When I was a kid, people would talk a lot about having a mattress and a box spring on their bed. Now it's much more common to hear the term 'foundation' instead of 'box spring.' So what's the difference between a box spring and a foundation? Did the accepted term just change over the years, or are they actually two different items? And does your mattress actually need either?
I'm going to break down the different types of bases that you can set your mattress on, as well as the pros and cons of each. You'll then be better equipped to know what you want when shopping for bed frames, mattresses, and box springs. Or foundations.
Are a BOX SPRING and a FOUNDATION the same thing?
Actually, no, they're not. A box spring is exactly what the name suggests - a wooden box which has springs inside it. A foundation is basically the wooden box without the springs, though it sometimes incorporates a metal support structure inside the box.
Does my bed require either a box spring or a foundation?
This depends primarily on what type of support system your bed frame uses. Some bed frames incorporate a full set of slats to support the mattress, usually between 11 and 14 slats in total. The frame might also have boards that lay across the top of these slats for additional support. These bed frames are often referred to as platform beds. If your bed frame works like this, you do not need a box spring or foundation, although you may want one if you would like the bed to be higher overall.
Some bed frames use only three or four slats to connect the sides. If you have this type of bed frame, you will need a box spring or foundation to properly support the mattress. You will also need a box spring or foundation if you are using a metal adjustable bed frame rather than a traditional frame with head board and foot board.
BOX SPRING Pros And Cons
A box spring can act as an additional shock absorber under your mattress, distributing weight and offering extra support. This can also extend the life of your mattress as better weight distribution makes the entire set last longer. Box springs can be quite expensive to manufacture, though, and as such they are quite rare today compared to the other two options.
FOUNDATION Pros And Cons
A foundation provides a firmer source of support than a box spring for mattresses that are softer, such as foam mattresses that feature memory foam content. Without the ability to absorb shocks, however, foundations do not extend the life of the mattress by as much as a box spring does.
PLATFORM BED Pros & Cons
A platform bed removes the need for a box spring or foundation entirely, thereby saving you the cost of buying one. It also keeps the overall profile of the bed lower. Platform beds are much easier to use for storage under the mattress because it's easier to access that space, and you're less likely to find centre supports there. A platform bed, however, typically does not provide enough support on its own for more malleable mattresses like memory foam. Also, a platform bed on its own may be less than ideal for children because it is more likely to break if they jump on the bed. And let's be honest - we all jumped on the bed when we were kids.
Do you prefer a platform bed or one that uses a foundation? We want to hear from you in the comments!