What is a box spring and do you need it? You probably are shopping for a mattress and came across this choice. After all, a mattress can go together with a box spring, with these two forming a bed. You may then place the bed on a bed frame or foundation. But this is not always necessary. Meaning, box springs themselves can stand on casters and serve as the base.
So, when do you need a box spring?
This is primarily what we’re tackling in this guide. Hop onto the Table of Contents to see more of your questions answered.
Table of Contents
- What Is A Box Spring?
- Why Do You Need A Box Spring?
- Advantages and Disadvantages Using A Box Spring
- Other Options
What Is A Box Spring?
First things first: What is a box spring? Structurally, it is made of a wooden frame that is strong enough to handle daily wear. Springs are fitted into the frame, as you can see in the image below:
This is then wrapped in a cloth to complete the design. It can be placed between the mattress and the foundation or bed frame. Alternatively, it is mounted on casters so that it serves directly as the foundation or bed frame of the mattress. Box springs are commonly used in North America and Western Europe.
If you’ve encountered bedsprings before, you may be wondering if they’re the same thing. Technically, they aren’t. But box springs can trace its origins from bedsprings. It’s just that models of the latter sport only the metal frame and springs, but no cloth. They also didn’t use wooden rims. Wood is more of a box spring material and is deemed to be sturdier.
Common Mattress Sizes
You should know that box springs are made in sizes that match mattress sizes. Here are the standard dimensions for both for your reference:
Width x Length in Inches
- Twin – 38×75; good choice for growing children
- Twin XL – 38×80; good choice for children and adults in general as it is longer than Twin
- Full/Double – 54×75; good choice for single adults, adults with pets, and children
- Queen – 60×80; the most popular mattress size for adults, couples, and even children
- King – 76×80; good choice for the master’s bedroom
- California King – 72×84; good choice for narrow and long room layouts
Some mattress models are available in Split Queen, King, or California King. Likewise, you can find box springs in these split sizes. Meaning, the two sides are separate and then put together while holding each mattress. In some cases, you can put two Split King versions each on a Twin box spring. But standard Queen, King, and Cal King should be more than able to the job as well.
A Note On Mattress Profiles
There are low and high profiles for box springs just as mattresses do. For high-profile ones, the thickness is placed at 9 inches. Low-profile ones are 5 to 5.5 inches thick. Usually, the mattress is already paired with a box spring when sold to get the profile right. Of course, there are certain considerations in choosing which the ideal one for you.
High or low, make sure it will be easy for you to get in and out of the mattress.
Why Do You Need A Box Spring?
There are three main purposes or reasons why you need a box spring:
- Elevating the mattress is one of the reasons box springs exist. The added height allows you to get in and out of the mattress easily.
- Another reason is that it absorbs shock and aids the mattress in enduring daily wear and tear. It is like a buffer of sorts. As a result, it can extend the lifespan of the bed.
- Lastly, it provides the mattress with a firm and flat base to sit on. In this case, it can replace a foundation or bed frame. But sometimes, it combines with the mattress to become one entire bed. And then the bed is mounted on a foundation, bed frame, or base.
Advantages and Disadvantages Using A Box Spring
When it comes to extending the lifespan of the mattress, as mentioned above, a box spring can help. This is particularly applicable to memory foam mattresses, as they can last 5 to 10 years depending on the quality. You can add a few years by adding this structure. It will aid in distributing the pressure across the layers, improving their durability.
Another advantage is that the box spring reduces sagging. This is related to durability, which we just cited above. Box spring provides even support to your mattress. So the layers can maintain their structure and endure daily wear and tear. Less sagging also means that you are not risking sleeping on an uneven surface in a few years.
Of course, support is impressive. With the right box spring, you are going to give your body the stability it needs when you are snoozing on your bed. At the same time, the support means your mattress is mounted on a base that will not break down. The construction of a box spring makes it a good standalone or complement with a foundation or bed frame.
While box springs are supportive, there is a loophole in their design. Well, it’s ironic to call it if what they lack is good airflow. As you can see, the components can mean little to no breathability depending on the brand. There is no direct impact on you, but molds and mildew can build up inside a box spring over time. This can cause it to work less optimally.
