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C-c-c-c-old F-f-f-futon
December 30, 2006 4:10 PM   Subscribe

I sleep on a futon mattress directly on the (carpeted) floor, in the basement. I think the coldness of winter seeps through the basement floor and into my mattress. How can I keep from freezing when I want to get to sleep?

I have a very good, thick, down blanket, so that's not the issue. The problem is that the mattress itself is always cold. Even after being under the covers for a while, if I shift or move on the mattress, the new spot is inevitably cold again.

Does anyone know how to keep my futon warmer? Can I put some insulation between the mattress and the floor? If so, what can I use as insulation?
posted by DrSkrud to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Buy (build) a platform? A cushion of air underneath your mattress will take care of the cold.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:15 PM on December 30, 2006


You can get heated mattress pads, but they are likely not inexpensive to purchase and operate in terms of electricity costs.

If I were you, I'd try picking up some sheets of high density styrofoam insulation board from a building center. Some of this material comes with a foil backing that you could face up towards you, it may help to reflect some of the heat back into your mattress.

Somebody with a much better understanding of thermal dynamics will likely respond to this question.
posted by davey_darling at 4:16 PM on December 30, 2006


Get the futon off direct contact with the floor. That'll help a lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:16 PM on December 30, 2006


Get an electronic blanket. They're wonderful.
posted by mullingitover at 4:20 PM on December 30, 2006


Seconding the electric blanket. Couldn't live without one.
posted by liquorice at 4:22 PM on December 30, 2006


Why don't you just go out and buy a cheap futon frame?
posted by nathan_teske at 4:32 PM on December 30, 2006


Get a pad ( or more than one) like campers use in the winter time under the sleeping bag. Put the pad between the carpet and the mattress. It prevents the moisture from rising through the mattress to you. As several mentioned an electric blanket would help as well.
posted by JayRwv at 4:34 PM on December 30, 2006


I love, love, love my heated matress cover, better than I ever loved an electric blanket (mostly because I'd rather use sheets & comforter/duvet than blanket.) They can range enormously in price, so shop around.
posted by desuetude at 4:34 PM on December 30, 2006


Foam and aluminum will be okay for a while, but the foam will get crushed eventually because futons are heavy. You need an airspace. A very cheap portable frame is plywood on some bricks. Make sure to put at least one in the middle, not just the corners.
posted by Listener at 4:45 PM on December 30, 2006


You can also put a featherbed (like a duvet that goes on top of the mattress but under your body) on top of the futon.
posted by xo at 4:56 PM on December 30, 2006


I second the camping pad. Specifically a closed cell foam pad. They are made to allow you to sleep on the cold ground. I've used them on frozen ground camping when the air temp was below 10 degrees.
posted by HuronBob at 4:57 PM on December 30, 2006


get a bed at the salvation army for like $15
posted by Salvatorparadise at 5:00 PM on December 30, 2006


The concrete floor is massive and you can't create enough heat to warm your immediate space. Make a platform. You can pick up pallets for free, and they'd be fine under the futon mattress. You could even put foam in the dead airspace under the wood for extra insulation. You can get packing peanuts free, and bag them. Most any kind of foam gives off gases in a fire, so make sure you have a really good smoke detector.
posted by theora55 at 5:18 PM on December 30, 2006


nthing the "get the matterss off the floor" crowd. I think the foam board will the quickest and cheapest solution. You want the stuff they use on foundations, not the kind that breaks into little pebbles.
posted by cosmicbandito at 5:19 PM on December 30, 2006


Listen to Listener. The moisture from your warm body is going to condense in the mattress on the floor, microbes mould and stuff.Get some air circulating under there, not healthy sleeping on the floor.
posted by hortense at 5:20 PM on December 30, 2006


Two pieces of plywood and a few 2x4s and maybe some nails will make you enough of a platform. Getting air underneath it can be as simple as getting a few milk crates, storage bins, or even cinder blocks. You can also check thrift stores and craigslist for cheapie bed frames. Keep in mind that futons are generally colder than mattresses. They are denser and harder to warm up, no matter what you do.

