If we sleep on this, will we not fall?
December 29, 2008 3:39 PM   Subscribe

We have put a futon on top of a (very crappy) mattress base. Is this a bad idea?

Mrs ManInSuit and I have been sleeping on an awful futon on the floor for a few years. Recently, we decided to change things so that we can sleep on an awful futon raised off the floor (mostly so we can store stuff under it)

We went to Ikea and got a metal bed frame (Hajdeby) and what they call a "matress base" or "foundation" in the flier, but the sales guy called a "box spring". (It is called a "Jonaker foundation" in the flier we have. It looks a bit like this but is even cheaper. None of the stuff we bought seems to be findable online, like we got the stuff too crappy for Ikea to speak about in public...)

Now we are going to throw our futon on top of it. But... It looks like it's just a few not-so-strong slats holding this thing up. I can see how this might work better w. an actual mattress, which distributes the weight well, but maybe less well w. a futon, which doesn't.

Does anyone know? Is it a bad idea to put a futon on top of something like this? Are we just dizzy from the altitude? Any ideas, suggestions, ill-formed opinions more than welcome.
posted by ManInSuit to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can put a sheet of plywood on it. It won't really impact the goal of the foundation.
posted by kcm at 3:45 PM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: kcm - is this to suggest that putting the futon right on top of the matress base is *not* a good idea?
posted by ManInSuit at 3:48 PM on December 29, 2008

Neither is a great idea for long. Plywood less so. Futons need circulation, that's why they all have uncovered slats, so they can breathe. They will get moldy without the circulation and regular flipping. I can't seem to find it on a search, but Jessamyn posted great plans for a ~$30 futon palette riser doodad not too long ago.
posted by piedmont at 4:28 PM on December 29, 2008

Best answer: I'm sure that putting the futon on top of the mattress base is fine. If the bed frame is the slatted kind, you can also just put the futon on top of that. I'm having a hard time imagining how either could be crappy enough to collapse. I used to sleep on a (really good quality) futon on a slatted bed frame and it was great; very firm, but I like that. And Piedmont is right, futons need to breathe, I don't think you should get the plywood.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:34 PM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

My futon-on-bed solution is this Ikea jobber. Bed + slats is super cheap. Since you already have the boxspringish thing [and I found it a little easier to search for when I used the real work with the accenty marks, but it's still not on the Ikea website] you can sort of do the thing that I mentioned in the other thread which is to get a bunch of 1x2s and lie them across the boxspring thing to get some ventilation for your futon. Realistically, if you're not someplace really damp you may be okay just making sure you flip and fluff the futon often enough. I also suggest some egg crate foam on top of it so that you have another layer of soft and so you don't sweat into it.

Also, I noted your tags. You are MUCH more likely to fall through a hole while you're fooling around than while you're sleeping so I don't know if that's better news or worse news but you could always stress test the thing while it's under warranty....
posted by jessamyn at 4:36 PM on December 29, 2008

Oh here's the illustration I made for the other thread.
posted by jessamyn at 4:58 PM on December 29, 2008

Futons need air circulation or else bad things may happen. You don't want things growing on your futon. That said, if the futon has been sitting directly on the floor for years, then anything at all will be an improvement. Ideally, what you want underneath your futon is slats. Fortunately, Ikea sells slats to fit their frames, so you can probably solve this problem by returning the foundation and buying the slats.
posted by ssg at 5:24 PM on December 29, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! This is all really helpful.
posted by ManInSuit at 7:44 PM on December 29, 2008

I'm having a hard time imagining how either could be crappy enough to collapse.

You need a better imagination. I think a lot of Ikea's products are pretty sound, but their futon slats (at least the ones we've encountered so far) are crappy. The wood is pretty soft, which means that sitting down on the bed with any kind of momentum has the possibility of breaking one or more of the slats. Also, if these are the kind of slats attached together by some kind of vinly or nylon ribbon, these can stretch and then the slats slide all over the place. Every so often, the slats fall out from under me when I sit up or roll around. I am not a heavy person, maybe 156 at the most. I broke one slat of the bed by sitting down heavily (and really, not all that heavily). We have another futon bed where the slats aren't even solid wood, but rather are carefully joined together. This is fine, visually, but each of these joins is a structural weakness.

My recommendation? The metal frame is fine. You can risk the Ikea slats, but I'd suggest buying a few good quality boards from a lumber supply and cut them to fit the bed (most stores will cut them for you, for a price). That's what we will probably have to do. It will probably be more expensive but in the long run a much happier solution.

If you had gotten a wooden rather than a metal frame, I'd suggest you take the additional precaution of nailing or screwing the slats down. If you look at the display models in the Ikea showroom, that's what they do (it occurs to me that I should go ahead and do this myself. woo, drill time).

Oh and though the slats have usually fallen down while getting up or lying down in bed, they have also shifted while sleeping. As you might imagine, this is extremely unpleasant. It feels like you're falling, only you are actually falling.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:19 PM on December 29, 2008

What's all this foofraw about futons need flipped/fluffed/circulation? Have a bunch of MeFiers gotten moldy mattresses? Can this really apply to all futons? Why not to regular innerspring mattresses?

ManInSuit, what's your futon made of? You previously had it directly on the floor, yes? What would be the difference, flip-wise, in putting it on a box spring?

Wow, that's a lot of questions for an answer. Well, it's called Ask.
posted by attercoppe at 6:07 PM on December 30, 2008

Response by poster: Attercoppe - Just to be clear - my concern isn't about the flipping - it's about the structural stability of the bedspring - whether it's meant to take the unevenly-distributed weight that the I'm guessing comes from a futon....
posted by ManInSuit at 8:42 PM on December 30, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice. In the end, we decided that we don't need to keep sleeping on a horrible filthy futon, and we bought a real mattress...
posted by ManInSuit at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2009

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