Bonnell Spring vs Pocket Spring


Bonnell spring and pocket spring mattresses are both types of “innerspring mattresses”.

In these mattresses, the core is made of springs, or coils, that support the sleeper. Innerspring mattresses are durable, springy (of course), and comfortable. People of different weights can sleep on these beds and the springs will conform to the shape of the sleeper’s body.

Most of us will have slept on bonnell spring mattresses at some point in our lives. Pocket springs on the other hand are relatively new compared to bonnell springs – so let’s bounce in to see how these beds are wired.

Coil Jargon

There are some terms that are common when discussing the coils in a mattress, regardless of whether you’re talking about bonnell spring or pocket spring.

The thickness of the wire that makes up the springs is referred to as the “coil gauge”. The thicker the coil, the lower the gauge. Most beds will use coils gauged between 12-15, so if you want a bed on the firmer side, look for 12-13, and look at 14-15 for a springier, softer feel. The higher the gauge, the springier but also less durable the coils will be. However, generally it is the comfort levels in a mattress that will give way before the core layer, so durability of the coils will probably not be your biggest concern.

Coils can also be measured in terms of how many loops the coil makes – known as the “working turns”. The higher this number, the more tightly wound the spring is. The bed will feel softer, and be more durable as the weight of the sleeper is supported by more wire.

The last bit of jargon specifically to do with coils is the coil count, or spring count – the number of springs in the mattress. Between 800 and 1000 is great for a queen sized mattress.

Many manufacturers try to claim the more coils the better, but past a certain amount, this isn’t necessarily so. There are just so many things that make up a mattress and affect the quality that this is but a minor point. Sure, avoid the mattresses that have 400 coils in a queen size, but don’t spring out for a 2000 coil mattress simply because it has 2000 coils. The level of support an innerspring mattress provides depends on the coil gauge and working turns, as well as the other materials filling the mattress, much more so than just the number of coils. Don’t fall for the gimmick.

Bonnell Spring

What is a Bonnell Spring Mattress?

The Bonnell Spring mattress is probably the most traditional spring mattress technology available these days – but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s outdated. The coils in the Bonnell mattress are interconnected and are shaped like hourglasses so that the springs are narrower in the middle.

How Bonnell Spring Mattresses are usually constructed?

The support, or core, layer of the bonnell spring mattress is key to this type of bed. The ends of each coil is “pigtail” wrapped around itself so that it doesn’t scratch through any other layers, then the coils are in turn attached to very tightly “pigtailed” wires which connect them all. The wire that makes up the outer frame on the top and bottom is thicker to help with edge support and to allow you to sit on the edge of the bed without sliding off. There are also thick steel brackets along the edges of the bed to help with edge support.

This steel coil structure is then attached to comfort layers, which are often quilted and made of foams (possibly memory or latex in hybrid mattresses), wools or other fibres. Then the sides of the bed are attached, and the edges of the bed are sewed up to complete the product.

The quality and type of these comfort layers also has a huge influence on the comfort and feel of the bed, which is why you can’t just rely on a spring count to guess whether a bed will be comfortable for you or not.


This type of mattress supports the body evenly (though not quite as comfortably vs the Pocket spring mattress) and is extremely durable. It offers a familiar feel for people who have grown up sleeping on traditional spring mattresses. It’s also considerably cheaper than the pocket spring system – most budget spring beds are going to use a bonnell spring system.


However, because of the springs being interconnected, there may be discomfort experienced on the pressure points that aren’t particularly well supported. And because all the springs are connected, so are you and your sleeping partner. Any movement on one side of the bed will be felt on the other. If you or your partner moves a lot while sleeping, this is something to think about.

Pocket Spring Mattresses

What is a Pocket Spring Mattress?

In a Pocket Spring mattress, each spring stands alone and is enclosed in cotton pockets to keep the springs from entangling or catching on anything. Because they are not connected to each other, they move independently. These free-standing springs are what give this mattress the particular advantages sleepers can enjoy in a pocket spring bed.

How are pocket spring mattresses usually constructed?

The pockets of material that house the springs are glued or sewn to the adjacent pockets, but the springs themselves can move singly. Aside from that, the construction of a pocket spring mattress is quite similar to that of the bonnell spring mattress. The pocketed coils are surrounded on the top and bottom by comfort layers (which can be varied, like the bonnell spring), then it’s all encased around the sides, and stitched up to make the final product.


This independent movement does present advantages in minimising movement transfer, so for couples sharing a bed, you’re much less likely to wake your partner when you go to get a glass of water. Also, due to the mattress conforming more to the sleeper’s shape, the pocket spring system offers more comfort and pressure point relief vs Bonnell spring system mattresses. (But check the foam in the other layers of the bed, as the quality of this foam may impact the quality of your sleep.)


The main drawback of the pocket spring mattress is the cost. Individual coils and pockets are costlier to make than the bonnell springs, and this will generally be reflected in the prices of the beds. Most innerspring beds of an average to premium standard will be pocket spring mattresses rather than bonnell spring mattresses, so be prepared for that in your budget.

One more thing to note, is that the Pocket springs can prevent movement while sleeping as the sleeper is more enveloped in the mattress. So for sleepers who move a lot at night, they could feel stuck and less able to move comfortably.

Bonnell Spring vs Pocket Spring Mattress Feature Comparison


Bonnell Spring Mattresses



  • Supports the body evenly
  • Extremely durable
  • More budget friendly (cheaper)
  • Discomfort may be experienced on pressure points not specially supported
  • Does not minimise movement transfer

Pocket Spring Mattresses



  • Minimises movement transfer
  • More comfort
  • More pressure point relief
  • Sleeper will sleep in a “crater”, so making it difficult to change position
  • Pricier compared to bonnell spring mattresses

Are there certifications for different type of coil mattresses?

There aren’t any specific certifications for the coils themselves. Most coils are generally made of steel. Sometimes, the coils aren’t made of just steel wire, but a combination of steel, manganese and carbon. This alloy is very strong, but as stated earlier, the comfort layers generally wear out a long time before the coils do. Regardless, these metals don’t emit harmful gases, so safety standards for coils aren’t that relevant.

However, both types of mattresses use other textiles for the comfort layers as well, so you will find that some mattresses have certain certifications for these materials. Textile products that meet the international OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification requirements are free of substances that harm people’s health. There are also standards such as GECA, that indicate the products bearing this label are more environmentally friendly, and healthier for humans. Not all Australian beds will have these standards, but those that do can give you that peace of mind.

Final Thoughts

Different springs will have a different effect on how comfortable your bed feels, and there’s a few points of consideration. Innerspring beds are not the only type of beds though, so check out the different types of foam beds commonly available here!

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