January 24, 2011 - Marshall Coyle

Which Is Best : Platform Bed, Box Spring, or Foundation ?

By Marshall Coyle, the Old Bed Guy.

Individual  questions  can be asked , and personally answered,  via the survey> CLICK HERE TO START    

If whatever you have under your mattress or have seen in a store, it is only a BOX SPRING  if it has springs.  If it has springs , it will feel “springy”.    There are some hybrid bases with flexible springs in the middle third any stiff unyielding wires at the top and bottom.  The made up word, “POSTURIZED” is often used in connection with mattresses or foundations that are designed for extra support or flexibility in the center third.

A traditional BOX SPRING is a soft-surfaced lightly padded box containing upholstery grade coil  springs and thin smooth minimal padding.  When in good condition the surface will go down slightly when weight is applied.  Springs age and lose their springiness.  A queen size BOX SPRING HAS 60-80 large heavy wire round coils attached to each other with flexible wire or strong upholstery twine.   Better quality designs have a thin strong insulation on top of the springs and a layer of firm cotton felt directly under the top fabric.   Some lightweight hybrid waterbed mattresses may be used on a  FOUNDATION but are safer directly on a floor.

ALL REVERSIBLE TWO-SIDED  INNERSPRING MATTRESSES  should be used on a BOX SPRING.   They lose much of their life expectancy an at least half of their potential comfort when used on a PLATFORM BED, or a FOUNDATION.

NEVER-FLIP ONE SIDED  INNERSPRING OR FOAM MATTRESSES  should always be used on a FOUNDATION or a PLATFORM BED.   They are not designed for use on a flexible base and may fail prematurely.

A new genuine spring filled box spring is a genuine rarity in today’s mattress market.   I  would estimate that 99.9% of all upholstered boxes found under a new mattress are some form of foundation.   This is not a bad thing unless the mattress is old style two sided innerspring.   Old style innerspring mattresses rely on the spring action of a genuine box spring to supply the desired comfort and durability.  The upper and lower unit work in a silent partnership.  Sometimes, BOX SPRINGS,  are not so silent.  When they were popular, better box springs were made with cloth strips between the metal coils and the wood slats that they were attached to.  A coil would move along with the sleeper’s motion and rub against wood making the traditional squeak that people under sixty have probably never heard.

If you purchase a new one-side innerspring mattress with the intent of using it on your old box spring, it is a false economy. You are not only shortening the comfort life of the mattress, but you are taking away much of the comfort designed into it.  One sided mattresses are not just mattresses with half of the filling omitted.    I am, and now you should be, aware that it is possible to buy just such a mattress if you deal with one of the minority of bad actors waiting to take your money under false pretenses.   If you have the strength to read  this blog and also study the available material at Consumer Reports, you probably will end up with a good mattress at a good price.  And, you will now what to look for when you shop.  Consumer Reports even has a chart with ratings for mattress sellers as well as mattresses.   When you take advice from almost any internet review site other than Consumer Reports, you have the very real risk of getting a mattress because the maker owns the site or pays a commission to recommend it.

If you did buy a one sided mattress and are using it on an old box spring, the best way to get the sleep you paid for is to convert the box spring into a sort of a platform bed.  Measure the length and width of your old box spring and buy  half inch or thicker, smooth one side, softwood plywood to place between the box spring and the mattress.  It is fine if you use three pieces equally divided or one long piece and one short piece.  If your lumberyard offers you some other board other than plywood, politely decline.  Only plywood is strong and durable enough.  More than 3/4″ thick is a waste of money.

There is a third type of under-mattress box shaped like a box spring  now finding its way into the market.  It is a foundation with wood slats across the top instead of the base. It is actually an upside down cheap foundation.   No one, to my knowledge has found a less costly way to make a foundation.  This is not a good thing.   The individual slats are invariably made with the cheapest available softwood, thinner than desirable, sometimes covered with a sheet of heavy new or re-used cardboard.    A store that lacks the experience or the integrity that should keep this junk out of their store or website does not deserve any of your business.

Fortunately few buyers will ever have to decide between a foundation and box spring as box springs are high on the endangered species list. No major mattress maker and certainly none that begin with “S” still offer old-style box springs.    It is a fact, not a supposition, virtually all mattress makers that sell foundations do not make them themselves.  Leggett and Platt, the major resource for all things good and otherwise that fill and cover a mattress will and do sell everything from pre-cut wood for the platform base, to complete uncovered foundations made with  a variety of formed and bent indurated heavy wire with little or no flexibility replacing the coil springs of old.  It costs makers like Simmons, Sealy, Serta, and almost 600 others no more to buy the ready-to-cover foundation than to pay workers in their factories.

Then the fun starts.  Since the products offered by almost every maker  in the store, even in sleep shops with a dozen brands,  are all virtually identical, each brand  pays  wordsmiths  to come up with countless phrases  and sentences.  You can change brand names around but they are all selling peas in a pod.   These foundations are strong, durable, and perform the job expected of them.  Minor variations that cost pennies to the maker can sometimes cost several hundred dollars to the under informed shopper.

When you see a box spring advertised, or demonstrated by a retail chain “sleep expert”, more than likely it is a foundation with no springs. These are rigid boxes 4-16” thick  designed to fit on a metal bed frame under a mattress to provide support and distance from the floor. Foundations can and be made in many ways and some are superficially better than some others, but they all have a slatted  bottom base, a smooth hard top, and something to full the space  between  top and bottom . Most frequently used are toughened rigid formed steel rods that are bent to provide a flat surface on top. Leggett and Platt is not the only supplier, but the minor ones mirror  the L&P technology.

Essentially, a well made foundation mirrors the sleep and support benefits of a platform bed. It will provide smooth, durable, strong, and predictable support. The quality of sleep comes 99% from the mattress and 1% from the platform or foundation.  Aside from aesthetics, there is no reason not to just put your new one sided mattress on your floor, carpeted or otherwise, and get the same quality sleep as you would get with the factory foundation.   Actually, the feel is improved by a padded carpet to the point of being better than most platform beds or any “foundation”.    A tiny number of platform bed makers lightly pad their platforms for added comfort. Ligne Roset, Flou, and Charles P. Rogers are the most significant. You still benefit from using a purpose designed and built platform mattress

Please be aware that all of the above advice assumes that you have or will buy a one-sided mattress.   A few mattress makers still make reversible, two sided models.  These were designed for use on flexible springs, open coil and box.  Most are either very inexpensive or very very expensive. Nothing in the middle. Nothing.   The inexpensive come from tiny local factories and mattress renovators.  Depending on whether the mattress is all new or has partially reused parts, such a mattress and foundation can be as cheap as three hundred dollars, rarely a bit more.    The other side of the spectrum are two wonderful mattress makers.  One on each coast.   McCroskey in the SF area and Shifman in the NYC area.    Mostly thick, thicker, and too thick, all reversible and inner or outer tufted.   McCroskey even makes their own vintage style  innerspring units, and both make some coil box springs.  Both still make the best mattress you could buy in 1951, the year I went into business.   Shifman was the best mattress in my store in the fifties and we slept on one for a while until we made what was going to become a permanent fact: we started sleeping on naturally cool latex and never went back.  Latex mattresses from about 1930-2,000 were as good as one could get as they almost all came with a coil box spring.  Now, the hybrid innerspring with all latex has replaced the all-latex on a box spring.  A wonderful benefit for consumers.

