Do you need a box spring? The Purpose, Modern Use, Evolution and Necessity of A Mattress Box Spring

Contents hide What Is A Box Spring? How Does A Box Spring or Foundation Look and Function? Why Do People Use Box Springs with Their Mattresses? Which Mattresses Require Different Types of Bed Bases? What …

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There is one question old couples, new parents, voluntary bachelors, busy young adults, and the single workaholics have been asking for decades now – “Does my bed need a box spring?” If you are awake night after night, tossing and turning in your bed, it is unlikely that this question is driving your sleep away.

However, it is very likely that you need a box spring to be more comfortable in bed. Box springs add more comfort to your bed and give you a better night’s sleep. However, before you make the purchase, there are things you need to know.

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What Is A Box Spring?

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Modern mattresses come with complete support, and they do not necessarily need the help of a box spring to offer complete comfort. A box spring or a foundation is the base component that can provide optimum support to the mattress. This protects them from wear and tear for long periods of time. People sometimes manage to use the same mattress for more than a decade.

A survey shows that families who manage to preserve the integrity of their mattresses for extended periods of time usually opt for the right box spring while installing the mattress. Any good box spring provides a buffer zone between the bed frame and the mattress. Direct contact between the soft outer cover of a mattress and the wood or metal of the bed frame can increase the wear and tear over the next few years. The presence of a box spring structure can help spread out the impact and absorb the pressure evenly across the entire area.

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How Does A Box Spring or Foundation Look and Function?

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Any traditional box spring design usually includes a wooden frame and steel support rings. However, modern box springs rarely make use of the springs inside wooden frame designs for the same purpose. Several box springs use heavy gauge wire coils and added steel reinforcements within the wooden grid to improve the support. The top cover of the mattress is usually skid-resistant fabric that can act as a dust-proofing for the mattress and the foundation below. Au contraire, a semi-solid grid box spring consists of a wooden frame and a stiff metal grid that acts as the mattress support.

Many modern manufacturers no longer use real springs in the designs. Many modern designs hold a candle to the old engineering concepts that worked together with the mattress design to provide complete support. They consist of pre-bent birch or beech slats that join the opposite ends of the wooden frame with flexible rubber sockets or shoes. The number of slats dictates the support for the mattress. The closer they are, the more support they provide. These foundations are perfect for memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses. Experts usually refer to the modern box spring designs as foundations as they are more aptly the base of a mattress rather than the shock absorption grid system they used to be.

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Why Do People Use Box Springs with Their Mattresses?

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Most manufacturers can consider a warranty void if the buyer does not use their new mattress with a box spring. In many cases, the warranty papers and instructions for mattress maintenance does not come with explicit directives to use it with a box spring but coupling it with one always ensures that you get the best warranty services. It provides better support to a sleeping body, and at the same time, the presence of added springs can make a stiffer mattress seem softer.

Another huge advantage of using a box spring is the added height that the mattress receives with the box spring to boost it from below. This makes removing, cleaning and placing the mattress on the bed a much easier task. The biggest advantage of using a dedicated traditional box spring design is the extension of the mattress’ longevity. Buying a costly, ergonomic mattress becomes an investment rather than a recurring expense with the purchase of a traditional, shock absorbent box spring.

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Which Mattresses Require Different Types of Bed Bases?

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Many users believe that modern mattress designs do not need box springs to function. You should consider a box spring if you use a both-sided innerspring mattress. When the coils of the box spring move with the springs inside the mattress, it can effectively spread out the pressure on the mattress while a person sleeps.

As per expert opinion, a single-sided innerspring or no-flip coil mattress does not last as long as box springs on the bed. At the same time, they also state that if you were to use latex mattresses, you could directly use them on a box spring irrespective of your bed height and type. Nonetheless, latex mattresses are not popular for the preservation of their integrity, and your mattress could sag prematurely if you were to put them directly on box springs.

Both the mattress types we have mentioned here perform much better with a little help from foundations or platform beds. Platform beds do not require a box spring to support latex, memory foam gel or no-flip mattresses.

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What Are The Ideal Dimensions of A Box Spring Bed-frame?

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Currently, almost all mattress and box spring manufacturers address the personal need of their customers. They design box springs and foundations as per the individual necessities instead of mass producing them like in the past.

  • High profile box springs: these are usually 23 cm in height and provide more flex.
  • Medium profile box springs: they are between 15 cm to 21.5 cm in height.
  • Low profile box springs: these are between 13 cm and 14 cm in height. They are stiffer.

