Do You Need a Box Spring?

Last Updated On October 2nd, 2023
Do You Need a Box Spring?

Key Takeaways

  • The Importance of Mattress Support: Using the right mattress foundation is essential to prolong your mattress’s lifespan and maintain its warranty protection.
  • What Mattresses Need a Box Spring: Box springs are commonly used with innerspring mattresses, but modern mattress types like memory foam and latex typically do not require them.
  • Other Mattress Foundations: There are various bed foundation options, including platform beds, slatted bases, metal frames, bunkie boards, and adjustable bases, each catering to specific mattress types and personal preferences. The correct choice depends on factors like mattress compatibility, support, aesthetics, and the desired sleep experience

You’ve just invested in a new high-quality mattress, and now you need a place to put it that will last just as long as the mattress does. The best foundation for your mattress largely depends on the type of mattress, and one of the most common places people put their new bed is on a box spring.

Innerspring beds go hand in hand with box spring foundations, but what about other mattress types? Do you always need to use a box spring? And when is it a bad idea to use a box spring? We’ll answer these questions and more in our article.

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Why You Need a Mattress Foundation

It’s tempting (and cost-effective!) to put your new mattress on the ground; no need to buy an extra bed frame, foundation, or box spring, right? While it’s true you can technically put your mattress anywhere, including the floor, an incompatible foundation can decrease your mattress’s lifespan or even damage it. Some companies specify the exact type of foundation you should use in their mattress warranty, because using the wrong one can void your warranty protections.

Additionally, mattresses aren’t universally compatible. For example, a memory foam mattress sitting on the floor could experience restricted airflow, leading you to wake up overheated and uncomfortable. That’s why most brands recommend using their memory foam beds on a platform bed or one with slats no more than 2.75 inches apart (to prevent sagging). On the other hand, innerspring beds must be used with a box spring to prevent sags.

A good mattress foundation can pull together the aesthetics of your bedroom, too, so it’s worth finding a high-quality one that also extends the life of your mattress.

What is a Box Spring?

Box springs are not the only foundation out there, but they are still one of the most popular bed bases because they go with innersprings, which are in turn one of the most popular mattress types. In fact, you cannot even use an innerspring coil mattress without a box spring.

Box springs sit on top of a metal frame. They’re usually made of wood and covered in fabric. This solid base is meant to absorb the bounce of innerspring coils; essentially, it acts as a shock absorber. The hollow inside of a box spring also increases airflow through a mattress, which is a plus for those who struggle to sleep cool.

Do I Need a Box Spring?

The main benefits of a box spring include better airflow and shock absorbency. Box springs also allow the user to elevate their mattress even higher above the floor, creating more storage space under the bed.

Despite the extra support from box springs, innerspring beds still have the least amount of pressure relief compared to other mattress types. Innerspring users report sagging within 5 years of buying their mattress, indicating that a box spring may not be the most useful foundation for a mattress.

Whether or not you need a box spring really depends on your mattress. Like we mentioned before, innerspring mattresses typically require a box spring. However, modern innerspring models can potentially be used with other foundations—check the mattress warranty on the company’s website for further specifications.

Mattress TypeFoundation
InnerspringBox spring, metal frame, bunkie board
Memory FoamPlatform bed, slatted bed frame, adjustable base
HybridPlatform bed, slatted bed frame, adjustable base
LatexPlatform bed, slatted bed frame, adjustable base

As you can see, most other mattress types do not require a box spring. In fact, most of them shouldn’t be used with a box spring, as it can damage the mattress materials or cause premature sagging.

Beds with coil bases, such as innersprings and hybrid mattresses, are naturally cooler than latex or memory foam thanks to their structure. However, beds with springs typically have issues with pressure relief and sagging. Thankfully, modern foam mattresses are made with cooling materials, such as gel memory foam, graphite infused foam, or open-cell foam.

Other Foundation Types

A mattress foundation is all about support. You may have back pain and need an adjustable base, or your body weight could be on the heavier side and you’ll need extra support. Review all of the options available to you to get the best night’s sleep.

Platform Beds

Platform beds are solid pieces of wood or other materials. They add height to the mattress but do not leave any room under the bed for extra storage space. Platform beds are a sleek, simple way to complement your mattress. However, they don’t allow for much airflow, so keep that in mind if you sleep hot.

Slatted Bases

do you need a box spring

Slatted bases are typically made of wood or metal and they get their name from the spaced-out wooden slats that support the mattress. Some slats come separate from the bed frame and you have to fasten them in place with Velcro or snaps.

Slats allow for excellent air circulation, but take care not to choose slats with large space in between. If you’re using them with a foam mattress, the slats should be no more than 2.75 inches apart to avoid any sagging or damage.

