Updated March 12, 2021Bed bases: Choices are aplenty, but which one is the best for your mattress, a box spring or a mattress foundation? Today we explore the pros and cons of both, and which one may be right for you.Laying the Bed Foundation, An OverviewIn the mattress world, a foundation is anything your bed rests on. There are several main types to choose from, and some people even use the floor itself as their foundation (more on that later).A solid surface for your bed helps preserve your mattress and decreases sagging. A proper support base also allows a mattress to breathe and makes sleep more comfortable. In addition, the added height from the floor makes getting into and out of bed easier.But, where do you start? This guide will help you learn the key differences between the two most popular choices.What’s a Box Spring?Like it sounds, a box spring is a wooden frame (box) with steel coil springs laid out on a grid and covered with fabric. Traditional box springs are designed to pair with metal bed frames and innerspring mattresses (those that have metal coils within them).Box springs were once a mattress industry-standard, touted for providing support and comfort. Based on the type of sleeper you are, a box spring can provide some key benefits.Pros of Box SpringsBox springs provide give and buoyancy thanks to their steel coils. With an innerspring mattress, the malleable structure allows for more even weight distribution, and this can be beneficial for those who toss-and-turn or are rough sleepers.Cons of Box SpringsMetal rusts and springs lose their ‘bounce’ over time. By extension, box springs can diminish in the same fashion. They become less flexible and even noisy, hence the creakiness one might hear in an old bed.Box springs are also limited to innerspring mattresses only, and cannot support heavier foam beds and hybrid mattresses since those types require more solid support. In fact, most modern mattresses are not compatible with box springs and require other bases such as mattress foundations.What’s a Mattress Foundation?A mattress foundation is a wooden frame with wood slats serving as a base, all canvassed in fabric. The thin, narrow strips of wood are evenly spaced, each up to 3 inches apart from one another. Foundations gained popularity due to increased purchases of latex and memory foam mattresses, and are built to support almost any mattress type.General advances in mattress technology have made foundations a great option in recent years. They do not require a metal railing bed frame and can be placed on the floor directly. One thing to keep in mind is the spacing of wooden slats: The closer together they are, the more support the foundation provides. If they are too close, the bed won’t have as much circulation.Pros of Mattress FoundationsForemost is a foundation’s versatility. They are compatible with almost any mattress type, such as memory foam, latex, and even hybrid mattresses. In turn, this leaves you more choice. Since the foundation has a more rigid structure, it also provides more support and sturdiness for those who don’t tend to move much during sleep.Cons of Mattress FoundationsYet, less give can mean less comfort for sleepers not used to a stationary position for long periods of time. Some can even experience body aches and pains as a result. Foundations are also heavier and can be harder to maneuver when it’s time to redecorate or move.Other Types of Mattress SupportsHere are some other options to consider when choosing a bed base:Platform BedsWhile varied in style, platform beds combine both the bed frame and foundation into a single unit. Platforms can have either solid or slatted bases, making them also compatible with most mattress types. They work well with bunkie boards when slats are too far apart, which is a common option for sleepers today. A raised platform can even give you some extra storage space underneath your bed.Adjustable Bed FramesAdjustable bases are foundations that have head and foot articulation, allowing you to change your sleeping angle. With a remote control, you can elevate your feet or head position (or both). You can even sleep in a ‘zero-gravity’ position that aligns the feet and head to evenly distribute weight and ease back pressure. An elevated head position allows for easier breathing and digestion, which may help address certain medical conditions such as excessive snoring or acid reflux.FAQsHow high should my mattress be from the floor?The standard height for any kind of mattress foundation is anywhere from 7 to 9 inches tall. However, sleepers who prefer a minimalistic look with less bulk for their bed might enjoy lower profile options in the 5 to 6 inches range. Here are some things to keep in mind:Low profile can give the room a more sleek or modern aesthetic.High profile makes getting into and out of bed easier and gives you room for storage.Do I need a box spring or foundation?In most cases, yes, you need a box spring or foundation to support your mattress. You can technically keep your bed on the floor, but here are a few reasons why it is not ideal:It could void the manufacturer’s warranty.A bed without a base can reduce mattress lifespan and increase sagginess.The floor is a hot zone for allergens, mold, dust, and bacteria.No foundation means less mattress breathability and circulation.It could become harder for you to get out of bed.Can I use a bunkie board instead of a box spring?Known for their use in bunk beds, a bunkie board is a single slab of chipboard covered in a layer of fabric. Whether you’re in a pinch or you simply want to try something different, a bunkie board can be a suitable option for you. It still provides support, but is more portable than a box spring or foundation. Feel free to try it out, though keep in mind the drawbacks of being closer to the floor.Should I put plywood under my mattress?Putting a plywood sheet under your mattress is an option to use as an alternative to a bunkie board. This could help with the sagging issue as long as the plywood sheet matches the size of your mattress. If you’re using a box spring or foundation, you can lay plywood under your mattress to make your sleeping surface even sturdier. The extra layer can stop the mattress from sliding and can help reduce the squeakiness issue with older box springs.Can I put my box spring on the floor?If you wish to forgo a bed frame, you can opt to put your box spring on the floor. Consider placing it on a rug or other non-slip surface to keep it from moving around too much.Which One is Right for You?When deciding between a box spring and a mattress foundation, first ask yourself what type of mattress you’re supporting. Then, ask yourself what kind of sleeper you are and consider what you need from a bed frame—height and feel wise. Both bases can be great choices so long as they’re compatible with your mattress, and you can ensure the best night’s sleep with the right support.About the author Jasmin LeeJasmin Lee is dedicated to helping others get better sleep—when she’s not napping, you can often find her researching the latest in bedding and mattress technology. Her fascination with sleep fuels her drive to connect readers with the resources they need to improve their night’s rest. Find more articles by Jasmin Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.