How Mattresses Are Made
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Mattress construction from the inside-out
If reading about mattress construction sounds like a real, ahem, snooze, know this: The way a mattress is made determines how it feels. And how a mattress feels may be the difference between a fitful night and peaceful slumber!
The Big Picture
Two basic types of mattress make up the vast majority of the market: They’re called innerspring and memory foam. Made of steel coils, innerspring is, by far, the most common type. Memory foam, on the other hand, is made from polyurethane or latex foam, and is very dense foam. Memory foam is usually more expensive than innerspring.
Inside an Innerspring Mattress
Coils determine how much support (suspension versus springiness) the mattress will give. Manufacturers may use different types of coil shapes and structures, as well as different amounts of spacing and patterns to affect comfort. The next layer, top padding, isusually made from polyurethane foam. The outer layer (or ticking) is the material bound to the top padding with stitching. The way that ticking and top padding are attached influences the mattress’s overall feel. Large, wide patterns will create a cushioned feel, which smaller patterns feel tighter and firmer. Generally, the more coils an innerspring mattress contains, the more comfortable it’s bound to be—but if the number of coils is over 390, then you’re not likely to notice the difference, so don’t bother paying extra.
Inside a Memory Foam Mattress
Especially attractive to people with chronic pain conditions, memory foam mattresses consist of, essentially, very dense foam. When you lie on a foam mattress, your body heat softens the material, allowing it to “mold” to your body. One big advantage: In bigger beds, a memory foam mattress won’t shift as much as an innerspring when one partner turns or moves. So if you’re often disturbed by your partner’s tossing and turning in the middle of the night, it might be time to invest in a memory foam mattress. But one con: Because these mattresses mold to your body, they can absorb a lot of heat and make you feel hotter while you sleep. Some people also complain that they have a chemical smell.
Mattress Foundation Guide
Learn how to choose the right mattress foundation for your budget, space and personal comfort preferences.
At Mattress Advisor, you’ll find comprehensive, unbiased reviews on the best mattresses and bedding products and thoroughly researched tips for getting your best sleep.
The mattress foundation you choose to support your bed can have a major impact on the way your bed feels and how long it lasts you. A foundation is important for supporting both your mattress and your sleep.
We get it…you’ve spent all this time finding the perfect mattress, and now you have to research the best foundation to put it on between box springs, a platform bed, slatted foundations and more. Once you find the bed that’s right for you, you don’t want to mess it up by picking the wrong type of support.
Don’t sweat it: we’re going to help you navigate the world of mattress foundations and choose the best option for your mattress, your space, and your budget.
What is a Mattress Foundation?
A mattress foundation is the support system you use to hold up your mattress. There are many different types including box springs, metal box springs, platform bases, bunkie boards, slatted bed foundations, metal bed frames, and adjustable bed frames. Which is best for you depends on your mattress type, sleeping preferences, and budget.
Types of Mattress Foundations and Bed Frames
The types of bed frames that are available include box springs, metal bed frames, metal platform bases, slatted bed foundations, bunkie boards, solid platform beds, and adjustable bed frames. We’ll explain each of these options so you know what you’re in for, plus we’ll share some of our top picks for each type of foundation!
A box spring is a sturdy platform usually made up of a wooden or metal framework and covered in material. Traditional box springs were constructed with actual springs inside the framework, but modern box springs don’t contain the springs anymore, making them more lightweight and easy to ship/transport.
Box springs can be used alone or with a metal or wood platform base.
- Price range:
Split foundation box springsare another good option if you have a small space or need easier transportation. Two separate pieces make up the full size of your bed. If you decide to use a split foundation, you’ll want to make sure you have a platform base or bed frame to rest it on so the pieces don’t separate or move around.
Our Favorite Box Springs:
- Budget Option:Zinus 9” high profile smart box spring – $114 for queen (Read our review!)
- Easiest Assembly:Simple Life 8” mattress box foundation – $261 for queen
- Brand Name:Leesa 7.5” foundation – $295 for queen
Metal Bed Frame
Metal bed frames are most commonly used to help keep the box spring in place and add even more height to your bed. They are not designed to support a mattress alone. Some metal bed frames are adjustable to fit the size of your bed.
