Choosing A Bed Foundation: Buyer’s Guide

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
March 30, 2023
min read

Most buyers think that the mattress they choose is the end-all-be-all for comfort, but the truth is that the type of foundation you choose matters just as much. Having a sturdy, solid surface under your bed can provide extra support and comfort while prolonging your mattress’s lifespan.

But with so many options, how do you choose the right type of foundation? Don’t worry – we have the answer. Read on to learn more about standard foundations and how to select the ideal one.

What Is a Mattress Foundation?

all the types of mattress foundations and names


A mattress foundation, also commonly known as a bed frame, is any stable surface that your bed sits on. It provides additional support, protects your mattress, and also gives you a bit of airflow to help cool your bed at night. These can include a box spring, platform bed, adjustable beds and upholstered bed frames.

That said, there are many types of mattress bases currently available, each with its own unique set of features. For example, slatted bases provide solid and stable support, while an adjustable foundation flexes and bends for customized comfort. Additionally, something like a platform bed frame offers extra storage beneath your sleeping surface.

But no matter your needs, Purple has a wide selection of quality foundations for purchase, because we understand bed foundations are as personal as the mattress you choose.

Do I Need A Mattress Foundation?

Yes, you need a mattress foundation. In fact, most mattresses require a foundation – some mattress manufacturers may void your mattress warranty if they learn that you haven’t put your mattress on a mattress base. 

Throughout this article, we’ll cover the benefits of giving your mattress support with the right foundation and common types of mattress foundations. We’ll also explain which is ideal for your mattress type and sleeping preferences

6 Benefits Of A Mattress Foundation

Here’s a sleep fact: solid foundations for your mattress can improve your overall sleep experience. But how? Read on for the 6 main benefits of a suitable mattress base.

Improves Support

 Mattresses without edge support systems are prone to sagging and losing  buoyancy over time, but having a supportive base can make up for a little bit of that lost firmness. This base keeps even the most pliable of latex mattresses in shape, meaning you wake up with less body pain overall.

Increases The Lifespan Of Your Mattress

A bed foundation can help extend your mattress’s lifespan by protecting it from the floor and providing extra stability. Even the most no-frills standard foundations can minimize the daily wear and tear, making it a worthy investment.

Adds Height

Are you having trouble climbing out of your hybrid mattress in the morning? Is it because you’re too close to the ground? A suitable frame can provide the bed height you need to make getting in and out of bed easier. Some bed base options can even add up to 16 inches of height to your mattress if you’re tall.

But beyond making getting in and out of bed more manageable, the added height can keep your bed cooler overnight. That’s because the space between your mattress and the floor allows for adequate airflow, which dissipates your body heat faster.

Helps Keep Your Bed Clean

Even the cleanest households have blind spots.Bed foundations act as a barrier between your mattress and the floor to keep added dirt, dust, and more from getting onto it.

Keeping your mattress clean helps to extend its life. Additionally, sensitive sleepers may benefit from wooden or metal bed frames that are easy to maintain and keep free of dust mites.

For more tips to keep your bed pristine and dust-free, read our guide on how to clean a mattress.

Increases Airflow

Airflow is important for comfortable sleep, especially with memory foam and hybrid mattresses. Bed foundations allow for airflow above and below your mattress, helping to keep you cool while you sleep. This is a big benefit for hot sleepers who may typically depend solely on a ceiling fan or air conditioner to stay cool at night.

Better airflow also prevents moisture from accumulating, which can degrade mattresses not protected by an anti-microbial finish. This is an especially important consideration for those with sensitive skin or respiratory systems, as allergens may trigger reactions and keep them from enjoying a good night’s sleep.

If you’re concerned about ventilation during sleep, you may consider sleeping on a memory foam mattress. Read our guide to memory foam mattresses to learn more about their benefits and drawbacks.

