Platform Bed vs Box Spring

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platform bed vs box spring

Platform bed vs box spring

Buying a new bed can be confusing!

It seems like every year there are new types of high tech mattresses to try, new bed frame styles and materials to consider as well as endless advice from sleep experts on the platform bed vs box spring bed debate.

After years of working closely with customers to design and build their custom dream bed, we’ve learned that achieving a good night’s sleep comes from not only the right combination of bed frame, mattress and bedding, but from having the proper mattress foundation to support both the bed and the sleepers. Let’s dig into the issues your should be paying attention to when deciding between box spring vs slats.

First, the basics:

Why do I need a mattress foundation?

Mattress foundations: a sturdy base for great sleep

We’ve learned from experience that whether you have an old or new mattress a hidden cause of a bad sleep is often a mattress foundation that does not provide proper support to the mattress. With both platform beds and box springs, poorly constructed bed bases can hurt your sleep in a number of ways:

    • Do you have lumps, hot spots or saggy places in your mattress? Without a strong bed base even the best mattress can be uncomfortable.

    • Does your bed squeak every time you shift your body weight or change your sleeping position? A more supportive bed base can fix this issue.

    • Does your mattress “sleep hot?” This may be a result of poor bed base ventilation rather than the mattress itself.

    • Allergies? Without a well designed mattress foundation that includes correct air circulation a bed may accumulate allergens such as dust mites, mildew or even bed bugs.

    • A poor base may void a new mattress manufacturer’s warranty. Who can sleep thinking about that?

    • And don’t forget to flip your mattress on a regular basis!

The basics of bed foundations: box spring vs slats

platform bed vs box spring

What is a box spring?

A box spring is a traditional mattress foundation. A box spring is comprised of a wooden box, sometimes with metal coils inside, covered with breathable fabric. Decades ago when mattresses were made from feathers, wool or straw, they had little or no rigidity, so traditional box springs were needed to give structural integrity and spring and or bounce to the bed frame. Today box springs are most often used with an innerspring mattress.

Modern mattresses are made from much better materials and so now box springs do a lot less work. Innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses and other high tech types don’t need help from a traditional box spring other than providing proper support, good ventilation and adding to the style of the bed. In fact box springs are often simply a wooden box covered with breathable fabric that provides the support needed by the mattress – many do not have springs of any type.

What kind of bed frame do you use with box springs?

A box spring and mattress require a bed frame designed specifically for this setup. These type of bed frames, typically referred to as “box spring beds” have space for both the box springs and the mattress whereas a platform Bed is designed for only a single mattress. Box spring beds can be made in all types of styles from beds with simple headboards to more elaborate canopy beds, four poster beds, pencil post beds and other traditional bed frames. Your grandmothers feather bed is probably a high bed frame with a box spring base!

bed with box spring and mattress
Walnut bed with box spring and matterss

What is a platform bed?

platform bed vs. box spring
Platform bed with mattress - no box spring required

A platform bed uses wood slats instead of box springs

A platform bed is a bed that does not require a box spring. Most often made with a wooden frame, solid platform beds have a built in foundation made from wooden slats to provide a strong, flat surface support for a mattress. Platform Beds are growing in popularity because they eliminate the need to purchase a box spring, take up less space in the bedroom and provide more under-the-bed storage space.

Platform bed ventilation

The wooden slats of Platform Beds provide both a bed base and proper airflow in and around the mattress. Good airflow keeps a mattress from “sleeping hot” by allowing heat to escape the bottom and sides of the mattress. Proper ventilation also ensures the whole bed stays fresh and free of mold, mildew and bugs in hot and humid places.

To ensure the best ventilation, when choosing a platform bed be sure to pick a bed that uses wood slats rather than a solid surface such as a piece of plywood as a mattress foundation.

What mattress is best for platform beds?

Platform Beds are very versatile and can be used with all modern types of mattresses including memory foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses, hybrid mattresses as well as Japanese Futons and Tatami Mats.

platform bed with memory foam mattress
Platform bed with memory foam mattress
platform bed with tatami mat
Low platfomr bed with Tatami mat

Why do people not use box springs anymore?

Platform beds work so well that many experts, including the folks over at Popular Mechanics, find themselves asking “Who needs a Box Spring when you can opt for a simpler platform?”

