Help me buy an economical bed!
June 5, 2013 3:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm furnishing my apartment on a truly shoestring budget, and need to buy a bed for the first time. I know nothing about buying beds besides the concepts of frames, mattress and boxsprings (well, that and buying new to avoid bedbugs). What kinds of factors should I be considering? Where and how should I be buying my bed? What's a reasonable price? Please educate me! This is in the U.S.A.

I like relatively firmer mattresses, and I know the size I want (Queen); I don't care for headboards and such and basically want a really no-frills frame, ideally one that I can put risers under so I can use the storage space under the bed.
posted by raspberry jam and clothes iron to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I know you want underbed storage, but what I like to do is get a really nice squadgy futon mattress, then fold it up into a z-shape when I get up. I find it superbly comfy and it was cheap.

I like my floor space though, so YMMV, just putting that out there.
posted by tel3path at 3:13 AM on June 5, 2013

Response by poster: tel3path, yeah, for context: I'm sleeping on an airbed with lots of padding right now. And it sucks. I thought I could tough it out for a few years on this thing, but no matter how many blankets I pad the blasted thing with, it's still deeply uncomfortable.

tl;dr, a futon mattress may not cut it for me. It turns out I'm reasonably spoiled ... I just have no clue what kind of money I'm about to shell out for a good night's sleep.
posted by raspberry jam and clothes iron at 3:21 AM on June 5, 2013

Best answer: We have a Forever Foundation and a high quality futon mattress. There is an amazing amount of storage under the frame and it is standard bed height which feels pretty liberating after all those years of dropping down onto a futon.
posted by a22lamia at 3:32 AM on June 5, 2013

Best answer: You can haggle at the mattress store. Never knew this until Mr. jadepearl pulled it off. Carefully know what you want and be prepared to walk.
posted by jadepearl at 4:17 AM on June 5, 2013

Best answer: About 2 years ago we bought a new bed, for the first time in my adult life moving away from futon-style mattresses. We ended up with a high-end latex mattress & "foundation" (the object formerly referred to as a box spring, only ours is really just a platform). The set cost $1399 delivered.

It is very comfortable. We actually liked it better than memory foam, which can be even more expensive. It is fairly firm, and doesn't sag the way mattresses on box springs used to, but it makes the futon we replaced seem like a slab of stone by comparison.

This mattress could be placed directly on a bed platform, we added the foundation only for its height, since we bought a traditional bed & it would have looked silly otherwise. Depending on how many/few slats your bed has, you might want to get a couple of pieces of particle board or plywood to put the mattress on.

For the bed itself, I'd check out Ikea. We have a metal Ikea bedframe in the guest room & it seems plenty sturdy, it cost a couple hundred dollars at most.
posted by mr vino at 4:30 AM on June 5, 2013

The most expensive part will be the mattress/box spring. Shop around for those, keep an eye out for mix and match sales. In my city, the Salvation Army actually had NEW mattresses and box springs for sale, still in the packaging. They had been donated by the companies - so check those out as well.
posted by Pademelon at 4:49 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had to buy a bed for a new apt recently, with almost no dough. I got lucky on a couple of good Black Friday sales at Ikea, and wound up with a very nice frame, a crappy mattress, and a slat 'base' for right around $300 out the door. Ikea has a great mattress return policy, so after a week of wailing about my back, I took the crappy mattress back and paid the difference on a slightly better one. And now I'm happy. Ikea has a zero-pressure sales floor too, which is a nice difference compared to mattress/bed-specific stores.
posted by carsonb at 5:09 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would HIGHLY recommend checking out a Sears Outlet near you. They have a HUGE variety of matresses and the prices are incredible.

You can get away with a frame (about $35), box spring and mattress. You don't need a wooden bedstead or any of that.

I like a super-firm mattress, but try them all. Take your kindle and make an afternoon of it. Position yourself how you actually sleep.

Another option is to get a real futon, like the kind they have in Japan. Probably not cheaper than a good mattress, but it is an alternative.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:30 AM on June 5, 2013

Since you're concerned about your budget, how about getting a mattress and box spring now --- lay the box spring directly on the floor --- and waiting until it hurts the budget less to get a bed frame that suits your preferences? It's one way to spread out the expense while you give yourself more time to look around for a bed frame you really like.
posted by easily confused at 5:56 AM on June 5, 2013

Boxsprings are a waste of money and I have never owned one as an adult. I just purchase platform beds - no boxspring required, and as a bonus you now have under-bed storage.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:59 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How shoe string is your shoe string? I nth the Ikea platform bed. It will help your mattress stay firmer longer. If you can go a little more, get the one with drawers and you can forego a dresser. However, I have found this and seeing it at the store, it seems sturdy.

Buy a good mattress, though, you don't want to buy a new mattress in a year or two. You can always sleep on a mattress on the floor if you want to wait to buy a nicer bed frame, but you can't sleep on a bed frame if you hate the mattress. Sleepy's and Macy's has great sealy posturpedic or serta perfect sleeper mattresses and free shipping most times.
posted by Yellow at 6:08 AM on June 5, 2013

Best answer: You can buy a metal frame very cheaply, about 30-40 bucks. And you can get risers to make it taller for underbed room. Also, look for a habitat for humanity store in your area. Furniture stores donate new mattress sets to them at the end of the year to get the tax deduction. They are great sets for very cheap.
posted by pearlybob at 6:12 AM on June 5, 2013

I also recommend foregoing boxsprings. I have an ikea slatted bed base and risers on a metal frame. I have a memory foam mattress (was around $300, frame $100, slats $40 risers $5) The bed is the perfect height. I can sit on the edge and just have my toes touch the ground.

