How to best bed for a year?
May 16, 2018 3:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm all moved in my new studio apartment (and loving it so far)! I'm unsure as to what the best option is for bedding, though. Right now, I'm using a $29 Coleman airbed on the floor as a stopgap. Your recommendations would be much appreciated!

My preference is a full size, and a memory foam mattress, although I'm also open to a long-term airbed. My max budget is around $400 or so for everything (mattress/frame/foundation included), but would be nice to save some and go even less than that.

Option 1: Buy a cheap Zinus mattress on for around $169, and a bed frame that's around $72.

Pros: good reviews overall for the mattress for short-term, somewhat easier to assemble the frame
Cons: some concerning reviews about the mattress long-term and its strong smell; many pointing out the frame is cheap and not of the best quality, especially with the wooden slats splintering and squeaking

Option 2: Buy an IKEA memory foam mattress for around $379; maybe a bed frame from them, too (more expensive).

Pros: good reviews, IKEA being known for its build quality overall
Cons: their frames are difficult and complex to assemble, I'm not really a handyman, would be a hassle to disassemble next year

Option 3: Buy one of the above mattresses and just sleep on the floor for the year.

Pros: cheapest, ease of mind when/if moving out or to another unit
Cons: too low, don't really like that feeling, doesn't feel like home

Option 4: Buy a tall (18+ inch) queen airbed (good quality) and use for the year (example - has an one-year guarantee/warranty)

Pros: easier, doesn't require a frame, easy to inflate and deflate, if higher up, feels more like a proper bed
Cons: are airbeds really designed for daily use for a year or so? Even high-brand name ones? Good for my back? Have to inflate often, and can be "shaky"...

As you can see, I'm torn! I'm probably most likely going to be only here for a year (unless I find a much higher paying job so I can afford this apartment long-term), so I'd like to keep things simple as possible in terms of moving, assembly, etc., but I don't want to just plop a mattress on the floor and call it a day.

If you have any other ideas on how to raise a mattress but not have to use a frame, that'd be excellent! Perhaps a boxspring or something I could buy from Home Depot? Ideas, ideas, ideas would be much appreciated! Craigslist is a possibility, but don't want the hassle of having to find a way to carry things to my apartment, and the complex is very strict about bedbugs, so would prefer to start afresh, although I'm not completely against the idea. Am also open to mattress and/or airbed recommendations.
posted by dubious_dude to Home & Garden (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An airbed is definitely not going to cut it for daily use. It will slowly deflate over the course of each day and will generally be a pain.

I have a Lucid mattress from Overstock, which I picked over the Zinus on Amazon only because it was slightly cheaper and I no longer have Prime shipping. I'd recommend the Zinus/Lucid/online memory foam mattress plus a cheap bedrame. This one with metal bars might be better than wooden slats--I switched from slats to a wire foundation because the slats slid and squeaked while I moved in bed and I hated it. IKEA bedframes are very heavy and I've never had one survive a move.

RE: smell, the ones with green tea really have no noticeable smell pretty much out of the box, and my current mattress (tea-less) stopped off-gassing in about half a day. It's fine now, have had it just about a month.

Edited to add: That IKEA mattress is only one layer of memory foam. I find these intensely uncomfortable as they just shape to your body and there's no support. A layered mattress (Zinus, etc) has a bottom layer of high density foam which adds a significant amount of increased firmness.
posted by assenav at 3:38 PM on May 16, 2018

You can get a metal slat folding frame for like $100 that works with memory foam with or without a box spring. Check your local classifieds for these metal ones too. I have a firm spring mattress from IKEA in our spare room on a metal slat daybed and I REALLY like it.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:39 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I would recommend a good quality mattress. Your back will thank you! Mattresses are not that difficult to move, so you can take it with you if/when you leave. Go to Sears or your local mattress store and lie down on a few; that's what I did 10 years ago and my mattress is still with me, four cities and two relationships later.

As for the bedframe, the cheapest option would be to get a set of rails, which are easy to put together and take down. However you would need a boxspring if you go that route. Or you could get a platform style bed which are popular and easy to find.

Just as an example, Ashley Home Furniture (reputable store), has a full-size full foundation for $120 + mattress for $149. Rails on Amazon or target would add another $100 or so, still under budget.

Wayfair and Overstock are also good sources for nice looking, decent quality, inexpensive bedframes. They should be pretty easy to assemble and take apart -- mine just needs a regular Phillips head screwdriver.
posted by basalganglia at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2018

Cons: their frames [ikea] are difficult and complex to assemble, I'm not really a handyman, would be a hassle to disassemble next year

We have a twin bed frame from Ikea that was purchased in Pennsylvania, assembled, disassembled, moved to Alaska, reassembled, disassembled, reassembled, disassembled, maybe one more round. It’s not hard to assemble or disassemble and stood up to a couple of kids. And it’s not heavy.

