Platform Bed & Boxspring Guide
If you've ever been curious about what a boxspring is actually for, or you're trying to determine if your platform bed or existing boxspring will work with one of our mattresses, this guide is for you!
What is the purpose of a boxspring?
Today, the type of boxspring sold with a mass production mattress serves very little purpose. This is simply because the box no longer has "spring" - they're just a rigid platform. The box is provided simply to provide a raised platform to place the mattress on.
This is different with a high quality sleep system such as our offerings from Berkeley Ergonomics and Vispring. Each of these mattress makers offer functional suspension foundations which are designed to provide enhanced ergonomics and additional pressure relief. How? These foundations have movable components, which absorb and dissipate energy. They even extend the life of your mattress as they work like a shock absorber on a vehicle, reducing wear and tear.
Finally, our suspension foundations are also breathable, allowing optimal air circulation. This reduces the possibility of mould or mildew forming between the mattress and box, and prevents the sleeper from overheating.
When we consider that the three most important attributes of creating the ideal mattress, we can easily see that a suspension foundation is critically important to achieving these goals:
- A mattress must provide correct spinal alignment.
- A mattress must provide adequate pressure relief.
- A mattress must regulate temperature and humidity.
Rigid foundations are not ideal
With a rigid foundation, the weight of the sleeper is transferred into the base, and this energy is then returned up to the sleeper. This exerts unnecessary pressure on the sleeper, while also interfering with proper ergonomics. A suspension system beneath the mattress dissipates this energy, while also providing superior spinal alignment. For these reasons, a suspension foundation is worth the investment and should be used wherever possible, regardless of mattress type or brand.
Will I void my mattress warranty if I do not buy the boxspring?
Not necessarily. Mattress stores tend to suggest that by not buying the matching boxspring that somehow the mattress warranty is automatically voided. This is simply not true. However, the mattress manufacturer does have the option to void your warranty if they determine the existing boxspring or platform bed is not providing adequate support.
This guide will walk you through the steps to determining if your platform bed or boxspring is adequate for your mattress.
How do I determine if my existing boxspring will work?
If you are going to be placing a new mattress on an existing boxspring, there are two simple things to look for:
- A flat, rigid surface without any sagging or dipping
- A non-flexible, rigid construction (push on the edge of the base, if it moves down, it's probably not the right type for most modern mattresses)
Although we talk about suspension foundations being the best type, you'll want to avoid a box with actual springs in it; at least if you're buying a natural rubber, latex or memory foam mattress. This combination is very unstable and often looks like it's sagging immediately after the first night of sleeping. A box with springs in it is only suitable for a mattress with springs, and even then, only if the spring system in both components is engineered to work in tandem. Vispring sleep systems are an excellent example of this. In fact, Vispring invented the boxspring.
In most cases, we recommend buying the matching boxspring when buying a new mattress.
Platform style beds are designed for use with a mattress only. Instead of a boxspring, the platform will often have wooden slats or a board to place the mattress on.
If you have a platform style bed, these are our basic criteria for a good support system:
- Rigid, flat wooden slats ideally made of spruce or poplar at a minimum (pine isn't usually the best idea). In a perfect world the slats would be a hardwood such as beech or oak.
- Slats which are spaced no further than 2 ½" apart for heavier natural rubber or latex mattresses, 3" spacing with a memory foam mattress is usually fine.
- Queen and king platforms must have at least one centre rail or beam that runs head to foot, which is also supported by legs extending to the floor. The more legs the better!
- Queen and king platforms which do not have a centre beam should have T-slats - a flat top board, with a heavy duty support. A good example of this system is from Copeland Furniture.
- Double platforms should have a centre beam, however a set of slats with 3 legs extending to the floor are also usually adequate.
A platform bed support system should not be as follows:
- A solid platform, without ventillation.
- Slatted without any sort of centre support or centre legs (twin beds are usually fine when designed this way).
- Slats which are spaced too far apart (ie: more than 2 ½") - foam mattresses in particular will follow the gaps and sag easily into these openings.
- Bowed slats, unless they are the genuine European beech wood variety, with extra slats in the middle and bushings for proper suspension.
In our experience over the years, most bowed slats are not designed correctly. They look pretty, but often sag easily under the weight of any decent mattress. An easy way to test this is to press down on the bowed slat. It should go flat, if it extends down below the level plane of the frame, this means it will not provide adequate support. Another item to note is that genuine bowed slats are made from European beech wood. Imitations are often made from particle board or plastic.
Any bowed slat system with a metal frame, or with metal anchors for the slats, is simply the wrong type. These do not work like the real variant, which is a beech wood frame with flexible rubberized anchoring systems.
Examples of Poor Slat Designs
These photos show examples of poor, inadequate slat designs. These slats should be avoided with any heavier, higher quality mattress.
Slats are spaced too far apart, and are missing the "third slat" beneath the top layer.
These are some of the worst-designed slats that we have ever encountered. Three sections, which means that each sleeper is now sleeping on the rigid spine in the middle of each suspension portion. Absolutely not ideal whatsoever.
Example of Correct Slat Designs
These Berkeley suspension slats correctly incorporate the "third slat" beneath the top layer. These slats must be under the heavier parts of our body to provide adequate support.
The slat spacing at the head and foot of the bed is still very tight, although the third slat is not required in these portions of the bed.
IKEA Platform Beds
If you have an Ikea platform bed, we do not recommend their LEIRSUND, LURÖY or LÖNSET bowed slat foundations for any heavy foam mattresses, including most latex and some memory foam models. The LEIRSUND and LÖNSET slats are reasonably okay to use with hybrid spring mattresses, for lighter sleepers.
In our testing, we find that heavier mattresses, especially our natural rubber mattresses from Berkeley Ergonomics and Obasan, simply do not work well on the bowed Ikea slats. Our customers have reported sagging and dipping of their mattress, in some cases after one night.
Genuine European bowed slats, such as the suspension slat model we offer from Berkeley Ergonomics, work perfectly as a replacement for the Ikea slat system.
Platform Beds from Furniture Stores
We strongly caution you to investigate the included mattress support. While many platform beds are well-made, our experiences over the years have demonstrated that many of these beds, no matter how much they might cost, are often including substandard slat systems as this component of the platform bed is often an afterthought or may never been shown in photography of the product in question.
The Mattress & Sleep Company will gladly provide advice on any mattress support system with respect to their positive or negative impact on any of our mattress offerings.