Open coil or pocket springs, which are better?

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Unless you are looking for a mattress on a budget, pocket springs are more supportive, durable, and responsive than coil springs.

Despite the growing trend for bed-in-a-box products, traditional sprung mattresses remain popular. Sprung mattresses typically fall into two categories, open coil or pocket sprung. But, with so many brands to choose from, and almost all of them claiming to be more comfortable than the rest, choosing a sprung mattress can be a confusing experience.

Here’s a look at the differences between open coil and pocket sprung mattresses to help you decide which is better.

open coil spring unit and pocket springs side by side

What’s the difference between open coils and pocket springs?

An open coil spring unit is made from a single piece of wire wrapped around to create a series of larger springs. These springs are then interconnected together to form the spring unit. Coil springs are commonly used in mattresses as they can be mass-produced at a low cost.

open coil spring unit inside mattress
An open coil spring unit

Pocket springs are individual springs enclosed in fabric pockets and either stitched or hand-tied together. Each spring works independently, allowing the mattress to conform and adjust to the body.

pocket springs in rows
Rows of pocket springs

Comfort

Comfort is subjective. What one person considers to be too soft, another may find it just right. Your choice of mattress firmness comes down to personal preference. But, your body weight can also affect what feels comfortable. A softer mattress may feel fine for a lighter person, but a heavier person may feel like they ‘bottom out’ on it.

Pocket spring mattresses often come in a choice of soft, medium, or firm spring tensions. Some come as a split tension on each side of the bed, for example, soft and medium, to cater to sleeping partners of different weights or needs. In contrast, open coil mattresses typically feel firmer and bouncier and are rarely offered in a choice of tension or firmness.

Sleeping position is also a factor. Side sleepers may find that a firmer mattress results in pressure points. Side sleepers typically prefer a mattress that cushions the shoulders and the hips, whereas back sleepers may need a bed that feels a bit firmer.

Filling quantity and quality also affects how comfortable a mattress feels. Synthetic materials, such as polyester, foam, and fibre, are often used in open coil mattresses. In contrast, higher-quality pocket spring mattresses often contain generous amounts of natural fillings, such as wool, cotton, and cashmere. Natural fillings are softer, resilient, and fully breathable, which will help you feel cooler and more comfortable throughout the night.

Support

In general, the more springs there are in a mattress, the more support it will provide. An open coil mattress will typically contain between 300 and 800 springs.

Pocket spring mattresses tend to have a much higher spring count and can be made up of single or multiple layers of pocket springs.

Not only are pocket springs more supportive, but as each spring moves independently, this allows the mattress to conform and adjust to the body more effectively.

While the mattress provides the comfort, it’s the bed base that provides the underlying support. The two need to work together for a better night’s sleep.

Traditional divan bed bases can be solid or sprung. A solid base or platform top is usually made from hardboard, making the bed feel slightly firmer. Sprung divans contain either coil springs or pocket springs for extra cushioning. Cheaper open coil mattresses are often paired with solid bed bases. In contrast, higher-quality pocket spring models are often paired with pocket sprung bases which can significantly improve the bed’s overall level of comfort and support.

Open coil mattresses tend to sag around the edges, making you feel like you’re falling out of bed. As a result, some sleepers may naturally gravitate towards the centre of the bed, meaning that they are likely to disturb their partner when sharing a bed. Some manufacturers add edge support to combat this.

Hand-side stitching is a skilled and effective technique synonymous with higher-quality pocket sprung mattresses. It involves stitching the mattress’s side panels to the outer rows of springs. This reinforces the edge of the mattress, preventing it from sagging while extending the overall sleeping surface.

Durability

As open coil mattresses are mass-produced and mostly manufactured by machines, they are generally not as sturdy or durable as pocket springs. Some open coil manufacturers may even cut corners during production to meet a specific price point. While quality varies, an open coil mattress can last six to ten years if looked after properly.

In contrast, pocket spring mattresses tend to be constructed to much higher standards. In higher-quality models, much of the process is done by hand to ensure greater precision. With proper care, a good quality pocket sprung mattress can last beyond ten years. It is not uncommon for hand-made mattresses to last significantly longer because of the construction quality.

Responsiveness  

The spring coils in an open coil mattress all move together as one unit. This means that if you share a bed with someone, you are likely to disturb each other when you turn over.

Pocket springs work independently, allowing you to move around throughout the night without disturbing your partner in bed.

Flexibility

As open coil mattresses are mass-produced, they tend to come with limited options. Pocket spring mattresses can often be tailored to the sleeper’s needs. Some pocket spring manufacturers provide a truly bespoke experience and can make mattresses in various tensions, tickings, sizes, shapes, and even cut-out corners for four-poster beds.

Price

Open coil mattresses are inexpensive to produce and are often cheaper than pocket springs. They are a good option for those shopping for a mattress on a budget. They are suitable for children or teenagers who may not require the same level of support as adults or as a guest bed used occasionally.

Final thoughts

There is a lot to consider before committing to a new mattress. Your choice will often come down to the one you find the most comfortable and supports your body correctly.

Unless you are looking for a mattress on a budget, pocket springs are more supportive, durable, and responsive than coil springs.

Side sleepers tend to prefer pocket springs as the springs conform to the body more effectively. As each spring works independently, reducing movement across the mattress, pocket springs are also a good option for sleeping partners of different weights and sizes.

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About the author

About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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