DIY Mattress Building Guide

Do It Yourself is a huge trend that has become immensely popular in recent years. You can create everything from furniture to cleaners right in your own home, and it often costs less than outright buying commercial products. But, is there a way to create a DIY mattress without spending hundreds or thousands?

There are so many combinations available for mattresses now that it can be difficult to tell which one is right for you, especially if you share a bed with someone who has different comfort sleeping levels. But, a DIY mattress may be the best thing for you, and we’re going to outline all you need to know about DIY mattresses below.

1 Mattress
There are many DIY mattresses you could create, and the one that is going to be the most comfortable for you depends on your preferences.

Mattress Construction Basics

All mattresses will follow the same basic setup, and this includes:

  • Base Layer – The base layer usually features an inexpensive foam product. It works as the foundation for your DIY mattress, and it can help to support the shape as you move around on it. So, you can easily put it on any type of base without an issue.
  • Support Core – This is either foam-based with an all-latex or all-foam mattress, or you can get a coil-based one with a hybrid or innerspring mattress. The support layers are responsible for helping to reinforce the mattress as a whole and prevent it from sagging, general wear and tear, and indentations.
  • Comfort Layers – As the name suggests, the comfort layers provide your mattress’s general feel. They work to cushion your body, absorb movement and noise, and relieve pressure points.
  • Mattress Cover – The cover will zip around the entire mattress to help enclose the layers and give your DIY mattress a finished and polished look. It also helps to extend how long your mattress lasts by locking out dirt, bacteria, and moisture.

Settle on Your DIY Mattress Type

The first thing you have to do to make a DIY mattress is to decide the type you want to create. Which materials and items you choose to make this mattress will depend on what you want the final product to be. The first thing you have to do is familiarize yourself with the most popular mattress types below.

Foam Mattresses

All-foam mattresses come with a very highly conforming feel to them. They relieve and cushion pressure points, and they will conform to your body as you sleep. These mattresses are also great at absorbing noise and motion very well, but they have minimal edge support and can sleep hot.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses feature coils as their support layer. Unlike the coil grid you’ll find installed in a traditional innerspring mattress, this one uses pocketed coils. This is an individual column of coils that the fabric encases. This gives you a much quieter support layer as you move around, and you get enhanced pressure relief and contouring. The coils also give stronger edge support, so you won’t have any issues with “roll-off” when you sit on the edge of the bed as you can get with foam or latex beds. Hybrid mattresses fall into the latex or foam hybrid, and they are:

  • Foam Hybrid Mattresses – As the name suggests, this DIY mattress material uses foam for the comfort layers. They typically sleep cooler than all-foam beds, and they offer great pressure relief. They’re much bouncier than traditaionl foam beds due to the coil-based core, and they give you great edge support.
  • Latex Hybrid Mattresses You’ll get a very similar construction to foam hybrid mattresses with this choice, but they use latex in the comfort layers instead. They’re a great choice for anyone who wants an all-latex bed, but they need stronger edge support.

Latex Mattresses

A 100% latex mattress is very durable, and they’re also naturally hypoallergenic since they’re made almost 100% out of organic latex. However, this will also drive the cost of your DIY mattress up if you choose to use it. They offer a conforming manner like you’ll get with an all-foam mattress, but not to the same extent.

2 Mattress Firmness Levels
How firm you want your mattress will play a huge role in the style of mattress you end up building as some materials are much firmer than others.

Get a Good Understanding of Your Firmness Needs

Part of the reason why so many people are jumping on the DIY mattress bandwagon is that you can easily customize it to your exact firmness needs for ultimate comfort. Below, we’ll help you find your ideal firmness level and figure out which material will be the most comfortable, based on your needs.

Finding Out Your Ideal Firmness Level

The most popular firmness range on any mattress is Medium to Medium Firm. This is suitable for most sleepers, assuming that you’re of the average build and weight range of 130 to 230 pounds and you sleep on your side.

However, everyone doesn’t fit into these neat categories. Mattresses today range from Soft to Extra Firm, or between three and eight on a 1 to 10 scale. Most people figure out their ideal firmness rating by using a combination of your preferred sleeping position and your weight.

