Mattress Components

Typical mattress, regardless of the type, consists of several elements that are carefully structured and layered on the top of each other. Every part has its specific design and function and comes in different shapes and forms to serve its purpose. Below is a list of the top to bottom components that are generally used to build todays mattresses.

Ticking / Cover

Ticking is the outer layer of protective fabric that covers and encases the mattress. Often referred to as the mattress cover, it can enhance the feel and durability of the mattress. It plays a significant role in breathability and temperature regulation, where natural fibers are superior to synthetic ones. Inexpensive ticking is made from polyester or polypropylene, while quality ticking is made from cotton, rayon or viscose and is breathable, flexible, durable, and antistatic. Popular types of ticking include damask and knit.


The very top layer of the padding layers inside the mattress, usually made from foam and/or fibers stitched together and attached to the bottom of the ticking. It can provide additional cushioning but mainly is serves as a breathable insulating layer of the mattress. Quilting could be also referred to a process of stitching the quilting layer together with the ticking and the rest of padding layers. Different type of quilting can be used when finishing the very top of the mattress – multi-needle and single-needle stitching, tack and jump quilting.

Fire Retardant

Beginning on July 1st, 2007 all mattresses must meet flame-resistance standards set by the federal law. This regulation requires the mattresses to be significantly more resistant to an open flame. Manufacturers use various techniques and different materials to comply with the law. They apply flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether or PBDE to outer mattress layers. Or use fire resistant fiber barriers utilizing materials like Kevlar. Some manufacturers use wool as a natural fire retardant material or rayon and cloth made of hydrated silica and baking soda.

Padding Layers

Padding layers, also referred to as comfort layers or upholstery layers are foam or fiber layers that are added on the top of the support system to provide overall comfort level and softness of the mattress. Manufacturers use different shapes, amounts and densities of padding materials (polyurethane, gel, latex and memory foams, polyester, cotton, wool, cashmere) to achieve varying levels or softness. Pillow top models, being the softest, have a larger amount of padding layers on the top, while firm models have only a few layers.

Euro Top

Euro Top has thick, soft and cushy padding layers sown onto the top more firmly with straight, vertical edges continuing up from the main body of the mattress. Euro Top looks like it is a part of the whole mattress structure; it doesn’t have the gap between the top and the mattress like pillow top and the top from the body is separated only with a stitched seam.

Pillow Top

Thick, soft and cushy comfort or padding layers that are loosely sown onto the top of the main body of the mattress. It looks like there is an obvious, separate piece or a pillow attached to the mattress. It is always the softest model in its product line, providing the highest level of comfort.


Innerspring is the support system of a traditional mattress, where the support portion is made from steel coils coming in different shapes and forms. The overall quality of innerspring and its support is determines by shape of the coil, gauge of the coil (thickness of wire - the lower the number, the thicker the coil) and quantity of coils.

Support Core

Support core, also referred to as inner core or poly core, is a support portion of the foam mattress. Where innerspring mattresses use steel coils for support, foam mattresses use high-density polyurethane foam or latex usually 3-8 inches high. High quality mattresses use high-density polyurethane core (6-8 inches) whereas lesser-quality products will either use thinner support layers (3-6”) or lower-density foam.

Edge Support

To utilize the entire sleeping surface and prevent the mattress from collapsing while sitting on a side, the edge of the mattress is reinforced. Manufacturers use different types of edge support like foam or plastic inserts on the sides, rows of extra firm coils, border rod or wire around a perimeter of the mattress or the most advanced foam incased edge, where the whole support unit is incased in a block of high-density foam. This type of edge support provides durable, sturdy and consistent feel.


Any base or support element positioned underneath a mattress. It provides sturdy support, elevates the mattress and prolongs its life. Sometimes referred to as box spring, which is a traditional type of foundation with heavy-duty springs. Most of the mattresses nowadays use platform foundation – a solid, non-giving base made of wooden box, with metal cross bars and wooden slats. Adjustable or movable foundation offers ability to bend and change your position.

Box Spring

Is a traditional support base placed below a mattress. A real box spring uses heavy-duty springs or torsions inside a wooden or steel frame that work together with the mattress and provide additional support. These coils act as shock absorbers and giving in once the pressure and weight is applied. Box spring and its components will eventually wear out with time. There are some manufacturers still using true box spring, but vast majority utilizes solid, non-yielding foundations.

Adjustable Base

Also referred to as movable foundation. It is a type of foundation that offers ability to bend and change your position. It has an electric motor underneath connected to a remote, which enables you to change an incline, elevate the mattress and set a position you prefer. Often called an electric or hospital bed, it is becoming a very popular option bringing its functional and health benefits to mainstream. Adjustable bases come in various types and options from very basic ones only moving up and down to high-end ones offering wave massage, wireless remotes and smart phone functionality. Many innerspring and most of foam mattress are compatible with movable bases.