The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Mattress for Your Antique Bed

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Mattress for Your Antique Bed

Napo Ghonda |

Antique beds are a beautiful and timeless addition to any bedroom, but finding the right mattress to fit can be challenging. A quality mattress improves the comfort of your antique bed and helps preserve its longevity. That’s why it’s essential to find a mattress that complements the unique characteristics of your antique bed. 

In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about buying a mattress for your antique bed, from selecting the right size and materials to understanding the various firmness levels and support options. Whether you have a vintage iron bed, a classic four-poster, or a Victorian sleigh bed, this guide will help you decide and find the perfect mattress to enhance your antique bed’s charm and beauty.

What is an Antique Bed?

An antique bed is a type of bed made in the past and has historical or cultural significance. Typically, antique beds are at least 100 years old and are often characterized by unique design elements that reflect their time.

Antique beds come in various styles and materials, such as wood, brass, iron, or a combination. Some popular antique bed styles include four-poster beds, canopy beds, sleigh beds, and daybeds.

Antique beds are often valued for their beauty, craftsmanship, historical significance, and rarity. As a result, they are usually collected and sold at auctions, antique shops, and estate sales.

When buying a mattress for an antique bed, it’s essential to consider the bed’s size and unique features to find a mattress that complements its style and enhances its comfort.

An antique bed can be a unique and charming addition to your room or guest room. However, finding a mattress to fit your heirloom can pose 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 standardized bed sizes in 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 the rope, a sheet of wood, or wooden slats connecting each side of the bed, similar to the modern platform-style bed. 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.

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Common Antique Bed Sizes

Antique bed sizes exist in a wide variety of sizes.  Our website features a handy Size Chart that lists the more common antique 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 refers to the exact size of 53” x75”, and 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” x 74” or 48” x 75” and is the most common size for antique beds. There area many other variations of this size, which may differ slightly in width and length. Three-Quarter size mattresses are considered custom and are not available from regular stores. 

The Three-Quarter size was created in the 1920s when single and double beds joined. The width of this size can vary slightly because manufacturers on the East and West coasts had somewhat 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 the 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. 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. You can find one example HERE. 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, making today’s comforters, duvets, or quilts look awkward, even if the mattress is standard. A vintage quilt or custom duvet may fit the style of the bed better.

Consider if your Antique Bed 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 combined to form a king size. 

Tall or heavy antique beds cannot be converted because converter rails cannot 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 remain the same because adding length would create gaps in the bed frame.

Hook on converter kits will not work with wood beds that have puzzle pieces or key lock attachments. The converter kits could 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 cannot attach independently and would need to be welded on, permanently changing the bed.

The Perfect Type of Mattress for Your Antique Bed

Antique beds come in various styles, from ornate four-poster beds to simple sleigh beds, and each style presents unique challenges when it comes to finding the perfect type of mattress. Here are some types of mattresses that work well with different antique bed styles:

  • Hybrid mattresses: Hybrid mattresses combine the best features of different types of mattresses, such as the support of innerspring and the comfort of memory foam or latex. They are versatile options that can work well with various antique bed styles.
  • Memory foam mattresses: Memory foam mattresses conform to the body and relieve pressure points, making them an excellent choice for antique beds with curved or contoured frames, such as sleigh beds.
  • Innerspring mattresses: Traditional innerspring mattresses are an excellent option for antique beds with a box spring or foundation, as they provide reasonable support and are easy to move.

When choosing antique mattress sizes, it’s essential to consider the size and unique features of your bed and your personal comfort preferences. By choosing the right type of mattress, you can enhance the comfort and beauty of your antique bed for years to come.

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.


How do I measure a mattress for my antique bed? 

To measure a mattress for your antique bed, you will need to measure the bed frame's length, width, and height. Measure the inside length and width of the frame, and add a few inches to each measurement to allow for bedding and any decorative elements. For the height, measure from the bottom of the bed frame to the top of the side rails or headboard.

How much do antique beds cost? 

The cost of antique beds varies depending on their age, rarity, and condition. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands for rare or exceptional pieces. It's best to research and compare prices for similar beds to understand the market value.

Can two adults sleep on a 3/4 bed? 

A 3/4 bed, slightly larger than a twin bed but smaller than a full-size bed, may be too small for two adults to sleep comfortably. However, it can work for a single adult or a child.

Will a full-size mattress fit a 3/4 bed frame? 

No, a full-size mattress will not fit a 3/4 bed frame. The dimensions of a full-size mattress are 53 or 54 inches wide by 75 inches long, while a common 3/4 bed frame typically measures 48 inches wide by 75 inches long.

Do I need a foundation for an antique bed? 

The need for a foundation, such as a box spring or slatted base, depends on the type of antique bed you have. Some beds, such as sleigh and four-poster beds, may require a foundation to support the mattress properly. Other beds, such as platforms or slatted frames, may not require a foundation. It's best to consult the manufacturer or a mattress expert to determine the best support system for your specific antique bed.