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Do You Need a Box Spring?

Do You Need a Box Spring?

Read our guide to learn when you do and don’t need a box spring for your mattress.

Box springs used to be one of the only options when it came to buying a support for your mattress, but foundations and bed frames have become more popular. Many are doing away with the box spring. Some even settle for a mattress on the floor. However, there are some good reasons why you need good support for your mattress.

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What Is A Box Spring?

A box spring is a wooden box covered in cloth with springs inside, meant to act as a base and additional support system for your mattress. They are available in all the sizes mattresses come in (the common ones, at least) including twin, full, queen, king and California king.

What Is The Purpose Of A Box Spring? 

A box spring is a support for the mattress; it absorbs some of the impact you give it by jumping on it, falling on it, or just general use over time. A box spring provides a durable, flat surface for your mattress that can reduce the wear. Box springs can also keep your mattress up off the floor; which helps maintain good hygiene, and makes it easier for you to get on and off of your mattress. 

What Is A Mattress Foundation? 

Mattress foundations have become a common way to keep your mattress supported and up off the ground. Foundations are usually made of wood or metal, and don’t have any shock-absorbing springs in them. There are four common types of bed foundations, including: 

  • Platform foundation — Platform foundations are popular in Europe and have begun to catch on in the United States. A platform foundation is usually made of wood and is solid. 
  • Slatted bed frame — A slatted bed frame is a type of platform bed with slats of wood or metal, meant to hold up and support your mattress. 
  • Adjustable base — The base moves much like a hospital bed so you can have an incline, bend your knees, or both. This is perfect for anyone with chronic pain, recovering after a surgery, or those who are avid readers in bed. 
  • Metal bed frame — Metal bed frames are made of, ahem, metal, and are more durable than wood frames. Sometimes they have rods going across from top to bottom, much like a slatted frame, and sometimes they are just on the outside and have a lip all around that supports the mattress. 

Box Spring vs Foundation

Now you might be wondering whether you need a box spring or a foundation for the base of your mattress. It’s a completely personal choice. 

Some cons about box springs are:

  • They can break down over time, giving you something to replace regularly
  • If they aren’t replaced regularly, they can be home to an overload of dust mites, and maybe even some insects
  • If you have any pets, especially cats, they will love to scratch and tear the cloth on the box spring, so that’s also something to consider

Foundations and platform beds are similar in that they are both usually made of wood (sometimes metal) and provide a flat, unmoving support for your mattress. They also both keep your mattress off the ground. Though, what are some reasons why someone might choose a box spring over a foundation?

Some cons about foundations are:

  • Most require assembly, whether it be quick or pretty time consuming
  • Might not be as ideal as a box spring for thin innerspring beds 

Why Beds Need A Supportive Base

Mattresses need a sturdy and supportive foundation, especially the newer mattresses or all-foam beds, for a proper support system. Beware — if you don’t use one and you own a more modern mattress, you might unknowingly void the mattress’s warranty. The newer foam and latex mattress warranties will require that you have a supportive base underneath your mattress so it doesn’t break down as fast. 

You’ll want to read the warranty from the brand you got your mattress from, because it will tell you whether or not the mattress requires a base. That’s why we always suggest you read the warranty before purchasing a bed from a brand, just so you know what you’re getting yourself into. 

What About The Floor? 

You can sleep with your mattress on the floor if you really want to, but it’s not the best option. It looks sloppy, it’s not sanitary, and as mentioned before, you might void the warranty. 

Sometimes there are exceptions, like if you have to sleep with your mattress on the floor due to budget reasons or while you are waiting for your new foundation or box spring to be delivered to your house. 

If You Already Have A Box Spring

For those of you who currently have a box spring and are buying a new mattress, you’re probably going to need a new foundation. Box springs usually need to be replaced when it’s time to get a new mattress — like we said before, old box springs are a haven for dust, dust mites, and even bugs (dead and alive). 

If you use an old, worn out box spring with a new mattress, it could cause premature wear on the mattress, even causing it to droop or sag. If your box spring is fairly new and it doesn’t make the height of your new mattress too tall, you may be an exception. 


How much money should I spend on a foundation?

How much you spend on a foundation depends on which type you are buying and what size it is. A twin foundation would be the cheapest because it’s the smallest. If you’ve saved enough for a really nice foundation, go for the adjustable bed frame which can cost between $550 and $1,500, or even over $2,000 for a luxury one. 

A basic metal or wooden foundation, on the other hand, will usually cost about $150 on the budget side. The average cost of a bed frame is a little over $200, give or take $50 or so. 

Can I return my box spring or foundation?

That depends on the box spring or foundation company’s return policy. Make sure you understand the return policy before you buy a foundation. Some of the brands in our Best Adjustable Bed Frame list, for example, have 30-50 day trials.

How do I get rid of an old box spring?

Recycle your old box spring by checking with local women’s shelters, homeless shelters, or nearby recycling centers. You will likely find a place that can repurpose it, or recycle it for you.