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Can You Use a Mattress Without a Box Spring? 

 April 14, 2021

By  Marc Laurance

Mattresses need a proper foundation otherwise they tend to sink, and it’s not just about the discomfort. Without a box spring or a platform bed they also lack support. And without that support, your body will be uneven when you sleep. This means you will experience aches in the morning even if you somehow managed to get a good night’s sleep.

Box springs provide the support your mattress needs to support you. But not every mattress pairs well with a box spring. Innerspring mattress are perfect for box springs while a platform bed is the best option for memory foam and hybrid mattresses.

There are a few factors to keep in mind when you are shopping for a box spring. For instance, if you have a metal rail bed frame, you’ll need a box spring. If you have an innerspring mattress or if your mattress manufacturer insists your mattress be paired with one. Wanting to elevate your bed, that’s a good reason too.

Box springs actually do not offer as much support as people are led to believe. For some they can cause back problems and lack of sleep. Thankfully, there are several alternatives. But today, let’s look at the factors that will help you determine whether box springs are for you.

Supporting Your Mattress

Box springs do a decent job of absorbing shock. This is particularly true if you have an innerspring bed. But not if you have memory foam. That’s because the latter does not have the structure of an innerspring mattress.

So, they need support from the likes of a platform bed. Box springs are as popular as they were because back in the day, they were coupled with mattresses of traditional designs that came with metal grid patterns of actual springs and were wrapped in fabric.

It is true that box springs reduce wear and tear, which means you can use the mattress for a longer period of time. If you are worried about sagging, box springs will help the mattress maintain shape too. And yes, they are slightly cheaper than the other options in the market.

But when it comes to support, they lose this quality after some usage. That means you will have to rotate them after a while which is a tiring task. If you are planning to use them on a flat floor, you will need an extra frame or foundation.

Raising Your Mattress

Box springs add some height to the bed which makes it easier for you to get on and off your bed with more ease. There are several ways to do this.

One of the commonly used techniques is to add slats to the bed. If you are using thick slats, you can increase the height by a couple of inches. They also provide great support which means they can be added to a bed frame or bought separately.

Lay down the slats on your bed frame and then add the box spring to it. Then add the mattress and you get the desired height. If you already have slats, you can replace them with thicker slats and place the box spring on top of the new ones.

You can also place the box spring on a bunkie board. This is a kind of mattress that actually provides support even though it is quite thin. They are usually used with box springs particularly to raise the height of the bed. Two-inch bunkie boards are quite easy to find online.

The process is quite simple. All you need to do is place the bunkie board at the base of the bed frame and then place the box spring on top. You can also place the box spring first and then the bunkie board. It works either way.

Improving Comfort

On this factor, box springs are often compared with platform beds. This is because both provide the same level of comfort to the bed. So, it comes down to the mattress of your choice.

As mentioned before, an innerspring mattress works better with a box spring because the coils take in your body weight and provide support to your body. So, if you have back problems, this combination can help ease some of them.

Remember that box springs do not have much breathability. So, if you have a memory foam mattress, you might want to go for a platform bed.

What you need to know about the mattress-box spring pairing is that these support systems are made of frames that are lined with coiled springs which are heavy-duty and hence excellent shock absorbers.

The traditional models have a grid foundation that comes with square coils. This is especially for shock absorption of the mattress. If you want to get box springs but without increasing the height, you can get a lower box spring model.

For the right amount of comfort, do not pair an old box spring with a new mattress or the other way round. These two pieces are supposed to work together. So, you need to work that out.

Also, remember that the box spring will have to be replaced sooner than the mattress. That’s why warranty is so important.

And finally, you also get hypoallergenic models which will keep dust mites away from the space between the mattress and the box spring. That is worth looking into for total comfort.

Back Pain Considerations

The kind of support that box springs offer depends on the type of mattress you have. That’s because this is essentially a buffer between the wooden or metal frame of the bed and the bottom of the mattress.

If you are using the mattress on a floor, box springs are placed between the mattress and the floor. Some models also come with steel springs for support and have a cloth cover. This gives your mattress the required support and it absorbs your weight and the shock from your movements.

Nowadays, that is not so much the case because foundation beds with wooden slats (unlike box springs which have, well, springs) are doing a better job of supporting the mattress. The closer the slates, the better their support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you just put a mattress on the floor?

Well, you can. But you won’t be doing yourself any favors. When you place a mattress directly on the floor, you take away its breathability. There won’t be air circulation which might lead to mold under the mattress. This is a sure-shot way of destroying your chance at a good night’s sleep.

And if you do not have a support system, your mattress will sink and lead to back problems too. However, if you choose to do this, you should place it against the wall as often as possible and air it out.

Can I put my mattress directly on the bed frame?

Ideally, you should not do this because a lot of them are for decorative purposes. Bed frames, even the ones with a couple of slats, do not have the ability to support a mattress.

Those are meant to support the foundation, not your mattress. So, it is best to get a box spring or foundation (depending on your mattress) so that your mattress does not sink or sag.

Marc Laurance


Hi, I'm Marc. I'm the staff writer for Bedzine. I have a passion for interior design, especially bedroom aesthetic - and I hope to inspire you with new bedroom ideas each week.

Marc Laurance
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