Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

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Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby Belmo » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:14 am

I'm about halfway through my build, and I'm dormant for the winter: my garage is small, and though I can fit my TD in there, there's nowhere near enough room in there to work on it, so I've had to do my build in my driveway. It works great -- roll it out, work on it, then roll it back in the garage -- but I ain't going to be out there working power tools when it's 20 degrees outside. Since we'll not be camping until spring, I put the damn thing away for the winter, and will get back to work when the weather breaks, which will hopefully be in early March this year in my neck of the woods (Philly).

I've been thinking of things I can do during the winter, and one that popped into my head is the mattress. My TD is going to be bigger than the norm, with the inside about 8 feet long by about 6'6" wide. I made it bigger for more room for us (we have a soon-to-be-13 year old kid), and in case we want to camp with the dogs. I have a queen size foam mattress that I scored for short money from a guy who was moving to France and needed to unload it, and I'll pick up another one that's big enough to cover the rest of the floor (I think a full will do, but I have to measure). I'll have to trim both mattresses a bit, but that's OK, because I've cut foam before, and it's easy. I do want the mattress to cover the entire floor, both for insulation (the walls and roof of the TD will be insulated, but the 6-inch foam will be the floor insulation), and to allow maximum versatility for where people sleep (and which way the heads and feet are oriented; the inside will be wide enough for shorter people to sleep sideways, as it were, rather than front to back).

The whole time I've spent designing the TD, I planned to have the mattress be only two pieces: the queen and full foam mattresses, cut to fit the inside of the camper. It seemed that it would be more comfortable that way. But in looking at the pictures on this board the past few days, I've started to come around to thinking that cutting the foam into panels, like two feet wide, would be better: it would make it easier to remove the mattresses, or (and this is the big one for me) if we want to store stuff inside the camper while we're moving. When we go camping, we're planning on putting all our gear -- bags of clothes, canopies, sleeping bags, coolers, the whole bit -- inside the camper when we're driving, and I think I like the idea of putting them on the wood floor, rather than on the foam, so that the foam doesn't get all squished while we're moving. This will be a lot easier if the foam is cut into sections: I could stack them against the wall, get them out of the way, and then load stuff inside so it's not on the foam. Then take all the crap out when we get where we're going, put the foam panels back together, and we're good to go.

And if I'm going to cut the foam into sections, that's something I can do this winter: I can cut the foam, and also make the covers, inside, when it's cold out (I'm going to make covers for the foam, like a dog bed, so that we'll not be sleeping on naked foam). But before I do that, I want to ask a question here: is it better sleeping on foam if it's one piece, rather than cut up into sections like a futon? I'm thinking that it probably doesn't make much difference if the foam is tight (pieces are tight together), but that's just a guess. I don't want to hack my foam mattress to pieces, only to find out after a couple of lousy nights sleeping that I should have kept it in as few pieces as possible.

Does anyone have any feedback on this? Input will be appreciated. Thank you!
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby dirtsailor2003 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:50 pm

In my cargo conversion I have three pieces of foam as our mattress. I does make it easier to store and get out of the way.

My wife made removable covers for each piece. So they are easy to take off and throw in the washer.

The are cut to fit the folding bunks I made. Cut with an electric knife, best way to get clean cuts. Made them slightly bigger so when assembled they don’t move.

Lots of photos of my build in the cargo trailer build forum here.


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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby tony.latham » Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:16 pm

My experience with this comes from my first teardrop. (The little teardrop over to the right.) It was commercially made by Hunter and had a two-piece foam mattress that went down the middle. Perhaps it wasn't tight enough but you could certainly feel that "joint."

If you do decide to do this, I'd make sure your hips don't end up with a cut under them.

How big's your door?

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:thinking: That's a vacuum packed 8-incher.


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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby Modstock » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:36 pm

I decided to keep mine one piece after sleeping in my dad's motorhome. I could feel the gap between the cushions.

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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby les45 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:22 am

On my first teardrop, I did not cut the queen size mattress. On my pop-up project, I cut my queen size foam mattress down the middle lengthwise for ease of storing. I simply rolled up each section and strap it with a luggage strap. Since the seam is down the middle, neither of us feels the joint when sleeping on it. I did this on my previous pop-up project (see avatar) because I had to remove the mattress in order to store the portable wall panels on top of the bed frame. I've now converted my project to a retro standy and I leave the mattress in place full time. I plan to store some camping gear (EZ Up, chairs, tables, etc.) on top of the mattress during travel as it will rebound quickly once the gear is removed.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby Belmo » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:30 am

tony.latham wrote:How big's your door?


