Putting Mattress Directly On A Bed Frame

Putting A Mattress Directly On A Bed Frame

April 26, 2016
bed framesIn the Bedroom

Question: Is It Okay To Put A Mattress On A Bed Frame Without The Box Spring?

This is possibly one of the most frequent questions we get asked. There are some real issues with doing this and frankly, it can damage your mattress if it’s not placed on the box spring or foundation that was designed to work with. While box springs and foundations have different names, they are very similar to one another in what they actually do; they are both designed to be used as the base support that goes directly underneath a mattress while sitting on top of a bed frame.

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Sitting A Mattress On A  Metal Bed Frame

Different types of mattresses will require different support and when you choose a Hollywood style frame or a bed frame that only has steel side rails with a few steel slats spanning the width there is NOT enough support to place a mattress directly on the frame. While adding additional steel slats seems like the best solution there simply wouldn’t be nearly enough even flat support.

In order to place a mattress on plank-type slats, they must be closely spaced with a sufficient number of feet supporting something like a thick solid plywood type deck that is similar to that of the old-time hard side waterbed. The specific spacing you can have between slats will depend on the warranty requirements of your mattress, but most good mattress producers recommend a spacing of the metal braces or wood laths to be no more than 2-3 inches apart. With that kind of proximity, it is important to note that a few or a couple of inches spacing is significantly closer than steel bed frame manufacturers build even with their best metal bed frames.

The fact is when you are using a bed frame that is made from steel or metal and has a length or width running middle support, that kind of bracing and construction will necessitate the use of a box spring or foundation.

What Are My Options

First, we need to understand that mattresses, box springs, and frames have very different jobs. The comfort portion of the bed is the mattress which sits directly on top of a foundation and we often refer to it as the boxspring. The boxspring then sits upon the bed frame. Of course, we lie on the mattress, and its flexibility, support, and comfort can come from several different inner working configurations all of which need specific unique support required by the manufacturer; coil springs, latex rubber, memory foam, or a hybrid of the aforementioned. 

Mattresses typically have a firm core and malleable sleeping surface that easily molds, contours, and supports the unique curvatures of our bodies. Placing it on anything but a supportive flat surface can cause it to sway, sag or worse still fall between the steel supports.

How Can I Get Away Without Using A Boxspring

It is simple, you can sleep on a mattress without a box spring comfortably and there are a few different ways to do it. These days a boxspring is nothing more than a rigid elevated riser referred to commonly as a foundation. Some have a little flexibility and these we call semi-flex boxsprings. The truth is most bases do not flex or give so they essentially add nothing to the comfort or support of a mattress. 

Frankly, you can skip it if you want to, perhaps you would want to consider alternative base support like a platform or divan bed.  Most such beds are essentially wooden frames with slats. Some are very basic while others are more fashionable.  The important thing is to be sure that you know the manufacturer’s specific warranty and support requirements and whether it allows for use of the mattress without a box spring.

Frames That Must Have Boxsprings

Both of these support systems would require the use of a box spring:

Above are 2 common bed frames that may be very similar to what you currently own but can you place a mattress directly on them? No, not as they are shown. The important thing to notice is that all of these systems have center support bars or extra slats. While they are all strong and made of angle iron and steel, they all have one, two, and even as many as four slats spanning the bed’s width.

These are perfect examples of what a mattress by itself should NOT be placed upon. Our recommendation is a closely spaced slat pack with some strategically placed sturdy legs in the middle which would be a more viable solution to consider if you are wanting to do away with a box spring or foundation.

Alternatives to Boxspring Foundations

If you have further questions as to whether your frame will support a mattress email us pictures showing the frame you are attempting to put your mattress on and we can try to give you our opinion of whether it will work or not. You can also reach out to us at the toll-free number at the top of this page.

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