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Bed Basics

New Alternatives to the Classic Box Spring

A woman with the Sleepy's Storage Base with Reversible Headboard base open putting pillows into the under bed storage.
Mattress Firm

Some home items stand the test of time, like quality dishware or a nice couch. But others become obsolete, whether due to technology advancements, trends or something else entirely. When it comes to what we sleep on, traditional box springs might be ones you wonder about. After all, they’re clunky but supportive. If you’ve ever wondered whether you can swap out your box springs for an alternative mattress base, you've landed in the right place.

There are several reasons why someone might choose an alternative to the traditional box springs. For starters, they tend to be bulky and prove difficult to move, especially in apartment buildings and narrow, older homes, making box springs less than ideal for many people. Box springs can also be expensive and may not be compatible with certain types of mattresses, such as all foam mattresses.

Mattress Firm Sleep Expert Raul Davila® says it’s important to first understand what box springs are. “Box springs are kind of like an old term that still gets used, but there are no springs in the box anymore,” he says. “All the support, including the springs, is built into the mattress.” With that in mind, Davila says it’s likely you don’t need box springs to support your bed. ”So with the furniture now having the proper foundation already, you don't need the box.”

That said, you shouldn’t put your mattress directly on the floor. Some of the most popular alternatives to box springs are platform beds and slatted bed frames. Both can provide stable support for a mattress while keeping it off the ground. Other alternatives like adjustable bed bases or Bunkie boards are great options that can offer added benefits like customization or affordability.

Choosing the best alternative to the traditional box springs can depend on several factors, including your personal preference, budget and lifestyle.

Platform Beds


Platform beds take the place of traditional box springs by providing the mattress with solid, stable support in the base itself. Instead of a mattress atop box springs sitting on a metal bed frame, a platform bed frame is made with a solid, supportive base that removes the need for box springs, Davila explains. You can think of it as a bed frame with built-in box springs like the Hollywood Bed Frame Enforce Platform Frame.

Benefits of Platform Beds

If you’re shopping for a platform bed, expect to have a wide variety of styles and prices to choose from. Some come with attached headboards while others are simply a mattress base. Others come with options like underbed storage space that could be great if you live in a smaller home or apartment. Some platform beds like the Mattress Firm Deluxe Raised Metal Platform Frame are made of heavy-duty metal that can easily be installed and removed, making it easier to relocate the frame if needed.

Adjustable Bed Bases

Mattress Firm 300 Adjustable Base

Adjustable bases are one of the most innovative options when it comes to alternatives to box springs. As the name suggests, the frames are adjustable, allowing you to sleep in a customized position by raising the head and foot section of the bed. Sleeping on an adjustable base rather than box springs could help with medical conditions like snoring and some pains.

Benefits of Adjustable Bases

Adjustable beds focus on providing pressure relief. By elevating the head and legs, many sleepers find pressure points lessen in the hips, shoulders and back. People who experience sore legs and feet might also benefit from sleeping with their legs elevated. The adjustable base can also move into a zero gravity position that many find to be a neutral position that feels as close to weightless as possible without heading into outer space.

Davila explains that people opt for an adjustable base most often for two reasons. “The first is the practicality of adjusting the bed, so you can read in bed, you can watch TV in bed, or maybe you want to do some work in bed,” he says.

The other reason is based on health benefits. “Sleeping in an elevated position is a more natural way to sleep. It takes stress off of your body and helps with breathability,” Davila says. “Most of my guests will find that their quality of sleep increases with an adjustable base, and they feel a whole lot more rejuvenated.”

Most but not all mattresses are compatible with adjustable bases, so be sure to check with a Mattress Firm Sleep Expert® to make sure your mattress is a good fit for an adjustable base.

Bunkie Boards and Slatted Bed Frames


Bunkie boards are thin support systems, often made of wood, but you can also find some made of metal. These provide extra support without adding much height to your mattress setup. The Sleepy’s Bunkie Board, for example, measures two inches tall and is made with wooden slats. Bunkie boards are one of the least expensive options if you’re hoping to use a bed frame without box springs.

Bunkie boards were originally designed to be used in bunk beds. Since the upper sleeping area might be too close to the ceiling to accommodate both a mattress and box springs, a Bunkie board served as ample support without adding the height that comes from traditional box springs.

Slatted bed frames on the other hand take the place of traditional box springs by providing a series of slats to support the mattress in a similar way to box springs.

