Everyone likes to draw comparisons between products, whether it is regarding vehicles, houses, food, electronics…pretty much all products.  Usually products have some sort of measurable way of comparing, like horsepower with cars, or resolution on TV’s, or ingredients in foods.  This is how consumers decipher what products best suit their needs at the time.

Mattresses are a unique product when trying to compare.  Consumers cannot see what is inside the bed therefore rely on the retail sales associates to explain each beds features and benefits.  However, the (RSA’s)are very vague when trying to explain the specifications on each bed simply because they don’t know the specs to all 60 beds in their showroom.  They focus on feel and the deal.

Coil count is one of the few ways consumers feel comfortable comparing mattresses – but should they?  There are three main varieties of coil systems, Bonnell, Continuous/Offset, and Pocket used in innerspring mattresses which offer different features and benefits.  Unfortunately for the consumer these systems come in a wide variety coil counts and gauges (coil thickness), which can be very confusing.

The coil gauge of a mattress measures is the thickness of the coils inside.  As an industry insider I find the thickness of the gauge is more important than the actual count.  Mattress coil gauges most commonly range from 12 to 17. Contrary to what we are used to, a higher gauge number means a thinner coil wire, and a lower number means a thicker gauge.

So what is the best coil count and gauge?  Well, that depends on the system.

The Bonnell coil which is primarily used in inexpensive mattresses and has approximately a 400 coil count in a queen size.  One of the oldest coil systems with on the market.  Strong and sturdy coil with one of the thickest gauges (12), but it offers very little if any conformity.  Continuous/Offset coil systems are sold as youth/kids beds or entry level adult beds.  Coil counts range from 500 to 800 with gauges of 14, 15.  This system offers a little bit more conformity but the feel of the system is very ‘bouncy’, which is very popular with the kids but not so much with adults.  Coil count is redundant with this type of system, I would more focus on mattresses with a 14 gauge.

The pocket coil which has dominated sales in the industry for sales for the last century because its unique individually wrapped coils that offer a blend of support and conformity.  Coil counts range from 700 to 1800 with gauges that range from 14 to 18.  With pocket coils both the count and gauge play a big role on how the mattress will feel.  The higher number of coils results in thinner gauge (17,18) and smaller coils which can be great for conformity but problematic for durability.  A 800 coil count pocket coil with a 14 gauge can be great for support but offer little conformity which is a big selling feature of the pocket coil system.

I recommend a pocket coil with a 14 gauge and a coil count ranging from 850 to 1050 in a queen size for the perfect balance of support, conformity, and durability.  Based on historical data from mattress returns, I would not recommend pocket coils with a gauge of 16 or higher.

Other factors to consider regarding coil systems is whether they are tempered steel and offer more support in the middle where people need it.  Most coil systems are tempered steel which provides strength and durability, however not all offer a “posterized center”.  Doesn’t matter who you are or your body shape, everyone needs more support for their mid-section, which is the heaviest part of the body.

Remember, it is not all about the coil count.  Gauge plays a big role as well.