I have an electric mattress pad warmer and I find it's great for getting the chill off right before I get into bed. They cost about $40-50 and are washable. Another thing that can be important is making sure your bed doesn't *get* cold. If your room is heated, you might make the bed more temperate by keeping the blankets off of it during the day so the top of the futon gets heated.

Another part of the equation is keeping you from having to be right on top of the cold futon. Egg crate foam is perfect for this and makes the futon a little softer besides. I'm not sure if it plays nicely with a mattress pad warmer, but I suspect it may be cheaper.
posted by jessamyn at 5:35 PM on December 30, 2006


Pallets or milk crates are your best bet because they will allow air to circulate under your futon. If you've got a futon sitting directly on something solid, you really want to be rolling it up every day, or you'll get dampness and funky smells; also, dampness will make the futon feel colder. If it's on something with air gaps, you can get away with turning it over every week (alternate turning over endways and sideways).
posted by flabdablet at 5:41 PM on December 30, 2006


If you can't afford to buy or build a frame, borrow about twenty milk crates. This will immediately improve your comfort until you find a better apartment.
posted by roboto at 5:43 PM on December 30, 2006


this is what craigslist is for.
posted by fshgrl at 5:48 PM on December 30, 2006


World's biggest hot water bag.
posted by Scram at 6:08 PM on December 30, 2006


If you have a microwave, get a Bed Buddy from Walgreens. It'll keep your bed toasty warm. I have two (one for me, one for the cats) and I heat them for 5 minutes each (it says 3 on the pack but they are fine on 5) and stay very warm for at least an hour or two.

I've had mine for five years and they are still good as new.
posted by essexjan at 7:19 PM on December 30, 2006


I built a very simple (and cheap) futon frame out of 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s (for the legs). I get a lot of lumber for these little projects from the cull lumber at Home Depot. The wood isn't always the straightest but it works fine for these projects and it is very cheap = 55 cents a piece.
posted by fieldtrip at 7:19 PM on December 30, 2006


My Dad, who measures such things, says that a heated mattress cover for a double bed, in a cool bedroom, will probably use less power than the lights in your room. (He says .2 KW/H every 24h.)

I can vouch for the wonderfulness of electric blankets--once you have one, you really can't go back--I had to sleep in an unheated hotel bed over Chirstimas and it was ... a chilling expericence. And if you shop around, they're not ridiculously expensive--certainly better than being so cold you can't sleep each night. Better yet, they're certain to go on sale soon.

That being said, even if you do get a heated mattress pad, you should still consider elevating your futon, rather than trying to warm the mass of the entire planet. (Some of us like our wine cellars cool!)
posted by Lycaste at 8:40 PM on December 30, 2006


Platform yes, free pallet NO. Commercial pallets are not safe for furniture since most are saturated with the strongest pesticides available (to protect against rot).
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:32 PM on December 30, 2006


I recently got a queen size heated mattress pad from Fred Meyer for (I think) $75. It was definetly less than 100 anyway. It has separate heat controls for the right and left side (very handy as the missus usually has hers higher than my side) and is very comfortable. On the lowest setting its just barely warm (quite pleasant) and it cranks up to way-too-damn-hot.
posted by Riemann at 10:48 PM on December 30, 2006


You should be completely safe with the rough pine pallets you'd find in the dumpster on a building site, which would most likely have been part of the disposable packaging for a stack of pavers or roof tiles and not have had money wasted on rot-proofing.

Re-usable hardwood pallets may well have been impregnated with Horrible Things, but I can't imagine that any of those would be volatile; seems to me that if sleeping on a couple of hardwood pallets poses an unacceptable risk to human health, then so would working in a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with them. Non-volatile wood preservatives (like copper-chromium-arsenic) should be OK under a few coats of oil-based paint.
posted by flabdablet at 5:41 AM on December 31, 2006


I don't know about moisuture and so forth, but as far as keeping toasty is concerned... it might be easier to address that problem if you conceptualize it (accurately!) as heat seeping out, rather than cold seeping in.

Cold concrete basement floor = big heat sink. Adding heat with electric blankets will keep your warmer, but keeping the whole shebang off the cold floor should reduce heat loss considerably.
posted by onshi at 7:36 PM on January 1, 2007


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