Box spring is a term that's evolved into what's more accurately referred to as a box foundation or foundation. That's because many box springs today don't use springs anymore due to better-made mattresses. Still, mattresses need box springs for support. You may be in the market for one if your box spring finally wore out, but your mattress has a lot of life left. Or maybe you've had a platform bed, but now prefer a box spring for underneath your mattress.
Our shopping guide gives you the upper hand on how to select the best box spring for your needs. Our top pick is the Zinus Sleep Master Smart Box Spring, which we like for its strength, durability, and easy assembly.
Considerations when choosing box springs
Box springs and foundations come in many different heights. A low-profile box spring ranges from four to six inches tall. A standard box spring measures around nine inches tall. The height of your box spring determines how high your entire bed will be. If you are on the shorter side, you may prefer a low-profile model. If you're on the taller side, a standard-height box spring and a high-profile mattress may be best for you to get in and out of comfortably.
Wood vs. metal
You have your choice of wood, metal, or hybrid box springs. Wood can be sturdy, but you'll pay a price for the superior stability. Over time, the wood may make creaking noises as it loses its flexibility. Metal foundations are less pricey than wood and lighter in weight when assembled. A hybrid box spring may have a metal frame with wood slats.
Standard vs. split
A standard box spring is one piece. A split box spring comes in two halves and is designed to be used with larger mattresses. The benefit of a split box spring is that it can isolate your sleep partner's movements, so you rest easier, but only if they are properly fused together so they don't shift under the mattress.
You may have a bed skirt that covers a box spring. If you don't have a bed skirt, you'll want to have an attractive cover that envelops the inner workings of the box spring. You'll find both zipped and drawstring versions. (Hint: the best way to put a cover on a box spring is to treat it like a pillowcase. In other words, don't unzip all sides at once to put it on the foundation.)
Box springs and foundations come both with and without legs. Most basic wood foundations will be legless, unless you're looking at a wood platform bed. Many, but not all, metal foundations will have legs, which raise up the mattress and give you room underneath for storage.
Some box spring models fold in half or thirds for better mobility and storage purposes. Users with small spaces or narrow staircases will prefer the ease of moving a folding box spring.
Box spring prices
From $50 to $100, you'll find basic steel, wood, and hybrid box foundations, many that are low profile, for twin-size mattresses. From $100 to $200, you'll find all types of legless, legged, steel, wood, and hybrid box springs for larger mattresses, up to king size. In this price range, you'll also find a few splits and foldable models. Over $200, you'll find hefty wood box springs in all sizes.
Q. What type of box spring do I use for a bed-in-a-box mattress?
A. A bed-in-a-box mattress is one that you order online and arrives in, yes, a box. Some bed-in-a-box mattress manufacturers suggest you don't use your mattress with a traditional box spring. Their products may not need a sturdy foundation and, instead, require a flat platform or slatted foundation. Check the specifications the manufacturer suggests. For example, manufacturers like Leesa, Casper, and Purple say that their mattresses require a firm non-springy or slatted foundation that has no give or bounce. Any of the foundations mentioned in this shopping guide would do just fine.
Q. How do I know when I need to replace a box spring?
A. Some lower-quality box springs that come with your mattress package may only last a couple of years. Top-quality box springs last for years and years. It's tradition to replace your box spring when you buy a new mattress. But you may see signs that let you know it's time to replace your box spring before that. For example, it'll creak, squeak, or sag, or the grid may bend or crack. Or it may flatten like a pancake, providing no support to your mattress.
Box springs we recommend
Best of the best: Zinus Sleep Master Smart Box Spring
Our take: A beefy metal springless frame that offers solid construction for the price.
What we like: Fabric envelope zips snugly around the finished metal frame, easy assembly, fits into bed frames like a glove.
What we dislike: Customer service gets a thumbs down, and the spring doesn't accommodate memory foam mattresses.
Best bang for your buck: Classic Brands Instant Foundation
Our take: This springless box spring is built like a tank for a great price, and it's easy to add extra slats, if you wish, for extra support.
What we like: Accommodates memory foam mattresses and zipped cover fits well. To assemble it, consider using a power screwdriver. Users report that it's quiet and creak-free over the long run.
What we dislike: Users report that the solid spruce is a hair above the quality of soft pine.
Choice 3: Classic Brands Low-Profile Foundation
Our take: An affordable springless solution that fully supports high-profile mattresses without adding extra height.
What we like: Accommodates heavy memory foam and latex mattresses, has an easy on-and-off drawstring cover that protects the foundation, and comes with a three-year warranty, all making this foundation an attractive option for users who don't want to sleep too high off the ground, even if they have a super thick mattress.
What we dislike: The wood is too soft for some users, and parts may not align when assembled.
Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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