You know your perfect new memory foam mattress has your back—but do you have your mattress’s back? Memory foam mattresses need the right bed slats for a solid, supportive foundation.
Bed slats for memory foam mattresses are long planks placed across the width of the bed frame to give the mattress a flat, rigid surface to sit on. Slats help distribute weight evenly, so without this solid foundation, memory foam mattresses can start to sink and sag.
While there are other ways to support your memory foam mattress, bed slats offer the most airflow, which keeps you cooler at night and prevents moisture from building up in your mattress. And good ventilation is important for mattress longevity.
Types of Bed Slats
Bed slats for memory foam mattresses are made of either solid wood, engineered wood, or metal, and they are available for any standard bed frame size. There are also adjustable versions that you can shorten or lengthen to accommodate a non-traditional frame.
Some bed slats come interconnected, usually wrapped in a fabric covering that holds each one in place. These are simple to use. You simply unroll them, and place them on the bed frame. Others are individual separate planks that you space yourself. You may also need to cut them to size and secure them with screws to keep them from moving or sliding around.
And finally, you can choose either flat or bowed bed slats. Flat bed slats are, well, flat. They’re made from a sturdy, rigid material that won’t bend or flex under weight, so they’ll give your mattress a firm foundation.
Bowed bed slats, on the other hand, have an upward curve and are made from flexible materials that don’t handle pressure well. So they offer reactive support, allowing your mattress to sink to accommodate your body weight.
Note: Bowed slats are not recommended for every mattress. For example, we don’t recommend using bowed slats with hybrid mattresses (and it voids the warranty on our mattresses).
How to Choose The Right Bed Slats
Already overwhelmed by all the options? Don’t worry! We’ll help you figure out which bed slats are right for your mattress, your sleep style, and your budget.
Bed slats can change the feel of your mattress, so you don’t want to choose the wrong slats. If you like to feel like you’re cuddled up in a soft, fluffy cloud at night, bowed bed slats are a great option. They’ll give you that cozy, sinking feeling you’re looking for. But for those who like a firm, rigid sleeping surface, flat bed slats are a better choice.
Likewise, wood slats have a little more give and flex, whereas metal slats provide solid, unbending support. However, you should also keep your mattress’s weight in mind. Wood slats often have lower weight capacities than metal, so make sure your slats can support the weight of both your mattress and its occupants.
The big benefit of bowed slats is that each one bends individually based on the pressure it’s under. In other words, the slats under the weight of your torso, for example, will flex more than those under your legs. This is great for side sleepers who need their mattress to dip more to accommodate the curves of their body. But back and stomach sleepers often prefer the feel of flat bed slats, since they need a solid surface that doesn’t bow under areas of differing pressure.
In general, bed slats are quite affordable, so they’re the most cost-effective mattress support option. Flat wood slats are typically at the lowest end of the price range, while metal, adjustable, and bowed slats are on the higher end. However, keep in mind that the cheapest options are usually made of inferior materials that may quickly break or bend out of shape, so it’s worth paying slightly more for quality.
Bed Slats vs Box Spring: Which One Should You Use?
While box springs work well for traditional innerspring mattresses, for memory foam mattresses, bed slats are the way to go. Box springs don’t provide the support that modern memory foam mattresses need. Their slats or springs are spaced too far apart, and they aren’t designed to hold the dense, heavy weight of memory foam mattresses.
In addition, box springs decrease airflow around your mattress, which can make your bed hotter and result in mold or mildew from accumulated moisture. All of these issues can decrease your mattress’s lifespan and cause it to wear out faster. In fact, using box springs with a memory foam mattress often voids the manufacturer’s warranty.
3 Tips for Installing Bed Slats
Once you’ve chosen the right bed slats for your memory foam mattress, it’s time to install. Installation is a breeze if you’ve gone with interconnected, standard-sized slats. Just unroll the slats, lay them in place on the frame, and you’re done.
But if you’re using adjustable and/or independent slats, here are our tips to make installation easy:
Measure your bed frame—Make sure your bed frame is straight and level. Then measure the full width across. Your slats should fit snugly in the frame, without pushing against the sides.
Cut or adjust the slats to size—Using your measurements, cut or adjust your slats to fit your bed frame. Just remember, you can always cut more off, but you can’t add length back on.
Secure the slats to the bed frame—Some bed frames have slots or brackets to hold the slats in place, but others require you to screw the bed slats to the frame. Make sure you measure the space between the slats and keep it consistent, placing them no more than 4.5 inches apart. Slats placed too close together will reduce airflow and may make your mattress feel too firm, while too much space between bed slats can cause the mattress to sink or sag.
Using Slats with Your Leesa Mattress
We highly recommend using bed slats with your Leesa mattress for maximum support, comfort, and mattress longevity. Just make sure you choose the right slats for your mattress type. For example, our Leesa Original Hybrid and Leesa Sapira Hybrid mattresses are meant to be used with solid flat bed slats. Using bowed or flexible slats can cause damage and void the 10-year warranty.
Upgrade Your Sleep Experience with Leesa
When you give your memory foam mattress a good foundation, it will support you for years to come. Bed slats provide your mattress with a sturdy base and allow it to breathe, but the wrong kind of slats can alter the feeling of your bed, reduce your mattress’s lifespan, and even void your warranty.
So whether you like sleeping in a cloud or laying on what some might call a rock (hey, we won’t judge), make sure you choose the right type of bed slats for your mattress type and feel and your sleeping position. And if you haven’t found your perfect mattress yet, take our mattress quiz and start building your dream bed.