Do you need a boxspring?

Disclosure: This site receives a payment from Amazon or Wayfair when you purchase a product using any links to that company in this article

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

What is a boxspring?

A boxspring is a support for your mattress. These days, the word “boxspring” 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 boxspring?

So, back to the main question, do you need a boxspring? 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 boxspring. 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 boxspring. Wayfair has a good selection of traditional platform beds if you want to buy online. A company called Forever Foundation has a really sturdy metal one on Amazon as well that I like.
    • 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. Believe it or not, you can get those delivered by Amazon for pretty low prices, as well as any other mattress retailer, including online retailers. Read more about adjustable bases here.
Falcon adjustable base

The Falcon base can be bought on Amazon for only a few hundred more than a regular boxspring.

What if I already have a boxspring?

If you already have a boxspring, it likely needs to be replaced. If you put a new mattress on an old boxspring, you run the risk of the boxspring wearing down or breaking, causing the mattress to start sagging. If this happens, it can void the mattress warranty. Additionally, if your boxspring 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.

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.

Thanks for reading.

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Questions & Comments

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MattressNerd Says

July 26, 2017 at 7:31 am

Not all foundations are made the same. Some are stronger than others. Some use wood, some use metal. There are also varying types of wood that they can use.

Char Says

July 25, 2017 at 10:17 pm

I'm debating whether or not I should buy the foundation from the same retailer. That's an extra $150+ though. Are all foundations made the same (wood, fabric, etc.) and should I buy elsewhere to save some cash?

MattressNerd Says

July 14, 2017 at 6:54 am

You can still buy pre-assembled regular boxsprings from any mattress store. They're just difficult to ship for places like Amazon since they're so large.

MattressNerd Says

July 14, 2017 at 6:52 am

It should be okay for just a few days, but it's not a good long-term solution. The floor provides proper support too, if that's an option.

Karen Anspach Says

July 13, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Do you have any suggestions for getting a new box spring. I am seeing those you can assemble yourself made of spruce ( not the best, I assume) or metal ones that fold up, etc. What happened to pre-assembled regular box springs?

Tracy Says

July 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm

I'm waiting a few days for the proper frame/foundation to ship for my new memory foam mattress. I don't want to wait to use it-my back is killing me! We have the old "springy type" box spring. Will it mess up the mattress to use it on that box spring for the few days I'm waiting for the proper frame??

MattressNerd Says

May 29, 2017 at 9:59 pm

If it says you need a boxspring, that means the bed doesn't have the proper support to fit just the mattress. The mattress will likely fall right through whatever crossbars it has.

Lyndsey Jameson Says

May 29, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Hi I'm looking at a four poster bed I want to buy but says I need a box spring. So does that mean the mattress won't fit on the frame? I'm confused....

MattressNerd Says

March 14, 2017 at 3:44 am

Yes, they're generally pretty strong. As long as it's not so old that it's falling apart, it'll do just fine.

Nancy Says

March 13, 2017 at 11:44 am

I have a old, but beautiful waterbed. Can a waterbed act as a platform bed, and not require a box spring?

Mary Says

February 2, 2017 at 2:55 am

Thanks for responding. I just wonder if it will provide enough support to the mattress? And about the mattress warranty.

MattressNerd Says

January 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Those are fine, but won't usually last forever. The difference between that and a platform bed with slats is that it is kind of in a "mesh" design. The metal runs both top to bottom and side to side. That's different than in a platform bed in which the slats only run side to side.

Mary Says

January 27, 2017 at 10:11 pm

What do you think about the raised metal platform beds sold by Costco and Mattress Firm? https://www.costco.com/Blackstone-Elite-SmartBase--King.product.100306832.html http://www.mattressfirm.com/mattress-firm-direct/deluxe-raised-metal-platform-frame/mfi110011.html They say you don't need to use a boxspring and it won't void the warranty. How can this be true when there is more than 2" between the metal scaffolding? I like the idea of all of that storage underneath, but worry about the warranty and also how would it feel without a boxspring?

MattressNerd Says

November 30, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I assume you have a mattress and boxspring currently? You should get both a new mattress and boxspring, because a 14 year old boxspring won't likely support a new mattress. Especially if you keep the mattress a while, and you end up with a 6 year old mattress on a 20 year old boxspring.

Kim Says

November 30, 2016 at 12:42 pm

I have a queen size bed its not expensive @ all about $200 I had it since 2003 my body aches so bad every morning also I like a high bed should i buy another boxsping for more supported or another mattress?

