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For most mattresses, you will want something underneath them to lift them higher and off the floor. Traditionally, many people have chosen a box spring for this purpose. But do you need a box spring or could you use something else to lift your mattress up?

If you are indecisive about getting a box spring for your mattress, this article can help you decide. You will find information on what box springs are, who should or should not get a box spring for their mattress, and the alternatives to box springs. So continue reading to find out if a box spring is the right choice for you.

What is a Box Spring

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring, which can sometimes be called a foundation or divan, is a bed base that is used to elevate and support a mattress, most often an innerspring mattress. They are usually either wooden or metal frames that have been encased in fabric. Inside the frame, is a set of metal coils or springs that have been evenly spaced. The box spring has several functions. 

Supporting the Mattress

Box springs are designed to provide an even, sturdy surface for a mattress. It will help distribute the weight not just of the mattress but also of the sleepers evenly. A box spring will prevent the mattress from sagging and extend its lifespan.

Adding Height

One of the main purposes of a box spring is to lift the mattress off the floor and to a more comfortable and convenient height for getting in and out of bed. This added height can be especially beneficial for people with mobility issues.

Absorbs Shocks

Since the box spring has its own set of springs or coils, it will absorb some of the shocks on the mattress. It can help reduce motion transfer when two people are sharing a mattress. This means it can help reduce disturbances to sleep caused by the other person’s movements.

Improved Airflow

A box spring will also improve the airflow of the mattress by lifting it off the ground. This will help to keep the mattress cooler, which is a useful feature during the summer and for anyone who gets hot during the night.

Are There Any Cons to Using a Box Spring?

While there are many beneficial functions to box springs, there are also some cons you need to consider when deciding if a box spring will work for you.

It Can be Incompatible With Some Mattresses

While box springs are great when used with innerspring mattresses, they are not suitable to use with many modern mattresses, including latex, memory foam, and hybrid mattresses. These mattresses are designed to be used with a solid, flat base and an innerspring box can interfere with how comfortable and supportive they will be.

You Will Still Have Motion Transfer

Like most innerspring mattresses, apart from those with individually pocketed springs, box springs will not be as good at minimising motion transfer as some of the newer mattress foundations are.

They Can be Too High

While some sleepers will find the extra height helpful, others may find the height too much for them. If you are a shorter-than-average person, you might find it labourious to get in and out of a bed with a box spring base.

When Can You Use a Box Spring?

Box springs are designed to be used with innerspring mattresses, so if you have one, then getting a box spring can be an excellent idea for the extra support and stability it can provide. A box spring could help an innerspring mattress last longer.

They can be especially good with Bonnell, offset, and continuous coil innerspring mattresses, while individual pocket coil mattresses have better shock absorption and motion isolation on their own. However, a box spring will still add stability and support to pocket innerspring mattresses, too.

Before you decide whether to get a box spring or not, you also need to check your bed frame because some are designed to accommodate box springs. On the other hand, your existing bed frame may not be compatible with a box spring so getting a box spring for your mattress would mean replacing your bed frame which will add to the cost.

It is important to check the manufacturers’ recommendations when it comes to choosing the right bed base. With innerspring mattresses, they may recommend a box spring, while with other mattresses they might state explicitly that the mattress is not compatible with a box spring. If you use such a mattress with a box spring, you may waver your rights to return the mattress.

When Do You Not Need a Box Spring?

While the features of box springs make them a great match with innerspring mattresses, you should not match them with most modern mattresses. All types of foam mattresses, as well as hybrid mattresses and most organic mattresses, work best with a solid, flat base that can provide the mattress with the right support. Using a box spring for these types of mattresses is likely to affect how well the mattress contours your body.

Bed-in-a-box mattresses are often not suitable for box spring bases either. This is because they are most often made with some type of foam, which compresses well. Therefore, they will be more comfortable to sleep on when placed on a solid surface.

