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Do You Really Need a Bed Frame for Your Mattress? CNET's Sleep Expert Says Yes

Here's the lowdown on what could happen if you don't use a bed frame to support your mattress.

McKenzie Dillon Writer
McKenzie, a Certified Sleep Science Coach and proclaimed mattress expert, has been writing sleep content in the wellness space for over four years. After earning her certification from the Spencer Institute and dedicating hundreds of hours to sleep research, she has extensive knowledge on the topic and how to improve your quality of rest. Having more experience with lying on mattresses than most, McKenzie has reviewed over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows, mattress toppers and sheets. McKenzie has also been a guest on multiple radio shows including WGN Chicago as a sleep expert and contributed sleep advice to over 50 different websites.
Expertise Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach, Bachelor of English.
McKenzie Dillon
4 min read
Casper Original Mattress on gray bed frame

The average person looks to cut costs where they can when buying furniture -- I know I do. If you're buying a new mattress or accessories, you don't need to splurge for the high thread count sheets. Nor do you need a fancy, fluffy duvet cover. However, it's strongly encouraged that you get a bed frame

There are plenty of reasons why a bed frame is a key part of your bedding setup. A bed frame's purpose is to protect you and your mattress from the downsides of sleeping on the floor. Not only that, but mattresses are expensive. Storing yours on the floor is like leaving your watch or phone on the floor. You could, but you can't be surprised when something inevitably goes wrong. 

Below, I explain what can happen if you leave your mattress on the ground and offer affordable bed frame options you won't have to spend an arm and a leg on.  

What is a bed frame?

A bed frame is the main support structure for your mattress and your box spring (if you have one). It keeps your mattress up off the floor, and protects from moist, dust and general floor gunk. There are a variety of different bed frames, from basic to decorative and functional. Some even come with a head or footboard. 

Here are some of the most popular bed frame types:

  • Platform: Common bed frame made with slats to support your mattress without the need for a box spring.
  • Floating: These bed frames are more modern, and typically have hidden legs or they are omitted completely. It looks like a large decorative box supporting your mattress.
  • Trundle: A trundle bed is great for siblings because it supports two beds in one. They are normally twin or full size mattresses that sit on top of one another. However, the mattress on the bottom rolls out from underneath when it's ready for use. 
  • Bunk: A bunk bed is another great bed frame for kids or a guest room. It supports two mattresses; one near the bottom and one raised higher in the hair toward the ceiling. To get to the higher bunk bed, the bed frame is typically fitted with a ladder or step stool.
  • Murphy: A Murphy bed frame is ideal for small spaces because it allows more room when it's not in use. A Murphy bed sits up vertically against the wall, and pulls down like a drawbridge at bedtime. Manufacturers do a good job of making Murphy bed frames look decorative by hiding rails and other parts of your mattress. 

Now that we've explained what a bed frame is, here are all the reasons you'll need one for your mattress.

Reasons you need a bed frame for your mattress

Comfort isn't the only thing you'll be sacrificing if you leave your mattress on the floor. You may also void the warranty and put your mattress at risk for household pests.

You'll void your mattress' warranty

Most mattresses will come with a warranty backing manufacturer issues and other defects while you own your bed. The average is around 10 years, while some brands Like DreamCloud and Nectar will offer protection for your mattress for its entire lifetime. 

There are some stipulations to keeping your mattress' warranty, including – you guessed it – the need for a bed frame that properly supports your mattress. Leaving your mattress on the floor means that if anything goes wrong with it, you're responsible for paying for a replacement. 

Your mattress can get real dirty (on the inside and out)  

A mattress should last around six to eight years -- depending on the type and how well you take care of it. Leaving it on the ground can lead to a shorter lifespan and open the floodgates to all sorts of problems, including:

  • Mold and mildew buildup on the inside from the collection of moisture
  • Dirt, dust and spills
  • Spiders, ants and other common household pests 

You sacrifice comfort

Keeping your mattress on the ground restricts the airflow that would be present if it was raised above ground. As a result, it can retain heat and make you wake up feeling hot and sweaty. 

On the flip side, if your bedroom floor is hardwood or tile, your mattress will be more vulnerable to low temperatures during cooler months of the year. 

Getting out of bed is also physically much easier when you're 3 feet off the ground. 

See more: Best cooling mattress

Try out these bed frames

A metal or wooden-slatted bed frame with slats 3 inches or less apart, an adjustable bed frame floating frame are all great and affordable options. Here are some of the best low-cost and value bed frames I've owned, tested or researched. They all have my stamp of approval. 

The costs below reflect queen-size pricing. 

Is it bad to put your mattress on the floor?

Besides cutting costs on your bed setup, placing your mattress on the floor doesn't have any other benefits. However, the drawbacks may outweigh the potential savings. Leaving your mattress on the floor can lead to issues like mold buildup and may not provide adequate support, which could affect the life of your mattress. It's advisable to use a bed frame to maintain proper hygiene and durability.

If your mattress must be on the floor, follow these rules

If your circumstances limit you from getting a proper bed frame, you'll have to take extra precautions to make sure you don't ruin your mattress and stay comfortable. 

  • Put a large piece of cardboard underneath your mattress so it's not directly touching the ground. This provides insulation and helps keep your bed cleaner.
  • Sit your mattress in an upright position against the wall every week to air it out to help prevent mold and mildew from growing in your bed.
  • Use a mattress protector to keep your bed clean and prevent bugs getting on the inside. 
  • Whether trying to get across the room quicker or grab something you may have left on your mattress, keep yourself from stepping on it to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.