Do You Need a Box Spring?

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One of the most common questions I get from customers is “do I need a box spring?” I hope to answer that question here and outline all of the box-spring options available to you. The short answer, by the way, is “probably yes,” but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

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What is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a support for your mattress and is typically constructed from a wooden frame, covered in cloth with springs in the middle. It is usually built the same size as the mattress it will support and that’s why you often are able to buy a mattress and box spring as a set when you buy a new mattress.

The box spring fulfills three needs:

  1. To raise the mattress higher off the ground so you’re not stuck in your bed like a turtle on its back.
  2. To absorb impact and reduce the wear on the mattress.
  3. To give the mattress a strong, flat surface to sit on.

These days, the word “box spring” is somewhat of a misnomer, because most don’t use springs. The term “foundation” is a more apt description. This has changed in the past decade or two. Up until the early 2000s, most boxsprings used actual springs in them and acted as a shock absorber for the mattress. Now, most mattresses use foundations that are just sturdy, inflexible boxes that support the mattress. These can be made of wood or metal.

Do I Need a Box Spring?

So, back to the main question, do you need a box spring? Well, you need to put the mattress on something. Let’s look at the options.

  • You can put the mattress on the floor. This actually gives the mattress proper support, but it doesn’t look as nice, is more difficult to get in and out of bed, and isn’t as sanitary since you’re right on the floor.
  • You can put the mattress on a box spring. This raises the mattress up off the ground and provides the solid support that a mattress needs. This is usually used in conjunction with a bed frame to keep everything off the floor and provide a little storage space under the bed if necessary.
  • You can use a platform bed. These are very popular in Europe. They consist of a platform surface, either solid or with slats. The mattress goes directly on the bed with no box spring. 
  • If you want to really go all-out, you can get an adjustable power base for your mattress. This is a base with a motor in it that can have such features as raising up the head, raising the legs, or even a massage feature.  

What if I Already Have a Box Spring?

If you already have a box spring, it likely needs to be replaced. If you put a new mattress on an old box spring, you run the risk of the box spring wearing down or breaking, causing the mattress to start sagging. If this happens, it can void the mattress warranty. Additionally, if your box spring is very old, it might be the old springy type and not the newer foundation type of boxspring. This will change how the mattress feels.

What You Don’t Know Could Void Your Warranty

The point about voiding your warranty is no small consideration. Many newly designed options, especially among the memory foam and latex varieties, require you to use something beneath the actual mattress and even list the types of bases and frames that comply with or void the warranty.

Why? Because bases that do not support your mattress will cause it to deteriorate prematurely. And that would be your fault. And the fact that you caused the wear and tear beyond normal use, you yourself will have voided your own warranty.

Box Spring or Foundation?

Your mattress and your preferences should decide which to use.

If you’re used to a box spring, you’re used to that level of support underneath your mattress. Without it, your sleep quality may suffer. The box spring may feel like an old friend and ease of use for you, the sleeper, may be the most important thing for you to consider. If you’re sleeping on an innerspring mattress, this is the choice. But box springs are also bulky and heavy. Wooden ones will break down slowly and compromise its ability to support a mattress, robbing you of use.

Sleeping on a foundation, or a solid slab of wood (no slats), is similar to sleeping on a platform bed. It will support the mattress and absorb extra impact or movement. It will do a better job distributing weight along the length of the mattress.

Foundations are flexible, too, in that they can support any type of mattress. By the same token, you give up some comfort because the flat foundation won’t give like a box spring will. Did you just buy a bed for its contouring effects and still wake up sore in the morning? Maybe it’s that flat foundation.


What is the benefit of having a box spring?

A box spring provides support for your mattress. It can help prevent it from sagging and sustaining other unwanted structural damage. Also, a box spring can raise your mattress to a height that's more comfortable for you, making it easier to get in and out of bed. n

Do all mattresses require having a box spring?

No, not all mattresses require a box spring.

How do I know if I need a box spring?

First off, check your mattress warranty. Many companies will void protection if damage occurs while a box spring (or similar damage-preventing solution) is not in use. Second, take a look at your sleeping set-up. If you use an adjustable or platform bed then you will not need a box spring, as these serve the same purpose. If you're using a simple bed frame then you will almost certainly need a box spring.

Best Box Springs Online

The Mattress Nerd Top Picks

Tuft & Needle Box Foundation
  • Price: $250 for queen
  • Warranty: 5-year limited warranty
  • Trial Period: 100 nights


The Leesa Foundation
  • Price: $299 for queen
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty
  • Trial Period: 100 nights


Casper Foundation + Metal Frame
  • Price: $300 for queen (plus $15o for metal frame)
  • Warranty: 10-year limited warranty
  • Trial Period: 30 nights


Acension™ Bi-Fold Foundation by Brooklyn Bedding
  • Price: $225 for queen
  • Warranty: 3-year full warranty
  • Trial Period: N/A


Zinus Arimta Foundation
  • Price: $97 for queen
  • Warranty: 5-year full warranty
  • Trial Period: N/A


Classic Brands Foundation
  • Price: $127 for queen (high-profile wood model)
  • Warranty: 3-year full warranty
  • Trial Period: N/A

In conclusion, you need to put a mattress on something, and if it’s not going to be on the floor, platform bed, or power base, you need a new boxspring.