The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Mattress for Your Antique Bed

An antique bed can be a unique and charming addition to your bed room or guest room. However, finding a mattress to fit your heirloom can pose some unique challenges.

Always measure your antique bed before shopping for a mattress

Measuring your bed is the first step to finding the perfect mattress. Before industrialization, beds were made to order by artisans and independent manufacturers who did not need to meet any standard size. Furniture makers in the United States did not begin to standardize bed sizes until the late 1800s. 

It is important to measure the sleeping area of your bed even if it is marked as a standard size. Prior to the invention of box springs in the 1910s, mattresses were placed on top of rope, a sheet of wood, or wooden slats connecting each side of the bed, similar to the modern platform style bed. In order to accommodate box springs, manufacturers widened the distance between the headboard, footboard, and sides to allow the box to drop down and rest inside on the slats. Widths before the 1910s were measured to the outer edges of the bed rails, and measured to the inside edge of the bed rails since the 1910s which can result in slight variations.

Common Antique Bed Sizes

Many antique beds fit these common mattress sizes:

Standard and Twin XL
Twin mattresses measure 38”x75” or the Twin XL size – 38”x80” and are a good option for kids or smaller rooms.

Standard Full or Double 

Full or Double typically refer to the same size of 53”x75”. This size can comfortably sleep a single adult.

Three-Quarter or Short Full

The Three-Quarter size, sometimes known as a short full, measures 48”x74” or 48”x75” and is the most common size for antique beds. However, this size is not commonly carried in stores.

The Three-Quarter size was created in the 1920s when single and double beds were joined together. The width of this size can vary slightly because manufacturers on the East and West coasts had slightly different standards when they began production.

Queen and King

The modern queen (60”x80) and king (76”x80”) mattress size was created in the 1940s and gained popularity in the 1950s. At this time, a larger portion of the American population was growing over 6 feet tall and the larger sizes helped taller people sleep more comfortably. The economic boom post World War II also meant that Americans had larger houses and needed bigger furniture to fit the scale. 

If your bed does not match a standard dimension, your bed may have been manufactured before sizes of beds were standardized. Antique beds may also have special mattress needs such as a rounded headboard or cut-outs for 4 poster beds. If your bed requires an irregular shape or a custom size, Custom Mattress Makers can help create a solution for your bed. Click HERE to send us an email.

Finding bedding for your antique mattress can be challenging

If your antique bed needs a custom or three-quarter sized mattress, standard bedding may not fit your mattress. Many online retailers can create custom sheets to fit irregular sizes. However, without being able to feel the quality of the fabric in person, you will need to rely on customer reviews. It is also important to review the store’s return policy as many custom orders may not be able to be returned or exchanged. You will also need to factor in additional time to receive your order.

Antique bed frames are also made from different materials than modern beds which can make today’s comforters, duvets, or quilts look awkward even if the mattress is a standard size. A vintage quilt or custom duvet may fit the style of the bed better.

Consider if your Antique Beds can be converted to a standard size

Some Antique Beds can be converted to a standard size using converter rails. Converter rails are designed to connect to an antique headboard and footboard to create a different size. Full size beds can be converted to a queen and two twin beds can be connected to create a king size. 

Tall or heavy antique beds cannot be converted because converter rails will not be able to support the weight of the materials. Sleigh beds may also not be able to convert because the bed rails are specially designed to fit the curves of the bed. Beds that fully enclose the sleeping area can also not be converted because adding length would create gaps in the bed frame.

Hook on converter kits will not work with wood beds that have puzzle piece or key lock attachments. The converter kits could possibly be drilled into the wood, but this alteration can cause antique beds to lose value. Iron beds with cone type rails have a similar issue. The hook on converters are not able to attach on their own and would need to be welded on, permanently changing the bed.

To find the perfect mattress for your antique bed, contact Custom Mattress Makers to create a solution that fits your sleeping needs. Click HERE to send us an email.

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