In the post WW2 years, hard mattresses were considered the best and healthiest.  Maybe someday “hard” will again become popular.  However, they virtually disappeared when the competition started using new padding material and more flexible innersprings to make far more comfortable mattresses.  Both firms still use large, heavy gauge coils, and layers of felted cotton for the core of their beds.  Some concessions to comfort have been added, usually in the form of pillow tops, but they can’t compete with good pocketed coils and natural latex and other healthy foams.

SO WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?   Sorry, but you really don’t  have the luxury of choice with only minor exceptions.  You are going to get a FOUNDATION.    You have to be very patient and energetic to find a real coil box spring. If you seek a coil box spring, I mention a few sources in the previous paragraph.  There are others that I can supply if you request by email.  I am building a list and will publish it, but for now you have to write to me.  Another excellent choice is to get a well built platform bed.  

If you get either a new platform bed, or foundation, and you get a mattress properly designed for a solid base support, you can find your perfect bed. I know of no current mattress thicker than sixteen inches from upper to lower binding that will have the comfort life expectancy of a  normally obese purpose built platform mattress. You should only buy a box spring if your new mattress is reversible.  Shifman, Marshall, Hastens, McCroskey, EJ Kluft, and other makers of replica post-WW2 mattresses are major players.   If the maker claims that their mattress is platform-ready then you know it will do fine on a foundation or a platform bed, and even better if the platform bed has a solid top.  

 When we bought our own latex hybrid, we also ordered a platform bed with a solid, lightly padded, deck, instead of a foundation and a metal bed frame.   Why?  A bed like this http://goo.gl/itqaX  completely steady.  All foundations or box springs on metal bed frames tend to move a bit when you do.  We were getting a mattress with intelligently assembled individual coil springs that prevents “motion transfer”.  Even with such a good mattress, if what is underneath can jiggle, then no matter how well the mattress is designed and built, the bed still shakes when one of us moves.  An added bonus was finding some needed storage space.  This  bed has inconspicuous  space for four large plastic boxes from Bed Bath and Behind.

Remember, do not use any innerspring mattress on any platform bed with wooden slats for the top support, EXCEPT, if  the space between the slats is 2.75″ or less.  You would be surprised to see how quickly the mattress fails if the airspace between the slats is greater.  And do not use a solid foam of any kind on anything except an almost unobtainable box spring unless you do not mind missing out on at least half of the comfort that the nice cushy mattress could give you.  Of course, you could always do beter for yourself and not buy anything other than a hybrid and get the best of both possible worlds.


 Marshall Coyle, The Old Bed Guy -


Bed Buying Tips / Bedding / Casper / Mattresses


  • Hope says:

    You are very kind to take the time to present such enlightening and incredible information. You have changed my purchasing habits forever. I am still trying to understand a little about foundations. Does Charles P. Rogers sell a foundation or do they only sell platform beds with which one can purchase an inner spring mattress? I looked at their website and do not see a foundation offered, but perhaps I am just missing it. Are you saying that when shopping for a mattress, a new foundation is not a necessary purchase (unless damaged in some way?) I know there is a huge push in every mattress store that I have ever experienced to purchase both the mattress and the foundation. The salespeople often say there are springs in the foundation that support the mattress and that the warranty is voided if both are not purchased. Again, thank you for all of the work that you have put into this site. Best, Hope

  • Maggie says:

    Have you heard of Carolina beds? It’s made of a combination of latex & memory foams and springs. It has a breathable top fabric bamboo fibers. Warranty is 15 years. Any info would be great .

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      I am aware of them, but have never seen their product. I analyzed their specifications as offered on their website and on the websites of several of their largest dealers. There is much more information of the dealer sites. Carolina Mattress Guild offers furniture stores an unknown virtually private label to offer at rather high profits to help them fight off some of the bargain outlets such as Sams Club, Costco, and others. Prices and quality is all over the lot.

      One can buy a Simmons or Serta mattress with as many coils, similar latex and soy foam, at far lower prices in a big-box store. When you see this brand, you see a retailer trying to make extra dollars because of customer inability to shop.

      For less than the cost of even the highest price Carolina Guild, you can cut out the retailer completely and buy beds directly from various makers. Another direct maker with stores in many states is “The Original Mattress Factory”. They are nice people to deal with, however, to my knowledge do not work with pocketed coils. If you check with Consumer Reports on the web, you can get a lot more honest information.


    • True Story says:

      Don’t ever buy a bed from Carolina Mattress Guild. Our was misrepresented by the store (Mattress Capital in Raleigh NC), was way overpriced, and had a 1.5 inch sag within the first week! I’m on this page because I’m trying to replace their junk foundation that they sell with their beds because it creaks very loudly every time I get off the bed.

      • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

        Sure, Tempurpedic is the synthetic foam maker that recently bought Sealy and Stearns and Foster and is the throes of a re-organization. They make a very wide range of chemically base visco-elastic memory and ordinary chemical polyurethane foam. ADDED APRIL 29.15. THIS NATIONAL NEWS STORY ABOUT TEMPURPEDIC APPEARED TODAY AND FOR THOSE OF YOU CONSIDERING THE PURCHASE OF TEMPURPEDIC AND ANY OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCT, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU BE AWARE OF THIS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST TEMPURPEDIC: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/04/30/i-team-consumers-believe-mattresses-made-them-sick/

        They must be the best of their type, only because so many questionable foam peddlers claim to be “Better Than” TempurPedic. In my highly subjective opinion should be a signal to walk away from anything that you offer.

        If someone wishes to buy a genuine Tempurpedic, I believe that he or she could take advantage of TempurPedics well run direct-to-the-customer operation

        Where you buy is as important as what you buy. If you buy a chemical foam mattress from a retailer, not as nice to deal with as Tempur Pedic, I have never heard a bad word about the company and applaud them for their merchandising wisdom.

        But back to the importance of buying this type of mattress that has received so many negative and controversial reviews. -Tempur Pedic sells through hundreds or possibly thousands of retailers. Their main similarity is that they have all agreed to never sell at a lower price than one authorized by Tempur Pedic .

        Their reliability and service policies are all over the place. You might buy your Tempur Pedic from Macy’s and will be taken care of no matter what. You might buy it from a hustler with a website and not much more and your future issues will be solely yours, or what you can accomplish by insisting on help from Tempur.

        My simple advice is that if you believe their wonderful and effective TV and print advertising, and want your own. Buy it from them.

  • Barb says:

    I am currently shopping for a new mattress set and have narrowed it down to two
    which both seem very comfortable in the showroom. Either the Charles P. Rogers
    Powercore Estate 5000 or a Bloomingdales Shifman Original Firm which I found at
    a great price. I am have some low back issues and a back/ side sleeper. Help I can’t decide?

