What’s the Difference Between a Box Spring and Foundation?
Your mattress should be comfortable, with the right amount of support to help you get your best rest. But did you know that your mattress needs the right kind of support, too? Whether you sleep on a traditional spring mattress, a newer memory foam, or a hybrid mattress, you need the right bed base to match.
Having the right base is important for you and your mattress. A solid foundation can reduce wear on your new bed, raise it to a comfortable height, and help absorb impact while you sleep.
But how do you know which base is right for you and your mattress? Well, you've got a few options when it comes to bed bases.
In this helpful guide, we'll answer your questions about them, including: Can you just put your mattress on the floor or any firm surface? What exactly is a box spring anyway? Will ditching the box spring void a mattress warranty? Do you need DIY skills to put together a bed frame? What about shipping? Is metal or wood better? Can I purchase bed bases online?
We'll cover the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision.
Bed Bases 101: Box Spring vs. Foundation
Put simply, a bed foundation or bed base is whatever your mattress sits on. There are plenty of options, but the main distinction is between the box spring and box spring alternatives, or foundations.
The type of mattress you have will partially dictate what kind of bed base you need. So, before deciding between a box spring and another type of base, it's helpful to first identify whether you're working with an innerspring mattress, a foam mattress, or a hybrid model.
If you have an older spring mattress, you'll likely need a box spring. If you're looking at more modern mattresses, you'll need a sturdier solution.
"Boxspring" is a very apt name for what is, quite simply, a wooden box or wood and metal frame filled with supporting springs and wrapped in fabric. While simple, box springs are good bases for spring mattresses because they help distribute the weight evenly.
Until recently, most mattresses were sold with box springs so that each was half of the intended setup. This way, manufacturers can align the coils in each part so that they work together. This helps abate some of the downfalls of traditional spring mattresses, like motion transfer, and brings the sleeping surface up to a more comfortable height. Most box springs also sit on a metal bed frame.
At Leesa, we have a foam mattress and a hybrid mattress option, but we do not recommend putting them on a box spring. Box springs are designed to support spring mattresses and, therefore, can change the way foam mattresses feel. The Leesa mattress is designed to offer maximum comfort when placed on a hard, stable surface (like a foundation or platform bed).
A foundation can refer to anything that supports, raises, or houses your mattress. In general, a bed foundation usually consists of a wooden frame or box and slats. These are firmer bed bases than box springs. Springless bases are perfect for your foam or hybrid mattress.
When choosing a foundation, you want to make sure the wooden slats are close enough together to give your mattress the right amount of support. If the wooden slats are set too far apart (more than 3 inches), your foam or hybrid mattress may sag through the spaces, changing the feel of your bed and, ultimately, shortening the life of your mattress.
Good Bases for Your Foam or Hybrid Mattress
If you're looking at a foam or hybrid mattress, you can cross box spring off the list, but there are still plenty of other options, and it can be confusing to figure out which is best. Don't stress — we've broken down the different types of bases and foundations that will work with your Leesa mattress so you can get your best sleep ever.
Foundation + Metal Bed Frame
One of the most common foundation setups you’ll find is a foundation and metal bed frame duo. Since a basic wood foundation doesn’t have legs, putting it on a metal frame lifts your bed off the ground. This means you get some room under your bed for extra storage. This is a low-profile, basic bed base option, and you can usually get both of these pieces without breaking the bank.
Using a foundation with a frame is a great choice for anyone who wants to make sure they are taking the best possible care of their mattress (and their sleep!) while sticking to a budget. It'll give you all the support you need and you'll have cash left over for a lush new set of pillows.
- Affordable option
- Metal frame provides sturdy mattress support
- Slats provide good airflow
- Usually quick to assemble
- Offers a small amount of under-bed storage
- This is a good basic setup, so if you're looking for bells and whistles, you won't find them here
- Foundation and bed frame are usually sold separately
- Not adjustable
A platform bed is a raised base that takes the place of both your bed frame and foundation (so, it’s one piece of furniture). There are plenty of platform bed types, from highly decorative models with ornate headboards and legs to more low-profile, sleek options.
By design, most of these beds have plenty of room for storage.
Platform beds are the perfect choice for anyone who wants their bed (and collection of cozy sleep accessories) to feel like the focal point of the room. They're also ideal for anyone who wants to add some extra storage to their bedroom.
