Box Spring vs Foundation: Which Base Is Right For You?

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
November 30, 2022
|
8
min read

If you're looking for a new mattress, you may be trying to decide between a box spring and foundation. Although they have similar functions, there are key differences between the two.

Box springs and foundations provide added height and support to a mattress while keeping your mattress in good shape. Although foundations and bed frames support different mattress types.

Your choice will ultimately depend on your needs, budget, and room space. If you’re struggling to choose between a box spring or foundation, this guide will help put your decision into perspective.

What Is A Box Spring?

A box spring is a wooden frame that evenly distributes weight and absorbs impact while you sleep. Box springs also provide extra support for your back and spine, which can reduce pain and improve sleep quality.

While most traditional mattresses are designed to be used with a box spring, some newer types (such as memory foam or latex mattresses) may not require one. If you have an older bed or are unsure whether your mattress needs a box spring, it's always best to check with the manufacturer before buying bed support.

Pros Of A Box Spring

Because box springs have an inner coil system, they increase airflow and keep you cool in your sleep. This coil system increases shock absorption, which reduces motion transfer, distributes weight evenly, and prevents premature sagging. Box springs also sit high off the ground, which makes getting in and out of bed quicker and easier. 

Cons Of A Box Spring

While box springs are cheap and accessible, they don’t suit every mattress. Pair a box spring with a latex or memory foam mattress, and you might even void your warranty.

Because box spring foundations are made of wood, they are also prone to faster wear and tear than other bed bases. The more brittle and less flexible the wood becomes over time, the quicker your mattress will sag. 

When box spring coils rust and age, they also tend to creak and can keep you awake at night.

What Is A Foundation?

A bed foundation is a type of support system for your mattress that is typically made of wood or metal. A foundation provides a flat, sturdy surface for your mattress and helps extend its lifespan. You can either sit it on top of your box spring or place your foundation directly on the floor. 

Bed foundations also come in various heights and styles but all typically have slats that support your mattress. These slats are usually spaced 2-2.75 inches apart for optimum weight distribution.

Pros Of A Foundation

Foundations offer similar benefits as box springs when it comes to providing additional structural support, breathability, and durability. Because they are made entirely with slats, foundations can relieve pressure points and distribute weight without any give.

Foundations better suit most modern sleeping set-ups and are compatible with almost all mattress types.

Cons Of A Foundation

Foundations lack an inner coil system, so you can expect to feel less bounce in your sleep. If you tend to toss and turn, a foundation may not distribute weight as quickly. Foundations are also firmer than box springs and may be uncomfortable for sleepers who prefer soft sleeping surfaces.

Additionally, foundations are challenging to move because they are heavy and dense. If you don’t have the appropriate equipment, it can take four to six people to move a foundation.

Difference Between A Box Spring And Foundation

 

Box spring

Foundation

Support

Adequately supports your mattress while providing some give and bounce

Supports your mattress without any give or bounce

Durability

Coil system can wear down over time, decreasing support and creating bothersome noise

Extremely durable and can provide the same level of support for longer than a box spring

Weight

Lighter than a solid foundation

Very heavy, making transport a challenge

Compatibility with mattresses

Best for innerspring mattresses, not compatible with many other mattress types

Compatible with all mattress types

Average price (queen-size)

$100 - $300

$200 - $500


 

Should You Have A Box Spring Or A Foundation? Factors To Consider

Box springs and foundations generally serve the same purpose but have a lot of crucial differences. Foundations tend to be more compatible with mattress types. Older box springs can sometimes void a mattress warranty.

Consider the following factors before choosing which one to buy.

Support

Box springs have some give but also provide extra bounce, so they’re best for those who tend to move in their sleep. If you want to make your mattress feel firmer, consider a foundation instead.

Durability

Compared to box springs, whose inner coil system can wear down quickly over time, foundations are more durable and less likely to break.

Breathability

Because box springs have an inner coil system and are not as dense as foundations, they are often more airy and breathable. However, you can increase air circulation with a mattress foundation by picking one with slats that are farther apart from each other.

Price

Box springs are more affordable, typically costing between $100 and $300 for a queen-size bed frame. On the other hand, foundations can be quite costly, often priced between $200 and $500. Some foundations even have adjustable frames – these can cost up to $1,000.

Ultimately, how much you pay for a box spring or foundation depends on the frame size, material, make, and brand.

Mattress Compatibility

Foundations are compatible with virtually every mattress, while box springs are designed to fit innerspring mattresses. Box springs sometimes void the warranty on newer mattresses.

Pick The Right Kind Of Support For Your Bed

While box springs may seem outdated, if compatible, they can be a lower-cost alternative. There are many types of foundations that often provide a longer-lasting and more supportive experience. 

Purple offers a variety of foundations that are compatible with virtually every mattress. Providing several options specific to your needs.

  • Platform Bed Frame: A strong, simple, and storage-friendly option. Sets up in minutes.
  • Purple Bed Frame: Featuring a versatile gray fabric and tapered wooden legs. Durable platform-style bed frame is an easy addition to any style.
  • Adjustable Bed Frame: Designed to help improve your sleep quality and daily comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions About Box Springs And Foundations

Can box springs ruin a mattress?

Yes, box springs can ruin a mattress that it isn’t designed to support, such as a latex or memory foam mattress. Because box springs are only suitable for innerspring mattresses, they aren’t likely to provide enough support for heavier mattresses, risking premature sagging or wear.

Can you put a box spring or foundation on the floor?

While you can technically put a box spring or foundation on the floor, it’s best to place them on top of a frame. Placing your bed base directly on the floor can restrict airflow, wear upholstery away, and make your mattress dirty.

Do you need a box spring or foundation for your mattress?

Some floor mattresses don’t require a box spring or foundation. However, using one can provide better support and keep your mattress in good shape for longer.

How tall should your bed base be?

The average bed base is 16-24 inches tall. If you find getting in and out of bed hard, bed bases can provide the extra bed height you need.