Today’s box springs aren’t the literal spring-filled boxes you may remember from two decades ago. Mattress designs have advanced, and the best box spring designs have followed. In fact, modern box springs don’t have springs at all. But these metal or wood frames with slats still create a foundation that prevents your mattress from sagging.
While shopping, it’s important to note that the best box spring adds height to the bed, allows for breathability, and may extend the life of your mattress with edge-to-edge support. Many also offer easy assembly.
- BEST OVERALL: ZINUS 9 Inch Smart Metal Box Spring
- BEST BUDGET: Amazon Basics Mattress Foundation / Smart Box Spring
- UPGRADE PICK: Continental Sleep Wood Traditional Boxspring
- BEST FOLDING: ZINUS No Assembly Metal Box Spring
- BEST EASY ASSEMBLY: Zinus Edgar 8 Inch Wood Box Spring
- BEST LOW PROFILE: ZINUS Quick Lock Metal Box Spring
- BEST UPHOLSTERED: Tuft & Needle Mattress Box Foundation Box Spring
Types of Box Springs
Box springs come in two basic types: steel and wood. To determine which is the best choice, factors like mattress type, bed frame, and personal preferences make the most difference.
Steel foundations, sometimes called metal box springs, are incredibly durable and strong. They have a metal frame with metal supports (slats), support cables, or wooden slats to provide mattress reinforcement. The slats in metal box springs are usually attached to the frame, so they aren’t adjustable. These strong frames prevent sagging and the development of lumps.
A steel box spring may possibly outlast the mattress. However, the metal adds weight. These heavy box springs are difficult to move and store. Some styles fold in half in a split box spring design to help with this issue. Steel also has a greater potential to squeak and make noise.
All box springs used to be made from wood. The springs added some give to the stiff, hard mattresses that used to be common. Today’s mattresses are incredibly comfortable on their own, but they do need a solid foundation to prevent sagging.
Wood is lighter than steel, making it easier to move and store. Wooden box springs include wood slats, which are often adjustable, so the slats can move to different distances and more can be added if necessary. Wood tends to be quieter than steel, though it’s not as strong and typically costs more than metal models.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Box Spring
Box springs are fairly simple in design. However, there are a few features to keep in mind when searching for the right model.
Box springs come in all the standard mattress sizes, including twin, extra-long twin, full, queen, king, and California king. As long as both the mattress and bed frame are modern standard sizes, the box spring should work for a mattress of the corresponding size.
Box springs range in height from around 4 inches to 9 inches. For many people, added height is one of the main reasons to purchase a box spring. Most new mattresses do not require a traditional box spring to make them more comfortable. However, the bed frame and mattress may not have enough height to make getting in and out of bed easy. That’s where box spring comes in.
When deciding on a height, consider both the bed frame and mattress height. The thickest mattresses on the market are around 18 to 20 inches thick, while the thinnest may be 4 to 6 inches.
There’s a wide range of box spring heights that will work within that span. Measure the frame height and mattress thickness, then calculate how many more inches it would take to put the bed at a comfortable height. For a thick mattress, a low-profile box spring that’s only 4 or 5 inches high may be all that’s needed.
Steel and wood are the most common materials found in box springs. Some models may contain plastic components, but there are no completely plastic box springs. Steel is durable but heavy, whereas wood is lighter and easier to move. Wood models also include wood slats that tend to be adjustable.
When deciding on a material, consider the mattress and bed-frame type. A strong, heavy bed frame can support a steel box spring. Lighter-weight bed frames, on the other hand, may only be able to handle a wooden box spring.
The weight and type of the mattress matters, too. Latex and memory foam mattresses often need less than 3 inches between slats. Some metal frames have more than 6 inches between slats. Wood frames may allow for adding extra support slats to accommodate foam and latex mattresses.
- Upholstered box springs: Upholstered box springs are covered with fabric rather than having an open metal or wood frame. In some cases, upholstery eliminates the need for a bed skirt. Alternatively, users can add a box spring cover over traditional box springs instead of a bed skirt or upholstered box spring.
- Box spring with legs: These box springs can replace a platform bed or traditional bed frame. They lift the box spring and mattress off the ground and eliminate the need for a full frame.
- Split frames: Split frames come apart down the middle, making the box spring easier to move or store. They still provide the support needed to keep mattresses from sagging down the middle.
- Folding box springs: Folding models do just what the name implies. They fold down the middle, which makes them easy to move and store. They also work well with foldable mattresses.
- Hardware and assembly: Some box springs require no extra hardware. Models that do require hardware often include all the necessary pieces and tools. Most models require assembly, so set aside a little time to put the box spring together.
Our Top Picks
These box springs, in a variety of heights, stand out for their quality, ease of assembly, and effective support.
This Zinus box spring adds a full 9 inches to the bed’s height, allowing for easier entry and exit. That’s a good height for those who prefer a taller bed or have a thinner mattress. From the outer frame to the support bars, the entire box spring is made of steel and supports up to 700 pounds.
With 6.7 inches of space between the metal slats, it might not work with all mattress types. Some require less than 3 inches of space between slats. Check the mattress type to make sure this box spring will work. While it requires assembly, this Zinus model comes with all the hardware and tools needed.
