Sunday, August 9, 2015

DIY Batting Bed - Is It For You?

Whatever your problem with your current sleeping solution - mold, bed bugs, dust mites, latex allergies, simple discomfort, or a dislike of synthetic foam - you are probably where we were a few years ago when we decided to switch to what we now call our "batting bed." We debated long and hard before we decided to try this DIY method. It worked for us, but that's not to say it would work for you.

Here is a list of preliminary questions to ask yourself to figure out if making a batting bed is a good idea for you or not.

Do you like firm beds? 

This is a firm bed. If you need plush, soft, or cushy, it won't work for you, even if you add memory foam or down mattress toppers.

If you haven't slept long-term on firm beds before, I will suggest you not make hasty assumptions here. I slept on plush, body-conforming mattresses for decades, convinced I had no choice given all my back problems. Never did I imagine I'd prefer sleeping on a bed so firm, but I do now. Of course, my back problems are mine; yours might be different. I talk about the special accommodations I make for my back on this page.)

And of course, if you are like my husband, the kind of person who's perfectly happy throwing a sleeping bag down on the floor and snoozing away, this bed will be more than soft enough.

Do you like sleeping on a solid platform?

This mattress does not work with a slatted frame or box spring. It is intended as a floor bed. It requires the support of a floor or at the very least a solid board platform. A tatami mat is optional to protect the bed, but a typical futon frame with slats or holes won't work.

Do you understand about cotton beds and moisture?

Cotton is wonderful - firm, breathable and natural - but it has its own issues, and one of them is moisture. Any sleeping surface made of cotton you will probably want to wash eventually. That is because cotton soaks up a lot of humidity from the mere act of sleeping. The warm bodies sleeping on top of cotton create a tiny little weather system similar to the way clouds are formed.

When the cotton bed is on the floor, the situation is even more pronounced. Floors are quite cold, bodies are quite warm, and as we know from meteorology, when a warm front meets a cold front, the result is condensation. Water condensing between a mattress and a hard floor means the encouragement of mold growth and the picking up of yucky stuff from the floor.  A tatami mat can minimize, but won't necessarily eliminate, this problem. Which means you will want to wash it.

While futons and shikibutons are not usually washable, our cotton batting bed solution is.

Do you have the necessary resources?

You will need:
  • at least $300 per person, which is the estimated cost in US$ in the year 2015 of the minimum amount of quilt batting needed (unless you have your own large supply of quilt batting)
  • measuring tape
  • some long strips of cardboard or scrap wood
  • some good shears or a rolling cutter 
  • easy access to a washing machine and dryer

Do you have the time to make it and maintain it?

It takes from two to seven days to make initially and then one day of maintenance (washing and reassembly) every 4-6 months, as needed.

Are you sick of throwing out mattresses because of bed bugs, dust mites, unsavory spills, mildew, and mold?

If so, you are like us - the very people our batting bed is made for. It's our DIY solution to insect and fungal bed pests and yucky stains, because it can be washed and heated in a standard washer and dryer to temperatures that kill bed bugs and dust mites and bleached to sterilize it. Should a layer ever get contaminated with something that we just can't eliminate, we can simply throw out that layer - not the whole mattress. It's green that way.

Is a bed or mattress with a fire-retardant a necessary safety feature?

Since this bed is made of the kind of cotton batting quilters put in their quilts, it does not have any fire retardant in it. If you need fire retardant in your mattress, you will need to "mod" a solution to that yourself.

If you answered yes to all the questions above except the last - or if you answered "yes" to the last but can do the mods - then I recommend you seriously consider this type of floor bed solution.

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