January 2020

The best tip we can give you about buying a mattress

Buying a mattress can be a tricky and murky experience. How do you know if the retailers are telling you the truth? Why can't you find out exactly what's inside their mattresses? If you find the thought of wading through all of this bed information daunting, which it can be, then bear in mind that these are just the basics of what we think you will need to know to prevent you from being potentially ripped off. Let us help you cut to the chase so you know what to look for.

We know how confusing buying a mattress can be. In fact the industry has made it intentionally secretive and confusing. We want to change that so read on to find out the main tips you need when buying a new mattress.

Artisan Bespoke 002
View our range of hand made mattresses. We list absolutely every component so you can compare.

Over the years, our site has grown and developed to share with you the information that we have gained through our work the best way we can. Our Joihn Ryan By design site has over 6,000 pages on all things bed related. We don’t profess to know everything, but we do know considerably more than most when it comes to mattress making and comparing beds.

The best tip when buying a mattress

A quick waltz around any bed showroom will no doubt fill you with horror when confronted with all the choice and in reality, there is only one thing that you should remember and be the main focus in your selection and that is a Pocket Sprung mattress is far superior to any cage sprung or open coil offering. With an array of different spring names and trademarks, it can be easy to be duped into buying an inferior spring type. This is why the first question should always be ‘is this a pocket sprung mattress?‘.

The best mattress buying tip is this: A pocket sprung mattress is far superior to any cage sprung mattress.
The best mattress buying tip is this: A pocket sprung mattress is far superior to any cage sprung mattress.
You should always opt for the best spring your budget can afford
You should always opt for the best spring your budget can afford

All cage sprung mattresses are far substandard compared to pocket sprung mattresses. They are cheap to make, uncomfortable to sleep on and ultimately, they are a complete and utter waste of your money. Don’t let the marketing, fancy names, sales spin or advertising fool you Miracoil, Posturetech, Orthopaedic, Continuous Coil, Open Coil, or whatever, are all cage sprung mattresses. If the mattress does not contain pocket springs then walk away.

cage sprung open coil mattresses2
Rows of mass-produced uncomfortable open coil cage sprung mattresses. Click to view Pocket Spring Mattresses here.

Are pocket sprung mattresses expensive?

A pocket sprung mattress does not need to be overly expensive. In many cases, they are more cost-effective than a comparable open coil unit and in real terms, they are cheaper now than they were many years ago. Bear in mind though that the bulk of pocket sprung mattresses are now mass produced. The ultimate pocket spring is calico encased, used by the likes of Vi-Spring and Savoir beds (our Artisan Range is an ideal Vi-Spring alternative). We can’t think of any other manufacturer who uses calico encased pocket springs, but there will be less than five manufacturers in this country who do so.

Pocket spring mattress hand stitching
Calico pocket springs are always hand-tied – the method of securing them with thread. Click to view hand made mattresses.

Calico pocket springs are the best you can buy

I have seen examples of descriptions where the mattress is described as containing calico springs. Complete and utter deceit. This is akin to describing a sofa as being leather when in fact it is PVC. The bulk of all pocket springs are polypropylene encased mass-produced units where the individual units are glued together to make a complete spring unit. Calico units are sewn together and are not attached to adjacent springs except by lengths of twine stringing them together. We use them in our high-end Artisan range. They are far more breathable and responsive than spunbond or other synthetic springs which is why they only ever feature in the top end of mattresses.

Applying the insulator layer of a natural fibre mattress
Calico pocket springs are more responsive and breathable compared to other springs. They work independently and are hand-tied and sewn together. Click to view calico pocket spring mattresses.

A good mattress should be budgeted for

Care should be taken to find the best combination of support and comfort for your budget. If you scrimp on either of these then you may have plenty of time to regret. The overriding factor in your choice will, of course, be your budget and what you can reasonably expect to receive for such. There are over 5000 mattress models out there it would be a fool’s errand to go through each and everyone to see which is the most suitable for you, in fact, it will be impossible for you to do so. However, knowing how much to spend on a mattress will drastically cut down on the options you’re faced with. Secondly, it will enable you to avoid ‘too good to be true’ offers if you know that for your budget the components listed are not available ie Cashmere in a £500 mattress.

How much to spend on a double mattress?What can I expect for my money?
£500Will not get you much at best a 13.5 gauge open coil / cage sprung with a thin polyester layer.
£750Could get you a fairly OK orthopaedic mattress or the beginnings of a basic pocket springs with 800 – 1000 count. No substantial amount of filling other than foams and synthetic materials
£1000Should get you away from most low-mid ranges and into the basic pocket spring models
£1250Should get you an average pocket sprung mattress.
£1500Should get you many manufacturers mid-range models.
£1500-£2000Should get you a hand made primarily Natural Fibre Mattress
£2000+You should expect 100% Natural Fibres and traditional construction methods
£5000+A bespoke hand made sleep system, high end spring units & featuring the Worlds Most Luxurious Natural Fibres
Knowing what you should expect for your budget is key
Knowing what you should expect for your budget is key
You need to carefully assess what exactly is in that retail mattress and they wont make it easy!
You need to carefully assess what exactly is in that retail mattress and they wont make it easy!

