What Type of Foundation Is Best for Memory Foam and Latex Mattresses?

Updated on May 18, 2018
Foundation or box spring for under your memory foam or latex mattress?
Foundation or box spring for under your memory foam or latex mattress? | Source

I've been in the mattress industry over a decade and the #1 question I hear from people is, "What type of foundation or support base should I use with my memory foam or latex mattress?

As most of you know, a foundation is the support base or mechanism that sits underneath a mattress. Both memory foam and latex mattresses require a solid, uniform foundation to work properly. If you currently have an older box spring foundation, definitely read on.

The Two Types of Foundations

Two Basic Types of Mattress Foundations on the Market

There are two basic types of mattress foundations in the mattress world today: box springs and foundations.

  • Box springs are, for the most part, a combination of wood and steel springs that act like shock absorbers for a traditional innerspring mattress.
  • Foundations are a more solid structure, for use with memory foam or latex mattresses, and are typically a solid wood top or wood slatted system with a cover.

Now, older box springs, typically ones that are over 10 years old, have too much give with their spring systems, and are not a good support base for memory foam mattresses. If you have an existing box spring, it is less than 10 years old and still in good shape, test it by pushing against the springs in several spots. Make sure the entire box spring has the same consistency in feel. If it’s rigid and firm, with an inch or less of give, then it should be OK to use with a memory foam mattress or latex mattress. If not, then you’re going to have to purchase a mattress foundation. This foundation comes in all sizes. It's perfect for memory foam and latex mattresses. I've tested it myself.

Typical foundations on the market today are either steel frame and steel frame/wood slat combinations or come with a nice zippered cover, and a solid, wood top or even tacked cardboard. They are ideal for memory foam or latex mattresses, because they provide a solid, uniform bottom for the foam cores. The less give you have, the better.

This wood slat foundation is super sturdy at a great price. Assembled height is about ten inches off the floor, so with mattress it sits at a nice height off of floor. I had a 10-inch mattress on mine. Not too low and not too high. Easy to get in and out.

Roll on Wood Slat Foundation

Wood Slat Mattress Foundations

Wood slat foundations work well too, as long as the slats are close enough together. We like to see the slats no more than 3” apart or less, preferably 2” apart. You’ll need to measure or make sure with a retailer that the slats are close enough together. Otherwise, you’ll need to put a ½” to ¾” cut plywood or pressboard over the slats to create that solid, uniform bottom (these boards will typically be in two cuts that you’ll butt together, the bigger the mattress you have).

Foldable Metal Foundations

I recently tested the Pragma bed platform with both a memory foam and a latex mattress. The platform worked beautifully with both types. It unfolds easily and folds right back up in seconds to store. The metal support strands are close enough together to provide that much needed congruous support. This foundation is great for guest beds that need to be put away after use but would also work well for a main mattress with long term use. I highly recommend this platform foundation. It comes in a surprisingly small box, because it is collapsable. It is lightweight which makes it easy to move (as you'll see in the video at right) so is great for storage.

Pragma Bed Mattress Foundation

Memory Foam on the Floor?

I get this question a lot: Is it ok to put a memory foam mattress directly on the floor? The simple answer is yes. Why? Because these mattresses needs a solid, uniform bottom and a floor provides that. The floor functions like a foundation. Now, this will be a very low profile bed, because you don't have the elevation that a foundation and frame would give you. Getting out of bed will be a bit difficult. However, many people do this, particularly folks who are just starting out and trying to save some money.

Make sure to check your mattress' warranty to determine whether it is affected/voided by not using a traditional foundation. This is sometimes the case.

Adjustable Base ShipShape Assembly Video

Which adjustable base would I recommend? By far, the ones manufactured by Leggett and Platt. They are durable, last a long time, are backed by a good warranty, and are built with quality components and craftsmanship. And, if my word isn't enough for you, the leading memory foam mattress company (which I dare not name because of their trademark restrictions, just think of the glass of wine test on the mattress) uses these adjustable bases almost exclusively with their models. Plus, I own one (the ShipShape adjustable base), and in four years I haven't had one problem with it, and I've moved twice in that time.

What amazed me the most when I received mine (and during my moves), was how easy it was to assemble and disassemble. They were really thinking when they had the consumer in mind in this area. Check out the video at right.

Good Advice for a Latex Mattress Foundation

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        brians601 

        10 months ago

        I have had 3 memory foam mattresses during a 5 years period and both caused pain in my side/hip area.

        - First was a 12 inch memory foam bed.

        - Second was a latex 12 inch gel and memory foam.

        - Third 14 inch gel and memory foam.

        I'm not a "heavy" person, 6' 2" 195lbs.

        Same issue with all 3 mattresses. Looking back now I think maybe the biggest issue was the foundation. It would feel like the cross-bar was sticking in my back.

        ***Best Solution***

        Regardless, I recently switched to an air mattress and they seem to work the best for back and side pain. Since the switch (3 months ago) I haven't woke up with ANY pain in my back or side.

        If you do switch to an air mattress a bit of advice, buy a high quality one. If you want to try one out I guess you can pick up a cheap one from a place like Walmart and if you like it upgrade and keep the cheap one as a spare.

        The problem with the cheap mattresses is if you buy one for $50-$70 and you have sex on it expect to find a hole or have it pop. I had this issue with 2 mattresses (both the same brand/kind). First time I woke up to the bed busted in the morning, second time the bed popped like a god damn balloon mid-session.

        Switched to a nice never flat $200 mattress and haven't had an issue since. Bit more then I anticipated spending but I had to get a king size... I didn't want to have to buy more bed sheets.

