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Divan Bed Buying Guide


Time for a new bed....? Our bed buying guide at Jones & Tomlin

When a bed is no longer providing proper support and comfort, it affects the quality of our sleep. People are often unaware that their bed may be one of the reasons why they are not sleeping well. Every year up to 40% of the population will suffer a stint of back pain and if you're one of the unlucky ones, you will find that the state of your bed will quickly become a priority.

A good bed, providing correct support and comfort, has an incredibly important role to play in relieving and preventing back pain, here are some tips that we can offer when looking for a new bed:

  • Don't just buy a bed because it says it's good for your back. A bed that's supportive and comfortable is key. But it is important to remember that people's requirement for support will differ depending on their weight and build.
  • Look for a supportive rather than a hard bed. The term 'orthopaedic' generally just means a firmer bed; it is not based on any medical or other common standard. Firmness is not determined by price, although comfort, luxury and durability come with higher price tags.
  • There's no "right" bed to ease a back problem and each different back problem also may require a different solution. The best approach is to research the options carefully, take time to choose what you personally want, regardless of labels.
  • A bigger bed will be of benefit both for the back pain sufferer and for their partners - with less partner disturbance. zip and link beds are a good option if firmness preferences differ widely or where a future requirement for two separate beds is identified.
  • Think also about the height of the bed: can you get in and out of it with relative ease compared to the height of your current bed? An adjustable bed might be an option if this is an area of particular concern - it also offers variable sleeping positions.
  • Many mattresses need to be turned regularly to ensure even wear and tear. If this is likely to prove difficult (and higher quality mattresses are heavy) then look for a mattress which does not need regular turning - there are a number of options of all types of construction now on the market with non-turn and seasonal-turn mattresses.

It can be a false economy to change only the mattress and keep the original base, especially if you are buying a divan. The old base could reduce the useful life of a mattress as well as the support and comfort it can offer. It could also invalidate manufacturers' warranties or guarantees.

Types of Spring Systems

Divan beds may look broadly similar, but there are vast differences between them all. Here we give you a run through of the different types available:

open_coil_4_225Open Coil - is the most commonly used spring system on the market today, variations of the open coil can be found in Silentnight's Miracoil beds or Sealy's Posturepaedic beds.

Springs are arranged in rows and connected to one another, top and bottom by a spiral helical wire with a heavy gauge outer rod to strengthen the perimiter.

There are typically around 325 coils in a kingsize open coil mattress. Changing the number of coils, thickness of the wire and height of the spring unit will alter the feel, firmness and weight distribution of each mattress.

Please click here to view open coil beds in our online store.

Sides are generally machine stitched on an open coil mattress, purely for aesthetic reasons.

Pocket Springspocket_springs_225 - are more luxurious, with small (typically softer) springs housed in individual fabric pockets, allowing them to function independently of one another, profiling to the shape of your body to reduce pressure points, VI-Spring, Somnus and Hypnos divan sets are perfect examples of tried and tested traditional pocket springing which offer true independent support.

Independent support means that there is very little transfer of movement from one sleeping partner to another, a vast improvement when compared to an open coil unit. They are ideal if there is a size or weight difference between you and your partner.

Spring counts can vary anywhere from 600 up to an incredible 34,500 in the Somnus Connaught bed, typically speaking a higher spring count will give more independent support, spreading the sleepers weight more evenly accross the mattress. Remember a mattresses spring count isn't everything as many variations such as quantity and quality of fillings are equally, if not more important.

Please click here to view pocket sprung beds in our online store.

memory_foam_2_225_01Memory Foam - is a polyurethane foam with additional chemicals to adapt its viscosity and density.

Higher density memory foam will soften with reaction to body heat, lower density memory foam is prodominently touch sensitive and moulds to the shape of the body quickly, returning to its original shape once the pressure is removed.

They facilitate good blood circulation and contribute towards muscle relaxation.

Helps to maintain a correct posture and align your spine horizontally when lying on your side.

Memory foam mattresses are hypo-allergenic with anti-microbial properties and are generally completely free from dust mites throughout their life, perfect for allergy sufferers. Have a look at Salus beds for a great example of a British memory foam bed maker.

Please click here to view memory foam beds in our online store.

latex_2_225_02Latex - is a very durable and versatile naturally derived material that is produced by tapping the 'rubber' tree.

