Can You Put a Mattress on the Floor?

By Maria Ramos
Last Updated: August 26, 2018

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Sleeping close to the floor is more common when using airbeds, folding mattresses, roll-up mattresses, or bedrolls. However, in the long run, these aren’t great permanent choices for the bedroom. A possible exception is the roll-up mattress, which is very similar to traditional Japanese futons.

If a typical person were asked to describe what makes up a normal bed, they would probably include a mattress and some sort of base, frame, or platform. Using a mattress without a foundation not too uncommon, but it’s often done due to a lack of budget or space.

You might have done this as a college student struggling to make ends meet; or for a few weeks or months in a new home while waiting for the rest of your furniture to be delivered. Whatever the case may be, it’s no exaggeration to say that it is rare to come across a regular mattress on the floor as an aesthetic and purposeful decision.

To answer the question: Of course, you can put a mattress on the floor! Who is going to stop you, especially if you own it? The real issue is not if you can do it, but if it is a good idea in the first place.

You’ll need to consider many things: the material and make of your mattress, where you live, how you sleep, and even your physical condition. Let’s cover all of these in better detail below.

How Can You Tell If Your Mattress Is Floor-Friendly?

There are two things you need to look into before you put a mattress on the floor: the warranty the mattress comes with, and the material used to make it.

1. Check the Fine Print of the Mattress Warranty

Some mattress companies have warranties that include very specific bed setups in the fine print. By putting a mattress on the floor, you may render the warranty void and useless. However, the trend nowadays is fast moving beyond that outdated standard.

In general, newer mattresses that don’t need a traditional box spring should be fine. A mattress that needs a foundation or platform should work fine on any solid, flat surface. Of course, it’s always best to confirm this with customer support.

2. Consider the Mattress Materials and Construction

The material and make of the mattress is important. Without a base to raise the mattress off the floor, the airflow around and below the mattress is reduced. This means that denser mattresses—made of hybrid foam, memory foam, or polyfoam—may retain more heat and moisture.

You don’t want to trap moisture in between the mattress and the floor, and no one wants to sleep on a bed that traps body heat! This is a problem particularly for people to sleep hot or sweat a lot. People who live in very humid environments may find it difficult to maintain a mattress on the floor, as well.

Worth noting that with the right conditions, foam mattresses can be used, though new innerspring mattresses may be a better choice due to the increased airflow and breathability it encourages.

woman lying on Endy mattress on floor
Endy specifically notes that their mattresses can be placed on bed bases, platforms, or on the floor.

What Are the Advantages of Putting a Mattress on the Floor?

Why should you use a mattress without a base? If your mattress is floor-friendly and you do this right, you’ll find that there’s more to putting a mattress on the floor than just reliving your college years or pretending that you’re out camping.

1. Less Spending

We covered this earlier: In many cases, going without a bed base or platform does not affect warranty conditions of new mattresses that are designed to work on solid surfaces anyway. If you don’t have an old foundation or frame that you can use, buying a new one along with a new mattress can stretch your finances.

2. Less Noise and Less Motion Transfer

Tired of bed frames and bases squeaking and creaking? Sometimes even the slightest movement can result in noise. You won’t ever have to deal with these unwanted sounds when your mattress is on the floor.

As an added bonus, motion transfer is also cut down significantly. If you have a partner that is an active sleeper, you may be surprised to find that change in mattress elevation dramatically lessens how much you feel their shifting movements when you’re both on the bed.

3. Less Heat

Yes, we did say that heat transfer and retention can be a problem without additional airflow underneath a mattress. But sleeping nearer the ground can be a pleasant experience, especially if you live in a warm climate that isn’t too humid.

How is this possible? Heat rises naturally, so it’s always cooler at floor level. However, if you live in a cold climate, this can work against you. There’s always blankets and bundling up before going to bed, though.

What Are the Disadvantages of Putting a Mattress on the Floor?

If there are pros, there are cons, too! Let’s take a quick look at some things to watch out for when laying a mattress directly on the ground.

1. Possible Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew may develop due to lack of light and proper airflow, combined with more heat and moisture. This is a huge health issue, and can affect both your hygiene and the lifespan of the mattress.

To prevent this, you should raise your mattress and lean it against the wall about once a week to air it out and allow any possible moisture buildup to dissipate. Worth noting that this is less common in colder environments, and that mold and mildew can form even in raised mattresses; all it takes is moisture, warmth and darkness.

2. Exposure to Pests, Dirt, Dust and Other Allergens

These irritants settle on the floor and move with the draft that comes in through windows and cracks under doors. If you sleep close to the ground, there’s a higher chance that you will breathe in more of these than if you were to sleep on a normal bed. This can be a problem if you are allergy-prone!

You also give bugs, spiders and other insects or pests easier access to you and your sleeping surface. While it’s true that many of these creepy crawlies can climbs bed bases and platforms, the risk of potentially sharing the bed with these small living things does increase. In our research for this article, we’ve found that insect bites are a common complaint of people with mattresses on the floor.

How do you deal with this? Simple: You can always keep your bedroom clean and well-vacuumed. This not only helps keep pests away, but it also maintains the quality of the air you breathe.

3. Difficulty Getting In and Out of Bed

The older and less physically fit you are, the harder it will be to work with a mattress that’s on the floor. It’s easy enough for most children and teenagers; but older people may have problems with balance, stability, or joint and muscle pain. It can be hard to get into bed easily without straining knees and elbows, and getting up can be similarly difficult.

bed laid directly on wooden attic floor underneath a chandelier

How Do You Put a Mattress on the Floor the Right Way?

So you’ve weighed your options and limitations—your mattress warranty and materials, the climate in your area, the space available in your bedroom, etc.—and decided to go through with putting your mattress on the floor. Congratulations! Now, how do you do it the right way? We’ve got a few tips to start you off.

1. Consider the Flooring Material

What kind of flooring is the mattress going to rest on? This is very important. Avoid natural or unfinished surfaces, like natural fiber carpeting or plywood. Both can retain moisture, and resting directly against the bottom of the mattress, can help encourage mold growth. Finished surfaces like hardwood flooring, tiles or synthetic fiber carpeting are better suited to your purposes.

2. Make Sure Everything Is Spotless

Clean the section of the room where it will be placed thoroughly. Use a vacuum cleaner and a disinfectant and let the floor dry completely before laying the mattress down. The cleaner the surface is, the less inviting it is for potential pests and unwanted growths underneath the mattress down the line.

3. Place a Barrier Between the Mattress and the Floor

This is especially recommended if putting the mattress on the floor is a long term arrangement, particularly if the floor is unfinished.

You can use a bunky board, Japanese tatami mat or any thin, breathable material. Even a simple layer of inexpensive poly foam or layers of blankets and sheets—which you can replace periodically—will work. This will not only help preserve the quality and cleanliness of the mattress, but also help manage temperature extremes throughout the year.

4. Set up a Mattress Maintenance Routine

After all the preparations are done, all that’s left is maintenance. Remember to clean your bedroom often, air out the mattress once a week, and keep your blankets and pillows off the floor. Sweet dreams!