Stops Your Mattress From Sliding

A proper bed foundation will prevent mattresses and mattress protectors from sliding. This is especially important if you toss and turn night after night. If your mattress shifts around too much, it could hang off the base and potentially lose its structural support. It may also cause back pain, as the constant shifting may fail to provide sufficient pressure relief for your spine

Types Of Foundations

Whether you’re using a hybrid mattress or an all-foam mattress, pairing your sleep surface with the proper bed foundation is critical. Most mattresses usually have an ideal type of base to keep them supported and in place. Here are some of the most common bed foundations and mattress combinations

Adjustable Bed Frames

Also known as a power base, an adjustable bed frame can move and flex to accommodate any sleeping style. This can be particularly helpful if you struggle with sleep apnea, acid reflux, or neck pain.

Adjustable bed frames are typically electronic metal frames that allow you to sleep at an incline, in a more seated position, or with your feet and legs elevated.

Adjustable bed frames are ideal for:

  • Folks who have a flexible mattress type (foam, latex, and some hybrids and air mattresses)
  • People who sleep better at an incline or who struggle with snoring
  • Sleepers who need extra help with getting in and out of bed more easily

Platform Beds

Platform beds are typically made up of metal or wood frames that are perfectly measured to keep your mattress in place. Some people prefer platform beds for their minimal aesthetic and the extra storage space underneath. The last consideration is especially important for those who have limited space, as this may mean you won’t need to keep a nightstand or even a dresser to stash clothes, shoes, and personal items.

Platform beds are ideal for:

  • Any type of mattress, especially foam or hybrid
  • People who have limited bedroom space or need extra storage for their things

Box Springs

Traditional box springs are usually paired with older kinds of beds like innerspring mattresses. Unlike more modern alternatives, these foundations use inner coils to give you a more supportive and stable sleep experience. However, buyers should be wary of accidentally voiding their mattress warranties when using box springs.

In most cases, memory foam beds, latex mattresses, hybrid mattresses, and even Purple mattresses shouldn’t be used with box spring foundations. That’s because the springs can damage these products over time.

Box springs are ideal for:

  • Old-school innerspring mattresses. Note that you should double-check with your mattress’s manufacturer or local furniture store before splurging on a box spring mattress, as this may void your mattress warranty.

Not sure if your mattress is compatible with a box spring? Our articles comparing box springs to foundation types and bed slats can help you learn more about their differences, pros, and cons.

Box Spring

Bunkie Boards

Bunkie boards are a solid mattress foundation usually paired with slats and covered in fabric. Originally, bunkie boards were made from a piece of plywood or particleboard, but you can now buy higher-quality versions made with wood chips or strips. Bunkie boards can provide the same level of support as a spring-based foundation without the added height.

Bunkie boards are ideal for:

  • Bunk beds
  • Children's beds
  • Sleepers who don't want extra height for their mattress

Want to learn more about bunkie boards? Check out our guide.

Bed Slats

Bed slats are a popular foundation option because of their relatively low cost. However, this isn’t the only reason this solid mattress foundation is so common. Well-spaced wood slats are easily repairable because of their modular construction, meaning you won’t need to repair or replace the entire unit if one slat breaks.

In addition to this, bed slats are easier to move than box springs. Simply roll them up, then reinstall them when you move your bed. They’re also variable in size and can be made to fit everything from a twin to a king bed.

Bed slats are ideal for:

  • Any type of mattress. Bed slats are cost-effective, simple bed foundations that are easy to set up and take down.
bed slats are ideal for


Metal vs. Wood

While a wooden slatted foundation is less expensive than steel slats or rods, it does come with a few drawbacks. Specifically, it might bend, sag, or even break under a person’s weight – especially if you haven’t changed them out in a while. Too much sagging impacts your bed’s overall support and comfort.

Conversely, metal slats are much more durable and don't bend or sag as easily as wooden ones. Some can even be adjusted to fit different bed widths. Each choice has its own pros and cons, so consult a bed frame or mattress store specialist for tips on which one best suits your sleeping needs.

Do Bed Slats Make a Difference?

A slatted foundation is an inexpensive and straightforward solution for lacking bed support. They also come with a few air circulation benefits, meaning you sleep cooler for longer.

How Far Apart Should Bed Slats Be?

Bed slats should be no more than 2.75 inches apart from one another. This ensures your mattress gets the support it requires while also preventing sag over time. Be sure to check your slatted mattress foundation's spacing regularly to avoid damaging your mattress.

