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Mattress Base Guide Chiropractor's Guide(2023)

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Mattress Base Guide | Bed Bases Ireland 2023 | Bed Base Tips Explained

What is a Bed Foundation?

At its core, a mattress foundation is simply a bed frame designed to support the weight of a mattress and provide a flat & firm surface to place the mattress.

There Are Many Foundation & Bed Base Options

However, there are many different types of mattress foundations available, each of which offers distinct advantages in terms of comfort, durability, and affordability. For example, wooden foundations tend to be more durable than their spring counterparts, while adjustable foundations offer superior control for those with back problems.

The Ideal Wood for Bed Frames

Selecting the perfect bed frame requires a deep dive into understanding the types of materials available, their durability, aesthetics, and functionality. In this comprehensive exploration, together with insights from Dr. Lawrence Woods, a seasoned Bed Designer, we dissect the pros and cons of various woods to bring clarity to the debate.

What’s the Best Wood for a Bed Frame? How Long Will It Last?

When considering the lifespan of a bed, it’s not just about the mattress. The bed frame, especially if it’s wooden, plays a significant role. Wooden bed frames are popular for their classic look and durability. Here’s a breakdown of the best wood types for bed frames and their longevity:

Understanding Wood Types:

  • Hardwoods: Known for durability, hardwoods like oak and cherry are dense and resistant to damage. They might be pricier but last longer.
  • Softwoods: Cedar and spruce are less dense, making them more prone to damage. They’re affordable but may need more care.
  • MDF & Chipboard vs. Real Wood: MDF and chipboard are engineered woods that are smooth and termite-resistant. However, they can warp with moisture and age quickly. Solid wood beds, on the other hand, are durable and can be refinished multiple times.

Quick Summary: Types of Wood and Their Lifespan:

  • Hardwoods (like oak, cherry, and maple): 20-25 years
  • Softwoods (such as cedar, spruce, and fir): 5-10 years
  • MDF and Chipboard: 5-8 years

Choosing the Right Solid Wood for Your Bed Frame

When it comes to selecting the perfect wood for your bed frame, understanding the technical properties of different wood types can make a significant difference in durability, comfort, and longevity. Here’s a breakdown of the most crucial factors to consider:

  1. Specific Gravity: This metric provides insight into the wood’s density. A higher specific gravity indicates denser wood, which often translates to increased durability and resistance to wear and tear. Denser woods are less prone to dents and scratches, making them ideal for bed frames.
  2. Modulus of Elasticity (E): Represented in 10^6 psi, this factor indicates the wood’s flexibility. A wood type with a higher modulus can bear more weight without deforming, ensuring the bed frame remains sturdy and maintains its shape over time.
  3. Impact Bending: Measured in inches, this metric gauges the wood’s resistance to sudden forces, such as someone jumping onto the bed. Woods with higher values in this category are less likely to break or crack under sudden stress, ensuring longevity and safety.
  4. Compress. Parallel to Grain: This value, given in psi, measures the wood’s resistance to compression along its grain. It’s a clear indicator of how well the wood can support weight without being crushed or deformed. A higher value suggests a wood type that can withstand more weight, making it suitable for bed frames.

Based on these factors, here’s a concise table showcasing some of the most common hardwoods and softwoods used in bed frame construction:

Tree Species Specific Gravity Modulus of Elasticity (E) Impact Bending Compress. Parallel to Grain Grade
Oak, White 0.68 1.78 37 7,440 A+
Heava Maple (My Choice) 0.65 1.70 51 7,400 A+
Maple, Sugar 0.63 1.83 39 7,830 A+
Cherry, Black 0.50 1.49 29 7,110 A
Ash, White 0.60 1.74 43 7,410 A+
Pine, Longleaf 0.59 1.98 34 8,470 B
Douglas-fir, Coast 0.48 1.95 31 7,230 B-
Cedar, Western Redcedar 0.32 1.11 17 4,560 C+
Spruce, Sitka 0.40 1.57 25 5,610 B-

Grading Criteria:

  • A+: Exceptional in all metrics, offering the best durability and strength for heavy use.
  • A: Excellent overall properties, suitable for most bed frame applications with heavy use.
  • B: Good properties but may not be ideal for very heavy use or long-term durability.
  • B-: Suitable for standard bed frame applications but might require additional care.
  • C+: Average properties, may require reinforcement or may not be ideal for heavy bed frames.

