Box Springs vs Mattress Foundations: Best Support for Your Mattress Options

A lot of people overlook the fact that in order to get the best comfort out of their mattress, they need the proper frame and support for it. Faced with many choices, such as innerspring, hybrid, and foam mattress designs- you need to take into account the reasons why you purchased the mattress in the first place. Putting a mattress on the wrong support can change the way it feels, and could result in an uncomfortable sleep experience.

Although many basic platform bed frames will properly support any mattress you own, they may leave something to be desired- and also provide a low profile that isn’t conducive to either your decor, or height. That’s where understanding the difference between a box spring and a foundation comes in handy. These mattress supports are designed to work with your mattress to provide the height, and support you need.

Box Spring

A box spring is a wooden frame that contains a series of supportive springs that you can place your mattress on. It is designed to provide the proper give and weight distribution to take full advantage of the mattress comfort you have chosen. 

Box springs used to come standard with innerspring mattresses, and bed frames were created to accept the height of the box spring and mattress. With the introduction of a foam mattress, it became obvious that the box spring would not provide the support the softer foam required, and so more and more bed frames offer a platform style base to accommodate any type of mattress. This has made the box spring slighting obsolete, however they are still incredibly conducive for proper innerspring bed support. Plus, they help raise your mattress to a more comfortable height- something that is often lacking with a platform frame.

Pros Cons
  • Excellent Airflow
  • Shock Absorption and weight distribution
  • Great for innerspring mattresses and many hybrids
  • Not compatible with most foam mattresses
  • Springs will compress in time
  • May sag with inconsistent weight

— Construction

As mentioned, the construction of a box spring is a simple wooden frame, with various supportive slates across the top (spaced approximately 18 inches to 2 feet across). The frame is then filled with a coiled innerspring system, and covered with a durable cloth. It is designed to distribute the weight of the sleepers and help accentuate the comfort and support of the mattress. 

— Benefits

Made specifically to work with innerspring and some hybrid mattress styles, the overall design enhances a supportive feel and can even work to isolate movement. They also are incredibly effective in helping to circulate air under and around your mattress, which is especially important in more humid climates. This can also work towards supporting a better sleep. 

Another perk is the height it will raise your mattress to. Many modern frames have a low profile, making it more difficult to get in and out of. The added height of a box spring helps raise many mattresses to a comfortable sitting position, supporting a position that is easier to lay down from- and stand up from. 

— Concerns

The biggest drawback of a box spring is the fact that it isn’t a good choice for foam mattresses or hybrid mattresses that have a foam base. This is because the softer foundation of the mattress will sink into the box spring and not work as intended. It also will likely change the feel of your mattress and void the warranty. 


Mattress Foundation

A mattress foundation takes the box spring concept, and removes the coiled innerspring. They are designed more to provide height and support, rather than enhance the comfort or work with the mattress for added comfort. 

These have become more and more commonplace due to how most mattresses now use layers of foam which are not conducive with a transitional box spring, and the complaint that many platform bed frames are too shallow for comfort getting in and out of bed.

Pros Cons
  • Can use with almost all mattress types
  • Very durable and long lasting
  • Provides even support and helps isolate movement
  • Heavy and difficult to turn for even use
  • Might firm up the overall feel of some mattresses
  • May create pressure points

— Construction

Described above, these are a basic wooden frame that is styled after the box spring. They boast both horizontal and vertical support and then are covered in a durable fabric to sit under your mattress and keep it supported. Slats are usually only 2 to 4 inches apart in order to accommodate foam foundations that require the flatter surface. 

— Design

The design is more to add height to your bed, provide good mattress support, and they can work to help distribute weight as well depending on how it is built. They can also work to firm up the overall feel of the mattress if you are in need of that type of support. 

— Benefits

Overall, a foundation provides a firm, even support and can work with any mattress- taking away worries of warranty issues. They are durable, can give new life to old mattresses, prevents sagging, and helps get your mattress in a more comfortable position.

Like a box spring, they also help circulate air, and can help keep your mattress refreshed and avoid a build up of moisture that can result in mold and mildew growth.

— Concerns

They are heavy and awkward, and can be difficult to get into place. Plus, they could create unwanted firmness and pressure point problems. Since they cost extra, it might be a waste of money if you find it to be a poor choice for your personal comfort. 


Your Best Choice Explained

Obviously, you need to first choose the option that is compatible with your mattress type and also offers the comfort support you desire. Box springs work great with innerspring and many hybrid designs, but will wear out eventually. Foundations work well with anything, but is more or less a way to help raise your overall bed height, and perhaps add air circulation into the bedroom equation. 

Box Spring Foundation
  • Supportive and provides weight distribution and bounce
  • Will compress over time
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Works only with innerspring mattresses and various hybrid options
  • Inexpensive and often comes standard with innerspring mattresses
  • Supportive with a more firm base and helps prevent sagging
  • Long lasting and most likely will outlast your mattress life
  • Heavy and awkward
  • Works with all mattress types
  • More costly and is an added option