Source: ISPA, International Sleep Products Association
Adjustable bed: An electro-mechanical bed frame construction that permits the raising and lowering of the head and/or foot portions of the mattress.
Airbed: A vinyl mattress filled with air. Some are covered with cushioning and ticking and sold with a foundation.
Anti-microbial fiber and foam: Treatment that inhibits the growth of microbial contaminates.
ASTM: American Society of Testing Materials. An organization dedicated to establishing standard methods and procedures for testing materials.
Backing: Any fabric or sheeting material that is used during quilting to anchor the stitches.
Ball rebound test method: See Resilience.
Barrier materials: Generic term referring to woven, non-woven or other materials that are placed between two materials to reduce heat and oxygen transfer from the material outside the barrier to the material under the barrier. For example, a barrier material may be wrapped around the foam cushioning beneath the surface of a mattress to protect the foam from being ignited by burning materials above the barrier material.
Batting: See Cotton felt.
Bed: Generally refers to a mattress and foundation set. Also called “bed set.”
Bed frame: A metal or wood frame with legs used to support a mattress and foundation. Conventional height is 7-1/4 inches (18.41 cm) and the low-profile version is 5-3/4 inches (14.60 cm) when measured from the floor to the bottom of the foundation. Generally a headboard can be attached. Metal frames are sometimes known as a “Hollywood” frame.
Bed frame components: Generally refers to wooden boards used to make the internal frame of a foundation or box spring to which springs are attached. Boards are usually attached together by nails, staples or glue. Also called “bed frame lumber,” “slats” or “rails,” but does not refer to the bed frame itself.
Bedclothes: Top-of-the-mattress accessory items such as blankets, sheets, pillows, comforters, mattress pads, etc.
Bedding: Commonly used as a generic term for a mattress and foundation set, but may also include bedclothes items such as blankets, sheets, pillows, comforters, mattress pads, etc.
Bedding ensemble: A complete sleep support system, consisting of a bed frame and head/foot board, mattressand foundation and bedclothes.
Bedsprings: Open-spring or wire fabric box springs without upholstery materials or cover.
Binding tape: Fabric tape used to bind and close the mattress or foundation where the vertical and horizontal panels of outer ticking come together, providing the edge trimming for the mattress or foundation. See Tape and Tape edge.
Board foot: A unit of measurement equal to one square foot of material one inch (2.54 cm) thick. Often used to express quantities of wood and foam.
Boardy: Used to describe a material or finished product having a rigid or stiff feel.
Body impressions: Indentations occurring on the surface of a mattress due to the compression of materials by the human body.
Bonnell: A knotted, round-top, hourglass-shaped steel wire coil. When laced together with cross wire helicals, these coils form the simplest innerspring unit, also referred to as a Bonnell.
Border: The vertical side or edge of a mattress or foundation. Pre-built borders are constructed by stitching together the ticking, foam or other filling materials and a backing material. Commonly quilted or verticalstitched.
Border rod: A heavy gauge wire rod attached to the perimeter of the innerspring unit (top and bottom) by means of a helical wire or metal clips.
Boric acid: A chemical additive applied during the garneting of cotton and/or other fibers to provide fire resistance.
Box spring: Also referred to as a “foundation.” A base for a mattress, consisting of coils or other forms of springs mounted on a wood or metal frame and secured with a wireinterlaced or welded-wire grid, typically topped with upholstery and insulating materials (felt, urethane or other resilient materials), and covered on the top and sides with ticking and on the bottom with a dust cover.
Bunk bed: A two-tiered wood or metal frame designed to accommodate two mattresses, typically twin-size, one above the other. Some models allow the upper and lower units to be detached and used as separate beds.
Bunkie: A mattress, usually twin-size, and platform base used on bunk beds.
Cal 117: Refers to California Technical Bulletin 117 (also called “TB 117”), which specifies a vertical flame testing procedure for and furniture component materials. Foam referred to as “Cal 117 foam” has passed this test. Currently under revision by the California Bureau of Home Furnishings.
Cal 129: Refers to California Technical Bulletin 129 (also called “TB129”), which specifies a test protocol for mattresses used in institutional occupancies.
Cal 603: Refers to California Technical Bulletin 603 (also called “TB603”), which is required by California Assembly Bill 603 and will specify product performance and test procedures for mattresses and foundations sold in California. Currently under development by the CBHF.
