Platform Bed vs. Box Spring
Two of the most popular bed foundations are the platform bed and the box spring, although they’re very different. Both bed bases elevate your bed off the floor, making it more accessible, and enhance your mattress’s comfort and support.
However, box spring beds have more limits than platform beds. Box springs only work with innerspring mattresses, while platform beds work with many types of mattresses.
Our article explains the differences between these two foundation options so you know which one you’ll need when buying a mattress.
Platform Bed vs. Box Spring: Comparison Table
|Platform Bed||Box Spring|
|Highlight||Provides support and breathability||Springs absorb shock and offer bounce|
|Average Height||6 to 18 inches||25 inches|
|Compatibility||Works with most mattress types (latex, hybrid, and memory foam mattresses)||Works with innerspring mattresses|
|Price (Queen)||$150 to $2000||$100 to $500|
What is a Platform Bed?
A platform bed is a low profile bed frame with sturdy wood or metal slats designed to support and provide more airflow to a mattress. This bed foundation is usually between 6 to 18 inches tall and has a modern look.
Platform beds are quite popular since they come in a variety of styles to match any bedroom. Some styles are just the frame, but you get platform beds with headboards and footboards for a more sophisticated look.
A platform bed typically has more storage space underneath it than a box spring. It may have drawers or open space beneath the frame.
Wooden slats are more affordable than metal slats, but they can bend, sag, or break over time. On the other hand, metal slats are more durable and designed to fit many different mattress sizes.
Both types of bed slats usually have a capacity of around 500 pounds.
Regardless of the slat material you choose, the slats on a platform bed should be no farther than 2 to 3 inches apart to be an adequately supportive foundation for your mattress. Any farther apart and your mattress can sink between the cracks and wear down.
Platform beds come in a large variety of prices depending on the quality of materials and style, ranging as low as $150 and up to $2000. Since platform beds don’t require a box spring or additional foundation to support the mattress, the prices are typically low.
Platform Bed Pros
- Available in different styles to suit various bedrooms
- No need to buy an additional foundation, saving you money
- A sturdy and durable foundation
- Typically have storage features or storage space beneath frame
Platform Bed Cons
- Those with limited mobility may have difficulty getting in and out of lower profile beds
- Some styles lack storage space
- Large and difficult to transport
- Can get expensive
What is a Box Spring?
Box springs are your traditional mattress foundation. They are 25-inch boxes made from wood or metal and wrapped in slip-resistant fabric.
Traditional box springs actually have metal springs inside of them to support a bed and add some bounce, but many newer box springs are just the wooden box—their main purpose is to just lift your bed higher.
Box springs act as a barrier between a mattress and its bed frame. They lift a mattress up higher, partially absorbing the shock a mattress receives.
Using a box spring bed significantly increases your mattress’s lifespan. Box springs last around 10 years and help your mattresses last between 7 to 10 years.
Although box springs are cheap, costing around $100 to $500 depending on the size, they are only suitable for innerspring mattresses. Using a box spring for another type of mattresses, such as memory foam and hybrid beds, can void your warranty as it’s not a viable foundation for them.
Also, since box springs aren’t aesthetically pleasing, you’ll likely want to buy an additional frame to cover it, which costs extra.
Box Spring Pros
- Makes your bed taller
- Absorbs shock from innerspring mattresses
- Better supports body weight
Box Spring Cons
- Offers little to no space for storage
- Only pairs with innerspring beds
- Can lose support and sag after several years
- Many people purchase an additional bed frame to cover box springs, which can get expensive
Are box springs obsolete?
Box springs were once essential, back when innerspring beds were the only mattress option available. Now that there are many new mattress types out there, all of which don’t use a box spring, box springs are becoming less and less common.
Innerspring beds still exist, so box springs aren’t completely obsolete yet, but they’re on their way to extinction.
Do bed slats break easily?
Individual slats can break easily, but there isn’t one slat supporting your mattress. A full set of wooden or metal slats can support a mattress for years without bending or breaking.
In case an individual slat breaks on your platform frame, you can buy individual slats to replace it, another benefit of platform beds.
Also, you can buy full sets of slats if all of your bed’s slats are bending or breaking, but you still want to keep your frame.
Do you actually need a mattress foundation?
Based on the type of mattress you have and your mattress’s warranty, most likely. Some brands require you to use a mattress foundation to keep the mattress’s warranty intact, while others allow you to use your bed on the ground.
Even if your mattress warranty OK’s floor sleeping, we don’t recommend it because the dust on the floor can trigger allergies, accessing a floor bed is difficult for some, and it can still wear down a mattress quickly.
If money is the concern, you can find a viable mattress foundation for only a couple of hundred dollars, which is worth saving up for.
Can you use a box spring on a platform bed?
Yes! Innersprings can be supported by just a platform bed alone, though they will last longer if you also use a box spring. A platform bed will also add some extra height to your bed, a feature some people prefer to make their bed easier to access.
What are other types of mattress foundations?
Some mattress foundation options beyond a platform bed or box spring include:
Mattress Foundations: Mattress foundations are similar to platform beds, only they’re simpler—they lack headboards, footboards, and storage options. They’re just a wooden box with slats, wrapped in a breathable, non-slip fabric.
Bunkie Boards: Bunkie boards are flat foundations (usually about 1 to 3 inches thick) made from wood, plywood, or particleboard. They were originally used to support bunk bed mattresses, but have become a popular choice for any mattress.
Adjustable Bases: Adjustable bases allow you to move your mattress to elevate your head and feet at any angle you choose. These foundations are a luxurious option, but come with many health benefits and can improve your sleep quality.
Choosing between a box spring or platform bed comes down to the type of mattress you have.
The only time you’ll need a box spring is if you have an innerspring mattress. It’s not suitable for other bed styles, and innerspring beds are becoming increasingly unpopular.
Conversely, platform bed frames match with nearly any other mattress type, so it’s a safe option with lots of versatile styles.