Updated March 12, 2021There are a few reasons we use bed bases with our mattresses. The height a base adds to a mattress makes it easier for us to move in and out of bed than if we kept the mattress on the floor. Raising a mattress also keeps pests, dust, and debris from infesting your mattress.After choosing the best mattress, you need an appropriate foundation. Platform beds and box springs are two types of bed bases you can consider. We will guide you through what mattresses a platform bed frame and box spring work with so you can make an informed decision.What is a Platform Bed?Platform beds are low profile bed frames with a solid or slatted surface for a mattress. A platform bed may be as short as 5 inches or as tall as 12 inches. A platform bed is usually sturdy and stable enough to support a mattress on its own. Meanwhile, a traditional panel bed often needs a mattress foundation or box spring.What’s the best mattress for a platform bed? Well, platform beds can actually hold the majority of mattresses. You can pair them with a memory foam, latex, or hybrid mattress and experience none of the sagging or slipping that can interfere with a good night’s sleep.You can keep a traditional innerspring mattress on a platform bed. However, you usually sleep more comfortably when the mattress is placed on a box spring.Platform beds also come in different styles and materials. Some are simply designed with a wooden frame and legs. Others have a boxy design with under-bed storage drawers. Many have an upholstered flat surface to keep a mattress in place.While pure wood is common, some platform beds are metal bed frames with a grid-like surface. The metal rods making up the grid may not be supportive enough for a memory foam or hybrid mattress. The thin rods only create a few points of contact and do not establish a mostly flat and stable surface.Cheaper platform beds are typically made with composite wood or particleboard. While inexpensive, these platform beds lack the durability of higher-quality materials. Instead of settling for one of these beds, we recommend hunting for one made with solid wood.Pros of a Platform BedVersatile design supports different types of mattressesGives the bedroom a simple yet modern lookDurable structure at an affordable priceDifferent styles and colors available to match with varying bedroom decorUnder-bed storageCons of a Platform BedLow-profile frame may be too low for some sleepers, making it difficult to move out of bedLike most types of bed frames, a platform bed is fairly heavy and hard to moveThe surface has little give and can firm up the mattress, increasing pressure pointsWhat is a Box Spring?As the name suggests, a box spring is a wooden box filled with springs, although many also contain metal rods or steel frames for more support. Box springs have a breathable fabric on top, while the bottom has denser fabric to keep out dust.The coils inside a box spring are traditionally designed to bounce up with an innerspring mattress’s coils. When these two sets of metal springs are aligned, it makes the mattress feel softer and boosts the bed’s motion isolation and shock absorption capabilities.However, while box springs improve an innerspring mattress’s feel, they don’t provide the support that foam and hybrid mattresses need.While you can place a box spring on the floor, most people use a box spring with a traditional bed frame. This raises the mattress more and keeps the box spring from sliding as it would on the ground.Pros of a Box SpringLight wooden frame and minimal interior with airy coils promotes coolnessAbsorb shock and improve an innerspring mattress’s giveIncreases bed heightCons of a Box SpringSprings are more susceptible to wear and tear than slatsSprings may also squeak and creak under movementShould not be used with most modern mattressesWhat’s the Difference Between Platform Beds and Box Springs?Perhaps the most prominent difference between a platform bed and box spring is that a platform bed is meant to be used on its own with a mattress, while a box spring is designed to be used with a panel bed and innerspring mattress.Another big difference is how many mattress types you can pair with a platform bed or box spring. You can use platform beds with most types of mattresses, including memory foam beds, synthetic and natural latex mattresses, and hybrids.Meanwhile, a box spring is only compatible with one type of mattress, the traditional innerspring bed.Box springs tend to add more height to a mattress when paired with a bed frame than a platform bed on its own, but this isn’t always a good thing. If the bed’s too high, it might be difficult to get on your mattress and make yourself comfortable when you’re tired.Your mattress should be high enough so it’s easy for you to slide out of bed and stand. You can tell your mattress is at a good height if you can sit on the edge of your bed with your feet flat and your knees level with your hips.Platform beds and box springs have comparable prices, with the two of them typically costing a few hundred dollars. However, remember that while a platform bed is designed to be self-sufficient, a box spring is made to be used with a traditional bed frame. If you don’t have a suitable bed frame for a box spring, you will have to buy one.Other minor differences between the two include:Weight: A box spring is lighter than the average platform bed.Feel: The wooden slats of a platform bed often create a firmer, unresponsive feel. In comparison, a box spring’s coils promote buoyancy.Under-bed space: Platform beds offer at least a few inches of under-bed storage space, while box springs do not. However, as we previously mentioned, box springs are not meant to be used alone but with a bed frame. And most bed frames do provide under-bed storage.Other Types of Bed Bases to ConsiderWhen it comes to the best bed base for you, you shouldn’t restrict your options to just a platform bed or a box spring. You may find that a mattress foundation, an adjustable foundation, or a bunkie board are the better choice for your sleep needs.Mattress FoundationsMattress foundations have a design similar to box springs, with a wooden frame