The risers can be found at bed bath and beyond too. They're sturdy little cups for your frame to stand on. This allows me to fit about 6 "bankers boxes" and 4 baskets of laundry under my queen size bed. Its like having 2 extra closets.

An important thing to keep in mind about mattresses, is that the best thing for them is lots of air flow. If they are dryer, they are less attractive to bugs, last longer, won't get funky, etc.
posted by fontophilic at 6:19 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This earlier AskMe might be helpful.
posted by amusebuche at 6:40 AM on June 5, 2013

Ikea platform beds/mattresses are surprisingly comfortable. A few years ago we bought a twin for $99 (bed and mattress) for guests and people loved sleeping on it so much that they started buying their own. I have a more expensive mattress (I think it is Serta through Crate & Barrel) that I find horribly uncomfortable until I put a (very thin) mattress pad on. I have no idea why it makes a difference, but it is life changing.
posted by hrj at 6:58 AM on June 5, 2013

Grown-up here, never owned a box spring -- or even a spring mattress; I adore foam and futons. Which are also cheap. (I have a good latex foam thing that was not cheap, but the basic foam or futon idea is usually quite cheap.)

First apartment...shoestring budget... I personally would just forget about stores. Craigslist "free," freecycle, Facebook for-free groups, and do _not_ underestimate "curb shopping" on garbage nights (always interesting in a posh neighbourhood, but it can be surprisingly fruitful in a poor one. Make note of times when students are moving, the 1sts of the months, etc...). Ask your friends, ask your friends' friends, who might have what you need for sale.

I spent some time sleeping on a "memory foam" mattress pad and had no complaints at all about that. On a carpeted floor, but. If you think your fortunes will improve substantially in the foreseeable future, one thing to consider might be a mattress topper or two; live with that for a bit, and then when you have the money for something nice, hey, you've already got a lovely topper for it!

+1 recommendations for Ikea. The cheapest frames are fine, and mattress-wise, so long as you are not going with the absolute cheapest, it should be fine. Floor model futons are another good option.
posted by kmennie at 7:01 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just a clarification of "no boxspring!" and "metal frames are cheap!" -- that's a CHOICE POINT. If you get a cheap metal frame, you need a boxspring. So you need to either pay for a platform bed -- cheap at Ikea etc, but still more expensive than a metal frame -- or you need to pay for a boxspring. Well, or you can put your mattress on the floor. Or build your own platform, which probably isn't very hard.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:14 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We always get our mattresses at Sam's Club and have never had a problem with the cheapest one there. Beware when trying to compare - each store calls the very same mattress something else just to make it very confusing.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:27 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ikea is your best bet for NEW and cheap. Even they are a little too expensive for MY shoestring budget, but if you go anywhere else you'll be paying upwards of a thousand dollars for a mattress. Stores generally have special sales for holidays so you might be able to find a deal for Father's Day coming up if you check around.

I got my Ikea queen foam mattress from Craigslist for $40. It came from an immaculate home so I wasn't concerned about bedbugs and bought it on the spot when I went to check it out. It was a little on the firm side for my taste, but I have a thin "memory foam" pad from Target that I splurged on for $100 a couple years ago that makes it perfect.
posted by E3 at 8:33 AM on June 5, 2013

Best answer: We bought one of these metal frames several years ago, either from amazon or overstock, and have been really happy with it. It's substantial enough that you don't need the box spring, and it's higher than many frames.
posted by bizzyb at 9:49 AM on June 5, 2013

We bought the $159 Walmart Spa Sensations 6" Memory Foam Mattress for our guest room. I've slept on it a number of times, and I must say, I wish I'd bought that for our own bedroom. It's fabulous. You don't need a boxspring--something to think about for future moves.

Walmart also sells a metal platform bed--$70--under which you could put storage drawers you can easily order online from many other places. I never wanted to go the memory foam route, but this one is ultra comfortable and gets many raves online from other customers who've bought it. Our guests have said the same thing. It comes rolled up, and you air it out since it's encased in plastic. Honestly, it's a dream bed at the price.
posted by Elsie at 9:53 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I bought a sleep innovations memory foam bed off Amazon. I was sort of skeptical, but the reviews were good and the price was right (400 for a queen). I'm definitely happy with it.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 10:02 AM on June 5, 2013

We just bought my son an Ikea slatted bed frame and a latex foam mattress. It's a twin size, but the mattress was $149. It's incredibly comfortable; I've had to spend a couple nights on it (said son is two) and I've slept like a rock. It looks like you could get the same mattress in a double for $200 and a slatted bed frame with underbed drawers for $350.
posted by KathrynT at 11:29 AM on June 5, 2013

Best answer: I've been through this over and over. I may have even asked my own questions on this. I'm on my third mattress in three years, and hopefully the last one.

I found this information really informative:

If you look at their YouTube videos, you can see some where they disassemble major brand mattresses and note how poorly they're constructed.

My advice is to do one of two things:
* Go to a LOCAL mattress manufacturer and buy a mattress from them. If you live in a mtreo area, you probably have one or two places that make mattresses. If they show you they're using quality materials, I'd go with them.
* What I ended up doing is buying a memory foam mattress in a box from Sam's Club. Amazon also has these. The bed is pretty hard, and that's just fine with me. Mine is gel memory foam with a latex topper that I had previously purchased. I like it just fine and it cost $400, which is WAY less than I paid for spring mattresses that sagged within two years. It's been fine so far, and if it sags, it's way less money to buy a new one.
posted by cnc at 3:20 PM on June 5, 2013

Are you handy (or know somone who is)? If so, there's an instructables for that.
posted by oceano at 11:14 PM on June 5, 2013

I got a queen-size bed at Ikea, simple wood frame with slats and mattress and very cheap, and I'm still using them over a decade later. Highly recommended!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:02 PM on June 6, 2013

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