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:


      You have narrowed your choice down to two excellent mattresses. However, they could hardly be more different. Way back in 1950 “Mrs. Coyle” and I slept on a wedding present Shifman “Original which was then about all they made in those days. It was Sanotufted through heavy wide striped eight ounce cotton ticking, a clever way of tufting to conceal the tuft-bumps before competition convinced them to add a thin quilt. This was before queen and king size appeared on the horizon and the full size set retailed around $99 with free delivery. A button-tufted Simmons Beautyrest with similar hard wearing ticking and a far better innerspring unit was only $79.00 for the two piece set and considered high price.

      We soon opened our first store and for fifty years whenever something new and allegedly better came out, it went home for personal testing. My back has had more experiential learning than most. Mattress manufacturing used to be very local. The few name brands had strategically located factories and every major area had its small craft shops. Englander and Simmons ruled nationally, and although both still exist, Englander is now a group of disparate franchises, and Simmons has toughed it out through many ownerships and changes of philosophy. Simmons had the best innerspring unit then, and except for Charles P. Rogers, still has. Shifman, Charles P. Rogers, and Beckley, all NY area high quality makers have survived the growth of national brands by sticking to what they do best, making unique good mattresses and protecting their brands.

      I am giving you this history so you will better understand how my opinion(s) have formed. If given a choice of the two brands, Shifman and Charles P. Rogers, I wouldn’t think twice. The Roger’s mattress you have selected is a bit too firm for anyone with skeletal pain, certainly anyone over fifty, but one could get accustomed to it. We recently visited their NYC showroom and tried out the whole Estate line. They all are more conforming than most other mattresses owing to their unique proprietary innerspring unit, but they have distinctively different feels owing to the padding layers. As the style number and price escalates, the amount of cool latex grows and the ability to soothe painful hips and shoulder blades grows exponentially. We decided on the #9000 after I lost the “argument” with “Mrs Coyle”. She kept reminding me with my own quotes that if we buy a mattress that is too soft we are stuck with it and no longer are in the mattress business, but if we buy one too hard, we can put a nice thick latex topper on it and sleep happily ever after. Now this makes perfect sense and quite recently, I had a letter from someone who bought a Shifman DaVinci in an out-of-business New Jersey retailer, Valley Furniture, and apparently as the retailer must be involved, not service was forthcoming. This Shifman is a much higher priced and thicker version than the Shifman Original that you are contemplating. She asked for help getting some sleep after wasting thousands on a too hard mattress built so well that it may never soften. I gave her a link to a 3″ good quality latex topper pad at Amazon. She bought it with expedited overnight delivery and can’t stop thanking me.

      The “original” Shifman uses only very high quality cotton felt for comfort padding over a heavy gauge hard innerspring low-coil count innerspring. Should last at least ten years and maybe longer, hard every night. People loved hard mattresses two generations ago and actually eschewed the comfort of a Beautyrest to sleep on the new mattress on the block, Sealy PosturePedic. “No Morning Backache From Sleeping On a Too Soft Mattress”. When tastes changed Sealy had to knock off the pocketed coils that made Beautyrests so comfortable and durable and have maintained market share. I do not believe that their imitation Beautyrests are as good as the Simmons product, but that is someone else’s problem. At this moment, my only problem is giving you good advice.

      Rogers uses highest quality cool latex in the Estate line for support and comfort padding. Many other premium brands also do, but not at their low prices because Rogers makes and sells direct to you. The important difference is that only Rogers has the proprietary PowerCore springs. They are the latest version of the hundred year old pocketed coil and the one that senses any protuberances like elbows or hips and gently eases down under the weight, all but eliminating pressure on your sensitive nervous system. This saves the shopper in-store or on the web at least fifty percent compared to any department or furniture store and more than that where you may have been shopping. I am writing this without knowledge whether or not you visited the Charles P. Rogers factory showroom in Chelsea. If you did and chose the #5000 after trying the two more cushy versions, then, by all means buy it. If you haven’t been there, and are mobile, you really should. But as I said above, you can easily make a mattress softer and no less durable with an appropriate latex, (not chemical foam/feathers/wool/or organic miracle) just good easy to buy latex.

      And last, lower back issues often are ameliorated by really sleeping on your side. Gravity apparently is your friend as you sleep and does its best to align your spine a bit. Based upon personal experience I have recommended to dozens of my correspondents with stenosis, scoliosis, past surgery, and spinal arthritis, a method to fall asleep on your side and stay that way. It will only work if your mattress has enough padding as I describe above. You have to invest a bit under $100 in a nice body pillow. The 9-10 long pillows favored by many women in late pregnancy. You wrap it around yourself with your head on top of inverted U and one leg over and one leg under lying on your left or right side with the pillow between the knees. If you have a PowerCore, your hips will settle down enough for your spine to be in a straight line. If you have a competitive pocketed coil such as Beautyrest or the Sealy imitation, it might work, but just a gamble that your weight and body mass are correct for that mattress. The PowerCore obviates a need to worry, you don’t fit it, it fits you. Another and lots less expensive way is to sew an old (or new) tennis ball into the back of a loose cotton tee shirt that will annoy you every time you roll onto your back. Everyone tosses and turns somewhat, but stiff springs like the Shifman double offset with 12.5 or 13 gauge tempered wire, to me, is no different than sleeping on a well padded thick woolen carpet. The feeling is very similar as the only real give is the rug pile and the foam padding.

      Barb, I have gone on an on in the hope that you will be another happy sleeper. I keep thinking about retiring again, but every day when I get the smiling thank-you-for-my-best-nite-sleep letters, I am back to the keyboard.

      “Marshall Coyle”

  • Barb says:

    Hi Marshall,
    I have been to the Rogers showroom in NJ and tried the Powercore Estate 5000
    for 10 minutes and liked it. One my concerns is if it sleeps warm even though
    they say latex is suppose to be cool. I may go back and try it again. They do
    have a buy back guarantee as stated on their website. I’m not to thrilled
    with the idea of flipping a heavy Shifman mattress. Thanks for your advise.

  • Barb says:

    One more thing…I sleep well on my back and would never consider torturing myself
    with a tennis ball! something much better is a body pillow.

  • Bita says:

    Hello, Thank you for a very helpful blog. What is your recomendation for a less than 12 inch mattress thickness which is one sided (for platform bed). Challenge is finding a good quality mattress that is not so deep and thick.

    Lastly, what are your thoughts about the firm mattresses made by Room and Board or BoConcept which are meant for platform beds they sell?


    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Bita,
      Thank you for your interest in my hard-to-read blog. If your work your way through, you should notice that I do not recommend particular mattresses for particular beds. I do recommend different mattress constructions for using on different bases. On a platform bed, you would be well advised not to use a two-sided innerspring mattress as they are designed to be on a flexible coil box spring that moves up and down with the mattress. If you are own or are planning to buy a platform bed, my recommendation will vary depending on the way the base is made. If the bed has a solid no-slat base, or the best base,such as the one in a Charles P. Rogers platform, a base with a thin layer of padding to emulate a platform, any one-sided mattress will serve. Obviously, the difference in actual use and comfort will vary more with your choice of mattress. You certainly, at the price they sell for, get better mattresses than sold by these furniture stores. You are paying a maker’s profit and a retailer’s profit, and in the case of BoConcept, a franchisor’s cut. The Bo mattress competes in quality with Ikea but will probably be less satisfactory than a similar cost coil and foam from Ikea. If you are only planning to use it as long as a typical NYC one or two year lease, you might want to go to your neighborhood futon shop and get one of their better ones for the same as the Bo. The futon is made for a hard base and usually has no cheap springs to break as does the BoConcept. From their website, it shows absolutely no reason for it to last at all. No internal or external support or structure and no details about the type of coil other than pocketed. I would not be comfortable recommending it when it so easy for you to do better.

