Do You Need a Box Spring?

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If you purchased a mattress over a decade ago, you were probably pressured to buy a box spring as well. But do you need a box spring at all? Well, the answer isn’t cut and dry. Many modern mattresses don’t require one, but in some cases, they can be helpful.

To help you figure out what you need, we’ll discuss the benefits of box springs, see how they differ from other mattress foundations, and take a look at some box spring alternatives. Let’s dive in!

Do You Need a Box Spring? A Video Walkthrough

For more info, watch our video! 

What Is a Box Spring?

A box spring is basically what it sounds like – a box with springs inside of it! Most box springs are constructed either with wood or metal and are then covered with some type of fabric. Inside are layers of metal coils, which help support the mattress. 

Do You Need A Box Spring?

Box Spring vs Foundation

When it comes to box springs vs foundations, there are a lot of misconceptions. They look similar from the outside, but they have different support materials inside. Box springs contain, you guessed it, springs. Foundations typically have wooden slats.

Foundations are mostly used to support modern mattresses, such as memory foam beds. Box springs, on the other hand, are placed under innerspring mattresses. That’s because sleepers tend to put a strain on the coils inside innerspring mattresses. Box springs can absorb some of that pressure and help prevent the mattress from sagging.

Some people prefer box springs because they make their beds taller. To learn more, check out our article about the ideal bed height.

Box Spring vs Platform Bed

Platform beds have started to replace box springs and foundations. These bed frames sit low to the ground and have either slatted or solid surfaces. It’s like having a foundation and a bed frame all in one! Need a new bed to pair with your new bed frame? Take a look at our list of best mattresses for platform beds for some ideas. 

It’s important to note that platform beds might make mattresses feel a bit firmer, which can increase pressure along the shoulders and hips. Additionally, some people may have difficulty getting out of a low-profile bed. 

RELATED: Best mattresses for pressure points

Box springs are often paired with sleigh beds, canopy beds, and four-poster bed frames. These types of frames have a higher profile, which some people prefer. While you can place a box spring underneath a memory foam mattress, it’s not completely necessary. Box springs are commonly paired with innerspring mattresses, because they can prevent the bed from sagging.

Platform Bed Graphic

What Mattresses Need a Box Spring?

Innerspring mattresses, which have become rare these days, are the only types of beds that need box springs. The coils inside the box springs can prevent innerspring mattresses from sagging prematurely. But that doesn’t mean that every innerspring needs a box spring. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to learn more about what is best for your mattress. 

These days, most mattresses with coils are hybrids. They have thicker comfort layers than innersprings, and they offer more plushness and pressure relief. These beds typically only need a foundation or platform base.

Box Spring Alternatives

We’ve explored foundations and platform beds, but those aren’t the only box spring alternatives. Here are a few more products you can use to support your mattress:

  • Wooden slats – When they’re placed two to five inches apart, wooden slats provide ample support for most mattresses. Best of all – they promote airflow and can help people sleep cooler at night.
  • Adjustable bases – This type of bed frame has a solid support structure at the bottom, which helps prevent the mattress from sagging. The best adjustable bases allow sleepers to raise and lower the foot of the bed, which can help prevent snoring and ease acid reflux symptoms. 
  • Coconut Coir Bed Rugs are made from latex foam and the fibrous material found in coconuts. These one-inch mats not only help support mattresses – they can also prevent mold and mildew. 
  • Bunkie Boards are thin and supportive boards that are made from thin pieces of wood and fabric. Often found in bunk beds, Bunkie Boards can help extend the lifespan of a mattress.

Benefits of a Box Spring

We recommend box springs for people who have innerspring mattresses, because they can make the mattress last longer. Without a box spring, innerspring mattresses might start to sag and deteriorate. 

Box Spring Construction

Box springs are often taller than foundations and platform bed frames. This is not only an aesthetic preference for some people; it can also make it easier for people to get in and out of bed.

Downsides to a Box Spring

Unfortunately, there are a few negative aspects about box springs. Most notably: They can wear out over time. If you buy a cheap box spring, you may have to replace it after a few years of use. 

Box springs can also make your mattress feel more responsive. While this may be an asset for some people, others may not like that bouncy feeling.

Who Needs a Box Spring?

There are a few cases in which you would need a box spring:

  1. You have a collapsible metal frame that doesn’t have reinforcement slats.
  2. You want to add some height to your mattress so it’s easier to get in and out of bed.
  3. You want to add more support for your mattress, especially a traditional innerspring mattress.

Collapsible Bed Frame Users

Box springs used to be popular because they were often paired with collapsible metal bed frames. These frames create an outline for your mattress, but are not reinforced with slats to provide support all along the surface of the mattress.

That’s why box springs were key. They added that extra support to help extend the lifespan of your mattress and keep you comfortably supported while you slept. If you still have a frame like this, you will need a box spring.

If you use a metal bed frame with slats, a platform bed frame, or an adjustable bed frame, you probably will not need a box spring.

People Looking for Additional Loft

You may also need a box spring if you want to add a few inches of height. This can make it easier to get in and out of bed, which can be particularly helpful for seniors, people with pain, or those who place their mattress directly on the floor.

People Who Need Extra Mattress Support

As stated above, if you have an innerspring mattress, it is very likely that a box spring will be a necessary investment. However, this is not always the case and, to find out if it is worth investing in a box spring, you should first consult with the mattress producer. Looking on a mattress company’s website, you will most likely find information about what type of bed the mattress should be paired with, and if a box spring is required.


If the company does recommend a box spring, you should definitely buy a box spring! First off, this will ensure the mattress is getting the support it needs and that it will last for as long as possible. What’s more, many companies will void the mattress warranty if your mattress is not paired with the proper bed and bed frame. If you’re wondering how to make your mattress last longer, a box spring could be a great idea.

Final Thoughts

A box spring can be a worthy addition to your bedroom, but it is worth doing the research to find out if a box spring is really necessary. In most cases, you won’t need a box spring for a modern mattress.

It is worth noting that you might need to factor a box spring into your bed and mattress budget. If you need a box spring, that might mean you have to choose a slightly more cheap mattress to offset this cost.

Finally, if you aren’t sure you need a bed at all, take a look at our article which answers the question: “Can you put a mattress on the floor?”

Box Spring FAQs

What is the point of a box spring?

The main purpose of a box spring is to create a barrier between the mattress and the bed. It also helps absorb that shock and strain our bodies put on a mattress, and it adds another level of support.

Do all mattresses need a box spring?

Not all mattresses need box springs. Most innerspring mattresses need them, but it’s best to check with the mattress manufacturer before buying one. 

Do you need a box spring with a platform bed?

It’s not necessary to put a box spring on a platform bed, but some people may want to because it makes the bed taller.

How much is a box spring?

Box springs can range from $100 to over $500. It really depends on the size of the box spring and the materials found in its construction.

Can you put a box spring on the floor?

Yes, you can place a box spring on the floor. Some people like the additional height this provides, and it can also increase airflow.

How long do box springs last?

High-quality box springs typically last about 10 years, but if the box spring is made with cheaper materials, it may wear out faster.

Elisa Regulski

Elisa is the Editor of Mattress Clarity, where she analyzes sleep products and appears in review videos. A certified sleep science coach, Elisa's sleep tips have appeared in Readers Digest, Homes and Gardens, and 21 Oak. She earned a M.A in Mass Communication from Texas State University and a B.F.A in acting from Oklahoma City University.