The choice of the base of your bed serves both to extend the life of your mattress, give it the firmness or flexibility that it promises, or even to modify its hardness and adapt it more to you.
A good bed frame or an upholstered base complements and maximizes the performance of your mattress. It can even give you extra storage space that will come in handy in the room, if you opt for a folding sofa.
Above all, choosing a good bed base will give you a better rest. If you are thinking of buying one or changing yours, read on.
What types of bed bases are there?
1. Slatted bed base
They are the most economical bed bases, but that does not mean that you are choosing poor quality, since they have interesting advantages.
The most important is breathability, they help your mattress to better dry the moisture it absorbs from your body during rest.
Another of its characteristics is adaptability. They are flexible bases, which adjust very well to the movement of the mattress, especially when their ball joints (the part that joins the sheet to the fixed structure) are not rigid.
Parts of a slatted bed frame
This type of base consists of a frame on which the transverse slats fit using plugs or ball joints.
Its quality is determined by the thickness of the frame, its material and treatment, the flexibility of the studs and the material of the sheets.
Let’s go step by step:
- The frame can be made of metal tube or wood. In the first case, look at the thickness of the tube because the thicker it is, the more resistance it will have. If the frame indicates that it is made of wood –without specifying which one-, birch or MDF, it is of inferior quality. The best wooden bed bases use vaporized beech and are high-end. If it is a double size, your mattress is very heavy or someone who is overweight is going to sleep on it, it is important to make sure that it has transverse reinforcements, to support the mattress plus the weight of people.
- The sheets are usually made of beech or poplar wood. You may also see materials such as metal, fiberglass or carbon, but they are not as common. We give you the same recommendation as for the frame: beech are the best in terms of flexibility and resistance. Sometimes it is interesting to choose a slatted bed base with lumbar support. They are doubled slats in that area, to give more consistency to the place where you support your back. If you decide on this type of bed base, we recommend the models that have many narrow slats better than those that have few and wide ones. This improves adaptability, since each sheet has a certain margin of response to weight. As there are many, they adapt better to the movement of the body. And it also has more gaps between the pieces and breathes better.
- Lastly, the suspension studs or ball joints. They can be fixed or tilting, and they use plastic in the cheap models, hytrel in the more resistant ones, and rubber in the flexible ones. The tilting ball joints follow your movements a little more when you lie down, even if you do a lot of tossing and turning at night. The fixed ones, on the other hand, are usually much cheaper… and the point at which your bed base will begin to cause problems over time.
These bed bases are usually supported by threaded or adjustable legs to the frame, and you can also support them on a wooden structure, such as a trundle bed.
Tip In any case, make sure there is no noise when you lie on it. Often this problem is solved by adjusting the legs better; although it can also be due to the (low quality) wooden slats and their fastening to the frame.
In principle, slatted bases fit well with any mattress. And they are especially recommended for latex mattresses, as they allow them to “breathe” properly.
We give you some tricks, depending on your budget:
- If you’ve already invested in a high-end latex or memory foam mattress, don’t skimp on the foundation now. Choose a bed base with thin slats, with a vaporized beech wood frame and a tilting heel.
- If your mattress is mid-range, do not give up thin sheets, preferably with lumbar reinforcement that adds firmness. In return, you can opt for a metal frame and fixed heel.
- And for simple and cheap mattresses, a robust and cheap wide slatted frame is sufficient.
It is useful for
- Who wants to invest little money in the base
- Match with most mattresses
- latex mattresses
- Bedrooms in wet houses
- Good price
- Good mattress ventilation
- Flexibility to adapt to movements
- Compatible with almost all mattresses
- leave free space below
- Kneecaps can give problems over time
- They are more likely to squeak
2. Articulated bed base
The articulated bed bases are articulated metal bases, on which quality wooden slats go. Being modular, they allow the posture and inclination of the body to be adjusted in detail.
They are probably the most expensive bed bases on the market, since their structure is complex and they are basically designed for therapeutic use.
The basic structure is the same as the one you just read about slatted bed bases, and the advantages are the same: ventilation and adaptability to the mattress.
But the most interesting thing is that these bed bases are a fantastic help for all those people who must stay in bed for long periods due to convalescence or illness.