- Price range:
Our Favorite Metal Bed Frames:
- Budget Option:Classic Brands 7” heavy-duty metal bed frame (fits twin to cal king sizes) – $50
- Super Sturdy:NOAH MEGATRON 7″ heavy-duty, 9-leg support metal bed frame – $88
- Brand Name:Stone & Beam Vintage Arced Metal Bed Frame – $219
Metal Platform Base
Metal platform bases are a great way to support and raise your mattress while getting great storage underneath your bed. You can also place your mattress right on top of these platforms – a box spring is not needed.
Some assembly is usually required, but it’s much easier to break down and transport than a box spring. If you plan on using a headboard, you may need to purchase additional connector pieces in some cases.
- Price range:
$90 – $200
Our Favorite Metal Platform Bases:
- Budget Option:Zinus 16” deluxe mattress foundation – $94 for queen
- Adjustable Height:DHP Brooklyn metal iron bed frame (7″ or 11″) – $190
- Brand Name:Purple 16.5” platform base – $174
Slatted Bed Foundation
Slatted bed foundations are made of wood or metal frames with planks of wood, metal or other materials with spaced slats across the frame.
Depending on the height, slatted bed foundations can also offer great under-bed storage. They can also provide better airflow if you are placing your mattress directly on top of one.
- Price range:
Our Favorite Slatted Bed Foundations:
- Budget Option:Zinus 14” metal bed frame with wooden slat support – $91 for queen
- Sleek Design:Ecos Living 12″ solid wood platform bed frame with headboard – $265
- Sturdiest:Olee Sleep 14” heavy duty steel slat bed frame – $91 for queen
A bunkie board is a piece of wood (usually plywood) or metal that can be used with an older box spring, foundation or platform bed for additional support underneath your mattress.
A bunkie board may be a good option if you are purchasing a new memory foam mattress (which is heavier and requires a sturdier foundation than the traditional innerspring mattress), but you don’t have the proper support with your current bed set up. It’s also a good way to add additional support for bunk beds. (Hence the term, bunkie board.)
- Price range:
$50 – $200
Our Favorite Bunkie Boards:
- Budget Option:Zinus 1.6” steel bunkie board – $65 for queen
- Fully Assembled:Spring Sleep 1.5” wood bunkie board – $152 for queen
- Brand Name:Crate & Barrel pine wood bunkie board – $120 for queen
Solid Platform Bed
A solid platform bed will typically provide the most support and durability of all the bed frame options. They also tend to be the most stylish if that’s something that’s important to you. However, with that comes a higher price tag. You can still find affordable solid platforms, but more material means more money.
Another thing to keep in mind with a solid platform is that you’re cutting off most of the airflow through the mattress, so it can cause heat to get trapped in your mattress while you sleep.
- Price range:
$200 – $2,000
Our Favorite Solid Platform Beds:
- Budget Option:South Shore 54″ platform bed – $114
- With Storage:South Shore 54″ platform bed with storage – $128
- All the Bells & Whistles:Prepac coal harbor platform storage bed with headboard – $468
Adjustable Bed Frame
Adjustable bed frames allow you to adjust the angle or elevation of your bed to a number of different positions, typically by remote control. Basically, they’re the crème de la crème of mattress foundations.
Aside from being awesome, they can also provide a number of health benefits. This bed frame can help alleviate back and joint pain, sleep apnea, acid reflux and snoring. It can also help promote healthy blood circulation. (It’s the same concept as elevating a body part after an injury.)
As you may have guessed, adjustable bed frames can cost a pretty penny – sometimes even more than your mattress. If it’s time to treat yourself, then an adjustable bed frame might be for you.
- Price range:
$650 – $2,000
Our Favorite Adjustable Bed Frames:
- Budget Option:Naomi Home idealBase adjustable massage frame – $459
- Brand Name:Purple Powerbase – $1,499 for queen
- All the Bells & Whistles:Nectar Adjustable Bed Frame – $799 for queen
Believe it or not, your floor can be a viable solution for a mattress foundation…in some cases. It’s sturdy, flat and can hold the weight of your mattress evenly.
If you decide to put your mattress directly on the floor, it won’t be able to breathe as easily as a lifted platform and will be more prone to dust, mold and allergens. Setting your mattress on the floor can also make getting in and out of bed more difficult, but youwillbe exercising those quad muscles more!
- Price range:As long as you have a floor, free?
- Best used with:Foam and hybrid mattresses tend to work best on the floor. However, before you get set on this option, make sure the floor is on the list of recommended foundations for your particular mattress. Some warranties won’t be honored if you’ve been using your mattress on the floor.
