If you are currently navigating your way through the process of shopping for beds you may have come across a wide range of terms and features that make the whole experience confusing and daunting.
Beds, in theory, should be simple products to choose. They have one purpose, two to three components and have been around since the days we threw bundles of foliage on the floor to make bed time a little comfier.
Today, thanks to science, technology and marketing departments, beds have become extremely complex. Different springs, comfort layers, base types, space age materials, storage and even castors/feet have created a situation where an seemingly endless possibility of combinations each have their own benefits and negatives, whilst each manufacturer claims their take on things is the only way to sleep sound.
In this article, we are going to look into five areas to help you decide which beds you should be considering and why. Hopefully, after this you will be able to swiftly browse the wide arrange of beds on offer and confidently pick the one that is right for your personal needs.
1. Springs in Beds
Although it may seem as if there are never-ending amount of spring types, there are actually only three. One of them not even being a spring. The first, and in many experts opinion the best, is the pocket spring.
Beds with pocket springs tend to offer the best level of support, comfort and durability. They are constructed using hundreds, sometimes thousands, of individual springs that are placed in rows of fabric pockets that are then to other rows to form the core of your mattress. This allows your mattress to shape to your body perfectly whilst minimising transfer movement from sleeping partners, resulting in uninterrupted sleep. For more on pocket springs read here.
The next common spring used in beds is the Bonnell/open coil spring. These springs tend to be used in cheaper beds although variations can be at the core of many expensive beds. They are constructed by creating a row of springs, made either from one continuous wire or a neighbouring individual springs, that are then connected to each other, a majority of the time, by a helictical wire. These types of spring tend to provide a slightly firmer feel than a pocket mattress with the same gauge spring, but are less likely to contour and support your body in the same way. You can see a selection of open coil mattresses here.
Finally we have mattresses that ditch the spring for a foam core. Although this technically isn’t a spring, it is a direct replacement in may mattresses so is present to perform the same task. Foam core mattresses have a completely different feel to spring mattresses as they don’t have any “bounce”. They are used as part of “full foam” mattresses with one type of foam being used where the springs usually reside whilst another type of foam, such as latex or memory foam, is used for the comfort layer. It is important to remember however, that many memory foam or latex mattresses can use a small layer of foam on top of one of the other two spring systems. High end latex mattresses, such as Dunlopillo, use one piece of latex throughout the whole mattress without any springs or other foam types. You can read more about latex and memory foam here.
2. Comfort Layers in Beds
The comfort layer of beds can be some of the most confusing as they can make a well made bed feel terrible to you and a cheaper bed feel great. With regards to the comfort layer their are primarily three, with a fourth, which technically falls under the spring category, being used in high end models.
The first comfort layer we shall explore today are natural fillings. Beds with natural fillings tend to be in the mid to high end price ranges and more often than not are paired with pocket springs. Materials such as wool, cotton, silk and cashmere all carry different properties and are blended in a way that provide the comfort and properties the manufacturers feel best for that product. Natural fillings tend to be cooler, more breathable and very resilient but can make the beds they are used in more expensive.
Synthetic fibres, leaving foams aside for now, are often used in cheaper beds or alongside natural fillings to provide a desired affect. A common synthetic filling is polyester, a low cost material that can offer a deep, sumptuous feel without raising the price.
Foams such as latex, memory foam and Geltex have taken over the world of beds in the last twenty years. Their ability to provide comfort and support not possible from fibres has made them ideal for companies trying to stay ahead of the game. The first foam to make a big difference was latex, a natural rubber than offered incredible durability, comfort and a decent level of breathability. The big downside of latex for many was the cost, with many mattresses that used latex being in the premium end of the market. Today many manufacturers offer more affordable latex mattresses such as this latex mattress from our experts choice range.
The final type of comfort layer, providing similar advantages as it does in the core of a mattress, is the mini pocket spring. Due to their durability and ability to contour and react to movement, the pocket spring has been made shorter and incorporated into many high end mattresses as part of the comfort layer. When purchasing a mattresses with a very high spring count enquire as to whether the number of springs includes these mini pocket springs. A premium brand that uses these extremely well is Harrison Beds.
3. Comfort Level
When choosing a new bed or mattress, it is important you find one that offers the right comfort layer for you, and if you have a sleeping partner, them too. Beds with the exact same specification can feel dramatically different due to the way fibres have been compacted, the gauge of wire used in the springs and/or the way the mattress has been constructed. If you don’t find a mattress comfortable you may be setting yourself up for months of restless nights. Although many retailers bundle the comfort layers together as 1 to 5 or soft to firm, it is critical you feel them for yourself and find out what is right for you. Although many mattresses do come with options such as a 100 nights trial, it is always best to try them before setting yourself up for endless days of deliveries, collections and re-deliveries along with the hassle of having to call and arrange everything. Our advice, always try in-store or speak to an expert on the phone before taking a shot in the dark.
4. Bed Bases
As with everything n the world of beds, there is always a choice to be made. With regards to bases, there are three. We won’t talk about storage yet.
The first of these, and the most common is the platform, divan base. This type of base is pretty much a wooden framed covered in fabric. It has a solid top (no springs) and gives the bed a firmer feel. Platform bases tend to be paired with headboards and come in a wide range of colours and storage options.
Another type of divan is the sprung base. This type of base looks very similar to a platform base but uses a layer of springs on top the base that act similar to a shock absorber, assisting the mattress with weight load. Sprung base beds can help with the durability of the mattress but do provide an overall softer feel. There fore make sure you try the mattress you want on the base you are buying. To complicate things a little further, sprung bases can also have different spring type. Choosing the springs in a base isn’t as important as choosing springs in the mattress so don’t get caught spending to much to get an advanced spring system here. The main downsides to sprung bases is that they can be a little more expensive and they tend to need replacing each time you change the mattress.
The final type of “base” is the bed frame/bedstead, these are bought more for their style and aesthetics rather than their function. Solid slats, sprung slats, mesh systems and platform tops are primarily used in bed frames. All of which are closer to the platform divan base in terms of function. The sprung slat does provide a slightly softer feel and assists the mattress but not in the same way as a sprung divan base. You can read more about sprung slats here.
5. Storage in Beds
Each persons storage requirements is very different. Some beds allow you to use a majority of the space beneath a mattress where as others only a fraction. Currently their are three options currently on the market for storage. Leaving out the option of no storage, here they are:
Drawers are the most common storage options in beds. They are readily available, low cost and come in a range options. Although their are a number of variations the most common are two drawer, four drawer and continental drawer. Although drawers aren’t designed to carry heavy loads, they are perfectly fine for bedding and clothing. It is worth examining the quality of the drawer before making a purchase as build quality can vary dramatically.
Ottoman storage or lift up storage beds are a relatively new addition to the bed storage world and can offer unrivalled storage space. They work by using hinges, hydraulics and a two part system that allows the top of the bed to lift, giving you full access to the bed interior. Ottoman storage beds come in two variations, the side lift and the end lift. This basically means that the top platform either hinges from the side or from the head end.
For more information of storage watch our video below.
So these are our five areas you should focus on when purchasing a new bed. If we had a sixth it would be to make sure you purchased the best build quality you can as two mattresses with exactly the same specification can be incredibly different.
If you would like for information on beds, mattresses or anything else sleep related, be sure to call out sleep experts on 01254 681 082 or via our live chat in the bottom right corner.