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December 2019

Open Coil vs Pocket Sprung Mattresses

When it comes to choosing a mattress you may have come across the bed options of open coil mattresses vs pocket spring models. This can all add to the confusion when you're trying to buy a new mattress so we have this handy guide to quickly show you the differences between the two and why you need to avoid an open coil mattress.

Updated 2020: There’s a huge marketing exercise around spring support in mattresses and beds. So much so that retailers are forever inventing new spring terms, huge spring counts and endless spring ‘technology’. Open coil mattresses are often marketed as good for bad backs offering excellent firm support. However, we’re going to show you exactly why this is false and you should avoid an open coil mattress of interconnected mattress springs.

Side panel of a hand made mattress
Click to View Pocket Spring Mattresses – avoiding the dreaded open coil

We get asked a lot ‘What are the differences between open coil and pocket sprung mattresses?’ which this guide is going to help answer in detail. The open coil or cage sprung mattress spring-type will leave you restless, uncomfortable and probably moving to sleep on the sofa. Whereas a quality Pocket spring mattress can individually contour to you offering a perfect nights sleep. Let’s look at open coil beds in more detail.

What is an Open Coil Mattress?

Open coil mattresses are the very worst of all spring units in mattress showrooms. We say this with a hope that no one falls for such a mattress unless they absolutely have to. They are made from one continuous coil of wire that is then spun into coils – which look like large loose springs. These coils are then attached to wireframe and act as one huge spring. There is no separation or independence from the spring, if you bounce on one side the other side bounces too!

Often described as:

Open Coil mattress springs from John Ryan Website
A stack of Open Coil Spring Units – we never use Open Coil and never will.

Is an Open Coil mattress for me?

There’s only one reason for using an open coil in a mattress and that is price. These springs should be reserved for the very cheapest and basic of mattresses under £250. The reason that open coil/cage sprung units are used is that they are quick to mass-produce and import. As the whole unit can be compressed and then stacked. It takes virtually no effort to then place some upholstery on top, usually just a recycled grey pad and then glued or stitched together. Quick, cheap and basic. There’s nothing wrong with this if you’re paying the very least amount for a mattress.

A man holding open a cage sprung mattress
Here we expose inside a £350 cheap mattress with the open coil spring system and recycled fabric upholstery

You may read other sites discussing the benefits of a firm open coil mattress but unless you’re restricted by the tightest of budgets you should always opt for a pocket sprung unit instead. Open coils offer practically zero individual support for sleepers.

Examples of Open Coil Mattresses

Dreams & Bensons Beds have a number of open coil mattresses which they have rebranded as ‘traditional spring’ mattresses. Probably due to the fact that cage sprung or open coil doesn’t sound as alluring! Here are some examples of cage sprung mattresses.

  • Silent night Miracoil Cushion Top Mattress
  • Turner Traditional Spring Mattress
  • Sealy Rutherford Traditional Spring Mattress (they call their open coil as Posturetech support)
  • Quebec mattress
  • Sealy Vitality
  • Sealy Activesleep

Drawbacks of open coil mattresses

  • Spring unit causes transference so when once sleeper moves the entire mattress moves with it
  • Large gaps between the spring units often cause upholstery to migrate between the gaps
  • No tailoring for bodyweight or two different sleepers
  • Zero edge support
  • Side bulging is common

How much is an open coil mattress?

Open coil mattresses are usually found at the £250-£400 price range. If you’re paying more than this for a mattress you shouldn’t have to endure an open coil spring system in a mattress. Have a look at our Origins range to see what to expect from a mattress from the £500 mark. Which should always be pocket sprung!

However, there's been a rise in mid-range mattresses sneaking in open coil units under new names. So you end up paying much more for a spring unit that you would never knowingly pick. Constantcoil, open coil, continuous coil, Miracoil etc they are all derivatives of the same basic spring manufacturing method. Unless a mattress description states its a pocket spring then the chances are its an open coil spring like the picture above.
Some dubious retailers are hiding the fact their mattresses are cheap open coil models

Why Pocket Springs are superior to Open Coils

Pocket springs are a world away from the open coil offering. A pocket spring is an individual spring that is then encased in either a synthetic, in most mattresses, or in the very top end, calico encasing. Each spring works independently so when one sleeper moves the other springs don’t all follow suit like an open coil model. This allows for a much more advanced reaction from the spring allowing micro-adjustments to be made based on your body shape, sleeping position and nocturnal movements.

