Platform Bed vs. Box Spring: Do You Need Both?

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
January 26, 2022
|
7
min read

 

The main difference between a platform bed and a box spring is the support. Platform beds have a built-in foundation that the mattress can directly rest on. Box springs are used in tandem with bed frames that alone, cannot provide proper support to a mattress.

Platform beds and box springs are two of the most common options for supporting a mattress. Although a platform bed is a type of frame that has a sturdy, built-in foundation that does not require a box spring. Whereas a box spring is a bed base that is placed on top of a bed frame.

Many people get confused when shopping for a new mattress whether they should buy a platform bed or box spring. Rest easy with a better understanding of whether you should buy a platform bed or a box spring by using our guide below.

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What Is a Platform Bed?

Platform Bed

A platform bed is a wooden, metal, or composite bed frame with a base that supports a mattress. The base is either slatted or solid. Due to the platform’s supportive, sturdy, and strong structure, you do not need to buy a box spring. Rather, you’ll fold out the platform, place your mattress directly atop it, and voila! — you’ve got a comfortable bed. This no-hassle simplicity is possible because of the platform’s components and design.

Parts of a Platform Bed

A platform bed has two necessary components: legs and a platform. Though designs vary, many beds in this category are relatively low to the ground. They typically have cross beams from top to bottom or side to side (or both) to support the main platform. The beds that have slats instead of a solid platform typically only have small gaps so that they can still provide a solid base for the mattress. Slats offer better overall ventilation, which enhances comfort, especially in hot weather.

Regardless of what a platform bed is made of — metal, wood, or a composite material — it must be strong enough to support a mattress and multiple people. Also, the platform may come with a headboard, footboard, and other accessories. However, these do not play a role in the structure.

Pros and Cons of a Platform Bed

When it comes down to it, a platform bed is unassuming and it’s tough to find fault with something that works so well. But everyone has their individual preferences. Take a look at the pros and cons below to see if a platform bed suits your needs.

Pros:

  • When designed properly, the platform is lightweight and foldable for easy transportation and assembly;
  • Strong and dependable;
  • Will not squeak or creak;
  • When designed economically, includes storage space underneath;
  • You don’t need to buy a box spring;
  • Affordable;
  • Perfect for a minimalist lifestyle.

Cons:

  • Does not have the customization benefits of an adjustable bed;
  • Does not look as stylish as an upholstered bed frame;
  • Sits lower to the ground than an upholstered frame, meaning it’s best for sleepers who do not need an elevated bed.

Overall, a platform bed is great for anyone who wants a base that will get the job done and let the mattress be the star player.

What Is a Box Spring?

Box Spring

A box spring, or divan, is simply a fabric-covered, rectangular, wooden box with coil springs in it. The box goes between a mattress and a bed frame. It provides support and a little bit of bounce for mattresses with very little structural integrity. The box spring was invented before new mattress technology basically did away with the need for it.

Parts of a Box Spring

A box spring has a wooden frame with vertical supports on each corner and parallel horizontal beams on each of the four sides. Inside, there are metal springs. These are usually connected to provide a solid base. Sometimes, springs are separate but placed in cloth pockets so that they remain vertical.

Keep in mind the type of bed you have. Most box springs sit on a metal or wood frame, and they support a spring mattress. These products come in regular sizes (twin, double, queen, king) so that you can match the dimensions of the box to the mattress and frame. Although if you have a more modern bed such as an adjustable bed frame or a slatted bed frame a box spring is not necessary.

Box springs are usually not necessary, although they work well with spring mattresses because they align the springs in the box spring with the springs in the mattress for added support.

Pros and Cons of a Box Spring

Some people are so used to box springs they don’t think twice about them — until their sleep quality starts to suffer. Peruse the pros and cons of a box spring below to determine if it’s the right choice for you:

Pros:

  • Works with an older innerspring mattress and bed frame, neither of which provide much support;
  • Elevates the mattress;
  • Supportive.

Cons:

  • Takes up more space than a platform bed;
  • Limited storage space beneath, depending on the height of the bed frame;
  • Requires more work to move;
  • Springs wear out with use;
  • Less affordable than a simple platform-mattress combination;
  • The older it gets, the squeakier and noisier it becomes, which can disrupt sleep;
  • Not customizable like an adjustable bed.

Now that you’ve got a view of the ups and downs, it’s time to decide whether a platform or a box spring is your jam.