What Mattress Is Best For A Slatted Bed?

Any bed will work fine with a slatted mattress foundation, including memory foam beds or hybrid mattresses. Both metal and wooden slats help increase the airflow under your mattress, helping cool the dense material found in memory foam and hybrid mattresses.

How To Choose The Right Foundation For You

Choosing the right foundation for your needs involves many factors, from your preferred mattress type to budget. Here’s what to think about before pulling the trigger on purchasing a bed foundation.

Consider Mattress Type and Size

Your mattress plays a crucial role in the type of bed foundation that’ll suit you best. That said, most bed foundations can be paired with most mattress sizes, unless you have a specialty size like a twin XL.

Additionally, most bed foundations will also work with any mattress, so side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers alike should first pick the best mattress type for their typical sleeping position. Afterward, you can pick a bed frame that will help support it. Note that this rule isn’t applicable if you’re considering a box spring foundation, as box springs should only be paired with innerspring beds. Learn more about innerspring beds and their pros and cons in our guide to innerspring mattresses.

Need help choosing a mattress size? Learn more in our guide to different mattress sizes and how to pick the best one for your sleeping needs.


Sticking to a set amount for your frame can feel challenging when you find that one beautiful, expensive wooden frame that suits your room’s look perfectly. However, there’s always a variety of cheaper options on the market for all types of mattresses. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for days with special deals, such as pre-holiday sales and Black Friday.

Generally speaking, adjustable bed frames and platform foundations tend to fall within a higher price range, while a slatted mattress foundation or bunkie boards can save you a few hundred dollars. Additional features such as side rails, carved headboards, and posts for canopy drapes will cost more, but they may also make your bed more stylish or comfier for your rest

Note that the cheapest option may not always be the best one, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons.


When trying out a new mattress base, you’ll want to give it a little push and a wiggle to test its durability. After all, nobody wants to sleep on a frame that could easily collapse under the weight of your mattress. If a few dollars is the difference between a solid base and a rickety one, we recommend shelling out a bit more for longevity’s sake.

Assembly Requirements

Nobody wants to struggle when putting their bed frame together, so take a bit of time to decide if you’ll be able to assemble your unit by yourself or if you’ll need some help. This is especially important if you tend to move around often, as you’ll have to take apart the base, headboard, and footboard for shipping or moving when you go.

Style And Design Preference

Most people consider a bed frame’s look to be one of the most important factors when choosing a unit. Luckily, most mattress brands carry a wide selection of support base styles, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. Check out the available colorways and materials for your bed foundation choices. 

As a general rule, it’s best to see if your preferred foundation is color-coordinated with other bedroom fixtures and furniture, such as your curtains, lamp, and wardrobe. You may also want to match the metal and wood finishes of your windows and door to those of your bed foundation. 

Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media sites may offer useful inspiration for color schemes and coordinating colors.


Most mattress warranties will state which type of bed foundations are allowed and which ones are not. For example, Purple mattresses do not work with box spring mattresses, and using one will void your warranty. Be sure to check the warranty label before buying.

Upgrade Your Sleep With Purple Bed Foundations

The right bed frame can make your sleep experience go from good to great. Luckily, Purple has an amazing series of bed frames designed for all mattress types and room styles. Each foundation is built with quality and comfort in mind – check out our product page to get started!

Platform Bed

A strong, simple, and storage-friendly option for comfort and airflow.

Purple Bed Frame

An upholstered, stylish, and cozy addition with no need for extra support.

Purple Ascent Adjustable Base

Provides premium, customizable support for your mattress.

The Bottom Line

There are many different kinds of mattress foundations to choose from, all with differences in breathability, ease of assembly, and durability. Choosing the right one can give your mattress a much-needed support system, and in turn, may comfortably support your body weight.

Keep our listed considerations in mind when shopping for a foundation to pair with your mattress. Read our guide to mattress foundation sizes to find out what size is best paired with your mattress. With a sturdy, supportive foundation suitable to your mattress, you’ll enjoy a cozier night’s rest