      The Room and Board is a much better product. It is a real mattress. Not a great real mattress, but better than the BoConcept by far. Room and Board has lovely to look at furniture. You want lovely to sleep on mattresses and theirs have too many compromises for me to recommend. What I do recommend is for you to go back to my blog which “orders” you to actually read the current Consumer Reports mattress tests, and if you still need advice, write a letter to me that tells me enough about you for me to make an informed recommendation only for you. I don’t really do general recommendations as there are no “general” customers. You are all individuals and you especially have had the good fortune to find one of the two “honest’ websites. Alone on a crowded internet, Consumer Reports and the Old Bed guy can be totally honest and candid. ALL the others accept money from makers and sellers to promote the sales of their products. Bad for you, good for the advertisers. If you want specific advice , my email is oldbedguy@gmail.com. If you include the data about yourself and anyone else who will sleep regularly in your new bed, you will get a thorough reasoned reply.

      Marshall Coyle

  • Paul Bullen says:

    Are there any good reasons to buy a metal frame? If so, what are they?
    Are there any good reasons to buy a (hard) foundation? If so, what are they?

    I gather two-sided mattresses work best when on a spring mattress (as opposed to the floor or a platform bed).

    I can think of one good reason for both–they both constitute one way to make the top of the bed higher from the ground–which for some people may be a good thing. It would be one reason to opt for a platform bed instead too. Possible reason #2. I suppose a frame gives bugs fewer places from which to move from the floor on which they are walking onto the bed. (Also, a foundation would give bugs further to walk to get to where the people sleep).

    Relatedly, is “foundation” a genus of which hard foundations and box springs are two genera (with adjustable bases a possible third), or is a box spring not a kind of foundation (this is a terminological question)? I’ve been in the habit of using the word ‘foundation’ to cover both, pointing out that single-sided mattresses should not be used with box springs.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Paul, I am unsure of what you are calling a metal bed frame. If it is what once was universally called a hollywood bed frame that fits under a boxspring and keeps it off the floor and provides a means for attaching a headboard, it makes perfect sense to me. Attaching six inch or so metal or wood legs to the bottom of a bed also works well esthetically but usually has no wheels for easy moving. The other choice is to put your foundation or box spring directly on the floor.

      If you are talking about the ready to assemble springs on legs with a wire grid top, sure they make sense. They make sense to the Chinese entrepreneur that is grinding them out. They make sense to the websites whose unique selling proposition is to sell cheap stuff cheaply regardless of the outcome. They make sense to consumers who have little disposable money and want something cheaper than a foundation that also might have storage room underneath. People who are the market for this type of product tend to live in more cramped quarters and extra storage is a good selling point. I once recommended one, about three years ago, to someone who I meet dog walking. She needed storage and something without cloth to meet the needs of an emotionally challenged destructive teenager. It came from Amazon and has worked well in twin size. The Amazon webpages for these products are so full of five star reviews suspiciously similar to each other that only the one and two star writers should be given credence.

      Two sided mattresses become softer and more flexible on a real box spring where the coils have some up and down movement. They feel and act differently. On a platform, a medium firm mattress may feel hard and the same mattress on a coil box spring might feel soft. The foundation became ubiquitous when one sided mattresses took over. Most of them would not do to well on a box spring as they are not designed to have a flexible support and inside parts will move around and eventually break away. A very few makers, the one’s who make their own springs, can make a two sided mattress that can cope with a box spring but few to none are now available.

      Your bed bug pondering is way off. The cute little buggies don’t wander aimlessly. They sense the warm carbon dioxide emanating from any human or animal in their proximity and walk right over for a snack. The semi-scamming bed bug cover makers conveniently have forgotten that the bugs are just as happy, maybe more so, living in cracks in the wall, electric outlets, any furniture at all, not out in the open. Not unlike our NYC Metropolitan insect, the roach. Only leave the dark to feed. This old bed guy has never seen a bed bug, but there are many other more interesting things still left to see before I make it my business to see one.Y

  • Paul Bullen says:

    It would seem that you, at least, use “base” as the genus term, such that box springs and “foundations’ are two species of bases. But I see that Leggett and Platt use “box springs” to refer to solid bases, aka, foundations: http://www.beddingcomponents.com/boxsprings.asp.
    You would think they would be terminologically more careful.
    Adjustable bases replace both bases and frames. So perhaps, it is not good to treat adjustable bases as a third species of base. They are more accurately, adjustable base-frames.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Leggett and Platt, the single entity that makes the components for most of the mattresses assemble in the USA and Canada, has made an internal decision to call any box that is as long and wide as a mattress that contains steel in any form is a box spring. They sell both coil box springs and grid top foundations with a large variety of formed metal rods that support the top grid. Until recently this type of bedding was called a “foundation” and still mostly is. Nevertheless, L&P has decided to call them all “Box springs” as long as they have some steel in their construction. Those with coils usually have a flexible top and are my preference when used with a double sided mattress, tempering the hard springs in the mattress. Those with formed wires bent with many different angles attached to a metal grid and stapled to a wooden base, have just been christened “box springs” spring or not. They are distinguished by their rigid platform type top. One sided mattresses fare best on this type of base.

      The L&P adustable bases have a boardlike surface and are not box springs as are most of the rest of the world’s supply. A conspicuous outlier is Duxiana who has an adjustable bed filled with resilient coils and, in my opinion, at this time is the very best. If you visit the L&P website, you may get a clearer understanding of why there is very little differentiation between the design and manufacture of innerspring mattresses. They all use the same parts bin and can keep busy knocking off each other’s original work.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      The Leggett and Platt company has apparently decided that if it looks like a box spring, and can squeak like a box spring, then it must be a box spring. One defining criteria is the presence of steel. Absent steel and present wooden slats, it is a foundation and (they say) foundations are awful. In retrospect, when costly box springs started to be replaced by not costly formed wire filled foundations, I was not happy. At least fifteen years have passed and the wire grid foundation is under virtually every new mass produced innerspring mattress made in America. Leggett and Platt has reimagined box spring construction to sharply lower labor and material costs. I predict that they will come roaring back with higher priced mattresses. This is a good development. If you want to see what a good old-fashioned hand tied box spring looks like, visit the McCroskey Mattress site. Except for Duxiana which has coils in the base of its adjustable beds, and some non-powered wooden slat adjustable bases sold overseas, to my knowledge every adjustable bed supports the mattress on a foundation.
      Marshall Coyle

  • Cheryl Khan says:

    I love my platform bed. I’ve never gone back to the old box spring of my childhood. There’s really no need for them. If you’re worried about platform beds being stiff, take advice from a soft sleeper, it’s really not that big of a difference. It ultimately depends on your mattress. Here’s some tips you should look at:

    Get a platform bed. You won’t look back! :)

    (I have deleted a link to the platform bed seller, Cheryl Khan)

    To all the nice people out there who sell bed products, please don’t foul up one of the two or three review sites on the net that do not accept pay for praise. Marshall Coyle )

  • diane says:

    What a great blog! Thx for taking the time to educate us all! I recently purchased a storage bed. my traditional boxspring made it way too high so I got rid of it. Now my back is suffering. I just moved and am on a budget so I won’t be investing in a good mattress for another year of so. In the meantime, I’ve heard people say to try either: putting a piece of plywood under the mattress, buying a bunky board (2 in) or low profile box spring (5 in). The bunky board would be a good size since it looks like the bed looks best the way it is now without the additional height. There is nothing solid under the mattress now, it’s about 5 slats, which I think are causing the problem with support. Your suggestion for a temporary (1-2 year fix)?

