The Right Kind of Base for Any Mattress
You found a mattress you love. The next question on your mind very well might be: What should I put it on? Should I save a few bucks by tossing it onto my current box spring and metal bed frame—or should I shell out some more money to invest in the matching foundation? What about those wooden bases with slats? And should I spring for an adjustable base?
There's no one right answer to that question, explains Samantha Amedeo, a general manager for Saatva's Lineal adjustable mattress base. That's true whether you're sleeping on an innerspring, memory foam, or latex mattress. Typically, most foundations and frames will suit most mattresses, says Amedeo.
As long as the foundation you choose for your mattress provides support for it (meaning the base doesn't allow the mattress to sag in the center), the base won't affect your bed's longevity or comfort, she says. Some mattresses, such as latex, require solid support—in other words, a solid platform or slats no more than three inches apart. So it's a good idea to read the fine print (or ask the salesperson if you're buying a mattress in a store).
Another caveat is to check the details of the warranty for the specific mattress you have, notes Amedeo. Some manufacturers' warranties become void if you don't put the mattress on a support system or foundation that also comes from that brand, she explains.
Here's what else you should know about your different mattress support options:
Metal bed frame and box spring
Metal bed frames are one of the most traditional types of bed support systems, and they're what you place a box spring and then your mattress on top of. Rectangular in shape, metal bed frames are made of metal bars and have legs on each corner. If you do you use a metal frame, the box spring is a must, Amedeo says, otherwise the mattress would be inadequately supported in the frame.
If you're getting a queen, king, or California king mattress, then you need to make sure your metal bed frame has a leg that gets fitted down the center for additional support, Amedeo says.
Note that box springs are also frequently called “foundations" nowadays. Box springs used to actually have another set of coils inside to add extra flexibility and cushioning to thinner mattresses that went on top. But given the advances in technology, box springs now are used to provide height to a bed and, when used with a metal frame, support for the mattress.
Today, whether it's labeled a box spring or a foundation, it's probably made out of wood with a solid top or one made of slats, with or without a fabric covering.
A box spring and metal bed frame is usually the least expensive option when it comes to support options—unless you choose to put your mattress directly on the floor (more on that coming up).
Platform bases are usually made of wood or metal. They have a flat surface on top that you can put the mattress directly on top of, Amedeo says. “You eliminate the need for a box spring or foundation," she says.
The price of platform bases varies significantly, from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars, depending on how nice you want it to look and whether or not you want something that's of the highest quality. You could get an inexpensive one that's a fairly simply design and simply made—or you could get one that's more elaborate and very high quality for a much higher price tag.
One of the main reasons why you might want to consider a platform base is that it has a very contemporary look because they are low to the ground. This can also make your bedroom look more spacious, which is particularly beneficial if you have a small bedroom. Platform bases come with built-in storage underneath, another boon to those with limited space.
Learn More About Saatva's Platform Bed
Slatted bases provide essentially the same type of support as a platform base, but instead of having a solid flat surface on top, there's a series of slats that the mattress rests on. They're made so that you don't need to use a box spring. In general the slats should have gaps of no more than four inches in between, Amedeo says.
Learn More About Saatva's Adjustable Base
Adjustable bases have a motor and bend and flex so you can customize the position of the mattress. Most give you the option to incline head of the bed or raise the bottom portion (elevating your feet). Adjustable bases on today's market come with a lot of options and special features, from preset positions to under-bed lighting systems to massage settings to voice command controls. So shop around for the bells and whistles that meet your needs (and your fancy).
The majority of mattresses sold today are compatible with adjustable bases, Amedeo notes, including virtually any foam mattress. But if you're buying a mattress and base from different sources, check with the mattress manufacturer to know for sure.
(Learn more about Saatva's Lineal adjustable base and how it can enhance your sleep.)
A bunkie board is a board made out of plywood or particle board. They're usually about two inches in height. Bunkie boards can be used with an old box spring, foundation, or platform base for extra support. They're usually used with memory foam mattresses, which are heavier than innerspring ones. Bunkie boards originated as an extra support for bunk beds—hence their name. When used with a metal bed frame, the bed will be shorter. (Here's how to find the best mattress for marriage.)
Yes, you can put your mattress directly on the floor, which should provide adequate support for any mattress, Amedeo says. When your mattress is on the floor, that means you'll likely apply more pressure to the sides of the mattress getting in and out of it, which could affect the durability over time, Amedeo notes.
Did adjustable bases pique your interest? Here are five ways an adjustable base can improve your health.