- Sturdy mattress support
- Slats provide good airflow
- Usually quick to assemble
- Great for those who prefer a taller bed
- Offers extra inches of under-bed storage compared to a basic bed frame
- Usually priced higher than basic bed frames
- Not adjustable
An adjustable base takes your slumber to new heights of comfort. A well-made adjustable base will give your Leesa mattress the support it needs to support your best rest. Plus, you can customize your comfort for lounging, relaxing, and sleeping.
Adjustable bases are a great choice for anyone who prioritizes comfort and versatility over under-bed storage or cost. These bases might be a bit pricier than other options, but you'll likely forget once you sink into a bed customized for your comfort.
- Sturdy mattress support
- Provides good airflow
- Extremely versatile
- Luxury features can mean a luxury price tag
- Can be a bit more difficult to assemble
- Under-bed storage can be less convenient
Whether you prefer a minimalist look or want something more decorative, like a platform or adjustable bed, all of these bed base options are great for your foam or hybrid mattress.
Can I Put My Foam or Hybrid Mattress on the Floor?
The short answer to this question is, yes. It's your mattress, so we can't control what you decide to do with it, and deciding to sleep with it on the floor for a short time isn't going to harm it. However, we don't recommend leaving your mattress directly on the floor as a permanent solution.
Your mattress needs to breathe, and on the floor, it won't get airflow.
This is less than ideal for a couple of reasons.
First, your mattress will hold onto a lot more heat directly on the floor, making it more difficult for most sleepers to doze off.
Plus, with foam models especially, keeping them on the floor can encourage bacteria and even mold to grow on your mattress, especially if you live in a humid climate. It's best if you let your mattress breathe through a slatted foundation or platform, even if it's still fairly low to the ground.
If you don't have another choice or have to keep your mattress on the floor until you can buy a base, lean your mattress up against the wall at least once a week so it can breathe a little.
It's also important to keep in mind that some mattress warranties make stipulations about what sort of bed base you need to use.
What About a Bunkie Board?
If you’ve been googling “bed bases,” you’ve probably come across a bunkie (or bunky) board. Typically found in bunk beds (thus the name “bunkie”) these boards are designed to work with traditional metal bed frames to provide support to the mattress. A bunkie board is a thick piece of plywood usually used to increase the firmness of box springs. Because of its solid, smooth surface, a bunkie board could be used to support your foam mattress, but may not be as good of an option as something more solid which allows better airflow, like a bed frame with slats.
How Can Leesa Help You?
At Leesa, we're passionate about helping you on your journey to get a great night's sleep every night, and we think our foam and hybrid mattresses are the best way to get there. Since traditional spring mattresses aren't on our roster, we don't make a traditional box spring either. Instead, we have a variety of firmer bed bases that are perfect for your foam or hybrid mattress.
Whether you're shopping on a budget, looking for a showstopper, or ready to create your dream relaxation space, we've got both the mattress and base to suit your needs — and you can order conveniently through our website and have it shipped right to your door. You'll be able to sleep in style in no time.
Rest on with Leesa.
What is a box spring?
A box spring is the traditional support system for an innerspring mattress. Generally, box springs are made with a durable wooden frame that houses a set of springs covered with fabric. A box spring is often set on a metal frame of the same size. Usually, the springs in the box spring are made to align with the springs in their matching mattress. This helps with shock absorption and motion isolation, making the pair much more comfortable than an innerspring mattress alone. While a box spring is a good choice for a spring mattress, box springs are not compatible with hybrid mattresses.
Why do you need a box spring?
Box springs were created to work in tandem with innerspring mattresses to help absorb shock and reduce daily wear, prolonging the life of the mattress. If you have a traditional innerspring mattress, you may need to use a box spring. If you're looking at foam, hybrid, or latex mattresses, you won't need a box spring.
How much does a box spring cost?
While the cost of a box spring will differ depending on the size and model, a basic queen-size box spring can be found in the $100 to $200 price range. Often, mattresses and box springs are sold together.
Where to buy a box spring?
Box springs are usually sold in tandem with traditional spring mattresses. A mattress and box spring combo can often be found in big box stores and through online retailers.
What is a foundation for a bed?
A foundation is one type of base for a bed. At its core, it's made from a sturdy wooden frame and long wooden slats which run along the width of the frame to support a mattress. Bed foundations are available in a variety of designs and can be used to improve airflow and add study support to any type of mattress.