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Diane,

      The most suitable fix, and so suitable that I will call it the only sensible fix, is getting a lumber yard to cut you one or two pieces of 1/2″ or thicker plywood (smooth one side) equal to the exact size of your mattress (you did not mention one). Remove enough slats so that only three survive. One in the exact middle, and one proportionately between the slat and each end of the bed. Three is the perfect number to prevent any rocking or being high or low. Don’t second guess on this magic number 3. Save any good ones left over, for “just in case”. Place plywood with messy side down facing the floor. If this bed is twin or full size, I can send you a slightly more complicated fix that should cost a few dollars less. Either “fix” will provide proper support for any purpose designed platform bed innerspring mattress. If I am still surviving when you have saved$6-800 I will be happy to save you from the snake-oil salesmen that now sell mattresses on the internet. You can read about this on the blog, and it might keep you from buying a new mattress and then having to do it all over again in as little a two or three months.

      I am not kidding about the surviving. I started this blog when I was eighty years old and have helped thousands of people save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, five years later, I am sort of beyond my use-by date and there is no one around with my kind of mattress and bed knowledge to turn it over to. If you go to the blog again, or quickly search around these comments, you will find a list that I require before I can help anyone actually get the most perfect mattress for their needs. It is in your interest to do this as soon as convenient, because “years” is what I do not have any longer.

      Good luck with the bed fix up. I would appreciate any before and after pictures if you have a picture phone or camera.

      Marshall Coyle, the OldBedguy@gmail.com

  • Becky says:

    Hi Marshall – thank you for your time and expertise! I have a fast question: I’m looking at a latex/foam mattress from Lucid. Its a 9″ inch thick mattress with a 3″ natural latex comfort layer and a 7″ high-density polyurethane foam support base. They say use of a platform or box spring will void the warranty. Why do you think that is? Are they meant to be put on the floor only? Thanks for your help! Becky

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Because the importer who is peddling this cheapest of Chinese chemical crud masquerading as a mattress, brings in packages of all the parts including the base in the shipping container. They can not eat the leftovers. You buy complete sets or nothing as they have no retail business or warehouse or place to store the base that you do not buy. If I were you, I would continue to shop, but this time, make sure that you are dealing with a real merchant. If the web site does not have a land address, a store, any kind of history, and is offering miracles that no one else seems to have, you would be well advised to continue your shopping.

  • Jenny says:

    Hi Marshall,
    I’m so glad to find your page when I was out of ideas on what to do!!
    Long story short, I bought a platform bed online for a new mattress. The package came but without nuts/washer and one of the leg was bent. I have no time to wait for the parts to be resent/replaced as my guest arrives in two days and I need something quick and easy. (easy because I’m a DIY idiot…sadly) I have an old box spring so i thought I’d do what you suggested and place a 1/2″ plywood between the new mattress and old box spring. I went to Homdepot but they said they can’t cut it as one big piece. Your Blog mentioned multiple piece is workable. So, here comes my stupid question. Do I nee to find a way to “join” the plywood together if I get 3 pieces (running in the width direction)? Will them slid/move around if it is not one big piece? Truthfully, I don’t know how to “join” them together. The gentleman from Homedepot suggest a mending plate that has teeth so I can just hammer it along the seam of plywood plates. (I guess that side would be facing down, towards the box, in this case) But that way, ultimately the mending plate would bend/deform along the seam of the plywood?

    Thank you very much for your help.


    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Jenny,

      Duct tape, wonderful duct tape. Buy a small roll of at least 3″ width, with 4″ being better. Apply three pieces of tape to each seam, one right smack in the middle, edge to edge but not wrapped around, and the other two meeting in the middle. This will make for years of use. Tape only one side, the smooth top side. This will permit a minor hinging action with little or no wear to the tape. If you do it on the bottom, it will quickly tear. If you do it on both sides, it will tear even more quickly. Then you can Google “duct tape projects” and learn how to make wallets and many other things out of your lots of leftover tape. If the “expert” at Home Depot can figure out how to make one of the plywood pieces larger than the other two, then the large piece should be supporting the torso.

      If you bought an appropriate platform-specific mattress your guests should be delighted.


  • Gloria says:

    Dear Mr. Coyle,

    We are currently looking for a new mattress and are literally at our wits end trying to find a quality queen
    flip/double-side inner coil mattress for under $1,000. We live in Southern California and every place we have looked don’t even carry double-sided mattresses. Any suggestions? Also, can we use a platform base for our new mattress, or should we be using a box spring, or can we put our new mattress on top of our old mattress (which is also a flip, double-sided mattress that is only four years old, but not as firm as we would like — we bought new from my brother who was transferred overseas just weeks after he purchased).

    Many thanks for your response and your most valued opinion and assistance.


    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:


      I can understand why you are frustrated in your search. Can you imagine the difficulty you would find in you also wanted to buy a brand new 1950 technology television or automobile. Mattresses have evolved and what you seek has become a fossil. Never the less, you can find a double sided mattress in Southern California if you find a Macys or a Bloomingdales, or possibly a local sleep shop that carries Kluft and Aireloom brands. The Kluft company, in Northern California carefully hand assembles very good two sided mattresses. A problem for you will be the price as they can cost as much as an entry level automobile. You should start thinking about possibly compromising.

      Your plaint has so many contradictions of what is possible but I am trying. You use flippable/quality/queen size/ and <$1,000 in the same sentence. In reality, you cannot do any of these things. You can get a quality, actually a good quality queen in your price range if you buy it factory direct from one of the sources mentioned in various essays in this blog. But you will have to order on the internet. Nothing like it near you. The nearest is McCroskey Mattress in San Francisco and way out of your price range. Very good one. A retail priced queen sub $1,000 has quality compromises that affect the comfort and expected life. Only from a factory direct source mentioned in the blog, and ordering on the net or toll free phone will you find what you think you want. And then, you will have to make your own compromise and get a contemporary engineered one sided hybrid innerspring. If you lived in heartland America or even the Rust Belt, you would have access to the Original Mattress Factory’s 100 factory direct stores. They make a sub $600 two sided mattress that is just OK as you would see if you clicked on the link to them in my Mattress Buying tips or hints. They also make higher priced two sided, but, again, too much for your budget. To make it plain. Please spend an hour reading. You may not become a mattress expert, but you will stop making impossible demands on yourself. If your new mattress is too hard, and it one sided, it should be on a firm foundation or platform bed. A practical way to make it softer is with a latex topper. The operative word is latex. Unless you want to buy and return a chemical foam because it is less costly. You have to spend several hundred dollars to get a minimum 2″ soft latex high quality topper. If you buy on the cheap, you will soon discover why I took the trouble to advise you otherwise. I hope that this letter has been helpful. It is only a tiny bit of the advice available when you read the various essays in the Old Bed Guy blog. , And continuing in your journey: A two sided mattress requires a coil box spring. You can read why and how in my article about box springs and foundations. It is plain that you just started typing without reading the laboriously typed advice that is freely given in the OBG blog. Putting your new mattress on top of your old mattress, without any consideration of what either mattress consists of is the least best idea of all your efforts to be different, but not better, in your choice of sleeping equipment.