Cal 604: Refers to California Technical Bulletin 604 (also called “TB604”), which is required by California Assembly Bill 603 and will specify product performance and test procedures for certain filled bedclothes sold in California. Currently under development by the CBHF.
California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BHFTI): California government agency that issues and enforces California Technical Bulletins that set flammability performance standards for various products, including mattresses and foundations sold in California.
California king: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 72 by 83-1/2 inches (1.83 by 2.12 m).
Carbon: The principal hardening element in steel. The higher the carbon content, the harder the metal and the more temper it will take, thus giving longer shape “memory.” Steel used in inner spring and box springs usually is high carbon steel.
Cellulose acetate pad: Woody fiber compacted into a pad and used as an insulator. May be glued or sandwiched between plastic netting to help hold it together.
Coil count: The number of coils in an innerspring unit. Though the count can effect weight distribution, it is not the determining factor for firmness. The count is usually based on the number of coils in a full- or queen-size unit.
Coils: The individual wire springs that form an innerspring unit. See Hourglass, Continuous and Offset coils.
Coir pad: An insulator pad usually made from coconut husk fiber, garneted, needled, bonded and precut to size.
Combustion modified:Refers to materials (such as foam, cushioning, ticking, etc.) that have undergone chemical treatments or other manufacturing processes to make them more resistant to ignition.
Comfort system: Refers to the upholstery layers of the mattress, generally consisting of a combination of materials (cover, cushioning, topper pad, insulators, etc.).
Compression modulus: Measures the degree to which a cushioning material can provide support. Measured as the ratio between the indentation force deflection (IDF) at a 65% compression to the IDF for the same sample at a 25% compression. The higher the ratio, the greater the ability of the cushioning material to provide support. Also called “support factor.”
Compression set: A measure of the permanent loss of original cushioning height resulting from use, usually expressed as percentage of original height of cushioning.
Conjugate polyester fiber: Spirally crimped fiber that is crimped chemically rather than thermally.
Continuous coils: An innerspring configuration in which the rows of coils are formed from a single piece of wire.
Conventional bedding products: Mattresses and foundations in the conventional adult sizes of twin, twin extra long, full, full extra long, queen and king.
Convertible sofa: A sofa with a bed folded beneath the seating surface, generally consisting of a mattress resting on a metal mechanism. Also called “sleep sofa” or “sofa sleeper.”
Convoluted foam: Foam cut in variety of patterns to produce surface characterized by “hills” and “valleys,” giving gentle softness and more surface comfort. Also called “eggcrate” foam.
Cornell test: Product performance test developed by Cornell University School of Hotel/Motel Administration to measure cosmetic performance of bedding sets, such as body impression or support firmness. Two round surfaces are pushed under controlled pressure onto the surface of the finished product 100,000 times and checked periodically for failure or changes. This and similar processes are called “dynamic fatigue.”
Corner guards: Molded plastic or metal (sometimes upholstered) fittings secured to foundation corners to prevent material damage from the bed frame.
Cotton felt: Produced by a Garnett machine which combs cotton and other fiber binders into a continuous web or layer. Several such layers combined are called cotton “batt.” For compressed cotton felt, thick layers of garneted cotton fiber are mechanically compressed and used as a fiber layer in mattresses to reduce body impressions.
Cotton linters: The short fibers adhering to the seed after the long staple fiber has been removed in the ginning process. Used in making cotton felt.
Cotton pickers: “Fall out” from ginning or garneting. These shorter staple cotton fibers are blended with linters to produce cotton felt.
Crown: A convex surface on a mattress. Mattresses with a half-inch (1.27 cm) crown are a half-inch thicker at the center than at the edges.
Cushioning:Materials that lie above the insulator and below the fabric covering in an innerspring mattress. These materials are typically combinations of polyurethane foam, cotton felt, and/or other natural or man-made fibers.
Damask: Woven ticking produced on a loom. The design is woven into the fabric rather than printed on the surface.
Density: A measure of weight per cubic volume, usually expressed in pounds per cubic foot. Often referred to when discussing foam.
Double tempering: Heating of innerspring units, usually in an oven, after they have been assembled. See Tempering.
Dual-purpose: A broad term used to include all sleep pieces, that can be converted to other uses, including convertible sofas, high-risers, daybeds, futons, etc. See Convertible sofa.
Dust cover: A woven or non-woven fabric attached to the underside of a foundation to prevent the collection of dust inside. Also known as “sheeting” or “cambric.”