Ymous Anon Says

November 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm

My sister had a bad lumbar problem. She was crying over the phone so I came over. She was limping all over the place and couldn't even sit down. I went to her bedroom and it was big enough to put her mattress on the floor. I helped her slowly lay on the mattress on the floor. I gave her some yogurt to coat her stomach for two aspirins and then gave her two tylenol. She took some days off of work and started getting back some of her lost sleep previously. She see's this idiot of an orthpaedic doctor and he says you need a new mattress. She said it helped. I layed down on it still on top of the old boxspring foundation. I have a bad back too, in the back of the mid to upper torso. My back still hurt some. but if i didn't have a bad back, if i slept on her dumb combination i surely would get sea sick. i mean the new mattress rocks and rolls with every body movement. she says she often falls out of bed in the middle of the night....duh.

IKEA Box Spring, We Need It or Not? Depends on Your Bed Type | HomesFeed Says

September 13, 2016 at 7:49 am

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MattressNerd Says

August 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Those slats sound like they're probably fine, though a bunkie board will help even that out even more.

Sudhir Says

August 6, 2016 at 5:42 am

Hi I bought a platform bed and the slats are 2.5 inches wide. Reading through your article and the comments, I understand that's not ideal. My problem is that even a low profile box spring will add 4-5 inches height. The folks who delivered the bed said we should use a bunkie board that would add only 2". Your advice please? Also any referral on where to buy a good one? Thanks

Yvette F Cox Says

July 3, 2016 at 3:37 pm

Thank you so much for this information - you are the only person who gave a direct answer to this question. I search for a couple of hours and was getting off the wall answers.

MattressNerd Says

May 2, 2016 at 8:03 am

A boxspring isn't open on the top. Even if the slats are further apart inside, there's still no space for the mattress to sag into. All of the ones I can think of have some kind of board on top of those internal slats if they're that far apart.

Sarah Says

May 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm

I understand it's recommended that any slats in a bed foundation be 2 inches apart or less or that one should use a rigid box spring. However, I am considering using a box spring for the mattress I just purchased and many of the ones I've looked at online (either wooden or metal rigid foundations) say that the internal slats are 4-5 inches apart, if that information is even available at all. Why is it that a box spring having slats that far apart is okay but, say, a platform bed with slats more than 2 inches apart won't provide proper support? Thanks so much.

MattressNerd Says

April 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Yes. The foundation needs to be supported. There's no benefit to removing slats.

Opie Says

April 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

If I buy a full-sized mattress along with a 5" foundation, do I still use the slats that came with my new bed (Avondale)?

Tom Sherman Says

April 13, 2016 at 2:28 pm

A step stool will work but be careful you don't trip on it getting out of bed.

MattressNerd Says

March 31, 2016 at 10:55 pm

Whomever recommended 3" for airflow doesn't know what they're talking about. 1) In most mattresses, air flows through the sides, and 2) a 2 inch gap is no barrier to air. Hold two pieces of wood two inches apart up to your mouth, and you'll find you can breathe just fine. 3" is too far apart for many mattresses. The mattress will just sag through the slats. In an innerspring mattress, 3" is wider than the width of many coils, so some coils will have nothing underneath to hold them up. For foam mattresses, they'll just contour around those 3 inch slats.

curious person Says

March 31, 2016 at 7:45 pm

I notice you recommend no more than 2" spaces between slats; I've read elsewhere 3" for airflow. Can you please provide more information around your suggestion for 2" gaps? Thank you

MattressNerd Says

February 28, 2016 at 10:28 pm

3 inches is a bit far for a regular mattress.

Melissa Says

February 24, 2016 at 1:06 pm

I have a queen size futon frame. The slats are about 3 inches apart. However, the futon "mattress" itself is extremely heavy. Will it support a regular mattress ?

Jackie Says

February 7, 2016 at 9:45 am

My new foam mattress is so tight in my platform that I can not get the sheets around the mattress it is so tight. Well adding a 4-5 inch low profile box spring bring the bed up high enough to make the sheets go around my 10 inch foam mattress. Wondering if my mattress will even expand pass my platform. Help

MattressNerd Says

January 24, 2016 at 4:26 pm

I'm not aware of any like that, because the motor will generally hang down from the bottom. So even if it didn't have legs, you'd have the motor in the way.

MattressNerd Says

January 24, 2016 at 4:25 pm

There is a little more motion transfer than if it were just pure memory foam, but less motion transfer than an innerspring. The 5 year old boxspring might be okay, as long as it's rigid (i.e. doesn't have springs in it) and is in good condition.

rachel Says

January 23, 2016 at 9:27 pm

I have a platform King sized headboard with side rails and a drawer on the foot end. Are there any adjustable bed frames that will allow me to keep the storage drawer? Do any adjustable frames come without legs so they can be placed on platform slats?

Howard Markwitz Says

January 23, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Does the Leesa transfer motion to the other person because of its bounciness? Can I use a 5 year old boxspring with it?

