Today’s box springs aren’t the spring-filled boxes you remember from two decades ago. Mattress designs have advanced, and box spring designs followed. Modern box springs don’t have springs at all; however, these metal or wood frames with slats still create a foundation that prevents sagging in the mattress. The terms “box spring” and “foundation” are now used interchangeably, only because people have grown accustomed to saying “box springs” regardless of whether a bed foundation has springs in it or not.
While shopping, it’s important to note that the best box spring models bring height to the bed, enhance breathability, and may extend the life of your mattress with edge-to-edge support, while also being easy to assemble.
- BEST OVERALL: ZINUS 9 Inch Smart Metal Box Spring
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Zinus Jayanna 4 Inch BiFold Box Spring
- BEST STEEL: AmazonBasics Mattress Foundation/Smart Box Spring
- BEST WOODEN: ZINUS Edgar 8 Inch Wood Box Spring
- BEST EASY TO ASSEMBLE: Mainstay Half-Fold Metal Box Spring
Types of Box Springs
Box springs come in two basic types: steel and wood. Your mattress type, bed frame, and personal preferences will determine which is best for you.
Steel foundations are incredibly durable and strong. They have a metal frame with metal supports (slats), support cables, or wooden slats to provide mattress reinforcement. These strong frames prevent sagging and the development of lumps. Additionally, steel is highly durable. If you want a box spring that will outlast your mattress, steel may be the way to go.
However, steel adds weight. These box springs are heavy, making them more difficult to move and store. Some styles fold in half to help with this difficulty. Steel also has a greater potential to squeak and create a noisy bed.
All box springs used to be made from wood. The wooden frame was then filled with springs to add comfort to the stiff, hard mattresses common of that time. 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. Wood box springs include wood slats, which are often adjustable, allowing you to move the slats to different distances and add more if necessary. The slats in metal box springs are usually attached to the frame, so they aren’t adjustable. Wood also tends to be quieter than steel. However, it’s not as strong and also tends to cost more than metal models.
Features to Look for in 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 for your bed.
Steel and wood are the most common materials. Some box springs may contain plastic components, but you will not find a completely plastic box spring. Steel provides the best durability, but it’s heavy. Wood is lighter weight and easier to move. Wood models also include wood slats that are more likely to be adjustable.
When deciding on a material, consider your mattress and bed frame type. If you have a strong, heavy bed frame, it won’t have a problem supporting a steel box spring. However, lighter weight bed frames may only be able to handle a wood box spring.
The weight and type of your mattress matters, too. Memory-foam and latex mattresses often need less than 3 inches between slats. Some metal frames have over 6 inches between slats. Wood frames may allow you to add extra slats to accommodate foam and latex mattresses.
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 and only need a flat surface to support the weight and materials of the mattress. However, the bed frame and mattress may not have enough height to make getting in and out of bed comfortable. That’s where box springs come in.
When deciding on a height, you may want to consider both the bed frame and mattress height. The tallest mattresses on the market are around 18 to 20 inches tall, while the shortest may only be 4 to 6 inches tall. There’s a big range of box spring heights that will work within that span. Measure the frame and mattress height, then calculate how many more inches you need to put the bed at a comfortable height for you.
Box springs come in all of the standard mattress sizes, including twin, extra-long twin, full, queen, king, and California king. They’re designed to fit on standard bed frames, so as long as both your mattress and bed frame are modern standard sizes, the box spring should work for a mattress of the corresponding size.
Our Top Picks
These box springs stand out for their quality, ease of assembly, and effective support. Models of different heights are included for you to consider the variety of options available.
The ZINUS 9 Inch Smart Metal Box Spring adds a full 9 inches to your bed height, allowing easier entry and exit. That’s a good height for those who prefer a taller bed or if you have a thinner mattress.
From the outer frame to the support bars, the entire box spring is made of steel, with the durability to support up to 700 pounds. There are 6.7 inches of space between the metal slats. Keep in mind that some types of mattresses require less than 3 inches of space between slats. Check your mattress type to make sure this box spring will work with your mattress. While you have to assemble it, this Zinus model includes all the hardware and tools needed.
The Zinus Jayanna 4 Inch BiFold Box Spring takes absolutely no assembly and folds in half for easy moving or storage. This model adds only 4 inches of height, but that may be all you need, depending on your mattress.
It’s covered in a breathable fabric that protects your 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 ranges from 250 pounds for the twin-size box spring to 500 pounds for all other sizes. This model is affordable and simple to use; all you have to do is unfold it once you get it out of the box.
The AmazonBasics Mattress Foundation/Smart Box Spring requires no tools for assembly and adds 8 inches of extra height. A breathable cover protects your mattress from the steel frame but still allows air to circulate. The cover comes in two pieces that zip together, making it easier to remove either piece if spot cleaning is needed.
The heavy steel offers excellent stability. Assembly is super easy, taking as little as 10 minutes in some cases. There’s a 6.5-inch distance between slats, so it may not work with every mattress type. The twin size supports 250 pounds, with the larger sizes supporting close to 500 pounds.
The ZINUS Edgar 8 Inch Wood 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 memory-foam and latex mattresses that require less than 3 inches of space between slats. These slats measure 2.8 inches apart.
This Zinus model comes in a 4-inch or 8-inch height, giving you some options based on the height of your bed frame and mattress. Once assembled, it’s lightweight to move and doesn’t squeak like some metal box springs.
The Mainstay Half-Fold Metal Box Spring makes assembly a snap because essentially, there’s no assembly. It comes fully put together but folded in half. All you have to do is unfold it, lock it in place, and it’s ready to go. Don’t let the thin bars or slats deceive you. The high-gauge steel supports up to 1,200 pounds, offering a great option for heavier mattresses and people. A fabric cover protects your mattress from the steel frame of the box spring yet allows air to circulate.
FAQs About Box Springs
Box springs can make your bed more comfortable and may extend the life of your mattress. If you’ve never chosen one before, there are a few things to think about.
Q. How long should a box spring last?
Box springs last about as long as a typical mattress, anywhere from six to 10 years. You don’t necessarily need to replace the box spring every time you replace your mattress, but it may prove to be more comfortable to do so.
Q. Are wood or metal box springs better?
They each have their pros and cons. Metal box springs tend to last longer, but wood is lighter weight and easier to move. It will also depend on your budget. Wood box springs tend to be more expensive but do come in a range of price points. Metal is usually less expensive, but not all metal box springs work with all mattresses. However, if you research the necessary slat distance required for your type of mattress, you can easily select a suitable box spring.
Q. Is a good box spring important?
A good box spring may extend the life of your mattress and make it more comfortable. Box springs support the mattress to prevent sagging and the development of hills and valleys. They also add height to the mattress, so it may be 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 investment you’ve made in your mattress.