Sleepers that are of average height usually want their DIY mattress to fall between Medium and Medium Firm. Lighter builds usually find softer mattresses more comfortable, and they go for a Medium Firm rating or softer. Heavier people need firmer mattresses to stop from sinking too deeply in and enjoy enough support. These builds often prefer that their DIY mattress be Firm to Extra Firm.

Also, you have to factor in your sleeping position and whether or not it needs less or more “give” from the mattress in order to keep your spine properly aligned during the night. Depending on your sleeping style, you want to keep this in mind:

  • Back Sleepers – Most people who sleep on their backs require softness, but not a level one softness rating, to allow their hips to sink in to keep the spine straight.
  • Side Sleepers – You’ll need a softer mattress that allows your shoulders and hips to sink deeper into the mattress to get a straighter spine.
  • Stomach Sleepers – On the other end of the spectrum, stomach sleepers require the DIY mattress to be as firm as possible to prevent their pelvis from sinking in as they sleep.

The quick table below will outline the preferred firmness levels of the mattress for sleeper based on preferred sleeping position and body weight.

Weight Group Back Sleeper Preferred Firmness Level Side Sleeper Preferred Firmness Level Stomach Sleeper Preferred Firmness Level
Below Average (Under 130 pounds) 4 to 6 (medium soft to medium firm) 3 to 5 (soft to medium) 4 to 6 (medium soft to medium firm)
Average (130 to 230 pounds) 5 to 7 (medium to firm) 4 to 6 (medium soft to medium firm) 6 to 7 or 8 (medium firm to firm)
Above Average (Over 230 pounds) 6 to 7 or 8 (medium firm to firm) 5 ot 6 (medium to medium firm) 6 to 7 or 8 (medium firm to firm)

As a general rule of thumb, remember that the firmer your DIY mattress is, the less it conforms to your body. If you prefer a mattress that conforms more, go with softer materials.

Foam Firmness Ratings for Latex

You use ILD to measure latex foams. ILD means Impression Load Deflection, and this describes how much pressure you’d need to exert to dent your mattress by 25%. We’ll use a table to outline the common ILD ranges you can find most latex foams today and how it will impact your DIY mattress firmness level.

Firmness Levels ILD Characteristics Best For
Very Soft 16 and lower Sinks very low Side or back sleepers
Soft 19 to 21 Sinks considerably Side or back sleepers
Medium 24 to 26 Softness and firmness balance Side sleepers
Medium-Firm 29 to 31 Firm support with minimal sinking Stomach or back sleepers
Firm 34 to 36 Very firm with very little sinkage Stomach or back sleepers
Very Firm 39 and above No sinking at all Back sleepers

You should also note that organic latex is made using one of two possible options. Talalay latex gives you a much fluffier and softer feel and works well in comfort layers. Dunlop latex offers less bounce with a more dense makeup, and it’s commonly put in support layers or comfort layers in firmer DIY mattresses.

Foam Firmness Ratings for Memory Foam

Next up is memory foam, and this is very popular in nature bedrooms. They offer a firmer feel with higher ILD ratings. The lower your rating is, the softer your foam is and the more you’ll sink into it as you sit or lay on it. This gives you great pressure relief, but it also traps heat. The ILD range for memory foam is from 8 to 20, but you want a minimum of 10 to help ensure quality.

Grade Low Medium High
Density 2.5 to 3.9 pounds per foot squared 4.0 to 5.9 pounds per foot squared 5.5 pounds per foot squared
Characteristics Some contouring and motion isolation while keeping the original shape Good contouring and motion isolation while slowly keeping the original shape Excellent contouring and motion isolation but slow to keep original shape

Just like with latex foam, memory foam that comes with a higher ILD rating attached will give you a much firmer feel. The lower this rating is, the more sinking you feel because the softer the foam is. This gives great pressure relief, but it sleeps hot. The following table outlines the ILD rating and which sleeper it is best for to ensure you get the best DIY mattress possible.

ILD Rating Category Characteristics 
8 to 10 Extremely soft Significant sinking
11 to 15 Very soft Ideal softness and firmness level for memory foam
16 to 21 Soft Less contouring and minimal sinkage

3 Sleep Positions
Once you figure out how firm you want your mattress and your preferred sleeping position, it’s relatively easy to put together a DIY mattress for your needs.

