Do I Need a Box Spring with My Mattress?

Last Updated on June 7, 2024

by Marc Werner, Founder - GhostBed

When you're investing in a high-quality mattress, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need for a great night of sleep—and that includes solid support for your mattress to lay on.

While traditionally a mattress would come with a matching box spring to provide that support, times have changed as the industry innovates and grows. In this article, we'll explore a very common question: what exactly is a box spring, and do I need one?

Overview: Do You Really Need a Box Spring?

While box springs used to be a necessary purchase alongside traditional innerspring mattresses, they're not as important nowadays. But we do recommend using some sort of support with your mattress. With the many alternatives on the market today, including metal foundations and adjustable bases, you've got options.

I. What is a Box Spring and What Does it Do?

II. Do You Need a Box Spring?

III. What to Know About Box Spring Alternatives

I. What is a Box Spring and What Does it Do?

So, what exactly is a box spring?

Exactly how it sounds, box springs are wooden boxes filled with coiled springs that are tied down and covered with cloth to act as a supportive surface for the mattress. Traditional box springs would often come with your spring mattress, sold as a coordinated and matching set. A box spring usually sits on top of a metal frame, with the mattress acting as the final top layer.

What's the point of a box spring? It serves a few purposes…

  • It raises the height of the mattress. This can make it easier to get in and out of bed, compared with placing the mattress directly on the floor.
  • It provides a solid surface for your mattress to lay on, for added support. When matched up, the coils inside the box spring act as a continuation of the coils in your spring mattress, which absorbs some of the shock. This makes for a more comfortable sleep and it also helps your mattress last longer.
  • It improves airflow and circulation around your mattress, allowing for a cooler sleep.

II. Do You Need a Box Spring?

While box springs made sense for the traditional innerspring mattresses of yesteryear, mattresses have come a long way—and you also have a few more types of mattresses to choose from now, including memory foam and hybrid.

Whether you need a box spring or not will depend on your mattress and what kind of support you need. Box springs can even be damaging to some types of foam mattresses, so it's important to understand what you'll need.

You'll need a box spring if…

  • You have an older innerspring mattress and a traditional metal-rail bed frame, both designed specifically for use with a box spring
  • Your manufacturer recommends using a box spring or requires you to do so to keep your warranty valid (check your terms and conditions)

On the other hand, you don't need a box spring if…

  • You have a newer memory foam, latex or hybrid mattress
  • You prefer to set your mattress directly on the floor
  • You have a box spring alternative, such as an adjustable base or a solid foundation (more on these later!)

Let's recap: does a box spring really make a difference, and do you really need one?

With all the alternatives available today, the answer is… not always. As long as you have solid support under your mattress, that's what's important.

III. What to Know About Box Spring Alternatives

Box spring alternatives are much more commonplace these days, especially with the newer mattress models. If you want to forgo the traditional box spring, as many people do, you have a few options to consider.

Go Without for a Minimalist Look

Going for a minimalist look? Placing your mattress directly on the floor can give off that vibe, but you may want to think twice about it.

Sleeping on a mattress that's placed directly on the floor isn't recommended for a few reasons:

  • It's less hygienic. With your face so close to the floor, you're also that much closer to dirt, dust, allergens and bed bugs. It also makes foam mattresses more susceptible to mold, as they don't have room to breathe.
  • It may be difficult to get in and out of bed. With more distance to cover, you may have trouble getting in and out of bed, which can lead to aches and pains.
  • It may void your warranty. Some mattress warranties specifically say that you need to use a box spring or foundation for support, so be sure to check the fine print.

Opt for a Foundation

“Box spring” and “foundation” are now used as interchangeable terms, although most foundations these days will offer slatted or solid support for your mattress to sit on top of. Most will also mimic the traditional, streamlined look of a box spring that perfectly matches your mattress. Other mattress foundations, like the GhostBed All-in-One Foundation, serve dual purposes as a frame and foundation in one.

Opt for an Adjustable Base

For added luxury and customization, consider an adjustable base. Use the wireless remote control to position your bed any way you like, including elevating your feet and your head for added comfort and benefits.

Want to learn more about your options? Take a look at our mattress foundation comparisons here for more information.

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GhostBed All-In-One Foundation

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Marc Werner - Founder, GhostBed

Marc Werner

Founder - GhostBed

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Marc has spent the last two decades designing & manufacturing mattresses and other sleep products, drawing on a lifetime of experience working with the material sciences. With several patents to his name, he works closely with the GhostBed team to create products with the perfect balance of comfort & support. Learn More

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