Mattress Sizes

In the United States, the mattress industry has adopted standard sizes. Sheets, bedspreads, and mattress pads should be purchased to match the size of the mattress, and they are labeled to indicate the mattress size they fit.

For interior design, the dimensions of mattresses may be useful in planning:

Type Width Length
Twin (Single) 39" 75"
Full (Double) 54: 75"
Queen 60" 80"
King 76" 80"
California King 72" 84"


The King bed is substantially wider than the Queen at 76”. That’s over 6 feet wide. Like the Queen it is 80” long. The California King is slightly narrower (72”) but even longer at 84”. Sheets for King-sized beds are more expensive and they require three pillows.

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Mattresses are manufactured according to standardized sizes. A full size mattress is 54 inches in width and 74 inches in length, only 15 inches wider than that of a twin, or single, size mattress, which is 39 inches by 74 inches. A full size (sometimes referred to as a double) mattress is best for children and young teens; recommendations state sleepers should be under 5 feet 5 inches and space is sufficient for only one. A queen size mattress measures 60 inches by 80 inches and provides ample room for two sleepers. The queen size is the most popular selling mattress size in today’s market. The Olympic Queen is a unique mattress size and is approximately 6 inches wider than a standard queen. For maximum space, the king size mattress is choice. At 78 inches wide and 80 inches long, each sleeper on a king size mattress has as much as 38 inches of personal space, nearly as much as if each had their own twin size mattress. A California King, shipped from the west coast, is longer than the standard king size, at 84 inches in length, 4 inches longer; however, it is 4 inches narrower, at only 72 inches wide. The largest mattress size available, in the United States and Canada, is the Grand King, measuring in at 80 inches wide and 98 inches long. This mattress most definitely lives up to its name.

The weight of a mattress varies greatly, mostly depending on the mattress’s core. This feature provides support for the sleeper. Usually, the core of a mattress consists of inner springs, containing anywhere between 300 to 1,000 steel coil springs. The most commonly found springs in a mattress are Bonnell springs, the oldest and most frequently used in the market. The core of a mattress may also be made of foam, an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional spring mattress. A memory foam or latex foam is used for the core and the thickness in each varies. The foam mattress has many benefits; the foam provides unique comfort and support by adjusting and conforming to the sleeper’s body, providing not only support but releasing pressure points as well. Latex foam is also hypo-allergenic, resistant to dust mites, bacteria, mold and mildew. Air mattresses are an additionally popular choice in the current market. Providing support through the use of air chambers, air holes are enclosed in the core of the mattress. This distributes a flexible firmness that can be adjusted according to various levels. The air mattress supplies an increasingly improved foundation and produces appropriate positioning for the sleeper’s back and spinal column. The core of a mattress, whether it consists of springs, foam or air, is the most important aspect for the support of the sleeper.

Layered on top of the core of a mattress are the upholstery layers, which consist of the insulator layer, the middle upholstery and the quilt or decorative component. The insulator is positioned directly on the core, or the inner springs in a spring core mattress. Its purpose is to separate the core layer and the above, middle upholstery or cushioning layer, from discomfort or deformations from the coils. The middle, cushioning layer consists of materials designed for advanced comfort. The number and thickness of cushioning layers can vary and comfort, by many, is associated with the thickness of these layers. The top layer of a mattress is the quilt, or decorative feature, offered in a variety of styles and colors. This layer is actually cut into 4 panels of the mattress: top, bottom and 2 side panels. Flanges are then used, which are connecting panels, affixed to the quilt with large, round staples, or hogs rings. Finalizing the completion of this layer, the top, bottom and side panels of the mattress will be stitched together. This layer, protecting the mattress’s core or support layer, delivers surface comfort.

The fundamental elements of a mattress consist of three basics: sufficient size, supportive core and appealing surface comfort. Quality and comfort are key factors when reviewing these essentials. Deciding what fits your needs will ensure your peaceful sleep and contribute to your good health.

Mattresses for pain

See our page on futons.


Disposing of old mattresses

The Salvation Army will take donations of mattresses, but they prefer items that are in decent condition. Don't call them if your old mattress is too dilapidated. The good thing about the Salvation Army is that they will come pick up the mattress, and sometimes you can even leave the mattress outside if you aren't going to be home. Call your local Salvation Army (they are in the phone book) to confirm that they will take mattresses and to schedule a pick up.

If the mattress is too sunken or too torn up or you've been letting your dogs sleep on it, don't give it to charity. Throw it away. Two possibilities here: (1) take it to the dump/tip or (2) have your garbage collection service pick it up.

If you have a truck or vehicle big enough for the mattress, you can load it up and drive to the landfill. They will probably charge you a tipping fee. Alternatively, there are companies that will carry off large items like this for you, for a fee. Look in the yellow pages or do an internet search for junk or recycling or waste disposal.

Your municipal garbage service will probably take the mattress, but not as a part of their routine service. Some services specify certain days or weeks during the year when they will do "bulk pickup". At those times you can put your old mattress out on the curb and a special truck will come by and haul it away. On most normal pickup days, most services will not take away your mattress. It is difficult for us to give general guidelines on this matter. Call your local garbage people - in the phone book under county or city solid waste services.

Conigliaro Industries's website says recycling a mattress saves 23 cubic feet of landfill space. They are promoting their recycling system, so you have to take that into consideration

Slate magazine has an article on "how to be eco-friendly when buying a mattress" which says the carbon footprint of a mattress is negligible, but the manufacturers use green pitches to sell their product. The industry has even established a "certified" foam mattress program.


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