Find a Source for Your DIY Mattress Materials

To create a DIY mattress, you’ll need a few materials and tools first to ensure you can finish the project in one go. You’ll need:

  • Cover for the mattress
  • Foam for your support layers, comfort layers, and base
  • Glue or spray adhesive for the layers
  • Pocketed coils if you’re building a hybrid DIY mattress

You start the DIY mattress building project by measuring your base or bed frame. Most bed frames get sized to fit common dimensions, including:

  • California King – 72-inches by 84-inches
  • King – 76-inches by 80-inches
  • Queen – 60-inches by 80-inches
  • Full – 54-inches by 75-inches
  • Twin XL – 38-inches by 80-inches
  • Twin – 38-inches by 75-inches

You should also measure how tall you want your DIY mattress to be when all is said and done. Generally, heavier adults find that sleeping on a thicker mattress can be more supportive, and lighter adults can get away with being comfortable on shorter mattresses. You’ll want to buy your materials next.

Base Layer

The base layer for your DIY mattress can be cheap, and you don’t have to go all out. All you need is a one or two-inch polyfoam base. This is only here to give your DIY mattress a base. Base layers are very important to hybrid mattresses, but you can choose to not have a base layer at all if you’re building an all-foam or latex bed.

Support Core

The support core layer has to be between six and eight inches thick. The material you pick out depends on the type of DIY mattress you want to build, including:

  • Foam Mattresses – You’ll use a high-density polyfoam layer
  • Hybrid Mattresses – You’ll need a pocket coil spring. Also, a lot of DIY mattresses use a zoned pocket coil layer as these are more supportive for heavier areas of your body.
  • Latex Mattresses – You’ll get Dunlop latex that has a high ILD rating

Any foam you pick out should be completely solid without an egg-crate pattern to them. Latex foams are usually ventilated to help enhance how breathable your DIY mattress is.

Comfort Layers

Your DIY mattress can come with one or more comfort layers, and they should be two to five inches thick while including the mattress cover. Comfort layers usually feature lower ILD memory foam or latex materials, depending on the mattress you want. Some people prefer to have a single comfort layer that matches their fitness levels. However, most people like DIY mattresses with two comfort foam layers to help them contour better.

Usually, you’ll get a slightly softer foam material to use as the upper layer of your comfort foam and a firmer one for the lower layer. For example, say you’re someone of average weight, you may choose to use a Medium upper comfort layer and a Firm or Medium Firm layer below. A lighter person may choose a Medium lower layer and a Soft upper.

Mattress Cover

Once you pick out the foams for the comfort layers and base support, you’ll add their heights. Then, you’ll order a cover that matches their total height. For example, say your DIY mattress is going to be a hybrid one that has eight-inch pocket coil layers with dual comfort layers featuring Talalay latex at three inches high. You’ll need a 14-inch mattress cover.

There are several popular materials to use for your mattress cover, including polyester or cotton knit blends. If you want to stay cooler as you sleep, a bamboo and wool or cotton and wool cover are great choices. They use organic cotton or very breathable bamboo that gets quilted to a thicker wool layer inside that wicks away moisture as you sleep.

  • HappyDIYHome Tip: If this is your first time making a DIY mattress, it’s a good idea to purchase the layers one at a time. This way, you ensure you like the feel while not overspending. Lie down on each layer to see how it supports you and keeps your spine aligned. You don’t want any gaps between the mattress and your body. 

Build Your DIY Mattress

Finally, it’s time to assemble your DIY mattress. To do this, you’ll want to start on a flat surface like your hardwood floor. If you’re building the mattress in an area with carpet, get a big piece of plywood to use to build it on. Get your materials and remove them from their packaging. Also, be aware that it’s common for any foam, but memory foam especially, to have an odor when you first open them. It can last for a few days, but it’s 100% harmless. Unroll the foam and give them a day or two to air out.

Building a DIY Mattress That is All-Latex

Start the process to create your DIY mattress by unzipping the mattress cover and spreading it out flat on the floor. Put a support layer of high-density Dunlop latex as the first layer inside of the mattress cover. Next, put your first comfort layer on top of the support layer. If you have more than one comfort layer, the firmer one goes in first so the softest latex comes out on top.

Put in any additional comfort layers you have, working from firmest to softest. Make sure each layer lies flush with the one below it. When you get them all in, zip up your mattress cover. Finish by putting it on your bed frame and adding your sheets.