Also for older people who find it difficult to get up or for those who have certain back ailments, respiratory or circulation problems.
Therefore, even for people who do not have serious ailments, it can improve rest and make life more enjoyable. Who does not want to read lying down (but with a certain elevation of the trunk), watch TV before going to sleep or even have breakfast from time to time between the sheets, placing your mattress in the most suitable position?
There are manual articulated bed bases, but the most widespread models are those that incorporate an electric motor, with up to five independent planes. The lumbar part remains fixed -and is often reinforced with double plates- and the areas of the head, dorsal, hip to knee and knee to feet are articulated.
Articulated bed bases are operated with a control -with or without cable- and are usually designed to support heavy weights.
In case of electrical failure, the motor places the bed in a horizontal position.
Tip When used in double beds, it is advisable to buy it with two different areas. They are called twin articulated beds and have two independent mattresses, each with its own motor and control to move it.
Another of the characteristics of these bed bases is that they have multiple accessories that you can buy separately, such as headboards and footboards, railings or incorporateers. They can go on legs or a canapé structure.
Keep in mind, however, that the motor takes up space and usually goes under the bed. So you won’t be able to store much in that hole.
In addition, the motor and structure are quite heavy, so it is not easy to move. Some incorporate wheels to facilitate cleaning, but if you want to change the room bed, you will have to disassemble it even partially.
As this bed base adopts different positions, only mattresses with excellent flexibility can go on it, which easily recover their shape and are well received.
All springs are discarded. Choose latex –better natural, if the person spends a lot of time in bed- or some type of foam or viscoelastic that is especially recommended for articulated bed bases.
It is useful for
- People who must stay in bed for a long time
- People with back, respiratory or circulatory ailments
- Who “makes life” in bed, with activities such as reading or watching TV
- Provides personalized rest
- Accessories and spare parts can be purchased separately
- Very durable mattress
- Good mattress breathability
- The control brings independence to bedridden people
- Helps to adopt a good position in the face of respiratory difficulties, gastric reflux and joint limitations
- Collaborate in the incorporation of people with mobility problems
- More expensive than fixed
- quite heavy
- They have little storage space under the bed
- Not suitable for spring mattresses
3. Upholstered base
If what you are looking for is a firm base, here you have it. A good upholstered base does not allow the mattress to sink or deform, and they do not make noise.
This base is very rigid and stable. Unlike the slats, it remains fixed before any movement. It is a great option for double beds, since it contributes to the independence of beds (you will not notice the movements of the other person).
As for breathability, it depends on the model:
- The upholstered base made with microperforated board or ventilation system, is usually covered with breathable fabric. Its objective is that you can place all kinds of mattresses on it.
- The rigid cover upholstered base is a board with some perforations. It doesn’t breathe well, so don’t put a latex mattress on it, for example.
Did you know that… These bases have rounded corners to avoid bruising if you trip over them and are usually supported by screw-in legs or placed on a closed fixed structure.
The latter is great for preventing the accumulation of dust under the bed… but in return you give up that space to store boxes or shoes.
Another of its advantages is that if you take good care of it, this base lasts longer than the maximum 10 years that your mattress will reach. Although the ideal is to buy the mattress and the base together, the normal thing in this case is that you change the mattress first and take advantage of the base for a while longer.
They are usually upholstered in various colors and, depending on the manufacturer, you often have the option to choose between different leg models, so you can combine the color with the rest of the room.
If you decide on this type of bed base, keep in mind that it gives the mattress more firmness. In other words, if you have one that is soft for you, you can give it that extra firmness that you miss.
It is useful for
- Those who seek a firm rest
- Provide firmness to a soft mattress
- Help rest in double beds
- Accepts almost all mattresses (but be careful with latex ones)
- They have treatments to facilitate perspiration
- It is very stable and does not move
- Strong and durable structure
- Lasts longer than the mattress itself
- In double beds, it helps the independence of beds
- Do not choose it if you like to rest on a flexible base
- In general, it is not recommended with latex mattresses, unless they are treated to facilitate perspiration
- If the structure is closed, you give up the space under the bed
4. Folding sofa
A sofa is an upholstered base that rests on a large chest. There are sheets, but it is not usual.
Thus, the base has two functions: it supports the chosen bed base and acts as a horizontal wardrobe, providing a useful space in the room that is safe from dust.