  • becs says:

    Just purchased a king mattress and was wondering if I can do a sort of DIY platform bed using a metal bed frame and purchasing some wood from Lowes cut to the width of the frame to use as “slats” (maybe 1×6 boards). Would that be sufficient if we used about 10 of them?

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      The number of slats is adequate for proper support as the spaces will be quite small, however, if the bed frame does not have a center support running from head to toe, the slats will not be adequately strong by far. The will bend deeply in the middle and just fall out before they break, if they do not break first. Cheap pine over 6 feet long does not have much resistance to bending. And hardwood can be better, but a lot more costly and still will bend without center support. If you’re wallet is running on empty, check out steel bed frames from Amazon. Amazingly inexpensive way to keep your mattress off the floor/ get the ones with flat metal strips, not thin wires.


  • Christina says:

    We live in San Antonio Texas and would like to know it there is smaller independent mattress manufacturer here. I have heard there is a firm that makes reasonable and well made mattresses in San Antonio.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:


      Not offhand, but I am searching and will post the answer as soon as I am sure of the quality available in your local shops.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Christina, I have continued searching for a worthwhile local to San Antonio factory, and have not succeeded. If there is one, and there might be someone hiding in plain site with no internet representation, but from here in the northeast, invisible to me. What I did find was a retailer with the disingenuous name of “Factory Mattress” that sells the major brand names. http://www.factorymattresstexas.com/products/ will get you to their product page. They do not appear to have, or to have on their site, the most highly recommended Consumer Reports and OBG mattresses, but that is not necessarily the case in-store. From their site, they appeared to be the typical unimaginative sleep shop, and that is not necessarily a bad thing if they provide good service. The nature of the products on-offer tend to require service on the average of 20% so buying these mass-produced mattresses is best done where the service is good. I would NEVER recommend buying any of the major brands on the internet because of the service issues and the uncertainty of getting what you expect. The internet, for you, exists to shop for some of the excellent factory-direct providers where the mattresses rarely, if ever, need service, and the prices are much lower. You can see at least two of these institutions in the just published Consumer Reports recommendations, and they all will ship to San Antonio.
      Marshall Coyle

  • Midge Shawley says:

    Have you ever heard of mattresses made by Winndom in Hopewell, VA? Their website is winndom.com. I would appreciate your opinion.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      To Midge: Not until now. They appear to make interesting products. Nothing that they show on their website would be anything that I could recommend. Not because of poor workmanship. They appear to be be good tailors and have a great imagination, but you do not sleep on imagination. You sleep on coils and padding. And they only show the least best innerspring unit still in use. Almost 100% of quality makers no longer use this old fashioned wire tied low coil count unit. It is used mainly in the lowest priced products. They could, for money, order good pocketed coils from their supplier, get some high quality natural latex, and build you halfway decent hybrid latex. They cannot buy or make the highest quality coils as used by Charles P. Rogers in their Powercore Estate that Consumer Reports just rated the best mattress they ever tested for back sleepers. And it is the coils that count.

      What I really like on their site is the super fat polyester pillow big enough to make a mountainous bed. It has to feel terrific for at least an hour each night until the poly fibers mat down, the same as they will in any mattress that uses them instead of suitable foams. If I was twenty years younger and still owned my big home, I would, for a lark, buy one for a spare bedroom and use it to watch TV on. It looks like fun. You might want to direct the owner of Winndom to check out the Estate Powercore to use as a model for making you something better than he now shows. He cannot make it quite as good because he cannot obtain the Powercore support coils, but he can turn out a pretty darn good one using commercially available pocketed coils.

      Marshall Coyle

      • Ed says:

        Thanks for the best mattress information I have encountered. It is obvious that you are both honest and expert. Here is a bed height problem that I hope you can help solve. We have a Sealy latex king mattress (11 inches high) and Twin XL foundations (9.5 inches high) on a K52RS standard steel frame (7.25 inches high). Altogether, the bed is 27.25 inches high. I have two medical problems requiring me to simultaneously get the whole bed as close to the floor as possible, and also to raise the head above the feet by 7 inches (which precludes simply putting the mattress on the floor). The head of the frame is already up on 7-inch blocks; the question is how to lower the total height while keeping the very heavy latex mattress supported properly without needing another mortgage. After hours of reading, I have narrowed the solution down to the following choices: 1) Replace the standard frame with a low-profile version to save 3 inches and replace the two Twin XL foundations with low-profile models to save 4 inches so that the total height (not counting the blocks) will be 21 inches. 2) Replace the frame with a low-profile version to save 3 inches and replace the two Twin XL foundations with 1 x 6 wood slats (like those suggested by “becs” on February 15) so that the total height (not counting the blocks) will be about 17.5 inches. 3) Replace the frame with a low-profile version to save 3 inches and replace the two Twin XL foundations with Twin XL bunkie boards so that the total height (not counting the blocks) will be about 18.5 inches. Based on what I have learned from you already, the first solution will support the mattress enough, but will either of the other two do so? If either of the other two will work, I will both save money and get the bed closer to the floor. Can you suggest any other alternatives? Thanks very much.

        • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

          to “Ed” Re angled bed/Bed Height

          Think about this: Invest in a custom platform made from a minimum 1/2″ smooth one side plywood, or 3/4″ if you can afford it. You need approximately 76X80 which will involve a serious carpenter piecing two boards together. You need a nice flat surface that can be elevated the 7″ on one end without sagging in the middle. If you have access to a competent carpenter, the 1/2″ will do but he will have to make a support a few inches high halfway between the front lip that will be resting on the floor, and the head end up 7″. It would be good to put a lip on the bottom, but not totally needed. This, even with the better wood, will not, or should not cost more than a couple of not needed metal frames. And if your health returns, a simple set of legs and you have a normal platform. The other ideas are too complicated and messy, especially the slats. You do not need foundations if you have a real solid old latex, Sealy brand or otherwise. In a perfect world, that mattress should be on real box springs, and you would be getting the comfort that is inherently in it, that you may never have felt. If money is no object, just comfort, I urge that you get a good latex/hybrid combination such as I mention all over my blog. And now top rated by Consumer Reports. I am completely vindicated. I have been touting hybrids for years, mostly alone, but apparently 2015 is the year when a lot of people will be sleeping better. The wonderful innerspring core, not the same as others, brings out all of the inherent wonderful comfort that latex comes with– and is lost on a slab or a foundation. If you never tried it, you have no idea what you are missing. If you take this mattress advice, please write to me first so I can try to guide you to get the most appropriate for your body type and sleeping habits.

