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What Goes Under A Mattress: A Comprehensive Guide to Bed Bases

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 7 minutes

  • Diverse Bed Bases: From traditional box springs to modern platform beds and adjustable frames, the article explores a variety of bed bases catering to different mattress types and individual preferences.
  • Choosing the Right Base: The guide emphasizes the importance of considering factors like mattress type, appearance, durability, weight capacity, and height when selecting a bed base to ensure optimal support and comfort.
  • Hygiene and Ventilation: Placing a mattress directly on the floor can lead to moisture buildup and potential mold issues. A suitable bed base not only provides support but also enhances ventilation, keeping the sleep environment clean and odor-free.

When creating the best sleep environment, choosing the right bed base is just as important as selecting a comfortable mattress. The bed base not only supports your mattress but also plays a significant role in the overall aesthetics and functionality of your bed. This comprehensive article will explore various types of bed bases and furniture items that can be placed under your mattress, ensuring that you make a well-informed decision that fits your needs and preferences.

Options for Bed Bases

A typical bed consists of a mattress and a supporting structure, which can vary from a simple bed frame to a more elaborate platform or bed foundation itself. While bed frames and platforms are the most common options, there are several other types of bed bases available in the market. Let’s take a closer look at some popular choices:

  1. Box Spring: Box springs are traditional bed bases that feature a wooden structure with springs inside. They are typically wrapped in fabric and can be placed on a bed frame or directly on the floor. Box springs provide additional height to the mattress, enhance airflow, and offer bounce and shock absorption. However, they are best suited for innerspring mattresses and may not be compatible with memory foam, latex, or hybrid mattresses.
  2. Platform Bed: A platform bed frame is often made of metal and features wooden slats or a metal grid for mattress support. Some platform beds even come with a solid base. Platform beds offer excellent mattress support and can accommodate any mattress type. They are versatile and allow for easy mattress switching without the need to change the entire bed. While you can combine a platform bed with a foundation or box spring for added height, it is not necessary.
  3. Mattress Foundation: Similar to a box spring, a mattress foundation has a metal or wooden frame encased in fabric. However, instead of springs, it features slats for support. Mattress foundations are suitable for all mattress types and offer sturdy support. They usually require a frame but can be used without one, resulting in a low-profile bed.
  4. Metal Bed Frame: Common metal bed frames have three legs along each rail and are usually made of stainless steel. Larger sizes may have an additional rail in the middle for extra support. Metal bed frames require additional support, such as a foundation or box spring, to hold the mattress. However, some metal bed frames, known as metal platform beds, do not require any additional support and allow the mattress to be placed directly on the frame.
  5. Wooden Bed Frame: Wooden bed frames are similar to metal bed frames but often require a box spring or foundation for mattress support. Platform-style wooden frames are more common and cost-effective. However, more elaborate wooden frames with intricate designs and headboards can be more expensive and add a touch of elegance to your bedroom.
  6. Adjustable Bed: Adjustable bed frames feature a base that can be raised or lowered to customize your sleeping position. They are often made of metal, but some may have wooden frames. Adjustable beds work best with foam and hybrid mattresses that can easily bend. They are recommended for individuals with specific health conditions such as GERD, obstructive sleep apnea, or certain types of spinal injuries.
  7. Bunkie Board: A bunkie board is a solid board wrapped in fabric or a set of connected slats made of wood. It provides a support layer of up to 2 inches and can be placed on top of a box spring to adapt it to a foam mattress. Alternatively, it can be positioned directly on the floor to enhance support and ventilation.
  8. Loft Bed: Loft beds feature a slatted foundation and are commonly made of wood. They are ideal for saving space as they allow for additional storage or workspace underneath the bed. Loft beds are suitable for all mattress types and can be used by both adults and children.
  9. Trundle Bed: Trundle beds have small wheels attached to the frame, allowing them to be hidden under another bed when not in use. They can have either wooden or metal frames and are often slatted. Trundle beds are easily portable and are suitable for individuals who prefer a lower bed height.

Now that we have explored the various types of bed bases available, let’s delve deeper into how to choose the right mattress base for your needs.

How to Choose a Mattress Base

Selecting the ideal mattress base involves considering several factors. By taking these into account, you can ensure compatibility with your mattress and achieve the desired appearance, durability, solid support, weight capacity, and height. Here are the key aspects to consider when choosing a mattress base:

Type of Mattress

The type of mattress you have plays a crucial role in determining the compatible bed base. Some bases, such as foundations, all types of platform beds, and bunkie boards, can accommodate all types of mattresses. On the other hand, box springs are primarily suitable for innerspring mattresses and may not be compatible with memory foam, most latex mattresses, or hybrid mattresses. Therefore, it is essential to choose a bed base that aligns with your mattress type.


