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While laying your mattress on the ground may have been a feature of your college years or early twenties, most people prefer to have their mattress supported off of the ground. Not only does having your mattress off the ground look better, and make it easier to get on and off the bed, but it also protects the mattress.

Dust, mold, dead skin cells, and moisture can build up on the surface of the floor and accumulate in the mattress if the mattress is lying on the ground. This makes the mattress dirtier, less healthy to sleep in, and wears the bed down faster than if it was above the floor. Also, leaving your mattress on the floor will often void any mattress warranties.

If you’re using something to hold up your mattress, you need to make sure that it’s on a sturdy surface. Having the wrong type of support for your mattress can make the bed more uncomfortable, and it can cause it to wear down and sag faster than it should. Also, some mattress companies may void the mattress warranty if you don’t use the proper support to elevate your bed.

With this in mind, many people turn to mattress foundations. They elevate the bed off the ground, and extend the lifespan of the mattress. So, is a mattress foundation necessary? Should you get one? Below, we answer these questions and more to help you decide if you need a mattress foundation for your bed.

What is a Mattress Foundation?

A mattress foundation is a sturdy base that lies underneath the mattress to elevate it off the ground, and support it. Mattress foundations extend the lifespan of the mattress, and protect it by reducing wear and tear.

Although every type of mattress foundation is a little bit different, they all provide the same purpose: to improve the support of the mattress to ensure that it is comfortable, and lasts longer. Which mattress foundation is best for you depends on the type of mattress you have.

Types of Mattress Foundations

Mattress foundation is a broad term for different kinds of bases that your mattress can lie on top of. Although a bed frame is not a type of mattress foundation, you may be familiar with some of the examples below.

Box Springs

Traditional box springs are becoming less common, but you can still see them in certain households. They are support system made of a metal or wooden frame that is packed with metal springs, coils, or a metal grid that are encased in fabric. They are mostly used for innerspring mattresses, and they often sit on top of a traditional bed frame or mattress foundation.

Slatted Foundation

Slatted foundations are made of a wooden or metal frame that has metal or wooden slats running down the sides, similar to a large wooden pallet.

Bunkie Board

Bunkie boards are thinner, solid supports that are used directly on top of slats or bed springs. They were originally designed to be used in bunk beds, instead of box springs, to allow more room between the bottom bunk and the top bunk.

Box Springs versus Slatted Foundations

If you haven’t heard of a bunkie board before, you probably know what a box spring or slatted foundation is, due to how common they are. Box springs are particularly common for innerspring beds, and used to be even more common than they are now. Below, we’ll go over the main differences between box springs and slatted foundations.

  • Box springs have springs or coils in them, which allows them to move and absorb pressure. Because of these characteristics, they have more bounce, and give than a slatted foundation. This is one of the reasons they are commonly used with innerspring mattresses.
  • Slatted foundations, on the other hand, provide firmer support, and are far more durable than box springs. Box spring coils can break, which undermines the structural integrity of the entire foundation, whereas a decent slatted foundation would be very difficult to break.
  • Box springs are more breathable than slatted foundations because they are covered in a breathable fabric that allows air to pass easily through them.
  • While box springs are considered best used with innerspring mattresses, slatted foundations can be used with almost any mattress type. However, slatted foundations are usually more expensive.

Is a Mattress Foundation Necessary?

Although there is no one mattress foundation that suits every type of mattress, mattress foundations are necessary for every kind of mattress. Regardless of the durability and sturdiness of your mattress, the combined weight of the mattress itself and your body weight will wear it down over time.

If the mattress is not properly supported, it will prematurely sag, and may become lumpy. Therefore, it’s important to use a mattress foundation to provide ample support to maintain the shape and comfort of your mattress, and extend its lifespan.

Types of Mattresses

Some mattress manufacturers will denote which mattresses require certain foundations. So, if you purchase a mattress, and are told to use a specific mattress foundation with it, it’s usually a good idea to follow their direction. However, this is not always the case. It’s important to learn which type of mattress foundation is best for your mattress to ensure that your mattress is protected, and has a long life. Below, we’ll go over different kinds of mattresses, and the proper mattress foundations to use with them.

Latex Foam

Latex foam mattresses are extremely durable and supportive mattresses that provide pressure relief. They naturally conform to the shape and size of your body, and bounce back when you move or get up, allowing them to maintain their shape for many years. Latex foam mattresses should be placed on top of a flat, solid surface like a bunkie board or narrow slats that are 3 inches apart or less.

Memory Foam Beds

Memory foam mattresses are made of dense foam that contours to the shape of your body. Once your weight is off the memory foam mattress, you will notice that the memory foam slowly starts to come back to its original shape. Memory foam mattresses need a flat and solid surface. Otherwise, they can quickly break down, sag, and lose their shape. Therefore, a mattress foundation like a bunkie board or narrow slats is ideal.

Gel Foam

Gel foam mattresses are similar to memory foam except they have an additional layer of gel foam that gives the bed a softer feel, and helps with ventilation. Gel foam mattresses require the same solid foundation as memory foam mattresses.

Innerspring Beds

Innerspring mattresses are made of fabric-encased coils or springs that provide bounce and support. Innerspring mattresses are best paired with box springs, as the box springs will absorb any pressure, and move in tandem with the coils in the innerspring mattress.

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses are usually mattresses that combine the fabric-encased coils of the innerspring with a softer top layer, like foam beds, for extra comfort. They require a solid base like a bunkie board, in order to prevent sagging.

