Are Bed Slats Bad For Mattresses? (2023)

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Are Bed Slats Bad For Mattresses? (1)

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  • Slumber Yard Team

Last Updated: June 16, 2021

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When it comes to finding the perfect mattress foundation, there is no shortage of options to choose from. One of the most popular foundations on the market is bed slats, which are wood planks that run horizontally in your bed frame to support the mattress. Bed slats make an excellent foundation for any type of bed, but they aren’t the only option. In this article, we’ll explain the pros and cons of bed slats and present a few of the alternatives.

What Are Bed Slats?

Bed slats are often found in platform beds and run horizontally across your bed frame, helping to support your mattress. They’re most often wooden slats but can also be made of metal. Bed slats are designed to help equally distribute the weight of your mattress and prevent it from sagging.

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Bed slats can support any type of mattress. However, keep in mind that since platform beds tend to sit lower than beds on a traditional frame and box spring, a bed with slats might be best suited for a taller mattress.

Are Bed Slats Bad For Mattresses? (2)


  • Affordable: Because they’re made of a cheap material, wood bed slats are often quite affordable.
  • Supportive: Bed slats help evenly distribute the weight of your mattress, preventing it from sagging or wearing down quickly.
  • Easy to assembly: Installing bed slats is simple. They’re usually quite thin, and you just have to lay them across the width of your mattress.
  • Easy to replace: Because bed slats are individual pieces, you can easily replace just one if it breaks, and it will barely cost you anything. That’s not the case with a box spring.


  • Don’t add height: Unlike a box spring, bed slats don’t add any height to your bed, and therefore may not be the best option for thinner mattresses.
  • Breakable: Because they’re simply wood planks, bed slats are more fragile than other types of bed foundations.
  • Require assembly: You’ll have to put the bed slats on the frame yourself in most cases. The good news is that it is incredibly easy to do and won’t be a problem for most people.

Types of bed slats

  • Wood: Most bed slats are made of wood, making them lightweight, easy to install, and easy to replace. They generally lay a few inches apart horizontally across the bed.
  • Metal: Many beds also come with slats made of metal instead of wood. These slats may be more supportive and less likely to break. However, they are not as flexible and lightweight as wood slats.

Bed slats dimensions

Are Bed Slats Bad For Mattresses? (3)

The dimensions of your bed slats will depend on the size of the bed. Below you’ll find the measurements for the bed slats used for each standard mattress size. The width of the slats is usually equal to the width of the mattress, though they may vary slightly depending on the brand. So you’ll queen bed slats will be the same size as your queen mattress, and your twin bed slats will be just as wide as a twin mattress.

Mattress sizeWidth
Twin38 inches
Twin XL38 inches
Full54 inches
Queen60 inches
King76 inches

Slats vs. Box Spring

Are Bed Slats Bad For Mattresses? (4)

A box spring is a box that’s typically made of wood and covered with fabric, and is designed to support a mattress. Box springs traditionally had coil springs inside them, designed to complement the innerspring of a mattress. Today, many box springs are simply hollow inside. Box springs used to be the most common type of bed foundation, but they’ve become less common as mattress design has changed and other mechanisms have become more popular.


  • Adds height: Unlike bed slats, a box spring can help add height to your bed. For those who prefer a higher profile bed, this might be preferable.
  • Supportive: Like bed slats, box springs do a nice job supporting your mattress, ensuring that it doesn’t sag during the night.
  • Can add bounce: If you buy a box spring with coil springs inside, it can provide a nice bounce that complements the innerspring of your mattress.


  • Heavy: Box springs are roughly the size of a mattress, making them bulky and heavy and especially difficult to move.
  • Expensive to replace: Unlike bed slats, you can’t simply replace a part of your box spring if it breaks. As a result, they can be costly.
  • Visually unappealing: Functionality isn’t the only reason box springs have become less common. They’re also just not as aesthetically pleasing as many of the platform beds available today.