Dynamic fatigue: Laboratory test measurement to simulate extended wear cycles. See also Cornell test and Rollator test.
Edge guard: Generally an extra component added internally to the edge of a mattress and/or box spring to give support on the sides.
Egg crate foam: See Convoluted foam. Engineered edge support: A design where the coils on the outer edge of an innerspring unit are actually positioned under the border rod.
Fabric cover: Cloth or textile material woven, knitted or felted of any fiber or mixture of fibers. Often referred to as “ticking.”
False pad: Compressed cotton felt that is stitched together to retain compression.
Fatigue: Refers generally to degradation of product resulting from use and wear.
Fiber pad: Usually refers to man-made or natural fibers (cotton, coir, polyester, etc.) that are garneted, needled, carded and/or bonded together. Normally used as insulators in mattresses and foundations.
Filler cloth: Refers to a plain fabric used on the top of a foundation instead of ticking. Commonly offers non-skid characteristics.
Flanging: The process whereby a strip of fabric is sewn to the edge of the mattress cover and, in the assembly process, secured to the perimeter of the innerspring unit to prevent the cover and filling materials from shifting.
Flex fatigue: Laboratory test measurement of cushioning material (usually foam) firmness loss following predetermined number of flexing cycles.
Flotation mattress: See Waterbed. Foam foundation: Consists of a builtup wood slat frame covered with a sheet of cardboard or similar material, topped with foam and covered with ticking.
Footboard: An upright unit of wood, metal, plastic, or upholstered material, attached at the foot of a bed, usually to the bed frame.
Foundation: Any base or support for a mattress, though typically used as a generic term for box springs. See Box spring and Foam foundation.
FPF: Acronym for flexible polyurethane foam.
Full: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 53 by 74-1/2 inches (1.35 by 1.89 m).
Full extra long: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 53 by 79-1/2 inches (1.35 by 2.02 m).
Futon: A Japanese-style mattress construction, consisting of a cover and filling material, which is typically cotton but can be innerspring and/or foam.
Garneting: A mechanical process whereby short cotton fibers and/or other fibers are combed into a specific orientation and formed into a thin web, which are then layered to create a batting used as an upholstery material. See Cotton felt.
Gauge: A measurement of the diameter of the steel wire used in coil construction. Wire gauge for innerspring coils range from 12.5 to 17. The higher the gauge, the thinner the wire.
Hair pads: Horse tail or mane, cattle tail or hog hair, which has been processed and curled for use as a mattress or upholstery filler.
Hammocking: An undesirable characteristic sometimes associated with worn out or low-end mattresses. When weight is placed in the center, the corners tend to rise and bow in response to deep compression much like a hammock. Terms “dish” and “sagging” also used to describe this phenomenon.
Hand: Term used to describe the touch or feel of fabrics (e.g., soft, smooth, springy, etc.) or a finished mattress surface.
Hand-tied: The process of hand-lacing the coils in a box spring together with twine.
Hangtag: See Sleep Products Safety Council hangtag.
Headboard: An upright unit of wood, metal, plastic or upholstered material, to be attached at the head of a bed, usually with the bed frame.
Helical: A tightly-coiled, elongated wire used in the manufacture of innerspring units to join individual coils to each other and to the border rod.
High contour mattress: Mattresses over 9 inches (22.86 cm) thick. A mattress under 9 inches thick is considered “standard.”
High riser: Usually a frame or sofa with two mattresses of equal size without a backrest. The frame slides out with the lower bed and rises to form a full bed or two single beds. See also Trundle bed.
Hog ring: Metal ring used to secure the insulator and flange material to the innerspring unit. Takes its name from its similarity to the metal ring in a hog’s nose.
Hourglass coils: Coils that taper inward from top to middle and outward from middle to bottom, thus resembling an hourglass in shape. Employed in Bonnell and offset coil designs.
Hybrid: A flotation mattress consisting of vinyl components (bladder and liner) typically encased in foam and made to look like a conventional mattress, usually paired with a regular upholstered foundation. Also called a “softside” waterbed.
Indentation force deflection (IFD): A measure of cushioning (usually foam) firmness expressed as the pounds of force required to indent a 4-inch (10.16 cm) sample by 25%. IFD is measured independently of cushioning density. Also called “surface firmness.”
Innerspring unit construction:The spring construction used as the main support system inside an innerspring mattress. Some common types are pocketed (see Marshall) and all metal (i.e., Bonnell, offset and continuous wire).
