Bed Slats vs Box Spring: Which Should You Choose?

When it comes to getting a restful sleep, lots of people will stop at nothing to find it. Whether it’s an expensive mattress that boasts amazing qualities you need to try out or a sleep machine that will lull you to sleep via falling rain, there is a definite market for sleep.

When it comes to your particular sleep situation, odds are you don’t need to spend a ton. So what exactly should you be looking for? Something that will offer you more support, of course. But what kind of support would be sufficient? Should you look at box springs or slats?

When it comes to one over the other, which one reigns supreme? To help save you a daunting search, we’ve compiled all the crucial specifications you’ll need to make an educated decision on which one would be best suited for you and your sleeping situation.

What are Slats?

bed slats

They are mostly like planks of wooden slats that you use to make a mattress sturdier. They are typically thinner, yet durable in order to hold the weight of a mattress and sleepers securely. Slats can come in many types of material, but the most common are wood.

The boards lay across a bed frame easily and prevent the mattress from sagging or shifting. Slats also help weight distribution throughout a mattress and keep the sleeper laying on top of a firmer mattress instead of sinking or sagging into a mattress.


  • Are easy to install
  • Cost less
  • Are lighter while providing durability


  • Can break under the weight
  • Don’t add height

Benefits of Slats

Slats are great when you want to get that extra durability to a mattress without having to buy something substantial. Slats are easy to find , easy to purchase and easy to use. Since there is not as much material involved in slats, they will cost you less than what a box foundation would cost you.

Slats are also great for people who want that extra durability but can’t utilize anything very heavy. For example, the elderly or someone who lives alone could easily install these slats into a sleep space, whereas it’d be more difficult to do this with a heavier box spring.

Slats also promote more airflow into a mattress since the underneath of the mattress isn’t getting covered up. The slats provide gaps in the hold, which allows air to flow through and underneath the bed promoting more air flow.

Downsides of Slats

Slats can prove to be problematic if you don’t secure them properly or don’t find a size that will lay flush with your bed frame. Slats are thinner and lighter, therefore, may move around a bit or shift if not installed properly.

Slats could also just not provide you that sufficient level of support you need. Even with fantastic mattresses, sometimes using slats in place of a box spring or platform just won’t cut it. This also depends on how heavy or how much sag your mattress has to it.

Although slats are much more cost-effective, you also do get what you pay for. Buy cheaper slats and the odds are they will be more prone to shifting or allowing mattress sag. It all depends on which type or kind of slats you buy and for what type of mattress.

What is a Box Spring?

box springs

A box spring is a heavy sort of platform for a mattress. It’s typically a wooden skeleton housing spring coils for bounce and durability. The box itself is covered by a thin layer of sheeting or cushion. Although you can find most models made out of multiple materials, the common material for the skeleton of the box base is wood.

They are also thicker than a slatted bed base, therefore, will elevate a mattress. There are varying sizes and shapes when it comes to these, too, and more modern box models don’t necessarily need to be as tall as more traditional ones.


  • Provide bounce and durability
  • Add need height


  • Are heavier
  • Cost more

Benefits of a Box Spring

They really are great when you need added lift and support for back pain. They are sturdy enough to hold most weights and will allow your mattress to be the type of mattress it’s meant to be. For example, if you find a super high-quality mattress that is a bit pricey, a sufficient box foundation will definitely only enhance that mattress’ specifications.

These things are also beneficial to those who need extra height in order to get in and out of bed. The added bounce from coils makes box foundations a preferred method of elevation and durability. They are able to maintain weight distribution all while keeping that level of bounce intact.

Bonus! They are also really simple to use. They are heavier and more cumbersome to move around, but once they’re in place, they’re in place. Box foundations don’t slip around or shift too much through years of use.

Downsides of a Box Spring

The larger sizes can just be too heavy to move at times. Yes, that added weight is great to sleep on to present mattress sag, but physically moving them could be problematic to the elderly or to someone who moves around a lot. If you live alone and move frequently, you could have a lot of trouble trying to get a box spring up or down stairs, or even down hallways.

They also may just be too firm for some sensitive sleepers. This is all dependent on preference, but some people don’t like their mattresses to have less give. Box foundations add a layer of durability that some may find uncomfortable or just too firm to sleep on.

Box springs, because they have so much material to them, can be a bit more expensive to purchase, as well. You’ve heard the expression “you get what you pay for,” and when it comes to these things, that is no exception. Higher quality box models will cost you more than lower quality ones or even slats.

You may also like: Do You Need A Box Spring With A Platform Bed


So what are you thinking? Think you’re going to go for the slats or try out a box spring? It’s easy to purchase each of these for any type of bed size since both can be so simply customizable. It all depends on what exactly you’re looking for.

If I had to choose, I’d go with the box spring because they are sturdier and will last longer. That’s not to say slats won’t give you the support you need, but in my opinion, box springs have been around a lot longer and for good reason. I just like the bounciness of a bed and ease of getting in and out of it.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a preference when it comes to box springs or slats? We’d love to know! Feel free to share your experiences in the comments so we can all get a clearer perception of these products.

Photo credit: World_of_Textiles/Shutterstock; Jaros/Shutterstock; timyee/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a box spring need its own frame?

The short answer is no, a box spring does not have to sit on its own frame. You can place it directly on the floor, with the mattress on top, and your bed is ready to sleep on. However, as a unit, the mattress and box spring can be very heavy, making it very difficult to move, which can be an issue if you occasionally like to rearrange the furniture in your bedroom. Many people opt for a simple metal frame with a centre support or two onto which they place the box spring. The feet on the metal frame can be flat, or they can have wheels. By resting the box spring and mattress on a metal frame, it makes it easier to move the bed, especially if it has wheels, although it’s best to only have wheels on a carpeted floor, otherwise the bed will be prone to moving around. One downside to using a metal frame is that the bed is now raised off the floor and you will now have to clean under the bed as dust collects, however, by raising the bed off the floor, you have opened up some storage space where you can keep extra items of clothing in specially designed bins or zippered bags.

Are slats for a bed only made from wood?

Wood is a preferred material for slats because they are lightweight and affordable but, in some cases, they may not provide the best support for a mattress. In cases such as these, metal slats are a more durable option as they provide sufficient support for the weight of your mattress and you as you sleep, plus, the metal will not break or bend as easily as wood. Choosing wood or metal slats is a personal preference, but it is also a matter of your budget, your weight and the weight of your mattress.

Can a box spring be used for a foam mattress?

It is not recommended to place a foam mattress on a box spring. Memory foam beds, especially, need a solid foundation, like a platform, or a frame with wood or metal slats that are placed no more than 2.75 inches apart. This type of slatted base provides the best support and the most cooling night's rest. In addition, the structure of a box spring is unable to support the weight of a foam mattress and because of that, placing a foam mattress on a box spring can cause the mattress to sag over time.