For most mattresses, having something between the mattress itself and the floor is helpful. Whether this should be a box spring, a foundation, or a platform bed depends on several factors.
All mattresses will benefit from having a firm, solid foundation to rest on. Box springs were created to help absorb impact, reducing the wear and tear on the mattress. However, box springs were more prevalent when mattresses had much thinner profiles overall, and were primarily innerspring designs. Today, most modern mattresses do not necessarily require a box spring.
Determining whether it’s better to sleep with or without a box spring depends on a few factors. The main people that should use a box spring include:
- Those using a traditional metal rail bed frame, which is designed to cradle box springs
- Those with an older innerspring mattress designed for use with a box spring
- Those with a mattress whose manufacturer specifically recommends box springs
- Those who want to elevate their bed to make it easier to get in and out of (although other box spring alternatives can serve this same purpose)
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t use a box spring. These include:
- Those with newer memory foam, latex, or hybrid mattresses
- Those who prefer the style or functionality of a platform bed, wood foundation, or other kind of bed base
- Those who prefer to sleep with a mattress directly on the floor
Over a decade ago, a box spring was essentially required when buying a new mattress. Today, that’s not necessarily the case. Most modern mattresses including mattresses in a box do not require a box spring. In fact, traditional box springs don’t provide the rigid support needed for many newer foam and latex beds. Box springs are primarily designed for use with coil-based mattresses. This means innersprings and hybrids are the best mattress types to use with box springs.
Box springs are designed for use with innerspring beds, and some models do not provide the same type of rigid support needed for a foam bed. While even the best mattress models made today benefit from a supportive foundation, certain types don’t require a box spring – and for some, using a box spring can cause permanent structural damage. If you’re looking for other options to use instead of box springs, consider platform beds and wood slat foundations.
To determine whether or not you need a box spring, it’s helpful to read the recommendations of your bed’s manufacturer. You can find this information on the manufacturer or retailer’s website, and often on the tag attached to the mattress itself. Different styles of mattresses can benefit from different types of foundations, so it’s helpful to go directly to the source to see what the manufacturer recommends. Not only that, but also some mattress warranties will stipulate that you use a recommended type of bed base or render them void.
What is a Box Spring?
A box spring is a support for your mattress that’s manufactured to be the same size as the bed. It consists of a wooden frame filled with springs (or a metal grid) and wrapped in fabric. It sits directly under the mattress, providing support.
The box spring is intended to serve a few purposes:
- To provide underlying support for the mattress
- To raise the mattress up to a more comfortable height
- To protect the mattress by absorbing impact
- To improve airflow, which helps to keep the mattress cooler
Box springs provide support, but are also able to absorb some shock from the mattress itself. This is a good feature for innerspring beds, but can be damaging for foam mattresses. A foam bed, which lacks the rigid structure of an innerspring mattress, should be used with a very solid support base, such as a platform bed.
The term “box spring” refers to the traditional design that uses actual springs (or metal grid patterns in cheaper models) surrounded by a wooden or metal frame. You’ll have to replace your box spring when it begins to show signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, warping, or audible sounds when the box spring is compressed. The average box spring performs for 10 years before it needs to be replaced. Additionally, you should think about replacing the box spring if you purchase a new mattress.
There are other types of supports that you can use under a mattress, including platform beds and foundations. Determining what can be used instead of a box spring depends largely on the type of mattress you have.
Box Spring vs Foundation vs Platform Bed
Most mattresses require something between the mattress and the floor. While many beds actually function just fine when placed directly on the floor, this restricts airflow and can lead to unsanitary conditions. So, most people will want to use some sort of foundation – whether that’s a box spring, a foundation, or a platform bed depends on the type of mattress you choose, as well as personal preference.
A box spring is a simple support consisting of a wooden/metal frame, filled with metal coils/springs or a metal grid, and wrapped in fabric. They are primarily used for innerspring mattresses. Typically box springs are designed to sit on top of a bed frame.
A foundation is another type of support system that usually consists of wooden slats or flat solid frames. They function similarly to box springs, but they don’t actually contain metal springs. Foundations offer a very firm surface for mattresses to rest on, making them a good choice for foam beds. Most foundations are designed to be used with a bed frame, although some companies offer free-standing versions.
A platform bed combines both a foundation for your bed as well as a frame to keep it off the ground. Most have wooden legs to elevate the frame, while some include storage drawers reaching down to the ground level. Platform beds offer an all-in-one solution, but they can be pricier than other options.
An adjustable bed is a foundation that can be adjusted to various positions, similar to a hospital bed. These are a great option for those who like to read or watch TV in bed, and older individuals who struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Adjustable beds are significantly more expensive than other options, and can only be used with certain types of mattresses.