How do I move my mattress across state lines?
December 16, 2012 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Is it prohibitively dangerous to try to move a full-size mattress from Ohio to Florida on the roof of a Honda Accord?

Please, any advice on how I can do this, whether there will be a max speed I could go even if properly secured, and whether I am better off just shipping the bastard for about $150. The mattress is about 2 years old and was bought new for about $700.
posted by grokfest to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total)
This isn't worth it. It will cost you a heck of a lot in gas, and just be a constant worry for the entire drive. Ship it.
posted by brainmouse at 7:56 PM on December 16, 2012 [16 favorites]

Seriously, just ship it. You'll have to keep it dry, clean, attached to the vehicle, it'll increase your fuel consumption and make your vehicle more difficult to control because the airflow around it has changed. Just a lot of hassle if it really is only $150 to not have to worry about it at all.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:57 PM on December 16, 2012

In addition to the extra cost in fuel, the lower speed you'd have to maintain would add a significant amount of time to your trip. Depending on how long of a day you like to drive, this could mean an additional night on the road, so add in the cost of a hotel room when you're doing your calculations.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2012

The mattress going to be incredibly icky by the end of that trip unless you're very, very lucky. In my opinion, Cincinnati to Columbus is pushing it, and that's what, 90 miles? My sister's mattress was in any case only a little messed up on the edges that trip - we were lucky in that it didn't happen to rain till we'd been in the driveway at home for three minutes.
posted by SMPA at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

It will cost you gas and make your drive miserable. Plus, you are almost guaranteed to hit a rainstorm between Ohio and Florida, and it's not like you have any good way to get it out of the rain.

Ship it or sell it and buy a new one.
posted by 256 at 8:11 PM on December 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

Yes, it's prohibitively dangerous, and you shouldn't try it.
posted by facetious at 8:17 PM on December 16, 2012

Spend the $150. You'll save thousands in misery.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:28 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Please, any advice on how I can do this, whether there will be a max speed I could go even if properly secured, and whether I am better off just shipping the bastard for about $150. The mattress is about 2 years old and was bought new for about $700.

Ship it for 150. Get some mattress bags from a furniture store (they usually have them for free in the warehouse) to protect it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:35 PM on December 16, 2012

A full size mattress is a lot narrower than your car (assuming dimension similar to the 2013 Accord) so your only real problems are protecting the roof paint; protecting the mattress; and making sure that once secured to the roof that the mattress stays ridged and doesn't fold up at the front. If you have a box spring you can tie that down up-side down on top of the mattress to keep it flat. Otherwise a sheet of plywood or a few lengths of 2x4s securely tied to the mattress (on top; inside the bag) will keep the mattress rigid.

Obviously the best way to secure the mattress to the car while protecting the paint will be a set of roof racks rated for the weight.

If you can't get a heavy duty mattress bag a good tarp (the good ones around here are black with 14x14 weave) will keep the rain away. Either way a roll of duct tape can secure the seams and seal any punctures you might acquire along the way.

A modern Accord has something like 200hp or more so shouldn't have any problem maintaining regular freeway speed as the frontal area of a mattress is fairly minimal and I'd bet your gas mileage doesn't suffer more than 25%.

I'm a big fan of ratcheting tie down straps for keeping everything secure.
posted by Mitheral at 9:05 PM on December 16, 2012

I once drove cross-country with a box spring attached to the roof of a minivan, covered with a tarp and tethered tightly to a roof rack using several winch straps in both directions. It worked, and was perfectly sturdy, but it wasn't really worth the stress. If you do try this, put it on a plywood base to give it some rigidity, and angle it down so it acts like a spoiler instead of a wing.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:06 PM on December 16, 2012

Sounds like the kind of thing that would get you pulled over and fined.
posted by Under the Sea at 9:35 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

IF you can properly secure the mattress, then I think the negativity so far in the thread is uncalled for. BUT, to properly secure it you will need bars and decent bars will probably run you at least $150, so if you don't already have them, just ship it.

