Slat Beds

Slat Bed Support Systems

Monday, April 10, 2017

Comparison between Laminated Flexible Slats and Solid Slat Platform.

If you're looking to buy a timber slat bed you will find there are options for the mattress support system. Sometimes this can be confusing, depending on your needs and type of mattress you want to use.

In most timber slat beds the mattress is supported within the frame by one of two systems:

a. Laminated Flexible Slats


b. Solid Slat Platform

Both do the same job of keeping the mattress off the floor at a height suitable for the consumer and both have real benefits, but mechanically they do quite different things.

Solid Slat Platform

A series of flat wooden slats is spread through the under mattress area to provide support. They are normally spaced so that the underside of the mattress is well supported, while at the same time able to breathe to avoid moisture build up within the mattress. We generally recommend a spacing of 65-70mm for best support and some mattress manufacturers specify the spacing.

In our opinion, any slat bed above King Single size must have a centre rail fitted to it. This is so the mattress is supported evenly across its full width. Over time, and without a centre rail, the slats may dip towards the centre of the bed. The mattress will want to follow the profile of the support under it and so will dip in the middle causing roll together and other sleep disturbance issues.

The main advantage of a solid slat platform with a centre rail fitted is that almost any mattress can be used and, when it comes time to replace the mattress, the same will apply.

With this platform the mattress needs to provide both the comfort and support for your needs.

Laminated Flexible Slats

A series of curved, laminated wooden slats is spread under the mattress area to provide support. Like solid slats they are spaced to offer both support and ventilation to the underside of the mattress.

During manufacture the slats are formed into a radius which allows the slat to act as a spring. The slats are connected to the bed by plasicised housings, known as shoes, on each end of the slat. These locate into pre-determined positions on the side and centre rails.

Basic systems allow the slat to flex only vertically while more sophisticated systems such as East West Designs Pivotech, provide for load pivoting and adjustment. The main benefit of the flexible slat system is that one side of a bed can offer under mattress support independently of the other side.

When using an appropriate mattress the slats can flex according to the contours of the body profile, providing a sleep surface for good spinal alignment for each side of a bed. Additionally, by adding components or changing settings, the amount of support and movement can be varied to suit individual height and weight considerations. If you want to get technical, the greater the number of laminations in a slat of a particular thickness the more flexible and resilient it will be.

Like any spring, the slats can lose elasticity and shape over time. Ultimately, they may flatten or even invert if not replaced when necessary. The slat can, however, be easily replaced and the life span of the system can be easily extended by moving slats from under the pillow and foot areas into the more load bearing part of the system. If you notice a change in feel over time, this action is recommended.

Best results will be gained by using a low profile spring or an un-sprung mattress. These types of mattresses allow the body weight to transfer through the mattress onto the slats for best effect. The taller and stronger the mattress spring, the less impact it will have on the flexible slat below it to the point where it can negate the slat effects entirely.

So, at the end of all this what do we know?

Firstly, A Solid Slat platform is a universal option for any mattress choice. It's basic but pretty much bullet-proof provided the slat bed has a centre rail fitted.

Secondly, a Laminated Flexible Slat system has much more to offer in terms of meeting specific support needs according to height and weight. Best results will come from using the system with a mattress that can work in conjunction with the slat movement and not against it.

In our opinion, a new bed is not something you buy every day. Your bedding specialist has specific knowledge about the various technologies available in the bedding market. The ability to get a good night's sleep is critical to everyone's well-being and you should take the time to ensure the best choice for your own individual needs.