As with memory foam, latex is hypo-allergenic with anti-microbial properties, being great for allergy sufferers. Latex mattresses are selling as well as memory foam mattresses in todays market. Look at the modern Jensen beds or traditional Dunlopillo beds

This material has little holes within their cores to avoid the latex from scorching during the manufacturing process, these have a side benefits of making the foam pliable and more breathable. The larger and more numerous the holes are, the more softer the mattress will feel.

Please click here to view latex beds in our online store.

Other Spring Systems

Miracoilmiracoil_22_200 - The unique Miracoil spring system is manufactured from one continuous spring that runs head to toe distributing body weight up and down the bed. This ensures that the bed gives you and your partner a good support. Miracoil is Silentnight's popular sleep range and gives you zoned support that is better for your back, aiding pressure relief. Silentnight Miracoil has been enhanced to feature an extra sensitive support layer to provide more targeted support.  With even more gentle cushioning around the shoulder and neck area and more sensitive support around the hips. Please click here to view Silentnight beds in our online store.

open_coil_3_133_01Sealy PosturepedicSealy's Posturepedic beds feature Titanium alloy springs which retain 98% of their original height and support characteristics for the life of your mattress. Sealy mattresses also feature the CoreSupport Center. The center third of the mattress (the area that gets the most use) is power-packed to enhance support where you need it most. Sealy's Edge Guard is a construction around that edge of the mattress that gives it more stability. This means you can sleep right up to the edge of the mattress without it buckling so your sleep won’t be disrupted. The Sealy Edge Guard extends the sleeping surface of your bed by about 6 inches compared to other mattresses and also helps retain overall mattress structure. Please click here to view Sealy beds in our online store.

posturfil_or_sensa_195Posturfil - (unique to Parker beds) offers support to the natural arch of the lumbar region and is arranged in sheets of mini pocket springs, designed as an enhancement to the contouring properties of the mattress and helping to reduce the settlement of the finer fillings. Posturfil pocket springs are only 38mm high and works in conjunction with the Revolution pocket spring by contouring and filling the natural curves of the body and also improves the loft of the upholstery. The typical spring count of one sheet of Posturfil to fit a king size bed is 1000 pocket springs. Please click here to view Parker beds in our online store.

High Density (HD) Pocket Springs - HD springs are very similar to Posturfil, HD springs distribute your weight between more springs and so reduces the build up of pressure points that cause sleep disturbance. The HD spring HD has a lesser diameter and smaller height at only 18mm high and is the world’s first pressure relieving pocket spring, moving freely with the contours of your body which further enhance the comfort and support of the spring system. Spring count for the HD spring is equivalent to over 2000 springs per king size sheet and minimises the settlement of the natural fillings. Please click here to view Parker beds in our online store.

Sensa IP socket springs - are unique to our Somnus range of beds, this multi-tiered spring system is believed to be the most advanced in the world allowing significantly more springs to be built into every bed in the Somnus Collection. The superior system dissipates the sleeper's weight across a greater number of independent Sensa pocket springs.

Revolution springsrevolution_180 - offer a great level of support by contouring perfectly with your body. A larger pocket spring with an additional smaller pocket spring nestling inside provides additional tension when more pressure is applied, meaning you get exactly the right amount of extra support when and where it is needed, whilst the outer spring remains soft and responsive against your body.

Upholstery Fillings

Mattresses are made up of a number of layers of upholstery materials. The differing properties of these materials and the way they are layered have a profound effect on the feel, comfort, breathability and quality of any mattress. Fillings are chosen for their resilience, durability, flexibility and ability to dissipate body moisture and can be natural, synthetic, or a combination of both.