If you do have them, I would consider using a piece of plywood approximately the size of the mattress to prevent flopping and wrapping the whole lot in a double layer of well sealed plastic (wind blown water could be a problem), and using ample appropriately sized ratchet straps. You will need to keep your speed down, especially so in windy conditions, but it's not like you will be crawling.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:58 PM on December 16, 2012

I'm with Quinfus Flestrin - if you have a really solid roof rack and/or a bunch of quality ratcheting tie downs and a sheet of 1/2 plywood to hold the thing down with, and understand of the securely tie it tow the car and are making the drive anyway, this wouldn't be so bad.

But if you're buying all the stuff you need to do this safely out of pocket now, plus the mileage hit, then the $150 without all the added hassle and worry sounds like a pretty good deal.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:19 PM on December 16, 2012

I once tied down a mattress in the back of a pickup truck. I remember thinking that I had tied it down securely enough that it wasn't going to go anywhere. Then next thing I know on the highway it's halfway towards flipping over because of the way the air flow got under it. Fortunately I had enough rope that I was able to redo it extra securely. I was only traveling 45 miles or something. For $150 and travelling from Ohio to Florida, I would ship it or sell it and buy a new one.
posted by cali59 at 11:21 PM on December 16, 2012

I used to have a job that involved a 50 mile daily commute. I can't tell you how many times I was passed by a driver oblivious to the fact that the mattress strapped to the car was either doing the worm dance or flipping back into a crazy U shape as they cruised down the freeway! Because the mattress (not the box spring) is not completely rigid, there's enough space for air to whoosh in under it and turn it into a kite.
posted by dottiechang at 12:25 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ohio to Florida? At this time of the year? The safety aspects aside, it will rain somewhere along your route, and it's highly doubtful you will ever be able to completely seal the mattress off from the elements, especially at highway speeds.

Ship it.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:42 AM on December 17, 2012

I saw someone trying to do this once. They were zigzagging erratically at 24mph in a 70mph zone. They had to keep stopping and pulling over because the mattress kept slipping down over their rear window. They pulled out in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes, then was stuck behind them for a while.
posted by tel3path at 4:54 AM on December 17, 2012

In addition to tying it from side to side, you will also need to tie it down from front to back, and not just down the center but also from each corner. Years ago, the boat that I had tied on the roof rack of my car really wanted to become airborn until we tied it down from the front of the boat to someplace sturdy (not sure where??!!) near the front bumper. I imagine a mattress will behave the same way.

(It was a really small boat - just a little bigger than a surfboard. But we sold it when I wanted to go sailing and my husband asked me "Can't we just sit at home and yell at each other instead? We'll have the same amount of fun and we won't have to tie that thing to the top of the car again." I guess we're just not boat people.)
posted by CathyG at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh HELL no!

Sell the mattress and buy a new one when you get to your new location.

If you can ship it for $150, and be assured that nothing gross would happen to it en route, do that, but I'm easily skivved.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2012

I'm going against the crowd. My boyfriend and I have done this (twice), once we drove 2000 miles with a full-sized mattress strapped to the top of his van, once we drove about 1000 miles with the same mattress strapped to the same van. It was in the middle of the summer both times, and we hit a couple of god-awful rainstorms along the way. The mattress arrived in perfect condition. Here's what you need to do if you're considering this:

1. Wrap each piece of the mattress in a thick plastic, or use those zippered mattress covers. We had been using these covers from Target as regular bedbug protection and just kept them in those.

2. Get some extra super heavy duty tarp from Home Depot or Lowe's. Pretty sure we used this Husky black sheeting.

3. Lay the mattress piece, in its first wrapping, down on the black heavy-duty tarp. Wrap the tarp TIGHT around it, duct-taping liberally. I think we went around each piece two times for maximum coverage.