- Supports up to 700 pounds
- Solid steel construction
- May not suit all mattress types
- Requires assembly
The Amazon Basics mattress foundation requires no tools for assembly and adds 8 inches of extra height. A breathable cover protects the mattress from the steel frame but still allows air to circulate. The cover comes in two pieces that zip together, which makes it easier to remove either piece for spot cleaning.
Assembly may take as little as 10 minutes, and the heavy steel offers excellent stability. The queen size supports close to 500 pounds. Note that the 6.5-inch distance between slats may not provide enough support for every mattress type.
- Breathable cover allows air circulation
- Easily unzipped for cleaning
- Easy to assemble
- Spacing between slats is quite wide
- May not fit all standard frames
This 4-inch Continental Sleep box spring offers a lightweight but durable traditional wood frame. It arrives fully assembled and ready for use.
Note that the box spring’s slats are 6 inches apart—a configuration that may not work for all mattresses. The fabric cover doesn’t allow for adding more slats.
- No assembly required
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Traditional wood frame
- Additional slats cannot be added
Zinus’ Jayanna bifold box spring requires absolutely no assembly and folds in half for easy moving or storage. This model adds only 4 inches of height, but that’s all some mattresses need. A breathable fabric cover protects the mattress from the steel frame yet allows air to move freely, which may prevent overheating.
The 2.8-inch slat distance works with most mattress types, and the maximum weight capacity is 500 pounds. Affordable and simple to use, this box spring comes ready to unfold and place on a bed.
- Folds completely in half
- Height is ideal for older users
- Can reduce mattress squeaking
- Only 4 inches thick
- Quite heavy
The Zinus Edgar box spring has a fully wooden structure and includes all necessary hardware and tools for assembly. The thick wood slats support heavier mattresses as well as latex and memory foam mattresses that require less than 3 inches of space between slats. These slats measure 2.8 inches apart. Once assembled, it’s lightweight and doesn’t squeak like some metal box springs.
- Supports heavy mattresses
- All assembly tools and parts included
- Can fit multiple mattress types
- May start to sag over time
This Zinus model’s low 4-inch height works with mattresses of different heights. It arrives with all the necessary tools and hardware for assembly, and the snap-and-lock system keeps it fast and easy.
This durable steel frame holds up to 700 pounds. Once assembled, the box spring requires a bed frame for support. The included cover protects mattress covers and sheets from any hard corners.
- Snap and lock system for quick assembly
- Sturdy and prevents sagging
- Metal parts reduce squeaking
- Requires bed frame for support
Tuft & Needle’s mattress foundation has a woven cover in stone grey that doesn’t necessarily need a bed skirt. Wooden side rails, slats, and a middle panel keep this box spring relatively lightweight. Wood construction also reduces noise when sleeping.
The box spring adds 7.25 inches of height and supports up to 500 pounds. It arrives with all of the tools and hardware needed for assembly.
- Clean modern look
- Padded edges for added comfort
- Long-lasting fabric cover
For a budget-friendly box spring that supports very hefty weight, consider the ZINUS 9 Inch Smart Metal Box Spring, which assembles easily. If traditional wooden box springs are more your cup of tea, the Continental Sleep Wood Traditional Boxspring can provide a sturdy base, and shoppers can also choose between two different thicknesses to suit their needs.
How We Chose the Best Box Springs
While gathering our top picks in this list of recommendations, we looked at box springs that supported mattresses properly and lifted beds to comfortable heights. In our research we came across lightweight wood and durable steel models that accommodate different preferences and bedroom setups, so we made sure to provide ample coverage of these options for shoppers. Some models arrive fully assembled, and others require a little work on the user’s part to get the box spring ready to go. We included several lightweight options that can be easily moved around when required, and all of our top picks listed here arrive well-packaged to make assembly and maneuvering as pain-free as possible. Rest assured, there’s a model in the appropriate material and height to make the bed just right for a great night’s sleep.
The best box spring can make a bed more comfortable and also may extend the life of the mattress. Read on for answers to people’s most common questions about box springs.
Q. How long should a box spring last?
Box springs last about as long as a typical mattress—anywhere from 6 to 10 years. They don’t necessarily need replacing every time the mattress changes, but the bed may be more comfortable with a new box spring.
Q. Which is better: a wood or metal box spring?
They each have their pros and cons. Metal box springs tend to last longer, but wood is lighter weight and easier to move. It also depends on the available budget. Wood box springs come in a range of prices, but they tend to be more expensive than metal models.
Metal box springs, while often cheaper, don’t work with all mattresses. However, if the necessary slat distance required for a particular type of mattress is available, it should work just fine.
Q. Is a good box spring important?
A good box spring may extend the life of the mattress and make it more comfortable. Box springs support the mattress, which prevents sagging and the development of hills and valleys. They also add height to the mattress, which can make it easier to get in and out of bed. Finally, they promote airflow, which may prevent overheating.
Some mattress manufacturers require a specific type of foundation or box spring to maintain the warranty of the mattress. That means that a good box spring may also protect the user’s investment in the mattress.
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Stacey L. Nash is a freelance writer who covers home products, home design and decor, and general home improvement. She has a degree in Communication from the University of Puget Sound and enjoys an active (sometimes crazy) life with her husband and four children on 12 heavily wooded acres in the Pacific Northwest.