Putting a Mattress on Slats
Many people who will buy a new mattress will also consider eliminating the boxspring/foundation and instead opting for a European type style bed that utilizes a slat pack which is nothing more than closely spaced wooden slats. These slat packages should not be confused with curved, bowed, or a flexible slatted base which we will not be discussing in this article. The other thought is to put the mattress on steel bed slats that are known to be stronger and have additional middle support legs and adjustable feet. In this article we’ll detail specifically what type of slats you can place a mattress on because one of these styles is ok to place a mattress directly upon on and the other is not.
The Background of Support: Understanding What You’re Giving Up
First we need set the record straight, there really isn’t anything special about today’s traditional foundation bases the standard support piece used directly under mattresses. They range in quality and are essentially a wooden framed pallet covered in cloth making them no different in terms of support as the floor or a piece of plywood. A benefit to these simple bases is that there are no coil springs. This makes it easier to identify signs of failure. This could be squeaking or broken slats or a swayed/broken foundation indicating that a foundation has failed.
Boxsprings on the other hand are rare these days and are often considered the shock absorbents for mattresses. Springy flexible boxsprings are energy absorbing coil springs which arguably extend mattress life. Many agree that they transfer disturbing motion throughout the entire bed and can’t be tested for failure making them notorious for fatiguing and nearly impossible to know when they’re shot.
Wood Slats Used to Support Mattresses
Wood slat packages can be found in virtually every retail store from Walmart to Amazon. Common construction includes a strip of ribbon like material or webbing that connects wooden planks. This connecting material is stapled to equally spaced boards and helps to keep the slats in position. Most queen packs include 14 – ¾ inch thick slats. -Twin and Full sizes include 13 – ¾ inch slats/laths. While building material is generally solid wood, more often than not the wood is inexpensive low quality pine. These pine boards are the same ones found in low end Bunkie boards used for smaller children and teens. Another issue of standard slat packs is that they often lack center support bracing from head to toe. Especially troublesome is the lack of middle support legs required by mattress manufacturers. This leaves your mattress non-compliant with warranty requirements and vulnerable to bowing, sagging, and potential slat breakage.
Superior quality platform beds that can support average size and sometimes plus sized adult couples typically include at least one heavy duty wood beam running the length of the bed. Underneath the beam are numerous adjustable legs with feet to support the middle of the bed from head to toe and keep your mattress properly supported so it complies with all major mattress manufacturers’ warranties.
Steel Slats Used to Support Mattresses
Slats have been described as the skeleton to support your mattress; however this is not the case for steel slats. They are built to be placed underneath a box spring / foundation but not directly under a mattress. Steel slats are so strong it is common to only need 3 or 4 to get the job done and support a foundation / box spring. Placing a mattress directly onto metal slats will not work due to excessive spacing between them. They will not properly support give the rigid support needed for a mattress and will allow it to swag / sway between them making it impossible to sleep on. Some do it yourselfers have placed thick plywood on top of the slats eliminating their foundation and converting their bed into a platform type of bed.