Introduction to Featherbeds

A featherbed, despite its name, is not actually a bed. It is a soft rectangular bag filled with feathers and down and used to increase sleeping comfort and provide temperature regulation. It is made to lay on top of the mattress and to be protected with a covering. In fact, sometimes it is sold in a set with a cover. Notice that though this is very similar in some design elements to a duvet, it differs in purpose—a duvet is a soft rectangular bag filled with feathers and down and used as a blanket.

The bag itself should not be overlooked as an important element. If it is not a high quality fabric, feathers will stick through, making the featherbed highly uncomfortable. Also note that because the featherbed may be tightly packed for shipping, a newly purchased featherbed should be fluffed and aired to restore loft and dissipate any trapped odors.


Featherbeds come standard in many of the same sizes as mattresses:

Size Dimensions (inches) Dimensions (meters)
Twin 39” x 75” 1 m × 1.9 m
Full/Double 54” x 75” 1.35 m × 1.9 m
Queen 60” x 80” 1.5 m × 2.05 m
King 76” x 80” 1.95 m × 2.05 m
California King 72” x 84” 1.83 m x 2.13 m

Depending on the company, the sizes may also be several inches longer in both length and/or width.

Special Features

home institute 1 These are some of the special features that may be available for featherbeds:

    • They may be sold as part of a bedding set, with a down comforter, feather pillows, and covers for all items.

    • It may have baffled box construction for extra support. This means that there are internal fabric walls separating the top and bottom layers of fabric which divide the featherbed into boxlike sections and add loft and strength, keeping the down in place, and eliminating cold spots. Baffle boxes are smaller compartments than baffle channels, which run the whole length of the featherbed.

    • If a featherbed comes with a warranty, the warranty may require the use of a featherbed cover.

    • The thread count of both the featherbed “wrapper” and any protective cover may be given. It should be 200 at minimum.

    • There are synthetic filled mattress toppers that claim to have the feel of down. The filling may be a material like “Dupont premium synthetic fiber” or “Down alternative cluster” (which is polyester). These may be a hypo-allergenic alternative for allergy sufferers, or for those who don't want to purchase animal products.

    • Natural featherbeds may have either duck or goose down/feathers.

    • Gussets added at the edge of a featherbed helps the feathers stay fluffy right up to the edge. Gussets are often advertised as 2”, 3”, and 5” (5 cm, 7.6 cm, and 12.7 cm).

    • Some featherbeds are marketed as machine washable.

    • Some featherbeds are marketed as hypo-allergenic.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Introduction to Throw Blankets
  • Introduction to Dust Mites
  • Introduction to Blankets
  • Introduction to Mattress Toppers
  • Introduction to Mattresses
  • Bed Pillow Buying Guide