They are called folding because the base that rests on the chest rises.
The direction of opening can be lateral – if it opens from one of the sides through which we would enter the bed – or frontal, when it opens from the foot of the bed. The first method is usually used in individual size folding sofas and the second in matrimonial ones.
The opening system consists of two hydraulic pistons that work with compressed air. Thanks to them, you can lift the structure with minimal effort, although if you have little mobility, you may need a little help.
They are also silent and durable… although logically they are more expensive than fixed bases.
They provide more storage space, and that is the main reason why many opt for this type of base.
Think that a 200×200 centimeter sofa has more capacity than a conventional wardrobe. And some include drawers to keep everything more organized.
In addition, there are already many brands that allow the structure to be customized in various finishes and colours, with which it is easily coordinated with the rest of the bedroom.
Now let’s talk about what concerns us: the base that goes on this structure. Although there are slat tops, most are rigid, perforated wood, and breathable.
However, since they have the sofa underneath – often full of things – that makes them contraindicated for certain mattresses and climates. So they do not go well with natural latex and some viscoelastic ones whose core does not perspire easily.
On the other hand, the folding bed is especially recommended for spring mattresses of all kinds. It provides the stability they need and makes the most of its functionalities.
It is useful for
- Small houses that require extra storage space
- Mattresses that breathe well
- Add stability to any mattress
- All the advantages of an upholstered base
- Large storage space without dust
- Varied materials and colors that harmonize with the decoration
- Time savings in cleaning, since you avoid emptying and cleaning underneath
- It is possible to choose models with drawers
- It is more expensive than other bases
- Awkward opening if you have low strength or lack of mobility
5. Tatami bed
A tatami is the Japanese bed: a tapestry made from natural fibers (traditionally, rice and reed) pressed and braided. It is placed directly to sleep at ground level, and also as a base for certain sports such as karate.
The mattresses that are traditionally placed on the tatami are called futons, and they are approximately 5 cm thick. The cover and padding are usually made of cotton.
These bases have rounded corners to prevent bruising if you trip over them and are usually supported by screw-in legs or placed on an enclosed fixed structure.
Did you know that… Tatami in Japanese means “folded and stacked”, since these types of beds are designed to be removable. That is, you extend it at bedtime and collect it during the day while you are not using it.
However, in the West, the tatami is not usually used as is. We are deeply rooted in the concept of the bedroom as a specific place to sleep and rest, and we use other spaces, such as the living room, for daytime life.
So, unless your house is very small and you need multipurpose furniture (or you want a guest bed that takes up very little), you don’t need to be dismantling the bed every day.
That is why we identify the tatami-bed as a fixed structure, usually made of wood, that rises a few centimeters from the ground. They are usually larger than the mattress, so they take up a lot of space.
These structures are very simple and cheap, and if they are made of wood, maintenance is minimal.
Normally, the structure is a simple square, but it is also possible to find it with drawers or even folding, like a sofa, to take advantage of that empty storage space.
The tatami bed is lower than a normal mattress, and gives you the feeling of sleeping on the ground. It is usually harder than any other mattress base, although there are those who directly attach a slatted base or a more padded structure.
In other words, starting from the traditional tatami we can adapt it to our liking while maintaining the Japanese-inspired aesthetic.
Traditional futons are made of cotton, but you can actually use any mattress on your tatami-bed.
Of course, as these bases do not usually have much perspiration, avoid mattresses with a high concentration of latex, unless the board is perforated or you add a slatted base that allows air to pass through.
It is useful for
- People who want to sleep on a very hard base
- Give your home an oriental touch in decoration
- Good price
- Compatible with all mattresses (check the base if you choose a latex one)
- You can take advantage of the interior space of the structure
- Durable and requires little maintenance
- Does not accumulate dust under the bed
- It is lower than any other mattress base.
- The square frame is usually larger than the mattress, so you need a large room… and be careful not to hit the corners
- The traditional tatami can be too hard
9 key points to choose a good mattress
Before you choose your foundation, spend a little time answering these eight questions, the answers to which will give you clues as to exactly what you need:
1. What mattress do you have or want to buy?
This is the first question you must answer, when deciding on one or another base. It is advisable to buy the mattress with the base that best suits you at the same time.