Slats vs. Other Mattress Foundations

Bed slats and box springs might be the two most common mattress foundations on the market, but they aren’t the only options. Other alternatives include:

Platform bed

Platform beds often come with bed slats, but you can also find solid platform beds, where your mattress rests on a flat surface. With this type of foundation, the frame itself also acts as the support system.

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  • Requires fewer pieces

  • Visually appealing
  • Doesn’t allow for airflow

  • Expensive
  • Adjustable bed

    Are Bed Slats Bad For Mattresses? (5)

    An adjustable bed is similar to a platform, where the mattress sits directly on the bed frame. But in the case of an adjustable bed, the frame moves. These allow you to adjust the elevation of certain parts of the bed, such as the head or the feet.

  • Health benefits, such as alleviating pain and sleep apnea

  • Comfortable for nighttime reading or TV
  • Expensive

  • Not suitable for all mattress types
  • What’s The Best Base For My Mattress?

    With several great options to choose from, you might be wondering what type of base is best suited for the kind of mattress you have. The good news is that most bed foundations are suitable for any kind of bed. However, some pairs are more complimentary.

    For example, adjustable bed frames go best with a flexible mattress, such as memory foam ones. And box springs are particularly complimentary to innerspring mattresses. Otherwise, it really comes down to your personal preference. So if you are still asking yourself, “are bed slats bad for mattresses?” the answer is no. Actually, it’s a kind of foundation that can work with any type of mattress.


    Can any mattress go on a slat bed?

    Bed slats can work with any type of mattress. However, the kind of mattress you use might impact how many wood planks you need and how closely they should be placed. For example, beds prone to sag may require more slats.

    Do bed slats break easily?

    Wood bed slats may break more quickly than other bed foundations because of their material, but metal bed slats won’t break easily.

    Can you use plywood instead of bed slats?

    You can easily use Plywood in place of traditional bed slats. If one of your bed slats break, you can replace it with a plywood plank.

    How do I keep my bed slats from falling down?

    If your bed slats are falling down, it could be that they aren’t the correct size for your bed frame. Your first option is to replace either your bed slats or your foundation. Another option is to find a way to secure them to the frame, such as with velcro, wood glue, or screws.

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    Will slats ruin a mattress? ›

    For example, adjustable bed frames go best with a flexible mattress, such as memory foam ones. And box springs are particularly complimentary to innerspring mattresses. Otherwise, it really comes down to your personal preference. So if you are still asking yourself, “are bed slats bad for mattresses?” the answer is no.

    Can a mattress just sit on slats? ›

    Most mattress types can rest directly on the slats. Durable: Most modern box springs are made of a wooden frame wrapped in fabric—they offer height but very little support. Slats are much more supportive and will ensure your mattress doesn't sink or slide.

    Do I need a box spring if my bed has slats? ›

    Platform bed frame – slats

    Some platform beds are a slight variation of the traditional platform bed. These use slats for support instead of the solid foundation. As long as the slats are close enough together to satisfy the mattress warranty, this frame would not need a boxspring either.

    Do bed frames affect mattress? ›

    Bed frames also need to be able to physically support the weight of a mattress. As today's mattresses evolve with heavier materials and more layers, the need for sturdy frames is as important as ever. A weak bed frame could allow the mattress to sag or result in instabilities that require a premature frame replacement.

    What can I use in bed instead of slats? ›

    If your bed frame doesn't have a solid base or the slats are further apart, you will need a flat base to place your mattress on. That's where a bunkie board can help. A bunkie board can be used on top of any bed frame or foundation to create a stable surface for your mattress.

    Is a bed base better than slats? ›

    However, solid bases can make softer mattresses feel firmer, while slatted bases retain the original feel of the mattress. Slatted bases are better for softer and thinner mattresses, while solid bases are better for firmer mattresses and heavy people.