Futon

Whether you prefer to sleep on a futon, or keep it for guests in your home, you should consider a mattress foundation for your futon, depending on what type it is, if you want to extend its lifespan. There are two main types of futons that we will discuss below.

Japanese Futon

A Japanese futon is a floor mattress that is made of cotton that can be rolled up, and placed directly on the floor. Because this kind of mattress is used on the floor, no mattress foundation is needed.

Western Futon

Western futon mattresses usually come with bed frames. If the bed frame has slats that are wider than 3 inches apart, you may want to replace the frame altogether, or use a mattress foundation.

Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers are not a type of mattress foundation or mattress. Mattress toppers are placed directly on top of a mattress to change the feel of the bed, either making it softer or firmer, and providing additional support. They also help to reduce wear and tear. Also, mattress toppers can be used in conjunction with mattress foundations, no matter the type of foundation you are using.

If you’re looking for a good mattress topper to improve the feel and support of your bed, check out the Latex For Less Topper. This topper is made from natural, organic certified latex that comes in 2 inches or 3 inches, along with three different types of firmness for every type of sleeper.

Should You Use a Mattress Foundation with Your Bed Frame?

If you have a bed frame already, you may be thinking that you’re all set, as far as a mattress foundation goes. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. While some bed frames do include a mattress foundation like a bunkie board or slatted foundation, many bed frames do not include a built-in mattress foundation, and therefore do not support your mattress, which can lead to deterioration and sagging. So, if your bed frame doesn’t have a mattress foundation, you should definitely add one to extend the life of your mattress.

Bed Frames versus Mattress Foundations

Bed Frame

A bed frame is simply something that surrounds a mattress, and elevates it above the floor. Bed frames typically do not properly support a mattress like a mattress foundation does, unless they have a foundation built into them already. Or, in the case of platform bed frames, that provide enough solid support that a mattress foundation is not needed.

Bed frames are usually made up of four side panels, and often include a footboard and a headboard, along with legs.

Mattress Foundation

While most bed frames can’t substitute the support of a mattress foundation, certain mattress foundations can be used instead of a bed frame, namely, slatted foundations. Other types of mattress foundations that do not elevate the bed above the ground shouldn’t be used in place of a bed frame. Furthermore, box springs are best suited to a bed frame. Therefore, unless you have a slatted mattress foundation that lifts your bed above the floor, you should consider a bed frame in addition to your mattress foundation.

Types of Bed Frames

Platform Beds

Platform beds are a type of bedframe that contains a sturdy base to hold the mattress. They are usually low to the ground, and do not require a mattress foundation, although due to their low height, you may want to add a box spring to further elevate the mattress. They can be solid metal, or wood, or come with a slatted surface.

Platform Beds with a Solid Foundation

Platform beds with a solid foundation do not require a mattress foundation. They also do not require box springs, unless you want to use one to further elevate your mattress.

Slatted Platform Beds

Slatted platform beds have metal or wooden slats, rather than a solid base. Like platform beds with a solid foundation, they do not require a mattress foundation, but can also be used with box springs, so the mattress is higher up from the ground.

Metal Bed Frame

Metal bed frames are a common type of bed frame that holds the mattress up. They have metal slats running down the sides, or they can come without it. If they have metal slats, there is no need for a mattress foundation; however, if they don’t have metal slats, then a mattress foundation should be used to prevent sagging.

Bunk Bed

Bunk beds are two beds that are stacked one on top of the other to maximize floor space in a room. Bunk beds aren’t just for children; they’re also used on trains, ships, college dorms, and army barracks. Bunk beds require a mattress foundation for proper support. The most common mattress foundation for bunk beds are bunkie boards.

Loft Beds

You can think of a loft bed as a bunk bed without the bottom bunk. Instead, it is a raised bed that has space underneath it to increase floor space for a couch or desk. Like bunk beds, loft beds usually require slats that are 3 inches or less apart of a bunkie board to provide enough support to the mattress.

Latex For Less

If you’re looking for the right foundation, look no further than the Latex For Less mattress foundation. This mattress foundation is made from natural spruce wood, and comes with a soft cotton cover. It is a slatted wooden foundation that is built to last, and provide ample support to your mattress.

If you want to go the extra mile, and buy the most comfortable, supportive, and customizable foundation available, check out our adjustable base. This base is fully customizable, and will provide you with unimaginable support and relaxation. You can incline your head up to 60 degrees, and your feet up to 45 degrees. Plus, it comes with three preset positions, and two programmable positions for ultimate comfort and relaxation.

Getting a Latex For Less foundation that is compatible with your mattress will ensure that your mattress warranty stays intact, and that you get the longest possible lifespan from your mattress.

Takeaway

Every mattress requires a solid foundation and source of support to prevent sagging, distribute weight, and keep the mattress as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. Mattress foundations increase the lifespan of your mattress, while keeping it above the floor, similar to a bed frame.

While all mattresses need support, a mattress foundation isn’t always required. For example, if you have a supportive platform bed or a box spring on top of another kind of bed frame, you likely won’t require a mattress foundation.

While you may think that your bed frame is providing enough support, many bed frames are not built to support the mattress; instead, they are only used to keep the mattress elevated from the floor.

Therefore, if your mattress isn’t being supported by a mattress foundation that requires it, you should consider adding a mattress foundation like a box spring or bunkie board, or replacing your current bed frame with a mattress foundation altogether. And, if you have an innerspring mattress, you may need a box spring to receive the proper level of support and give.

The added support and longer life you get from your mattress will make it worth purchasing the right mattress foundation worth it every time.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.