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What Is A Box Spring? Purpose Of A Box Spring

What is a box spring? Simple, actually.

Modern box springs act as sturdy, uniform support systems for your mattress. They’re usually made of wood or metal material. Box springs always match the same size of the mattress on top. If you have a Queen mattress, you’ll have a Queen box spring.B

Uniform support that a box spring creates is crucial for a healthy night’s sleep.

Old box springs had physical coils in them to support the mattress. They were “flex-coils” that responded to pressure from a mattress.

Today? Almost no manufacturers or companies make traditional “box springs” in that same way. Modern mattresses are designed to rest on a solid surface.

benefits of a box spring - Zinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring
Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile Metal Box Spring with Wood Slats on Amazon

What Does A Box Spring Do? 3 Things You Need To Know

What Does A Box Spring Do - Classic Brands Instant Foundation for Bed Mattress, Easy To Assemble Box Spring
Classic Brands Instant Foundation High Profile 8-Inch Box-Spring Replacement

Box springs are the ultimate form of mattress support. They’ve become the preferred way to support a mattress system by most people, most of the time.

There’s 3 main reasons why box springs are so popular, including:

1. Provide uniform support – Box springs provide one of the best, most consistent forms of support for your mattress available today. Consistent levels of support for a mattress are crucial, and most times slats, bunkie boards, and even platform beds (with some models better than others) don’t properly extend the life of a mattress the same way a box spring does.

2. Add extra height – Box springs allow you to add (or take away) height from your bed setup. Low profile box springs allow you to add 4-6″ of height to your bed setup without sacrificing support in any way. If your existing box spring or mattress is too short – buying a regular box spring that’s 7 – 8″ high is a great idea for adding extra height to your setup.

3. Create a firm, flat structure – Box springs create a flat, sturdy structure for the mattress to lay on. Having this firm, flat surface makes all the difference to maintaining uniform surface. When you lay on a uniform, flat surface two things happen. Your spine becomes aligned, and you get a more restful night’s sleep.

What Is The Purpose Of A Box Spring & What Is It Used For?

The purpose of a box spring is to ultimately provide adequate support for your mattress. Box springs achieve this by adding extra height to your current bed setup, absorbing & reducing shock and wear to your mattress over time, making it easier to get in and out of bed, and reducing body impressions over time. Lets look at each 4 in detail.

The purpose of a box spring are 4-fold. They include:

  • Add extra height to your existing bed setup – Adding a few extra inches to your bed height can make a big difference in how your bedroom looks & feels. Some enjoy a higher bed setup. Others? A shorter, more modern look.
  • Absorb and reduce shock and wear to your mattress over time (from gravity & body weight resistance) – Alternative & substitute forms of  support may break down faster over time. Box spring substitutes like slats, bunkie boards, and even platform beds (with slats) may break down faster than box springs (depending on the quality of your box spring).
  • Make it easier to get in & out of bed – for your kneeships, and pressure points getting in and out of bed every night. Think about it. If you get out of bed several times a night, over the course of a year you’re impacting your knees & hips over 1000 times. Making it easier to get out of bed at night (and in the morning) can make all the difference for some people. 
  • Reducing body impressions over time – The most popular mattress style today is an innerspring mattress. While memory foam & latex types are gaining popularly, innerspring is King. Innerspring mattresses tend to get body impressions over time. The good news? A box spring may reduce body impressions over time by providing a strong, reliable support surface so your mattress doesn’t bow and sink. 

Benefits Of A Box Spring

There’s 4 main benefits of using a box spring with your bed support. These 4 benefits aren’t as obvious as you’d think.

Using a box spring comes with fairly unique benefits that other forms of mattress support systems don’t have.