Benefits of Bunkie Boards

One of the best uses of a Bunkie board is in combination with a slatted base, according to Davila’s expertise. Most mattresses, especially all-foam beds, require the space between the slats to be minimal. If your base has wooden slats that are too far apart to provide enough support, a Bunkie board can serve as additional support without adding much height. If you’re putting your mattress directly on the floor, adding in a Bunkie board between the floor and your mattress could help with better air circulation and keep the mattress free of mold and mildew.

Benefits of Slatted Bed Frames

A slatted bed frame could be a great alternative to box springs if you prefer a lower-profile look for your bed, Davila mentions. Some also come with underbed storage space like the Sleepy's Storage Base with Reversible Headboard. Slats can also help with air circulation in your mattress to cut down on the likelihood of mold or mildew issues.

Most Asked Box Springs Alternative Questions and Answers

What is the best alternative to box springs?

The best alternative to box springs depends on your sleeping preferences, mattress type and budget. Platform bases and slatted bases provide solid support for your mattress, while adjustable bases offer a customized sleeping experience that could also help you sleep better. Bunkie boards are a low-cost option when it comes to box springs alternatives and offer a low-profile look.

Will an alternative provide enough support for my mattress?

The purpose of an alternative to box springs is to provide your mattress with the same amount of support. A platform base, slatted base or adjustable base can each be a solid and supportive alternative if you’d rather not use traditional box springs. Be sure to match your mattress size to the size of your box springs alternative and double check whether your mattress is compatible with the box springs alternative. Sleeping on your mattress with a base that doesn’t offer enough support could void the warranty.

Can I use an alternative with my existing bed frame?

Depending on your existing bed frame and mattress, it might be possible to get rid of your box springs. Platform bases and slatted bed frames are designed to be used without box springs. Adjustable bases aren’t designed to be used with box springs, either. But some bed frames like metal frames that adjust in size might still require the support of box springs. Always check with your mattress’s manufacturer or with the team of Sleep Experts at Mattress Firm before you ditch your box springs.

What is the cost difference between box springs and an alternative?

Depending on your preferences, an alternative to box springs could be less expensive than buying box springs and a base. The most affordable alternatives are either sleeping with the mattress directly on the floor or a Bunkie board. But a mattress on the floor could be an invitation for accumulating dust, bacteria and even mold and mildew, so adding a Bunkie board could be a better option for air circulation. Depending on the features, some adjustable bases can be on the higher end of the price range, but talk with your Mattress Firm Sleep Expert to see if you qualify for a free adjustable base when you buy a new mattress.

Will using an alternative affect the height or appearance of my bed?

Depending on which alternative to box springs you choose, your mattress might sit at a different height. Some platform and slatted bases sit lower while many adjustable beds give you the option to choose your desired height. Bunkie boards have a low profile, so it’s possible your mattress will also sit lower to the floor when using one as a box springs alternative.

Do I need to buy a new mattress if I switch from using box springs?

Most mattresses will seamlessly transition from being supported on box springs to being supported on a slatted base, platform or Bunkie board. Not all mattresses are designed to work with an adjustable base, however, and it’s important to make sure your box springs alternative is the right size for your mattress. Before you make the switch to a box springs alternative, check on your mattress’s support requirements.

Will an alternative help reduce noise or motion transfer during sleep?

Some mattress support systems are designed to reduce noise and help with isolating motion. Most slatted bases, platform foundations and Bunkie boards are designed to help you sleep silently. Motion isolation is heavily dependent on your mattress type, sleep position and weight distribution across the mattress. If you’re struggling with motion transfer, you may want to look into how your mattress is performing and its materials.

What materials are the alternatives to box springs made of, and are they eco-friendly?

Box springs alternatives are often made of wood or metal, while some also include upholstery. The eco-friendliness of a box springs alternative depends on the materials used. Some platform and slatted bases are made from wood or sustainably sourced materials while some adjustable bases are made with recycled metals to make them a more eco-friendly option.

How easy are the alternatives to assemble or install, and are there any additional tools required?

The process to assemble a box springs alternative depends on which you choose. Some can be easily set up with no tools while others might require more setup. It’s possible you’ll need a screwdriver, wrench or hammer and basic DIY skills to assemble a new mattress base. Adjustable bases might require professional installation to make sure they’re safe and functioning properly.

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