What Is The Difference Between A Bed And A Mattress?

Last Updated on July 18, 2021 by

A bed is a piece of furniture where one can lay down, rest, or sleep. It is made of metal, rattan, or wood and consists of a mattress, pillows, blankets, and sheets. On the other hand, a mattress is a large pad (ordinarily rectangular) that supports a lying person. 

A bed may also refer to a whole unit that includes a headboard, a platform for holding the mattress, a footboard, and sometimes a covering. While one can place a mattress on the floor and use it for laying on, a bed may not be comfortable without a mattress. 

The Main Difference Between A Bed And A Mattress




Main feature

It is made from metal, wood, or rattan, has a headboard and footboard, and consists of a mattress, pillows, and blankets. It does not work without a mattress.

A fabric case stuffed with cotton, feathers, foam rubber, or coiled springs. It can be used on a bed or floor.


For sleeping on and resting.

It provides support for the person sleeping on it. 

What Are The Main Types Of Mattresses?

Main Types Of Mattresses

There are three major types of mattresses, namely, innerspring, foam, and bladder pieces. Each of these units has its unique features, for example;

Foam Mattresses

These mattresses use varying densities and weights of viscoelastic, latex rubber, memory, or polyurethane foams, all of which are petrochemical-based and flexible. Some producers also combine the viscoelastic and polyurethane elastic foams with plant-based materials while pairing platform bases with all-foam mattresses. 

Memory Foam

This type of mattress is made using compact viscoelastic foam instead of polyurethane-based foam that is firmer. The manufacturers vary the thickness, formulation, and weight of the viscoelastic foams to achieve varying levels of comfort and feel. 

Memory foam mattresses are ideal for those looking forward to relieving pressure from painful joints. The beds are costly as compared to their standard spring counterparts, and they conform to different temperatures. For example, they become softer and adapt to the body temperature and weight of the user, and get firmer in a cold room than a warm one. 

Latex Foam 

Latex foam is a blend of synthetic and natural rubber (from the Hevea brasiliensis tree). This latex is derived from fillers, petrochemicals, and other substances but, there are also latex mattresses with no polyurethane-based chemicals. 

These mattresses are lighter, go back to their initial shape faster than foam mattresses, and respond to the user’s movements. While the mattress does not adapt to the sleeper’s body, it contours to the weight and shape. 

High-Density Foam

High-density foam mattresses are made from polyurethane, which is a more compact foam. High-density foam is made from tightly packed open cells, making it denser than other types of foam. Some of these mattresses have an innerspring system that makes them comfortable and long-lasting. 

Differences Between Latex And Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam

Latex foam

Supports weight and pressure points and conforms to the body shape

Responds to the body movements 

Low-density lasts 4-6 years, high-density lasts 8-10 years

Latex blends last 6-8 years, all-natural latex lasts 8-10 years

Prevents minor pains and aches

Relieves spine and back pains



Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring Mattresses

These types of mattresses comprise spring core, top, and bottom padding covers. The middle point of the mattress is made up of coils or steel coil springs, and it supports the user’s body. These coils are linked via interconnecting wires, which help the mattress retain its shape and the gauge of the coils determines the amount of support and firmness. 

There are different types of mattress coils, including;


Offset coils have flattened top and bottom portions that are hinged together using helical wires. Hinging of the springs helps the unit to adapt to the body shape creating a feeling of comfort. 

Marshall Coils

These coils are also referred to as pocket springs, wrapped, or encased coils. They are barrel-shaped, knot-less, and have a thin gauge. Each ring is usually covered in synthetic material from the non-woven fiber. Some loops may be pre-compressed to make the mattress firmer and allow separation of movement between the bedsides. 

Since coils are not linked together, they work independently with individual weights, not affecting the others. 

Continuous Coils

Continuous coil (also known as Mira-coil) has rows. In this innerspring pattern, coils are arranged in rows and formed from one piece of wire. The rings are hinged together to create a hinging effect like in offset coils. 

Bonnell Coils

These springs are the oldest but most preferred in mid-priced mattresses. They are hourglass-shaped, knotted, and round-topped steel wire coils. The springs are joined together using cross wire helicals to create a simple innerspring piece known as the Bonnell unit. 