As a result, they are always available in pairs for the best fit. Manufacturers always construct them as per mattress specifications. They usually have the same size as the mattress for optimal support. In case, you want to order or pre-order your box spring set, you should refer to your mattress manufacturer’s size chart.

Here is a general idea about the average size chart of box springs or foundations for your mattresses –


Size Width (inches) Length (inches)
King 76 80
California king 72 84
Queen 60 80
Full 54 75
Twin 38 75
Twin XL 38 80

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A lot of customers are interested in split box springs for split mattresses for the king, California king or queen beds. Experts state that the general bedspring designs for King, California king, and queen beds are ideal for split-style mattresses as well as regular mattresses.

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Why Should You Not Use Your Old Bed Base For Your New Mattress?

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Those who are thinking about using their old box springs for new mattresses need to read the next part. Consumer services state that old box springs can contribute to substantial amounts of wear and tear to your new mattress. This usually happens due to uneven pressure on the old springs over the last few years. If you are ready to invest in a new mattress that will give you comfort and support, then you should also be ready to invest in a box spring fresh from the mint to protect your mattress. Nonetheless, it can help you save a lot of money on mattress maintenance and reconstruction.

The price of a bedspring will depend on the size of the mattress, the hardness of the mattress (the support it needs) and the manufacturer or brand value. While shopping for a box spring, it is, of course, wiser to find one from a reputable retailer. Experts and reliable consumer reports will tell you to choose a box spring from the mattress dealer you have been shopping from for years. The right box spring may set you back by a good couple of hundreds, but you will not have to worry about your mattress or your back for the coming decade!

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Advantages of Using A Box Spring with Your Mattress

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Box springs have been around since time immemorial. In the US, the UK, and other European countries, the design has been consistent with the eponymous wooden grid structure and steel springs since the mid-19th century.

Gradually, the use of coil spring mattresses coupled with bedsprings has spread to other countries in the east like China, Japan, India, and Singapore. Box springs offer significant benefits that have led to their widespread acceptance and popularity.  

  • Extended lifespan. The even diffusion of pressure all across the inner layers of the mattress with the help of the box springs helps the maintenance of the inner structure of the mattress. Modern mattresses can cost a bomb in case you are looking for special ergonomic designs. The presence of an external support system for your mattress will extend its lifespan beyond the usual 3 to 4 year.
  • Reduces sagging. Box springs are ideal for double-sided inner-spring mattresses, and the foundations are ideal for softer mattress varieties including latex, memory foam and single-sided innerspring mattresses. Closely placed wooden slats of a foundation provide optimal support for the softer mattress variants, and the box spring adds to the pressure distribution mechanism of double-sided innerspring mattresses to distribute weight evenly. This prevents sagging.
  • Cost-effective. Box springs and foundations are cheaper than other base alternatives for modern mattresses. Even getting a box spring or foundation customized for your exclusive needs can be cheaper than most of the standard alternatives. They also maintain the mattress in proper health for longer, thereby reducing the costs of maintenance or replacement.
  • Easier to maintain. It makes taking the mattress off for dusting and maintenance much easier. This is primarily due to the extra height it adds to the mattress
  • Complete support. Research shows that spring mattresses on box springs are ideal for people suffering from backaches. If you find it difficult to get out of bed every morning due to muscle soreness or stiffness of the back, you might benefit from the use of a box spring for your double-sided innerspring mattress.

However, modern homeowners often prefer platform beds to box springs since the former comes with storage space. This is ideal for apartment living that understandably creates a dire need for storage. You can easily store containers or add drawers under your platform bed without any added adjustments. Additionally, they are also more aesthetically pleasing.

Most modern homes use memory foam mattresses since the provide complete body support and platform beds are quite ideal for these mattresses. Although they are difficult to move around, platform beds are quite suitable for beds with cheaper and softer mattress types.

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Disadvantages of Using A Box Spring

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Every rose has its thorn, and every box spring has its con. There might be several advantages of using box springs for your mattresses, but there are a few drawbacks you must consider before you go ahead and invest in one.

A good marketer will always tell you about the disadvantages of a traditional box spring as well as that of a platform or foundation before you can take your credit card out.

  • Like everything good and long-lived, box springs need a little maintenance. They can lose their support and integrity over time. This can cause the mattress to sag in places.
  • The springs of the grid can weaken over constant use for years. This can lead to the creation of weak spots under the mattress. This will mildly shift the support, but that mild shift can make a lot of difference to the health of the user.
  • Box springs leave nearly no space under the bed for storage. If you have some containers and drawers full of backup bed sheets and pillows, you will have to find a new place to stow them away.
  • Years of use can wear the frame and the springs down. Several homeowners come in complaining of a backache and leave with new frames or rails each year. Unless you are ready to maintain the box spring properly and turn them from time to time, you should reconsider your plan of investing your hard-earned money on a box spring for your double-sided inner-spring mattress.

