Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Foundations – Tuft & Needle
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Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Foundations

So, here you are, feeling really accomplished—you’ve bought a brand new mattress. It may be your first, or your fifth, but you’re proud of it nonetheless. As it sits atop your old bed frame, you notice...something doesn’t look quite right. You tilt your head to the side, and you see it. There are a couple of slats missing. The legs are partially gnawed from some kind of animal. When did you get a cat?

It’s time for a new mattress foundation.

But where do you begin? There is a lot of information and opinions about what the right bed frame or foundation is for you and your mattress, but there is really only one factor that makes a difference for you and your sleep—support.

Ultimately, the vast majority of your options would work well to support you and your mattress. Let’s break these down, shall we?

Box Spring The traditional go-to. This foundation consists of a wooden box wrapped in fabric and filled with vertical springs. Box springs were most commonly used with inner spring mattresses for additional give, but the term “box spring” has become interchangeable with the term “foundation” for mattresses (as, essentially, that’s what they’ve become).

When would a box spring be required? If your frame lacks an even, supportive foundation where the mattress lies, an additional foundation like a box spring would be needed.

For a long time, the mattress industry touted that box springs were a requirement. More often than not, they’re sold as a device to add extra cash to sales commissions. We know now that box springs are not always a necessary requirement because more options exist for even support. That being said, a box spring is a really great option for people who like to sleep higher off the ground.

Great for: More height or if you love your frame and it doesn’t have enough support.

Slatted or Platform Frames & Foundations Slats or platform frames have become a more popular alternative to box springs, allowing for a more modern, lower profile look. For most mattresses, slatted frames are ideal as they provide the maximum amount of breathability while also giving you the necessary support.

For our mattress in particular, you want to look for a slatted foundation where the gaps are no more than 5 inches apart to ensure there’s enough support.

Great for: Lower profile & breathability

Adjustable Frames Adjustable frames allow for sleepers to incline certain parts of their bed to match their taste either manually or electronically. These adjustments are most common to elevate the head or feet. Sometimes, elevating the head can help with snoring, so it’s common for bear-like snoozers to give this a shot when hoping not to disturb their partner.

Adjustable frames can either adjust the entire mattress, or one side at a time for more customization for the individual sleeper. When wanting to make individual adjustments on each side, the best option is to use two Twin XL mattresses side-by-side, which is the equivalent in size to a King size mattress.

Great for: Elevating the head or feet & easing up on those deep snores

Bunky Boards Simply put, a bunky board is a very low-profile box spring, usually only about 2-3 inches tall. It provides the same amount of even support for your mattress that a box spring would, but without the additional height. These are excellent for sleepers who have a frame that would otherwise require something like a box spring to support the mattress, but prefer the look and feel of being lower to the ground.

Great for: Adding low-profile support as a substitute for box spring

Tatami Mats Traditionally a type of Japanese flooring, a Tatami Mat (and others like it) provide a clean, breathable surface for mattresses being used on the ground. One of the common concerns with sleeping directly on the floor can be having a clean surface or trapping moisture beneath the bed. Mats like these can help relieve those concerns.

Great for: Sleeping directly on the ground

There are very few options out there that don’t necessarily work with every mattress setup. For example, water bed frames are crafted specifically for those types of mattresses and often don’t provide enough breathability. Futon frames require specific mattresses for them to fold up into a sitting position, but often work well for a mattress while it lays flat. Adjustable hospital beds often come in non-standard sizing, and if you’re looking for a setup for long-term bed rest, consulting with your physician is the best route for suggestions.

With the above as your guide, it’s time to dive right in. Do your research! Explore! There are a lot of options out there, and that means there is absolutely the right thing for you just waiting to cozy up your home.

Don’t let your cat near the legs this time.

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Shelly Weaver-Cather
Shelly Weaver-Cather

Shelly Weaver is part of the Content Team at Tuft & Needle, leading the writing and editing of our blog. Not quite a Phoenix native, (They take that sort of thing super seriously.) Shelly has spent most of her life in the Phoenix Metro area and has no plans of leaving anytime soon. She made the unexpected jump out of wedding photography and onto T&N’s team in 2016, and found a passion for the people that keep the lights on. She still finds herself shooting in her free time, though these days there are less bridal portraits and more masterpieces of her first child, Duke, a lab-pit mix with an unparalleled love for both T&N mattress hogging and couch destroying.

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