          Marshall Coyle

  • Linda Hurley says:

    Dear Marshall,
    I see that one of the top-rated Consumer Reports foam mattresses is on sale (1/2 price!) at our local Costco, although not online. It is the same mattress as the one on the Costco website, however. My question is regarding the appropriate base for the Novaform 14″ mattress. We currently have a Sleep Number bed, which has a solid platform under the container which holds the air bladders (king size bed). I think the Novaform is supposed to have either box springs or a slatted base, and from your blog, I’ve ruled out the box spring idea. Do you know of any reason we could not use the Sleep Number platform? The new mattress is significantly heavier (128#) than the air bed. If the Sleep Number platform is not a good idea, could you suggest what might work?
    Thank you!

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/bed-bath/mattresses/mattress-ratings/models/overview/novaform-altabella-costco-99051115.htm will tell you a lot more about your intended purchase. The base you own is worth trying. You can buy a similar mattress, a slab of the cheapest kind of synthetic chemical foam with a push of the button on Amazon and lay out only about $300 or often a lot less. I wonder if you bothered to read the helpful posts on the Old Bed Guy. The 2015 Consumer Reports list on the blog shows you several (my opinion)better synthetic visco memory foam layered slabs with better Consumer Report ratings at less than half the price. Do yourself a favor and read a bit more before you get a hot and hard bed, no matter how cheap it is. You can do a whole lot better. Marshall Coyle.

  • Brad says:

    Greets Marshall,

    I purchased this queen sized metal bed frame from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R6OXJWE/

    I plan on putting a memory foam mattress on it. The frame has 9 feet, which I read is good, but the spaces between the metal bars is too far for a foam mattress to sit nicely. I plan on getting some 3/4″ plywood to place on it (two 30″x80″ pieces I think, unless you have a better thought?). Do you think that will be a nice solution for this frame? Also, I’ve read that placing foam mattresses on plywood can lead to possible mold on the bottom, since moisture has no way of escaping. In your experience, is that a concern? Would drilling 1″ holes in the plywood somehow help with airflow? I also thought I may cover the plywood with some sort of canvas fabric, if I’m feeling spunky.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • Margo Tiede White says:

    We are looking for a bed without flame retardants and toxic materials. We are looking at an Essentia bed. With our doctor prescription, we can get the bed made without the kevlar barrier to eliminate the fire retardant. Do you think this is a good choice for a non toxic bed? Also…..unfortunately, this company does not make a base or foundation for their beds because they are encouraging their customers to use a platform bed. We do not have one and want to know what we should put under this bed. Presently, we have a traditional king size head board and foot board held together by a metal frame where the traditional box frame sits. What about a STL frame? Maybe a bunkie board on top of that? Should we be concerned about the EMFs associated with the metal in the STL bed frame foundation? We need advice! Thank you!!!!!!!!! Margo

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Margo, I do not think that you should be concerned with EMF’s emanating from a wire grid foundation. I am not an expert on EMF issues, and you should not rely on what I “think”. The grid structure looks a lot like a shortwave antenna that used, would you believe it, 70 years ago when I was 15. A bunky board is a two thin pieces of cloth and some thin cardboard: that is all, and if EMF’s are stopped by it, I would be extremely surprised. I agree about using a platform bed and sleep on one myself. And I do not sleep on a mattress made by a manufacturer that is one of the worst offenders as far as making mattresses with harmful chemicals that fill your bedroom with noxious gases. I sleep on a latex hybrid, one that I recommend in the website and so does Consumer Reports rating it tops in this year’s reports. I do not wish to publicly mention the maker but if you write to me a oldbedguy@gmail.com, I will share with you. One of my choices was to make sure that my bed did not have manufactured wood that was made with formaldehyde glue. If you revisit my blog, you will sooner or later find a short essay about “manufactured wood”, made of small particles glued together. These particle boards are in 98% of all inexpensive beds and furniture and if formaldehyde gases are truly carcinogens, they have caused a lot of suffering.

      Margo, I think that this news story should be of interest:
      FTC to mattress companies: Don’t pad your green claims

      By Lesley Fair
      July 25, 2013 – 11:08am
      If you or your clients make environmental marketing claims, don’t sleep on three actions the FTC just announced against companies that sell mattresses. What’s more, the pleadings in one case offer insights into a course of conduct advertisers should avoid in the use of seals and certifications.

      According the FTC’s lawsuit against Relief-Mart, based in Westlake Village, California, the company advertised its Biogreen memory foam mattresses without having its claims tucked in. Relief-Mart, which markets through its tempflow.com site, said the products don’t contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), have no VOC off-gassing, and don’t have the smell consumers often associate with memory foam. One aroma the FTC detected from Relief-Mart’s representations was the whiff of deception, which is why the complaint charged that the company didn’t have a reasonable basis for its claims.

      A second lawsuit challenged statements in ads by Quebec-based Essentia Natural Memory Foam Company, which has retail stores in six U.S. cities. The FTC charged that Essentia didn’t have appropriate proof to back up claims that its mattresses are VOC-free, have “[n]o chemical off-gassing or odor,” and — unlike other memory foam mattresses that “can emit up to 61 chemicals” — are “free from all those harmful VOCs.” In addition, the complaint disputes Essentia’s claims that its memory foam mattresses are chemical-free, contain no formaldehyde, don’t emit chemical fumes and odors, and are “made with 100% natural materials.” The FTC also challenged the truthfulness of Essentia’s assurance that testing confirms that its memory foam mattresses are VOC- and formaldehyde-free.

      (An aside about “smell” claims: The FTC doesn’t normally challenge subjective representations like smell. What’s different here is that consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances are likely to interpret a claim that a mattress doesn’t have that memory foam smell to mean that it’s VOC-free.)

      In a third action, the FTC alleged that San Diego-based Ecobaby Organics short-sheeted the truth in how it marketed its latex mattresses. Through its purerest.com site, Ecobaby touted its mattresses as “chemical free,” with no formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, VOCs, or toxic substances. The company also said its products contained fewer contaminants and chemicals than competitors’ memory foam or latex mattresses and that it had sound testing to back up its chemical-, formaldehyde-, and VOC-free claims. Not so, said the FTC, which alleged that Ecobaby didn’t have appropriate testing to support those statements.

      What about the certification angle? Ecobaby’s promotional materials prominently featured the seal of NAOMI, the National Association of Organic Mattress Industry. The FTC says the ads conveyed to consumers that NAOMI was an independent certifying organization with appropriate expertise that grants its seal based on objective standards. The truth, says the FTC, is that NAOMI is run by Ecobaby and is really an alter ego of the company. Thus, the company awarded its own seal to its own products without applying objective standards, a practice that (surprise, surprise) ran afoul of Section 5.

