Box Spring vs Foundation: Which is the Best?

There is a decision that people will be faced with at least once in their life, if not multiple times. The hard decision of whether or not you need a new mattress and if so, what is the best support system to use with it. There are a wide variety of options available today, designed to support multiple types of mattresses and this is thanks to innovative technology and superior design skills.

A box model brings to mind your childhood bed and what all your family and friends also slept on. This is a classic choice for a reason and has been used to support the mattresses of multiple generations. On the scene is a new competitor for the box mattress base, and that is the foundation. A support for your mattresses without any additional parts to deteriorate, designed to be the support system of a mattress without the need for a bed frame or similar items.

If the decision still doesn’t seem easy to you, then read through this post for an in-depth view of all the information required to choose the right support system for yourself and the rest of your household.

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a solid slab of material, generally wood, constructed to support a mattress through wooden or metal slats. Certain styles can also have a lip running around the border to offer additional support. It is designed to be the flat surface a mattress requires to offer optimal support and comfort to the sleeper.

The spring foundation usually is the same size as the mattress and should fit securely in the bed frame without chance of movement, to reduce jostling. A box base can be used with a variety of mattresses, from a box spring mattress to an airbed.

Benefits of a Box Spring

There is a reason that they have been used throughout the years in the majority of households and that is because they work. They are the flat surface needed to support a mattress and reduce the chance of a lumpy sagging mattress caused by uneven sections during sleep. A mattress that does not have box spring support can reduce the life of the product, and most manufacturers actually require the use of a box spring to decrease warranty claims and unsatisfied customers.

They can also raise the height of your mattress to reduce strain on the body and provide easier access to your bed. If a person needs to drop down onto their mattress, the chance of injury or muscle strain is increased. A person who has medical issues or existing injuries can find the effort of getting into bed detrimental to the healing process.

Also, they are used as shock absorbers, reducing the amount of movement caused by the sleeper who tosses and turns. Damage caused by children or pets jumping on the bed can create defects in the mattress but with a box spring, the shocks of rapid movement are absorbed into the wood, supporting the mattress and allowing time for the material to recover.

Downsides of a Box Spring

As much as the box style base is recommended by retailers and peers, there are less than desirable characteristics associated. Box springs are heavy along with awkward to maneuver and can take up ample amounts of space in your bedroom.

They can also break down over time, with the wood losing flexibility, becoming brittle, and creating uneven sections of support that create sagging in the mattress. The reduction in the quality of materials can create noises in your bed, hence the creaky sound people hear once their box spring reaches a certain age.

The slats can break without warning and unless you physically check the base itself, sleepers are not aware until they notice that the quality of sleep is diminished or the noise levels reach new heights. They are only truly effective when used with an innerspring coil mattress or a memory foam mattress and doesn’t offer the best support to other styles such as the latex mattress or airbeds.

What is a Foundation?

A bed foundation is a solid slab of wood without any gaps or slats, used in a bed frame to support the mattress you choose to purchase, much like a platform bed. There is usually a flat corrugated board adhered to the top of the foundation to create greater areas of support for both the mattress and the sleeper.

The foundation can be used with or without a bed frame, offering more options for the person who is concerned about space. Foundations can be placed directly on the floor or braced on the four corners to offer decorating options or space-reduction options.

The foundation should be the same size as the mattress without any visible gaps between the edges.

Benefits of a Foundation

The benefits associated with a foundation are quite similar to those of a spring base model in providing additional support for the mattress and acting as shock absorbers from abnormal movement.

A foundation can increase the height of your bed with the added benefit of adjustable height.

Whereas a box is usually the size or slightly bigger than the mattress, the lack of slats in a foundation offers adjustable levels of height to best suit individual needs. The tighter fit of a foundation will reduce the amount of jostling, allowing your mattress to maintain its shape over a longer period of time.

The solid construction of the foundation can help distribute the weight of the sleeper evenly over the surface, reducing sags and gaps in the material of the mattress. They are also less expensive to manufacture resulting in a lower cost to the consumer.

Foundations can support a wider variety of mattresses, from the innerspring coil to latex and even airbeds. The solid shape will support any mattress because the material won’t sag in between slats and will break down with time evenly, increasing the life of your mattress.

Downsides of a Foundation

As the benefits of a box spring are similar to those of a foundation, the same can be said about the downsides. Foundations can be bulky and heavy, needing ample space in the bedroom the positioning and height.

Foundations can also be detrimental to someone who doesn’t enjoy or need a firm sleeping surface. The solid construction does not allow any give in the material, so waking up with body aches or headaches from staying the same position is common.

Box Spring vs Foundation Comparison Table

Box Spring Foundation
Creates support for your mattress, reducing saggy sections and lumps throughout the material Solid construction for even support
Absorbs shock from rapid or abnormal movement Absorbs shock from rapid movement
Increases height of your mattress Fits with a wide range of mattress, extending the options when purchasing a new mattress


So, what shall it be? A mattress foundation vs box spring. The only person who can truly decide on what support system for their mattress is needed and desired is the one who will be sleeping in the bed. There are factors that play a part in your decision that should not be overlooked, from your body type (height, weight etc.) to existing medical conditions or injuries that require a specific sleeping surface.

Always check with a certified expert or a medical consultant if questions arise while shopping for a new mattress/support combination. When a person spends on average a third of their life in bed for sleeping and other activities, don’t they deserve the best night sleep possible each and every time?