Updated December 27, 2021

Does a Mattress in a Box Need a Box Spring

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Your new mattress deserves a good foundation. But do mattresses in a box need a box spring for support? Learn more about your mattress support options below.

Box springs used to be very popular. In the days when most people slept on traditional innerspring mattresses, box springs were needed to give proper support.

All of that has changed, especially with the rise in popularity of mattresses in a box.

If you have a new bed in a box and wonder if you need a box spring, the answer is most likely no. But there are still some cases where you'll need the extra support of a box spring.

Find out below if your bed frame and mattress type need a box spring. Plus, learn more about box spring alternatives that work just as well.

Do You Need a Box Spring?

Box springs aren't as popular as they once were. In fact, many modern mattresses are designed not to need a box spring.

But, there are a couple circumstances when you need a box spring:

  • You have a traditional metal bed frame. Older metal bed frames were designed to support box springs, not mattresses. These frames only have support around the edge of the bed, which is why a sturdy box spring is necessary.

  • You have an older innerspring mattress. Traditional innerspring mattresses are prone to sagging. A box frame keeps the coils from getting bent out of shape prematurely. This isn't an issue with modern innerspring mattresses.

  • You want to add extra height to your bed. Box springs are 7 to 9 inches tall on average. This is useful if you need the extra height to get in and out of bed more easily. Or, you might just like the look of a taller bed.

  • The mattress manufacturer recommends it. It's a good idea to follow the manufacturer's instructions for your mattress. Your warranty might be voided if you don't keep your mattress on a proper foundation.

What Type of Mattress Doesn't Need a Box Spring?

To decide whether you need a box spring, figure out what type of bed frame you have. If you have a traditional bed frame with no slats or support beams, you'll need a box spring for support.

These bed frames are supportive enough that you don't need to add a box spring:

  • Reinforced metal frame: If your metal frame has support wires or beams running across it, it likely won't need box spring. The metals supports offer enough structure for the mattress.

  • Platform bed frame: Platform beds get their support from either a solid piece of wood or built-in slats. These beds are closer to the ground and may have built-in storage.

  • Adjustable bed frame: Adjustable foundations are designed to change the angle of the head and foot of your mattress. These beds won't work with a box spring since it needs to be able to manipulate your mattress directly.

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a wooden frame wrapped in fabric that's the same size as your mattress. The frame can be filled with springs or a metal grid.

In addition to providing extra support, box springs can also help to:

  • Raise the mattress higher above the ground
  • Increase airflow throughout the mattress
  • Distribute weight evenly to prevent sagging
  • Absorb impact to prevent damage to the mattress

In the past, box springs were a required bed accessory since innerspring mattresses needed more structure and support. Bed frames were designed to house box springs.

Modern mattresses, including mattresses in a box, are made with sturdier coil types which perform fine on other types of foundations.

Box Spring Alternatives

If you don't want to fuss with a box spring, there are other options for a mattress foundation. Here are some great alternatives to box springs that still offer great support:

  • Wooden slats: These are common in platform beds and can work with any mattress type. The smaller the gap between the slats, the better the support. This is especially important with memory foam mattresses which can sag with wider gaps.

  • Bunkie board: These are essentially solid pieces of plywood wrapped in fabric. It provides a solid surface for your mattress to rest on, and it's compatible with all mattress types. The name comes from its use a bunk bed base, but it can work with regular bed frames too.

  • Adjustable frame: An adjustable frame is a great choice for those with mobility issues or body aches. These require a softer mattress type, like memory foam or latex. Innerspring mattresses aren't flexible enough to conform to the bed frame.

  • Floor: Technically, the floor provides plenty of support for your mattress. But here's why it's NOT recommended. Your mattress needs to breathe. Without proper air circulation, your mattress can collect dirt, dust, bacteria, and mold—stuff you don't want to be sleeping in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put a memory foam mattress on top of a box spring?
If you already have a box spring in good condition, you can put your memory foam mattress on top of it. But since a box spring isn't necessary to support a memory foam mattress in a box, you don't have to go out of your way to buy one.

What type of mattress does not need a box spring?
Very few modern mattresses require a box spring. Even innerspring mattresses, which traditionally required one, are now perfectly fine on wooden slats and platform beds. Most memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses do not need a box spring.

What is the difference between a box spring and a bed frame?
A box spring is a separate platform made of wood and metal that's wrapped in fabric. It's usually around the same shape and size as a mattress. A bed frame is the larger structure with four main legs that lifts the entire bed off the ground.

Bottom Line

If you own a mattress in a box, chances are high that you can just skip the box spring.

Most beds in a box are either memory foam or hybrid mattresses, neither of which usually require a box spring.

Before you sleep on your new bed, it's best to read the mattress company's warranty terms first. Some companies have specific requirements for your mattress foundation. Not following the terms could void your warranty.

Donna Tang is a content associate at CreditDonkey, a mattress comparison and reviews website. Write to Donna Tang at donna.tang@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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