Buying yourself a new memory foam mattress doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done shopping for a good night’s sleep. Every mattress, even the best mattress, needs a strong foundation. A good foundation supports the mattress so it can keep its shape and prevents the mattress from moving as you get in and out of bed.
In this guide, we cover what you should look for in a foundation for a memory foam mattress. We cover different types of foundations and what you can expect to pay. And we answer a few frequently asked questions at the end.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Foundation
We made the Zoma Foundation with our Zoma Mattress in mind, but it can support any memory foam mattress. Sturdy pine wood makes up the foundation, with its slats wrapped in a breathable, no-slip fabric. The fabric keeps the wood slats evenly apart and prevents your mattress from moving.
Our Zoma Foundation arrives in pieces ready for easy assembly. All it takes are five simple steps and a few minutes to build our Zoma Foundation, no tools required, and then you can place your mattress on it.
The foundation comes with attachable legs, allowing you to turn it into a bed or rest it on the floor. With its legs attached, the Zoma Foundation stands at 14.5 inches tall.
A queen size Zoma Foundation costs $300 and comes with free shipping and a 5-year warranty. The warranty covers the repair or replacement costs for workmanship and structural defects.
Why Is The Right Foundation Important?
Using the right foundation is a crucial part of taking care of your mattress. A foundation extends your mattress’s likely lifespan by providing support and preventing dirt, dust, pests, and mold spores on the ground from working their way into your mattress.
The right foundation can also impact the feel of your bed. If you buy a low-quality foundation that provides insufficient support, your mattress may develop lumps or sag. A sagging or lumpy mattress is not only uncomfortable to lie on but can misalign your spine and cause morning back pain. Even a high-quality mattress may lose its support early if it’s not kept on a strong foundation.
A bed foundation may be necessary to maintain your mattress warranty. The exact specifications of the warranty can vary. Some mattress brands only specify the type of foundation needed, but other mattress brands may require you to use their foundation.
Different types of mattresses require different types of support. A memory foam mattress foundation needs to provide consistent, even support to keep the bed in shape. A solid surface or a set of wooden slats can offer this support— the slats, though, need to be no more than 3 inches apart and at least 0.5 inches thick.
A good foundation for a memory foam mattress also has spaces for air to flow in and out, such as a slatted design. Traditional memory foam mattresses can retain too much body heat and wake a sleeper if air cannot pass through. If you prefer a solid surface for your foundation, you can avoid sleeping hot by choosing a cooling mattress such as a gel memory foam mattress.
Types of Foundations
There’s a lot of different ways you can support your memory foam mattress. When shopping for your foundation, think about what is best not only for your mattress but for your lifestyle wants and needs. Do you want a bed tall enough to offer under-bed storage space? Do you like a bed with a lot of technical gadgets, or do you prefer a minimalist wood design?
A platform bed has a simple design— a wooden rectangular frame with a flat base and sturdy legs that may be detachable. Typically a platform bed doesn’t include a headboard or footboard, although some do come with the option to attach one.
Some platform beds have flat sides more like a box than legs to support the foundation. These platform beds may have built-in drawers for under-bed storage.
Platform beds can come with a slatted or solid surface. We recommend a slatted platform bed for better ventilation, as a solid foundation risks trapping body heat. Check that the slats are no more than 3 inches apart.
Platform beds are often lower to the floor than traditional bed frames. If you like the design but want a few more inches of height, you might consider a set of bed risers.
Most platform beds are relatively inexpensive, costing $300 or less.
Metal Platform Base
A metal platform base looks like a platform bed, with a rectangular grid design made of metal.
Steel frames are common and some metal bases are even foldable. You can set up one at night and put it away during the day.
Like platform beds, metal platform bases typically do not come with a headboard or a footboard. Often, they’re a little bit taller than platform beds, providing more room for under-bed storage.