Why You Need a Good Foundation for Your Mattress
A good mattress foundation can offer many sleeping benefits you may not even realize exist. While it might just seem like another “add-on,” you actually should think of your mattress and foundation as a pair. Here’s why your foundation is important for your bed:
- It provides added support.Putting your mattress on a strong foundation can help prevent sagging and can also change the way your mattress feels (in a good way); having the right mattress support means you’re experiencing all the benefits of your mattress the way it was intended.
- It helps your mattress last longer.A good, sturdy foundation helps keep your mattress structurally intact by absorbing some of the motion and weight put on your mattress, which helps it keep its shape longer so you can get your money’s worth.
- It adds height.A foundation can add up to 16 inches of height to your mattress, which makes getting in and out of your bed easier (especially important for seniors). Most nightstands are constructed assuming you’re using some sort of foundation with your mattress so the height will be in-line with your overall bed height.
- It keeps your bed in place.Good foundations help keep your mattress from moving around while you’re getting in and out of it, or while performing other night-time activities. (You know what we’re talking about.)
- It helps keep it clean.Raising your mattress off the ground can help protect it from dirt, dust and mold.
- It helps with airflow.Depending on the type of foundation you choose, it can help promote mattress breathability, and therefore, help you get a cooler night’s sleep.
Generally, you don’t want to put a brand new mattress on an old foundation. You wouldn’t build a new house on top of rotting wood, would you?
How to Choose the Best Mattress Foundation
When choosing your mattress foundation, there are a few things you’ll want to pay close attention to. Some might be more important to you than others, but ultimately you should be searching for something that offers supreme support for your comfort and well-being.
Pain is not beauty when it comes to mattress foundations, so make sure you’re prioritizing things like comfort and durability rather than aesthetics. Most of these foundations will be hidden under bed skirts or covers anyway.
Here are some factors that might influence which type of foundation you ultimately choose:
1. Consider the type of mattress you have
There are certain foundations that work best with the type of mattress you have (ie. memory foam, hybrid, innerspring).
For example, the best foundation types for memory foam mattresses are solid, flat foundations like a solid platform, slatted bed frame (as long as the materials are sturdy), or even the floor. Most mattress brands will include the types of foundations they recommend on their website.
The size of your mattress can also help inform how much support you need. For larger mattresses (queen, king and California king), you’ll want to make sure that your foundation can support the weight of your mattress as well as provide good center support so your mattress doesn’t sink in the middle.
2. Define your budget
Mattress foundations can cost anywhere between around $100-$2000 depending on preference. Luxury mattress foundations, like adjustable bed frames with remote controls, can end up costing more than $1,000, even more than your mattress.
A decent foundation typically costs between $200-$500. You shouldn’t skimp on your foundation since it’s an important part of your sleeping setup, but there are more budget-friendly options available, even below $100.
3. Shop for durability and longevity
Pay attention to the quality of materials your foundation is made from. You’ll want to make sure it lasts you a while and is also built to adequately support your mattress. If it looks cheap and you’re worried about it falling apart in a matter of weeks, you might want to raise your expectations.
4. Evaluate ease of setup and breakdown
Some foundations that are shipped online and require assembly can be like a life-size jigsaw puzzle, while others are much simpler to build. If ease of set-up is important to you, make sure you pay attention to how it ships and what kind of assembly is required.
5. Consider style and design
Many foundations will be covered by a bed skirt or other bedding materials, which makes this factor less relevant, but there are some beautiful bed frames that can really serve as a statement piece to your bedroom.
Even if style is not top on your list, you’ll definitely want to make sure your foundation fits your mattress and fits in your room. If you’re planning to use an existing headboard, make sure you map out the dimensions to see if it will still work with your new foundation.
6. Check the warranty
Not all mattress company warranties are covered if you use a foundation that’s not recommended by them. Make sure you take note of the policy for your mattress and whether it only covers damages or sagging if you’re using a recommended foundation.
If you’re not sure, just ask. Most mattress companies offer a live chat service or have a customer service representative you can contact to find out.
If you’re still not sure which foundation is going to work best with your mattress, it never hurts to reach out to the company you bought your mattress from and see what they recommend.
Let them know what you’re willing to spend and what size bed you have. Even if you don’t love what they come back with, it might at least help you narrow your search.
Just remember that what you put your mattress on can be just as important as the mattress itself. A strong foundation can help you experience all the benefits that your mattress has to offer.