      Proposed settlements with the three companies should put misleading representations to rest. You’ll want to read the orders for the details, but savvy green marketers will pay close attention to provisions addressing VOC-free claims. The orders prohibit the companies from making VOC-free claims unless the emission level is zero micrograms per cubic meter or if they have competent and reliable scientific evidence that the products in question contain no more than a “trace level” of VOCs. The “trace level” standard comes from the FTC’s Green Guides’ guidance on making “free of” claims. As the Green Guides explain, companies meet the “trace level” test if:

      The level of the ingredient is less than what would be found as a background level in the ambient air;

      The presence of the ingredient doesn’t cause the harm consumers typically associate with it, including harm to the environment or health; and

      The ingredient hasn’t been intentionally added to the product.
      The orders also bar a host of unsubstantiated environmental benefit or attribute claims and prohibit certain health claims without appropriate scientific evidence.

      In addition, the settlements address particular forms of deception challenged in the individual complaints. For example, the Essentia and Ecobaby settlements ban claims that products covered by the orders are “free of chemicals” and prohibits misrepresentations about tests, studies, or research. The Essentia order bars unsubstantiated “natural” claims. And under the Ecobaby settlement, the company can’t make “non-toxic” claims unless it has scientific evidence to back them up. Addressing the deceptve use of the NAOMI seal, the Ecobaby order puts a provision in place to end misrepresentations about certifications.

      You have until August 26, 2013, to file an online comment about the proposed Relief-Mart, Essentia, or Ecobaby Organics settlements. Looking for more resources about keeping your green claims compliant? Bookmark the BCP Business Center’s Environmental Marketing page. Today’s cases also offer a timely reminder to take a fresh look at the FTC’s revised Green Guides if you haven’t reviewed them recently.

      3 Comments >> Leave a Comment | Comment Policy
      Jay June 16, 2014 – 6:51pm reply
      Essentia is continuing to mislead consumers! Their website is full of false claims and lies!
      Howard November 4, 2013 – 12:41pm reply
      My wife and I heard the a similar claim at an Essentia store in Denver, Colorado, only a couple of weeks ago. (Around 24 October 2013).
      Joe July 25, 2013 – 5:53pm reply
      As of today, July 25th, they are still saying on their website that they make the world’s only natural memory foam. I went into their store and their salesperson told me they make their foam with pine cone and water
      Leave A Comment

      Here is the direct link to the Federal Trade Commission’s report to consumers about Essentia’s lack of truth because their foam was not natural when tested.


  • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:


    It will not do any harm to add the plywood and it may not also do any good. If the spaces between the wires are less than 2.5″ that will work with any mattress. You can not expect any opinion about your mattress because you did not supply any useful information like the name for a starter. A wrong mattress will ruin your nights for as long as it lasts. The thousandth day will be no better than the first. The right one is the opposite. I am happy that you got the right one and hope that it was from some of the advice in the Old Bed Guy blog. Everything being relative, your new mattress might not be such a good choice, but if your old one was all worn out, anything new would be better. Please do not post if you wish more help. Write to me at oldbedguy@gmail.com

  • Providence Hadland says:

    Dear Marshall,
    I am so delighted to have found your site. From what I have read it appears to be very informative…My questions are: I have a very solid platform bed, I was wondering if there is an adjustable mattress that can be utilized on this platform? I have physical problems, back, nerve damage in leg. I think I prefer a firmer matress with a softer top? What mattress would you suggest (if adjustable would be available/or another mattress suggestion)? I do not like any mattress that will hold heat….
    Thank you,

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Providence ,

      Please re-send your request to my email address as I ask in the blog.
      This space is for comments only. I am sure I can help, but this forum is not the proper forum for doing so. Marshall. oldbedguy@gmail.com

  • Andrew says:


    I just purchased a double sided innerspring mattress. Didn’t know it was double sided. Should I buy a box spring?

    This new mattress cost me $2500…. Don’t want to ruin it with a slatted platform bed.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Andrew,

      You are correct. All double sided innerspring mattresses require a flexible base. Box springs are usually the most suitable. But since you do not apparently know what you bought, and the price tells me nothing, if you already own the slatted platform bed, I would try the mattress on it before investing in a box spring. Real box springs with nice flexible coils are available from Shifman and McCroskey to name a couple of “retro” manufacturers. They can cost as much as your unidentified mattress. Your mattress might be a bit firmer on the platform bed then it would on a box spring, but it may not be comfortable on either since you apparently made no effort to match it to your needs. If you use it on the platform, you might like it. It will not do any harm to the mattress, and should not violate any warranty. People who still make these throwbacks and sell them to people who want none of the wonderful improvements that have happened to mattresses in recent years, push the box springs because without them, most two sided mattresses feel like bricks. With the coils underneath, some people are comfortable on two sided mattresses. Usually people who have had an AARP card for at least 20 years.

      In any event, if you take my advice and use your existing bed, and like it. Be happy. If it is too hard, and you have loose spending money, you can soften it a bit. It will not be too soft. And when you think about how nice it would be to really have a comfortable bed, you can spend a lot less than $2,500 and get a top rated hybrid innerspring. A lot less. It is only money. Not your health.

  • Andrew says:


    It’s a Organic Cotton RoyalPedic mattress (the one that requires a dr. note). And yes, it’s super hard.

    My previous mattress was a double sided pillowtop mattress. That one was awesome.

    I think I am going to purchase the matching box spring from Royal Pedics.

    • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Andrew,

      Sounds like a good plan to me. You might want to compare prices with McCroskey. They make a heck of a hand tied box spring for a heck of a lot of money. But I believe that RoyalPedic’s similar hand tied costs even more. There should be no difference in the utility, so whichever costs you least should be #1 choice.


  • Nancy says:

    Hi Marshall,
    We have two regular mattresses that can be turned. What I was wondering was if you would reccomend placing plywood or a boxspring underneath? Here is the info. on those mattresses and the one boxspring that we already have:
    M24459-10-2455 Simmons Beauty Rest Discover Luxury
    M42436-10-1978 Simmons Beauty Rest Elan
    Lot # 021 Piece 233 Sears Luxury Boxspring

  • Marshall Coyle Marshall Coyle says:

    Dear Nancy,

    I can not specifically answer your question from the supplied information. One of your mattresses is 37 years old, the Elan, and the other I can not detail. As Simmons stopped making two sided mattresses fifteen years ago, it has to be at least fifteen years old with fifteen years of dust mites and microscopic human hair cells. This is one reason why it is about fifty pounds heavier than when new. If your Sears box spring, is a real coil boxspring, with circular twisted coils that go up and down a few inches, and they still work a bit, then you have nothing to lose. Your mattress, believe me, is long worn out, and maybe putting two negatives together can make a positive.

    Two sided mattresses do not work well when on a board or platform bed. Their coils are designed to work only on a flexible box spring. So you are just plain throwing out your money if you do not already own the wood. Then you will only throw away some labor. Mattresses, not unlike people, do not live forever even if some of us old ones still look pretty good.

    I have just added a feature to the Old Bed Guy website on most pages. You will see an invitation to fill out a survey. If you do, you will get my personal recommendations based on what I believe that you need, and also where to find it within your budget if possible.

  • Amy says:

    Marshall, are you familiar with Looma Leaf & Saatva’s mattresses? What do you ink of their quality/comfort?

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