Can I put a mattress directly onto the floor without issue?
July 19, 2009 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Any issues with putting a mattress directly onto the floor? I have a mattress I love but am moving into a loft space with very little headroom in the loft. Getting rid of the bed part of the bed would help out greatly but a few friends have told me this is a bad idea--two specifically claiming it'll cause mold. Thoughts? Recommendations? Solutions (links to really low beds)? Thanks!
posted by You Should See the Other Guy to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There's no problem with putting a mattress and box springs directly on the floor.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:19 PM on July 19, 2009

Response by poster: There's no box spring. It's one of those "I don't need a box spring" mattresses.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:20 PM on July 19, 2009

I never had any issues with it.
posted by wheat at 3:22 PM on July 19, 2009

Best answer: We did this for over a year with our "I don't need a box spring" mattress, with absolutely no ill effects. Somehow it just seems wrong, though, doesn't it? I say stick it to The Man and put that sucker right on the floor.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:23 PM on July 19, 2009

Ikea has a bunch of bed frames that are low to the ground and don't require a box spring, I was just there today. For years I've kept my box spring and mattress on the floor without a frame and I have never had any problems.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:23 PM on July 19, 2009

A friend claims that it makes it easier for bugs to get into your bed (they can't scuttle under, so they go over).
posted by Coobeastie at 3:24 PM on July 19, 2009

If the concern is air being able to circulate under the mattress you can go build a simple frame out of 2x4's (maybe 6 run laterally across the rough box frame), cover it with 3/8th's smooth/sanded plywood or fiber board and put it on 6 wheels or legs and have it raised maybe 2 inches off the floor without increasing the overall height more than 6 inches. Gets you plenty of room to have air circulate under the bed, gets it off the floor (although you probably don't need to).
posted by iamabot at 3:25 PM on July 19, 2009

Low bed #1

Low bed #2

I've seen both of those beds and you can adjust them so the mattress is practically flush with the sides.

I don't think there would be a problem with mold, though. I've had my share of beds on box springs without bed frames and the box springs never got moldy. I can't see why the mattress would. Oh, I've just remembered that we had our mattress on the floor for just under four months, no box spring, and there wasn't a problem with mold at all.

If you're worried about it, I guess you could put down a moisture barrier under the mattress.
posted by cooker girl at 3:29 PM on July 19, 2009

Shouldn't be a problem. I babysat a kid for a year whose parents were divorced - one of the apartments had a loft that should have been a storage space, but was a pseudo bedroom instead, with his mattress taking up almost the entire floor space. Apparently they'd been doing it for years, with no problems. He loved it up there, it was like a little cave.
posted by firei at 3:31 PM on July 19, 2009

Or, if you like, just grab some old shipping pallets (wooden) from anywhere (most places will let you have them for free), make sure they've been around long enough not to be outgassing treated lumber fumes any more, sand them a bit and paint 'em if you want to be fancy, and stick your bed on those. Voila! Inch-to-two inches of circulation space, along with just enough flexibility to be comfortable, low-lying bedstead.

Source: personal experience. I find it quite lovely!
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:31 PM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I read something sometime about sleeping low on the floor causing health issues to do with breathing (although I cant remember why when or how). However I did this with futon style matress for years and loved it.
posted by Neonshock at 3:38 PM on July 19, 2009

While I generally sleep in a bed with a proper bed frame (there's even a fancy schmancy headboard thingamajig!), we also have a "bed" in the guest room consisting of a mattress on the floor. I've slept in it on various occasions, generally self-imposed isolation due to sniffles, and I've never had a problem with it, but I have definitely woken up with a few more insect bites when sleeping there. I would guess bugs might have a little more access, but this has basically been the difference of getting (maybe) 1 bite instead of 0 bites. Until now, it's never been commented on by me or anyone who has slept there, so I'd say it's effectively a non-issue, but YMMV depending on how much of a squick-factor bugs have over you.
posted by Diagonalize at 3:44 PM on July 19, 2009

I've seen some pretty bad mold grow in carpet under a mattress kept very low to the flow (essentially a futon style mattress on top of some bed slats from IKEA). This was in a relatively warm, and unconditioned apartment, and the floor was carpeted. Rotating the mattress seemed to solve the problem (in this case the mattress could be rotated as it was the same either side up, not all matresses are like that).