If you have any questions about mattress foundations or have a foundation that you love, let us know in the comments below.
FAQs About Mattress Foundations
Do memory foam mattresses need a box spring?
No, but they do best with some form of support. Memory foam mattresses can sometimes require a sturdier platform than a box spring offers, so be sure to check with your retailer/manufacturer. You can read more about the support memory foam mattresses require in our guide answering the question: Do memory foam mattresses need box springs?
Can I just put my mattress on the floor?
You can put your mattress on the floor, but it makes your mattress more prone to dust and mold. Memory foam and hybrid mattresses work best on the floor, but before you opt for this, be sure to check your mattress warranty. Some warranties will not be honored if you use your mattress on the floor.
How tall should a bed frame be?
The average bed height is about 25″ for ease of climbing in and out of bed. Consider the thickness of your mattress (generally between 6-14″) to decide how tall of a bed frame you need. The thicker/taller your mattress is, the shorter of a bed frame you will need. For thinner/shorter mattresses, you may want a taller bed frame.
Do You Need a Foundation for a Mattress?
The Bedrock of Your Bed
One of your remaining decisions is selecting the foundation your new mattress will rest on top of. Choosing incorrectly could void your warranty.
How Important is a Mattress Foundation?
A foundation is a support system that goes underneath the mattress. It is designed to evenly distribute the weight of the mattress and absorb some of the compression that it sustains in normal use. A well-made foundation will prolong the life of your mattress.
Mattresses and foundations are designed to work as a unit, so it is generally recommended that they be purchased together (new mattress plus new foundation). When you purchase a mattress, the manufacturer or retailer will recommend several types of compatible foundations. And in fact, many warranties specify that a mattress must be used with the recommended foundation or the warranty is void. Some brands say you must buy a foundation from them for the warranty to be valid. And we found several brands that specify you should specifically not use a box spring (see below).
Is a Mattress Foundation the Same as a Box Spring?
Mattress foundations and box springs are different in construction and durability, though they may look the same from the outside.
A box spring is a wooden box with heavy coil springs that take some of the load off of your mattress. Also made with metal, a torsion module foundation works similarly to a box spring, but instead of coil springs it has torsion bars, which are heavy wire bars typically bent at 90-degree angles (they still compress and bounce back, but at angles instead of circles). Both are covered with fabric so they have an upholstered look.
True box springs work perfectly well for most traditional innerspring mattresses, but they aren’t supportive enough for today’s heavier foam, latex and hybrid beds. Box foundations, on the other hand, look like a traditional box spring unit from the outside, but instead of springs, closely spaced wood or metal slats extend across the bed from side to side, creating a surface that can better support heavy mattresses. A box foundation is still covered with fabric, so it has the same appearance as a box spring.
Box foundations vary in height. Most are 8" or 10" tall, but you can also find 4" or 6" low-profile versions, handy if you have an extra tall mattress but don’t want to be so far off the ground.
You can place a foundation right on the floor, or on a bed frame of your choice, depending on the look you’re going for.
Below: Box foundation
Can I Put a Mattress on Slats?
Modern box foundations are made with closely spaced slats in a wood frame, covered with upholstery. You can also find simple bed frames with slats that will support your mattress. However, be careful what you are buying. You want a heavy bed frame with substantial, closely spaced (no more than two inches apart) heavy slats.
Also on the market is an accessory you can purchase: Wood slats you can install on an existing metal bed frame to turn it into a platform for your mattress. These vary greatly in quality. Some are meant as extra support for a box spring and mattress set, while others are heavy enough to support a mattress without any other foundation. Just be sure to check which you are purchasing, and consult your mattress documentation to be sure that it will be adequate support.
Below: Bed frame with heavy slats
Does a Mattress Need a Foundation?
You may not want to use the foundation that is recommended with your mattress because you plan to use a platform bed. Or you may wonder if you really have to spend the extra cash for a new foundation when your old one seems in perfectly good shape.
Before you decide not to purchase the foundation recommended by the manufacturer for your mattress, your first step should be to check the warranty terms. Most specify that platform beds or another solid surface are fine. Some mattress warranties will be invalidated if a specified type of mattress foundation isn’t used.