However, platform beds have their share of cons too. They do not provide as much support to the vertebra and getting up from sleep each morning can be challenging for people with back problems and arthritis. In fact, the amount of support and comfort you get from your platform bed depends on the quality of the mattress you pick and not the platform at all! This is in sharp contrast to the box springs that provide the infrastructure of support to the entire bed.

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Cost of Box Springs and Foundations Today

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While buying a mattress, wonders about the necessity of the box spring at least once. Do people need to spend the extra cash? How much should the best box spring for your bed cost? Will that help you save more money in the long run?

In reality, most mattress companies consider their warranty void if you do not use a box spring along with it. In fact, you should think about investing in the box spring that comes with the mattress for the ideal protection of the warranty. If your mattress delivers less than optimum performance while within the warranty period, you can confidently walk up to the seller and challenge their USPs.

A new box spring can cost you between $150 and $200.  However, the lack of a box spring can revoke your right to ask for post-sales services or replacement in many cases. It is common belief that box springs protect the structure of a mattress and sellers uphold this belief.

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Alternatives To Box Springs

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Due to the lack of storage and aesthetics, a lot of homeowners and interior designers forego box springs altogether. They often settle for replacements and alternatives that can somewhat serve the same purpose as box springs.

Here are a few alternatives people have been using in place of box springs for years now.

  • Platform beds. As we have already mentioned, these are more aesthetically pleasing, and they offer greater storage area. However, many platform bed designs take up a lot of space in the room. They come in lots of shapes, sizes and makes. You can choose from upholstered designs, metal and wood combinations, rustic pine finishes and simple navy button details. Platform beds eliminate the need for a box spring, and they have been a favorite of interior designers for a long time now.
  • Foundations. They are the solid base for supporting most soft mattresses need to provide complete spinal care. They offer better durability as compared to box springs and adjustable frames. If you are annoyed with your mattress showing dents from continuous sleeping in, you need a foundation to take care of your mattress. Although they are a little more expensive than the platform bed designs, they come in a wide range of materials (including wood and metal). Therefore, you can pick one within your budget.
  • Adjustable bed frames. These are the most expensive of all box spring alternatives. Adjustable bed frames are ideal for those suffering from chronic spondylosis, arthritis or lumbago. They are the favorites of all orthopedic specialists since they are capable of providing complete comfort and support to the occupant. They promote healthier postures, improve general blood circulation and reduce inflammation of joints in users. They do not hold impressions of the sleeper, and the adjustable bed frames are ideal for light sleepers, who shift sides to accommodate their weight frequently. These beds allow you to move the foot and the head of the mattress up or down independently. They heed all the pressure points and helps care for joint health.
  • Metal bed frames. They are a superior alternative to box springs, although they are not a cost-effective alternative. The metal bed frames are compact and strong. The modern grid design with the ergonomic distribution of the support makes the metal bed frames a great choice for people in need of enhanced mattress support. They are usually sleeker than the common wooden platform beds. They can make rooms appear a lot bigger than they are and they provide added storage space too.
  • Bunkie boards. This is one great box spring substitute that can change the way you sleep at night. A Bunkie board usually substitutes a low-profile box spring, where even the lower profile makes the bed too high. Just as the name suggests, they are ideal for use in bunk beds and lofts. In smaller apartments with lower roofs, you can forego box springs for Bunkie board designs that are much sleeker. They usually come in two variants, wood, and steel. Therefore, you can pick a 5-inch model in steel or a 1-inch thick model in wood. If you want to pick a Bunkie board that is slimmer than 1 inch, you should always ensure that it is on additional slats.

These alternatives and substitutes have been around for quite a few decades. They do not always serve the exact purpose as the box spring for your mattress, but they can fulfill the support necessities of your mattress to a certain degree. In case you want to go for any of the alternatives instead of a traditional box spring design, you should consult your mattress company about warranty requirements.  

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How Do Box Springs Aid Warranty Considerations?

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A mattress warranty usually covers all kinds of physical defects that include sagging. However, this does not mean you can take your mattress back to the seller after two whole years. It simply means that if your mattress sags while no one is on it immediately after buying it or unpacking it, that is a serious warranty issue. Several manufacturers offer a 0.75-inch margin for non-use sags, but the general threshold for mattress sagging is around 1.5 inches for most manufacturers. You will find the fine prints on the warranty papers that you must always double check before leaving the store.