Insulator: Any material used on top and bottom of an innerspring unit to prevent the upholstery layers from cupping down into the coils. Some common types are fiber pad, non-woven fabric, netting, wire grid, wire mesh or foam pad.
King: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 76 by 79-1/2 inches (1.93 by 2.02 m).
Knit fabric: A ticking fabric produced through a knitting process rather than weaving. Designs are printed onto the surface.
Lacing wire: Finer gauges of wire used to form helicals.
Latex: A flexible foam developed from a water dispersion of rubber obtained from a rubber tree or a man-made product.
Law label: Generally refers to a tag of a specific dimension and color required by many states that is stitched onto a mattress to identify the contents of the product.
LFK: An unknotted offset coil with a cylindrical or columnar shape.
Link fabric: A wire foundation for bedsprings, cots, studio sofas, sofabed mechanisms and gliders. So called because the fabric is a succession of metal links.
Marshall: A type of innerspring construction in which thin gauge, barrelshaped, knotless coils are encased in fabric pockets. Also known as “pocketed coils.”
Mattress: A manufactured product to sleep on, consisting of various resilient materials usually covered with an outer ticking.
Mega joule: Measurement of total energy produced in a fire during a predetermined elapsed time period, commonly the first 10 minutes of a product flammability performance test.
Memory: The ability of tempered steel, foam and some fabrics to return to their original state after being compressed or stretched.
Mesh: Plastic netting generally stretched across the face of an innerspring unit as an insulator.
Molded foam core: A core made in molds of flexible foam and used as the main support system in a foam mattress (as opposed to the innerspring unit that provides support in an innerspring mattress).
Mounting: Attachment of a box spring to a bed frame.
Needlepunched fabric: A manufacturing process for which high strength, lightweight, non-woven construction fabrics are produced. These fabrics are produced by garneting fibers, entangling or inter-locking these fibers together by a series of barbed needles and then mechanically bonding or fusing them together via heat to produce a fabric without glue or binders.
Needlepunched pad: A manufacturing process used to produce insulator pads and non-woven fabrics whereby loose, garneted fibers are interlocked by a series of barbed needles.
Non-woven fabric: Textile structure produced by bonding or interlocking fibers resulting from mechanical, chemical, thermal or solvent processes, or combinations thereof.
Offset coils: An hourglass type coil on which portions of the top and bottom convolutions have been flattened. In assembling the innerspring unit, these flat segments of wire are hinged together with helicals.
Orthopedic: General term that implies a bed set will promote proper postural alignment and support. Does not necessarily mean hard or boardy feeling.
Panel: The part of the ticking that constitutes the horizontal surfaces (top or bottom) of a mattress.
Peak heat release rate: Measurement of the maximum rate of energy being released during a predetermined test period, usually expressed in kilowatts or kW. Also called the “rate of peak heat release” or “maximum rate of heat release.”
Pedestal-type metal or wood bed frame: A low-profile bed frame with a solid pedestal base underneath each side of the frame, instead of legs.
Pillow-top mattress: A mattress featuring a surface finishing treatment where a separate encasement of soft materials is attached to the entire surface on top of existing cover and upholstery.
Pocketed coil: See Marshall.
Polyurethane foam: Synthetic flexible polyurethane used for mattress cores and as a cushioning material. As a core, it is the main support system. Generic term covering both polyester and polyether foams.
Print: A ticking fabric, which can be a woven or non-woven sheeting, commonly of synthetic fiber composition, on which a design has been printed.
Queen: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 60 by 79-1/2 inches (1.52 by 2.02 m).
Quilting: The surface treatment in which the cover, foam and/or other fibers are sewn together, using various stitch patterns on quilting machinery, including scroll or panel quilters (single needle) and multi-needle quilters.
Recovery: Measure of a cushioning material’s ability to return to its original dimensions after force is removed.
Renovated mattress: A used mattress that has been recovered with new ticking and possibly cushioning and other materials, and sometimes subjected to chemical or heat sanitization processes, prior to resale to the consumer.
Resilience: A measure of the surface elasticity of foam or other cushioning material. ASTM D3574 specifies a test method for measuring resilience as the percentage by which a steel ball of defined mass rebounds from the surface of the cushioning material after having been dropped from a specified height.
Rollator test: An approximately 230 lb. (104 kg), six-sided roller is repeatedly passed across a sleep set to simulate extended product wear and to estimate the structural strengths or weaknesses of the set and components (i.e., foam or quilt failure, breaking of helicals and coils) over time.