John Ryan By Design Calico Encased pocket springs
Calico Springs are the highest quality allowing ease of movement and last far longer than open coil

Pocket springs also allow far more edge support if you prefer to sleep near the edge of your mattress. Whereas an open coil model will simply tip you out as the sides of the mattress have no edge support like a hand made pocket spring model.

Pocket springs can also be tailored to your body weight and a split tension or zip & link model can have two different tensions in one mattress. Making pocket springs ideal for two different weighted sleepers. This can never be achieved with an open coil mattress.

John Ryan By Design Calico Encased Hand Stitching
Calico Pocket Springs being hand-tied – Click to view our range of Natural Fibre Pocket Spring Mattresses

Pocket springs also provide a much more consistent surface for the comfort layers made of fibres and upholstery to sit on. When placing fibres on top of an open coil system more often than not they fall in-between the gaps over time creating a very lumpy and bumpy sleeping surface. A pocket spring mattress will far outlast a cage sprung model and provide years of quality sleep when upholstered with high grams of fibres.

Benefits of a Pocket Spring Mattress

  • Independence between each spring offering unparalleled support where you need it
  • Completely flexible for sleeping style
  • Zero transference (especially used in a Zip & Link model)
  • Long life span due to greater support overall
  • Edge support can be achieved with higher-end models
A pocket spring will far outlast an open coil mattress
A pocket spring will far outlast an open coil mattress
A open coil spring should only be chosen if your budget is under £350
A open coil spring should only be chosen if your budget is under £350

Are Pocket Springs more expensive?

Pocket Springs are more expensive than a cage sprung model – you won’t get a real pocket spring model for under £350 for example. However, if you’re paying £500 upwards for a mattress then the very least you should expect is a synthetic pocket spring support system. It’s at this price point that other retailers are starting to rename open coil springs in the hope you won’t notice. At this price point, you absolutely should not have to accept such as basic support system in your bed.

How much to spend on a double mattress?What can I expect for my money?
Under £500Will not get you much at best a 13.5 gauge open coil/cage sprung with a thin polyester layer or a solid foam mattress.
£500Entry level spunbond springs with some form of synthetic upholstery. Usually one sided mattresses.
£750The beginnings of a basic pocket springs unit with 800 – 1000 count. No substantial amount of filling other than foams and synthetic materials. Two sided models.
£1000Should get you away from most low ranges and into the mid-range pocket spring models.
£1250Should get you a decent pocket sprung mattress with some Natural Fibre content.
£1500Should get you many manufacturers mid-range models with Natural Fibres
£1500-£2000Should get you a Hand Made primarily Natural Fibre Quality Mattress
£2000+You should expect 100% Natural Fibres and Traditional Hand Made Construction Method.
£5000+A Bespoke Hand Made Sleep System, High-end Spring Units & Featuring the Worlds Most Luxurious Natural Fibres.

How can I tell if a mattress is open coil?

Firstly you can ask the retailer if its a pocket spring or open coil support system. If they can’t tell you the mattress description is always a good place to look. If you can’t see the term pocket spring and there’s a reference to a ‘continuous spring’ then it is more than likely an open coil spring.

Lastly, you can do a quick test to identify a cage sprung or open coil mattress. Simply grab the side panel of the bed like the image below. If you can feel thick wire and push your fingers in between then its an open coil spring. Any decent pocket spring system won’t allow this as there is wadding and the spring cases to stop you from doing this.

Checking an open coil mattress
Squeezing the side and seeing if you can feel in between the metal springs is the quickest way to check an open coil mattress
Summary

Unless you’re really limited by budget, under £300, then there should be no reason why you should choose an open coil spring when there are far better pocket springs available at the same price point. Pocket springs will last far longer, offer better support and comfort over the life of your mattress.

If you’re stuck trying to choose a mattress then why not let our small expert team provide some tailored advice? That way you can avoid costly mistakes and ensure you’re getting the best mattress for your budget.

Don't you deserve a mattress tailored just for you?
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