Metal Bed Frame

Metal frames go with box springs or you can use them on their own. They are one of the most inexpensive foundation types, but they’re also not as durable or aesthetically pleasing.

If you want to use a metal frame, pay attention to the type; some of them come with slats, which make them compatible with foam or hybrid beds. Others do not have any slats, and you must use those with a box spring on top.

Bunkie Boards

Bunkie boards are similar to box springs. Both are made of wood, but a bunkie board is a solid piece of wood covered with a piece of fabric, so some consider bunkie boards to be a sturdier alternative to box springs. Because they are just one solid piece of wood, they’re often cheaper than box springs, too.

Unlike box springs, bunkie boards do not add any extra height to a mattress because they are just a thin piece of plywood or particleboard. This makes them a good space saver, but if you don’t like the look of a low-profile bed, you might be better off with a box spring or other foundation type.

Adjustable Bases

Adjustable bed bases were once considered a luxury item, only available for those who needed in-home medical care. Now you can find adjustable bases easily, and many mattress companies even offer adjustable bed and mattress packages at a discounted price.

Adjustable bases plug into your wall and are operated with a remote. You can use most mattresses with an adjustable base, but innerspring beds may not be compatible with all adjustable base models because the springs do not bend or fold easily.

You can elevate your legs and head with an adjustable base, which can help with circulation, restless leg syndrome, numbness, snoring, sleep apnea, lower back pain, and more. Another plus of adjustable beds is that they work well with split queen or split king beds, allowing each person in the bed to customize their comfort level.

Unlike wooden frames, adjustable beds are not as aesthetically pleasing. They’re also loud and cumbersome to move.


What mattress does not need a boxspring?

Most modern mattresses, especially foam and hybrid mattresses, do not require a traditional box spring. These mattresses are designed to work well on a platform bed, slatted bed frame, adjustable bed base, or even directly on a bunkie board.

Box springs are primarily used with innerspring mattresses to provide additional support and shock absorption. Even many modern innerspring mattresses don’t require a box spring.

What should I put under my mattress?

The choice of what to put under your mattress depends on the type of bed frame or base you have, along with the type of mattress you’re using and its weight. For a traditional bed frame, you can use a box spring or a bunkie board as a rule of thumb to provide support.

Platform beds typically do not require any additional support, as they have built-in slats or a solid platform surface. Adjustable bed bases, such as those for memory foam mattresses, offer customized support and do not require any additional under-mattress support.

Is it OK to sleep on a mattress on the floor?

While it is possible to place a mattress directly on the floor, we can’t recommend it for hygiene and comfort reasons. Placing a mattress on the floor restricts airflow, potentially leading to moisture buildup and mattress mold growth. A mattress on the floor is also more susceptible to dust, dirt, and pests, which can be challenging to manage compared to a raised bed frame. All of this can be detrimental to the mattress’s longevity and your health.

With reduced airflow, a mattress on the floor may not offer as efficient temperature regulation as one on a proper bed frame, which can impact your sleep comfort. Sleeping on the floor or just closer to the ground can also make it more challenging to get in and out of bed, particularly for older sleepers.

Do you need a boxspring with a bed frame?

For platform bed frames, which are becoming increasingly popular, there is typically no need for a box spring. These bed frames are explicitly designed to provide direct support to a mattress. They often feature slats or a solid platform surface that offers the necessary support, eliminating the requirement for a box spring. This minimalist approach aligns well with modern mattress types, such as memory foam and latex, that do not need a box spring.

In contrast, panel bed frames tend to require a box spring or some form of mattress foundation. These bed frames are constructed with space beneath the mattress, accommodating the use of a box spring. For innerspring mattresses, traditionally, the extra support from a box spring has been considered beneficial. Other mattress types may need other support if placed in a panel bed.

Which Foundation Is Best For You?

So, now that you’ve read about all the different bed foundations available, you probably know which one will work best with your new mattress. If you have an innerspring mattress, a traditional box spring will work well with your setup. Keep in mind that box springs can be susceptible to bed bugs or dust mites, so use a mattress protector or encasement and keep your sleeping area clean.

Don’t use an old box spring with your new mattress if the box spring is more than 10 years old—it may have accumulated dust mites or other allergens at this point.

When you’ve decided which foundation is best, simply choose the corresponding size to match your mattress. Practically every foundation type we discussed in this article comes in every available mattress size—from twin XL to California King. Selecting the proper support to go with your mattress is the key to maintaining the mattress’s quality and getting better sleep.

About the author

Stacy Liman is a journalism graduate student and a freelance writer with a focus on mindfulness and content marketing. Her passion for understanding and writing about the science of sleep enables her to provide valuable insights into achieving healthier and deeper rest. Stacy's commitment to helping people improve their sleep drives her exploration of new mattresses and sleep-promoting gadgets.

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