The majority are constructed around the same principle

This principle is a pocket sprung unit and topped off with polyester wadding, making up the bulk of all lower-priced mattresses. You also have to understand that there are only three kinds of mattress to choose from:

  • Cheap (Synthetic/foam one-sided)
  • Mid Range (Some natural fibre/pocket springs)
  • High-end. (Entirely Natural Fibre, Calico Pocket Springs)

Again, your choices become easier once you know what components could feasibly be used within these ranges. For example, there is no way that polyester would be the main component in an expensive, high-end mattress. Equally, there is no way that horsehair, cotton or wool would be the main component in a cheap mattress.

Do mattress companies have to tell you what’s in their beds?

There is no legal requirement to tell you any quantity of upholstery by weight. A description telling you that a particular mattress “contains” Wool, for example, could mean this could be as little as 5 strands mixed in with the polyester utterly contemptible but quite legal.

You might be thinking that this is a far-fetched rationale? Absolutely Not.

There are certain keywords used that should be taken as an initial warning:

  • contains
  • includes
  • blended with
  • a blend of
  • luxurious layers of etc.

Vi-Spring, one of the top five UK mattress manufacturers to tell you exactly what the makeup of their mattresses is. They do so because they are proud to do so, and they only use the very best of mattress upholstery so they have absolutely nothing to hide.

Mattress upholstery layers, wool , cotton and horse tail
All reputable mattress retailers should be able to tell you exactly what’s in your mattress including the GSM value. Click to view hand made models.
Most mattress brands wont tell you what's in their mattress
This means they can prevent you from comparing


If this is the start of your mattress research you will soon come to realise that nearly all manufacturers will not be as open as Vi-Spring in detailing the components used in the mattress. Why Not? You really will have to ask for the precise breakdown of fillings used in any particular mattress.

If you don’t, then, unfortunately, you will only have yourself to blame if weeks down the line you are then left lying on a completely indented bag of springs. This can be completely avoided with some advanced knowledge and planning.

You really need to be able to assess each layer in the mattress and work out what the GSM count is of each of the fillings contained. An example to the right shows what you need to know before you can accurately pick a suitable mattress and the breakdown below so you can compare mattresses.

The Artisan Bespoke 004 has generous upholstery layers of Blended British Fleece Wool & Cotton followed by Bamboo, 1400GSM total, gives a breathable and flexible Comfort Layer to this mattress. Allowing you to stay warmer during the colder months and cooler during the summer due to the high wicking properties of this mattress.

The 1200GSM of Pure Horsetail acts as a secondary spring support layer giving the medium feel to the mattress.

1600 Calico Encased Vanadium Coated Pocket Springs – in 3 tension choices – provide support for endless nights of perfect sleep.

Two rows genuine Hand Side Stitching & Hand Tufted.

The Woven mattress cover is completely Chemical-Free using a Natural plant-based fire retardancy protection.

Artisan Bespoke 004
Artisan Bespoke 004
Layers Fibres with GSM
Total GSM: 3600
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Our ultimate mattress selection

Over the years, we have developed and produced a small range of less than 20 products and put them for sale in our online matress shop. These have been specifically selected for

The two main factors you should be using when purchasing your new mattress. The descriptions are extremely detailed including the actual weights of materials used all so you can compare.

Without this detailed information, you actually have no idea what you’re purchasing.

All of our mattresses are hand made here in the UK why not view our range here?

Our handmade in the UK mattress models are split into the following ranges:

  • Artisan – Natural Fibre & Calico encased vanadian pocket springs
  • Origins – Entry level pocket sprung mattress unbeatable on price and components
  • Hybrid – Using the latest responsive foams for that Tempur style foam mattress
  • Fusion – 100% Natural Latex solid core models
  • Resilience – Heavyweight mattresses for larger sleepers, fully turnable
  • Cot Mattress – Our 100% natural cot mattress

We are John and Ryan, read exactly who we are and what we do. Our business and reputation have been built around our customer service combined with our 60-day guarantee of love it or return it on all of our mattresses. If what we select or recommend for you is unsuitable then it is only right and proper we collect free of any charge and all your money refunded in full.

Bed retailing is still a business that still defines itself on personal service and we want to be the best. You won’t be able to try our mattresses, which is why we give you the very next thing. Our service. If you still do not want to sift through all these posts then just give us a call with an indication of your budget and we will try and help to narrow down your options for you.

sue cutting material
We make everything by hand; no exceptions. Click to view made in the UK mattresses.

We hope that you do take the time to read through most of this site just so that you understand exactly what you are buying but mainly to see how to sort the good from the bad and the bad from the rubbish. If you want to find out more the next must read the article will help explain just how much should you be spending on a mattress.

Are you still struggling to choose the right mattress? Then why not call our small expert team based here in Manchester on 0161 437 4419 to see if we can help.

Alternatively, you can drop us a message below to receive our tailored recommendations just for you!

Don't you deserve a mattress tailored just for you?
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  • We are the mattress experts! Ask us anything about any mattress by any manufacturer for honest advice and support.

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