    What happens if you use slats as a bed frame? ›

    The downside of using a slatted foundation is it could cause your mattress to sag. It's best to avoid slatted foundations with too-thin slats because it does not provide adequate support for your bed. If your bed has thin slats, it's best to place a bunkie board on top of your foundation for better support.

    How much weight can bed slats hold? ›

    Weight Capacity

    Metal slats take more weight than wooden slats. Nevertheless, a slatted foundation takes an average of 600 pounds of the cumulative weight of the sleepers.

    Can you put a memory foam mattress directly on slats? ›

    Can a memory foam mattress go on a slatted base? You can place your memory foam mattress on a slatted platform as long as the slats are no more than 2.75 inches apart. If the slats are too far apart, the mattress can sink between them, causing premature sagging that will reduce the mattress's comfort and support.

    Why are box springs no longer used? ›

    Most modern mattresses including mattresses in a box do not require a box spring. In fact, traditional box springs don't provide the rigid support needed for many newer foam and latex beds. Box springs are primarily designed for use with coil-based mattresses.

    Do bed slats make a difference? ›

    Do Bed Slats Make a Difference? Yes, they do! Bed slats help to make your mattress more comfortable and supportive. They work together with your mattress to provide you with much-needed support when you lie on your bed.

    Are wooden or metal slats better? ›

    Typically, we find that solid wood slats are slightly better and more affordable than metal ones. Metal slats tend to be made “light” and therefore bend over time. They can also cause squeaking when there's some movement between the slats and the joints of a metal bed and they begin to rub together.

    Is it better to have your bed on the floor or on a frame? ›

    If your choices are between the floor or a bed frame that's cracked, wobbly, or sagging, then the floor is almost certainly a better bet. Not only does it guarantee support for your mattress, but it can also help you feel secure while sleeping.

    Is bed frame or mattress more important? ›

    A new bed frame is also a good way to make sure you're getting the right sleep support. While mattresses are crucial to getting a good night's rest, the mattress itself needs to rest on the box spring to ensure the best support. A bed frame provides support for your box spring, which is constructed in a wooden frame.

    Can bed frame cause mattress sagging? ›

    If you have queen-sized or king-sized mattresses, it's important to have enough legs to properly support them. When you only have four-legged bed frames, the middle of the bed will tend to have a slight dip to it. Over time, this will lead to a saggy mattress.

    How thick should bed slats be? ›

    Slats should be flat, sturdy, non-flexible, and preferably made of strong wood that is at least ¾” thick. Plywood slats are not recommended unless the ply is at least 1” thick. To avoid mattress flex between slats, the spacing should be less than 3” apart but no more than 4” apart.

    Do all beds need slats? ›

    A bed lifted off the ground absolutely requires slats because without them, well the bed would fall through and land on the ground of course! But as it turns out, all a mattress needs is a good firm base!

    What kind of base is best for mattress? ›

    A slatted bed base is optimal for the best air circulation you can get. It will also help you if your bed base can add some extra springiness to your mattress, and if you can adjust the level of springiness. For this, an adjustable slatted base is best.

    What type of bed frame is best for back pain? ›

    The best bed base for back problems is an ergonomically slatted base which can actively support the lower back when you're lying on your side or on your back.

    What is the best type of mattress base? ›

    Pocket sprung edge bases are the highest quality bases you can buy in both their construction, components and overall feel. The pocket springs give the same benefits found in high-end mattresses by giving independent support. These pocket springs are then padded and upholstered to create a luxury base.

    How long do slat beds last? ›

    Bed frame life expectancy: Wooden bed frames with slats typically last 7-10 years if properly maintained, while metal bed frames last 15 years or more.

    Do slats make mattress firmer? ›

    Step 5: Invest in a new bed frame or slats

    A brand new bed frame with new slats will offer more support. To make your mattress firmer, you should consider bed frames with solid slats as they provide a more supportive feel.

