Box Spring vs. Foundation: What’s the Difference?

By Stacy Liman
Last Updated On May 18th, 2020

Both box springs and foundations serve as excellent bed bases, providing your mattress with desired support and enhancing your bed’s performance. Though box springs and foundations serve the same purpose,…

Box Spring vs. Foundation: What’s the Difference?

Both box springs and foundations serve as excellent bed bases, providing your mattress with desired support and enhancing your bed’s performance.

Though box springs and foundations serve the same purpose, they differ from each other. Some mattress types are better supported by one bed base over the other. Depending on your mattress type, you may decide to choose one over another.

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Both box springs and foundations serve as support. They can be paired with bed frames or used as stand-alone support systems. Pairing a foundation with a frame gives your bed set more height, as many mattress foundations are low to the ground.

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a wooden frame with a layer of steel coils inside, topped with an anti-skid fabric. Unlike traditional box springs, some modern-day models have a steel frame for enhanced support.

Coils in the box spring promote airflow while providing sturdy support. The extra give from the box spring ensures even distribution of weight on the surface and prevents sagging.

Box springs are best paired with traditional innerspring mattresses because the layer of coils inside serve as shock absorbers, reducing motion transfer. Other mattress types like memory foam or latex are not compatible because these heavier mattresses may break the coils, leading to sagging.

Check with the mattress manufacturer about which type of mattress foundation works best to support your mattress.

Pros and Cons of a Box Spring

As traditional innerspring mattresses became popular, box springs rose to fame too. Box springs offer some advantages, but they are not sturdy enough to last long or bear the weight of heavier foam mattresses.

Pros

  • Coils promote airflow and enhance breathability
  • Coils serve as shock-absorbers
  • Supports the mattress

Cons

  • Springs break down over time
  • Noise potential
  • Risk of sagging
  • Not compatible with some mattress types

What is a Foundation?

A mattress foundation is a wooden box with wood slats across the surface, usually covered by a breathable fabric. Unlike box springs, foundations are designed for more support than give. The strong support may cause the mattress to feel firmer.

The spacing between the slats determines the support provided by the foundation. The less space in between slats the better the support—usually 2 to 3 inches apart.

Foundations are compatible with most mattress types—sturdy enough to bear the weight of heavy latex, memory foam, or hybrid mattresses. However, innerspring mattresses are best paired with box springs. Foundations may be placed on a platform bed too to enhance support.

Foundation vs. Box Spring

Our Amerisleep Mattress Foundation features solid pine wood rails and slats to provide durable support. The pinewood slats are wrapped in a non-slip fabric enclosure, keeping your mattress secure.

Prices of our Amerisleep Mattress Foundations

Mattress Foundation SizePrice
Twin $225
Twin XL$250
Full$275
Queen$300
King$350
California King$350

Pros and Cons of a Foundation

Foundations are replacing box springs especially with the growing popularity of latex and memory foam mattresses. While foundations offer advantages, they also bring some disadvantages.

Pros

  • Compatible with most mattress types
  • Durable
  • Strong and even support

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Lacks give
  • May create pressure points with a firmer surface

Difference Between a Box Spring and Foundation

Both box springs and foundations serve as good bed bases for your mattress, depending on the mattress type. They both increase the height of your mattress, making it easier to get in and out of the bed. If you have back pain or knee pain, a low profile may cause difficulty in getting in and out of bed.

While box springs and foundations are similar, they are also different.

ParametersBox SpringFoundation
SupportSupports your mattress while providing enough give and bounceProvides firmer support for your mattress—good for those looking for a firmer bed
DurabilitySpring coils are prone to wear and tear causing broken coils and noise potentialFirm, even support lasts longer. More durable than a box spring
WeightLighter than a solid structure foundationHeavier than a box spring, making transportation difficult.
Compatibility with Mattress TypesCompatible with innerspring bedsCompatible with memory foam, latex, hybrid, and innerspring beds
Avg. Price (Queen)$100-300$200-500

Other Types of Bed Bases

If the box spring or foundation doesn’t suit your needs, opt for other types of bed bases such as an adjustable base or platform bed frame.

Adjustable Bed Bases

The adjustable bed base takes comfort to a new level by elevating your head or feet to the most comfortable position for sleep. Our Amerisleep Adjustable Bed includes special features like body massagers, a gentle alarm, under-bed lighting, and charging ports for unparalleled luxury.

Platform Beds

Platform beds are simple, low-raised bed frames with a solid (or slatted) wood or metallic surface. They come in a variety of styles, with some including headboards and footboards. Platform beds are compatible with all mattress types.

FAQs

What is the standard height of bed bases?

While the lower profiles are 5.5 inches or lower, the mid-ranged ones are between 6 to 8.5 inches and the higher profiles maybe 9 inches and taller. A higher profile makes getting in and out of the bed easier, while a lower profile adds a sleek, modern touch to your room.

What are bunkie boards?

Bunkie boards are a piece of plywood usually placed on top of older mattress foundations to enhance support beneath foam mattresses. Some bunkie boards are made of particleboard or wood chips.

Bunkie boards are often used as support for bunk beds but are also a good option for sleepers setting their mattress directly on the floor.

Which Bed Base Is Right for Me?

Bed bases ensure a strong support system, securing a good night’s sleep. For a firmer mattress, foundations with a slatted surface enhance the firmness of your bed. Foundations are compatible with most mattresses, but a box spring goes best with innerspring mattresses.

Before you buy a new mattress, check with the mattress manufacturer about a recommended bed base. Both box springs and foundations are available in standard sizes from a twin to a California king.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

Stacy Liman is a journalism graduate student and a freelance writer with a focus on mindfulness and content marketing. Stacy enjoys discovering new mattresses and connecting people with their perfect bed, but she more so enjoys understanding and writing about the science of sleep to help people get deeper, healthier rest.

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