Buying a Mattress for Antique Bed

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On January 24th, 2024
Buying a Mattress for Antique Bed

Key Takeaways

  • Considerations for Choosing a Mattress: Antique beds often have narrower dimensions compared to modern mattresses, requiring special attention when selecting the right mattress. Custom mattress makers offer three-quarter size mattresses or allow customization for specialized dimensions to fit antique beds, with memory foam and hybrid options being popular choices.
  • Factors to Keep in Mind for Mattress Buying: Thorough measurements of the bed frame are essential to ensure a proper fit for the mattress, considering both length and width, as well as the depth of the frame. Be aware of the specific features and unique characteristics of the antique bed, including any rounded or cut corners.
  • Decorating and Maintenance Tips for Antique Beds: When decorating an antique bed, selecting the right mattress, custom sheets, and vintage quilts that match the bed’s style can enhance the overall charm and historical character of the bedroom. Proper maintenance of the antique bed frame, including regular checks for structural integrity and wear and tear, is essential for ensuring its compatibility with the selected mattress.

Embracing a touch of history and charm, antique beds can bring a unique character to any bedroom. Antique beds, offered in various styles like Victorian and English colonial designs, infuse sophistication into your room and a dash of originality, for they are genuinely one of a kind.

Choosing the right mattress is the key to enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep on these timeless pieces. Yet, discovering the ideal mattress for your antique bed can be a bit puzzling. Antique beds, with their more narrow dimensions compared to today’s standard mattresses, necessitate a suitable frame to accommodate them.

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We’ll unravel the mystery of conversion kits, bridging the gap between your antique bed’s size and modern mattresses to ensure a snug fit. Let this guide lead you as you discover the ideal antique bed mattress that perfectly fits your classic bed.

Best Type of Mattress for Antique Beds

Antique beds, often referred to as timeless beds, take us back to the 17th and 18th centuries with their vintage bed components and quality materials like oak, mahogany, iron, and brass. Their charm and craftsmanship are legendary. However, modern mattresses often aren’t made with such bed frames in mind.

Finding the right mattress size for your antique bed can be a challenge due to their smaller dimensions compared to modern standards.

Antique beds are typically 48 inches wide, which is three-quarters of the width of full or double mattresses. To accommodate your antique bed properly, you’ll need a 3/4 mattress and a bed frame.

Custom mattress makers offer three-quarter size mattresses or allow customization for specialized dimensions to suit your preferences, including hybrid and memory foam options. For many antique bed frames designed for innerspring mattresses, you may need to replace slats or add a bunkie board.

What is the most comfortable mattress for an antique bed? We like to go modern with memory foam mattresses and hybrids.

Memory foam mattresses are a great choice for antique beds as they are soft and gentle on the side rails of your bed. It’s also available in multiple firmnesses and thicknesses at various price points.

Meanwhile, hybrid mattresses give a twist on the classic innerspring mattress with a cushioning foam top. Almost like a pillow top mattress, but with an overall smoother and more even feel along the surface.

To use a memory foam or hybrid mattress with your antique frame, consider getting a bunkie board, originally meant for bunk bed mattresses but adaptable for various frames. Bunkie boards maintain mattress stability and contribute extra firmness to your bed.

Antique beds require this kind of support, especially since most antique beds lack slatted or solid bases. This is because box springs were often used with older bed frames, but nowadays those are usually used only with traditional innerspring mattresses.

You can even create your own bunkie board by cutting a sturdy piece of plywood to fit your bed’s dimensions. Capture photos of your vintage bed parts before you shop and consult with a knowledgeable salesperson for custom orders and bed conversion kits, offering added flexibility for selecting headboards and footboards.

When ordering custom mattresses or accessories like bed slats, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the product’s compatibility with your antique furniture.

Preparing for Your Antique Bed Mattress Purchase

Choosing the right mattress for your timeless bed involves a series of critical questions to ponder. Firstly, acquaint yourself with the antique mattress sizes and the unique features of your frame, understanding its design and weight capacity.

Delve into the specifics: do any rounded or cut corners grace your bed? Does the depth of the frame align with your chosen mattress’s thickness? Can your bed handle the heft of a memory or hybrid foam mattress, or the weight of a mattress like these too much? What is the size mattress needed or do you need a custom-made mattress?

Answering these questions will guide you in the quest to fit the perfect mattress for an antique bed and help you make an informed choice when it comes to selecting the perfect one from custom mattress manufacturers.

Measure the Inside Length and Width of the Bed Frame

Thankfully, measuring your antique bed should be a straightforward task. First, clear your bed of everything, including pillows, sheets, throws and blankets.

Next, grab a measuring tape and measure your mattress’s length from the center of the head to the center of the foot of the bed. To find the width, measure the distance between the bed’s right and left sides, ideally across the middle.

Typically, antique bed mattresses are around 48 by 75 inches. So when measuring your mattress, your measurements should be close to these dimensions. In antique beds, common sizes can be quite different, so precise measurements become essential.

Measure the Depth of the Bed Frame

For the perfect mattress fit for antique beds, remember that antique bed sizes can differ significantly from modern mattress sizes. When measuring the depth of the bed frame, consider the total bed height from the floor and the thickness of the mattress you plan to use.

Antique bed frames might have depths of 2, 3, or 4 inches, but this varies widely and can affect bed height. So, accuracy in measuring is crucial instead of relying on rough estimates.

Decide If a Foundation Is Needed for Your Mattress

Both box springs and foundations can serve as excellent bed bases, especially for antique bed styles. Antique bed frames often have delicate and unstable structures, so consider a box spring or foundation for your antique bed’s mattress base.

