mattress firm girl

What do the different mattress 'firmnesses' mean?

We all have our own ideas on what makes a bespoke bed 'comfy'.

While you may like the mattress you sleep on as rigid as your kitchen worktop, most of us prefer some measure of 'give', even though we're still looking for good support.

In the end, however, the firmness of your bed really means the firmness of your mattress.

Whether you sleep on a divan, or on a slatted bed like our wooden beds, it's actually the construction and materials used in making the mattress that determines how it feels.

Firmness. In the eye of the beholder.

Beauty is said to be "in the eye of the beholder".

Well, it's rather the same for mattress firmness.

What's is a perfect matress for one person may feel rather too firm, or not really firm enough, to someone else.

So the first question to answer is... what is firmness? What are we actually talking about?

Understanding what firmness is.

The best way to think of firmness is as the level of resistance the mattress offers when you lie on it.

If you push down on the mattress with your hand, how resistant is the surface to your pushing action?

So what does 'firm' feel like?

Imagine that instead of just pressing the mattress with your hand, you lie down, so that your full weight is applied, spread out over the area of contact between your body and the mattress.

If the mattress gives little or no movement under the weight of your body, simply 'letting you lie on it', then that's a fairly firm mattress.

The core structure of the mattress doesn't really seem to notice you. It remains pretty much as it was to begin with.

It can still be extremely comfortable. The top surface may even be nicely padded to give you a little softness to lie in.

But underneath, at the core of the mattress, you can feel that it's stayed absolutely 'unmoved', regardless of your weight on top.

And what does 'not firm' feel like?

If you lie on a mattress that would be considered by most people as 'not very firm', what happens is different.

The core of that mattress gives a lot more under your weight.

It's not a failing. It's been designed to do this.

It's easiest to imagine this by thinking about springs, although today of course not all mattresses are made using springs.

Imagine two big springs, each say 10cm in diameter and 25cm high. One is firm: the other 'not very' firm.

Place your palm on each spring in turn and press down.

The 'firm' spring resists your pressure, hardly letting you compress it at all.

The 'not firm' spring lets you push it down more easily; let's you 'compress' it.

And that's the difference.

In a less firm mattress, the core will compress more readily under your weight, 'giving' more, so that you sink more snuggly down into it.

Yet it will always have a point at which it does hold firm - and that's why even a less 'firm' mattress will still provide a fair degree of support.

Is there a standard rating for how firm mattresses are?  

No there isn't.

Different mattress makers and bed retailers seem to adopt their own scales.

This can quickly become confusing, with five or more levels of 'firmness' to choose between, and then the added complication of whether a mattress of any particular firmness has 'surface softness' provided by a top layer of memory foam or upholstering.

What mattress firmnesses mean at Taurus.

We rate all mattresses, whether they are our own label or branded mattresses from third party manufacturers, using a simple three-level scale of firmness.

We base our rating of each mattress on two factors:

  • our own expert consideration of the way we know the mattress is constructed;
  • our experience of actually lying on the mattress for some time and seeing how it feels.

Medium Firm - our 'least firm' firmness rating.

We know the name can be a little confusing, but choose a mattress we've marked as Medium Firm if you like your bed to have a good degree of 'give', or to feel 'softer'. This doesn't mean it won't support you. But it means that the mattress will 'give' a good amount under your weight.

Firm - our 'middle' firmness rating.

Choose a mattress we've marked as Firm if you like a comfortable 'average' level of firmness. Your bed will give a little, but not too much, but certainly won't feel to hard. It'll also give you a good level of support. 

Extra Firm - our 'firmest' firmness rating.

Go for a mattress we've marked as Extra Firm if you want a mattress that gives very little under your weight. It can still have a soft surface (especially if you choose one of a Memory Pocket type mattress whether the structure is topped with a layer of memory foam). An Extra Firm mattress will provide a high degree of support beneath you.


If you're not sure about the firmness you'll like best, come in and see us if you live within a trip of our store in Swiss Cottage in North London.

We've got many of our models on display, and you're welcome to kick off your shoes and have a lie on them.

If you can't do that, but you'd like to discuss it further with us, just give us a call 020 7624 3024 or use our simple contact form.

what do the different mattress firmnesses mean?