How to Choose a Mattress for a Slatted Bed Frame
Slatted bed frames are one of the most popular types of beds on the market. However, there are so many different models to choose between that finding the perfect design can be tricky.
What is a slatted bed frame?
Slatted bed frames are a type of bed design featuring wooden slats that span from one side of the bed to the other. These slats support your mattress, ensuring a comfortable night’s sleep. They also raise the mattress off of the ground, allowing air to circulate beneath it.
Slatted bed frames come in a wide range of styles and are one of the most diverse types of bed available. They can be fitted with both headboards and footboards, and are made from many different materials. Though they are traditionally equipped with legs, some models feature wheels or glides.
Slatted bed frames are an excellent alternative to divan beds. They can be paired with just a mattress or you can add box springs and bunkie boards to alter the firmness and height of the bed.
Are there different types of slats?
A slatted bed frame will usually come with one of two slat designs:
- Solid slats - these are flat, firm slats that run across the entire width of the bed on smaller designs or halfway across on larger ones. These are often made of pine but can be manufactured from other woods and materials.
- Sprung slats - these are slightly curved slats that are traditionally made from beech wood, and benefit from a little flex in the wood. This springiness cushions the mattress slightly and makes for a softer feel. Sprung slats are fitted so that the apex of the arch is on the topside. In other words, the slats should resemble a shallow hill, not a valley. If the slats dip down, they’re upside-down!
The main difference between the two types of slats is the feel and support they provide. While solid slats are firmer, sprung slats are more cushioned.
Why choose a slatted bed frame?
There are several reasons why choosing a slatted bed frame is an excellent choice. These include:
- No need to use a box spring
- Increased airflow to the mattress
- Enables you to adjust the firmness of a mattress
- Excellent weight distribution
- Usually more cost-effective
No need to use a box spring
Slatted bed frames can be used with or without a box spring. A box spring is a platform that contains coiled springs within a wooden frame. However, they still require a mattress on top. By doing away with box springs, slatted bed frames become a cheaper and simpler option. Some people combine slatted bed designs with a box spring platform because they prefer the feel or want to raise the height of their bed.
Increased airflow to the mattress
Mattresses last longer and stay cooler when there’s good airflow to all the sides. While people with divans or non-slatted designs can extend the lifespan of their mattress by regularly flipping it, this can be a bit of a fuss. If you find that you regularly sweat during the night, a slatted bed frame can help, as the improved airflow helps heat dissipate from the mattress.
Allows you to adjust firmness of a mattress
The feel of slatted frames can be altered by adjusting the number of slats and the distance between them. The more coverage you achieve with the slats and the smaller the gaps between them, the firmer your mattress will feel. This isn’t possible with all slatted designs, as many frames feature a limited number of slat slots (the part of the bed into which you fix the slats). This is particularly common with beds that utilise sprung slats.
Excellent weight distribution
Well-designed slatted frames provide excellent support for your mattress. Other designs, such as divans, may offer more equal support across the entire mattress, resulting in a firmer feel, but this isn’t to everyone’s taste. If you prefer a cushioned feel, a slatted bed frame is an excellent choice. It’s also worth remembering that the feel of the bed can be altered by pairing your frame with a softer or firmer mattress.
Usually more cost-effective
In most cases, slatted bed frames are more cost-effective than divans. This is because they’re a simpler design and don’t include features like extra storage. Prices range from around £90 to £2,500, though bespoke and uber-luxurious models can go for even more.
What to look out for with slatted bed frames
When it comes to choosing a slatted bed frame there are a few things to look out for.
- Additional slat supports for bigger beds - on wider beds, there should be central support that cuts the length of slats in half. If you see a double, king-size or super king-size bed that doesn’t feature a central support, be careful. If long slats are used to span the entire width of a large bed, they’ll be weaker, more flexible and less supportive.
- The distance between slats - the gaps between slats shouldn’t be much more than 7-10 cm. If the distance between them is any greater, they’ll struggle to provide adequate support to your mattress. Some designs allow for extra slats to be added to the frame, reducing the size of the gaps.
- Height of the bed - slatted frames are often lower than other bed designs. While this isn’t a problem for most people, you may prefer a higher bed if you struggle with mobility impairments. The height of your frame can be increased by pairing your mattress with a box spring.
What type of mattress can I use on a slatted bed frame?
Slatted bed frames can be matched with several different types of mattresses. The best mattress for a slat bed is largely down to personal preference, though there are some important factors to think about.
This type of mattress has been in use for around two centuries, though recent innovations have ensured it continues to compete with more modern designs. Spring mattresses feature a layer of coiled springs that are either woven into the design or fitted into individual fabric pockets. While the former is certainly comfortable, the latter is even more so, as all of the springs move independently of one another.
This type of mattress is perfectly suited to slatted bed frames, as they offer excellent support. They can be used on their own or in conjunction with a box spring.
Memory foam mattresses
Memory foam mattresses were designed by NASA to keep their astronauts comfortable while orbiting the earth. As you’d expect, they’re pretty special. The mattress is made from a dense foam that moulds to the body, relieving pressure on your body’s contact points. Once you’re up and out of bed, the foam returns to its original shape, so you don’t leave permanent indents.
Memory foam mattresses are ideal for slatted beds. However, it’s a good idea to minimise the space between slats, use a box spring or fit a bunkie board, as memory foam can begin to mould around the slats over time.
Latex mattresses are the design of choice if you suffer from allergies or asthma. The latex layer keeps the mattress free of dust mites and grime, ensuring you get a great night’s sleep. This type of mattress is a little more structured than memory foam, so it doesn’t require quite as much support. However, you may still want to think about reducing the distance between slats or adding extra slats if they’re far apart.
Hybrid mattresses combine elements from all the other types of mattresses. They quite often incorporate memory foam technology, a latex layer or both, as well as pocket springs. They’re an excellent choice for a slatted bed frame.
How to build a slatted bed frame
Building a slatted bed frame is a relatively simple job, though the difficulty will depend on how easy the manufacturer makes it for you. Generally, it’s a five-step process.
- Begin assembling the bed in the bedroom. Beds aren’t the easiest thing to move, so don’t make the mistake of putting it together elsewhere, then attempting to relocate it.
- Start constructing the frame. This will usually slot together and may be fixed by screws. Make sure each part of the frame is facing the right way. On some designs, it doesn’t matter which way the rails face. In others, there will be a varnished or decorated side and a plain side. The varnished or decorated side faces outwards.
- Fit the headboard and footboard. These features can be attached in several different ways, so consult the assembly instructions if you’re not sure what to do.
- Add the slats. Some slats sit between stops to prevent them from moving around, while others sit freely or fit into plastic caps. If you’re using sprung slats, ensure the apex of the bend is at the top. It should look like a flattened ‘n’, not a flattened ‘u’.
- Place your mattress on top of the slats. While many mattresses can be flipped, some have a topside and a bottom, so be careful and get it the right way round. Now you’re good to go.
Can you buy replacement bed slats?
If you break a slat or discover that you need extra slats to give your mattress a little extra support, you can always buy them. They’re readily available on the internet and from various bed stores, ensuring they’re easy to find. If you’ve got access to materials and tools, you could even make them yourself.
If you do a small amount of damage to a slat but it isn’t entirely broken, we’d still recommend exchanging it for a new one. This is because damaged slats may have shards or splinters that could rip or tear your mattress. A broken slat can also impact on the comfort of your mattress by reducing the amount of support the frame offers. While one compromised slat may not seem like a big deal, it’s surprising how much difference it makes!