These include:

  • Making a room more aesthetically pleasing – Adding a few extra inches to your mattress height can change the look & feel of your bedroom. Some people enjoy an elegant, high bed setup while others enjoy a shorter, more modern bed setup. 
  • Extending the life of your mattress – While alternative & substitute forms of support may work well to support your mattress, they may break down faster over time. Box spring substitutes like slats, bunkie boards, and even platform beds (with slats) are prone to constant wear & tear over time from general mattress use. 
  • Reducing knee & hip pain over time – Over the course of a year, you may get in and out of bed over 1000 times. The problem? A huge amount of wear & tear on your knees, hips, and joints over time. Having a box spring raise your bed height may reduce this impact & damage over time, making it easier to get out of bed. For some people? This can make a world of difference.
  • Increasing pressure point relief, blood flow, and overall health – Box springs provide uniform support and may reduce impressions over time. The result? Less impressions means better pressure point relief. The result? Better blood flow, deeper REM sleep, and ultimately a much healthier life. 

Why Purchase A Box Spring ?

Deciding on whether you should purchase a box spring or not ultimately comes down to a few questions you need to ask yourself. 

By that, we mean it depends on your individual preferences, circumstances, and budget.

Box springs are the best solution sometimes, but not always. For example, we do not recommend buying a box spring if you already have one less than 5 years old (as long as it’s good condition). We also don’t recommend a box spring to people that don’t want to add extra height to their overall bed setup. 

People looking for reliable, uniform support for their mattress are ideal candidates for people that should purchase a box spring. 

Is A Box Spring Necessary ? How Important Are They Really ?

For most people, box springs are a necessary, important solution to provide ideal support for your bed. While Home & Garden Authority doesn’t think box springs are necessary 100% of the time, we believe they’re important most of the time. Box springs are especially important in these 4 situations:

1. You’re in the market to buy a mattress – As you continue to do more research on finding the best mattress for you, don’t forget about support! While buying a new mattress is the #1 factor for how comfortable you’ll feel on it, having a proper support system is equally important. The result? Box springs are a great answer most of the time to give uniform support throughout the entire mattress, including the center & edges.

2. You’re about to buy a mattress – If you’re about to buy a mattress and deciding on support, double check with your the mattress manufacturer you’re considering first. Most of them require their own box spring to properly support the mattress. We generally don’t have a problem with this. Most mattresses manufacturers that sell their own box spring use technology that allow them to ideally work together.

3. You just bought a mattress – If you just bought a mattress & you think you don’t have adequate support, a box spring is one of the best ways to provide that support. Since box spring heights range from 4″ – 9″, we recommend measuring your existing setup and deciding how much higher you want to go. If you only want to bring your existing mattress height 4″ from where it is now, then you’d want to consider a 4″ low-profile box spring like this one

4. You have a mattress, and it’s sagging – A lot of our readers already own a mattress & need to purchase a 3rd party box spring for support. A good portion of people that complain their mattress sags has nothing to do with the mattress itself failing. The real reason? Their support isn’t adequate! Sometimes a mattress sags (with impressions) because there isn’t adequate support underneath. The good news? Buying a box spring almost always fixes this problem (if it’s a support issue & not a mattress construction issue). Zinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring is one of Amazon’s best reviewed box springs, and our personal favorite. Check it out here

Box Spring Types

There’s 6 main box spring types you need to consider. They are:

1. Low Profile (height)

Low profile box springs offer the exact support as regular box springs. The difference? They’re several inches shorter, ranging in height from 4 – 6 inches

box spring types - Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile BiFold Box Spring
Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile BiFold Box Spring

2. Standard Profile (height)

Standard profile box springs range in height from 7 – 8 inches. They act as the same great, uniform support as low profile & high profile box springs. Our personal favorite is Zinus 7.5 Inch Standard Profile Metal Smart Box Spring at under $125 for their Queen size

Zinus 7.5 Inch Standard Profile Metal Smart Box Spring

3. High Profile (height)

Like it’s low & standard profile cousins, the high profile box spring acts  the same exact fashion. Greatconsistent support – no sacrifices. The only reason why someone may want to buy a high profile box spring is for added height to their bed setup. The Zinus 9″ high profile smart box spring on Amazon is their best selling & most popular (under $109 for their Queen).

box spring types - Zinus 9 Inch High Profile Smart Box Spring
Zinus 9 Inch High Profile Smart Box Spring

4. Bifold (folding)

Bifold box springs are designed to have the same exact look as a traditionalsturdy box spring. The difference? Bifold box springs fold compress for easy maneuvering storage. Our favorite bi-fold box spring is the Zinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring (under $100).

