The waddings and fillings are the most under-rated components of your mattress and yet they are the most important. My biggest gripe and the obvious reason for your mattress buying frustration is that these absolutely fundamental details are seldom described in the detail they ought to be.
When you have chosen your support – The spring unit, either Bonnell (cage) springs or pocket springs, then the next aspect you should be deciding on is the materials that will give you the comfort you require.
On the cheapest possible budget mattress, the spring unit will be a very basic cage sprung unit. Surrounding this will be an insulator blanket and the wadding either side will be a low grade polyester (usually about 600gsm (grams per square metre) This polyester wadding will then be light quilted to the exterior stitchbond (cheap) fabric.
These kind of mattresses are churned out by various factories in their thousands each day. Amazing for the fact that it shows that they are actually being sold, and even more so that people are actually buying them. The lifespan of these are extremely limited and the comfort level they give, in my opinion, is at best minimal.
Understanding how each component wadding works with each other is paramount. Even though the descriptions below seem detailed – they are only scratching the surface, and of course it is in this area where you are unfortunately most likely to be misled.
What is an insulator Pad?
This is a sheet of material predominantly made from shredded recycled cloth, bonded together to make a durable surface that is clipped to and encases the spring unit. This kind of pad usually forms the basis of most mattresses and is necessary to prevent the springs poking through the subsequent waddings into your back and also to provide a flat surface ready to support the initial wadding layer. However, depending on the quality of mattress being produced the grade of these pads are either extremely basic or quite substantial.
The differences of the pad depends on the type of mattress it is being used on. For example on an orthopaedic cage sprung mattress the pad will be relatively firm (Saturn Pad) in order to dissipate your body weight across the springs. On a pocket sprung mattress the insulator pad will be pliable yet durable (poly pad) in order to gain maximum benefit from the independant springs beneath.
There is no need for you to be unduly concerned about this component. If a mattress manufacturer scrimps or cuts corners on this most basic component it just shows that pride in workmanship is not high on their list of priorities!
About Polyester Fibres.
Polyester wadding is the most widely used component in the manufacture of mattresses. It is cheap to produce and cheap to buy. It is available in many weights from 300gsm for use on economy mattresses to a more realistic 1000gsm on many midrange mattresses . Weights of polyester wadding can go as high as 1800gsm but rarely used as it is better to layer differing lower weights.
it can be used in duplicate layers such as 600gsm and 800gsm or in conjunction with another type of wadding such as Reflex foam or Cotton, Wool etc. Read more about Polyester wadding ..
What about latex as a comfort layer?
There is one important thing about ‘Latex’ to bear in mind when reading descriptions in that there are several types of latex when used in the manufacture of mattresses.
Firstly, there is 100% Natural Latex. This is the creamy white material that is the absolute best available and of course the most expensive.
More common is Graphite Latex (grey) a viable and acceptable alternative. (As shown in the video) This is not absolutely 100% natural but a high content blend that is ideally suited for use as a final comfort layer on mattresses.
Then there are latex substitutes having similar properties to natural latex but of course are chemically produced in much the same way as memory foam. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using latex substitutes, the quality of these products are extremely high but being synthetic may not be suitable for people prone to allergic skin reactions.
The main thing to bear in mind is that if the description does not say “100% Natural Latex” then it is unlikely it will be. Also, you really must know the depth of natural latex used in order to make an informed price comparison. Read more about latex..
Innergetic Latex?This is just a brand name of Latexco, one of Europe’s [many] manufacturers of latex foam mattress cores.
About Memory Foam.
Memory Foam on a Reflex Foam base:
I am not a fan of this combination. It really is a heat retentive mix and the current prices for what is essentially a foam mattress somewhat beggars belief. In my mind, if you can get memory foam on a pocket spring system for the same price (or less) than Memory Foam on a High Density Reflex foam base, then it would be a big mistake not to at least give it due consideration.
Memory Foam on a cage sprung system
This will be the cheapest of all options and mainly offered as a one sided (non turn) mattress. There are models with dual sided memory foam. Are they better? Absolutely. But only if the price asked is not close to twice the amount of a single sided version. There are occasions where it is better to replace quicker than paying double for it to last longer. Sometimes, a well constructed one sided memory foam can be more economical than a two sided mattress using polyester as primary comfort layers.
Memory Foam on Pocket Springs:
This is a perfect combination. Again, It will, more often than not be a one sided (non turn) mattress, but the combination of an excellent support system and durable comfort layer will ensure a superbly comfortable mattress.
What about claims about being good for your back?
If you totally disregard any and all beneficial claims and see Memory Foam as being exactly what it is – a really comfortable sleep surface – you will not be disappointed. Any additional benefits you may get will be a bonus.
Far too much nonsense has been concocted by advertisers of what is essentially ‘foam’ and because of this consumers are expecting something what it cannot posibly deliver. Read more about Memory Foam..
How good is Reflex Foam or Foam as a mattress component?
In the UK there are plenty of foam converters, for example – British Vita®, Recticel®, Carpenters, Foam Techniques Ltd , each providing foam sheeting in various grades and depths to nearly all mattress manufacturers. The grade of foam used will be determined by its final usage. For example, economy foam sheeting of about 1″ depth is sometimes used as a buffer on top of the insulator pad to provide a good foundation for a polyester wadding comfort layer. Reflex® is a trade name of one of British Vita’s foam products, and used [wrongly] in many cases to describe a high density foam in much the same way as Hoover® is used for a ‘vacuum cleaner’. There are many other foam products with a similar make up as Reflex but with other trade names.
A premium soft foam is often used as a viable alternative to memory foam as an affordable and comfortable sleep surface.
In fact the combinations and grades that can be used are so varied it is quite impossible to list them all. Suffice to say, foam in general is not a bad component to have in a mattress. It can enhance the comfort and durability of other waddings used and provide additional structural support without necessarily costing too much more.
Cotton, Cashmere, Lambswool, Silk.
These are termed ‘Natural Fibres’ and used mainly as the final comfort layers more often than not in conjunction with premium grade polyester wadding. Natural fibres are exceptionally expensive. In many cases they are used sparingly and the fact that they can be listed as part of a manufacturer’s specification or retailer’s description counts for more than the actual benefit you will gain from them.
Although they sound luxurious and glamorous, the depths and weights have to be realisticly beneficial . The reason being is that these components are only added to an already well constructed mattress and can be considered as the icing on the cake. A mattress at a high price but without this neccessary information should instantly set your inner alarm bells ringing.
When choosing your mattress always make a little note of how much extra you are being asked to pay for the inclusion of a natural fibre pad – against one without – this will help in making your final decision.
If the description actually gives you a depth and/or weight -say, “contains a 2″ layer of the finest Indian Cashmere as the sleeping surface” then that is entirely different to say, “Contains luxurious Cashmere” this could mean a few milimeters or a couple of inches, and I, and you can only hazzard a guess at which one it will be.
Natural fibres are usually blended. So a mattress described as containing silk, cotton and Cashmere is not neccessarily three different layers of the components but, one layer containing all three. There is absolutely nothing wrong in these formulations but it is wrong if you are given the impression your mattress contains more than it actually does.
No matter what comfort layers you choose or however much you pay, you really should be aware of the benefits of looking after your mattress.
You do lose quite a considerable amount of moisture each night and this has an additional detrimental effect on your mattress. I always preach that the more barriers you have between yourself and your mattress will ensure you get the most out of it. Body sweat permeating the mattress night after night rots the fabric and quickly compromises the waddings and fillings contained.