Air Mattress: Temporary Floor Mattress For Your Guests

Would you consider a temporary floor mattress for your guests? What about an air mattress for your small space?

This type of mattress should be:

sleeping on an air mattress
CC image courtesy of nstaeck on Flickr
  • affordable
  • easy to maintain and set up
  • comfortable
  • foldable
  • portable
  • storable

The mattress should also work well without a foundation or bed frame.

Well, I guess you know where I’m heading with this…………

The air mattress fits the bill here. You can have a look at its description in the mattress buying guide post. Or check other mattresses in the air mattress alternative article.


Origins of the air mattress

According to CNN, this floor mattress was invented in the late 19th century. The company that created it was Pneumatic Mattress & Cushion Company in Reading, Massachusetts.

sleeping on an air mattress in a small space
CC image courtesy of Tr.robinson on Flickr

The mattress was mostly used for the outdoors until in the 20th century when the use shifted to the indoors too.

And this was because of the foldable and storable properties that made it work well in limited apartment spaces.

Its popularity led to the creation of larger, elaborate air mattresses. These mattresses included other materials besides PVC such as foam and coils.


Is an air mattress comfortable?

Yes, it is for short-term use. A well-made air mattress that features a thick, non-toxic PVC will do OK. It will not leak overnight, and so your guests will sleep comfortably.

If you’re looking for one, then I recommend the Etekcity Upgraded Elevated air mattress on Amazon.

The good thing about most air mattresses is that you can adjust the air and customize it to suit your guests’ needs. And also do the following to make it more comfortable.

Tips for making an air mattress more comfortable

  • You can use a mattress topper to add comfort and also create that well-known mattress texture. Memory foam toppers and also egg crate toppers work for guests with sensitive backs.
  • Make sure the combined weight of the topper and your guest doesn’t exceed the weight of the mattress.
  • Use well-fitting sheets that are lengthy and made of fabric that isn’t slippery.
  • You can also use blankets and duvets as topper alternatives. Place them before you fit the sheets. These work so well when the weather changes at night because your floor mattress can get cold too.
    comfortable on an air mattress
    CC image courtesy of the biella on Flickr
  • And place the air mattress against a wall on a carpet or blanket. Why? To reduce the noises that may exist when your guest moves while sleeping.
  • Get a full-size air mattress even if you’re expecting one guest. Air mattresses tend to bounce a lot, so this size will keep your guest on the bed if he/she is an active sleeper.
  • Make sure the pump works well especially if it’s a built-in pump. This way your guest can adjust the air to their preferred firmness.
  • Keep your pets away from the air mattress. Yup, you know why…Those claws can do more harm on this type of floor mattress. Chances of having leaks are high if you have a pet around the house.
  • Take care of leaks (if any) so that they don’t interfere with the inflation. You don’t want to find your guest on the floor the next morning.


Is an air mattress toxic?

There has always been the fear of toxic levels emitted by the PVC (synthetic plastic polymer) materials. Check this article by the BBC.

And the effect these chemically-made substances have on human beings and the environment.

an intex air mattress
CC image courtesy of The Sleep Judge on Flickr

Although scientists and relevant authorities believe certain levels can be harmful, the materials are still being used in large quantities around the world.

To be on the safe side, some manufacturers have come up with air mattresses made of non-toxic PVC.

Others use alternative materials that work just as polymers.

For your peace of mind, shop for a non-toxic or PVC-free floor mattress like the one mentioned in this post.

And get in touch with the retailer/ manufacturer to find out the exact details of the makeup.

Is an air mattress good for medical use? Is it good for back pain?

I don’t think an air mattress is a good choice for back pain relief. And this is why it’s a temporary floor mattress. It shouldn’t be for long-term use.

It lacks the solid structure that is required to support your back. Remember, as you grow older your body will need firm support that doesn’t fluctuate here and there (air loss).

Using an air mattress especially if you have a sensitive back may make the pain worse.

But this doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for medical reasons. Some hospitals include specially made air mattresses for their patients. These mattresses are for patients with problems such as bed sores.

The bed sores come about because of pressure on the skins of patients on prolonged bed rests. The mattresses may also be used in the patients’ homes if advised by their physicians.

Try and save some funds so that you get a permanent alternative in the future.


There are three different types of air mattresses as mentioned in the mattress buying guide post.

The different types of air mattresses

 a mid-rise air mattress

CC image courtesy of Kobakou on Flickr

Standard size air mattresses

These come in standard mattress sizes. They are easy to fold and store when not in use.

Mid-rise air mattresses

The mid-rise air mattresses have a better height than their standard counterparts. They feature firm structures for extra comfort.

Elevated air mattresses

Elevated mattresses have a higher height than the mid-rise mattresses. And they include different materials in their makeup. The combination of the height and materials create luxurious surfaces.

These mattresses may come with built-in pumps or external hand-held pumps. The cheapest ones may be sold separately without the air pumps. You may be required to get an air pump if you don’t have one already.

Most manufacturers/ retailers tell their buyers to inflate their mattresses first before laying on them. If you want to get the right inflation level that will last follow the instructions.

Some of these floor mattresses with built-in pumps include switches for settings. And also feature buttons for adjusting comfort levels.


Here are some answers to some general ways of how most air mattresses work.

How do you inflate and deflate an air mattress?