Built-in foundations are advantageous as they offer substantial support to keep your mattress in place, and they are typically compatible with most antique beds. Before you shop, capture photos of your vintage bed’s components and consult with a knowledgeable salesperson who understands the conversion process. Antique shop owners can also provide valuable insights and may even sell the necessary components for the expansion process.

Box springs, on the other hand, provide good support and are known for adding extra bounce to the bed while enhancing breathability. When choosing between these options, consider your comfort preferences and the goal of achieving better sleep on your standard full-size mattress within an antique bed frame.

Choosing an Antique Bed Mattress Wisely

For the perfect mattress fit:

  • Many antique beds are more slender than today’s standard mattresses.
  • Specialty retailers and custom manufacturers offer custom-made mattresses to match these custom-size beds.
  • Memory foam mattresses are a great choice as they’re gentle on the side rails, but make sure to add a bunkie board for stability.
  • Innerspring mattresses are another option, especially when paired with box springs for proper support and even weight distribution.

Should I Buy an Antique Bed Frame?

Perhaps you don’t already own an antique bed, but you’re considering getting one. Now, purchasing an antique bed frame can be a charming yet challenging decision. These timeless pieces bring elegance and history to a bedroom, but require careful evaluation regarding comfort, practicality and cost.

When considering an antique bed frame as part of a bedroom makeover, think about your sleep priorities. Do you prefer ultra-soft or firm support? Antique frames often need modifications like bunkie boards to accommodate modern mattresses. Evaluate if the frame construction seems sturdy and reliable. Improperly supported mattresses can sag quickly.

Also examine if the size fits your needs, since antique bed dimensions tend to run smaller. Particularly pertinent if you’re looking at mattresses for couples and need space to share. Sleeping on a 3/4 bed is not the best choice for two adults due to its narrow size.

Now, let’s talk about antique beds’ cost. Antique beds, being vintage items, can be quite pricey, with original ones going up to $2000. However, you can also find more affordable replicas, some priced as low as $350. And that’s not getting into how custom ordering a mattress can get quite expensive.

Antique furnishings also usually require specialized care. Refinishing or reupholstering an antique can enhance its beauty but involves added investments of time and money. Assess if you are ready to properly maintain the frame to preserve its integrity.

While splurging on an antique bed offers romantic appeal, analyze your budget and lifestyle. A charming antique frame requires compromises in sizing, adjustments for comfort, and extra care for longevity. If ultimate comfort and convenience are necessities for you, a antique bed may not satisfy.

Decorating Your Antique Bed

When it comes to decorating your antique bed, there are a few key considerations. To make your antique bed a comfortable place for adults to sleep, it’s essential to choose the right mattress and custom sheets that fit your bed’s unique dimensions.

For an authentic and charming touch, select vintage quilts that match your antique frames, infusing your bedroom with a sense of history and character. And for a taste of classic luxury, try a fabric canopy and bed skirt.

Whether it’s your favorite vintage quilt or a DIY bed canopy that perfectly complements your antique bed’s style, the right bedding can make a significant difference in your sleep experience. So, when decorating your antique bed, pay attention to these details to create a space where you can sleep comfortably and luxuriate in the rich history that antique beds bring to your room.


Can you put any mattress on any bed frame?

While some mattresses can be used with a variety of bed frames, it’s crucial to ensure your mattress and bed frame are compatible. Different mattress types may require specific support systems—for example, traditional innerspring mattresses often benefit from a box spring, but they’re the only mattress type that should be used with one.

Plus, some bed frames may not accommodate certain mattress sizes or thicknesses. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for both the mattress and the bed frame to ensure they are compatible and can provide adequate support and durability.

Can I use my old bed frame with a new mattress?

You can use your old bed frame with a new mattress, provided that the frame is in good condition and suitable for the dimensions and type of the new mattress. However, it’s important to assess the condition of the frame, including its structural integrity and any wear and tear.

Once you’ve proved the old frame is still in good condition, make sure that the dimensions of the new mattress align with the size specifications of the old bed frame. This prevents any fitting issues or potential damage to the mattress.

What if my mattress is too small for my bed frame?

If your mattress is too small for your bed frame, it may result in uneven support and stability issues, leading to discomfort and potential damage to the mattress and the frame. To address this issue, consider using a mattress topper or padding to fill the gaps and provide additional support. Such padding is how one can turn two twin mattresses into a king bed.

Alternatively, you may want to simply purchase a new mattress that is compatible with your existing bed frame. While it requires investing in a new mattress, it is the best way to ensure proper alignment and optimal comfort.

Can a mattress be slightly bigger than a frame?

No, it shouldn’t be. A mattress that is slightly larger than the frame can lead to overhangs and potential safety hazards, such as tripping or instability. It’s crucial to ensure that the mattress dimensions correspond precisely to the bed frame specifications to maintain a secure and well-fitted sleeping surface.

A mismatch in mattress and frame sizes may also result in premature wear and tear of the mattress, affecting its overall lifespan and performance.

Is it better to have a higher or lower bed frame?

The answer primarily depends on your personal preferences, physical limitations, and room aesthetics. A higher bed frame can offer additional under-bed storage space and make it easier to get in and out of bed, particularly for individuals with mobility issues.

On the other hand, a lower bed frame can create a more contemporary and minimalistic look, suitable for rooms with limited ceiling height or a desire for a sleeker design.


Selecting the right mattress for your antique bed is crucial to ensuring that adults sleep soundly and enjoy a good night’s rest. Custom antique bed mattresses tailored to common antique bed sizes, which may differ from modern mattress sizes, can make a significant difference in comfort and support.

By understanding the unique features and dimensions of your antique bed and choosing the appropriate mattress, you can create a comfortable and restful sleeping space that honors the charm and history of these timeless pieces of furniture.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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