Polyester - is a synthetic, and one of the most cost effective materials with good recovery properties

Visco Elastic - or more commonly known as 'memory foam', with a unique feel, it slowly responds to body temperature and weight, taking the shape of the user, and slowly recovers its original shape when heat and pressure are removed (see above for more information)

Latex - is a premium quality material derived from the sap of the rubber tree. It has a destinctive, resilent feel, is very durable and has anti-microbial properties that offer benefits to allergy sufferers. Latex has a natural elasticity and recovers its shape immediately when pressure is removed (see above for more information)

White Fibre - is a synthetic upholstery which is a man-made subsitute for the more traditional style hair fillings. White fibre has good resilience and is much more cost-effective to produce than horse-hair, but does not have the same responsiveness



Cotton - is a unicellular, natural fibre that grows in the seed pod of the cotton plant. Cotton does a perfect job of wicking moisture away from the body during sleep, we can perspire as much as one pint of fluid in one night, or two if you are sharing the bed, so it is the material of choice for most high end manufacturer's to use near the surface of the mattress to disperse this excess moisture. It also gives soft feel and has an excellent ability to breathe to ensure you a healthy nights sleep.

pg12_wool_rt_141Lambswool - is a naturally resilent fibre, creating a luxurious feel with good fire retardancy properties, again a very popular filling choice amongst the elite bed manufacturers. Because wool is a by-product of a natural fibre, it has hydroscopic properties that enable it to absorb dampness or moisture from perspiration and moves it across the fibres without becoming wet itself. Similar to cotton, wool can regulate body temperature well, keeping you cool in the summer, and acts as an insulator during winter.

Coir Fibre - is found between the husk and the outer shell of a coconut. It is generally manufatured into pads which are then packed next to the springs to help with insulation and also to prevent the spring penetrating the fabric, typically used in divan bases as a cheaper alternative to pressed wool or synthetic pads.

pg17_horsehair_rt_141_01Hair - is a highly resilent fibre, often described as "nature's spring", when you have enough curled horse hair in a pile, it creates a supportive platform that allows air and moisture to move right through it. Horse hair acts like having thousands of springs due to it's quick response as a mattress upholstery, bouncing back after compression due to the fibres strength. Horse hair is one of the few natural materials that is comfortable to sleep on, but doesn't absorb any water from perspiration.

Mohair - refers to the silk-like textile fibre produced as a simple fleece from Angora goats, it is one of the oldest textile fibres in production today. The lustrous, long and strong hair has distinctive properties offering great durability, resistance to moisture-wicking, stretch, flame and crease. Mohair is also warm as it has great insulating properties.

pg17_cashmere_rt_141_01Cashmere & Pashmina - is a luxury fibre wool obtained from the soft fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat, generally sourced from southern Asia. Cashmere is characterized by its fine, soft fibers. It provides a natural light-weight insulation without bulk, some manufacturers will add a 10% silk content to their cashmere or pashmina mix for added loft to the mattresses upholstery.

Silk - is a prized natural filament fibre produced by the silkworm; one of the oldest textiles in the world. For centuries silk has had a reputation as a luxurious and sensuous fabric associated with wealth and success. Natural silk constantly equalizes temperature; so it feels cool when you are hot and warm when you are cold.

Hempure / Hemptex - with it's excellent properties for absorbency and strength and because it's grown without the use of pesticides, Hempure and Hemptex actually absorb carbon dioxide so are therefore a natural and greener alternative to the oil based polyester fibres which are used in many other mattresses, as can be found in our Somnus range of divan sets one of the very few ranges that can promote 100% natural fillings.

pg108_needle__thread_rt_141_01Flax - the common name for Linacae, a family of annual herbs, flax is strong, and very durable. The twine is used for the genuine hand side-stitching on high end specification beds such as VI-Spring, Somnus and Millbrook. Genuine side-stitching can take up to 8 hours per mattress, a skill only aquired by the most accomplished craftsmen empolyed by the bed manufacturers elite.

Covers / Finishes

Ticking - is the cover used for the mattress, and is important in the overall comfort feel of your bed. Top end manufacturer's like ViSpring and Somnus use a 100% viscose cover, a strong, naturally derived material that is extremely durable when stretched.

Jacquard - is a type of fabric, woven on a complex loom to create elaborate patterns on one side of the material. In contemporary furnishing the term Jacquard is used to refer to the type of loom that is used to weav modern fabrics such as damask.

Damask - is a reversible, soft, glossy fabric woven on a jacquard loom to form intricate and decorative patterns. It is made of several fibres and blends such as linen, and offers a rich and durable finish.