Given the heavy use and load from a bed frame, hardwoods like Oak, Maple, Cherry, and Ash are more suitable due to their inherent strength and durability. Softwoods, while they have their advantages, may not be as durable in the long run, especially under heavy use. This grading reflects a more accurate representation of the woods’ suitability for bed frame construction.

Why I don’t recommend MDF & Plywood for Bedframes

MDF (Medium-density fiberboard)

  • What is it?: MDF is a type of engineered wood made by combining wood fibers with adhesive. It has a smooth finish, making it different from particle board.
  • Pros:
    • Aesthetics: MDF’s smooth surface is ideal for painted bedframes, giving a sleek and modern look.
    • Cost: Typically, MDF bedframes are more affordable than those made of plywood.
    • Workability: MDF is easy to shape and design, leading to a variety of stylish bedframe options.
  • Cons:
    • Durability: MDF is not as sturdy as plywood. Over time, especially if not reinforced, it might sag under the weight of a mattress and occupants.
    • Moisture Sensitivity: MDF isn’t water-resistant. In humid environments or if exposed to spills, it can swell or warp.
    • Health Concerns: MDF can emit certain chemicals, like urea-formaldehyde. However, some modern MDF products are treated to reduce these emissions.


  • What is it?: Plywood is made by stacking thin wood layers (veneers) and gluing them together. It’s versatile and can range from smooth finishes to more rugged looks.
  • Pros:
    • Strength: Plywood bedframes are robust and durable, less likely to sag or warp over time.
    • Design Flexibility: Depending on its grade, plywood can offer a rustic wood-grain look or a polished appearance for bedframes.
    • Stability: Plywood’s structure makes it resistant to changes in temperature and humidity, ensuring a longer lifespan for your bedframe.
  • Cons:
    • Cost: High-grade plywood, which looks good and is durable, can be more expensive than MDF.
    • Finish Challenges: While it can be aesthetically pleasing, getting a smooth finish on plywood can be more challenging than with MDF.
    • Moisture Concerns: Though better than MDF, plywood can still get damaged if exposed to water for prolonged periods.

Concerns with Using MDF & Plywood for Bedframes:

  • MDF: Given its tendency to sag under weight, using MDF for bedframes requires additional reinforcement. Its susceptibility to moisture and emissions of volatile organic compounds are also concerns.
  • Plywood: While sturdier than MDF, plywood’s cost and challenges in achieving smooth finishes can be drawbacks. Its susceptibility to water damage over time and potential formaldehyde emissions are also points of consideration.

The Reality of MDF, Plywood, and Particle Wood Veneers

Although these materials have gained traction as affordable hardwood alternatives, it’s essential to understand their limitations. Being engineered woods made by fusing wood fibers with adhesives, they bring certain challenges:

  1. Less Endurance: On the durability spectrum, these engineered woods pale in comparison to solid hardwoods. I’ve observed firsthand their susceptibility to chipping, swelling upon contact with moisture, and general wear over relatively short periods.
  2. Veneers: The glossy veneers these materials often boast are, unfortunately, fleeting in their charm. While they might offer a fresh, polished look initially, they tend to wear, peel, or lose their luster faster than expected.

In conclusion, both MDF and plywood have their and concerns when used for bedframes. Ultimatly, both are cheaper alternative to solid wood and thus there are compromises when choosing these materials for your bedframe.

Why I only Recommend Solid Hardwood Frames

  1. Durability: A standout attribute of hardwood frames is their resilience. Whether faced with the occasional bump, regular use, or even the playfulness of children, these frames have consistently proven their mettle in my living quarters. Their ability to resist everyday wear and tear ensures they remain an investment for years, if not decades.
  2. Support: Beyond their aesthetic appeal, hardwood frames are structural marvels. Their inherent strength provides mattresses with a firm, supportive foundation. This support is instrumental in ensuring that the sleeper gets a restful, rejuvenating sleep night after night, translating into overall better well-being.
  3. Airflow: This might seem like a nuanced benefit, but proper ventilation is crucial. By permitting the mattress to breathe, these frames stave off moisture accumulation. This translates to a prolonged mattress lifespan and a fresher sleeping experience overall.
  4. Aesthetic Appeal: Their timeless charm is a testament to their versatility. Hardwood frames seamlessly complement various interior decors, from rustic to contemporary. The natural grains and rich tones of woods like oak, walnut, and cherry are each distinct, offering a plethora of options for those keen on personalizing their spaces.

Softwoods Like Pine: An Appealing Facade?

