A Brief History of Mattresses

Mid 1800’s

  1. mattress cores are constructed using cotton or wool
  2. for those who could afford it a featherbed made from down was available as an added comfort layer.

Late 1800’s

  1. metal springs were introduced to the furniture industry within the seat cushion or within the supporting frame.
  2. the same technology began to be employed in mattresses. Metal springs provide the support core and the cotton or wool provided the comfort layer
  3. box spring mattress foundations were introduced to supply a metal spring support core for the inexpensive all cotton mattresses which were the predominant mattress of choice.

Mid 1930’s

  1. thanks to a reduction in the cost of production, mattresses with a metal spring core and a simple cotton comfort layer became the predominant mattress of choice. 
  2. the thickness of mattress was increased to accommodate the metal spring core. 


  1. solid wire rigid edge supports are introduced allowing coil mattresses to be thicker .
  2. instant motion response, high support, latex is introduced.
  3. the metal spring seat cushion was displaced by latex foam in the furniture industry. the millions of cushioning support cells far outperformed the few support springs.
  4. latex support cores and instant response comfort layers replaced metal springs and cotton in some parts of the world where these mattresses could be locally produced, like South America.


  1. the invention of polyurethane foam displaced the more expensive latex, totally eliminated the use of metal spring cushions and also became a superior replacement for cotton in the comfort layer of metal spring mattresses.
  2. some foam support core mattresses began to be produced, most typically for non residential use.


  1. metal springs were eliminated from the box foundation as rigid edge supports in the mattress replaced their function.
  2. with support springs built into the mattress, platform beds began to replace the box foundation based on better economics.
  3. the introduction of Talalay Latex reduced the cost of latex mattresses, which further increased their market share, particularly in Europe.
  4. the European style stressless cover is introduced.


  1. the advent of memory foam created a new residential mattress category with a homogeneous high density foam support core and the introduction of a delayed motion response comfort layer.
  2. new independent mattress manufacturers like us were able to experiment with their own version of mattresses with a foam support core and motion response comfort layer.
  3. metal spring core mattresses responded by becoming even thicker as layers of polyurethane foam, memory foam and/or latex are added to compete with the motion response comfort of the new foam mattresses.


  1. introduction of Gel-memory foam creates new temperature and motion response comfort options for mattress manufacturers.  


Metal springs are an invention from the mid 1800’s which are nearing the end of their life cycle. Based on performance, hundreds of coil count are easily replaced by millions of cushions. Most people are sleeping on foam, latex, memory or memory gel if they have a contemporary mattress because that is the product of choice for the motion response comfort layer. Nothing can compete with the support of millions of cushions. It’s time to eliminate outdated technology so you can take full advantage of a foam support core and a stressless cover. Visit your local mattress store and choose to see, hear and feel for yourself.