containing wooden slats and topped with non-skid, breathable fabric. A mattress foundation can be used on its own or paired with a bed frame. Some mattress foundations include attachable legs, allowing you to turn them into a basic platform bed for your mattress.Mattress foundations are a good choice for people who want a cooling mattress, as the slats make it easy for air to slip through the bottom and wick away heat. While many brands advertise their mattress foundations for memory foam mattresses, they provide a sturdy base for all mattress types.If you’re debating whether a box spring or mattress foundation is right for you, check out our box spring vs. foundation guide.Adjustable Bed BasesAdjustable beds allow you to raise and lower the head and foot of your mattress. You can elevate the mattress’s head to make it more comfortable to sit up in bed or raise it just high enough to ease symptoms of snoring, sleep apnea, and acid reflux. Raising the foot of the mattress can relieve pressure on the lower back, easing back pain.The main reason people hesitate over buying an adjustable bed is its price—many quality adjustable foundations cost more than $1000. However, some brands make them more affordable by offering a discounted price on an adjustable base with a matching mattress.Bunkie BoardsBunkie boards, sometimes spelled “bunky” boards, are essentially beautified planks of plywood cut to fit mattresses. They’re usually 1 to 3 inches thick, with a fabric covering keeping the mattress from sliding.Traditionally, bunkie boards replaced box springs inside a bunk bed, ensuring the bunk bed mattress remained low. If a bunk bed mattress is too high, you may roll over the guard rail, falling several feet to the floor.However, bunkie boards are a good way to give a memory foam or hybrid mattress enough support without spending too much money. You can place a bunkie board inside a panel bed or on top of a platform bed or box spring.The FloorWe mention the floor for completion’s sake, not because it’s a bed base we recommend. At least, we don’t recommend it as a permanent place to keep your mattress. The floor is fine as a temporary spot for your mattress if you’re shopping for a new bed base.We don’t recommend the floor as a permanent bed base because it exposes the mattress to dirt, dust, and pests. Air also can circulate through the mattress, which can let heat and moisture build up and promote mold growth.If you keep your mattress on the floor, we recommend covering it with a tightly woven mattress protector. Double-check your mattress warranty before keeping your mattress on the floor long-term, as that can void it and leave you unable to file a claim if you encounter a defect.Frequently Asked QuestionsDo you need a box spring with a memory foam mattress?No, a box spring is not a suitable place to keep a memory foam mattress. The coils inside a box spring are designed to line up with a traditional innerspring mattress’s coils, supplementing the mattress’s feel and helping it absorb shock. However, the box spring’s coils are not close enough to provide the support a memory foam mattress needs.Can you put your mattress directly on slats?You can place a mattress on slats after checking that every slat is no more than 3 inches apart. However, many platform beds cover their slatted surfaces with non-slip fabric to ensure the mattress doesn’t move over the platform’s side. If your slats are not covered, you may need to look into ways to keep a mattress from sliding.Do you need a box spring with a panel bed?Box springs were once commonly used with a panel bed. They would give a traditional innerspring mattress extra height and improve its comfort. However, you can use a memory foam mattress with a panel bed without using a box spring. Mattress foundations are wooden frames with slats you can place inside a panel bed in place of a box spring.Some platform beds even have detachable legs. Removing the legs allows you to slip the platform part inside a panel bed and use it as a mattress foundation. You can also use a piece of plywood that’s cut to fit inside your panel bed.How thick should a mattress be for a platform bed?A good mattress should be thick enough to offer a balance of comfort and support and withstand years of use. Our editors normally recommend mattresses at least 10 inches thick to ensure you get your money’s worth out of them.When placed on a bed frame, the mattress should be just high enough to make getting in and out of bed easy. To make sure your mattress is at the correct height, take a moment and sit on the edge. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees should be aligned with your hips.Can you use a piece of plywood instead of a box spring?Yes, planks of plywood or bunkie boards are an excellent way to support a memory foam or hybrid mattress. They ensure no area of the mattress goes unsupported, preventing premature sagging. However, unlike a slatted foundation, plywood planks can’t let air circulate through the bottom of the mattress.If you choose to slip a piece of plywood under your mattress, make sure it’s not only cut to size but is at least 0.75 inches thick for proper support. The plywood should also have a moisture-resistant coating to prevent mold and mildew growth.How much weight can a platform bed hold?Most platform beds can hold about 500 pounds of evenly distributed weight. Queen and king size mattresses may boast a weight limit of 1000 pounds because each side is expected to hold up to 500.Remember, the platform bed’s weight limit includes both your body weight and the mattress’s weight, and many larger mattresses weigh between 100 to 200 pounds.Is a Platform Bed or Box Spring the Right Foundation?Whether you should choose a platform bed or box spring depends on the kind of mattress you have. Platform bed frames are excellent for memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses. Box springs are well-suited for innerspring mattresses only.Of course, these two aren’t the only bed foundations you can choose. You can also buy a mattress, adjustable bed, or bunkie board to support your mattress.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.