December 2020

What’s the Best Spring Tension for My Mattress?

Choosing a new mattress is often complicated and confusing for the uninitiated. One area that nearly all mattress buyers get wrong is the spring tension. Did you know that bed salespeople will actually sell you the wrong pocket spring tension without even realising it? Fear not, this easy guide will explain exactly what you need to look for and how to work out the ideal spring tension to sleep better. All without leaving the comfort of home!

Updated 2020: Spring tensions are one of the most important factors when buying and choosing a new mattress. If you get this part wrong then no amount of upholstery fillings, toppers, pillows or duvet changes will save you. So it’s really important you choose wisely to avoid making costly mistakes.

White mattress with feet showing
Getting the right spring tension isn’t difficult – when you know what to look for

The sad fact is that out of all of the bed showrooms we have visited over our 15 years in designing and making mattresses only a hand full have ever correctly established the right spring tension for our investigators. We hear weekly from people who have bought entirely the wrong bed based on the wrong spring tension. With most retailers after you’ve bought the bed, you can only return it if faulty so you’re stuck with an uncomfortable and expensive mistake.

  1. How to choose the right spring tension?
  2. What are the different spring tensions?
  3. Choosing the comfort of a mattress
  4. What if I chose the wrong tension?
  5. Can I have two different spring tensions?

1. How to choose the best spring tension?

Spring tensions in mattresses should be picked based on your bodyweight and nothing else. The confusion of Soft, Medium and Firm spring tensions has led people to believe that this also selects the ‘feel’ of the mattress. ie a soft spring will lead to a soft bed. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is the mattress upholstery that provides the overall feel of the mattress whether you prefer a Soft, Medium or Firmer feel bed. The spring tension is set by your bodyweight. The reason for this is that the springs have been designed to accommodate a certain weight and then react to them properly. The springs are made to allow compression and then extension in a mattress ie to sink slightly when you get on them and then push back against you.

2. What are spring tensions?

In the mattress industry, there are 4 accepted universal spring tensions, Soft, Medium, Firm & Ultra-firm/Orthopaedic for pocket springs. The table below shows the name, gauge and body weight each of these 4 spring tensions applies to. Simply find your weight and the correct sping tension will be listed.

Spring TensionWire diameter (Gauge)Weight Range
Soft1.2mmBespoke Tension (Please Call)
Medium1.4mmUpto 16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus
Calico pocket springs in a medium spring tension
Choosing the correct spring tension is essential for a good nights sleep

If you’re on the cusp of one weight range then get in touch with us for specific advice. Things like height, weight fluctuations and sleeping positions can all have an impact. So it’s better to seek advice than just guess which is were our small friendly team of experts can help.

3. Mattress upholstery provides the true feel of the mattress

The second mistake that people make when buying a new bed is mistakenly thinking the spring tension will also create the comfort feel of the mattress. However, the comfort is always provided by the mattress upholstery placed on top of these spring support units.

Choose your spring tension Soft, medium or Firm based on your bodyweight
Choose your spring tension Soft, medium or Firm based on your bodyweight
The choose the 'Feel' of the mattress based on the upholstery it contains.
The choose the 'Feel' of the mattress based on the upholstery it contains.

4. What if I have the wrong spring tension?

The wrong tension spring will either compress too much, ie too soft a spring, meaning a lack of support or won’t compress at all, ie too firm a spring, leading to a brutally solid sleep surface. If you have either not enough or too much support this leads to an uncomfortable sleeping position and in the worst case can lead to backache during the night from lying awkwardly in bed.

Once you have chosen the wrong spring tension in a mattress there is very little you can do other than have the mattress replaced. This is why it is so important to choose the correct tensions in the first place. It is also worth bearing in mind the if your bodyweight changes significantly either by weight gain or weight loss it may be worthwhile revisiting your mattress to check it’s still suitable just like you would do clothes in your wardrobe.

Why do retailers get it wrong?

Bed retailers often skip over asking people what their weight it and simply allow people to choose a spring tension on whether they prefer a Soft, Medium or Firmer feel in their mattress. As we have established though this is the wrong way around and leads to further discomfort once you get the bed home. There’s also the issue of wanting to make a quick sale. The more questions you ask and information you need the longer it takes for them to seal the deal. That's why you often find salespeople literally following you around the store as you awkwardly 'try' mattresses for 30 seconds or so.
The more questions you ask them the longer it takes you to buy & bed sales people know this

5. What if my partner and I need different spring tensions?

This is not a problem and can be accommodated by either a split tension mattress or a Zip & link.

A Split Tension mattress is a one-piece mattress in a kingsize or above that has two different spring tensions. One of each side. So you can have a Soft/Medium split or a Medium/Firm split. You can’t have a Soft/Firm split as the jump is too great causing instability in a one-piece mattress where the springs are all stitched to one another.

A Zip & Link bed allows you to have any combination of spring tensions as they are two separate mattresses that are then ‘zipped’ together. They also help reduce transference where one sleeper moves and wakes the other up. This is because both spring units are separate and isolated.

Artisan Bespoke 004 zip
Zip & Links provide the ideal option for two sleepers of different weights

Its essential when looking for a new mattress that you get the right spring tension to begin with. If you fail to choose the correct spring type and tension then theres very little you can do to remedy the situation. Always ask the retailer what the weight tolerances are for each spring tension and ask for more details. They should be able to tell you the gauge (ie. 1.2,1.4 or 1.6) the type of spring (cage sprung or pocket) and the number of springs in the mattress (one or two layers).

Now that you know this you’re one step closer to finding your dream mattress. If you want to make sure you’re picking the right bed why not give our small friendly team a call for tailored guidance and recommendation. That way you can take out all of the guesswork when buying a new bed.

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