We do not recommend metal form bases for memory mattresses, as many of them cannot meet the three inches apart or less rule. The standard grid design doesn’t offer many points of contact between the bed frame and the mattress. Fewer points of contact can mean poor support, which can lead to premature sagging and indentations.
Adjustable Bed Base
An adjustable bed base can raise or lower parts of the bed and can make a good mattress feel even more comfortable.
Many adjustable bases come with preset positions and a wireless remote for easy adjustment, and some come with extra features such as built-in massagers, under-bed storage and lighting, and USB ports.
The biggest benefit to an adjustable foundation is how it can help alleviate symptoms of numerous conditions. Some sleepers with acid reflux, poor circulation, obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, arthritis, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and restless legs syndrome have found relief by using an adjustable base.
An adjustable base can also provide greater comfort and convenience. You can sit up in bed for reading or raise your upper body to get in and out of the bed more easily.
The typical price tag of an adjustable base may give you some pause. The average adjustable bed base costs $1,150, with some models costing $3,000 or more. Many adjustable bases do not come with a return policy, so if you buy one and do not like it, you may be out a lot of money.
If you want to keep your head raised to alleviate symptoms of snoring, sleep apnea, or acid reflux, a wedge pillow can be an inexpensive alternative to an adjustable base. Wedge pillows can also elevate your knees to reduce pressure on your lower back.
A box spring is a wooden frame with a layer of steel coils, encased in cloth. Traditional box springs support an innerspring mattress in a panel bed.
A low profile box spring, also known as a low profile foundation, is a slimmer box spring designed for a thicker mattress. The slim design can keep the mattress at a more comfortable height.
A box spring can support an innerspring or a hybrid mattress well enough, but we strongly advise against using a box spring with a foam bed. A traditional box spring is not designed to provide the consistent support a foam mattress needs, and keeping a memory foam bed on top of a box spring may cause the mattress to lose its shape and structure.
However, if you have a box spring you want to use, you can sandwich a bunkie board between the box spring and mattress. A bunkie board is made with plywood or particle board and you set it on top of a box spring or a bed’s rails for even mattress support.
If you’re living on a tight budget or want to take your time to shop around for the best foundation, the floor should do as a temporary or a permanent foundation. As long as your floor is a flat and even surface, as most floors are, it can provide the uniform support a memory foam mattress needs.
A downside to having your mattress on the floor is a restriction of airflow. As air cannot escape through the bottom of your mattress, body heat and moisture may build up inside the mattress. Trapped body heat can disturb you in your sleep and collected moisture may promote the growth of mold and mildew.
Your mattress may be vulnerable to dirt, dust, and bugs if it’s kept on the floor. If your new mattress does not include a cover, we recommend investing in a mite-proof cover to protect it. You can find mite-proof covers ranging from $15 to $50.
We also recommend taking the time to regularly clean your mattress. Vacuum your mattress and the area surrounding it often, and lift it once a week to air out and prevent mold and mildew from growing. Change your bedding often as well— the recommendation is to do so every week.
A bed frame or raised platform may work better for the elderly or those with chronic pain issues. If you have difficulties getting out of bed or standing up unassisted, a mattress on the floor may not be for you.
If you’re thinking about keeping your mattress on the floor, check your mattress’s warranty first. Not placing your mattress on a bed frame or base may void the warranty.
Fitting a Foundation Into Your Living Space
When you’re considering a foundation, we recommend making sure it not only fits your planned mattress but that it also fits comfortably into your bedroom or living area. To easily move around your bed you’ll want 2 or 3 feet of room at least, plus any space needed for extra furniture.
Typical mattress sizes are as follows:
|Mattress Size||Dimensions in Inches|
|Twin||38 by 75|
|Twin XL||38 by 80|
|Full||54 by 75|
|Full XL||54 by 80|
|Queen||60 by 80|
|King||76 by 80|
|California King||72 by 84|
If you’re tight on living space, a foldable frame can help you make the most of it. Just take a close look at the bed’s design to make sure it will provide needed support. Most foldable foundations are metal, as it’s more difficult to make a supportive and foldable wooden foundation.