Rollaway bed/cot: A portable metal bed/cot with a frame that folds in half with the mattress when not in use so it can be rolled into a closet (or elsewhere) for storage.
Side rail: A metal or wood rail of a bed frame, which hooks into the outside edges of a headboard and/or footboard to provide the support base for a foundation and mattress.
Single-side mattress: A mattress that is intended for sleeping on only one side of the product.
Sisal: A product of the henequen plant formed into a pad and used as an insulator.
Slats: Narrow strips of wood used inside a foundation to support the coils. See Bed frame components. Also can refer to boards used in a bed frame to provide external support for the foundation. Sleep Products Safety
Council hangtag: Used voluntarily by bedding producers since 1987, the safety hangtag program provides critical consumer information about the safe use of sleep products. Manufacturers certify that they use the tag only on mattresses that meet the Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. The tag is available for purchase from SPSC in a hangtag or permanent label in English or bilingual Spanish/English and French/English versions.
Smooth top: A plain surfaced mattress, neither tufted nor quilted. Also called button-free.
Spring wire: Wire made from high carbon steel, characterized by toughness, strength and ductility. Typically furnished in 8 to 18 gauge for bedding industry applications.
Static fatigue: Laboratory test measurement of cushioning material load bearing ability loss resulting from constant predetermined compression.
Steel unit construction: The spring construction used as the main support system inside a foundation.
Stitch bonded pad: See Fales pad.
Straightline deflection:Pertains to mattress innerspring construction and refers to the constant ratio between stress and strain, weight and movement.
Support factor: See Compression modulus.
Surface firmness: See Indentation force deflection.
Tape: Narrow fabric material that closes over the rough-sewn edge where the top and bottom panels are joined to the border of a mattress or box spring. Also called “binding tape.”
Tape edge: A specified type of sewing machine designed to stitch tape around the top and bottom edges of the mattress, joining the panels with the border and closing the mattress.
TB 117: See Cal 117.
TB 129: See Cal 129.
TB 603: See Cal 603.
TB 604: See Cal 604.
Tempering: Heat treatment of wire to reduce stresses in steel introduced during wire forming process. Accomplished by electric charge, oven heat or both. Also known as “stress relieving.”
Ticking: Fabric for covering mattresses and foundations. Common types include damask, knit, print, woven stripe and non-woven.
Torsion bars: A type of spring system used in box springs characterized by wire forms.
Trundle bed: A low bed that is rolled under a larger bed. In some constructions, the lower bed springs up to form a full bed or two single beds as in a high riser.
Tufting: Consists of passing twine, cords or tape vertically through the mattress from top to bottom, knotting and securing the loops thus formed with tufts, buttons or lacing. The purpose is to hold the mattress filling in place.
Twin: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 38 by 74-1/2 inches (0.97 by 1.89 m).
Twin extra long: Conventional bedding product with finished mattress dimensions of 38 by 79-1/2 inches (0.97 by 2.02 m).
Urethane foam: See Polyurethane foam.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): A federal government agency that issues and enforces national safety standards for consumer products. With regard to mattresses, the CPSC has focused on flammability, air vent pull outs and bunk bed strangulation risks.
Ventilator: Metal or plastic screens attached to the sides and sometimes the ends of mattresses to permit increased passage of air. Often used with hospital type mattresses with wetproof covers.
Visco-elastic foam: Also known as “memory foam.” Slow recovery urethane foams that are temperature sensitive. They conform to the body and distribute pressure according to body heat and dynamics.
Waterbed: A sleep system employing a water-filled vinyl bladder as its primary support system. When used with rigid framing to contain the vinyl components, is known as a “hardside.” See Hybrid. Often has cushioning and ticking outer covering. All versions are sometimes referred to as “flotation beds.”
Welded grid top: Basic wire welded into a lattice to which box spring coils, formed wire or modules are fastened. Offers even weight distribution, yet allows some flex and give.
Wood frame: The wood frame in a foundation on which the spring construction is mounted.
Woven fabric: A ticking fabric produced by weaving. Designs may be printed onto the surface or woven into the product.
Woven stripe: A woven ticking with colored stripes. Sometimes referred to as “ACA,” the traditional designation
for an 8 oz. blue- and white-striped ticking.
Mattress Industry Terms
Source: ISPA, International Sleep Products Association