Another potential downside is that it takes up space. This leaves minimal to zero room to store your stuff underneath. While this may not be an issue for some, others who are pursuing a minimalist lifestyle can appreciate the storage space often provided by the likes of platform beds. This also keeps things orderly and aesthetically pleasing.
Of course, pricing can also be an issue. The reason here is that the box spring’s cost comes on top of the mattress’. Plus, you will probably need a headboard and/or footboard, as well as some accessories. When added, all of these can significantly cost you. But let’s see how you can go about this if your budget is tight. We’re talking about Pricing in the next section.
Before you buy a box spring, you need to consider the money it will cost you. You’re probably going to pair it with a mattress and other accessories as well. So, check out the prices to see if your budget is aligned with it. What is the average amount you need to prepare? Is financing available? We will answer these and more in this section.
On average, the price range for a queen-size box spring is $100 to $250. The figures can get lower or higher according to the size you’re purchasing. It can also be bundled with a mattress, giving you a better deal than taking just the individual items. Also, if there is a holiday or promo sale around the time you’re shopping, you can find a model for as low as $70.
In line with this, factor in the means through which you’re buying a box spring. The two important choices are online or retailer. If you want everything to be smooth and convenient, no traveling needed, find a good online store. Some online mattress brands sell box springs with their mattresses. As we said, the bundle price can be lower than the total of the box spring and mattress’ individual prices.
Now, if you need to score a box spring alone, you can try eCommerce sites with quality selections. The most popular example here is Amazon. There is no way you cannot find a box spring that can fit your budget requirements on the online retail giant’s site. There are discounts to grab and other perks to going for, too. But of course, research the brand and model before clicking Buy.
There is a downside to online shopping. If you want to see for yourself the quality of the sleep product, that’s not possible with this one. Instead, you need to hie off to a store or stores near you and survey their offerings. It may be a tad inconvenient, but you can pick a good unit thoroughly this way. You can even haggle with the salesperson.
On top of the box spring cost, you need to know if you will be charged for delivery. Buying online entails you have your purchase shipped to you. Thing is, you have to make sure the product is covered by the company’s free shipping policy. Some brands that sell online may charge you with a flat fee for the entire delivery (if you also bought a mattress) or per product.
Some brands also offer online ordering + store pick-up services. This means you won’t have to pay a delivery fee. You can pick up the box spring in the nearest branch the company will give you.
Box springs are bulky by the way, so this may not be ideal if your car is small. If your car is big, it’d be good to have a bed in a box you can place at the back as the other item you purchase.
When you buy straight from a retail store, on the other hand, you can: take home your item yourself, or have it delivered for a fee on that day or in a few days (depending on their delivery service crew’s availability as deliveries are scheduled).
Can you pay cash up front? If the answer is no, don’t give up easily. There is another way for you to own that box spring you’re eyeing: financing. Usually, though, you have to be buying a mattress together with your box spring. You can then apply for financing from a third party, which the manufacturer partners with to offer you this flexibility.
A word about warranty: Some companies require you to use your mattress with a box spring. Otherwise, they won’t acknowledge your warranty claim. This makes sense as they assume this product will provide your mattress with the support it needs. But in some cases, you might want a different bed frame or foundation. This is okay, too, for as long as you fulfill the warranty requirements.
Do you need a box spring with a bed frame?
You might be wondering if you should leave your box spring and mattress set on the floor. For some, this is a likely scenario, especially if you live in a small space like a studio-size condo unit. There are downsides to this, though. First, it may not be at a comfortable level for getting in and out of bed. Second, the breathability of the bed may be hampered.
Do you need a box spring with a platform bed?
It’s yes and no. The platform bed is a low-profile bed frame for your mattress. It is a standalone base that can work for most mattresses, including ones that do not need box springs. So the answer here is no. Usually, it is used in a room with a theme like minimalism. It also has space for storage below.
Now, if you have a mattress that came with a box spring, you can place them together on the platform bed. This is going to be a bit contradictory to the purpose of the latter, as box springs elevate mattresses. So you are going to get a high-profile bed with all the three components put together.
More on platform beds in the next and final section.
Should I replace my box spring when I buy a new mattress?