Maybe try it out and then just make sure to check every week for the first few months or so that it all looks good underneath.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've done it for a while and yes, a bit of mold formed (not even a particularly damp environment). I'd go the wooden frame or shipping pallets route but air circulation is apparently somewhat important.
posted by _dario at 3:53 PM on July 19, 2009

Easy way to stop mold: Just lift the mattress up and lean against the wall in the morning before you go to work or whatever. I've done this for _very_ long period of time with little ill effect.
posted by smoke at 3:57 PM on July 19, 2009

The primary purpose of a frame is to make your bed a fortress against vermin. Legs that are hard for mice to crawl up, headboards to keep the bedding from touching a wall, canopies to protect from from dropping bugs.

To the extent that you don't have vermin problems, you don't need a bed frame.
posted by fleacircus at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2009

The only problem I had was it was cold. The bed creates an insulating air gap between the mattress and the heat stealing floor. This was only a problem in the winter.
posted by chairface at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2009

Response by poster: A'ight! Thanks all for the help. If it doesn't work out, I assume you're all okay with me crashing at your place.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:07 PM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cause mold? Where is the moisture going to come from?
posted by rhizome at 5:17 PM on July 19, 2009

My husband is in the other room RIGHT NOW putting together a Malm, and it's wicked low and was cheap.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:54 PM on July 19, 2009

The mold growth really depends on where you are and where your apartment is in your building. I did this with my high end futon while living in very arid New Mexico and mold did grow under the futon after a cold winter. Turns out the warmth of my apartment was meeting the coolness of the floor (I lived on the first floor of a building with only an unfinished crawlspace).
posted by FlamingBore at 5:58 PM on July 19, 2009

If your floor is cold, such as when the lower space is unheated or the floor is a slab on grade, your body moisture will condense on the floor, wetting the bottom of the mattress and providing an environment for mold to grow in. If the "floor" is an interior loft within a larger, heated space, then you shouldn't have any condensation underneath. One way to prevent condensation in either case would be to put it on some kind of eg, wooden lattice or grid that permits air to flow under the mattress. It needn't be very high - an inch or so would be plenty - just as long as there is opportunity for air exchange underneath.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 6:29 PM on July 19, 2009

I've used a bare mattress on the floor a number of times in my life with no ill effects, other than a bug or two scuttling in. I will say that even a basic bedframe with slats from Ikea feels much more comfortable.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:55 PM on July 19, 2009

rhizome writes "Cause mold? Where is the moisture going to come from?"

From the people laying on the mattress. I've had mold form on a solid plywood deck on stands under a mattress without a box spring. Drilling a few dozen holes in the plywood solved the problem. So count me in on the raise it a little even if it's just half a dozen 1X4s laid length wise under the mattress.
posted by Mitheral at 8:03 PM on July 19, 2009

I had a loft with very, very little head room when I was in junior high and high school. I got a nice cotton futon and laid it straight on the loft. I flipped it and occasionally rolled it. Never any mold or otherwise problems. The frequent moving (rolling, etc.) must have helped, however.
posted by Gucky at 8:31 PM on July 19, 2009

I slept with a mattress on the floor for prob over 10 years until the other half demanded we get a bed. I love a hard bed, so it suited me just fine, both on plain a plain wooden floor and on (new) carpet. Never had a problem with mold, ever. Of course, I air the house out every day, so maybe that helps.
posted by x46 at 9:48 PM on July 19, 2009

No info on mould issues, as I didn't last a week. For some reason, it felt wrong. Even when I had my eyes closed and lay still, it wigged me out. No idea why, but I didn't like it at all.
posted by kjs4 at 10:44 PM on July 19, 2009

My boyfriend did this for over a year with no mold problems (and we couldn't flip the mattress as it was a pillowtop). It was not good for the mattress, however--although we didn't walk across it or anything, the sides eventually squished outwards in a way I've never seen before and we had to pitch it. While I have no proof that it wouldn't have happened with this same mattress, I've had my (cheaper) mattress for five years and have never had the same problem, so I attributed it to being on the floor.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2009

I put my mattress directly on the floor for a couple days while in the process of moving and my girlfriend complained that it was uncomfortable (she was used to it being on a frame). It didn't bother me, though I could tell a difference. It's just something to be aware of.
posted by Cogito at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2009

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