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Bed Basics

Do You Need a Box Spring?

A couple standing in front of an empty mattress base with question marks above their heads.
Bailey Biffert

If you’re searching for the best night’s rest possible, there are several products you will need to add to your sleep setup. Of course, it all starts with the right mattress. Bedding like pillows, sheets and mattress toppers help provide all-night comfort. And a base can help you find your nighttime sweet spot—especially if it’s adjustable.

But you may ask yourself, “Do I need a box spring?”

Evolving technology and increased options for bed bases mean the one-time mainstay may no longer be mandatory. Does your bed need one? Read on to get all the answers you need about box springs!

What Is a Box Spring?

A box spring is designed to sit under your mattress and on top of your bed frame and will provide extra support to help extend the life of your mattress. Encased in fabric, the inside of the box spring features a wooden or metal frame.

However, the term “box spring” has become a bit of a misnomer. Most box springs contained springs through the early 2000s, but they evolved as manufacturers replaced them with solid slats or a grid system.

“A lot of people think since there is ‘spring’ in the name, a box spring has actual springs in it,” former Mattress Firm Sleep Expert® Nicholas Mobley explains. “But there are no springs. It is just a foundation.”

What Does a Box Spring Do?

A box spring is more than a space to put your bed—it provides a base of support to help your mattress last longer.

“I tell folks a box spring does two things,” Mattress Firm Sleep Expert® Zack Thomas says. “First, it provides some extra height, so they don’t have to struggle to get in and out of bed. The other is it provides a full, flat surface to put their mattress on. A lot of frames have slats more than six inches apart, which could be a detriment for a new mattress.”

Once placed under your mattress, a box spring can also help with the following:

  • Support: It will help distribute weight evenly across the mattress, which helps prevent sagging to extend your bed’s lifespan.
  • Absorbing shock: Box springs can absorb some impact or weight placed on a mattress, which helps prevent damage while extending a mattress’s durability.
  • Airflow: Since box springs are mostly hollow, it allows more air to flow around the mattress, which means cooler sleep for you.

Does My Mattress Need a Box Spring?

Simply put: It depends.

At one time, most mattresses required a box spring’s additional support and shock absorption. But as mattresses evolved, new varieties of beds and bases meant the needed support layer evolved, too.

Always check with the mattress manufacturer’s website and any warranty details before adding a box spring to your sleep space. While some beds and warranties may require a box spring, others may require a different type of base—using the wrong one could even void your mattress warranty!

“Getting the right foundation can help protect your mattress, especially when it comes to upholding your warranty,” Thomas says. “If you file a claim with some warranties, the very first question they ask is, ‘What was the mattress sitting on?’ If it’s an improper foundation, they can’t help you.”

When You Need a Box Spring

Innerspring Mattresses

If you have an innerspring mattress, a box spring will help to give your bed extra support and prevent premature sagging. Innerspring mattresses and box springs work together to provide optimal comfort and support. However, some innerspring mattresses won’t require a box spring. Always read any mattress manufacturer’s instructions before adding a box spring to your bed.

Your Bed Frame Needs One

Consider what you would sit your box spring on. If your frame was designed to use one, a box spring may be required to support your mattress properly and to reach the desired height of your bed. If you're not sure whether or not your bed frame was designed to hold a box spring, look at the support structure—slats close together indicate no box spring is necessary.

Personal Preference

Only you’ll know what’s right for you. Some sleepers prefer the feel a box spring may provide, while others enjoy the higher sleeping surface. It may be worth sticking with if you’ve grown accustomed to a box spring.

When You Don’t Need a Box Spring

Modern Mattresses

If you’re sleeping on a latex, hybrid or memory foam mattress, a box spring likely won’t be the right option for you. For example, if a box spring’s slats are too far apart, it will lack the support some more modern mattresses may need, and your bed may begin to sag.

“When I compare hybrids to memory foam to traditional [innerspring], the only one that truly still needs a box spring is that innerspring style,” Thomas says. “When those coils are pushing up into you, they need something to push down against to get that full body support.”

You’re Using an Adjustable Base

Adjustable bases are a popular addition to bed setups, allowing you to customize your sleep position by elevating your head and/or feet. However, due to the rigid design of box springs, they are incompatible with adjustable bases.

Still not sure a box spring is right for you? No worries! Several alternatives could be a better fit, such as adjustable bases or platform beds (that combine frames with a slatted or solid surface). Check out our blog on box spring alternatives that will help provide support and comfort night after night.