That is a very good question! :D And one I didn't even think about!

I think I can fit the mattress in my door. But I'll try getting it through the opening before I actually install the doors. If I can't fit it pretty easily, then a-cutting I will go.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby tony.latham » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:27 am

Belmo wrote:
tony.latham wrote:How big's your door?


That is a very good question! :D And one I didn't even think about!

I think I can fit the mattress in my door. But I'll try getting it through the opening before I actually install the doors. If I can't fit it pretty easily, then a-cutting I will go.


I’ve done it using straps to make a tight roll.

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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby noseoil » Sat Jan 04, 2020 8:00 am

Unless there's a reason to split it (storage beneath, etc.) we went with a 1-piece, it's simpler, but remember to slide it in before you cut it loose. We did a good quality 5" foam mattress with a 3" Costco memory foam topper (full size for our 5' wide build). It's really a good way to go for quality sleeping! There's a little "slop" on the side to side measurement, a couple of inches, so there's a pool noodle on either side at the doors, to keep things from moving around on the road.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby Belmo » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:48 am

noseoil wrote:Unless there's a reason to split it (storage beneath, etc.) we went with a 1-piece, it's simpler, but remember to slide it in before you cut it loose.


I think I'm going to do this, if only for one rather important reason: I can always cut it later. But once I cut it, I can't really put it back together. :D
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby halfdome, Danny » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:41 pm

Our mattresses is two individually covered pieces with zippers.
The advantage is it's a lot easier to put a fitted sheet on it by lifting one over the other then popping them down in the center.
Also we need to occasionally spray bleach on the foam to ward off mold.
With two pieces you can rotate the top piece that bears most of the weight to the bottom.
Our under bed storage is in the door area so we only have to lift one of the mattresses.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby dmb90260 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:20 am

My teardrop had the big piece cut lengthwise. Those were cut into three pieces. These were then covered in material. Those pieces were connected so they could be folded to for a 2 piece seat and one piece back rest to make a couple seats inside the cabin. II only needed on side for sleeping.
As I recall the top of piece 1 was connected to piece 2. the bottom of piece 2 was connected to piece 3, allowing for the seat shape.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby Vedette » Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:39 pm

Ours are three piece in Miss Piggy so we can access the under floor storage bins (clothes).
The two top pieces (head end) are split down the middle length ways but held together by a zippers cover, with
the third piece (knees to feet) separate across the bottom.
Works Great. :thumbsup:
The two top pieces are stored like a Tee Pee when the trailer is not I use to keep them are out and dry.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby RJ Howell » Sun Jan 26, 2020 3:11 pm

Caught into the same debate: Cut or not to cut. Problem has always been when cut having it as two separate sections and that dam seam. For me I could 1/3 to 2/3 cut it and get it off the center. Possibly even 1/4 to 3/4.. Now, I have to fold, bed/couch thing.. You don't have to, maybe a gas strut to lift??
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby gudmund » Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:27 pm

have used 2/3 different mattress combinations in my 2 tears. In my first 4x8 I started with a W-M 4in thick Memory Foam 'full' sized cut down to fit the width of the 4x8. It ended up being "not" dense enough for my body weight. I ended up adding another W-M Memory Foam pad - 1.5 inch thick on top of it and this worked. Years later I had a local mattress factory cut a piece of their 5in bed foam which ended up being "TOO" dense/hard for me = I ended up adding the 1.5in W-M memory to it which made it good - BUT both setups were just so "hard" getting in/out of the trailer alone by myself though the side doors. The new tear is a 5x8 and just after buying it I found Camping World had 2 - 30in wide/5in thick 'bunk' bed -'Denver Mattress's'- on close out ($89 each) and have found them so far to be working great!! They are !!SO!! much easier for one person to pull in/out alone and as far as the middle goes? - I usually have to feel for it with my hand being I hardly ever notice it when laying down. It is a "very tight" fit between them (trailer inside width 58.5 inches/mattresses = 60) - I do make a point to rotate the mattresses every time I remove/install them so as to slow down the edge-wear which will probably happen as time goes on.
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Re: Foam Mattress -- One piece, or cut it in sections?

Postby bdosborn » Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:31 pm

I cut my 6" thick cushions into 4 pieces so I can turn the bed into couches:
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The splits between the cushions don't bother me, I sleep fine. I got my mattress from the Foam Factory
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