What is an Innerspring Mattress: Pros & Cons

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If you’re looking for a bed to provide a traditional feel, you may want to consider an innerspring mattress. Although an old-school type, the innerspring style is still popular for its many advantages.

An innerspring mattress is one of the most affordable options available, making this a great fit for shoppers on tighter budgets. Understanding the construction, how it compares to other mattresses, and its pros and cons should help you decide whether an innerspring mattress is the right choice for you. We’ll walk you through all you need to know about these mattresses to make decision-making easier. 

What is an Innerspring Mattress?

An innerspring mattress is the oldest type of mattress and the most commonly used worldwide. This mattress has a coil support system and a comfort layer above it. Although most coils are steel, you’ll come across different types, including continuous, individually-wrapped, Bonnell, and offset. 

The construction features two layers, but the spring shape, coil gauge, and the number of coils can vary. The upper layer is made of foam, fiber, or upholstery materials.

The basic design makes this mattress a good choice for most sleeping positions and body types. However, an innerspring mattress has some drawbacks for certain sleepers, so it’s important to consider all factors before purchasing one. 

Innerspring Coils Guide

The coil unit is the only support system featured in an innerspring mattress. For this reason, you should always consider the type and number of coils and the coil gauge. These factors can help you understand how a bed performs and whether or not it’s the right choice for your sleeping habits.

Coil Types

An innerspring mattress can have an open-coil system, Bonnell coils, offset, or individually-wrapped coils. Each type delivers different levels of comfort, bounce, and support. 

An open-coil style is what you can see in a traditional innerspring mattress. These beds have interconnected coils shaped like an hourglass and a thin foam layer on top. 

Bonnell coils are also interconnected but via thin, helical wires. These move as a single unit, so they’re not the best for motion isolation. Bonnell coils provide excellent support but may sag in the center over time. 

Offset coils look like Bonnell ones but are more comfortable and responsive. These have squared sides and should provide stronger pushback support. Plus, offset coils aren’t as noisy and don’t transfer movement as much.

Individually-wrapped coils are the best for absorbing motion and supporting the body in different sleeping positions. However, these are typically found in hybrid mattresses. 

four different types of coils in a mattress

Coil Count

The number of coils in an innerspring mattress determines the longevity of the bed as well as its firmness. The more coils it has, the more supportive and durable it is, so try to go for a minimum of 800 coils. An innerspring mattress with at least 800 coils should provide enough support for most average-weight sleepers. Heavier individuals and those seeking more support should aim for a higher coil number.

Coil Gauge

The coil gauge refers to how thick the coils are. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the spring. For this reason, coils with a higher gauge are softer and bouncier, whereas springs with a low gauge number are firmer and more supportive. Although low-gauge coils are typically longer-lasting, most manufacturers combine low and high-gauge springs for different levels of support across the mattress.

Innersprings vs Other Mattress Types

Although innerspring mattresses are the most commonly sold type, other bed types are available to consumers. Memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses are increasingly popular for their ample support, comfort, and longevity. Here’s how innerspring mattresses compare to other types of beds.

Memory Foam

Innerspring beds don’t have much sinkage, meaning you’ll feel like you’re sleeping “on top” of the bed instead of “in” it. On the other hand, memory foam mattresses have more sinkage because they respond to pressure rather slowly and contour the sleeper’s shape. Innerspring mattresses are more suitable for hot sleepers as they’re thinner and have a coil system that promotes airflow. In contrast, memory foam beds tend to overheat, unless the manufacturer adds a cooling measure like gel. Also, memory foam mattresses don’t bounce as much as innerspring, meaning they have better motion isolation.

Hybrid

Although hybrid and innerspring mattresses feature spring coil units, the two types have several standout differences. The difference is in the number of comfort layers. Innerspring mattresses have a single, thin comfort layer above the coil unit, whereas hybrids have several foam layers. Hybrid beds usually have two or three comfort layers and a foam base under the coil unit. Hybrids are considered a great option for those who can’t decide between memory foam and innerspring beds because this type incorporates both styles.