Deciding Which Foundation Is Better for You

It is essential to select an option that provides the proper amount of support for your mattress. If you choose incorrectly, you may end up with a bed that sags in places and does not provide adequate support for your body. Also, a mismatched foundation could make noise whenever you turn over. In short, the wrong foundation can decrease the quality of your sleep.

Here are some other essential factors to consider when selecting a mattress.

Health

The overall height of the bed may affect health and safety. The height of a box spring and its mattress may make it easier for people who are older to get into and out of bed, while a platform and foam mattress will require more effort. On the other hand, younger users may be safer in a lower platform bed, which will put them closer to the ground and lessen the impact of an accidental fall.

Comfort

Comfort can be a subjective factor. For some mattress buyers, it will come down to familiarity with one of the options and selecting the option that feels best for their preferred sleeping position. Of course, getting a quality pillow can also affect comfort level, as can purchasing soft and breathable sheets.

However, box springs and platform beds have specific qualities that can help undecided bed shoppers choose. For example, platform beds, especially those with slats, provide better circulation. If you sleep hot and prefer a cooler bed, the air movement allowed by this design can make a big difference.

Box springs, on the other hand, are not as breathable, but they provide more support when paired with innerspring mattresses. Some people prefer this level of support, especially if they suffer from back pain or another musculoskeletal ailment.

People who sleep on their side, on the other hand, often prefer platform beds, which do a better job of contouring to their bodies and providing proper support to the hips and shoulders. This quality can prevent soreness from sleeping in an awkward position.

​​Space

Bed dimensions depend on the mattress size that you choose.

  • King size beds are 76 inches long by 80 inches wide.
  • Queen beds are 60 x 80.
  • Full beds are 54 x 75.
  • Twin beds are 38 x 75.

Box springs, when combined with innerspring mattresses, are taller and bulkier, but they are much lighter than platform beds and are therefore easier to move when rearranging a room. Because they are thinner horizontally, platform beds may offer more space for underneath storage. However, those that are closer to the floor do not provide this attribute.

Price

Depending on the material, brand and size a box spring cost can vary anywhere from $100 to $350. Platform beds vary anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

So when it comes to price, you may end up spending more on a box spring as it requires buying a foundation as well. Whereas a platform bed acts as a box spring and bed frame in one.

Other Bedding

Mattress and base combinations not only affect the price, but they also influence the overall quality of your sleep and comfort.

Picking the right mattress is an important step in the buying process. After choosing from the different mattress types, it can be easier to select the right kind of support. For example, platform beds with slats pair well with memory foam mattresses.

You can also opt for hybrid mattresses, which contain different layers. They can combine foam with a spring-like support system. Some rely on special patterns or grids to offer both optimal contouring and breathability.

Size is another crucial factor. A full bed offers space for an adult, but because it is only 75 inches, it is not ideal for taller individuals, and the 57-inch width makes it relatively small for more than one person. Twin mattresses have a similar length. However, the width is narrow at 38 inches. This figure means that these beds are best suited for children.

Those who value space might prefer to sleep on a California king bed. This is one of the larger options on the market at 72 inches wide by 84 inches long, and it provides enough room for two people to sleep comfortably (even if they value their own space). King vs California king mattresses vary slightly in size.

Should You Use Both a Box Spring and a Platform Bed?

In theory, you can use a box spring with a platform bed. However, a box spring is not necessary to use with a platform bed and will not increase the comfort of a mattress. You can add the box spring on top for added height.

A better option is to get a specialized foundation, which is a cloth-covered frame like a box spring but without springs. These products increase ventilation and height while also providing a solid base for a hybrid mattress.

Should You Choose a Platform Bed or a Box Spring?

Ultimately, your choice of a platform bed or a box spring depends on how much you want to spend and the connected question of how many items you want to set up in your room. A platform bed is more compatible with different mattress types than a box spring is. Whereas a box spring tends to be compatible with spring mattresses.

The Purple platform bed frame allows you to purchase one item that will support your mattress and yourself. It has polypropylene buffers to eliminate squeaking, mounting attachments for your headboard, 13 inches of storage underneath, and holds up to 2,000 pounds.

Purple Platform Frame

Platform Bed

Strong, simple, storage friendly

Bed Frame Purple Sleep

Purple Bed Frame

Upholstered, stylish cozy addition

Purple Ascent Frame

Purple Ascent Adjustable Base

Provides premium, customizable support for your mattress