Box springs may not be a suitable option if your bed is in a space with a lower ceiling height such as an attic room. Because the box spring adds height to the bed, they may be too high if there is limited clearance between the ceiling and the bed.

What Are the Alternatives to Box Springs

What Are the Alternatives to Box Springs?

If you do not like the idea of a box spring or it is not compatible with your mattress, bed frame, or the space you have, then there are other alternatives to consider. You will be able to find an alternative to suit your mattress type and sleeping preferences.

Platform Beds

A platform bed is a bed frame that has a solid, flat base that will provide great support for many mattress types, including all types of foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses. They are not the best option for Bonnell, offset, or continuous coil mattresses, but can work with pocket coil mattresses and are a great option for foam mattresses.

Slatted Foundation

A bed frame with a slatted foundation has evenly spaced metal or wooden slats that support the mattress. The slats can be solid or slightly flexible, depending on the design of the bed frame. These are better than solid bases in allowing airflow to the mattress, which helps it stay cooler. However, slatted bases may not provide the best support for some mattresses and may promote sagging between slats if they have wider gaps, so check your mattress is compatible with slats before choosing this box spring alternative.

Adjustable Base

A bed with an adjustable base allows you to raise and lower the head and foot of the bed. They are great if you like to read or watch TV in bed and can provide you with customisable support and sleeping positions.

You can use adjustable bases with various mattress types but ideally, ones that are designed for contouring and flexibility. They will not work as well with innerspring mattresses and may damage the springs.

Adjustable Bed Frame

This is a similar option to an adjustable base as an adjustable bed frame allows you to customise your sleeping position but it comes without the electronic features. With these bed frames, you can manually adjust the tilt and height of the bed.

Mattress Foundation

This is a flat, solid base, which is most often made of metal or wood. They come in different sizes and heights to fit a range of mattress types and sizes. They work well with all types of foam mattresses but will not support innerspring mattresses as well.

When to Replace a Box Spring?

Like mattresses, box springs wear out eventually, too, and need replacing. You will need a new box spring when it shows signs of wear and tear, for example, warping, cracks, or there are audible sounds every time the box spring is compressed. On average, box springs last for around ten years before they need to be replaced.

You also should think about getting a new box spring when you get a new mattress so the mattress is properly supported. However, if you are replacing your mattress with a foam or hybrid mattress, you should consider one of the box spring alternatives for better support.


All mattresses benefit from a proper foundation to rest on. While box springs are designed to absorb impact and reduce the wear and tear on innerspring mattresses, they are not compatible with all types of mattresses.

In the past, when most mattresses were innerspring and much thinner, box spring bases added welcome extra comfort. However, most modern mattresses do not need a box spring, and a box spring may even compromise their qualities.

Consider getting a box spring if:

  • you have a bed frame designed for box springs
  • you have an older innerspring mattress, which is designed to go with a box spring
  • a manufacturer recommends a box spring with the mattress
  • you want to add more height to your bed although many other alternatives will allow you to do the same.

Frequently Asked Questions

Box springs are not necessary for all mattress types. Traditionally, they were used with innerspring mattresses. Modern foam, latex, and hybrid mattress work better on solid surfaces which support these types of mattresses better.

Box springs are not suitable to use with adjustable beds. If you have an adjustable bed, you need a flexible, non-rigid foundation for it that can move with the adjusting mechanism.

Box springs have different lifespans, depending on the quality and usage. The general recommendation is to replace your box spring every eight to ten years or when it is no longer providing the required support. It may also be a good idea to replace the box spring if you are getting a new mattress so the mattress is properly supported from the start.

You do not necessarily need a box spring for your mattress. You may want to get a box spring if you have an innerspring mattress as box springs are designed to support these mattresses. You probably will not need a box spring if you have a foam, latex, or hybrid mattress.

Pairing a box spring with a bed-in-a-box is often not recommended, as the base will not provide adequate support to the mattress. However, bed-in-a-box mattresses differ, and some may be compatible with a box spring. It is best to check with the manufacturer of your mattress what they recommend.