The look of your bed is another vital factor to consider. Bed frames are available in a variety of styles, spanning from minimalistic designs to more intricate and ornate options. A simple platform bed can provide a minimalistic look, while a wooden frame with intricate carvings can add a touch of elegance, and a wooden or metal frame gives a more traditional feel to your bedroom. Select a bed base that complements your overall bedroom decor and personal style.


Durability is a vital aspect when choosing a bed base. Box springs with coils have a shorter lifespan compared to foundations and platform beds. It is important to consider the quality of the bed base, as a higher-quality platform bed or foundation will likely last longer than a cheaper alternative. Assess the materials used and read customer reviews to ensure the durability of the mattress warranty on your chosen bed base.

Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of the bed base is an important consideration, especially if you or your partner are on the heavier side. Look for heavy-duty options that can support the combined weight of the mattress, foundation, and occupants. Bed bases typically have weight limits ranging from 300 to 4000 pounds, so choose a base that can comfortably accommodate your needs.


The height of your bed plays a crucial role in your comfort and ease of entering and exiting it. Typically, the standard bed height, including the mattress, is approximately 25 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. This height ensures that your knees are at a 90-degree angle, promoting comfortable sitting and getting up. However, individuals with specific needs, such as those with hip problems, may require a higher or lower bed height. Consider your personal preferences and any special requirements when selecting a bed base.

The Importance of Placing Something Under Your Mattress

While the height and comfort of getting in and out of bed are important considerations, there are other crucial reasons for using a bed base instead of placing your mattress directly on the floor. The main purpose is to avoid the buildup of moisture, as it can lead to the development of mold and unpleasant odors. Placing your mattress directly on the floor for an extended period can trap moisture and hinder proper ventilation, increasing the risk of mold formation. Therefore, using a suitable bed base helps to keep your mattress dry, clean, and odor-free.

Moreover, placing your mattress on a bed base enhances airflow or air circulation, which is essential for maintaining a fresh and hygienic sleep environment. Elevating the mattress above the floor promotes better air circulation, preventing the buildup of dust, allergens, and other particles that may impact the quality of your sleep.


What can I put underneath a mattress to make it more firm?

To make a mattress firmer, you can use a sheet of plywood or a bunkie board. These provide a firm and flat surface, but remember that they may not completely fix an old sagging mattress.

What’s the name of a board under a mattress?

A board placed under the stable surface of a mattress is commonly referred to as a bunkie board. It is often made of plywood, and many people use their own plywood to achieve a firmer mattress surface.

Can you put a mattress directly on the floor?

Yes, you place a mattress directly on the floor. However, it is important to ensure that the floor is clean and the mattress protector well-ventilated. Regularly flipping the mattress and allowing it to air out can help prevent the accumulation of moisture and maintain proper hygiene.

Can a mattress go directly on a bed frame?

If a bed frame has slats or a metal grid, it can support the mattress directly. These types of bed frames are known as platform bed frames. However, if your bed frame lacks adequate support, such as having no or only one rail in the middle, you will need to use a box spring or foundation to provide a proper foundation and support for the mattress.

Are foundations the same as box springs?

Foundations and box springs are similar in appearance, but they differ in terms of construction and compatibility with different mattress types. Foundations foam mattresses typically have slats and are compatible with all mattress types. On the other hand, box springs contain coils or springs and are specifically designed for innerspring mattresses. It is crucial to ensure that you choose the correct base to maintain the warranty and performance of your mattress.


Choosing the right bed base is essential for providing optimal support and comfort to your mattress. This comprehensive guide explored various types of bed bases, including box springs, platform beds, mattress foundations, metal and other adjustable bases, wooden bed frames, adjustable beds, bunkie boards, loft beds, and trundle beds. It is crucial to consider factors such as mattress compatibility, appearance, durability, weight capacity, and height when selecting a bed base that suits your needs and preferences.

Placing your mattress on a suitable bed base can enhance ventilation, prevent moisture accumulation, and maintain a hygienic sleep environment. Remember to choose a bed base that complements your mattress type, aligns with your aesthetic preferences, and offers the essential support for a restful night’s sleep.

Christine Lapp is a full-time graduate student and part-time freelancer for Sleep Junkie. Since she was a little girl on the soccer field, Christine has had a love for sports, and she believes everybody should get up and get moving once a day. Now, she incorporates her love for exercise into her studies, pursuing a degree in exercise physiology. Christine understands that what you do during your waking hours has a direct impact on your night’s sleep. In our better sleep guides, she offers advice for developing healthy daytime habits to nurture a more peaceful slumber.

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