Yes. Especially if it’s endured a lot of wear already. It could be an old model anyway. And newer models are designed to support the newer mattress models. But in general, you should get a replacement box spring because your used one might not hold up. Without adequate support, your freshly bought mattress can also break down.
This can be an issue when you claim your warranty from the mattress company. Like we mentioned earlier, some companies would require you to use a box spring together with your mattress. Otherwise, your claim would be invalidated. Also, a very old box spring can pose more problems and won’t be as effective in performing its job.
Are you looking for a mattress? Read our full review of the Best Online Mattresses in 2020.
What box spring brands should I consider?
The answer here depends on your budget. Let’s divide the brands into low-end, mid-end, and high-end categories. First off, one that belongs in the middle ground would cost around $150. Classic Brands is a good example of this group. For something less expensive, Zinus got your back. This one has plenty of options at below $100.
Some makers of popular premium beds in boxes also have their own box spring models. Casper, Leesa, and Tuft & Needle are top bets in this regard. However, the box springs from these brands retail at around $200. Review the Pricing section if you are bent on buying from these trusted names
What’s a good alternative to a box spring?
Glad you asked. After assessing your need for a box spring with this guide, you may have realized you can look at other options. We mean, it’s not a rule set in stone to pair your mattress with a box spring. So dip into the next section to see more choices..
- Metal bed frames – These are created to support and raise the box spring and mattress. They have no slats, though. They can also be adjusted according to the size of the mattress. What they can’t do is support a mattress all by themselves. So yes, you need a box spring to go with it.
Without the box spring, the mattress will sag on a metal bed frame. So this is not an alternative per se. You have to consider the cost of the three items then: the metal bed frame, the box spring, and the mattress. The average price ranges from $50 to $150.
- Metal platform bases – This type is quite similar to the metal bed frame. But the structure can support a mattress all by itself. In short, it is a good alternative to box springs. There are benefits to this. You don’t have to pay for three items. You can already enjoy good elevation without a box spring.
Also, it is easy to set up by yourself. The thing is you can’t adjust it according to the size of the mattress. It comes already fixed, so make sure you already know what mattress you will be buying. The prices range from around $90 to $250.
- Slatted bed foundations – This foundation can have a low profile or high profile. But you definitely do not need to get a box spring before placing a mattress on top of it. Its frame is made of either wood or metal. Then you will distinguish it by its spaced slats that meet at the center.
The slates can also be made of wood or metal. This type of foundation works with any mattress, such as memory foam mattresses. But make sure you follow the manufacturer’s requirements for the spaces between slats (3 inches for memory foams). Some models have storage space underneath. And they help promote better airflow.
- Bunkie boards – This kind is made of wood/plywood or metal that you place to provide additional support to your mattress–memory foam, latex, or hybrid. You can use this with a foundation, a bed frame, or a box spring. But it’s best with bunk beds, from which the bunkie board gets its name.
If you have an existing mattress or bed frame, you can buy this to improve comfort. But if you need elevation, this will not yield any of that. Prepare something between $50 and $200 to have this one.
- Solid platform beds – As mentioned in the FAQs, platform beds are distinguished by their low-profile design. You can choose to put a box spring on it or not. Just remember that a platform bed works for a certain theme, like a minimalist room. But it is stylish, supportive, and durable.
This is the most solid alternative to box spring. It can also be easily the more expensive option. The cost can go from $200 to $2,000. But it’s strong enough to handle memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses. Some budget options are available at around $100. It may not be the most ideal for breathability, though.
- Adjustable bed frames – Ever heard of adjustable beds? These are frames that allow you to adjust the angle and elevation of your mattress. This enables you to try on different positions. You can do this usually by using a remote control. Now, this is a really comfortable foundation.
Also, an adjustable frame lets you enjoy the health benefits. It can help relieve your back and/or joint pain, as well as acid reflux and sleep apnea. With raised body parts, blood circulation can be improved, too. All of these capabilities, however, cost a lot. You need to shell out between $650 and $2,000 for an adjustable frame.
Regardless of your decision, it is important that you are well-informed. With this, you can consider mattresses and other sleep products using due diligence. You can check out more of the mattress guides and mattress reviews on our site.
That said, after going through our guide, only you can answer this: Do you need a box spring?