With modern mattress technology and the built in foundation provided by platform beds, box springs are simply no longer needed. Bed frame designers can use this extra space to add to the style and function of the overall bed frame, such as adding storage drawers underneath the bed.

modern storage bed
4 drawer storage bed with platfom wood slat base

Storage Beds re-use wasted space

Storage beds are a type of Platform Bed that feature drawers or other types of storage underneath the bed in the space that would be consumed by box springs in a traditional bed frame. Storage beds add highly efficient storage drawers and bedroom organization to a formerly wasted space.

Low profile bed frame pros and cons

Low profile bed frames are a type of Platform Bed that is low to the ground while still keeping the mattress up off the floor. Very popular with Mid Century Modern, Minimalist and Asian-inspired design trends, low profile beds give you all the benefits of a Platform Bed but are lower to the ground.

    • Low profile beds are a much better choice vs. putting your mattress on the floor as they keep dirt and dust away from the bed surface and improve healthy airflow to both the bed and sleepers.
    • Low Platform Beds are very popular with parents of small children as the sleeping surface is low to the ground and is a low risk for a child learning to sleep in a “big person bed.”
    • The primary downside to the a low Platform Bed is that the sleeping surface is low to the ground and difficult for some people to get in and out of. If you prefer a more standard finished bed height of 20 to 25 inches, please consider a standard height platform bed.
low platform bed with herringbone headboard
Low platform bed

Can I use a platform instead of a box spring?

Yes! The wooden slats of a platform bed replace box springs.

Do I need a box spring with a platform bed frame?

No you do not need a Box Spring when using a platform bed as this type of bed frame eliminates the need for a box spring.

Can I put a box spring on a platform bed?

Yes, a box spring can be used on a platform bed, but is likely not not necessary. Read our Blog all about this topic here.

Does a box spring or platform bed give you a more comfortable night’s sleep?

Sleeping choices are very personal and both a platform bed and a traditional box spring can deliver a great night’s sleep. Here are our recommendations for choosing the best bed foundation.

A great nights sleep starts your with your mattress, even if it is not brand new

Your mattress manufacturer may have specific recommendations for your bed type to ensure maximum comfort and to satisfy warranty conditions. Many memory foam mattresses are designed to be used only on the solid base of a platform bed. On the other hand, innerspring mattresses, latex mattresses and other hybrid types can be used on all types of bed foundations.

4 poster box spring bed
4 poster bed with box spring and mattress

Bed height impacts comfort

Finding the optimal bed height can be one of the most important – and overlooked – aspects of setting up a comfortable bed. While many experts say that a finished bed height of between 20 and 30 inches from the floor is ideal, this is an entirely personal preference and of course depends on how tall you are!

When determining your bed frame height keep in mind that too low and it may be difficult for some people to get in and out of bed. Too high might be hard to climb up and step down. Make sure to consider what it will feel like to get in and out of your bed in the middle of the night.

Traditional bed frames almost always use a box spring and as a result have a higher finished bed surface. Platform beds vary in height depending on their design and because they do not use a box spring have more flexibility for custom height adjustments.

More style = better sleep!

How you feel about your bed, bed frame and overall bedroom décor DOES make a difference! Being in harmony with the look and feel of your sleeping situation can bring a sense of calm at the end of the day that leads to peaceful, comfortable sleep. Wherever you end up in the platform bed vs box spring debate, many customers report that solid wood beds give them a sense of grounding that leads to a better nights sleep.

walnut 4 poster bed
4 poster bed with platform base

Still wondering about platform bed vs box spring?

The best bed frame is the one YOU love. Whether its a platform bed or box spring bed what matters the that the style and function meet your needs. Once you decide the style of bed frame you like the most, we suggest you take your time trying different mattress types back to back on the same day. Find a showroom where you can try both and innerspring mattress memory foam mattress on a box spring and platform bed frame. You may be surprised what you like best!

Is a platform or box spring better?

At Solid Custom Heirlooms we think your bed choice should come down to what is best for your needs. We are all about custom beds of all types! Our goal is to offer a wide variety of bed bases that work will with all mattress types from a spring mattress to a foam mattress and everything in-between. If you don’t see what you are looking for, or want to talk more about achieving a specific look or type of bed, please contact us and we would love to help you create your dream bed and get a good night’s sleep.