Bladder Mattresses

This type of mattress is made from bladders filled with air or water, and they date back to 3600 BCE. These pieces were popular in Persia, where goatskins bladders were filled with water and used as beds. In the 20th century, bladder mattresses became more popular with improved production. There are two types of these items, namely;


A waterbed mattress consists of water instead of air or coils in its interior. It is also lined with layers of fiber which makes it firm and comfortable to the user. Like other mattresses, this kind of bed provides support to the body parts, especially the spine.  

Air Mattresses

Air mattresses use at least one air chamber to offer support instead of using springs. There are both inexpensive options (used for camping) and quality, high-end luxury mattresses. Air bladder design can range from a simple polyethylene bag to an internally baffled piece with several chambers of vulcanized rubber (latex). It can also have vinyl with linked cotton interiors. 

These mattresses could have layers of foam on top of the air chambers for extra cushioning and could also be placed inside a cover. Several air mattresses models range from basic no-frills (7-inches high) to high-profile (15-inches tall) hybrids. These beds may contain different pillow tops, foam, and digital pumps with memory to help in pressure settings. 

Adjustable-firmness mattresses are ideal for medical use since they have unique control features and are perfect for back pains. There are also self-adjusting mattresses that inflate and deflate different air chambers automatically and help with bedsores (decubitus ulcers). Camping air beds contain foam that expands and lets in the air when the valve is opened and inflates itself. With this mattress, campers do not have to carry pumps. 

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Mattress

Various factors need to be considered when purchasing a mattress to provide comfort, which includes;


A standard mattress consists of two essential parts, i.e., the support (core) layer, and the upholstery (comfort) layer. Ensure that the bed you purchase offers the maximum level of support and comfort.

The Right Size

Mattresses come in different sizes and are designed to fit standard beds. Their sizes vary between national dimensions in height, depth, and width, with most countries using terms such as ‘full,‘single,‘double,‘king,‘ or ‘queen.‘ Choosing the right size of mattress for your bed is crucial for the provision of comfort and support. 


The mattresses’ quality depends on hygiene, edge support, stability, and pressure distribution. A mattress’s firmness is also crucial in the quality of sleep that the user gets. Ensure that you get the right mattress that suits your sleeping style and provides the support and firmness you desire. 


A mattress should be as long-lasting as possible to give you value for money. It also needs to retain its original comfort and support for an extended period. Be sure to consider the materials, quality of manufacture, care requirements, and rigorousness of use. Quality latex pieces can last over 20-years; the innerspring core goes for over 10-years, while poor-quality foam may not go beyond 1-year

What Are The Different Bed Designs?

Beds come in different designs, including;

Platform Beds

These beds have wooden slats or a support design that doesn’t need a box-spring mattress. 

Low-Profile Bed

A low-profile is the most common type of bed in the contemporary world. Its low-profile design feature defines this piece as it is close to the ground. This bed typically requires a box-spring mattress and is perfect for short individuals. A low-profile bed also makes a room look more extensive as it creates a wide-open feel. 

Panel Bed

This kind of bed features a footboard and headboard (both of which are wooden). These items are decorated with panel slats made of wood. Sometimes the bed may come with microfiber stuffing or entrenched leatherette. There are different shades of this bed, including cappuccino, oak cherry, white, and other dark wood hues. 

Bunk Bed

Two beds are stacked together to form a bunk bed. These beds are popular among children, teens, and college-going youth. The different designs include full over full, twin over full, and twin over twin. 


This type of bed is a roll-out bed that is easily movable and goes underneath the bed. A majority of these pieces of furniture are twin size which is either wooden or metallic. The bed is ideal for hosting guests at night, and one can add them to other types such as captain and bunk beds. 


A captain bed features a headboard with shelf storage ideal for decorative items like books and alarm clocks. One can also store pillows and blankets below the headboard or a trundle under the bed for guests sleeping over. Captain beds come in different shades such as navy blue, oak, black, white, birch, pecan, and walnut. 


Both beds and mattresses are used for sleeping on or for resting. You can place a mattress on the floor and use it without a bed. But, you need a mattress as part of the bed for it to be comfortable. There are different types of beds and mattresses and what you chose determines the level of comfort and support you get. 

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