About fabric coverings

When it comes to mattress fabric coverings you have a number of confusing options and materials to decide from.  The array of choices, fabrics, properties and materials can be completely overwhelming.  This article should help you cut through the marketing and assess what fabric choice you are looking for in a mattress covering.

John Ryan Hybrid Mattress 2

Walking around any bed shed or retailer will show you just how many weird and wonderful mattress fabrics, coverings, and upholsterings there are to confuse you. However, in reality, there are only four ‘classes’ of fabrics used for mattresses.

  1. Stitchbond
  2. Damask
  3. Knits
  4. Specials

1.Stitchbond: This is the cheapest grade of fabric that can ethically be used on a mattress. Any lower grade will probably be sackcloth! It’s rather rough to the touch and used primarily on budget and economy mattresses. It is a printed material, patterns are not woven like damask or any other mattress fabric.

Stichbond Fabric Covering

2.Damask: This is a woven fabric that will be on the majority of mattresses. It has become generally termed ‘Belgian damask’ even though many of the damask fabrics described as such has never been through Europe, never mind Belgium. There are plenty of fabric manufacturers that produce material for mattresses, each with their own speciality and it is unusual for a manufacturer to stick with just one fabric supplier. Most come from Europe, France and Italy being favourite sources. But also, from as far afield as India and Malaysia. Our John Ryan 100% Viscose fabrics are from Bekaert – one of the premier producers of mattress ticking in the world. Sorry, just showing off a little.

Damask Fabric Covering

3.Knits: Although commonly referred to as a micro quilt – which is technically a finish, it is also a term of reference to the fabric (which is a knitted fabric rather than woven as a damask is). These types of fabrics fall in the mid ranges. Extremely soft and because of the flatter surface used mainly as a covering for memory foam or latex topped mattresses. It would be unusual to have this fabric on the side panels or indeed on a matching base. A complimentary damask or other woven fabric would be used for these parts. It is also worth pointing out that this fabric, although used primarily on quilted products – can also be tufted depending on the mattress.

Specials Fabric Covering

4.Specials: In the past few years a multi-million-pound business has grown in relation to fabric coverings for the mattress industry. The latest innovation soon to hit the shops are Probiotic Fabrics such as Purotex®, Bugshield®, that actively neutralises bed bug allergens and suppress noxious bacteria. This means that as bacteria build up on your mattress these good bacteria within the fabric comes along and kills them. When the job is done they lie dormant until more bad bacteria come along.

Knits Fabric Covering


Currently, there is an absolutely huge selection of specialist mattress fabrics available to the industry. Ones impregnated with aloe vera,  ylang-ylang, tea tree oil or scented with vanilla, lavender, apples etc all designed to aid you in a restful nights sleep.  Climate control fabrics such as Coolmax®, Outlast®, Climasmart® etc, Organic and Eco fabrics. Naturals such as cotton, merino wool, bamboo, health fabrics to reduce static build up such as stressfree, silver particles, silver fleck, copper threads and so on.


As you can see just by this extremely small example, much can be made of fabric coverings. The fight between textile merchants really is cut-throat, each one vying for a slice of the mattress market. Knowing this, it makes absolute sense that these magical properties of fabrics should not influence you in any way prior to selecting a mattress based on your budget.

If you find a well-constructed mattress at the right price that has a premium fabric then consider it as icing on the cake. Always be aware of how much is made of the fabric and so little of the actual construction of the mattress.  It would make sense to make sure you know all about quilting methods or about fabrics to help you on your mattress journey next.