I don’t see the exact one, but if I were you, I’d get this bed frame with the corresponding slats. That gets you a complete bed frame for $100, which is darn cheap. Truly, they’re not terribly hard to put together.
posted by leahwrenn at 3:57 PM on May 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I used a tall aerobed queen size on the floor for 6 months for one adult male it's doable but not ideal. Did need topping up every few days, left inflated the whole time. This was several years ago and the aerobed still works for occasional use.

Wildly Guessing it was ~$130 at Costco at the time.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:58 PM on May 16, 2018

I'd be inclined to get a nice mattress and no bed frame -- the mattress is essential for a good nights' sleep, but I have never found a bed frame to make much difference there; it's primarily useful for giving you the under-bed storage and for making things look nice. YMMV perhaps.

As an aside, I also wanted to say that I'm really psyched you're in a better housing situation. I've been following your AskMe questions and I'm so glad to hear that things seem to be looking up for you.
posted by forza at 4:00 PM on May 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Congrats on the apartment!

I have a queen size memory foam mattress on the floor, which I love, but I have the folding frame Crystalline linked bookmarked for hosting guests who have a hard time getting up off the floor. Pick up a (cheap, Amazon) bed skirt as well and no one will see the frame.

I like my memory foam mattress way better than similarly priced spring mattresses, and it's easy to acquire and easy to move.

I've slept on an aerobed for months at a time after moves, I agree with "doable but not ideal". Especially in colder weather, you'll want a blanket or two under your bottom sheet to stay warm. Might be an okay option if you're a hot sleeper, though.
posted by momus_window at 4:06 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I got this frame from Amazon, similar to yours, and it has done just fine for over a year. It might not be the best for, uh, more enthusiastic use, but it's held up just fine for sleeping on. Honestly, if you're only talking about a year, I'd seriously consider a twin. I wish I'd gotten a twin because I don't love the mattress I wound up with and it'd be easier to get rid of now if I'd spent less on it to start, I think, now that I'm more settled and I really could technically afford better if I wasn't attached to the sunk cost of it.
posted by Sequence at 4:10 PM on May 16, 2018

Can you fit a king? I vote 2 cheapo twin mattresse sand a memory topper from costco on top. Makes moving an absolute breeze and I think it's totally comfortable and comes in under your budget.
posted by beccaj at 4:33 PM on May 16, 2018

While I can't speak for the mattress, I have the very same bedframe you link in Option 1. It's simple and practical and actually way better than more expensive frames I've had in the past. I got my queen mattress -- I like the classic "Euro" top versus the newer pillow top or trendy memory foam -- from a local discount mattress place. I'm sure there's one near you that would be worth checking out. FWIW, all IKEA beds I've used have sucked -- they're not cheap but are certainly uncomfortable! I'm sure that, whatever you chose, you'll be happy for the upgrade. I hope you continue to enjoy your new place.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:36 PM on May 16, 2018

I replaced all the frames in the house with the Zinus frames. We're renters, they're sturdy as hell and easy to move.

I bought Amazon's dirt cheap LUCID (5") gel foam mattress and it's basically a table. Neither of my two lodgers could stand it so I gave them the unfortunately no-longer-sold $90 Ikea spring twins that are jiggly and cold but really mushy and they love them, and gave the rock-hard mattress to the dogs and they don't love it either. Just make sure you've scoped the Zinus mattress reviews to see if anyone's even vaguely complaining about being too firm.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:37 PM on May 16, 2018

Oh no, wait! You linked one of the non-folding frames. Check the folding frames, they're great and very compact when folded. And steel, so you can put them in a car/van/truck and pack on/over/beside it no problem.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:39 PM on May 16, 2018

I slept on a Coleman air mattress ($50, king) for a good 3+ years. It was fine. I actually liked it. In general, people make too big a deal about the deflation. Yeah, you'll have to re-pump it sometimes, but that only takes a couple minutes maybe once a week. Consider it part of making the bed.

It made sense for me because I wanted a king-size bed but didn't have any money. If I had more money, I might have bought something nicer, but it worked for me.

It won't feel like a "real" bed, and you should probably get a mattress topper. And if you ever have anyone over, they're guaranteed to make fun of you.

I'd totally do it again though. Great value.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:54 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

My daughter sleeps on an IKEA NYHAMN sofa bed. It's about $300 and when folded is a nice big couch and when let down is a double-sized bed that takes normal linens. It's very sturdy and the frame is rugged steel on legs, not rollers. It has the bentwood support system from IKEA's regular bed frames, and no hard metal bar in the middle. The mattress is pretty thick and made in two foam pieces that lock together when it's in bed-form. IT also straps itself to the frame, so unlike a futon, it won't slide off onto the floor. She really likes it, and the price was excellent for value. Two pieces of furniture in one, with very few compromises.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:59 PM on May 16, 2018

Following up to Crystalinne and several others - wouldn’t the gaps on the base, between the wood slats and/or the metal lines, make the mattress sag?