Latex

Natural latex comes from the rubber tree sap, and you can choose between two types: Talalay and Dunlop. Synthetic latex is also available for those who struggle with allergies. The most standout difference is that latex beds have a body-hugging comfort innerspring mattresses lack. Also, latex is biodegradable, so it’s a better choice for eco-conscious shoppers. Latex is resistant to mold and dust mites, whereas materials used in innerspring mattresses aren’t.

Learn More: Best Latex Beds

Pros & Cons of Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring is the most used type of mattress for its many benefits. However, innerspring beds also have some drawbacks that may deter someone from buying them. Here are the most noteworthy pros and cons of an innerspring mattress. 

Pros

Probably the most notable pro of innerspring mattresses is their affordable price. Innerspring beds don’t have as many layers and materials, so they’re cheaper to produce than most other mattresses. Also, innerspring beds are great for hot sleepers as the coil unit often provides plenty of airflow. They have lots of bounce and give a traditional feel that many sleepers may be used to.

Cons

Innerspring mattresses are heavy due to the steel coils in the base. This may make it difficult for you to carry it from your doorstep to the bedroom once it arrives. Also, unless you go for a bed with individually wrapped coils, you may find too much motion transfer. Most innerspring beds have a thin layer of foam above the coils, which is often not enough to absorb motion. These beds also tend to feel firmer and may not give as much pressure relief.

Illustration of a Man Making Bed

Innerspring Mattress Recommendations

Although innerspring mattresses are the oldest and most popular style, they may not be for everyone. Many people love the traditional feel, but others could find it uncomfortable depending on their sleeping needs and preferences.

Who Should Sleep on an Innerspring Mattress?

An innerspring mattress is a great choice if you’re a combination sleeper, as the bouncy construction supports easier repositioning. The bed doesn’t hug the body much, allowing you to sleep “on” it instead of “in” it. This should benefit heavier individuals and people with mobility issues. These beds are also good for hot sleepers, thanks to their thin and breathable construction. People who prefer firmer support, such as stomach and some back sleepers, may enjoy an innerspring bed.

Who Shouldn’t Sleep on an Innerspring Mattress?

An innerspring mattress may not be the best if you’re looking for a cradle-like feel. These beds have one comfort layer, which often isn’t enough to contour the body like hybrids and memory foam mattresses do. Also, couples prioritizing motion isolation may want to skip innerspring mattresses. The coils transfer motion from one side of the bed to the other, which may disturb partners with different sleeping habits. With their firmer feel and minimal comfort materials, these beds won’t provide much pressure relief, which is often important for side sleepers and lightweight individuals.

FAQs

How Long Do Innerspring Mattresses Last?

Most innerspring mattresses last seven to ten years, although some may last longer. How long a mattress lasts depends on the quality of its construction and materials and how you maintain it. Avoid jumping on the bed and consider rotating it from time to time to prolong its life span.

What is the Advantage of an Innerspring Mattress?

The biggest advantage of innerspring mattresses is their affordable price. These beds are among the cheapest because they don’t feature many materials. The lower price could be beneficial for shoppers with a tighter budget. 

Are Innerspring Mattresses Good for Back Pain?

Innerspring mattresses are good for back pain because of the support they provide. They don’t allow the body to sink in much, which should help support proper spine alignment to minimize and prevent back pain. 

Read More: Best Mattresses for Back Pain

Conclusion

Even if you’re unsure if an innerspring mattress is for you, many companies offer generous trial periods. This should give you plenty of time to test the bed and see whether it fits your needs. Innerspring mattresses are quite popular to this day, but they aren’t for everyone. Some people love the classic feel, while others prefer more updated styles like memory foam, latex, and hybrids. For this reason, it’s important to consider all the details, pros and cons, and your individual needs to ensure an innerspring is a comfortable choice. 

Content Writer

Jill Zwarensteyn is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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