Also consider that while your old box spring may look just fine on the outside, that does not mean that it is still structurally sound enough to properly support the weight of another mattress for 10 more years. And finally, consider that the cost of the foundation is generally a small percentage of the cost of the mattress. If you’ve considered all of these things and opt not to purchase a foundation, know that you’ll still need to support your mattress adequately in order to maintain its integrity over time, such as with a bed frame that is designed for use without a foundation.
Is it Bad to Put a Mattress on the Floor?
In most cases, no. A floor is a solid support for a mattress as long as you don’t mind being so close to the ground. It will not hard your mattress to use it on a floor.
One consideration is airflow. Using a box-type foundation or a bed frame raises your mattress off the floor, alloying air to flow all around it. If your mattress is on the floor, moisture and humidity can’t escape out the bottom. One idea is to periodically turn your mattress on its side and allow it to air out for a day before plopping it back on the floor.
What Type of Foundation Is Best for Your Mattress?
When you bring home an expensive item like abrand new mattress, the last thing you want to do is leave it on the floor where it can be damaged. Not only could dirt ruin its appearance, but its ability to properly do its job could be in jeopardy, greatly reducing the years of useful life it holds.
It is important to protect your mattress with a great foundation. With so many options out there, it is hard to know what the best foundation would be for your particular mattress.This all depends on the kind of mattress you have selected. Innerspring, memory foam, or latex, even waterbeds and air mattresses need a good foundation for proper usage.
Sowhich foundation is really the best for your mattress?To best answer that question, let’s take a look at each type of mattress individually.
Table of Contents
The Best Foundation for Your Mattress
Innerspring mattresses are those that contain steel coils inside in order to better support the weight of the person sleeping on it. There are a few varieties available, with some containing coils that connect into one single unit, while others contain separate pocketed coils. We have reviewed one of the leading Innerspring Mattress in the market currently, you can click here to read our full review – Serta Perfect Sleeper Review.
These mattresses can vary based onthe number of coils included, as well as the gauge, design, and shape of the coils.In addition, the material used to cover the innersprings can also vary, including things such as fibers, foams, and even layers of smaller springs.
When all of this is taken into consideration, the best option for an innerspring mattress is to find one with the highest number of support points, or coils.
Boxsprings are typically comprised of awooden frame with a skid-resistant fabric covering.These foundations are used to absorb weight when working together with the wire coils found inside innerspring mattresses, making them a great option for use as a foundation in this situation.
The boxspring not only offers additional support and protection for the mattress,but also increases the amount of space between the sleeper and the floor, which allows for extra breathing room between the user and dust or cold.
Boxsprings come in a number of varieties, from the more high-quality options that are made with modular grids and square coils to coil spring beds with cone-shaped wire coils. While the square coils offer more durability, the cone-shaped coils offer more support and flexibility, so in most cases it is a good idea to test them out first.
Another option is the semi-flex box spring, which contains a wooden frame with a metal grid above additional slats. This type of boxspring offers the user additional support while at the same time lessening the amount of flexing that occurs within the mattress.
All of these types of boxspringstend to work better when placed beneath a double-sided innerspring mattress. This is because the coils of the mattress work together with the coils of the boxspring to provide extra comfort as they combine to better absorb the weight of the sleeper as movement occurs throughout the night.
Boxsprings are not typically suggested for use under a single-sided, no-flip coil mattress.
Memory Foam Mattresses
A memory foam, or viscoelastic, mattress is typically comprised of many layers of high-density polyurethane foam that is capable of conforming to the shape of the person laying on it.The foam reacts to heat levels at the same time to provide optimum comfort for the sleeper all night long.If you’re looking for a new memory foam mattress then make sure you check out our reviews – Amerisleep Review, BedInABox Review and Sleep Number Review.
In general, platform, or slatted, foundations are highly suggested for use with memory foam mattresses. This is because these types of foundations are made up of wooden slats placed close together, which allow for mattress to breathe.This is required of memory foam mattresses because of the core layer of the foam’s many layers.In addition, it helps to reduce the buildup of mildew or mold.
It is suggested that the slats be placed no more than three inches apart from each other, with additional slats being placed if necessary. Experts agree, it is better where mattress support and airflow are concerned to have more slats than less.
Two types of platform foundations currently exist,thecurved European flexible slatted foundationand thesolid wood slats.The main difference between the two is that while the European model contains flexible slats that conform to the size and weight of each individual laying on the mattress, the solid wood option offers better stability as it lessens the bounce and motion felt by the sleepers.
