose or cotton yarns. Cheaper cloths in polyester or polypropylene are often printed. At the budget end of the market are bonded or stitchbond fabrics and some cheaper knits. Ticking with special qualities is now also increasingly being used by mattress manufacturers. Some of the options include antidust mite/anti-allergy, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-static, breathable, water resistant, stain resistant, highly absorbent, naturally fire retardant etc. But one of the most popular options are tickings that offer effective thermal regulation through moisture wicking and evaporation technology. There are now quite a few companies offering performance fabrics that move perspiration away from the body and through the fabric where it can evaporate quickly allowing you to feel cooler and more comfortable.

Quilting or tufting

Most mattresses are finished by either quilting or tufting. Quilting is a decorative effect attaching the outer fabric to the surface fillings; these mattresses tend to have a smoother, flatter surface. Tufting – where tapes are passed right through the mattress at regular intervals and secured each side by tags or washers – prevents loose fillings from being dislodged. The side panels of some higher quality mattresses, particularly traditionally pocket sprung mattresses, are hand side stitched. This traditional skill and lengthy process improves mattress edge support and extends the sleeping area to the very edge of the mattress.

Mattress Fundamentals - On the Inside

There are essentially two main types of mattress construction – those with and those without springs.


The majority of mattresses in the UK have spring interiors, which provide the ‘core’ support. Changing the spring construction, thickness (gauge) of the wire, the number of coils, height of each spring and the quantity alters the tension, feel and weight distribution properties of each mattress. Spring interior mattresses can be ‘zoned’ – across the middle to give extra support for heavier hips and shoulders; half and half, to provide different tensions on each side of the bed; or round the edge of the mattress to give it extra rigidity. Different tensions can be achieved within the same mattress. Some units also allow the user to adjust the mattress tension themselves.

There are three main types of spring interiors:

Open coil or open sprung
  • Most widely used option, also known as the Bonnell spring.
  • Springs are arranged in rows and connected to one another, top and bottom, by a spiral helical wire with an outer rod strengthening the perimeter.
  • There are usually a minimum of 325 coils in a 5ft/150cm size but some mattresses may have more. - Come in a choice of tensions, starting from a very firm 12.5 gauge wire.
  • Priced from budget to mid range.
Continuous spring
  • The continuous spring unit is made from a single length of wire ‘knitted’ into a series of interwoven springs which usually run up and down the bed and are linked vertically rather than horizontally.
  • The gauge of wires used is softer and the size of the ‘coils’ smaller than open coil, giving a higher spring count and a more responsive feel.
  • Priced from mid market to premium.
Pocket spring
  • Small, softer springs that work independently from each other.
  • Conforms and adjusts to body contours.
  • Helps eliminate roll together.
  • Spring counts typically vary from 600-800 up to 2,500 but can go up to 3 or even 4,000. Like other types they are made in a range of tensions.
  • Often more expensive and used mainly in higher quality products.
  • Better quality pocket springs are encased in calico pockets, hand nested in a honeycomb pattern and hand centre tied with linen cord.
  • Less expensive pocket springs are encased in fibretex or stitchbond fabrics and are lightly glued together in linear rows

A relatively new development in spring is the extra low profile, mini spring – which can have a height under 3cm (1in). These units offer an alternative to fillings in providing a highly resilient comfort layer. They can also be stacked together to form a very soft, high spring count mattress core.

Shop for Spring Mattresses

Coil Sprung Mattresses Pocket Sprung Mattresses Sprung and Foam Mattresses

Interior sprung mattresses use a wide variety of fillings to create different properties and comfort options, as well as affecting price. Fillings are chosen for their resilience, durability, flexibility, and ability to absorb body moisture. In cheaper mattresses, fillings usually come in compact pads; in better quality models, layers of loose fillings in greater volumes are often preferred.

Filling Function
Cotton Often used near the surface for its soft feel and its ability to breathe, and to absorb moisture.
Wool Naturally resilient fibre, creating a luxurious feel with good fire retardancy properties, it is also breathable.
Foam Different types of foam are used for their cushioning effect. They include latex, polyurethane and visco-elastic (memory foam).
Polyester A synthetic material with good recovery properties.
Hair Highly resilient fibre, often described as “nature’s spring”. Available in pads or loose for high luxury.
Coir fibre pads Made from coconut fibre are generally used next to the spring to insulate and prevent the spring being felt or penetrating. Alternatives include compressed wool or synthetic pads.
Silk, cashmere, mohair and other fine, natural fibres Used for additional luxury and insulation properties.

There are four main types: foam, gel, floatation and futons.


Most foam mattresses are made from layers of different densities of foam. By varying their density and depth, it’s possible to achieve different levels of comfort and support. They are particularly suitable for use with slatted bases and adjustable beds. There are three main types of foam in use:

  • A premium quality material, the natural type is derived from the sap of the rubber tree.
  • Has a distinctive, resilient feel, is very durable and has anti-microbial properties that offer benefits to many allergy sufferers.
  • Its natural elasticity means it recovers its shape immediately when pressure is removed.
  • It also has very good point elasticity resulting in even distribution of pressure for independent support.
Visco elastic/Memory foam
  • Responds to individual shape and pressure.
  • Has good pressure relieving properties.
  • Available in a variety of qualities and densities.
Polyurethane (PU) foam
  • A synthetic, petroleum based foam with performance and price varying according to density and quality.
  • It is widely used and very versatile.