  • Remove the compressed mattress in the box.
  • Place the mattress ideally on the desired space, preferably on a carpet. In most cases, the hard plastic-like surface should face the floor, be at the bottom.
  • Read the how-to-use manuals that come with most air beds.
  • Remove the electric plug from the storage hole on the mattress. The spot could be near the switch or inflate/deflate buttons.
    plugging in the air mattress
    CC image courtesy of Will C Fry on Flickr
  • Plug it in the socket (your power supply) and turn on the switch, which is on the air bed.
  • Turn the button/ dial to the inflation side to fill the mattress with air.
  • Do this a few hours before your guest sleeps on it so that it stretches well.
  • Some of these floor mattresses stretch quite a bit when new. You may have to keep inflating for some few days until it gets to the full length.
  • Remember to adjust the comfort level using the button/ dial.
    air mattress pump settings
    CC image courtesy of The Sleep Judge on Flickr


  • One thing to note though the pump can be noisy, this shouldn’t worry you because it will only last a few minutes.
  • Switch the pump off when you are done. Make sure the button is still facing the inflation side.
  • To deflate the mattress turn the button/dial to the deflate sign. In some cases, you can switch on the pump to accelerate the process.

How to inflate an air mattress without a pump

If you have an air mattress that doesn’t have a built-in pump or a separate pump, you can either:

Buy a pump from the mattress retailer and connect it to the valve and power supply for inflation.

Or if you don’t want to buy an air pump, you can try and do the following:

  • You’ll need a hair dryer and an empty plastic bottle.
  • Cut the bottle in two.bottle for air mattress pump
  • Attach the upper part of the bottle to your hair dryer’s mouth. Make sure the bottle fits well.
  • Connect the dryer to your power supply and set it with cold so that it doesn’t melt the bottle.
  • Fit the bottle mouth in the valve to inflate the mattress.
  • Be patient the process may take some time. Close the valve cap when it’s fully expanded and fits your preference.
  • Open the valve cap if you want to deflate the mattress.
  • When you’re through with the deflation, roll and fold the mattress gently and store it in a dry space.

Contact the manufacturer/ retailer if you notice a huge bulge on the inflated mattress. You may get a replacement if the mattress is new and under a warranty. If the mattress is old consider buying another one, take a look at the one mentioned in this post.

But what if you suspect it has started leaking?

How would you spot an air mattress leak?

The best way to spot a leak is to inflate the air mattress. Then check the top and bottom parts including the valve as you listen for any hissing sounds.

a leaking air mattress
CC image courtesy of ann dabney on Flickr

The sounds indicate the locations of the holes.

If you can’t quite pinpoint the area, then get an empty spray bottle and fill it with water and some detergent.

Use this method on mattresses made of PVC.

Spray it on the area where you think the source of the leak may be found. If you see bubbles, then you’ve found the hole.


How do you fix an air mattress leak?

air mattress valve
CC air valve image courtesy of The Sleep Judge on Flickr

If the problem is the valve then consider getting a new one, don’t write off your air bed yet.

Find out if the mattress brand stocks replacement valves in case of accidents or leaks.

Some brands/ retailers do. So just buy one, follow the instructions and replace your valve. Make sure the valve works well when you are through.


If the leakage is on the mattress, mark the area around lightly with a marking pen that isn’t pointed. The mark will help you remember the spot if it’s a tiny hole.

Deflate the mattress to relieve pressure on the leakage area.

Clean and dry the mattress, and apply a few coats of this Airstop Sealant by Coghlan on the hole and then leave it to dry.


Repairing a big hole or one that is on the fabric part may not be easy. But you can try and use the following:

Use this clear Gorilla Duct Tape on the hole. Don’t be afraid to use it generously on the hole. Press and then leave it to stick well.


Try this Tear-Aid fabric Repair patch if the hole is on the fabric part of the mattress. The patch adheres to the fabric without the use of glue.

Well, if this won’t help, consider getting a new mattress if the hole is too big. If you have saved some funds for a durable mattress, then check out this post on mattress reviews for under $1500.

air mattress patch kit
Cc patch kit image courtesy of Rick McCharles on Flickr

To sum it all up, buy some of these mentioned repair kits for emergencies.

So, we know one disadvantage of this floor mattress is the leaking that occurs on most of them.

Others are:

Disadvantages of an air mattress

The air mattress can get cold during winter. You may have to put a mattress pad and some bedding to make the mattress comfortable.

Your sheets may not work if the mattress is made entirely of PVC. You may have to buy sheets with non-slip properties.

The mattress may not work well for everyday use. It won’t provide that solid support that your back needs. So you may end up with body aches if you use it for the long term. It is ideal for temporary use.

The air mattress has a short lifespan. Unlike other mattresses, this one can only last a year or less.

Filling up an air mattress can take time especially if you aren’t using an electric pump. The same can be said about deflating too.

And the pumping process can be quite noisy.

The PVC may smell when new. If you are allergic, consider getting one made of other materials.

Care and maintenance

Well, I have covered the points that should be included here in the other sections of the post.

The most important thing is to read the instruction manuals that most air mattresses come with.

pet on air mattress
CC image courtesy of osseous on Flickr

And keep the mattress clean to keep bugs away and make your guest can feel comfortable.

After you deflate the mattress, you can use a clean damp cloth for cleaning.

Leave it to dry or use a clean cloth to wipe the moisture.

Remember, to keep pets away from the mattress.

And don’t forget to get a storage bag too that is big enough to fit your mattress.


This type of temporary floor mattress may be ideal for your guests especially if space is limited. You can always make it more comfortable by following the tips mentioned in the post.

Although an air mattress doesn’t have a long lifespan, it can be of use for some time until you save for a permanent option if you maintain it well.

The good thing is you can use it for camping too.

CC featured image courtesy of Cudmore on Flickr

Author: Brenda

Brenda Nadi is a proud mama, entrepreneur, and sleep blogger. She creates guides, tips, and reviews of sleep products that make comfortable environments for new buyers.

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