A mattress foundation is a structure that elevates and supports your mattress. Mattress foundations vary in materials and design, but they all provide a level plane that protects your mattress and promotes proper alignment while you sleep. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about foundations and help you choose the right fit for your mattress type, budget, and bedroom aesthetic.
A mattress foundation or mattress base is the structure your mattress rests on. It creates a flat surface for your mattress, adds support, and raises your mattress from the floor to keep it clean and ventilated while making it easier to access your bed.
As we’ll explore later in this guide, there are countless styles and types of mattress foundations. But the most common options include solid wood platforms, slatted platforms, metal platforms, bed frame and box spring combos, and adjustable bases.
So, what’s the purpose of a mattress base? Why not just sleep on the floor?
While you technically can put your mattress directly on the floor, this practice has serious drawbacks. Our article 8 Things You Should Know Before Sleeping on a Mattress on the Floor explores the risks, like allergy flare-ups, spinal misalignment, and mattress damage.
No matter what mattress type or brand you choose, we HIGHLY suggest using it with a proper base. Mattress foundations serve the following key functions:
Depending on the type of foundation you buy, it may offer a few additional perks like:
As previously mentioned, you’ll find many bed foundation styles in stores and online. Of course, you want to find a base that fits your budget and bedroom style, but these aren’t the only factors to consider. You also need to know what type of mattress you own to choose a compatible foundation. Below, we explore the most popular foundation options and which mattress types you can use them with.
A box spring is a fabric-wrapped wood frame with steel coils inside. They’re built to sit on top of a bed frame, usually a metal rail frame with central and corner leg supports. Together, the box spring and bed frame elevate and support your mattress.
Box spring/bed frame combos work best with innerspring mattresses. The flexible coils in the frame complement the coils in the mattress. However, box springs don’t provide the stability and rigid support many memory foam, foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses require.
While you can use a box spring with a Nolah all-foam or hybrid mattress, it’s not the optimal setup. We suggest another foundation option, such as a platform, for maximum support and longevity. If you own a memory foam, foam, latex, or hybrid mattress from another brand, check the manufacturer’s recommendation before purchasing a box spring.
Most platform bases are compatible with any mattress type, including memory foam, foam, latex, hybrid, and innerspring models.
However, you should always check the foundation recommendations from your mattress manufacturer. For example, they may have specifications for the space between slats on a slatted platform. You should also look up the base’s weight tolerance if you own a heavier mattress.
Platform bases come in wide-ranging materials and styles, some minimalist and others highly decorative. The platforms vary in design (solid platforms, slatted platforms, and metal platforms), as do the leg support sizes, heights, and construction. Below, we’ve listed some popular platform bed types to choose from.
At Nolah, we offer a sturdy and supportive Platform Base. It features durable wood and steel rails, which are upholstered for a finished look. The base ships free, and you can assemble it in just 15 minutes.
An adjustable base is a bed foundation with a mechanical component that lets you raise the head and foot of the bed. With the head fully inclined, you can sit up while you relax in bed. Or, you can find your perfect head and foot incline combo for comfortable sleep.
Most modern adjustable bases have a zero-gravity setting, a pre-programmed position optimized for neutral body posture. Our Benefits of Zero-Gravity article explains the zero-G position and its advantages in depth.
You’ll also see options with additional technical features, such as wireless remote controls, a mobile app, voice activation, auto adjustment, built-in massage motors, under-bed lighting, and charging ports for your phone or other devices.
Want to learn more about adjustable bases? Check out our Shopper’s Manual for Adjustable Beds.
If you own a memory foam, foam, or latex mattress, it will work great with an adjustable base! But because adjustable bases require flexibility, they aren’t compatible with most innerspring mattresses. Some hybrid mattresses with individually-wrapped coils have the flexibility to use with an adjustable base, but you should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations. The hybrid Nolah Evolution and Nolah Natural are compatible with adjustable bed frames.
Nolah currently offers three adjustable base options: our Smart Adjustable Base, Adjustable Base, and Adjustable Base with Headboard. All options include wireless controls, zero-G, and more.
If you love your mattress and you’re looking for the right base to support it, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we take a look at the best foundations for each mattress type.
We design our mattresses with versatility in mind. You can set up your Nolah mattress with almost any type of base, including solid platform bases, slatted platform bases (with slats no more than 5 inches apart), adjustable bases, and box spring/bed frame combos. That said, box springs aren’t the BEST fit for our all-foam and hybrid mattresses, which we explore below.
Best Fit: Platform base or adjustable base
Memory foam and other all-foam mattresses work best with platforms and adjustable bases. Your foam mattress may be compatible with a bed frame and box spring (depending on the manufacturer), but this setup doesn’t provide optimal structure and support. To prolong your memory foam or other foam mattress’s lifespan, opt for a sturdier foundation like a platform base. Foam mattresses also work particularly well with adjustable bases because of their flexibility.
What’s the difference between memory foam and Nolah AirFoam™? The Nolah Technology explains the benefits of our pressure-relieving and cooling foam.
Best Fit: Platform base or adjustable base
Latex foam—made with the sap-like serum from rubber trees—is a highly durable, supportive, and comfortable mattress material. Latex mattresses pair best with platforms and adjustable bases. They tend to weigh more than memory foam options and need more structure than a box spring provides.
Best Fit: Bed frame with box spring
If you own a traditional innerspring mattress, opt for a bed frame and box spring combo. The coils in the mattress and the coils in the box spring will work together for support and even weight distribution. Innerspring mattresses are also compatible with platform bases, but most don’t have the flexibility for an adjustable base.
Best Fit: Platform bases
Hybrid mattresses combine coils with foam or latex layers on top for added comfort and contouring. These advanced mattresses can vary widely in construction, height, and weight, so it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specific foundation recommendations.
That said, a platform base is a great fit for most hybrid mattresses. They provide ample structure, support, and stability for these heavy-duty mattress models. Our Nolah Evolution and Nolah Natural hybrid mattresses are also compatible with adjustable bases because they use flexible, individually-wrapped coils.
Finding the right foundation is not only good for your mattress, but it’s good for your sleep. Whether you prefer a high-tech adjustable base with the latest bells and whistles or a solid wood sleigh bed with an antique flair, there’s a foundation for you!
Hopefully, this guide has helped you find a comfortable fit that matches your bedroom style and your mattress construction. We’ll leave you with a few final tips to help you narrow down your options:
Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.