If You Can't Afford a New Mattress, Here is How to Make One

How to Make Your Own Mattress

In the fall of 2011, my husband and I had a serious problem. The mattress I had been sleeping on for several years had finally given up the ghost, and we did not have enough money to replace it. A used mattress was not an option (can you say eeewww!?), and continuing to sleep on my old, worn-out mattress was giving me back pain, making the tired all the time, and (most significantly to my husband) making me irritable in a way that usually happens once a month.

After thinking about it for a little while, Hubby came up with an unorthodox solution. We made me new mattress out of my old one, plus a few things that were lying around our apartment.

If you ever find yourself in the same situation, you can do what we did and save yourself some serious cash.

You will need

  • Your (clean!) used spring mattress (do not do this with a waterbed!)
  • Two or three pieces of a crate foam mattress topper (if your old mattress does not have much padding and/or a pillow top)
  • Utility knife
  • An inexpensive air mattress with pump
  • Netted shelf protector (about six roles, usually available at dollar stores)
  • Plastic mattress cover (again, dollar store)
  • Box spring, sheet of plywood covered with an old bed-sheet, or a carpeted floor (this will be the surface your new mattress will sit on)

Using a utility knife, cut apart your old mattress. (Have fun with this! How often do you get the save money by destroying something?) Try to follow the seams, though, so you don't cut through any of the mattress padding. You'll be using the padding later.

Remove all the padding from your old mattress. If your mattress has a pillow top, remove the foam from that as well. If your mattress does not have much padding, or the padding is really worn out, you may need to get some cheap egg-crate mattress topper foam from a big-box store.

When you have finished removing all the padding from the old mattress, take the spring frame to a scrap metal recycling center. You should be able to get some money for it. (Cha Ching!)

Clean off the surface you planned to use your new mattress on. You need to make sure there's nothing sharp that could puncture the air mattress, lest it (literally!) let you down. Next, unroll two roles of the shelf protector and lay them lengthwise on your box-spring. These provide friction which will keep the air mattress from sliding around.

Inflate your air mattress using the pump that that came with it. Do not inflate it all the way; you'll want to leave it slightly soft, as this is more comfortable for long-term use. Place the air mattress directly on top of the strips of shelf protector. Nudge the air mattress a few times to make sure it cannot slide easily.

Lay two more strips of shelf protector on top of the inflated air mattress. On top of this, place one layer of your foam padding. Add two more steps of shelf protector. Place another layer of foam on top of that. Continue building until you either run out of foam or have a mattress the size you want.

Unwrap your mattress protector and place it over the layers you made out of the air mattress and padding. In this case, the mattress protector is not there to ensure cleanliness (although that may be of benefit, especially if you have little kids around!). Instead, it is there to hold everything together. If you decide to reinforce things with some duct-tape around the bottom edge, I won't tell.

Make your bed away you normally do. ENJOY YOUR NEW MATTRESS!

Safety note:

All the foam used in mattress is, or sell for use on beds, should confirm the the legal fire safety standards of your area. Check labels if you're not sure, especially if the bed will be used by children, the elderly, or anyone with mobility issues.