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Buying Guide Mattresses

Mattress Firmness - We use 10 firmness levels:

1-2 Soft
For those who like to feel a soft and comfortable mattress

3-4 Soft/Medium:
fully supportive but with extra comfort. Ideal for people who prefer a slightly softer mattress.

5-6 Medium:
the most popular level of support that suits all but the heaviest or lightest of people.

7-8 Medium/Firm
For people who like a firmer feel to their mattress but with a bit of comfort.

9-10 Firm/Very Firm

Only recommended for people who like to sleep on a very firm surface.

How a mattress feels depends on the type of spring, the type of filling and the level of compression used in its manufacture. Even the quality of the outer mattress cover can affect the feel. So lie on a few mattresses and test them. There is a lot of detail involved in the manufacture of a mattress. We outline the basics here. See “More Information” for more detail.

Spring systems

Open coil:
Traditional, low cost spring units (about 300 springs *). Robust, highly interconnected “hour glass” springs, often referred to as Bonnell springs and the most common spring system used in the UK. Great value and hard wearing.

Continuous springs:
Silentnight and Sealy spring systems are good examples (about 600 springs manufactured from a continuous piece of wire). Probably the best orthopaedic (extra firm) beds are made using continuous springs. Supportive and firm.

Pocket springs:
Independent springs nested in individual fabric pockets (800 to 3000 springs). These spring units are the most profiling and sensitive of the spring technologies. If you want the best support and the best comfort, pocket springs are hard to beat. Supportive and hugely comfortable.
*Spring counts are quoted for a king size mattress.

Foam & Latex

Polyurethane foam:
Almost every mattress uses polyurethane foam and the feel can be very different depending on the density used. From extra firm high density pads to super soft high loft micro quilted top layers. This is the flour that makes the cake.

Memory foam:
Polyurethane based, slow acting, temperature sensitive foam first developed by Tempur in the 1990’s for the alleviation of pressure sores. Feels very dense and forms a shape around you. At the points of contact with your body the memory foam warms up, it softens and reduces the pressure around the warmed up area. Reduces tossing and turning and improves blood circulation.

Resilient and luxurious foam created from natural rubber. Originally patented and made famous by Dunlopillo in the 1930’s. Feels very light and bouncy. Hugely comfortable. Other common fillings include cotton-felt, wool and polyester. We recommend you lie on each type of mattress. You will learn to recognise the different feels, eg a pocket sprung mattress has a “water bed” sensitive feel. Latex is luxuriously sumptuous, and memory foam cossets you in a uniquely supportive way. Don’t take our word – try them.


Reasons for buying a new mattress

Even with a mattress protector, a mattress that has been slept on every night for 10 years will have accumulated kilos of debris. Dead skin in an old mattress is a haven for dustmites and the combination of bacteria and organic material can be a particular problem for people who suffer from allergies.

Wear and tear:
Sitting on the edge of a bed, or sitting up in bed are often the activities that wear out a mattress first. So check out the edges of your mattress and the points just below the pillow where your shoulders normally rest. If you see sagging, the mattress needs changing.

Loss of comfort:
Over time a mattress will lose its bounce and feel dead. Mattresses with high cotton-felt and wool contents are especially prone to settlement and flattening with use.
Questions to ask before buying a mattress

How long will a mattress last?
Typically 7 years of continuous use.

Will this mattress fit my existing bed?
British beds are made to standard UK sizes (single bed, small double bed, double bed, king size bed and superking bed). You need only identify which size of bed you have and the mattress should fit. Note however that European and American beds have different standard sizes. In particular IKEA beds are based on European sizes and you will need a special size mattress to fit. We do sell European size mattresses: 140cm x 200cm and 160cm x 200cm. Please phone us for details.

Should I buy a hard mattress?
No. If hard was best we would all sleep on the floor. Scientific studies have shown that a surprisingly low amount of pressure is required to restrict blood flow. The extreme effect of a hard bed is bed sores, but even for a normal healthy person an over firm bed will result in unnecessary tossing and turning throughout the night.

What mattress is best for a child?
A child has less weight and their body will not sink into a mattress as much as an adult. Therefore, we would advise that a slightly softer mattress is better for children. Also kids may trampoline on their bed, or they may be using their bed as a daytime sofa. So avoid more sensitive spring systems such as pocket sprung – great for us old uns that need extra support but not so good for an 8 year old party animal.

What mattress is best for a spare room?
We find that 80% of our customers all like the same feel of bed. Not the hardest and not the softest! So ask us for advice and we will tell you what your average guest will like. The durability of a guest bed mattress that is used only occasionally is not an issue. It is therefore tempting to buy a cheap mattress but remember that you are likely to have this mattress for the rest of your life. It’s a small investment for a lifetime’s worth of guests.

Do I need to turn a mattress?
It depends. A traditional mattress that uses cotton-felt and wool will settle with time and these mattresses require to be turned. Modern foam based mattresses are often advertised as “no turn”, and only one side of the mattress is suitable for sleeping on. However even the most durable foams don’t last forever and it will increase the life, even of these mattresses, by turning them head to toe.

How often should I turn a mattress?
Some manufacturers stipulate every week for the first 3 months. It’s hard to believe that anyone is sufficiently assiduous for such endeavour. However, the more a mattress is turned the longer it will last. We would suggest you turn your mattress every couple of months.

Are some mattresses warmer than others?
Yes. Mattresses with a high wool content, and also solid foam mattresses tend to be warmer. Some people will not consider a foam mattress because they believe they will be too hot in bed. Anecdotally, almost every staff sale at The Wirral Bed Superstore is for a bed with memory foam or Latex.
If you are worried about overheating then stick to a sprung mattress (the springs act as mini ventilation bellows). Also avoid wool and dense foams.

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