What kind of box spring is right for you?
Although box springs are a critical component of most bed setups, they’re often overlooked when you’re shopping around for a mattress.
While finding the right box spring probably isn’t as important as, say, finding the right mattress, it can have a serious impact on your entire sleep experience.
That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to finding the box spring you need.
What Is a Box Spring Mattress, Anyway?
Let’s start off with the basics.
The typical box spring is pretty much just a big, wooden frame your mattress sits on top of.
The “spring” in the name is at this point something of a misnomer—although traditionally, box springs were a lot more traditional innerspring mattresses minus the comfort layers, over the past couple decades some manufacturers have started to phase out the springs in their products and just get back to the basics.
In addition to a frame, box springs also typically have a protective fabric covering along their sides, as well as a skid-resistant fabric on their top and a dust barrier along the bottom.
What Is a Box Spring for?
A box spring serves several main purposes.
First of all, it raises your mattress’s height.
This makes it easier to get in and out of bed, and also just makes the bed a little more aesthetically pleasing.
You can sleep on just a box spring with a mattress on top, which can save you the trouble of putting together a bed frame.
Keeping your bed up off the floor can also reduce the risk of creepy-crawlies hopping off your floor and crawling under the covers with you while you sleep.
Box springs also help absorb shock, which can help keep your mattress from wearing out too quickly.
If you tend to be restless in bed and you don’t have a box spring, your mattress is having to absorb all of your movements, which can be bad for it.
Finally, box springs create a flat, firm structure for your mattress to lie on, and also allow for better ventilation and airflow than if you just have your mattress sitting on the floor.
Do I Need a Box Spring?
Despite all these benefits, though, box springs aren’t really a necessity for most modern mattresses.
If you have a one-sided innerspring or memory foam mattress (like one of our favorites, the DreamCloud mattress), you’ll get along just fine so long as you have a hard, flat surface to stick it on top of.
If you have a latex mattress, on the other hand, you might actually want to avoid box springs, since these products are designed to function on their own, and box springs may sag beneath them.
Only old-fashioned, two-sided mattress are actually built specifically to be used with real box springs, and you’ll but hurting your mattress if you don’t use one.
Almost all mattresses sold today are one-sided, but don’t skip out on the box spring just yet!
Your mattress company might not be too happy with you…
Box Springs and Mattress Warranties
Even though most mattresses sold today don’t actually need a box spring if you have some kind of supportive surface to put them on top of, most mattress companies still want you to use them.
You’ll typically void your warranty if you haven’t been sleeping with a box spring.
(Although to be fair, the odds of your mattress actually being defective in the eyes of your mattress company are pretty slim!)
Platform Beds Offer an Alternative to Box Spring
Besides from plopping your mattress flat on the floor, there’s another popular alternative to sleeping on a traditional box spring.
Platform beds have slatted centers, which keep your mattress of the floor while providing both support and airflow.
The most supportive and durable platform beds are usually made out of wood, although there are some inexpensive compressed cardboard or particle board options available.
There are a bunch of different platform bed options available today, but always be sure to check your mattress’s warranty before making your purchase.
Some warranties may not allow for platform beds, while others require them to come with a certain number of slats or a specific kind of material.
Different Kinds of Box Springs for Mattresses
While there’s not as much variety among box springs as there is with, say, mattresses, there are a couple options out there you might want to consider.
Each comes with different strengths and weaknesses, and suites a different kind of sleep.
Coil Box Springs
First, you have the box springs that really live up to your name—frames filled with coils!
You can expect these products to be bouncier and more flexible than just a plane wood affair, but you might not get as much support as you’d like.
Coils may also fatigue with age, sagging and getting squeaky.
Zero-Deflection Box Springs
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the zero-deflection option.
This is the most common type of box spring on the market, made out of wooden slats and sometimes wire supports.
This style of box spring is highly durable, offering an extremely sturdy support system that will prevent sagging on the bottom of your mattress and likely last you for years to come.
Semi-Flex Grid Box Springs
Your last option is the semi-flex grid box spring.
These are the most expensive option, but they offer a compelling combination of both flexibility and support.
Semi-flex box springs still have a wooden base, but it’s covered in a meshwork of metal wire.
These offer the best of both worlds, and they’re typically best suited to the heavier mattresses.
Box Spring Materials
In addition to the general construction technique behind your box spring, you should also keep in mind any particular wants or needs you have for the products you sleep on.
If you suffer from allergies, for instance, you might want to go from a box spring specifically made with hypoallergenic materials.
Or if keeping things natural and ecofriendly is a big priority, check out box springs made with organic fabrics and fillers.
There’s not a huge amount of variety in these materials, but there is some—so if these things matter to you, be sure to shop around!
Choosing the Right Box Spring Dimensions
Box springs come in all the same sizes as mattresses, as well as two different standard depths: standard, and low profile.
Standard box springs are 9 inches high, while low-profile box springs are between 5 and 5.5 inches.
This choice mostly just hinges on aesthetics and convenience—there’s no difference in the kind of support these two dimensions widths provide, and they’ll both work with pretty much all beds and mattresses.
Split Box Springs
If you live in a building with narrow halls or doorways, you might also want to consider going for a split box spring.
These come out to the same total dimensions as regular box springs, your foundation will now be made up of two boxes instead of one.
This doesn’t make any difference in terms of the quality of your sleep, but it can make your box spring easier to transport.
Box springs can’t be squished and bent the same way mattresses can, which can sometimes make them a pain to move.
If you’re buying a queen-sized mattress or bigger, it’ll probably be easiest for you to go with a split box spring.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need support in the middle of your bedframe, or this isn’t going to work!
Check that out beforehand, or you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Some Box Springs Are Included
Before you go out looking for a box spring to go with your new mattress, though, you’re probably going to want to make sure you actually need to spend that kind of money!
A lot of mattress companies will include box springs in with your purchase, often at a very reasonable price.
These box springs are specifically picked to work with your mattress, so you won’t even have to worry about making a decision.
Have a look at this before you go out and spend anything on a new foundation!
When to Replace a Box Spring
Most box springs typically last between eight and ten years—just a little longer than most mattresses.
There’s a lot of variation in this, though.
Low-quality box springs sometimes last only a couple years, while the very best ones can stick around for decades.
In general, you’ll probably just want to replace your box spring whenever your replace your mattress.
But if you have a particularly bad box spring, you’ll start seeing some pretty noticeable signs.
They often squeak and sag, and their steel grid might even be bent or broken!
You can mostly use common sense to make your decision, here.
If you notice your box spring looking a little out of sorts, or if you’re considering buying a new mattress because you’ve been getting bad sleep on your old one, be sure to have a look at your box spring.
It’s a lot cheaper to fix than your mattress, that’s for sure!
Conclusion About Finding the Proper Box Spring
Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea as to the kind of box spring you need (or don’t)!
There are a fair number of options out there, but you shouldn’t let yourself get too overwhelmed
Just have a look at your mattress warranty, and consider your wants and needs.
You’ve got this!
Updated at March 26, 2020