MattressNerd Says

December 27, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I wouldn't recommend using the old boxspring, especially since it seems like they're actual springs rather than a rigid foundation. The plywood might help a little, but you run the risk of having the boxspring break in the next 10 years. Are there no boxsprings out these days that look somewhat like your current one? I'm trying to remember the boxsprings from 10 years ago and I don't recall anything looking particularly special.

Mike N. Says

December 26, 2015 at 7:02 pm

We're going to buy either the Alexander Medium or Leesa to replace a conventional mattress (a Serta "Perfect Sleeper" about 10" high )we've had for over 10 years and are really looking forward to the experience after reading reviews and descriptions. My questions is about the base. WeI have an Iron / Brass frame supporting box springs and the mattress (Queen size) and hoped to just put the new mattress on the existing box springs. I'm a little scared after reading your warnings about old box springs - it looks & seems to be in good condition, but I don't know how to really evaluate this. I thought about getting a 1/2 - 3/4 inch plywood to put on top of it, then put the mattress on it. Is that an option? My wife & I want the "look" of our existed bed in the frame.

Bill Says

December 23, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Did you get your nano yet? we are considering a nano2

MattressNerd Says

December 9, 2015 at 6:44 pm

If their foundation is a rigid foundation, then the one you use should also be rigid. If your current one uses actual springs, it might make sense to get a new one.

Estelle Says

December 9, 2015 at 5:44 pm

We have just ordered a Charles P. Rogers Powercore Estate Nano 2 Cal-King mattress. This is a luxury mattress, but they want another $600 for the foundation. Our current split Cal-King foundation is only 7 years old, and looks like new. Is there any reason we should pay all that extra money for the new foundation? How would we know if our current foundation has been compromised in any way? I'm not sure if I care that the warranty might be voided if we don't buy their foundation. What do you think?

MattressNerd Says

December 9, 2015 at 12:19 am

It will probably be very high, but sure, it will work.

Christina Says

December 8, 2015 at 11:40 pm

I love the look of a platform bed with the tall headboard, I also love to sleep pretty high off the floor, I have a new mattress and boxspring already- can I put both on a platform bed? The headboard part of it is really tall so I think height wise it'll be okay there but I can't quite picture it, would the boxspring fit right/ look right on top of the slats? Thanks.

MattressNerd Says

December 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

That's a good question. My gut instinct says "no, that will hurt the foam," but you might want to email them to ask just to be sure.

MattressNerd Says

December 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Nope, there is no different. Almost all "boxsprings" today act as solid platforms.

Frank Says

December 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Hi, Matterest Nerd, With today's Matterest construction. Can you feel a difference between a mattress on a box spring or on a solid platform? Frank

Ishika Says

October 18, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Hi , we just recently bought a platform storage bed and with the mattress it seems way too high and uncomfortable. What are my options to lower the base ( drawer storage below) . So it does not feel so uncomfortably tall?

MattressNerd Says

September 22, 2015 at 6:36 am

The "boxspring" is just a rigid foundation for that mattress. Any rigid surface will work.

Ian Says

September 21, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Hi, I recently purchased a Serta iseries hybrid vantage plush King size. Combination of both memory foam and spring / coil system. We also purchased a new head board and frame. Problem is the base / box spring make the height of the mattress on the frame crazy high. I have examined the box spring and it fells like it is just a hard surface nothing special about it definately no springs. My question: Can I place this mattress on a solid foundation or does it need the base / box spring to improve the performance of the mattress? Current box is 8" thick Placing this on a solid surface would lower the mattress to an acceptable height given that the mattress overall thickness is a little more than a foot tall. Just trying to decide if I need to look at low profile box spring but can't really see what value it adds given it's very hard surface. Seems to me that it only raises the mattress and no additional benefit to the feel or performance. Appreciate your help.

MattressNerd Says

August 30, 2015 at 7:34 am

The problem is mattresses these days are designed to work on a rigid surface. If you put a mattress designed for a rigid surface (especially a foam mattress) on a boxspring with actual springs in it, the mattress won't feel the same and the warranty is void. Additionally, even if the boxspring is more durable than a mattress, 17 years is a really long time to use a boxspring every night. It will wear out eventually. Even if it isn't worn out now, if you keep this mattress 10 years, it'll be on 27 year old boxsprings by the end of it.

Rita Says

August 30, 2015 at 5:27 am

My husband and I have a 17 year old box spring with springs in it (part of our old, top-of-the-range Duxiana bed) with a different mattress on it (we got rid of the dux mattress several years ago). For a long time we thought that the idea of having to buy a new box spring with every mattress was a scam - the Dux box spring is pristine and clean and we didn't think that the springs in the box spring wore out, because the mattress really rests on the hard wooden edge surrounding the box spring, and doesn't seem to use the springs the same way as they are used in a mattress (meaning, weight lying directly on the springs in particular places) - it seems they more generally distribute the weight, and therefore shouldn't need replacing often. What's the problem, on your view, of keeping an old spring box spring unit. What happens to them over time, and how do we know it happens? How can you tell when an old style box spring needs replacing? Thanks for a great website! I found it bc we are thinking of getting a foam mattress.

