What kind of slats to use under a mattress?

Updated March 23, 2017

Slatted bed bases are an alternative to the common box spring mattress. The slats are used in place of a box spring. The mattress lies on top of the slats, which provide the equivalent support of the box spring. In the event you decide to use slats, there are several things you should know about making an investment.

Box Spring Vs Slats

A slat bed lies on the outer edges of the bed frame in the same fashion as a box spring. The difference between the two lies in the type of foundation. The construction of a box spring is different. It usually stands several inches in height and raises the overall height of the mattress set. Slats lie flat on the surface of the bed and allow the mattress to breath and ventilate better with an evenly distributed amount of support. The slats run across the width of the bed and are held in place with pegs or hooks on each end of the bed frame.

Fixed Base

Many slat foundations, commonly known as flexible foundations, allow you to switch or choose between a slat or box spring foundation. A fixed base, on the other hand, is a slat bed frame with the slats already installed within the frame. They cannot be removed or switched, but provide a complete base for the user. All you have to do is place a mattress on top of a fixed slat base and your mattress is ready for use. These hold an advantage over flexible bases as they do not get knocked out of place as flexible bases can, especially with kids who jump up and down in the bed.

Slat Wood Types

Slats are primarily made of different types of wood or metal. You will mostly find metal slats on a fixed frame or futon. The wood used for slats range in cost, flexibility and strength. One common wood used for slats is pine. Birch wood is another type of wood used for slats. Birch wood is a thin, flexible wood that is layered and made into slats that provide a strong and flexible base for your mattress.

Types of Slat-Based Beds

Slat beds can be used with any steel bed frame. They are most commonly used on futons, bunk beds and daybeds. The beds that use flexible slats can be interchanged and purchased separately over fixed slat frames. In the event that a slat cracks or breaks, you can change either one individual slat or the entire set of slats. Slats are commonly spaced no more than 6 inches apart to provide adequate support.

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About the Author

Living in New York City, Nicholas Briano has been a professional journalist since 2002. He writes for "The Wave," a community weekly covering the borough of Queens. Briano holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brooklyn College.