Matching a Mattress to a Bed Base

Matching a Mattress to a Bed Base

If you’re buying your mattress and bed frame separately, you’ll want to ensure they work well as a pair. While you can place most mattresses onto most bedsteads without any real issues, the combination you choose can significantly change the feel of the mattress.

Types of Bed Bases

Bed bases, for the most part, fall into three categories.

Bedsteads (or Bed Frames)

A bedstead is a frame made from wood, plastic, metal, or a combination of all three.

Some bedsteads feature the same internal supporting structures (like divans, which we’ll get to shortly).

Most will come with a base formed of horizontal beams, called slats. These can be solid, or slightly flexible, for a little bit of give.

Solid vs. flexible slats will likely affect your comfort; more important however is the space between the slats, which should ideally be no larger than a few inches.

Given that bedsteads come in a single unit, you won’t need to invest in a separate headboard.


Divans consist of an upholstered box, either with castors at the edges for easy repositioning, or legs that provide storage space underneath. To make things slightly more complicated, there are several different types of divan.

  1. Divans with springs at the top for extra shock-absorption.
  2. Divans with rigid hardboard surfaces.
  3. Divans with springs in the middle and rigid edges.


An ottoman bed-base is one where the mattress rests on a platform, which can be lifted up on a hinge to access the storage space beneath. In smaller bedrooms this is often preferable to, say, a divan with drawers, as it means you won’t have to keep space clear on either side of the bed.



Choosing a Mattress for a Slatted Bed Base

As we’ve mentioned, the overwhelming majority of bedsteads come with slatted bases.

Bed bases with slats provide excellent ventilation for the bottom of your mattress. If you have ‘sprung’ slats, then you’ll need a mattress that’s heavy enough for them to give under the weight. If this doesn’t happen, the mattress might become misshapen prematurely.

To get around this, you could simply cut a few sheets of MDF down to size and place them across the slats.

Solid slats tend to work better with pocket-sprung mattresses, where every individual spring is free to move independently - but still, if the space between the slats is too large your mattress won’t feel as comfortable as it should or could.

What’s more, the weight of a high-end mattress will cause it to deform around the slats over time, particularly if it contains latex.

Slatted bases do typically work well with lightweight, open-coil mattresses – however these tend to be cheaper, less comfortable, and have shorter lifespans than pocket-sprung mattresses.

Choosing a Mattress for a Divan Bed Base

Divan bases are typically sold in sets with a matching mattress included, which saves hassle as well as money; however if you’re buying a mattress and divan base separately, here’s a few things to bear in mind.

Divan bases might seem like a premium alternative to bedsteads, but not all divan bases are built equally. Some cheaper bases can lack adequate ventilation. If your mattress is heavy enough, air will be unable to circulate, causing moisture to accumulate.

In extreme cases, this can cause mould to form between the mattress and base. This is even more likely with a memory foam mattress.

Choosing a Mattress for an Ottoman Bed Base

The main thing to bear in mind with an ottoman base is the weight of the mattress. Most ottoman bases use hydraulic systems to lift the mattress and reveal the storage space underneath, but a mattress that’s too heavy could compromise this system.

The cheaper the base, the more it will struggle to adequately support a heavy mattress.

Can Ottoman Bases Be Used With Zip and Link Mattresses?

The answer here is a qualified yes, but you’d need a certain sort of ottoman – one that comes with two lids. These are usually designed to be linked together using a special bolt. If you’re going to be joining your mattresses together, you’d simply skip this stage entirely and have two different lids. In practice, however, you’ll almost always sleep better by joining the two sides up.

Ready to shop for a new bed? Find our divan beds here, or shop mattresses and bed frames here.

Posted by Chris Turner
29th August 2019

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