Softwoods, particularly pine, have gained popularity in furniture pieces. Their lightweight characteristic combined with an attractive grain pattern can be enticing. However, deeper understanding unveils some concerns:

  1. Inherent Softness: While this might seem obvious given their classification as ‘soft’ woods, the implications on durability are significant. Pine bed frames, for instance, show signs of wear much quicker than their hardwood counterparts. Even with gentle use, they are susceptible to dents, scratches, and other superficial damage.
  2. Appearance Vs. Reality: Although pine and other softwoods may present beautifully with their light hues and striking grain, this aesthetic appeal often masks their lack of sturdiness.

My Revelation of Heava Maple Wood

This discovery has been a watershed moment in my journey. Heava Maple is not just another wood; it represents an intersection of durability and sustainable practices:

  1. What is Heava Maple?: This wood is extracted from trees that also serve as sources for natural latex mattresses. In essence, it brings together the sturdiness typical of standard maple woods while championing eco-friendly sourcing.
  2. Why Choose Heava Maple: The dual promise of longevity and eco-consciousness is compelling. The idea of having a bed frame and a mattress sourced from the same tree species introduces a unique synergy and holistic approach to bedroom furnishings.

Guide – Choose Your Style: Divan Base vs Slatted Base

Whether you are looking for something simple and classic or something more modern and high-tech, there is sure to be a suitable mattress foundation out there to meet your needs.

So if you’re looking for a new bed frame that can perfectly support your mattress and keep you comfortable through the night, look no further than a well-made mattress foundation!

Benefits of a Bed Base or Foundation

A mattress foundation is an essential part of any bed. Not only does it provide a solid support structure for our mattresses, but it also helps to prevent damage to the mattress itself.

Bed Bases are Recommended to Improve Lifespan

Mattress foundations are typically made from dense materials, such as wood or metal, which help to disperse weight more evenly across the surface of the mattress. This prevents sagging and ensures that your mattress will last longer and perform better.

Improve Airflow & Cooling

Additionally, since a mattress foundation helps to promote good air circulation around the bed, you are less likely to experience excessive sweating during sleep.

Whether you choose a simple platform frame or an elaborate adjustable base, having a quality mattress foundation is key to enjoying all of the benefits of a great night’s sleep!

Types of Bed Foundations

Box Springs

A box spring is a type of bed base typically composed of a wooden frame covered in fabric. It sits under the mattress and helps to absorb shock and distribute weight evenly. Box springs usually have coil springs or another type of support system that helps to provide additional cushioning and support for the mattress.

Box Bases Explained

In many cases, box springs can also extend the lifespan of a mattress by absorbing some of the wear and tear that would otherwise be inflicted on the mattress itself. For these reasons, box springs are often considered an essential component of any bed setup.

However, they can be quite expensive, so it is important to do some research before making a purchase. In addition, box springs are not always necessary; some mattresses can be used without them. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use a box spring is up to the individual.

Divan Mattress Bases are Typically Plush

Divan bases are available in a variety of different styles, so it is important to choose one that will complement the rest of your bedroom furniture

Slatted Bed Base

Bed slats are an essential part of any bed frame. They provide support for the mattress, preventing it from sagging or becoming uneven. Bed slats also evenly distribute weight, making the bed more comfortable to sleep on.

Recommended for adjustable bed frame

Most bed frames have slats that are made from wood or metal. The spacing of the slats is important, as too much space can cause the mattress to sag, while too little space can make the bed uncomfortable to sleep on.

Platform Bed

A platform bed is a type of bed frame that consists of a raised, flat surface that is usually supported by four legs, or sometimes by a set of drawers. Platform beds are typically made of wood or metal, and they may have a headboard and footboard. Some platform beds also come with built-in storage, which can be very helpful if you’re tight on space.

Platform Beds are Recommended for Good Support

The main advantage of a platform bed is that it doesn’t require a box spring. Platform beds are also typically more affordable than traditional bed frames. If you’re looking for an easy way to add extra storage to your bedroom, a platform bed with built-in drawers is a great option.

**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Medical Disclaimer: This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Product Disclaimer: The seat cushion is designed by a chiropractor, but results may vary and are not guaranteed. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition.

Tags: new tips
Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


About Me

Dr Lawrence Woods

My name Dr Lawrence Woods DC and I have been designing mattresses, pillows, chairs and seat cushions for over 20 years. As a chiropractor, my goal has always focused on improving the health of my patients by optimizing how they sleep and sit. My designs have been nominated for numerous awards and I continue to be at the forefront of this industry, helping people get the best night’s sleep possible. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West, I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified and an OSHAcadenmy certified ergonomist.


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