Lesson 1 – Anatomy of a Mattress

Learn the 3-part construction of a mattress so you know where your money goes.

Every mattress has one thing in common: they’re all built in much the same way.

The 3 layers of a mattress:


The core is the very center of the mattress — the innermost layer. The core is what makes a mattress feel supportive. Common core materials include spring coil units, cotton, latex, or foam. Rarely are mattress problems due to the core, unless there’s been faulty construction.


Comfort layers go around the core to make the mattress, well, comfortable. They’re enclosed within the cover, so they’re not visible to the eye. Common comfort layer materials include cotton, wool, latex, or foam. Most of a mattress’s cost is in the comfort layer. Also, most mattress problems happen in the comfort layers, when materials degrade more quickly than a customer expects. Typically, comfort layers that contain chemical compounds (i.e. memory foam, gel foam, and other types of foams) wear out within the first three to five years of ownership. A plant-based comfort layer — like cotton, wool, or botanical latex — will last much longer.


The quilt is the topmost layer of the mattress — what’s visible to the eye in the showroom. Common quilt materials include cotton, polyester, or a blend. Shoppers should never judge a mattress by its quilt — at least, not what it looks like. A more decorative-looking quilt doesn’t mean a more comfortable or more durable mattress. However, it’s smart to take a close look at what the quilt is made of, as that will affect breathability and hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties.

And there you have it: the 3 layers of a mattress.

The more you know, the smarter you can shop and the more likely you are to leave the store with a new mattress you feel great about purchasing. Even more importantly, the likelier you are to still love your mattress one, three, even seven or ten years later.

Now that you know what goes into a typical mattress, it’s time to think about what you’re looking for in your next mattress.

2 thoughts on “Lesson 1 – Anatomy of a Mattress

  1. Roark says:

    This information is helpful and very much appreciated! After spending too much time already, reading many, many mattresses reviews, it is encouraging to find out mattresses are still made to last by some. I fully get why a mattress that is two sided or flippable can last much, much longer.

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