Most mattresses, unless otherwise noted by the manufacturer, can be used as a floor mattress without any frame or box spring. The reasons for doing this vary: a desire for minimalism, interior design choice, saving money on frames, or even accommodating children or adults prone to rolling out of bed. Whether using a mattress on the floor is your preference or a temporary setup, we have a some tips to keep in mind for proper mattress on floor use.
The surface you set your mattress on is important.
We recommend finished surfaces, such as hardwood floor, tile, or synthetic carpeting (or rugs). Synthetic carpeting makes up a large part of the carpet market—it’s often more affordable, durable, and stain resistant than natural carpeting. Nylon, polyester, trifecta, and olefin are examples of commonly used synthetic fibers.
Avoid unfinished or natural surfaces like plywood and natural carpet fibers. Plywood is a wood composite that can retain moisture, which can lead to mold growth. Natural fiber carpets may retain moisture and be less durable than their synthetic counterparts. Wool is commonly used as a natural carpet. Other examples—often seen in area rugs—include cotton, jute, coir, seagrass, and sisal.
Most carpet and rugs available at big box retailers are synthetic fiber.
Some carpets are blends of natural and synthetic fibers. This mixing of fibers reduces some of the concerns seen in 100 percent natural or 100 percent synthetic carpeting. Still, if you want to use the mattress on a rug or in a carpeted room, consider using a thin barrier like a tatami mat or bunky board.
Bunky boards are low-profile foundations that offer the same level of support as a standard box spring but are generally only 2-3 inches thick. Tatami mats are traditional Japanese flooring. They can provide a clean and breathable base for mattresses used on the floor.
The Do's and Don’ts
DO read the fine print of your mattress warranty—scan your warranty for any combination of the terms "floor bed mattress" as floor use may void coverage. Even if floor use doesn’t affect the warranty, we recommend consulting the mattress manufacturer for floor use guidelines.
DO NOT set up your mattress without cleaning the area where it will be placed. If there is carpet or a rug, vacuum and steam clean to remove buildup in the fibers. On hard surfaces, vacuum, mop, and use a disinfectant cleaning product to sanitize. Make sure the surface is completely dry before setting up the mattress.
DO check out our tips for cleaning a mattress (link to how to clean your mattress post), and if you want to keep critters out, consider using a protective cover (link to protective cover post). When a mattress is closer to the ground, it’s more accessible to dust mites, bed bugs, dirt, ants, and spiders.
DO NOT take a risk with mold and mildew. Putting a mattress directly on any surface can limit circulation and trap moisture, especially in humid areas.
DO securely prop your mattress against a wall every week for a few hours (at the minimum). This allows the bottom of the mattress to breathe and reduces moisture buildup. In extremely humid regions, you may need to do this more often. Every time you prop the mattress up, we suggest doing a quick clean up of the area where it sits.
DO NOT forget to bundle up. Floor use could impact your sleeping temperature. For instance, during the winter or in cold environments, you may feel a chill because of the low position of the mattress. (Remember what you learned in grade school—hot air rises.)
DO remember the floor may have an effect on the feel of the bed, especially for all-foam mattresses. This change may be too subtle for most to notice, but for sleepers who are particular: a plush carpet can make a mattress feel softer, while the same mattress can feel firmer on a hardwood floor. Every mattress is different so it will take some trial and error to figure out the best set up for you.