Microquilting - or 'panel quilting' is a type of decorative stitch which holds the fillings inside the mattress in place by running a stitch across the surface of the mattress in a pattern creating a flat sleeping surface, it is ideal for those who prefer a very smooth, even feel.

tufts2_141Hand Tufting - involves pinning the fillings at specific points on the surface of the mattress with a long stitch that runs from the surface down through the inside of the mattress to the core of the spring unit, they look like buttons pressed onto the mattress and create a wavy surface. Hand tufting is found on most of the more expensive pocket sprung mattresses.

side_stitching_800x600_141Side-stitching - is a labour intensive process involving the perimeter rows of pocket springs to be directly sewn to the side panels of the mattress to give complete and absolute edge to edge support and prevent the side panels from bulking out over time. Genuine hand side-stiching is normally only found amongst the elite bed makers, lower end manufacturers will generally machine stitch their mattresses, purely for aesthetic reasons.

Aloe Vera - the medicinal uses for Aloe Vera have earned it well deserved recognition as one of the best natural or herbal sleep aids in existence today. The Aloe Vera element of our mattresses helps to ward off Bacteria, Mould, Mites and Insects. Aloe Vera is widely known for its ability to renew skin cells and remove dead skin cells, helping to maintain the natural balance of your skin, just a couple of examples of what this magical plant can do for your health.

Tencel - fibres help keep you cool and dry, and can be found in the majority of our Sealy bed collection. The fibrils of Tencel are hydrophilic and optimize the absorption of moisture with excellent cooling properties, this excelent moisture absorbtion guarantees that the sleeping area remains pleasantly dry thus enhancing sleep.


Access: If you are worried about getting the bed upstairs, remember all divans have split bases, while many bedsteads are delivered in pieces for assembly in situ.

Being disturbed by a sleeping partner is one of the most common complaints. With a larger bed you are less likely to disturb one another. You should be able to lie side by side, with your arms behind your head and your elbows out, without touching eachother.

click here to see our size guide.


Here we discuss divan bases and the different types of divan base construction that are available at Jones & Tomlin, as most mattresses are used in combination with one of various types of divan base as listed below:


Sprung Edge - Sprung edge divan bases (not as the name suggests) feature a complete open coil or pocket spring unit mounted on a frame. Considered the most luxury option, they provide support accross the whole mattress with no hard edges and act like a giant shock absorber, which creates a softer feel and takes a lot of strain off the mattress, increasing the mattresses durability and lifetime. Please click here to view beds with fully sprung bases.

Firm Edge - Firm edge divan bases are less commonl used, they generally feature a smaller number of larger, heavy duty springs within a rigid, wooden sided frame. Firm edge divan bases will still soften any mattress and can help to prevent "roll out". Firm edge divans are strong in construction but do not provide the comfortable edge that exists on the sprung edge base. Please click here to view beds with firm edge bases.

Platform Top Solid or platform top divan bases do not have any springs to help support the mattress, they are constructed with a wooden frame and have a rigid, non-sprung top panel, often made from hardboard, which is generally then upholstered with a layer of padding on top. Beds with these bases are generally firmer, as well as cheaper than beds with sprung bases, and are normally used in conjunction with orthopaedic mattresses. Please click here to view beds with platform top bases.

pg104_ziplink_hands_zipping_rt2_199_01Zip and Linking - Zip and Linking is the perfect solution for couples that prefer different comfort preferences. This system allows partners to select their individual comfort choices, whether soft, medium or firm. Additionally zip and link beds can separate into individual single beds whenever required, if one person is ill and needs complete rest without being disturbed by the other partner getting in and out of bed. It has also been the case as couples get older they sometimes want to change to single beds. If you and your partner are of a different stature including height and weight then again you may require different mattresses to give you both a supportive and comfortable nights sleep. When zipped together the two mattresses act as one, but you may feel a slight ridge down the middle (a quilted mattress protector will alleviate this. A zip and link bed also has the advantage in making it easier to carry it up to a bedroom especially if the staircase is very narrow or has a sharp turn. Please click here to view 'zip and link' beds.

drawer_250Storage options - Under-bed storage can be useful if space in your home is at a premium. Storage drawers do not affect the comfort or quality of the bed, but it does normally cost a little more. A few manufacturers will offer deals on certain divan sets with the storage drawers at no extra cost. An ottoman base is also an option to choose with some manufacturers. Please click here to view beds with storage options.


Click here to buy a new bed in our Online Store


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Jones and Tomlin

Jones & Tomlin is a Sussex-based family-run bed specialist established in 1946.

Business Address: 69 Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HR, GB. Tel: 01903 210266. Email:

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