Differences Between a Box Spring and a Foundation

Written by Zulekha Nishad

Last Updated June 6, 2024

When you are looking for a new latex bed, you will likely be confronted with the choice of whether to buy a box spring or foundation. While both may serve similar purposes, there are some key differences between a box spring and a foundation you should know.

So, which one should you buy? The answer depends on a few factors, such as the type of mattress you have. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between a box spring and a foundation so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

what are the differences between a box spring and a foundation

In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between a box spring and a foundation so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

What is a box spring?

latex mattress

A box spring is a wooden frame having a layer of coil springs inside. It has an anti-skid layer on the top and a simple layer of dust-protecting cloth on the bottom. Unlike traditional box springs, some modern models have a steel frame for enhanced support.

The coils present in a box spring help enhance airflow while providing strong support. The extra give from this bed frame ensures even distribution of weight and prevents sagging.

Traditional innerspring mattresses are the best choice for box springs. This is because the coils inside act as shock absorbers, thereby reducing motion transfer. Other mattress types such as latex and memory foam are not compatible with box springs as they are heavier and may break the coils as well as lead to sagging.

So, do you need a box spring? During the age when most mattresses were designed using coils, box springs were pretty much essential.

But these days, coil mattresses are actually going out of style in favor of latex, memory foam and hybrid mattresses that offer plenty of health benefits and help you achieve the most comfortable slumber.

Pros of box springs

  • Space between the coils promote airflow and enhance breathability
  • Coils act as shock-absorbers
  • Offers compatible support to an innerspring mattress

Cons of box springs

  • Springs aren't durable and may break down over time
  • Potentially noisy
  • Prone to sagging
  • Not compatible with latex, memory foam, and hybrid mattresses

What is a mattress foundation?

A mattress foundation is a solid wooden frame (box). There are wood slats across its surface, which acts as a base and is covered by a breathable fabric.

Unlike box springs, mattress foundations are designed for more support. The thin and sturdy wooden strips are evenly spaced, each up to 2 to 3 inches apart. And this spacing is what determines the support provided by the mattress foundations.

A foundation makes for a durable base for your mattress. They are strong enough to bear the weight of latex, memory foam, or hybrid mattresses and are compatible with most mattress types.

The advancement in mattress technology has made foundations a great option in recent years. While some can be placed atop a bed frame, others are designed to rest directly on the floor. There are foundation designs that are somewhat like box springs with a breathable fabric. And there are also solid wooden types of foundation with no gaps, similar to that of platform beds.

Pros of mattress foundation

  • Strong, evenly distributed support
  • Resists sagging and is less prone to damage
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Compatible with almost all mattress types
  • Sturdier construction

Cons of mattress foundation

  • Heavy, can be harder to move
  • May create pressure points if slats don't allow some give
  • Expensive than box springs

Box spring vs foundation - What's the difference?

Both box springs and foundations are good bed bases, depending on the mattress type. They help increase the height of your mattress, making it easier for you to get in and out of bed.

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Even though box springs and foundations have some similarities, they also differ in many ways. Here are some of the major differences between the two types.

A clean and beautiful bed with a mattress foundation


A box spring is a bed frame made of wood or steel and has steel coils inside. It's usually covered in a breathable fabric.

A foundation is a bed frame with wooden panels, or slats, laid across the top. It's usually covered using a light fabric.


Apart from the coils, a box spring is empty and light, thus improving airflow and breathability. Box springs can be considered great for hot sleepers.

Even though a foundation isn't as lightweight as a box spring, the evenly spaced slats and breathable fabric promotes airflow and allows the sleepers to enjoy a cooler night's sleep.


The coils in a box spring wear down and lose their springiness over time. They have a lifespan of around five to ten years. And this depends mainly on how heavy your mattress is and how much weight you put on them.

When compared to box springs, foundations last longer. A good quality foundation can last for decades, while a cheap-quality one might only last four or five years.


Box springs offer solid support for mattresses. But, due to the presence of flexible coils, they add some give. The give ensures even weight distribution on the surface and doesn't let your mattress sag.

Since foundations lack flexible coils and have strong wooden slats, they offer sturdy support with no give.
However, foundations provide firmer and even support for your mattresses than box springs.

Compatible mattresses

Box springs are only ideal for supporting mattresses with springs. If you use them for heavier mattresses, like latex or memory foam, they can wear down the coils present inside the box spring. Worn down or damaged coils can result in a saggy mattress.

Foundations are compatible with almost all mattress types. Since they have more rigid wooden construction, mattress foundations can bear the weight of heavier mattresses such as latex, memory foam, and hybrids.

Do you need a box spring or foundation?

Choosing between mattress foundations and box springs is indeed a difficult task. If you want to experience a good night's sleep, first ask yourself what type of mattress you're using. Then, consider your preferred sleeping position and think about what you actually need from a bed frame - especially height and feel wise.

Both box springs and mattress foundations can be great choices as long as they're compatible with the mattress you have.

A woman enjoying music on a bed with a box spring base

Why shouldn't you use a bed frame that is incompatible with your mattress?

Using bed frames with incompatible mattresses may lead to excessive pressure on the sleeping surface. This causes heavy wear and tear and, in turn, reduces the overall lifespan of both the bed frame and mattress than expected!

Other types of bed bases

If you think a box spring or a mattress foundation is not the one for you, opt for other types of bed bases given below:

Adjustable bed base

Adjustable bases have head and foot articulation, allowing you to change your sleeping angle based on your personal preference. With the help of remote control, you can lift your feet or head position (or both).

An elevated head position improves breathing and digestion and may help prevent conditions such as sleep apnea or acid reflux.

Platform bed

Platform beds are low-raised bed frames that have a slatted wood or metallic surface. They come in different styles, and some of them even have headboards and footboards. Platform beds are compatible with almost all types of mattresses.

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Bunkie board

A bunkie board is actually a thin barrier placed below your mattress to provide excellent support. They were initially designed for bunk beds but now come in all mattress sizes.

That's it for our post on bed bases! We hope that you now have a good understanding of the differences between a box spring and a foundation. No matter which type of base you choose, don't skimp on quality – it could seriously affect how comfortable you feel when snoozing.

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4. How To Choose The Right Mattress Topper?

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5. Best Buckwheat Pillows - Ultimate Guide

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Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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