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Box Spring vs Slats

Editor’s Note: Deciding between a box spring or slats for mattress support depends on a few different factors. Have a heavy, more premium mattress? Box springs are the way to go (like Zinus’s 4″ low profile box spring on Amazon). Have a lighter mattress (generally Twin or Full size)? Slats should be more than enough support for your mattress (our favorite being Classic Brand’s Heavy Duty Slats on Amazon). There’s a few other considerations worth looking at before you make the final decision. We cover each of those unique scenarios below. 

Box Spring

  • Best for heavy, premium mattresses
  • Ideal for memory foam and latex
  • More expensive than slats
  • Add additional total bed height

Slats

  • Best for lighter (or smaller) mattress sizes
  • Ideal for innerspring mattresses
  • Less expensive than box springs
  • Don’t add additional bed height

Slats Or Box Springs? Which Is Better, When?

Slats can be better if you have a lighter mattress. If you have a premium, heavier mattress – box springs are unequivocally better mattress support. In fact, you can combine a box spring on top of slats (if you really want great support)

Both slats and box springs are fantastic mattress support choices. Picking which support is best entirely depends on what mattress you have, and what your overall preferences are.

Slats are better than box springs if:

  • You plan on purchasing a lighter mattress – Looking to buy a lighter mattress (like a Zinus 12″ Green Tea mattress on Amazon) for a guest bedroom or temporary sleeping solution? Slats should be more than fine. 
  • Your mattress doesn’t require a center support – Some lighter and smaller sized mattresses don’t require center supports. These mattress sizes generally include anything smaller than a Queen size (Twin, Twin XL, and Full). 

Box Springs are better than slats if:

  • You have a heavy, premium mattress 
  • You have a heavy innerspring mattress 
  • You have a heavy memory foam mattress
  • You have a heavy latex mattress 
  • You have a mattress that requires a solid support surface

Can You Put A Box Spring On Top Of Slats?

Can You Put A Box Spring On Top Of Slats - Zinus 9 Inch High Profile Smart Box Spring
Zinus 9 Inch High Profile Smart Box Spring on Amazon

Putting a box spring on top of slats is completely fine. In fact, putting a sturdy box spring on top of well-supported slats acts as an even better mattress support than only one or the other.

Generally, there’s only 2 real times you’d ever want to put a box spring on top of slats. When you have a heavy, more expensive mattress that demands very good support. The second reason is when you already have slats, but want to either (1) add height to your setup, or (2) give your setup even better support. 

Keep in mind, if you decide to put a box spring on top of slats, make sure your slats are spaced less than 4-6″ apart. Anything further than that, and you may risk the box spring and mattress bowing in the center, or at various weak points (since the slats are spaced so far apart).

2 Ideal Times You Can Put A Box Spring On Top Of Slats:

  • You have a premium mattress and want to ensure adequate support 
  • You have existing slats, but want to add more height to your bed setup (or you want even better support than simply having slats)

Do I Need A Box Spring If I Have Slats?

Unless you have (or are planning to buy) a heavy, premium mattress, slats work well enough most times. Premium mattresses require good support. Slats are not good enough supports most of the time. Usually adding a solid support surface like a box springs is necessary.

should i replace my box spring with slats - Zinus Easy Assembly Quick Lock 1.6 Inch Bunkie Board
Zinus Easy Assembly Quick Lock 1.6 Inch Bunkie Board Bed Slat on Amazon

The short answer? It depends.

There’s 3 considerations you need to take into account when deciding to put a box spring on top of existing slats.

These 3 scenarios include:

  • You have slats spaced greater than 4-6″ apart – Slats spaced less than 4-6″ apart means it’s probably a good idea to put a solid base of support on top. A solid layer of support on top of spaced slats adds an additional support layer that makes a lot of sense for people with heavier, more premium mattresses.
  • You have a heavy mattress that demands a solid surface of support – Some mattress companies make it very clear that you must put a solid surface of support under your mattress. Generally, premium luxury mattresses or heavy memory foam / latex types will require a solid support layer. 
  • You want to add extra height to your existing mattress setup – Some people that have slats want more height to their bed setup. One of the best ways to add more height to your existing (or new) bed setup is a box spring. Since box springs come in low profile (like Zinus’s 5″ low profile box spring), or standard profile (like Zinus’s 9 Inch High Profile Smart Box Spring) in height, there’s a ton of options to choose from. 

Should I Replace My Box Spring With Slats?

You shouldn’t replace your existing box spring with slats unless you no longer need additional bed height. Also, if you recently purchased a lighter mattress that doesn’t require a solid support system (like a box spring), there’s no need to replace your box spring with slats. 

Very rarely will someone replace their box spring with just slats. However, there’s a few scenarios where replacing your existing box spring with slats might make sense.

These scenarios include:

  • You want to lower your existing bed setup – Some people that have box springs may want to lower their overall bed height. In cases like this, removing your box spring and using just slats make sense. However, be careful. Some mattresses require a solid support. Call your mattress company and make sure slats are enough support. If they’re not, you might have to get a bunkie board instead of slats (like this one on Amazon from Signature Sleep
  • Your mattress doesn’t require a box spring anymore – When you buy a new mattress, sometimes they’re light enough not to require a solid base of support like a box spring. In scenarios like this, slats are more than good enough to provide the support your mattress needs. 
  • You don’t like the look of a box spring – Some people simply don’t enjoy the aesthetic of a box spring. Box springs create an older, more traditional bed setup look. In scenarios like these, it’s perfectly appropriate in most scenarios to replace your box spring with mattress slats.

Slat Bed Frame vs Box Spring

Slatted bed frames are different than regular slats. A good example of a slatted bed frame is Zinus 14 Inch MyEuro SmartBase. It sits 14 inches high, and has wood slats with 2 center support systems for added durability over time. These types of bed supports compare very well to box springs. In some scenarios, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a bed frame slat system over a box spring. Others? Not so much.

There’s 3 considerations to look at before choosing a slat bed frame vs box spring, including:

  • Slatted bed frames are best used in conjunction with box springs – If your mattress requires a solid support base, using a slatted bed frame in conjunction with a box spring is a best-case scenario. Why? Combining 2 extremely durable support systems can only make your overall bed system that much more supportive. 
  • Slatted bed frames are fine if your mattress doesn’t require a solid support surface – As we mentioned earlier, some mattress companies make it a requirement to have a solid, sturdy support surface for their mattress. In scenarios like these, a slatted bed frame won’t be good enough. You can either (1) put a box spring on top, or (2) put a bunkie board on top (like this one on Amazon). Either solution works well. 
  • Slatted bed frames provide additional under bed storage, unlike box springs – Slatted bed frames give added convenience of having under-bed storage space. Not all slatted bed frames have this, but most do. Our favorite slatted bed frame that has good bed storage space is Zinus’s 14 Inch MyEuro SmartBase.
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