Box Spring Vs Foundation - A Detailed Comparison

One of the major decisions you need to make regarding your mattress – one that will impact your comfort– is the choice between a box spring and a foundation.

Both are highly popular, and much in demand as far as bedding is concerned. In this guide, we will consider both along with their pros and cons. That way, you will be in a better position to make an informed choice when the time comes to select between the two.

Box Spring Vs Foundation

Box Spring

What is it?

The box spring style of bedding will certainly take back many people to their childhoods. After all, this is the classic style – and perhaps the only style of bedding that multitudes of generations of Americans have used decade after decade.

The box spring basically consists of a solid slab of material – typically wood – with springs inside on which you place a mattress. Some box springs even come with a lip running around the mattress for additional support. In any case, the design ensures optimal support to the mattress from all sides.

Being the same size as the mattress, a box spring prevents movement and jostling of the mattress. This keeps the bedding from moving around and secures it to the bed frame. You can also use all types of mattresses with it, including air beds, memory foam, etc.

The box spring has been a popular choice in the United States. Until the 1980s, and as per data collected by The International Sleep Products Association or the ISPA, nearly 80% of beds sold in the United States were of the box spring variety.

This variety of bedding is designed to provide semi-rigid support and significantly absorbs the impact of a person sitting, lying, and even jumping on the bed. Box springs can thus prolong the life of your mattress and many people are convinced that this style of bedding is much more comfortable than wooden foundations.

Box Spring Vs Foundation

Advantages of a box spring

  • They work

Box springs are definitely more popular than foundations as most people prefer the level of comfort they provide.

  • They are better for your mattress’s longevity

Box springs prevent lumps and bumps in your mattress and provide firmer support. They prevent the unevenness of a slatted foundation, which we will describe below. A mattress with a box spring certainly lasts longer.

  • They are better for your back and comfort

People with backaches will definitely prefer box springs since they provide more stability and support. You can sleep any way you want on it: on your side, back, etc.

  • They increase the bed’s height

Often, doctors recommend box spring beds for people who have had injuries or spinal issues. Box springs raise the bed’s height and prevent unnecessary bending. This also decreases strain on the back muscles. People will also heal faster with a reduction in strain.

  • Ideal for people with pets and kids

Box springs can withstand any amount of jumping, so if you have kids or pets jumping on your bed, then box springs is the way to go. The springs absorb shock and allow the material to recover quicker than foundation would. This feature also makes them great for people who toss and turn a lot during sleep.

Box Spring Vs Foundation

Disadvantages of a box spring

  • Bulky!

Box springs occupy quite a bit of space and are bulky. They are also rather heavy and difficult to move around.

  • Might not last too long

Box springs can breakdown over time. They are also known to develop that annoying ‘creaking and squeaking’ after a period of time. This usually occurs after the springs have reached a certain amount of natural wear and tear.

  • The support diminishes with time

As box springs deteriorate, so does the quality of your mattress. Unfortunately, most people do not discover it until it is too late. They may start experiencing backaches and their sleep quality diminishes considerably.

Box Spring Vs Foundation


What is it?

The foundation style of bedding came much later to the scene but soon started giving the box spring a run for its money.

Platform foundations are of two types: slatted and solid. Both are made with wood, plywood, or similar sheet materials.

In Europe, the slatted foundation is very popular, while in the US, they prefer the solid style. In fact, the very term platform bed usually means plywood support surface in the US.

The slatted style has a bit more give than the solid style, as the slats move and flex independently. This makes for firmer support than a box spring, but a more flexible one.

You might think that the individual slats are not very sturdy and strong, but they do hold up well and their support is very good. The advantage of slats is that it allows breathability for the mattress as well.

Box Spring Vs Foundation

Advantages of a Foundation

  • A solid foundation can prevent mattress movement

With slatted foundations, the mattress might form lumps, but with solid ones, you can prevent mattress movement. This can allow your mattress to hold shape over time.

  • A slatted platform allows more breathability

If you use a latex mattress, then a slatted platform is the only way to ensure that your mattress can breathe.

  • Stylish and convenient

Foundations are a stylish and modern style of bedding. You can add attractive headboards and some even come with storage facilities.

Box Spring Vs Foundation

Disadvantages of a foundation

  • Not as comfortable

The downside of slatted foundations is that they will move with time, leaving parts of your mattress unsupported. Although most manufacturers provide some sort of alignment or attachment to prevent this, it could still cause your mattress to sag in some places. Slagging plywood is very bad for the back. It could lead to backaches, as your back tends to slack in the same areas as the foundation.

  • Shortens the life of your mattress

It is also important that the slatted or solid platform is very supportive to the mattress or else it can shorten its life.

  • Not versatile

·Foundations are not an option for all kinds of mattresses. For example, waterbed mattresses need a very specific foundation with an extensive grid structure underneath to support and distribute the weight of the waterbed more evenly and over a greater area of the floor. Not for people who like firm support
If you are the kind of sleeper that needs firm support, then foundation style may not be for you. Many people end up waking feeling tired on foundation because the solid surface does not offer any give.

Here is a table highlighting the features of the two options:

Box Spring Vs Foundation - Comparison

Box Spring Foundation
Provides optimal support
Stylish and clean look – very modern
Is versatile and useful for many types of mattresses
Closely slated foundations can prevent the need for additional support thus saving you money
Provides good ventilation for your mattress
Can provide more support and stability
Can be useful for any sleep position – side, back, or stomach
Foundation offers you storage under the platform
Great for kids and pets that jump- absorbs shocks from rapid and abnormal movements.
Highly suited for memory foam mattress which is a popular mattress these days – to provide even more support and comfort.
Designed most for mattresses with inner springs
Designed for supporting foam and hybrid mattresses
Increases your mattress height
Versatile and more suitable for buying any kind of a mattress

FAQs on Box Spring vs. Foundation

How will I know my mattress needs a box spring?

You will need a box spring if the mattress you use has innersprings. Also, you need a box spring if you want added height for your bed, or sleep sideways, on your back, or on your stomach. You might also need a box spring if your mattress warranty requires one, for it helps in extending the life of your mattress.

Can you place a mattress directly on slats?

You can place a mattress directly on slats, provided they are closely spaced together. However, it’s not recommended, since it can cause lumps and bumps in the mattress and, over time, the shape of the mattress can also be ruined.

Do all beds need a box spring?

No. Not all beds need a box spring. Newer hybrid and latex mattresses do better with foundation. Only mattresses with a warranty and traditional mattresses with innersprings need one.

How can I raise my mattress without a box spring?

There are several ways to make a bed higher without using a box spring. You can add leg attachments to the bed, or use several mattresses stacked on top of each other. Bed rises made of plastic, wood, or metal can also be used. Alternatively, you can add bed wedges underneath the pillow side to make the  bed’s head higher.

Conclusion – Box Spring Vs. Foundation – Which One Should I Choose?

The answer to this question is entirely a personal one. If you already own a traditional innerspring mattress or have one with a warranty, then box spring is the way to go.

With foundation, you get greater flexibility such as storage, the ability to change the mattress and use newer mattress styles like memory foam, latex, or hybrid. However, they have a lower profile than box spring.

Either option may work great for you, but consider all these factors before you go shopping!

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