Do You Need a Box Spring? Everything You Need to Know

March 15, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team
box spring and bed illustration

If you’ve ever found yourself asking the age-old question, “do you need a box spring?” you’ve come to the right place. With so many different bed frame and mattress options out there, how are you ever to know if you also need a box spring? 

The answer is both simple and complex. Whether or not you need one depends on what type of bed frame and mattress you have. Some bed frames don’t provide enough support for your mattress to stand alone, and some mattresses function better without a box spring. 

What Is a Box Spring?

Made out of wood and coils, a box spring provides a solid foundation for most mattresses. The wood provides a frame similar to the size and shape of your mattress, while coils are placed in the center to provide some give and absorb shock. They may seem outdated given some of the other types of mattress support out there, but box springs are still useful in some cases.

inside of a box spring illustration

It isn’t bad to have a mattress without a box spring as long as there is another form of support below. This support can come from a platform bed, foundation, or, if you prefer, the floor.

Reasons to Use a Box Spring 

During the era where most mattresses were made with coils, box springs were almost essential. They needed extra support and something to absorb the shock from sitting, lying, and bouncing on them. 

Even though the coil mattress trend is dwindling, it can still be beneficial to know when a box spring is a valuable investment. Originally built to add height to your bed and support your mattress, box springs still provide this today, as well as a few other minor benefits.  

Improved Airflow 

Aside from the coils and wood support within, box springs are relatively hollow. When you use a box spring, more air flows around your mattress — and if it’s well-designed, air will travel through as well. Airflow is a significant factor in keeping you cool at night and helping you sleep better, so it’s not something to take too lightly.  

Increased Height

Despite the current style of having your bed lower to the floor, many people are still looking for something higher. If you’re tall, suffer from joint pain, or have a hard time boosting yourself out of bed in the morning, a box spring can help you reach a comfortable height. 

Support for Your Mattress 

Some bed frames don’t provide the support your mattress needs and can cause it to sag. Occasionally, coil spring mattress warranties will require you to use a box spring to prolong its life. Be sure to check on your mattress warranty — if you don’t use a box spring and it’s required, you could lose out on those benefits. 

Shock Absorption

Another benefit of having a box spring is that it helps absorb shock. When you plop down on your mattress, toss and turn at night from sleep anxiety, or your dog jumps up for cuddles, a box spring absorbs some of the force. Because of this, the box spring helps prolong the life of your mattress.

If you leave your mattress on the floor or use it without a box spring, there’s nothing below it to take some of the force. You may find yourself disposing of your mattress sooner than you would have otherwise. 

You Have a Collapsible Bed Frame

Some bed frames require a box spring. If you’ve ever used a collapsible frame, you’ll understand why. If it doesn’t provide enough support in the center, the mattress will sag and be uncomfortable. Any bed frame that isn’t entirely solid or has a support system in the center will more often than not require a box spring.

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When a Box Spring Isn’t Necessary

Despite the benefits, sometimes using a box spring isn’t worth it. Many bed frames today are designed to go without them and already provide needed support. Whether you choose to use one is up to you, but keep in mind what type of mattress or bed frame you should use in its place. 

Under Memory Foam, Latex, and Hybrid Mattresses

Mattresses without coils, like memory foam, latex, and hybrids, don’t need the same assistance absorbing shock. The materials used to make them are already inherently shock absorbent. Box springs only change the feel of the mattress rather than provide any noted benefit.   

When purchasing any of the mentioned mattresses, be sure to look at the warranty. Unlike coil mattresses that often require box springs, sometimes foam mattress warranties will be void if you use a box spring.

On Platform Beds

Platform beds are constructed with a solid surface for the mattress to sit on. Unless you prefer a taller bed, box springs aren’t needed as the bed frame provides a solid support framework. Platform beds are typically lower to the ground, making it difficult for those with joint or back pain to get out of in the morning. In this case, a box spring might be beneficial if only for the increased height. 

Your Mattress is On the Floor

Unless you would prefer a box spring for the height or shock absorption, your mattress may be okay to be on the floor without one. However, keep in mind that it may go through extra strain and might not last as long.

Box Spring vs. Foundation vs. Platform

box spring vs foundation vs platform illustration

With its coil and wood design, the greatest strength of a box spring is absorbing shock. Foundations are similar to box springs and are sometimes confused for them. The difference is that a foundation is made of wood or metal around the edges and sometimes with slats across the top solely to provide support. But typically, your bed frame can serve as a foundation.

Box springs and foundations are, in essence, an extra layer below your mattress to provide more support and absorb shock. A platform is a bed frame with a solid bottom that supports your mattress. They are usually lower to the ground and don’t require a box spring or foundation. 

Setting yourself up for a successful night of sleep can be difficult if you’re unsure how to create a comfortable environment or if you keep asking, “do you need a box spring?” and never finding a sufficient answer. Keep in mind that unless you’re using a foam, latex, or hybrid mattress, it’s okay to use a box spring if you don’t already have a solid foundation with your bed frame or the floor. 

While box springs are still occasionally relevant, many people are reverting to foam or hybrid mattresses that don’t need one, and the rise of platform bed frames isn’t slowing down. If you’ve decided to make the switch from using a box spring and coil mattress, look through our collection of award-winning foam mattresses to find the right fit for you.

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