Platform foundations are also looked upon favorably as they tend to help smaller bedrooms appear bigger, as many models also include hidden storage.
Boxspring foundations that are made of memory foam can be used to support memory foam mattresses, so long as they are laid on a flat and rigid surface in order to ensure better support is offered to the user.It isnot suggested to use a traditional boxspring with a memory foammattress, or one with coiled springs, as these are made to compress when pressure is placed on them. Instead, a foundation made of wood or steel grids offer equal weight distribution and tend to have less give to them.
In addition, it is suggested that a middle support bar be present in order to gain additional stability so as to prevent any mattress sagging.
In general, there are a few things to remember when choosing the best foundation for your memory foam mattress.
- A foundation made from wood will typically have a longer lifespan than one made of differentmaterial.
- It is important to choose a foundation that is equal insizeto your mattress in order to offer optimal support and comfort.
- You want to purchase adurablefoundation in order to protect the comfort level of your bed as a whole.
- Astablefoundation is important, as you want it to continue to withstand the pressure and weight placed on it each night.
- The foundation should have a similarshapeto that of the mattress that will be placed on it. A foundation with a different shape could result in the mattress being damaged.
- Because memory foam mattresses are made up of several layers of high-density foam, it is important to allow the mattress tobreatheso as to not allow moisture from any perspiration or accidental spills to remain trapped inside.
Latex mattresses are typically made from either natural latex, coming from the sap of the rubber tree, or a man-made latex chemically produced using SBR, or styrene butadiene. Check out some of the best hybrid mattress in the market right now. These mattresses are not only known for elasticity and response, but also for how long they last, with those made from natural latex lasting over 40 years in some cases!
Latex mattresses are great options for those with allergies, as they are anti-microbial, hypo-allergenic, and resistant to dust mites.
Slatted Wood Foundations
Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam in thatthey respond best when used in conjunction with a solid foundationthat will not only support the weight of the mattress but also the sleepers laying on top. Because these mattresses tend to be heavier than most others on the market to date, it is important to ensure that the gaps between the slats in the foundation be close enough together that the mattress stays on top.
Metal Wire Grid Foundations
A metal wire grid base is another great option for a foundation for your latex mattress. In order to find a high-quality base of this kind, make sure to look for a very rigid base with little flexibility, with very small gaps between the grids. In addition ,you should see astrongfabric screwed onto the top. This will offer a flat sleeping surface and with it, additional support.
This bedmakes use of air within a chamber as its sole way of offering support to its users. Many come covered with upholstery and additional padding, such as foam or a variety of fibers.
While an airbed may have a similar look to atraditional mattress, they differ in that each side of the mattress can be adjusted for firmness on an individual level, allowing users on either side of the bed to have their own level of comfort while sleeping together.
Because these mattresses cannot be used with more traditional wooden bed frames, there are a number of other options for those seeking a more comfortable nights sleep with this type of mattress.
The first option is to place a piece of plywood, the same size as the mattress and 0.75 inches thick, underneath. Some sort of sheet or tarp can be placed on top of the plywood for added durability and prevention of wood splinters.A finished piece of plywood could be put on a bed frame with the airbed laid on top of that.
An additional option is to place a boxspring on a bed frame with a tarp placed over it to protect the mattress placed on top of it.
In place of air within its chambers,waterbeds instead use water to offer support for those sleeping on top of it. Two types of waterbeds exist. Hard-sided waterbeds include a rectangular wooden frame, while soft-sided beds are held within a frame made of rigid foam. The water within this type of bed flows either with the support of fibers within, which is referred to as“waveless,” or “free flow”when nothing helps the flow of the water within.
Each type of waterbed is capable of having a platform underneath for additional support. However,several different options are available for each kind.Hard-side waterbed foundations are typically referred to as Pedestal or Riser and do not have the look of a traditional boxspring. Meanwhile, the foundations for soft-side waterbeds do look similar to a boxspring and can support more weight than a traditional mattress set.
When it comes to purchasing a new mattress, it is important to ensure you alsoinvest in a high-quality foundationthat works well with your particular type of mattress. Doing so will not only offer you additional support and comfort, leading to better sleep for you, but will also protect your mattress from dust and cold air, and increase its usable life.
There are so many foundation options available on the market today, and finding the best option for you can be abit of a juggling act at the time between personal style and what is best for your individual mattress.Remember the key points offered above and you will find a foundation that will offer you the best comfort, support, and durability, which will all help to not only offer you a good night of sleep but also ensure your mattress has a long life ahead.