        There are much cheaper high quality options out there, especially if you're looking for a full or queen size bed. You can find a good quality mattress for $125 - $150. There's a queen size Serta on Amazon now with a never flat pump for $124.

        If you check out some air mattress reviews you might notice that most of the complaints are either about how they pop or that they are too cold. Don't listen to the reviews! 90% of the time a mattress pops it's caused by something the user did. I had 2 pop on me, both times were totally my fault. If you take care of a good quality air mattress it will last you a long time, besides most come with a lifetime warranty. And the best way to resolve the cold mattress issue is to use one of those 1 inch foam mattress toppers they add that little extra comfort and they keep the bed warm.

      • profile image

        Deb 

        13 months ago

        So to be clear...I can use a box spring on top of a platform then my memory foam mattress on top? .... can I top my box spring with plywood too?

      • profile image

        Nadine 

        15 months ago

        Q: I will be putting this king size 14" gel foam mattress in my fifth wheel on top of the 72" x 80" platform that raises hydraulically. Two questions: 1. will it damage the mattress to hang 2" over on each side (without support)? 2. Will the hydraulic lift of the platform work under the weight of the mattress (i.e. I have no idea of the weights of my current mattress vs this mattress).

      • profile image

        Ry 

        18 months ago

        A foam mattress on the floor will mold

      • profile image

        David 

        20 months ago

        Hi And thank You for these Infos! Impossible to find it in french on the web. If I put my big talalay latex mattress on a full plywood base, zero ventilation under the mattress shouldnt be an issue? Ty

      • profile image

        Leila 

        21 months ago

        I have a memory foam mattress on a wood slat foundation with slats 3” apart. I also bought a pocket string mattress for a better back support. Is it okey to put the new pocket string mattress on top of 13 year old memory foam mattress?

      • profile image

        vanessa 

        22 months ago

        can I put a memory foam mattress on top of my regular mattress without a box spring? I have a metal bed frame.

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        22 months ago from United States

        For a memory foam mattress, yes. Any solid, uniform bottom will work with that type of foam core.. Hope this helps..

      • profile image

        Susan 

        23 months ago

        We have a beautiful wooden frame which has a box spring and A memory foam mattress. The bed as is is too high for my husband to get in and out of. Can I simply put down a sheet of plywood in place of the box spring?

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        3 years ago from United States

        Thanks, Reginald!

      • Reginald Thomas profile image

        Reginald Thomas 

        3 years ago from Connecticut

        Great article! I enjoyed reading it as you gave lots of important info.

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        4 years ago from United States

        Hi Norm - If the third store allows you to buy a mattress with the plywood sheet without voiding the warranty, I'd definitely go that route. As I say in this particular article, the 1/2" plywood or pressboard over an existing foundation works great with memory foam or latex mattresses. All these types of mattresses need is a firm, uniform bottom for proper support of the mattress. Hope this helps, Brian

      • profile image

        Norm 

        4 years ago

        I just went shopping for 3 major brands of foam mattresses. I just wanted to buy the mattress, but two places told me if I didn't buy an "approved" foundation, the mattress warranty was void. Period. The third store told me I could just put a 1/2" plywood sheet on my old box springs frame and that would be o.k. He suggested I screw it onto the frame of the old box springs. What do you think about this?

      • profile image

        gurpreet 

        5 years ago

        all natural latex mattress, best latex mattress, foam latex mattress, latex foam mattress, latex mattress, latex mattresses, natural latex bed, natural latex mattresses, talalay latex mattress, talalay latex mattresses, foam rubber mattress,

        This has been very helpful.

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        5 years ago from United States

        Thanks, Superfly47! Appreciate the vote!

      • superfly47 profile image

        David McKenzie 

        5 years ago from Canada

        Voted useful because it is.

        Nice hub.

      • profile image

        Elizabeth Sain 

        6 years ago

        I completely agree with this above comment, the internet is with a doubt growing into your most essential medium of communication across the globe and also its due to sites just like this that ideas are spreading so quickly.

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        6 years ago from United States

        You only want to put your new mattress on the foundation.. Having the other mattress underneath will cause support issues by not supporting the base portion of the mattress.. This will create performance issues for your new mattress.. It needs a solid uniform bottom to work properly.. Hope this helps!

      • profile image

        6 years ago

        my box spring is over 10 years old, but my mattress is newer and not too bad. I already have a new memory foam mattress and wonder if I can put it on top of both mattress and boxspring? Is there an easier way to find out the support of boxspring?

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        6 years ago from United States

        Hi KT - First, sounds like you need more slats going across the top of your foundation, unless the slats are really wide.. You really need a more uniform support base for your foam mattress.. I have recommended to other people in your situation to build a foundation size box to put under the current foundation to raise the mattress up.. A minimum of quarter inch to half inch plywood or pressboard top.. This has helped many in your situation.. Hope this helps.. Brian

      • profile image

        KT 

        6 years ago

        Can you use two foundations (to raise the bed higher) for one bed? I have a mattress that is a combination of memory foam and then latex at the bottom. My bed is a slay bed with wood rows across the width of it (about 4 or 6 of them).

      • Just Ask Susan profile image

        Susan Zutautas 

        7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        I have a Tempur Pedic mattress and I hate sleeping anywhere else.

      • Brian Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Brian Anderson 

        8 years ago from United States

        Thanks for the nice comment, Stephanie!

      • profile image

        Stephanie 

        8 years ago

        I just commented on another blog on this site, but I just wanted to quickly say on this one that my memory foam mattress I bought from www.novosbed.com is perfect on the floor - I think the floor is probably the most supportive surface for a mattress.

        My boyfriend has a bedframe with wooden slats which we'll probably use when we move in together next month, but until then, the floor works perfectly.

        Thanks! :)

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