What Is a Box Spring—And Does Your Bed Actually Need One?
An expert answers the questions we’ve all been asking.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 2:27 PM
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As far as we’re concerned, your bed is one of the most—if not the most—important piece in your entire home. After all, the average person spends a third of their life in bed. While you might know how to pick a great set of sheets, maybe you’re a little confused about what goes underneath your perfectly plush mattress. Is a bed frame fine or do you also need a box spring? And, come to think of it, what even is a box spring?
We’ll be the first ones to admit that box spring isn’t the most intuitive term, but the concept is pretty simple. Essentially, a box spring is a base used to support your mattress. When box springs first broke onto the bedding scene way back in the 19th century, they featured thick-gauge springs that provided support. Since then, the traditional springs have been replaced with sturdy wooden slots masked in a cloth cover.
Okay, so you know what a box spring is, but what about a foundation? According to Matt Clift—executive vice president of operations at home furnishings company Resident, who oversees Nectar, DreamCloud, and Awara—they can be used interchangeably: “Modern box springs are referred to as foundations and no longer feature interior springs.”
The Pros of a Box Spring
Believe it or not, there are more perks to a box spring than giving you (and your mattress) some extra support as you snooze. For one, it just looks nice. “Many people use box springs for aesthetics,” Clift says. “They match your mattress, raise the profile of your bed, and can increase airflow around the mattress.”
A box spring is important to ensure your mattress stays in tip-top condition for many years to come. Without some additional support, your mattress runs the risk of prematurely sagging and ultimately putting your sweet dreams in jeopardy. No, thank you!
The Cons of a Box Spring
While there’s no denying your mattress should have some support, a box spring may not be the best fit. According to The Sleep Judge,your memory foam box may pair better with a platform bed. “Modern foam and hybrid mattresses not only offer more flexibility in terms of what’s required to set up your bed, but also leverage cutting-edge technologies that enhance sleep performance,” Clift explains. Mattress company Leesa states that box springs are best suited for inner-spring mattresses. You know, those old-fashioned mattresses with steel coils.
Another drawback to a box spring? It can be pricey. Think about it: If one slab of wood cracks, you’ll have to replace the entire thing. For an affordable alternative, mattress company Purple recommends flexing your DIY muscle and creating your own slats.
The million-dollar question: Does your mattress need a box spring?
Well, it depends.
While some mattress companies strictly advise against buying a box spring, others weave owning one into its warranty policy. The box spring game isn’t straightforward—and for good reason. You see, no two mattress brands are created equal. “Make sure you understand how your mattress is designed and what kind of support system it will benefit from,” Clift says. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”
Most mattress brand should have information about the most compatible support system, but, if you’re still confused, you can always ask the company. At the end of the day, they all want to ensure you drift off into a smooth slumber.