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Types of Box Springs: Choosing the Perfect Bed Base for Your Mattress

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 7 minutes

When it comes to selecting the right bed base for your mattress, there are several factors to consider. The type of box spring you choose can significantly impact your sleep comfort, mattress support, and overall longevity. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of box springs available in the market and their sizes and provide you with six simple steps to help you choose the perfect bed base for your needs.

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring, also known as a mattress foundation or bed base, is a crucial component of your sleep system. It acts as a barrier between your mattress and the bed frame, providing support and extending the lifespan of your mattress. A typical box spring consists of a wooden frame or metal container containing coils, all encased in a breathable fabric. While box springs were commonly used in the past, newer mattress materials like latex and foam are more compatible with foundations. However, a box spring can still be ideal if you have an antique bed or innerspring mattress.

Pros of Box Springs

Box springs offer several advantages in supporting a mattress and enhancing your sleep experience:

  1. Good airflow: Box springs allow for better air circulation, which can help regulate the temperature of your mattress.
  2. Lightweight and easy to transport: Unlike other bed bases, box springs are lightweight and easy to move around.
  3. Provides support and shock absorption: The coils inside a box spring offer support and absorb shocks, reducing the impact on your mattress.
  4. Suitable for innerspring mattresses: Box springs are designed to work well with innerspring mattresses, providing an optimal level of support.
  5. Adds bounce and give: The coils in a box spring add a slight bounce and give to your mattress, enhancing its comfort.

Cons of Box Springs

While box springs offer various advantages, there are also some drawbacks and considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Incompatible with latex or memory foam mattresses: Memory foam and latex mattresses require a more supportive foundation, and using a box spring can cause them to break down or get damaged over time.
  2. Coils can lose support or break: With continuous use, the coils inside a box spring can lose their supportiveness or even break, compromising the overall durability of the bed base.
  3. May start to sag: Over time, a box spring can start to sag, leading to an uneven sleep surface and potential discomfort.
  4. Can increase the cost of your bed: Box springs are an additional expense when purchasing a bed, potentially increasing the overall cost.

Types of Box Springs

Box springs come in various types, offering different heights and internal materials. Let’s take a closer look at each type:

Ultra-Low Profile/Bunkie Boards

If you prefer to avoid increasing the height of your bed, an ultra-low profile box spring, also known as a bunkie board, is a perfect choice. These box springs are only 2 inches high, making them suitable for platform beds or when used on top of another box spring to provide a thin support layer. They are available in all mattress sizes and are particularly beneficial if you have a thicker mattress or want to maintain a low bed height.

  • Average height: 2 inches
  • Best for: People with thicker mattresses or who prefer a low bed height

Low Profile

A low-profile box spring typically measures around 4.5 to 5.5 inches in height, approximately half the height of a standard box spring. Despite the reduced height, low-profile box springs offer similar support to their standard counterparts. They are an excellent choice if you want to add some height to your bed without making it too tall.

  • Average height: 4.5-5.5 inches
  • Best for: Individuals with thicker mattresses.


A standard box spring typically has a height of approximately 8.5 to 9 inches, making it the most popular option for those seeking to increase both the elevation and support of their mattress. With its average height, a standard box spring can enhance your bed’s overall appearance while providing the foundation for a comfortable sleep.

  • Average height: 8.5-9 inches
  • Best for: People who want to add some height to their mattress.


Traditional box springs have metal coils inside, offering bounce and give under the mattress. These box springs are most compatible with traditional innerspring mattresses but are not recommended for memory foam or latex mattresses. The newer mattress materials require a more supportive foundation to prevent damage and ensure their longevity.

  • Best for Those who have an innerspring mattress.


Zero-deflection box springs, often called foundations, feature supportive wooden slats instead of metal springs. These durable box springs work exceptionally well with modern mattresses like memory foam and latex. When you have a latex mattress or memory foam, a zero-deflection box spring can provide the necessary support for a comfortable sleep.

  • Best for: People who have a used memory foam mattress or latex mattress.


Semi-flex box springs feature wooden bases equipped with slats and additional metal wires positioned above the slats to enhance flexibility and provide added support. These box springs are usually compatible with all mattress types and offer higher flexibility and support. However, it’s important to note that semi-flex box springs are often more expensive than other types.

  • Best for Individuals with a memory foam or latex mattress seeking enhanced flexibility and support.


As the name suggests, split box springs consist of two halves that, when joined, match the size of your mattress. They are primarily designed for queen- or king-sized beds, allowing for easier transportation through narrow hallways or tight corners. However, it’s crucial to ensure that your bed frame can accommodate a split box spring and provide adequate support in the middle.

  • Best for: People with queen- or king-sized mattresses who need easy transportation.

