After purchasing a new mattress, many people opt to eliminate the foundation and instead go for European style bed which uses wooden slats that are closely spaced.
This is called a slat pack.
The other idea is to place the mattress and topper (if you decide to use one) on stronger bed slats made of steel which have adjustable feet and middle support legs.
Wooden bed framed pallets which are covered in cloth are no different in function from the floor or plywood.
They have no coil springs, making it easy to identify signs of failure as compared to the others.
Wood slats are made up of a webbing strip that connects wooden planks.
The slats are kept in position by the connecting material which is stapled to boards which are spaced equally.
There are queen packs, twin slats and full sizes.
The disadvantages of using wooden slats include that the wood used in most cases is of low quality, the slat packs lack center support and that they lack middle support legs as required by mattress manufacturers.
The lack of middle support legs also leaves the mattress vulnerable to sagging, bowing and potential slat breakage.
It also causes the mattress to be non-compliant with the requirements of the warranty providers.
Steel slats are meant to be placed beneath a foundation; not directly under a mattress.
They are strong hence the need of only three or four to complete a job.
They cannot work with mattresses placed directly on them because of the excessive spacing in between them.
The spacing will allow the mattress to swag and sway between them, making it impossible for one to sleep on it.
Instead, the steel slats are meant to be placed beneath a box spring or foundation.
Should bed slats flex
While buying a timber slat bed, one will have two options, laminated flexible slats or solid slat platform.
In the solid slat platform, a series of flat wooden slats is spread under the mattress in order to provide support.
They are spaced so as to support the underside of the mattress and at the same time provide for breathing to avoid collection of moisture in the mattress.
Any slat bed that is above king single size should be fitted with a center rail to support the mattress evenly across its width.
The advantage of the center rail is that it can be used with almost any mattress, and the same applies when it comes to replacing the mattresses.
For the laminated flexible slats, curved, laminated wooden slats are spread under the mattress to provide it with support.
They are spaced so as to provide both support and ventilation to the mattress on its underside.
The slats are formed into a radius allowing the slats to act as a spring.
The slats are then connected to the bed using shoes. Shoes are plasticized housings.
According to basic systems, slats can only flex vertically while according to more sophisticated ones slats can also pivot and adjust.
The main advantage of the flexible slat system is that it can provide mattress support by one side of the bed, independent of the other side.
Another advantage of using a flexible slat system is that when using an appropriate mattress, the slats can provide a sleep surface for good spinal alignment for both sides of the bed since the slats can flex according to the contours of the body.
Also, one can vary and change the amount of support and movement to suit individual weight and height considerations by changing settings or adding components.
It is also easy to change and replace the slats when they lose elasticity.
A laminated flexible slat system is therefore more needful when one wants to meet specific height and weight needs.
What is the best wood for use for bed slats?
Most people who opt to do it themselves while building a platform bed decide to use the local lumberyard or go for the slats in whatever spacing they are available.
This will mostly be inexpensive softwood including spruce, larch, Douglas fir or pine.
If one chooses to use this, they should use 1 by 4 which is stronger compared to 1 by 3.
The boards chosen should also be kiln-dried to reduce their chances of warping.
This is also because they are relatively knot-free.
There are also other species of pine which do well in bed slats such as Ponderosa, sugar and white pine.
What makes a good slat for a platform bed?
There are two properties that make good slats for standard platform beds.
These are stiffness and bending strength. Stiffness refers to the wood’s resistance to bending.
Bending strength on the other hand is the measure of how much the wood can bend before it gives in to breaking.
Slatted or Solid Platform?
Slatted platforms have a number of advantages.
First, they allow for good airflow under the mattress, it can accommodate any mattress size and is the most affordable of most traditional bed frames.
Their disadvantages are that they may sit too low, cannot accommodate all mattress types and that they may not accommodate extra storage without sacrificing airflow.
Solid platforms on the other hand have their advantages as well.
These include extra storage space beneath them, they can easily accommodate any mattress size, they may extend past mattress edges for sleek designs and the design may more often include ergonomic options.
Their disadvantages include that they may provide surfaces that are too firm, they may allow for moisture buildup underneath and that due to no airflow allergens may build up.
Solid platforms are increasingly becoming popular as they are considered more stylish and because of their extra storage space.
They are also preferred as they make it quite difficult for allergens to build up under the bed as they provide very little open space underneath.
They are also preferred when using foam mattresses which require a very supportive base.
A flat surface also prevents damage to the mattress.