As for the air bed... the one I linked to ( has a 1-year warranty/satisfaction guarantee and has good reviews. The seller, which seems to be a reputable company, even answered a few questions on Amazon that asked if the air bed would be okay for everyday use - yes was the answer. In light of that, thoughts? You can read the reviews as well. It even was recommended by chiropractors.
posted by dubious_dude at 5:03 PM on May 16, 2018

In a similar situation, I found that air mattress sex was entertaining... once. It made a good story. So if you plan on taking advantage of your new apartment to have overnight guests, that's something to keep in mind. :)

I have the IKEA wooden slats (and I topped it with a relatively cheap mattress from the mattress store down the road that I could walk to, there was free delivery, from what you've said about your new neighborhood, there's likely someplace similar around), and the mattress does not sage between slats. It's a great night's sleep, totally recommended.
posted by joycehealy at 5:09 PM on May 16, 2018

Depending on how you see your financial circumstances developing, you could invest in a good-quality mattress/box-spring now for sleeping on the floor with, then buy a frame that suits you when you've had time to save for it. Pros: end up with two desirable components, rather than "settling"; cons: sleeping without a frame for a while.
posted by praemunire at 5:20 PM on May 16, 2018

I have owned many many airbeds. Cheap ones, expensive ones. Ones with great reviews. A friend of mine has one that cost like $800. They always deflate. It's like bike tires and car tires. There's just no way to prevent air from gradually seeping out of any pliable material with seals.

On the other hand, I did have one of those folding metal frames Crystalline mentioned and it was great. I slept on it for like 10 years and moved it twice before giving it to my dad for his spare room, where it's holding up like a champ.

I always just stuck my mattress right on top of it -- no boards, no slats, no box springs -- and was perfectly comfortable. Didn't sag, didn't feel flimsy, the mattress didn't budge on top of it. You'd never have known it wasn't a regular bedstead.

Can't remember which brand mine was, but you can get a queen-sized one here for $80. They seem to be sold tons of places if you prefer not to buy from Walmart.
posted by mrmurbles at 5:25 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Option 2 or 3.
posted by rhizome at 5:26 PM on May 16, 2018

My only issue with the folding frames was they're a little slippery, so I bought a roll of non-slip drawer liner (at the dollar store, it was real ugly but it was only $1 and nobody's going to see it unless they're under the bed) and put a length down the middle of the frame, and used a little painter's tape to hold it down long enough to get the mattress on top of it without knocking it off.

The slats are plenty close, there's not any real way for a mattress to sag significantly between them.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:50 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Put as much money towards the mattress as possible and consider forgoing the bed frame entirely. I put a premium mattress directly on the floor for several years when I was trying to be both frugal and well-rested and also moving house fairly often. It definitely has that college student apartment feel but the floor is quiet, supportive, and stable (which is more than you can say for most cheap bed frames).

As a side sleeper I find air mattresses very uncomfortable and would never suggest using one long term, but if you sleep primarily on your back or stomach I guess it could work. There are, like, 500 internet mattress companies now all competing for this kind of low- to mid-priced business so if you are able to try any of those in person, or have a trusted recommendation, I'd start there. I own a Casper myself (works great if you add a foam topper) and have slept comfortably on a Tuft and Needle guest bed.

Congratulations on your new apartment! I hope you feel comfortable and at home there.
posted by 4rtemis at 6:04 PM on May 16, 2018

I have that Ikea mattress, and it does have two different densities of foam. Currently sits on a cheap wooden slat frame from a different bed. Good mattress, wouldn’t hesitate to buy another.
posted by rodlymight at 6:05 PM on May 16, 2018

Maybe it's because I live in a humid climate, but my knee-jerk reaction is to get some raised slats (or a near-floor platform) for sleeping on the floor to allow air circulation under the mattress, especially if you go with memory foam. But in that case, if you're opting for a frame already, I've also heard great things from personal friends about the Zinus options linked above.
posted by lesser weasel at 6:15 PM on May 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

We have a twin bed frame from Ikea that was purchased in Pennsylvania, assembled, disassembled, moved to Alaska, reassembled, disassembled, reassembled, disassembled, maybe one more round. It’s not hard to assemble or disassemble and stood up to a couple of kids. And it’s not heavy.