How to Choose a Box Spring

Choosing the perfect box spring for your mattress involves several key considerations. By following these six simple steps, you can make an informed decision:

Use a Box Spring Size Chart

To ensure the correct fit, refer to a box spring size chart that matches the dimensions of your mattress. Different brands of foam mattresses may have slight variations in their sizing, so it’s always a good idea to measure your mattress yourself if you’re unsure. Here are the standard dimensions for each mattress size:

Mattress SizeDimensions (inches) Dimensions (cm)
Twin38 x 7596.5 x 190.5
Twin XL38 x 8096.5 x 203
Full53 x 75134.5 x 190.5
Queen60 x 80152.5 x 203
King76 x 80193 x 203
California King72 x 84https://chat.openai.com/c/1965645a-3c7a-4be1-b611-7e869a63b099#:~:text=72%20x%2084-,183%20x%20213,-Is%20this%20conversation

Decide on a Bed Height

Consider your desired bed height when choosing a box spring. If your mattress is already tall, or if you prefer its current height, a low-profile box spring (around 5 inches) would be suitable. On the other hand, if you don’t mind a taller bed, opt for a standard box spring (around 9 inches). Remember, the height of your bed should not affect the level of support provided by the box spring.

Check the Weight Capacity

Ensure that the box spring you choose can adequately support the weight of your mattress and the sleepers. Consider the firmness of your mattress and the weight of the people who will be using it. Selecting a quality box spring with a weight capacity that meets your requirements is important to ensure optimal support and longevity.

Consider Materials

Box springs are made of wood or metal boxes, covered in breathable and skid-resistant fabric. They often include a dust barrier on the bottom to protect your mattress. Various materials are available, including hypoallergenic fabrics for those with allergies or organic options for eco-conscious individuals. Some box springs even feature additional back support for added comfort.

Think About Your Mattress Type

Your mattress type is crucial in determining whether you need a coil box spring or an alternative bed base. Box springs were designed initially for innerspring mattresses. A box spring would be an ideal choice if you have an innerspring mattress. However, using a coil box spring could lead to premature wear and tear if you own a memory foam or latex mattress. In such cases, opting for a more supportive foundation or a platform bed is best.

Additional Information

Before making a final decision on a new mattress, it’s recommended to consult your mattress warranty to ensure compatibility with specific bed bases.

Box Spring vs. Alternatives

While box springs are a popular option, several alternatives can suit your mattress setup. Let’s explore some of these alternatives and their features:

Box Spring vs. Mattress on the Floor

Most brands do not recommend placing your mattress directly on the floor, as mattresses are designed to sit on top of bed frames or bed bases. However, you can place a box spring on the floor with the mattress on top to protect it. Some people opt for bunk beds with this setup to save space in smaller rooms.

Box Spring vs. Adjustable Bed

An adjustable bed frame is similar to a box spring in terms of its positioning beneath the mattress. The key difference is that adjustable bed frames offer customizable features, allowing you to adjust the head and foot of the bed. However, it’s important to note that you will need a special mattress designed for use with an adjustable bed frame.

Box Spring vs. Foundation

While box springs and foundations are often confused, they are not the same. Foundations consist of wooden slats instead of coils and can support more weight than traditional box springs. Foundations are compatible with most mattress types, making them a versatile choice.

Box Spring vs. Platform Bed

A platform bed is a bed frame that eliminates the need for a box spring. It is specifically designed to support the mattress on its own. A platform bed might be the right choice if you’re looking for a simple and modern mattress base option.

Considering these alternatives, you can determine the best bed base for your specific needs and preferences.


Do I need a box spring with a platform bed?

No, a box spring is not necessary for a platform bed. Platform beds are specifically designed to provide direct support to the mattress. A box spring is not required for these bed frames.

What’s the difference between a low-profile box spring and a traditional box spring?

The primary difference is the height. Low-profile box springs are shorter in stature, making your bed closer to the ground, while traditional box springs are taller. The level of support they provide is similar.

Can I use a bunkie board with any bed frame?

Bunkie boards are versatile and can be used with various bed frames, including bunk beds, daybeds, and frames with slats. They offer reliable mattress support without the need for a full box spring.

How do I choose the right box spring for my mattress?

To choose the right box spring, consider your mattress type, bed frame, and personal preferences for bed height. Assess whether you need extra support or special features like an adjustable base.

What is the purpose of an adjustable base?

An adjustable base enables you to change the positioning of your mattress, providing enhanced comfort. It’s especially beneficial for individuals with health issues or those who prefer reading or watching TV in bed.

Can I use a split box spring with any mattress?

A split box spring is compatible with most mattresses. It’s a practical choice when you need a box spring but have limited space to maneuver it into your bedroom.


Choosing the right box spring ensures optimal support, comfort, and longevity for your mattress. You can make an informed decision by understanding the different types of box springs available and considering factors such as size, height, weight capacity, materials, and mattress type. Additionally, exploring alternative bed-based options can give you even more flexibility and customization. Remember to consult your mattress warranty and choose a reputable brand to ensure compatibility and quality. With the perfect bed base, you can enjoy restful nights and wake up feeling refreshed.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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