    What is the strongest bed frame? ›

    If you're looking for a bed frame that is heavy, strong, durable and stable, then a metal or steel frame is your best bet. The reason for this is simple: metal and steel are dense materials that can support more weight than other types of materials. Metal and steel frames also have several other benefits.

    Can I put plywood on top of slats? ›

    We usually advise when using any sort of slats to place an old duvet atop the slats to stop the mattress becoming indented. Similarly, if you're finding that your mattress is dipping then you can get some standard sheets of either MDF, plywood or peg board to place on the slats. You only need something like 3mm.

    What type of bed frame is best for memory foam? ›

    Memory foam mattresses are best paired with solid or slatted bed frames, but when paired with slatted bed frames, the slats should be no more than 2.75 inches apart. These foundations offer sturdy support to resist sagging and prevent wear and tear.

    What is the best thing to put under a memory foam mattress? ›

    A solid mattress foundation, like a platform bed or one made with wooden slats, is best for a memory foam mattress. This type of bed frame provides the mattress with the necessary support, which will reduce sagging and wear-and-tear over time.

    How can I make my mattress more supported? ›

    In order to make your mattress firmer, you can try a few things, like getting a firmer mattress topper, flipping your mattress (if it's flippable), or placing plywood between the mattress and the bed frame/box spring.

    Can you use plywood instead of a box spring? ›

    Note that both plywood and bunkie boards can be used as alternatives to box springs…it really depends on your mattress. You can also use either one on top of a box spring to reduce some of the squeakiness.

    What is replacing box springs? ›

    What to Use Instead of Box Springs? (Top 9 Alternatives)
    • Platform Bed.
    • Under Mattress Slats.
    • Wood Slat Foundation.
    • Hybrid Mattress.
    • Innerspring Mattress.
    • Memory Foam.
    • Adjustable Bed.

    What mattress does not need a box spring? ›

    Platform beds don't look much different from a traditional bed. However, you don't have to use a box spring as you might with other beds. Instead, metal or wood slats form the base that holds the mattress. These slats can usually be easily removed and adjusted as needed.

    Do slats make bed softer? ›

    Solid slats make your mattress feel a lot firmer as they are designed to offer more support by adding pressure to your mattress. To make your mattress softer, you could invest in a bed frame with sprung slats. This is because sprung slats provide more cushioned support and move with your mattress throughout the night.

    Whats better divan or slats? ›

    Durability: In terms of durability slatted base beds can be subject to slat breakage from excessive weight applied to the bed or jumping causing the slats to crack. A divan bed base is more able to absorb weight placed upon it than a slatted base, therefore making it more durable.

    Do metal slats damage mattresses? ›

    Slats Damaging Mattresses Advice:

    Mattresses can get damaged by slats if they are too far apart or are too skinny. With both these circumstances, the mattress may end up being squeezed between the gaps or will be damaged by thin slats focusing too much pressure on the mattress over time.

    What slats are better? ›

    Both sprung and solid slats offer good support for the mattress. Sprung slats provide extra cushioning, which can improve the overall comfort and help extend the life of the mattress. They make a bed feel slightly softer and provide a slightly 'springy' feel. In contrast, solid slats will make a bed feel firmer.

    Are metal bed slats uncomfortable? ›

    Uncomfortable. Oftentimes when it comes to metal bed frames, the design can be flimsy which can lead to the mattress not being supported properly. This is not only uncomfortable which will effect the quality of your sleep, it can result in back problems as well.

    Where should you not put your bed? ›

    Positioning your bed in line with the door is the worst possible position, according to the principles of Feng shui. People who practice Feng shui call it the 'dead man's position' or the 'coffin position' because the feet or head face the door and resemble how we carry the dead through open doors from the house.

    Why should your bed be off the ground? ›

    Since placing your mattress on the ground can make it more susceptible to moisture, dust, and bugs, it's important to frequently air it out.

