What to Look for When Buying an Adjustable Base for Your Mattress
Too Expensive, Too Many Questions
I've been in the mattress industry for nearly two decades now, and have been amazed at the growing number of manufacturers and big bedding retailers offering adjustable bases. The big problem is, how do you know if you're getting a quality product? Most of the manufacturers are overseas, with only a handful or so here in the USA. In my business experience, most of my customers would buy an adjustable base for their bed, but have found that they're too expensive or they just don't know enough about their quality to be comfortable purchasing one.
Why Buy an Adjustable Base?
An adjustable base is perfect for tilting up in more of a sitting position, so you can comfortably read or watch a movie, elevate your legs after a workout or long day, or relieve snoring symptoms and less severe sleep apnea cases merely by elevating your or your partner's head slightly so you can sleep. They also provide proper body positioning which allows for natural spine alignment during sleep. And, many systems have really cool features too, including LED lighting, apps for smart phones, massage features, and many other upgrades. But, obviously, these upgrades can rapidly increase the cost of any adjustable bed base.
Adjustable Beds Can Relieve Certain Health Problems
Source of Relief
Lower Back Pain
Neck and Shoulder Tension
Minor Aches and Pains
Pain from Arthritis
Asthma or Other Breathing Problem
Support / Posture
Healthy Posture / Semi-Upright
Swollen Legs or Feet
Proper Circulation / Posture
Back Pain / Neck Pain
Lack of Joint Mobility
Support / Posture
Have You Ever Owned an Adjustable Bed Base?
What Mattress Types Are Suitable for Adjustable Bases?
Keep in mind that you can use several different mattress types on the base, though typical stiffer coil or innerspring mattresses don’t flex as much, and will tend to go horizontal even when only moderately flexed. This includes most air beds, as well.
The best kind of mattress to use is something flexible, like memory foam, latex, a futon mattress, anything that does not resist folding. Some pocketed coil mattresses, because they are built on a kind of hinge system, will fold much easier, and more precisely, since they have an infinite number of edges upon which to bend.
Test Your Current Mattress
If you are planning on using your existing mattress, you can do a simple test. It’ll take an extra person, but it generally demonstrates whether or not your mattress is compatible with an adjustable base. Both individuals get at the foot end of your stripped mattress, and attempt to fold the mattress over on itself, foot to head.
If you can fairly easily fold the mattress to almost vertical without a strenuous effort, it’s a good sign that your mattress is compatible. However, if your mattress simply lifts off the entire foundation and resists folding, it is likely not going to work.
Test Drive Some Adjustable Bases
I bought a new latex mattress with my adjustable base (S-Cape Split King from Leggett & Platt), since rubber is extremely flexible, and pretty much follows the contour of whatever you set it on.
But even before you get started trying to figure out your mattress situation, do some research on adjustable bases first. Hit some stores, try a few out, and understand that there are limitations as to how far they will sit up, understanding what a split king is vs. a regular king (if you have a split king, both you and your partner have independent remotes and control of their own side, where with one mattress the split base units need to be synced and everything runs off of one remote, limiting your adjustability).
You’ll find that many brands are imported, even though they may be marked with familiar big mattress names, so be careful when kicking the tires on these things. Many are poorly constructed, using inadequate gauge steel rails for the chassis, which is the undercarriage that the unit moves upon, much like a track, and if the material is not “beefy” and heavier in thickness, you can get warping and ultimately the unit will jam and shimmy and shake when it is operating.
I actually got up under a few of these bases to look at them, and many had dangling wires, small motors, loose staples, and the metal used for the chassis construction (again the metal frame upon which the entire base operates) was thin and I could literally grab one of the wheel guide rails and twist and turn it with my hand- not a good sign for long term wear and tear.
My Personal Experience With Adjustable Bases
Roughly 10 years ago, I was a Tempur-Pedic retailer, and the only adjustable base that they used with their mattresses was manufactured by Leggett & Platt here in the USA. I liked them because they offer a service and support system with certified technicians that can come out to your house if you have a problem. They offer a full year of free parts and labor if anything at all goes wrong with the base, and typically, at least I have found this to be true, if something is defective with any mechanical device, it’s going to fail sooner rather than later. They're rugged systems that do very well long term. And they have a good long term warranty.
I have friends who purchased more tricked out models, but they don’t use the features, and all of us agreed that other than the fact that you can adjust the bed virtually any way you like, the only other cool feature was having a backlit remote. Just remember to replace your batteries periodically.
Honestly, I love having an adjustable bed base since I often beat myself up lifting weights (nothing better than being able to elevate your legs) and just like to be a lounge lizard on Sunday mornings, and my kids often hang out on it watching movies and playing video games. It’s also quiet, and if I have to make subtle movements during the night with the remote, it’s a muffled sound that won’t wake your neighbor.