The Pros and Cons of Box Springs

It is crucial to consider every factor when it comes to changing up your sleep space. Use these advantages and disadvantages of box springs to decide if it’s the right base for you.

Pros

  • Height: Sleepers with joint or mobility issues may find getting in and out of bed easier with a box spring.
  • Enhanced support: A box spring provides a solid, stable surface to put your mattress on and will help distribute weight evenly and reduce premature sagging.
  • Extended lifespan: A box spring will help reduce wear and tear on a mattress by absorbing impact.
  • More airflow: If you sleep hot at night, a box spring may help. Due to the open space inside the box spring, you may notice better temperature regulation.

Cons

  • Limited compatibility: Depending on your mattress, there may be a better option for a base out there for you. Box springs lack the type of support many modern beds need.
  • Noise: Some box springs may make noise over time as weight is applied, which could cause a sleep disturbance.
  • Motion transfer: Your sleep partner’s movement may be more noticeable on a box spring.
  • Cost: Box springs will raise the overall price of your bed setup. You may find a lower-cost option, like a platform bed that combines a frame and base.

Finding the Right Box Spring for You

If you’re ready to add a new box spring to your sleep space, check out Mattress Firm’s wide variety of choices. You can choose from sizes ranging from twin to split California King—all from top brands.

Remember: When choosing a box spring, you will typically find standard or high-profile options, which measure around nine inches, and low-profile box springs, which measure between five and six inches. If you have mobility issues, a higher-profile box spring could help you get in and out of bed.

Also, consider getting a split box spring for larger sizes like queen, king or California King. These multi-piece box springs are beneficial if you live in an apartment or a home with narrow hallways or small rooms.

“Split king box springs are the only ways to go,” Thomas says. “It makes it easier for shipping and moving, and it’s overall less of a headache because you have two halves instead of one giant piece that’s hard to get through doorways or up and down stairs.”

Here are just a few box springs from our selection you can choose from:

Serta Perfect Sleeper® Box Spring Foundation


If you notice your sleep partner’s tossing and turning, this box spring from Serta® is for you. With a unique construction that helps isolate movement, you’ll get nights of undisturbed sleep. Rest easy thanks to superior support and durability.

Sleepy’s® Universal Box Spring Foundation


Get ready for the quiet night of sleep you deserve. The metal construction of this box spring is designed to be quieter and stronger than all-wood alternatives. Plus, the design has tailored corners and a neutral color that boosts the visual appeal of your setup.

Sleepy’s® Basic Box Spring Foundation


The combination of cross and support beams helps this box spring provide ideal weight distribution and surface-area support. A durable fabric layer and corner guards also help prevent tears in the soft fiber panel and dust cover.

Zinus Metal Smart BoxSpring®


Get better support for your mattress with an easily assembled steel base with a knitted polyester cover. This base is built to last with durable steel used to construct the inside framework.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Box Spring

Think a box spring is right for you? Make sure you consider these factors to help you choose the perfect one and to help make it last.

First, make sure you get the right size for you. Whatever size mattress you have, you’ll want the same size box spring. Keep in mind the measurements of the mattresses listed below:

  • Twin: 39" x 75"
  • Twin XL: 39” x 80”
  • Full: 54" x 75"
  • Queen: 60" x 80"
  • King: 76" x 80"
  • California King: 72” x 84”

Additionally, you may want to measure the height of your mattress before adding a box spring. Measuring the size and adding the right box spring will help you have an aesthetically pleasing bed setup.

“Height is really important,” Mobley says. “It affects how it looks visually. I would measure and look at your frame before buying a box spring. Say you get a 15-inch mattress and a 10-inch box spring—once you put that mattress and the box spring on your frame, it could cover a lot of the headboard.”

With proper care, a box spring can last up to 10 years. If you notice any damage, replacement is essential, as using a damaged box spring could cause your mattress to sag prematurely.

Here are a few care tips that will help you sleep easy on a new box spring:

  • Rotate your box spring 180 degrees every few months to help it stay supportive and ensure no spot gets too much compression.
  • Avoid jumping on your bed and box spring (no matter how good your sleep is). Jumping can damage both. While it may be able to absorb shock, repeated excessive force will lead it to wear out faster.
  • Clean up any spills promptly. If your box spring is exposed to excessive liquids or moisture, it can cause mold or mildew to grow.

Need more assistance? Nobody knows A to Zzz’s like the Sleep Experts® at Mattress Firm.

Visit your local store today for help finding the best sleep solution for you.

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