Do I Need a Box Spring or Foundation for My Mattress?
Box springs and foundations are base components designed to support mattresses and protect them from wear. Most box springs and foundations are less expensive than other base types (such as platform beds or adjustable bases), and they also satisfy the warranty requirements of most mattress manufacturers. However, in most cases, you do not necessarilyneeda box spring or foundation to support your mattress.
What Are Box Springs and Foundations?
Box springs and foundations support mattresses by providing a buffer between the bottom of the mattress and a bed frame made of metal or wood. In some cases, a box spring or foundation may be placed between the mattress and the floor, as well. The terms ‘box spring’ and ‘foundation’ are often used interchangeably, though both terms are associated with different types of overall construction.
A traditional box spring consists of a wooden frame, steel support springs, and a cloth cover. Some newer models feature frames made of metal, rather than wood. In addition to supporting the mattress, box springs absorb shock from sleeper’s bodies and distribute weight to help prevent wear.
In recent years, foundations have overtaken box springs as the standard mattress base. Rather than springs, foundations feature evenly spaced wooden slats designed to reinforce the mattress and prevent it from crashing through the base; the closer the slats are spaced, the more supportive the platform bed will be. As a result, foundations do not absorb as much shock as box springs. However, they tend to be more suitable for mattresses that require higher levels of support and less weight distribution, such as memory foam and latex models. Foundations, like box springs, are usually encased in cloth.
|Size||Height (in.)||Height (cm.)|
|Standard/High-Profile||9 in. or taller||23 cm. or taller|
|Medium-Profile||6 to 8.5 in.||15 to 21.5 cm.|
|Low-Profile||5.5 in. or lower||14 cm. or lower|
Common Mattress Sizes
In order to provide optimal support for the mattress, box springs and foundations are constructed with the same size specifications as mattresses. A general size chart is found below; please note that some manufacturers use slightly different measurements for their mattresses and box springs/foundations.
|Size||Typical Dimensions (Width x Length)|
|Twin||39W" x 75L"|
|Twin Extra Long (XL)||39W" x 75L"|
|Full/Double||54W" x 75L"|
|Queen||60W" x 80L"|
|King||76W" x 80L"|
|California King||72W" x 84L"|
Additionally, some mattresses are available in split Queen, King, or California King models; these consist of two separate mattresses that fit together in the middle to form a complete size. Box springs and foundations may be sold in split models; however, standard box springs and foundations are usually sufficient for split-style Queen, King, or California King mattresses.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Box Spring or Foundation
Some benefits associated with using a box spring or foundation include:
- Easier on and off:Due to their height, box springs and foundations allow users to get on and off the bed more easily.
- Extended mattress lifespan:Using a box spring or foundation can minimize deterioration and help the mattress last longer.
- Minimal sagging:Sagging and indentation is an issue with many mattresses, but box springs offer a flush surface to help the mattress maintain its shape over time.
- Lower price-point:Compared to other base types, box springs and foundations tend to be less expensive (see pricing chart below for more information).
There are some notable disadvantages of using a box spring or foundation, as well:
- Regular rotation:Box springs can lose their supportive qualities after too much use, requiring owners to rotate them (which can be tiring and time-consuming).
- Occupying space:Unlike platform beds (see below), box springs do not have any space for personal storage underneath the base.
- Extra costs:Although some box springs may be used on flat floors, many are designed for use with an additional frame or foundation.
Alternatives to Box Springs and Foundations
Alternatives to standard box springs and foundations include the following:
Bed Frames and Platform Beds
A bed frame provides sturdy support mattresses and sleepers. Depending on the type of bed frame, it might also include a foundation or support a box spring off the ground. Bed frames are often made of a combination of wood and metal, with foam or fabric upholstery. The most common type of bed frames include:
- Canopy beds:Frame with four posts connected to an overhead frame (or canopy) from which you can hang curtains, drapes, etc.
- Four-poster beds:Frame containing four posts which are not connected using an overhead canopy.
- Panel beds:Also called “box spring beds,” these include flat wooden panels for the headboard and footboard as well as side rails to support both a mattress and base.
- Sleigh beds:A bed with a curved headboard and footboard that resembles a wooden sleigh.
Aside from using bed frames, a platform bed is another possible choice. These are designed to support a mattress without the use of a base. Platform beds use evenly spaced wooden or metal slats or lattices in place of a foundation.