Every foundation has a weight capacity. Most can hold 400 or 500 pounds at a minimum, but it’s a good idea to double-check a foundation’s weight capacity before you buy. Reach out to customer service if you cannot find the weight capacity on the company’s website.
The combined height of a mattress and a foundation can range between 16 to 25 inches tall. A good foundation keeps your bed in this height range. If you have a thicker mattress, consider a shorter foundation. A taller foundation can work with a thinner mattress or for someone who wants more under-bed storage.
Your ideal bed height should let your feet rest flat on the floor, your knees in line with your hip, while you sit on the edge of your bed. If your knees rise above your hips, the bed is too low.
Setting a Budget
Prices for a foundation can vary depending on the type of foundation and the material it’s made of. A metal frame, for example, is typically less expensive than a wooden foundation.
For the most part, you should be able to find a basic bed frame or foundation for under $500. The exception is an adjustable bed base, which can cost more than $3,000.
If you’re looking at a basic metal or wooden foundation, a budget between $200 to $500 should ensure you’re getting a quality foundation. For an adjustable base, we recommend a budget between $1,500 to $2,000, although if you’re looking for an adjustable base with extra features or a split-king design, you may have to budget more than $3,000.
Sleep Trial, Warranty, and Return Policy
You’ll likely compare prices and features while you look at different mattress foundations. You may want to take the time to compare warranties and return policies while you’re at it.
Most bed frames and foundations don’t come with a sleep trial, nor do you need one like you would with a mattress. If you want the security of trying out your foundation, we recommend one that comes with a return policy. Many bed frames and foundations are often final sale items, so check if there’s a return policy attached before you purchase.
A foundation’s warranty is typically shorter than a mattress’s warranty, often lasting between 3 to 5 years. The warranty should cover structural and workmanship defects, and may also cover any mechanical failures if you’re purchasing an adjustable base. We recommend filing away your original receipt in a safe place, as you usually need a proof of purchase to make a warranty claim. We do not recommend a box spring for memory foam mattresses. If you have a box spring you want to use, place a flat piece of plywood or particle board on top. The board must be at least 0.75 inches thick and moisture-resistant. The board will keep the support even and prevent the mattress from sagging. We recommend slats less than 3 inches apart and at least half an inch thick. The farther apart slats are, the more the mattress can dip below the slats, causing premature material decay and loss of structure. A memory foam mattress typically sags either from defective foam that degrades quickly or from improper support for the mattress. We recommend a mattress warranty that covers 10 years or more to protect against defects and a good quality foundation for your memory foam mattress to ensure it’s well-supported.
Frequently Asked Questions
We do not recommend a box spring for memory foam mattresses. If you have a box spring you want to use, place a flat piece of plywood or particle board on top. The board must be at least 0.75 inches thick and moisture-resistant. The board will keep the support even and prevent the mattress from sagging.
We recommend slats less than 3 inches apart and at least half an inch thick. The farther apart slats are, the more the mattress can dip below the slats, causing premature material decay and loss of structure.
A memory foam mattress typically sags either from defective foam that degrades quickly or from improper support for the mattress. We recommend a mattress warranty that covers 10 years or more to protect against defects and a good quality foundation for your memory foam mattress to ensure it’s well-supported.
Did We Help?
The right foundation for a memory foam mattress isn’t too difficult to find. All you need is a foundation with consistent support and ideally some room for air to flow in and out. If you have any questions about a foundation you’re considering, such as the distance between slats, reach out to the customer service.
Once you buy your foundation, we recommend checking on it every year to make sure all its parts are in good condition— for example, no broken or cracked slats, wood rot, or rust. We also advise vacuuming and wiping down your foundation and bed frame when you clean your mattress, which you should do every three to six months.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.