If you already have the mattress, then he himself will be the one to direct your steps. A little further down we explain it in depth.
And if you don’t know which mattress to buy, don’t miss our guide to choosing a mattress.
2. How many people is it for?
If you are looking for an individual measure, go ahead: you just have to negotiate with yourself.
But if you are going to share the bed on a regular basis, you have to take into account the tastes and characteristics of both. This will influence both the choice of the mattress and the base.
The objective is the independence of beds, that is, that one can rest without being disturbed by the movements of the next door.
For this, both upholstered bases and folding sofas respond very well, because the structure is rigid and its padding is not so sensitive as to respond to the movements of each one. The same if you buy a tatami.
If you opt for a slatted bed base, try to have two different structures, one for each side. So one can go around without the other knowing.
And if the bed base is articulated, this is no longer a recommendation, but a proposal to take into account: there is the possibility of buying two joined structures, each with its own motor, so that both of you can have your ideal sleeping position, without impose it on the next door.
3. What size do you need?
Here is an essential point: if you already have the mattress, the measurement of the base has to be exactly the same. Why?
- If the base is too small you will be forcing the mattress at the ends. Even if only 10 centimeters remain above the air, the structure will deform and your mattress will last less.
- If the base is larger than the mattress, it is very possible that it “dances”. In addition to being very ugly, it is important that you rest on a surface that is as stable as possible.
If you are going to buy a mattress and foundation at the same time, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Are you going to sleep one or two people?
- And if there are two, do you have enough space for a large bed frame?
Currently the Queen size (1.50 x 2 meters) or King (2 x 2 meters) bed bases are objects of desire, as long as you have room for them in the bedroom.
Also look at the height of the sleeper, because for tall people 2 meters long are essential. You may even need a special size base.
4. Is it to be used daily or occasionally?
To sleep daily, invest in a good foundation. That gives you firmness or elasticity, to your liking. But don’t stay halfway, you spend a third of your life in a horizontal position.
If it is for an apartment that you are going to rent, for a guest bed or for a second residence, it is likely that you will choose a mid-range mattress, so a simple slatted base will give you what you need.
5. What climate do you live in?
Specifically, it is important to know the humidity that usually exists in the room that will host the bed base.
If it is above 70% during the winter, get a fixed or articulated slatted base that allows the mattress to evaporate the perspiration left by your body after resting. And of course, a mattress that attaches to it.
There are also breathable upholstered bases that can work well for you; just pay attention to this feature when choosing, and avoid, if possible, closed structures under the bed.
6. Do you need storage space under the bed?
Lack of space is a common problem in houses, especially urban ones. If this is your case, a folding sofa can be a great solution.
It is a good option to store toys in a child’s room, or to store bedding or seasonal clothes.
7. Do you have any ailment or lack of mobility?
If you have asthma and find it difficult to breathe in a horizontal position, a back problem, a hiatal hernia, joint difficulties or you need help getting up, our recommendation is clear: an articulated bed base.
If you can afford it (it is the most expensive option), you will gain in quality of life. Because in your case, you need to guarantee sleep to help you in your recovery.
8. How much do you want to invest?
Your pocket also has something to say in the choice of bed base.
In the past, if you wanted a cheap box spring, slats were the first choice. Today, the current variety of brands offers you a wide range of prices in all types of bed bases and bases.
Our recommendation is that you do not get carried away only by aesthetics. Choose before, for example, the high range of a fixed bed base than the low range of an articulated one.
9. Do you want extra comfort?
Then you may be interested in an articulated bed, to be able to read or watch TV at ease.
These types of beds are no longer associated only with hospitals and nursing homes, and in many houses they invest in this type of bed base to improve rest.
The XXL size bed bases also provide a plus. If your room is large, this is a safe bet to literally sleep soundly.
What base is the right one for each mattress?
A quality base can be great, but it may not be the perfect one for your mattress. The trick is to match well.
A firm foundation makes a soft mattress firm, and vice versa.
Therefore, if you currently find your foam mattress hard because it is on an upholstered base, if you change it for a slatted base it will gain a little elasticity.
And if you find it very soft, try putting it on a harder bed base and you may avoid having to buy another one, just by investing in another type of base.