Adjustable bed bases feature foundations that can be raised at the head or foot (or both) to create different angles for sleeping. Some adjustable beds are split lengthwise to allow both halves of a mattress to operate separately.
These beds can relieve a variety of ailments while promoting an increase is overall sleep quality. For example, adjustable beds typically allow the top half of the bed to be raised, elevating the head. Sleepers often snore due to poor head elevation. By providing upper body elevation, their airways open up and snoring ceases.
Some adjustable beds include massage functions and even a zero-gravity feature that creates an S-shaped sleep surface, which is ideal for those with lower back pain or high blood pressure. It’s even possible to find adjustable beds that come with silent alarms that vibrate the bed, gently waking you each morning.
Putting a mattress on the floor
Some sleepers choose to stack their mattresses directly on the floor, although whether it’s a good idea is a hot topic. There are some positives to simply forgoing a bed frame. For instance, putting your bed on the floor allows cool air to move across the surface of the bed, helping you sleep cool and comfortable all night. As bed frames can run $150 to $200, skipping on buying one can save money.
That said, there are important drawbacks to acknowledge, such as issues with insects, dust mites, or other pests. Additionally, keeping your mattress on the floor could lead to abnormal wear and tear that might void its warranty. Make sure to carefully consider the type of mattress you buy and whether just placing it on the floor is worth it.
How Much Do Box Springs, Foundations and Other Bed Bases Cost?
Like mattresses, the cost of a box spring, platform bed or adjustable base will vary by manufacturer. It’s important to note that some mattress brands price their foundations by height, while others price according to size.
The table below features the average price for box springs, foundations, and different bed base types. Please note it’s priced for Queen-size beds, the most commonly purchased type of bed.
|Bed Base Type||Average Price Range (Queen)||Description|
|Box spring||$100 to $300||A bed base with a sturdy wooden frame, containing springs with a cloth cover on top|
|Foundation||$200 to $500||Reinforced slats that support the mattress and protect it from falling through the base|
|Platform bed||$400 to $800||Raised bed base that uses slats or lattice-structure to support bed without a foundation|
|Adjustable bed||$900 to $1,500||Bed base with adjustable head and foot that can raise or lower the body into multiple positions|
The vast majority of mattresses sold today come with warranties that generally range from 10 to 25 years in length. In most cases, the warranty will specify certain types of bases that may — and may not — be used to support the mattress. Specifications vary from brand to brand, but the following guidelines are common in most mattress warranties:
- Foundational support:Most mattress warranties allow any type of base — including box springs, foundations, platforms, and adjustable bases — as long as they provide adequate support for both the mattress and its sleepers.
- Frame Construction:Although this is not always stressed, some brands require certain types of frames for mattresses based on their size. Commonly, a frame with at least four legs is needed for Twin- and Full-size mattresses; and a frame with five to six legs is needed for Queen-, King- and California-King-size models. Strong center support is also required for all sizes.
- Slat dimensions:The warranty may require certain slat measurements if a foundation or platform bed is used to support the mattress. In most cases, slats may not be spaced further than 2 to 3 inches apart.
If a mattress owner does not abide by these terms, then their warranty will be voided if improper foundational support leads to sagging, indentations, or other types of premature wear. It’s important to note that relatively old box springs or foundations — generally speaking, those that have been in use for more than three years — may not provide the ‘adequate support’ listed in mattress warranties. If a claim is filed for a damaged mattress, then the box spring or foundation may be inspected by the manufacturer — and if it is found to be faulty, then the warranty will be voided.
Bottom line: mattress owners do not necessarily need to buy a matching foundation, platform, or adjustable base for their new mattress — but if their original box spring or foundation has been in use for more than three years, then it may not satisfy the support requirements laid out in the mattress warranty.
A box spring, foundation, or other type of base (such as a platform bed or adjustable base) is generally recommended for most mattresses sold today — and in many cases, a suitable base will be required to keep the warranty valid.
If you need to decide whether to purchase a base with your new mattress or continue using your current model, here are a few things to ask yourself:
- Have I owned/used the box spring or foundation for more than three years?
- Have I experienced sagging, indentations, or other types of wear on my current mattress using the same box spring or foundation?
- Are the slats on my foundation evenly spaced to meet the warranty terms of the mattress I want to buy?
- Is a new box spring, foundation, or other mattress base in my shopping budget?