DIY mattress; recommendations on encasement / mattress cover

So with my tight budget, I’m starting with a 6" Dunlop core, and will be adding pieces over time. I need to buy a mattress cover and am not finding many results on the internet. Wool versus cotton versus synthetic?

There seem to be a few people on this site with back problems, and it seems defeating to build all of these firm beds only to have 2" of squishy mattress padding on top.

Your thoughts?

Hi traumere1838,

There are some sources for mattress covers of many types in post #4 here.

There are many choices but the main ones would be between a stretch knit unquilted type of cover that would allow you to stretch with and feel more of the layers below it and a quilted cover (which could be quilted with foam, synthetic fibers, or wool) which would modify the feel of the layers below it more.

Some general guidelines are … natural more breathable fabrics in the cover material will do a better job of providing breathability and temperature and moisture regulation. The most popular choices would be cotton or a viscose rayon type of fabric (such as bamboo or a bamboo cotton blend) which is also very soft, wicks moisture well, and is also very breathable although it’s not completely natural and is more of a “semi synthetic” fabric.

The choice of what to use in the quilting of the cover (or having no quilting at all) would depend on what was important to you. A wool quilting can be used to pass the fire regulations instead of using other types of fire retardent manterials, it is very temperature and moisture regulating, and there is some evidence that it can lead to deeper sleep. The compressed wool fibers though may have more effect on the “feel” of the layers below it depending on how soft they are and the thickness and compression of the wool.

Synthetic fibers are not as durable as wool and don’t have the same benefits or durability but they are cheaper and can add some breathability and softness to the mattress.

Foam in the quilting will of course also affect the feel of the mattress depending on the type and softness of the foam used and for some this can be a benefit (in thin layers that don’t “take over” the comfort layers) but for some it will take away from the feel of the layers below them. Quilting foam can also add breathability and surface softness to the mattress.

The cover also needs to be good quality to protect the foam inside it from exposure to things that will degrade it prematurely (ozone and ultraviolet for example in the case of latex).

A mattress needs to keep the spine in alignment in all the normal sleeping positions. This means that a mattress that is too firm or doesn’t have a sufficient comfort layer would be just as non supportive as a mattress that is too soft or where the softer comfort layers are too thick.

Primary support in a mattress comes from the deeper layers which will “stop” the heavier parts from sinking in too far. Secondary support comes from the upper layers which need to “allow” the different parts of the body to sink in enough before they reach the firmer support layers so that the gaps in the sleeping profile (the curves of the spine) are filled in. This means that each person may need a different combination of firmness underneath and softness/thickness on top to provide both types of support and what is “best” for each person depends on their body type, sleeping positions, and preferences.

Firmer mattresses with no comfort layers (for pressure relief and secondary support) can be just as unsupportive for some people as mattresses that are too soft. The key is always in finding the best combination of softness and firmness that is most suitable for each person … not just one or the other.