box spring types - Zinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring
Zinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring

5. Steel & Metal (material) 

Unlike most box springs, steel box springs are constructed with a complete metal framework. The main difference you need to consider is it’s a much sturdier structure than even regular wood box springs. The reason? Steel is a much more durable material than wood (in general). Also, steel box springs generally use slats spaced closer together – in some cases less than 3″ apart. The best (and our favorite) example of this is the Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile Quick Lock Smart Box Spring.

box spring types - Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile Quick Lock Smart Box Spring
Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile Quick Lock Smart Box Spring

6. Wood (material)

Wood has (and still is) the staple box spring material for over 70 years. While metal & steel frames are becoming more popular, standard wood box springs still reign supreme. Wood is breathable, stronger (but not necessarily more durable), and can absorb more shock than steel (depending on the type of wood). Our favorite wood box spring foundation on Amazon is Classic Brands Instant Foundation High Profile 8-Inch Box-Spring Replacement (Queen is $125). The reason why we like Classic Brand’s wood box spring so much is they use solid spruce hand-crafted by the Pennsylvania Amish. It’s also designed to support heavier mattresses – including memory foam & latex types. 

Classic Brands Instant Foundation High Profile 8-Inch Box-Spring

We left out split box springs for a reason. Continue below for a section devoted to explaining what a split box spring is, and why they’re important.

What Is A Split Box Spring ?

Split box springs offer the same level support as all other box spring types. The only difference between a split and regular box spring is a split comes in 2 pieces. Each piece is exactly half the measurement of it’s regular box spring brother. For example, 2 king box springs separately measure 38 x 80″. Combine them? You get exact King dimensions (76 x 80″). 

Once you put 2 split box springs together, gravity takes over. The result? The same uniform support you’re used to with a regular box spring. 

Split box springs come in 3 variations. They include:

  • Split Queen Box Spring (30 x 80″– Split queen box springs act in the same exact fashion as regular queen box springs. Same support, same comfort. The only difference is a split queen box spring comes in 2 pieces – each measuring 30 x 80″. The reason? So you can easily maneuver both pieces in the event of a move, or if you need to store them. It’s a much more convenient option compared to regular queen box springs. The best part? They don’t cost that much more than normal queen box springs. Our favorite? Spinal Solution’s 8 Inch Queen Size Split Box Spring
  • Split King Box Spring (2 Twin XLs) – A split king box spring serves the same function as the split queen. The only difference? A split king box spring doesn’t have a regular version. In other words, king box springs only come in split versions (2 Twin XLs). Our favoriteZinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring.
  • Split California King Box Spring (36 x 84″) – Split Cal King box springs are exactly like their split king brothers. They have no regular version, and they always come in 2 parts. While not that many people purchase a split California King mattress, ensuring you have the proper support for one is just as important. Our favorite (and Amazon’s best selling)? Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile BiFold Box Spring.

What Is A Box Spring Made Of ?

Box springs come in many sizes, shapes, and constructions. Old school box springs with physical coils in them are a fragment of the past. The good news? Modern box springs are a world of difference – making much better support systems for present-day mattresses. 

Box springs are generally made of spruce wood or steel (or metal) slats covered in a zip-fabric. This fabric encasement is designed to allow airflow to penetrate the framework to prevent bed bug and other pesky problems (mold) from happening. 

Box Spring Construction

Box springs come in 3 major construction types: slats, steel, & wire grid. Each type has it’s pros and cons. They are:

Slat Construction – Most mattresses on a box spring foundation require a box spring have slats spaced no more than 4″ apart. Most modern box springs that use slats are spaced less than 4″ (sometimes less than 3″ if it’s really good support). 

A perfect example of a box spring construction with slats (and our personal favorite) is the Zinus 4 Inch Low Profile Metal Box Spring with Wood Slats.

Steel Construction – Like slat constructions, steel box spring constructions offer great support. The main difference? Steel constructions tend to be more durable & longer lasting. They’re also much less prone to creaking & squeaking. 

One of the best steel box springs you can buy online right now (for under $100) is the Zinus 7.5 Inch High Profile BiFold Box Spring.

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