Building a DIY Mattress That is All-Foam

Start by unzipping the mattress cover and spreading it out on the floor. If you decide to get a base layer with polyfoam, put it inside the cover. Next, put your support layer of your high-density polyfoam over this base layer inside the cover. The foam should lie flush with the base layer.

It’s now time to put your comfort layer on top of the support layer. If you have more than one comfort layer, put the firmer one in first. The foams should always lie flush to the one below it to give you a sturdy mattress. Put in any additional comfort layers if you have them before zipping up the cover. Put the mattress on the frame, put the sheets on, and enjoy your new DIY all-foam mattress.

Building a DIY Mattress That is a Hybrid

To build a hybrid mattress, you’ll unzip your mattress cover and spread it out on the floor as your first step. Lay down your base layer of polyfoam inside of your mattress cover. Put the support layer with pocketed coils in next on top of your base layer. The edges of your coil layer should lay flush with the base layer.

When you get them situated, it’s time to put the first comfort layer in. As always, if you have more than one comfort layer, put the firmer one in first and then the softer one while keeping them all flush. Zip up your cover, put it on your bed frame, add sheets, and enjoy it.

  • HappyDIYHome Note: No matter which DIY mattress you choose, using glue to adhere each layer to the one below is optional. In many cases, you can skip it. As long as you buy the correct mattress cover size, your foam layers won’t shift. Using adhesive can make your DIY mattress less flexible and breathable. 

It’s also a good idea to skip the glue if you think that you’ll want to swap the layers out in the future to change up how your bed feels.

4 Building Your Mattress
Building your mattress shouldn’t take a huge amount of time as you’re mostly stacking support and comfort layers before zipping everything into a neat cover.

DIY Mattress Frequently Asked Questions

Since many people don’t consider making a DIY mattress, it makes sense that there would be many questions surrounding this project, just like there is the first time you refinish floors or furniture. We’ve picked out some of the most common ones below.

1. Is creating a DIY mattress challenging?

The great news is that a DIY mattress takes no real skills to assemble. If you’ve ever had to put IKEA furniture together, you’ve already taken on something more challenging than this project. It does require a little bit of work to get the layers situated, especially if you go for heavier coil or latex layers. It requires zero drilling, sewing, mixing, hammering, cutting, stuffing, or welding. You will have to do your research and plan though.

2. Do you need to include fire retardants in your DIY mattress?

You may or may not know that the laws in the United States require that any and all mattresses sold pass the fire retardation test. Most mainstream mattress companies now use a fire retardant sock that is made out of rayon and materials that have amorphous silica in it. Some very cheap mattresses enlist fiberglass to make it fire retardant. Green or organic mattresses use wool. Because you’re creating a DIY mattress for personal use instead of retail purposes, you don’t have to worry about the fire retardant layers. However, if you have your bed by an open flame by a fireplace or something else, it’s a good idea to add them.

3. Will making a DIY mattress save money?

It can! However, it may not. The price depends on what your budget is to begin with and how many alterations you have to do to your mattress. If you get the build right on the first try, it can save you a decent amount of money compared to pre-built mattresses of the same quality. If you have a build that requires you to swap multiple layers out, the costs will quickly start to add up.

4. Do you need anything below the coil layer?

There is debate on this answer. Some people claim that it’s unnecessary to have anything below the coil layer while others claim you need at least an inch of foam. So, this one is really up to you.

5. Do you need a transition layer and what is it?

Just as the name implies, the transition layer on your DIY mattress is something you put between your support and comfort layers. This layer will vary widely from person to person, and it’ll also depend heavily on your preferred sleeping position and how much you weigh. For many people, adding a transition layer of foam with an ILD between 22 and 30 would be a nice addition.

It’s a personal decision whether or not you need a transition layer between your support and comfort levels. Many DIY and pre-built mattresses feature the two layer approach that works just fine. If you choose to have a two-layer system in your mattress but it’s slightly too firm, a transition layer in the middle could soften it up. If you’re building a memory foam hybrid, you will 100% need a transition layer.

Bottom Line

For a confident DIYer, building your own mattress has many possibilities. You can create a DIY mattress that perfectly fits your needs, and this is a significantly cheaper option that costs a fraction of what it would to buy a pre-built one. So, we suggest you use this guide to create your own DIY mattress and get an excellent night’s rest as soon as you can.

DIY Mattress 1 DIY Mattress 2