MattressNerd Says

August 24, 2015 at 12:27 am

I wouldn't recommend it since it will add a lot of extra weight to the bottom boxspring and just adds an extra point of failure to the set. If you're using a regular bed frame, there are things called bed risers which might help raise it up. That's the simpler way to go.

Brenda Says

August 23, 2015 at 9:31 am

I just bought a mattress and box spring but it is lower to the ground than I like. Can I use 2 box springs? It is full size.

Rachel Says

August 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Thank you, that makes sense

MattressNerd Says

August 18, 2015 at 8:32 am

That should be fine, as long as the slats are fairly wide and sturdy.

Rachel Says

August 18, 2015 at 1:33 am

Hello, I just bought a vintage teak bed frame. It doesn't have slats or any support, so I was going to go measure and buy some slats for it at the hardware store. Will I need a box spring if I have impromptu-but-secure slats less than 2" apart? Thank you in advance

MattressNerd Says

August 11, 2015 at 11:36 am

No, they're unrelated. In fact, it usually makes sense to just buy either a low profile frame or a low profile boxspring.

Eileen Says

August 11, 2015 at 11:20 am

Do I have to buy a low profile box spring for a low profile bed frame?

MattressNerd Says

August 2, 2015 at 7:14 pm

That's actually fine. It's better than the other way around (a king mattress on a queen boxspring). The queen mattress on the king foundation will be properly supported, it'll just be tougher to get into bed on the side the box overhangs.

Erin Says

August 2, 2015 at 8:46 am

Is there any issue with putting a queen mattress on a king size slatted platform for short term (~3 nights)? Our new bed is here, but our mattress is not due for a few more days. We'd like to get the bed set up on the weekend but would then need to sleep on it on our queen mattress until the new one gets here. Mostly concerned with whether this is bad for the slatted platform. Thanks!

MattressNerd Says

July 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Ideally it should be exactly the same, but it depends on whether the boxspring used was rigid, and whether the platform has a solid surface (or has slats that are close enough together).

kevo Says

July 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Is there a difference in comfort when switching from a metal frame with box spring to a platform bed with no box spring (same mattress)?

Mary Says

July 28, 2015 at 6:02 am

My daughter is moving into an apartment with a small loft area, just big enough for a full size mattress, not a bedframe. Is it OK to put a mattress directly on the floor, or what is the best system to use in this type situation? Thanks.

MattressNerd Says

July 9, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Yes, there are some. A lot of storage platform beds are really high off the ground. Here are some examples: Concord at Wayfair Aspen Home Sleigh Storage Bed at US Mattress And here's a bunch of different options at Overstock.com.

Molly Says

July 9, 2015 at 2:44 pm

are there platform beds that are higher off the floor than 10 or so inches? Or in order to achieve height do you have to go with a box spring and a bedframe?

MattressNerd Says

June 21, 2015 at 7:21 am

Thanks for asking. Something like this on Amazon would be a decent option. I don't have any personal experience with it, but it looks like it should be sturdy and it gets good reviews. If you want one that is as strong as possible, you can find a Tempurpedic foundation at any retailers that sell Tempurpedic, but it'll run you about $400 for the cal king. I'm not finding any online retailers that sell just the foundation without the mattress.

cmadler Says

May 31, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Any suggestions on a decent foundation to put under a Leesa mattress on a traditional (non-platform) bed?

MattressNerd Says

April 24, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Height is the only problem. It shouldn't damage the platform. If you haven't already taken delivery of your mattress, you might consider switching to a low profile boxspring.

Tabitha Says

April 24, 2015 at 10:13 am

I have already purchased a new queen Tempurpedic matress and boxspring, but put off looking at bed frames until now. I really like the idea of the storage under the bed instead of a dresser. Will it damage the platform frame at all if I put the boxspring and matress on it? Height is not really a concern. Thank u.

MattressNerd Says

April 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

You can always add a boxspring to a platform bed, but a full-size boxspring might make it too high. So, a low profile boxspring will raise the mattress about 4-5 inches while keeping the mattress supported.

Lk Says

April 12, 2015 at 7:27 pm

My new Leesa is a shorter height than mattress the mattress we had before. We have a slatted platform bed. Can you recommend anything we can add to the platform to raise the mattress from the bottom?

Raul Bonilla Says

March 31, 2015 at 1:02 pm

I need a Twin Extra-Long mattress for my son. Do all the selection criteria you listed for queen beds still apply to twin beds? I need a sturdy long lasting twin extra long mattress for my son who weighs 200 lbs. and is 6 feet tall. what would you suggest? Thank you in advance.

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