Today, the term ‘box spring’ doesn’t always mean what it used to mean.
Traditionally, a box spring is a type of mattress foundation consisting of a wooden box/frame with coils or springs to support a mattress.
The coils are designed to take some of the weight off the mattress to ensure it lasts longer. They also absorb motion when you turn or move on the bed.
Box springs have been around for decades. They were originally meant for use with innerspring mattresses but quickly became popular with foam mattresses as well.
A modern box spring doesn’t necessarily have coils. They are usually wooden-framed boxes with slats or a solid platform for the mattress to rest on.
A more correct name for the modern box spring is a box foundation.
In this article, when I refer to a box spring I mean the traditional type.
Do You Need a Box Spring?
If you’ve been shopping around for a mattress and bed, you may have noticed that box springs are no longer that popular.
Most online mattress companies sell solid metal or wooden foundations. And even when they sell a ‘box spring’ it’s most likely one without springs.
The reason for this is that mattresses have changed quite a bit from decades ago.
Then, mattresses were fairly thin and usually soft. They did not have a firm supportive base since they were 2-sided.
So a box spring was used as an extension of the mattress, providing extra support and comfort.
Today’s mattresses are better in quality.
They use durable foams that provide enough support all on their own. Because they are one-sided, they spot a thick firm base that offers plenty of support for years.
So you no longer need a box spring to absorb the mattress’ weight or motion.
Several online mattress companies including Leesa specifically ask that you do not place the mattress on a box spring.
Modern mattresses are too heavy for a traditional box spring. They won’t get the sturdy support they need to last long.
Check with The Manufacturer
|OEKO-TEX Latex, Memory
|A firm raised foundation. Not on floor.
|Cocoon by Sealy
|Memory, Support foam
|A flat sturdy foundation, adjustable bed or bed frame.
|Spring, soy foam, Latex, Intelli-gel
|Frames with center spine support that connect at head and foot of the frame.
|A solid non-spring foundation.
|Gel-infused memory, Polyurethane
|Platform, adjustable, or slatted foundation
|Firm, non-springy foundation or adjustable bed.
|Comfort, Support foam
|Firm, flat solid non-spring foundation (fixed or adjustable). Queen+ must have 5 legs including center.
|Wrapped coils, Memory foam
|Metal frame. Queen+ needs 5-6 legs.
|Tuft and Needle
|High-density, pressure-relieving adaptive foam
|Flat, adjustable or slatted foundation. Tatami Mat & boxspring also OK.
|Foundation with center support and 5-6 legs (Queen & larger) or 4 legs (the rest).
|Talalay latex, Wool
|Foundation (adjustable or fixed) with center support and 5-6 legs (Q, K, CA-King) or 4 legs (TW, TW-XL, Full).
Before you decide to use (or not to use) a box spring with your new bed-in-a-box mattress, check the manufacturer requirements.
Some will say it’s okay to use a box spring while others warn that using a traditional box spring will void the warranty.
Box Spring Alternatives
The best foundation for a bed-in-a-box mattress is one that is flat, solid and sturdy with no give. This essentially includes all other kinds of foundations that are not box springs.
Here are the most common ones
A solid platform is exactly that; a foundation consisting of a flat platform that is the same size as the mattress or slightly bigger.
The surface of a platform bed can sometimes be smooth or slatted.
If it is slatted, the slats should be no more than 3 inches apart. Also, check whether the manufacturer requires that you place a Bunkie board on the slats.
One of the advantages of a platform bed is that most come with storage underneath. This is handy for space-limited bedrooms.
This is a wooden or metal frame consisting of slats for support and ventilation.
These types of foundation are very popular because they provide sturdy support. Just make sure that the slats are no more than 3” apart.
If the gaps are too wide, the mattress might start sagging.
Remember to check whether there is a Bunkie board requirement.
Metal Bed Frame
Metal frames are very simple and minimalist but provide excellent support. They are great for heavy mattresses such as innerspring and hybrid ones.
Metal frames vary in design.
Some have a network of wires and thick panels for support. These can be used on their own.
Others consist of just basic perimeter and center support and are designed to work with other types of foundations such as box springs and Bunkie boards.
Some metal frames come with versatile customization options. You can use it as a full or queen size bed or split it into two single or twin sizes.
Others are foldable for easy storage and transportation.
Box foundations have largely replaced traditional box springs. If you hear of a company selling a box spring, they are most likely referring to a box foundation.
Instead of springs, a box foundation consists of a simple wooden frame with wooden or metal slats or a flat solid platform.
A box foundation provides sturdier support than a traditional box spring.
This is a powered base that can be raised in different positions. You can incline your upper body or raise your legs a bit to improve circulation or get more comfortable.
Most, but not all, bed-in-a-box mattresses can be used with an adjustable base.
Check the manufacturer specifications before buying a power base. The constant movement can affect the structure and longevity of some mattresses.
What are Bunkie Boards?
I have mentioned Bunkie boards several times, and you might be wondering what the heck they are.
Are they a type of foundation?
Well, sort of.
A Bunkie board is a thick piece of plywood that provides sturdy support to a mattress. The difference with other foundations is that you don’t use a Bunkie board on its own.
You often place it on a box spring, metal platform or a slatted frame.
Some manufacturers require the use of a Bunkie board with slatted frames and traditional box springs.
If you bought your mattress in the last 5-8 years, you do not need a box spring.
Choose one of the solid foundations we have discussed above. They all provide better support and durability than a traditional box spring.
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