You're part of a married couple, and the poster is a person living alone. If he's thinking about things he can take care of by himself, then yes, an Ikea bedframe is hard to assemble and disassemble and it's heavy. I assembled a twin by myself and it sucked donkey balls. Anything larger than a twin is physically impossible to assemble alone. Not sure where you're located, OP, but it is possible to hire someone to assemble Ikea furniture, either directly through Ikea or a service like Task Rabbit, if you don't have someone to help.

I slept on an air mattress for a few months and hated it, for the same reasons others have posted, mainly that it constantly deflated. Also, if you use your bed for anything other than sleeping, (I'm not even talking sexy things, just like reading or lounging) it can be uncomfortable because it always has more give than a real mattress when you're moving around. And if you're talking sexy things, ehhhhh, it's possible but not great. (And doesn't make a great impression either.)

But if you're still interested in the air mattress and it has a guarantee, why not give it a try? My thought is to prioritize options of guarantee and ease of return and work your way down the line if they don't work.
posted by unannihilated at 6:26 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have this Zinus platform bed and the cheapest Englander mattress and it's been a great combination and I'm pretty sure was under $400 altogether. If you like memory foam then maybe you like a softer mattress than I do, in which case I would still recommend getting a real mattress and buying a memory foam topper, which should still bring you in under $400 because you can buy a really cheap mattress. The IKEA beds just do not hold up over time, in my experience. I have slept on an Aerobed for a few months and it doesn't take long at all before it starts deflating in the middle of the night.

I (and, it seems, most of the bed buying world) have thrashed around trying to find a better solution than a traditional mattress. I've bought so many different kinds of beds, but have come back around to traditional mattresses. They just work. Traditional boxsprings are bullshit though.
posted by HotToddy at 7:02 PM on May 16, 2018

Keep in mind your local Craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups - it's the end of the school year so college students are going to be offloading their furniture like bed frames.

Congrats on your apartment!
posted by bookdragoness at 9:26 PM on May 16, 2018

I found that a cheap firm mattress + memory foam topper gives you a very good bed for the price. Got me through many rental flats where the mattress was provided but lumpy and terrible - but totally fine with my topper on top. Plus the topper can be rolled up and taken with you when you next move.

I do think some sort of frame is important for ventilation and preventing mold. Craiglist would definitely be the cheapest option, and if you get a metal bed it could be bleached, and they do usually come apart into carry-able pieces. Some people will deliver for the price of gas if they're nearby. Otherwise I'd probably just get the cheapest bed frame I could, since it's only a year.

I've hated every air mattress I've slept on, memory foam did wonders for my back and neck though (but I do sleep in odd positions).
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:35 AM on May 17, 2018

If it's just a year I would get an airbed. I love airbeds and if I needed a bed for a year that's what I'd do.

I've had two aerobeds. The first one I used for 2 years every night, with a cat and occasional overnight guest. It rarely needed to be re-inflated. Maybe a small top up once every week or two which took less than a minute. It's still in great shape and used as an occasional overnight guest bed.

I also had another aerobed which both my partner and I slept on together every night and had sex in most nights that lasted nearly 2 years. That one needed to be re-inflated every week but again, it only took a minute. The only reason that one stopped being usable was due to a new kitten who eventually poked many, many holes in it.
posted by Polychrome at 5:56 AM on May 17, 2018

Polychrome, any specific recommendations within the Aerobed brand (or even other brands) for airbeds? When you used an airbed, did you feel a lot of transfer of movement when you moved around? When you woke up in the mornings, was the bed still "solid"?

I'm thinking that maybe I'll get a high quality airbed and splurge on a good quality bigger couch so I can have room to lounge and whatnot, and keep the airbed strictly for sleep use only. If my financial situation improves within a year, I can always revisit getting a proper bed. Not quite there completely, though, but that's my thought process right now.
posted by dubious_dude at 8:42 AM on May 17, 2018

You want a (firm) mattress and box spring package from a mattress store or sears or wherever plus a memory foam topper. You can negotiate the price of the mattress / boxspring set like you're buying a used car. ask them to throw in bed rails for free. Done.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2018

I think you should get the fold out frame and a grown-up mattress. Platform beds and even futon frames should be abundant on craigslist. You def need it elevated for airflow.

If you insist on an inflatable, be sure you clean it with disinfectant once a month or so, even if you have a mattress pad on it. I went home with a guy once that didn't. I never went back there.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:35 PM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I went and bought this from my local BBB: Air Mattress. Given its good reviews and the expensive price, plus AeroBed's overall reputation, this should be doable for a year. BBB has a flexible return policy up to 365 days, I believe, even for opened air beds, so I can use this air bed for now, see how it goes, and if I don't like it down the road, return and get a proper bed (probably using one of the platform/foundation suggestions above). I also am searching for an used couch that I can use for lounging or other activities, then use the bed only for sleeping, therefore reducing wear and tear.
posted by dubious_dude at 6:29 AM on May 18, 2018

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