Platform Bed vs. Box Spring: What’s the Difference?

By April Mayer
Last Updated On June 5th, 2020

Bed bases raise the height of your mattress, making it easier to get in and out of bed. Both a platform bed and a box spring are bed bases, but a…

Platform Bed vs. Box Spring: What’s the Difference?

Bed bases raise the height of your mattress, making it easier to get in and out of bed. Both a platform bed and a box spring are bed bases, but a platform bed doubles as a bed frame. A box spring or a platform bed enhances the comfort and support of your mattress.

Once you have decided on the best mattress, it’s time to choose a complementing bed base. Our guide helps you choose the best bed base.

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What Is a Platform Bed?

A platform bed is a low profile bed frame with a solid or slatted surface for mattress support. The standard height of a platform bed ranges between 5 to 12 inches. Other traditional bed frames such as sleigh beds, canopy beds, or four-poster beds may not adequately support a mattress—a box spring or a mattress foundation usually needs to be paired with one of these frames.

Platform beds are an affordable option because they serve as a bed frame with a built-in foundation. The solid wood surface has holes or channels promoting airflow and increasing breathability. Space between the wooden slats allows air circulation, cooling your mattress, and determines the kind of support you feel on the mattress—the smaller the space between slats, the better the support. In most platform beds, slats are placed 2 to 3 inches apart.

Most slats are rigid, but some wooden slats are flexible, counteracting mattress and body weight. The slats are bowed outward providing give to the bed. However, rigid slats may make the mattress feel firmer and are more durable.

Platform beds are available in different styles, such as headboards and footboards, storage drawers, and upholstered. The storage feature found commonly in platform beds makes them a convenient option for small apartments and studios, where space is limited.

Some platform beds have metal bed frames made of wrought iron or steel with metal grids on the surface. The metal grids may exert more pressure on some memory foam mattresses causing decompression and early degeneration. We recommend checking with the mattress manufacturer about the specifics of a compatible bed base before purchasing a new mattress.

Platform beds made of particleboard or composite wood may be cheaper, but they lack durability. If you want to invest in a high-quality bed for the long term, buying a solid wood platform bed may be wiser.

Platform beds support all mattress types such as foam, latex, and memory foam mattresses. Though innerspring mattresses may be supported by platform beds, they are better paired with box springs.

Pros and Cons of a Platform Bed

A platform bed eliminates the need for a box spring or foundation making them a better buy, but their lower profile may cause some difficulties such as back and knee pain.

Pros:

  • Compatible with most mattress types
  • Value option
  • Modern look
  • Wide variety of styles
  • Commonly includes storage features

Cons:

  • Lower profile makes it difficult to get in and out of bed
  • Harder to move
  • Firmer surface may cause pressure points

What Is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a wooden box containing a layer of springs, covered by a breathable fabric on top and a dust-barrier fabric at the bottom. Some box springs have a steel frame for enhanced support. Box springs may be placed directly on the floor or on a bed frame for extra height. Keeping it on a bed frame also prevents skidding.

The layer of coils in the box spring promotes airflow. The springs add give to your mattress and absorb your body weight.

Box springs are a popular choice complementing innerspring mattresses because the layer of coils in the mattress aligns with the coils in the box spring, making your mattress softer. Coils also enhance shock absorption and isolate motion.

Platform Bed vs. Box Spring

While box springs are a great fit for innerspring mattresses, they aren’t compatible with memory foam or latex mattresses. Mattress weight may break the coils, leading to reduced support and sag.

Pros and Cons of a Box Spring

A box spring is lighter than a platform bed, but the springs inside are more susceptible to wear and tear.

Pros:

  • Coils promote cooling
  • More give
  • Shock absorption

Cons:

  • Noise potential
  • Less durable
  • Not compatible with most mattress types

Difference Between Platform Bed and Box Spring

A platform bed is a bed frame with a built-in foundation, while a box spring is a foundation that may be placed on a bed frame.

ParametersPlatform BedBox Spring
Average Height18 inches25 inches
WeightHeavier than box springRelatively light
ResponsivenessProvides little giveSprings offer more responsiveness
CompatibilityCompatible with most mattress types such as memory foam, latex, and hybridsCompatible with innerspring mattresses
Storage SpaceStorageNo Storage Space
Price (Queen)$100-500$160-800

Other Types of Bed Bases

If the platform bed or box spring doesn’t suit your needs, choose either a mattress foundation or an adjustable bed base to complement your mattress.

Mattress Foundations

Mattress foundations are a wooden box with slats for enhanced support, covered by a breathable fabric. They are similar to platform beds without storage and headboards and footboards. You may place a mattress foundation on the floor or on a bed frame. Foundations are compatible with all mattress types, making them the most versatile option. The slatted frame provides more support than give.

Our Amerisleep Mattress Foundations are made of solid pine wood with each slat wrapped in a no-slip enclosure. Starting at $225 for a twin size, these mattress foundations are durable and assembled in minutes without tools.

Adjustable Bases

On an adjustable base, you can elevate the head or feet at the desired angle via remote for superior comfort. Our Amerisleep Adjustable Beds, starting at $1800 for a twin, come with luxurious features like a body massager, gently-vibrating alarm, under-bed lighting, and USB charging ports.

Benefits of Keeping a Mattress on a Bed Base or Mattress Foundation

Keeping your mattress on the floor may reduce comfort and durability. While the floor provides support, it doesn’t promote airflow or provide shock absorption—you may overheat.

The floor may be too firm for your mattress, causing decompression and early degeneration. Moreover, placing it on the floor may bring you closer to insects, dust, bacteria, and allergens.

FAQs

What is a bunkie board?

A bunkie board is a piece of plywood often wrapped in fabric and placed on top of a foundation for enhanced mattress support. They can also be placed on a box spring, a platform bed, or placed on the floor for mattress support and to prevent skidding.

Why is a box spring not durable?

The coils in the box springs are vulnerable and may break with prolonged use, creating sag and increasing noise potential. Some latex or memory foam mattresses can cause coil damage. We recommend checking with mattress manufacturers about the ideal bed base.

Should I Choose a Platform Bed or a Box Spring?

The answer to this question also depends on the type of mattress you have. If you prefer a traditional innerspring mattress, a box spring would be a better choice to improve the comfort of your bed for a good night’s sleep.

Platform beds, compatible with all mattress types, are a good option if you don’t mind a lower profile. They combine the features of a bed frame with a foundation, making them an affordable choice.

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


About the author

April Mayer has a degree in exercise physiology and is a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep. April’s passion lies in helping others lead more productive lives by helping them get sound, restful sleep every night. April primarily writes about foods and vitamins for better sleep and has written several “better sleep guides” covering a wide variety of topics in her time with Early Bird.

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