4. Get yourself some ratchets. You may want to first tie the mattresses to the top of your car with rope, but you definitely want to ratchet them down before you attempt highway driving. Put the box spring on the bottom and the mattress on top (the mattress is softer, so you can tighten the ratchets really hard and not risk damage to the box spring if you do this). Keep tightening them until it's impossible to make them any tighter. I think we used 4 ratchets total.

His van did not have a roof rack, and we actually had to remove the mattresses once along the way during the 2000-mile trek, due to the clutch on his van going out and needing replacement in a tiny garage with a low ceiling. I don't recall any damage to the van from doing this. We maxed out at about 60 miles per hour -- I was following him in my car, the mattress looked a little wobbly at first (tall van, Nebraska is windy, not recommended). I think you'll be fine doing Ohio to Florida. Good luck!
posted by jabes at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2012

Hie thee to U-Haul! They will rent you a small trailer and rent or sell you a trailer hitch for your Honda. In addition to trailers, hitches are good for sturdy bike racks and canoe/kayak supports.

But, seriously, once you use a little trailer for the Home Depot run, you will be scoffing at pickup trucks. They are insanely useful for homeowners.

The problem with attaching a mattress to the roof -

- Unpredictable handling. That big flat floppy thing will act as a sail.
- Crummy fuel economy. (See above.)
- It could damage the car (See above.)
- The cops may write you a ticket if they don't think it's secured well enough.
- The wind buffeting will damage the mattress.
- The straps could work themselves loose, and you'll lose the mattress on the highway.
- Rain or condensation could cause moisture damage, even if you think it's covered up well enough. Wind damage is another possibility. It could shred the fabric cover if something happened to the tarp and/or packaging your counting on to protect it.

Go to U-Haul. Rent a trailer. Put all of your luggage in there, too, and a biiig cooler with lunches and snacks, and have a pleasant, worry-free trip.

(Just remember to look for pull-through parking spaces and give yourself a lot of room to maneuver - backing up with a trailer is an exercise in futility.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I moved a queen size mattress on the roof of our mini van from Beaverton, OR to Portland, OR - a trip of about 25 miles. It was nerve-wracking, dangerous, and really not fun. I would never do it again and would tell anyone else not to bother.

There was a point when I was going across a bridge and the wind caught the mattress and made it shift, and I seriously thought my bed was going to end up in the Willamette river... Ugh.
posted by tacodave at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2012

My aunt and uncle brought me a mattress from Albany to Worcester when I was in college; they had no issues with securing it and keeping it there, but they did 'catch' a bird with it. The mattress was protected so that this didn't result in physcial ick on the mattress, but for the five years I slept on the bed, I never forgot that I was lying where Tweety had been smushed.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:54 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my most vivid memories from college is helping my best friend bring his new mattress home from the warehouse, maybe a 5 mile trip. It wasn't so much the trip itself as seeing the mattress sail off of the top of his car, in a spectacular fashion I never would have thought possible, and into the median. This was followed by the two of us trying to get it from said median back onto his car just as - naturally - it began to rain. Good times.

(ship it!)
posted by AthenaPolias at 8:50 PM on December 17, 2012

A mattress will act as a kite, catching air and trying to sail away. I would try to put it on a roof rack so that air could flow under it, or secure it to the car as if it were a 2nd skin. Yes, you'd have to put it in mattress bags, at least double-bagged, because Murphy's law guarantees rain, and probably a plague of frogs and slime, or whatever. Secure the front really, really well. Underneath the bumper, there are likely to be towing hooks that you can tie rope to. I have put some interesting things on my Honda's roof, and it's my policy that there's no such thing as too many bungee cords, decent quality bungee cords. Having to collect stuff from the median, or, worse, cause an accident, is double-plus-ungood-no-fun.

Can you sell it, and buy a new one when you get there?
posted by theora55 at 10:16 PM on December 17, 2012

Take it from somebody whose car was hit by a flying mattress:

posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:25 AM on December 18, 2012

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