Sleep Accessories

Do You Need a Boxspring?

Learn what a box spring actually is, what is does, and how it can elongate the life of your mattress.

By Jack Mitcham

One of the most common questions I get from customers is “do I need a boxspring?” I hope to answer that question here and outline all of the boxspring options available to you. The short answer, by the way, is “probably yes,” but it’s a little more complicated than that.

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What is a boxspring?

A boxspring is a support for your mattress and is typically constructed from a wooden frame, covered in cloth with springs in the middle. It is usually built the same size as the mattress it will support and that’s why you often are able to buy a mattress and box spring as a set when you buy a new mattress.

The boxspring fulfills three needs:

  1. To raise the mattress higher off the ground so you’re not stuck in your bed like a turtle on its back.
  2. To absorb impact and reduce the wear on the mattress.
  3. To give the mattress a strong, flat surface to sit on.

These days, the word “boxspring” is somewhat of a misnomer, because most don’t use springs. The term “foundation” is a more apt description. This has changed in the past decade or two. Up until the early 2000s, most boxsprings used actual springs in them and acted as a shock absorber for the mattress. Now, most mattresses use foundations that are just sturdy, inflexible boxes that support the mattress. These can be made of wood or metal.

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Do I need a boxspring?

So, back to the main question, do you need a boxspring? Well, you need to put the mattress on something. Let’s look at the options.

  • You can put the mattress on the floor. This actually gives the mattress proper support, but it doesn’t look as nice, is more difficult to get in and out of bed, and isn’t as sanitary since you’re right on the floor.
  • You can put the mattress on a boxspring. This raises the mattress up off the ground and provides the solid support that a mattress needs. This is usually used in conjunction with a bed frame to keep everything off the floor and provide a little storage space under the bed if necessary.
  • You can use a platform bed. These are very popular in Europe. They consist of a platform surface, either solid or with slats. The mattress goes directly on the bed with no box spring. Amazon has a good selection of traditional platform beds if you want to buy online. A company called Forever Foundation has a really sturdy metal one on Amazon as well that I like.
  • If you want to really go all-out, you can get an adjustable power base for your mattress. This is a base with a motor in it that can have such features as raising up the head, raising the legs, or even a massage feature. Believe it or not, you can get those delivered by Amazon for pretty low prices, as well as any other mattress retailer, including online retailers. Read more about adjustable bases here.

What if I already have a boxspring?

If you already have a boxspring, it likely needs to be replaced. If you put a new mattress on an old boxspring, you run the risk of the boxspring wearing down or breaking, causing the mattress to start sagging. If this happens, it can void the mattress warranty. Additionally, if your boxspring is very old, it might be the old springy type and not the newer foundation type of boxspring. This will change how the mattress feels.

What You Don’t Know Could Void Your Warranty

The point about voiding your warranty is no small consideration. Many newly designed options, especially among the memory foam and latex varieties, require you to use something beneath the actual mattress and even list the types of bases and frames that comply with or void the warranty.

Why? Because bases that do not support your mattress will cause it to deteriorate prematurely. And that would be your fault. And the fact that you caused the wear and tear beyond normal use, you yourself will have voided your own warranty.

Why should I even use a box spring?

You could be saying, “Hey, you just told you ‘box spring’ is outdated. Why am I worrying about it?’

Because the foundation or box spring also absorbs impact when it’s properly installed. Maybe you like to literally jump into bed. Maybe you’re clumsy and have been known to literally fall into bed. In that case, the box spring sits between your mattress and its foundation. Without one, it’s you hitting the mattress and the mattress hitting the floor and nothing else.

Boxspring or foundation?

Your mattress and your preferences should decide which to use.

If you’re used to a boxspring, you’re used to that level of support underneath your mattress. Without it, your sleep quality may suffer. The boxspring may feel like an old friend and ease of use for you, the sleeper, may be the most important thing for you to consider. If you’re sleeping on an innerspring mattress, this is the choice. But boxsprings are also bulky and heavy. Wooden ones will break down slowly and compromise its ability to support a mattress, robbing you of use.

Sleeping on a foundation, or a solid slab of wood (no slats), is similar to sleeping on a platform bed. It will support the mattress and absorb extra impact or movement. It will do a better job distributing weight along the length of the mattress.

Foundations are flexible, too, in that it can support any type of mattress. By the same token, you give up some comfort because the flat foundation won’t give like a box spring will. Did you just buy a bed for its contouring effects and still wake up sore in the morning? Maybe it’s that flat foundation.

Best Box Springs Online

The Mattress Nerd Top Pick’s
Tuft & Needle Box Foundation
  • Price: $250 for queen
  • Warranty: 5-year limited warranty
  • Trial Period: 100 nights
The Leesa Foundation
  • Price: $299 for queen
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty
  • Trial Period: 100 nights
Casper Foundation + Metal Frame
  • Price: $300 for queen (plus $15o for metal frame)
  • Warranty: 10-year limited warranty
  • Trial Period: 30 nights
Acension™ Bi-Fold Foundation by Brooklyn Bedding
  • Price: $225 for queen
  • Warranty: 3-year full warranty
  • Trial Period: N/A
Zinus Arimta Foundation — Amazon’s Choice
  • Price: $97 for queen
  • Warranty: 5-year full warranty
  • Trial Period: N/A
Classic Brands Foundation
  • Price: $127 for queen (high-profile wood model)
  • Warranty: 3-year full warranty
  • Trial Period: N/A

In conclusion, you need to put a mattress on something, and if it’s not going to be on the floor, platform bed, or power base, you need a new boxspring.

Thanks for reading.

Comments (129)

  1. John Rokos Jr says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved.

    If I buy a new mattress with foundation will it work on my old metal frame ( was queen with box spring )

  2. Sheila stone says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved.

    so we actually want something with SPRINGS like coiled bendy metal. Twin size. I have struck out with finding these anywhere. Any suggestions of any manufacturer that still makes these? will be putting thick soft foam (NOT memory foam) on it. I am at the point of buying the sinuous springs myself and trying to build something. Autistic kid needs to BOUNCE. thanks for any help.

  3. Are there any queen size box springs that are being made 60″ by 80″? I’m discovering that many are a few inches short now and that won’t work for our bed/mattress. Super frustrating and you’d think that a company would pick up the slack and make old school true sized box springs.

  4. We’re think of getting a new Queen size mattress and box spring, as I see you say is necessary, and we are used to
    a box spring,( and also at some time replacing two twin mattresses) , so my question regarding a frame;How much room is under a frame for storing…… storage bins or suitcases etc.
    How many inches floor to frame bottom????
    ( I know there are risers that can be used, but just wondering just the regular space under a frame.)

    Thanks so much!

    • You need something to put the mattress on. A rigid, flat, surface. What would you put it on otherwise?

  5. I have a Sherwood King Pillowtop mattress, the tag/label says I do not need and can be used without a foundation. So am I able to put it directly on the bed frame with no problems?

    • No, a typical bed frame cannot support a mattress. You can put it directly on a platform bed or on the floor. A regular frame will just have one center support bar and huge gaps in between.

  6. I read on one site that my California King memory foam mattress needs two box springs…? Do you happen to know if that’s accurate?

    • The boxspring is split. Otherwise it wouldn’t fit through doorways or around corners.

      You don’t need to separately order two boxsprings. If you order a “California King Boxspring” it’ll come in the two pieces.

      An exception would be if the “boxspring” is actually a platform bed or something, or maybe some “build it yourself” boxsprings. But standard Cal King boxsprings will be split.

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