Any child who has ever picked up a Lincoln Log knows a home can’t be built on a pile of twigs, and any engineer with an ounce of sense knows a car should never be built on a flimsy frame. In these cases, and many more, foundations are the basis for everything that allows a product to be usable, functional, and desirable. This is true of large- and small-scale products alike, and one everyday item that also greatly depends on its foundation is our bed.
This is particularly true of foam mattresses; products built on the premise of comfort. With foam being more fluid and yielding than traditional materials, the base that foam bedding is placed upon greatly impacts a bed’s performance.
Foam mattresses – conventional, memory foam, and latex – contour and compress against our bodies to give us a wonderfully soft sleep surface that relieves pressure and eases aches. But the ability of these materials to yield to our bodies means they may also yield to foundations in a way that negatively impacts the sleep experience.
To prevent this from happening, there are a couple foundation strategies worth implementing that will help keep a mattress around for years, while giving you superb comfort and support.
Firm Foam Foundations
With foam being as flexible as it is, it’s important to make sure the foundation a foam mattress is placed on is firmer than the comfort layer. This is easily done when using a box spring or platform bed, but when using a multi-layer foam setup, the answer is not always as obvious.
A firm foam base provides the stability and support in a mattress, while the top layer provides comfort. This is particularly important when using foam mattress toppers. Products like a Foam Factory memory topper or eggcrate topper can compress greatly, which makes for outstanding comfort. But without something firm as a foundation underneath, the sleeper loses support and can easily wind up sore, or unable to fall asleep at all.
On thick mattress builds, a softer foam foundation can make a mattress unstable as well. When the top is firmer and more rigid than the bottom, uneven pressure distribution can make the foundation compress, reducing support. Always look for high density foam to use as a foundation layer in a mattress build, and always layer materials to have the greatest Indentation Load Deflection values, a measure of firmness, on the bottom.
Foam Factory’s Dunlop latex mattresses, Lux-HQ, and HD36-HQ foam varieties all make fantastic foundations for layered mattress builds.
Slats and Box Springs
Another, more traditional mattress build is using a single foam layer atop a box spring or a slat-foundation. This method works well for individuals wanting a firm bed with the comfort of foam, but the construction and spacing of box springs and slats can play a role in the long-term condition of a bed that may be overlooked.
When using a foam mattress with a box spring, it is imperative that the box spring is either in new or excellent condition. Since a foam mattress is composed of a single piece of material, damage in one spot can quickly lead to an overall failure of the mattress. Split or chipped wood, loose boards, nails or staples, and even boards that are exceedingly thin can cause rips and punctures in foam. Since foam moves much more fluidly than traditional materials, damage can quickly grow in size until it becomes apparent to the sleeper in the form of a less comfortable, supportive, sleep.
With slat foundations, the same advice applies in terms of undamaged materials that are of sufficient size. The other consideration to take with bed slats is their spacing. Using too few slats leaves sizable gaps in the foundation that can cause a foam bed to sag or rip from the pressure. The closer slats can be positioned, the more support a foam bed setup receives, which is better for both your sleep and the longevity of the foam itself.
Foam mattresses provide some of the most comforting and restful sleep experiences around. But like most things, getting the best out of something starts from the ground up. In the case of bedding, that means having smart, solid foundations.