Shop for Foam Mattresses

Memory Foam Mattresses Latex Foam Mattresses Reflex Foam Mattresses
  • A new filling that is taking the bed market by storm.
  • Can be combined with other materials eg foam.
  • Ground-breaking technology known for its cooling thermo
  • regulating properties.
  • Delivers benefits such as breathability, pressure relief and body support. Floatation beds
  • Support is determined by the amount of water used and the level of motion can also be varied. - Known for their pressure free support and also good for allergy sufferers.
  • Variable temperature heaters keep the bed warm and cosy.
  • Made from layers of cotton or fibre wadding, which moulds itself to the shape of the body.
  • In Japan they are used on the floor with a mat underneath and rolled away during the day.
  • In the UK, they are more often sold as budget priced sofa beds with slatted convertible frames.
Shop for futon mattresses

Caring for your mattress

Like most new products, useful life-span depends on the amount of tender loving care the mattress receives throughout its life.

  • Do not bend or roll your new mattress. It will permanently damage the spring unit and invalidate any warranties or guarantees.
  • Let the mattress breathe. Like a new car, a new bed may initially have a ‘new’ smell about it. This will eventually disperse if well aired.
  • Turn your mattress regularly. Unless you have bought a nonturn (which has been specifically designed not be turned but must still be rotated), it is important that you turn your mattress from end to end and side to side every week for the first few months and thereafter about every three months. This will prolong the life-span of your mattress and minimise impression marks.
  • Body shaped impressions are normal. Impression marks – sometimes known as settlement – are a normal characteristic of quality mattresses working as intended to conform to the shape of your body. These will be minimised with regular turning.
  • Getting used to your new bed. Your body will take a while to adjust to sleeping on a new surface, so don’t worry if your new bed doesn’t immediately meet your expectations. Give it time – it could take a few weeks.
  • Use a washable mattress and pillow protector to prolong the life of the mattress and pillow.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What sort of bed should I choose if I have a bad back?

For a long time, it was believed that a hard bed was good for a bad back. Nowadays it’s generally accepted that this is not necessarily the case – and could in fact cause more damage. A supportive and comfortable mattress is the best option – it doesn’t matter what type of construction it is. Any reference to beds being orthopedic – or similar medical sounding terms – does not automatically mean that the bed has been professionally assessed or recommended – it is a term loosely used by manufacturers to refer to extra firm models in their range.

What sort of bed is best for asthma sufferers or other types of allergy?

Almost all beds will, in time, attract house dust mites, whose droppings are highly allergenic. Regular cleaning, airing and the use of protective covers will reduce the effect. Some manufacturers are now using anti-dust mite treated fabrics for tickings. Check details of construction and materials in the product description if you suffer from any other allergies.

Are foam mattresses hot?

Mattresses don’t create the heat and people can get hot on beds of all constructions – and remember that age, health and medications can all affect your body’s heat control mechanisms. But foam is a good insulator and the higher the density (i.e. the better the quality) the greater the potential heat retention. Manufacturers are coming up with various novel solutions for climate control – from the cellular construction or the composition of the foam itself to aid breathability; to specially constructed ventilation layers; special springs to enhance air circulation; to warm sides and cool sides; to covers with the sort of technology you see in high performance clothing: fast drying and capable of allowing moisture to evaporate quickly.

Why are two similar mattresses so widely different in price?

Chances are they are not as similar as they seem. They might both claim to be predominantly of the same construction – but further investigation will probably reveal different material qualities; densities; amounts; etc. The product descriptions will highlight the major differences between the two.

What should I pay for a good mattress?

We have mattresses from well under £100 to over £1000. As a general rule you get what you pay for. Remember that every £100 you spend on a new mattress, actually represents an investment of just 2.7p a night (assuming a lifespan of seven years). A bargain bed is no bargain if you don’t sleep well in it.

Which is better – tufted or quilted?

Better quality tufts are well protected by wool or felt pompoms but some more sensitive people may be more aware of them than others. A good mattress protector can help. Otherwise, choose a quilted style instead.

My mattress is not the same size as the base

There could be two reasons for this. You may not have bought the same size mattress as base. We offer a wide range of mattress sizes and it is important to check the actual dimensions provided in the product description, using the same scale (metric or imperial) to be sure of a size match. Don’t simply go by names alone – for example, one manufacturer's "kingsize" may not be the same another's! The other reason might be because of the construction. In transit or storage, mattress springs can sometimes nestle into each other temporarily reducing with the length or width. During use, the mattress should recover its original dimension. The effect is likely to be more pronounced if the spring unit does not have a perimeter frame or the mattress is not fully hand side stitched – ideally a mattress should have one or the other feature to ensure it keeps its shape.

Source: The Sleep Council