At the time of purchase, keep in mind that if you are comfortable with your current mattress and change the type of base, you can alter its firmness.
We give you these clues that will help you in the task of choosing, with this mattress division regarding its main material:
Foam mattresses have medium breathability and are suitable for almost all bases.
The one that limits you the most in this case is the articulated bed base. Depending on the model, check if your mattress can be used on this type of base: the foam must be rigid enough to support the correct rest, but at the same time flexible to recover its shape after bending.
The foam is made of expanded polyurethane, with air bubbles inside that determine firmness. They are versatile, firm and very durable mattresses.
Traditionally, it was a cheap and not very durable material. What you bought to get by if you didn’t want to spend a lot.
This is no longer the case, and now the quality of the foams has improved considerably. In fact, it is a material that is used very frequently as the core of viscoelastic mattresses, because it provides the necessary firmness and support to the mattress.
Advice When choosing you have to pay attention to whether the material is open pore or closed pore. In the first, the air circulates inside, which is always dry, and the second (cheaper) does not achieve that optimal ventilation.
It is also interesting that you look at the density of the foam. For a mattress to offer good durability, it should have at least 28-30 kg/m3.
When we talk about viscoelastic or memory foam mattresses, we are referring to a specific type of foam that has the ability to return to its original shape in seconds.
They are very adaptable, with an excellent reception that gives the feeling of sleeping on a cloud, while relieving the body’s pressure points.
Due to this behavior, memory foam is usually in the top or middle layer of mattresses, not in the core. Therefore, when choosing the bed base that best goes with your viscoelastic mattress, you must know the composition of its heart and with these data in hand, choose.
If your mattress contains viscoelastic, we recommend that you do not put it in an embedded in a drawer. This prevents moisture from evaporating from the sides.
Latex mattresses, whether natural or synthetic, have a common characteristic: they need very good ventilation.
As a general recommendation, in this case the best bases for a latex mattress are slatted bed bases. It does not matter if they are fixed or articulated, since latex is very flexible and adaptable, so it easily recovers its shape.
In both cases, if they are sheets of vaporized beech wood, much better.
The sheets allow maximum breathability of the mattress and this lengthens its duration. In addition, this type of bed base provides very good firmness to the latex.
eye! Latex mattresses need to be aired often if you want to prevent moisture from building up. For this reason, in this case, upholstered bases without perforations are not suitable, nor are folding sofas, since underneath they do not allow perspiration.
Spring mattresses are the ones that perspire the most, so they are highly chosen by hot people or those who live in humid climates that do not help in the ventilation of the mattresses.
To accentuate their comfort, they are lined on the outer sides with latex and viscoelastic that give them a good reception.
In this case, it is appropriate to choose a base that keeps them firm in a horizontal position, so completely rule out an articulating bed base.
The best choice is the upholstered bases and folding sofas, which provide stability.
You can also use a slatted bed base, although if they are pocket springs, be careful because they could deform with use. It is better to consult the characteristics of your specific model first.
Note: if you see it on mobile, scroll the table with your finger to see all the columns.
How often should I renew the base of my bed?
That will depend on the type of base, its quality, the mattress it supports, the movement of the people who sleep on it, and the care you give it.
As a general rule, quality is decisive.
Depending on the type of base:
Slatted bed base: as a general rule, it is the one with the shortest useful life. Check that the slats are in perfect condition and aligned and that they are dry and do not creak. The legs must remain firm and with the stops intact.
Articulated bed base: being the most expensive bed base, the slats are usually of good quality, but problems can come from the motor. In most cases it can be purchased separately. To keep everything in good condition, thoroughly clean the dust accumulated on the joints, which can hinder the mechanism. Check that all positions are reached perfectly and without making annoying noises.
Upholstered base: run your hand over all the wood and check that it is not dented. Check that the legs are perfectly adjusted. If everything is fine, but the fabric is damaged, you can extend the life of your base by reupholstering (although make sure it doesn’t cost you more than buying a new one).
Folding sofa: vacuums the inside of the drawer, checks that the structure screws have not loosened, confirms that the hydraulic pistons retain their initial smoothness and checks the condition of the base, whether it is made of slats or upholstered wood.
If your base is already years old, take the time to assess its current state.