    Why is the floor more comfortable than my bed? ›

    Heat rises, so it follows that sleeping on the floor would allow for a cooler sleep experience. When the floor itself is cold, it reduces your body heat quickly. For those who sleep hot, this can make sleep more comfortable, especially during the hot summer months.

    Is it better to have your mattress on the floor? ›

    Keeping a mattress on the floor can result in unwanted moisture issues, which can lead to mold and mildew. To counter this, it's wise to periodically prop your mattress up against the wall to allow it to air out. Whenever you move your bed, be sure to check for signs of moisture, excessive dust, and bugs.

    Is it better to have a headboard or not? ›

    There's no requirement that you have a headboard for your bed. However, headboards can provide extra support, prevent wall damage, and elevate your bedroom decor. So, do you need a headboard? Today, many headboards serve more of a decorative role than a functional one.

    Is a bed with springs better? ›

    People who tend to sleep hot at night may wish to opt for a spring mattress. Innerspring beds offer far better airflow, which helps to keep the bed cool at night. Sleepers who are heavy or sleep on their stomachs should opt for either innerspring, hybrid, or very firm foam beds, in order to get enough support.

    Why do mattresses sag so quickly? ›

    Sagging is typically the result of normal wear-and-tear to your mattress. The foam materials used in mattresses tend to soften over time, as they are exposed to significant pressure every night from the sleeper's body. Over time, this gradual softening of foam leads to a feeling of sagging, and less even support.

    How many years should a mattress last? ›

    Most mattresses should last between 7 and 10 years. However, there are many variables that can influence mattress lifespan. The original build quality of the mattress, the materials used, and even the weight and sleeping styles of the sleepers can all influence a bed's longevity.

    How do I stop my mattress from sinking in the middle? ›

    Every three to six months, you should rotate your mattress, switching the top and bottom of the bed. This can both prevent sagging from happening and reduce sagging that's already occurring. Since sagging is a result of body pressure, rotating your mattress changes the primary pressure points.

    Do mattresses need slats to breathe? ›

    Mattresses should be able to breathe, through a slatted platform or a box spring. If you have to put your mattress on the floor, simply leaning it up against the wall on its side once a week would allow it to air out and should be a good solution until you are able to find something permanent.

    Can I put my memory foam mattress on slats? ›

    Memory foam mattresses are relatively soft, so they need a more solid support system than box spring foundations have to offer. Solid platforms and slatted bases offer the best support for memory foam, as long as the slats are no more than 2.75 inches apart.

    Why should your mattress be off the floor? ›

    Keeping a mattress on the floor can result in unwanted moisture issues, which can lead to mold and mildew. To counter this, it's wise to periodically prop your mattress up against the wall to allow it to air out. Whenever you move your bed, be sure to check for signs of moisture, excessive dust, and bugs.

    Which is better metal or wood slats for bed? ›

    Wooden slats are more affordable than metal but may not provide the best support for your bed. Metal slats are a more durable option as they provide sufficient support for the weight of your mattress and the sleeper. Furthermore, metal slats do not bend or break as easily as wooden ones.

    How close should slats be for memory foam mattress? ›

    Memory foam mattresses are prone to sinking. Before settling into your mattress, place it atop a foundation with slats no more than three inches apart. Slatted foundations with wide boards or box springs cannot fully support the memory foam.

    Are box springs obsolete? ›

    So even though box springs used to be considered a practical and functional part of your bed's setup, they have become largely outdated.

    How many slats should be under a mattress? ›

    As to how many slats, typically, the space between the slats is a board's width. So, if your bed is 80 inches long and you want to keep 3 1/2 inches between slats, using 1x4 inch lumber, you'll need approximately 12 slats.

    What should you put your mattress on? ›

    Your mattress will typically sit on a bed frame (a metal or wood structure) and a bed base (a mattress-shaped support layer). The bed base depends on the mattress type: –If it's an innerspring mattress, you can use a box spring. –If it's a memory foam or latex mattress, a foundation is a great choice.


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