You can measure the level of sagging in your mattress by using a string or a straight line across the surface. Measure the exact level of sag by measuring from the string to the bottom of the sag. You can use a standard ruler for this. Be careful to stick to either the metric system or the imperial system during measurement. This will help you make the correct comparison.

Many customers are not aware of this, but a mattress warranty also covers coils breaking, coils popping from the sides and bunching up of foam at the top. In fact, breaking the seams and other manufacturing defects are also inclusive of the mattress warranty. First, you need to contact your mattress merchant and convey your problem. In case, that does not work out; you need to go to the manufacturer.

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How Do Customers Accidentally Void Warranties on Mattresses and Box Springs?

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A warranty does not cover comfort issues you might be having with your mattress. That means in case your mattress “feels” lumpy or provides uneven support to your body; you might be out of luck. The level of warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to another. However, there are several other incidents can void a warranty.

  • Staining your mattress. Eating or drinking in bed is a common practice among millennial homeowners. We love to munch on snacks and slurp our smoothies while watching an episode of our favorite TV series in bed. So, finding the odd stain here and there on the mattress is not very uncommon. However, stains on the mattress can void the warranty, even though it is certain that the stain did not cause the sag! This is primarily because stained mattresses are gross and unsanitary. No company usually wants to deal with a return product that has stains on it. One way to get out of this soup is investing in a waterproof cover for the mattress when you buy one. With kids in the house, there is no telling when something is going to spill on the bed. Waterproof covers do not sound or feel like plastic. They do not reduce the feeling of comfort, and they prevent all kinds of stains, including the sweat stains that collect on the mattress after years of use.
  • Bad support. This obviously includes the lack of a box spring. You need proper support for the mattress you want to use for at least the next few years. So, whether you choose the costliest adjustable bed frame, the somewhat inexpensive box spring or the pocket-friendly platform bed, you should be able to comfortably ascertain that your new mattress has all the support it needs for the best performance. Mattress manufacturers usually do not offer warranty services if you do not use a box spring with certain mattress types. In case you do not want to go with a box spring for one reason or another, talk to your manufacturer and find out what their standing is on foundations and slats.
  • Not keeping the law tag. This might sound silly, but you cannot remove the law tag at the back of the mattress. It usually says, “Do not remove, under penalty of law.” Removing that tag even by accident instantly voids the warranty. In reality, the law part pertains to the manufacturer or the seller, but when the end-user removes it, the selling party is no longer compelled to provide them after-sales services as the warranty promises. This is essential because that law tag is the only proof that shows that it is the same mattress as you ordered or purchased from the manufacturer. Without this tag, the manufacturer cannot give you the perks of a warranty, even if they wish to.

When you are shopping for a new mattress, you are looking forward to spending quite a pretty sum. You should always consider the warranty and the conditions of the same before you complete your purchase. Warranties can cover more than faulty manufacturing, defective parts and structural flaws for mattresses. For enjoying the full perks of the after-sale services from the manufacturers, always read the fine print of warranty conditions very carefully before paying.

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Conclusion: So, Do you Need a Box Spring for Your New Mattress?

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Your mattress needs support either in the form of a box spring or an alternative. Either way, you need to research into the advantages and disadvantages of all the prospective support designs you choose before you make the purchase. As we have seen by now, you need a suitable base for your mattress to keep the mattress warranty valid. A perfect box spring can serve you and your bed for decades to come, that’s precisely why you should not think of buying one as an added expense.

Picking the right kind of support for your mattress might seem daunting irrespective of your experience in housekeeping. It is a big expense and a formidable responsibility since it can determine your health and the health of your loved ones too. Now, to find out if your current model of the mattress or your new mattress needs a box spring, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

  1. How old is your existing box spring? Is it as old as your old mattress?
  2. Does the current mattress feel very saggy? Are there lumps inside? Does your current box spring provide optimum support to your current/old mattress?
  3. Why are you changing your old mattress? Is your old mattress support somehow responsible for the damage?
  4. What do the warranty conditions on your new mattress state? Is it mandatory for users to opt for box springs?
  5. What is your budget? Can you afford a new box spring or a platform bed or a foundation?
  6. What is the space available in your bedroom? Do you need extra storage space?

Answering these simple questions with “yes” and “no” can help you understand if your new mattress at all needs a new box spring or a foundation or a new platform bed.


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