Your bed is not only a focal point in your bedroom, but in your life as well. It plays a big role in determining your quality of life by way of your quality of sleep each night. With that said, choosing the best type of bed to suit your sleep needs is not something to take lightly.
Choosing the best bed base is just as important as selecting the perfect mattress. Your choice of a bed base can either have you starting off your day feeling rested and energized, or like you’re waking up on the wrong side of the bed every morning.
So what are your options, you ask? Platform beds or box springs. Although both work well to support your mattress, they are each very different. Several factors are important to consider when comparing the two, as both have their pros and cons. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference when deciding which one is right for you.
What is a platform bed?
Platform beds have become more popular along with the rise of memory foam and hybrid mattresses. Platform beds are bed frames with built-in support, like a solid surface or slats made of different materials. They support your mattress without needing additional support, like from a box spring, and your mattress can be placed directly on top of the platform.
Platform beds are compatible with most mattress types, giving you a wider selection of mattress options to choose from. They are built to last and able to support even the heaviest foam mattresses. They generally have a lower profile, giving them a more modern look and feel.
The level of support a platform bed offers depends on how it’s built. For instance, one with a solid foundation provides firmer support to your mattress with little to no give. On the other hand, one with wooden slats will have more or less give, depending on how far apart the slats are spaced. Slats spaced closer together will be firmer than those spaced further apart.
Platform bed advantages
Built to last. Platform beds are heavy duty and designed to handle a lot of weight from mattresses and sleepers alike, lasting for decades and requiring less replacements over time. When it comes to memory foam, latex, or hybrid mattresses, platform beds are the ideal bed base as they can handle the heavier weight of modern mattresses that are designed to be steady and shock-absorbent on their own with no box spring needed.
Variety of choices. As mentioned, platform beds offer varying levels of support and are compatible with most mattresses. They offer different constructions to choose from—such as a solid surface, or wooden or metal slats like the Zinus platform beds pictured above. Depending on your preferred mattress type, and whether you prefer a firmer or softer sleeping surface, you can choose which kind of platform bed works best for you.
Pro tip: Even if choosing a platform bed with a firmer support, you can always add a mattress topper to help soften the overall feel of your bed.
Modern and versatile. Less traditional than their box spring counterparts, platform beds come in an assortment of designs that make it easy to match your bedroom décor perfectly. You can choose from a range of styles that best suit your desired look, as well as from various materials and finishes like wood, metal, upholstery, and more.Platform beds tend to be popular for their lower profile options, giving them a sleek and modern look. The typical height of platform beds ranges between 5–12 inches tall, giving you a variety of heights to choose from. Some offer underbed storage space while others even come with integrated storage drawers to help achieve a clutter-free minimalist bedroom aesthetic. Because the need for an additional bed base is eliminated, so is any look and feeling of bulkiness.
Platform bed disadvantages
Heavier and harder to move. Due to their sturdy construction, platform beds can be heavy and thus harder to move around, especially compared to lighter box springs. This is something worth considering if you are someone who either moves often or likes to rearrange furniture to refresh your interior look from time to time.
What is a box spring?
Unlike a platform bed, a box spring is not a bed frame but rather a bed base designed to go on top of a bed frame and under your mattress. They can also be used on their own without a bed frame—as in placing it directly on the floor or using a standing box spring. Box springs provide both support and elevation to your mattress, often making your bed look and feel taller.
Box springs are typically comprised of an upholstered wooden frame with a network of flexible steel coils that provide a slightly ‘springy’ support for your mattress and particularly suited for traditional spring mattresses. For heavier modern mattresses like hybrids or memory foam, more supportive metal box springs are a better choice. They feature strong metal frameworks upholstered in breathable fabric, offer robust support without the need for coils, and are able to handle the greater weight of these mattresses more effectively.
Box spring advantages
Durable build. Box springs are built to last for as long as a decade. Of course, factors like how often it’s used and how well it’s cared for will determine its longevity. They are the best bed bases to support spring mattresses, as they’re built to absorb shock and body weight while also preventing sagging—helping to extend the lifetime of your mattress. Especially when combined with a metal bed frame, a box spring will provide optimal support for most traditional spring mattresses.
As the majority of mattresses make the shift towards modern, bed bases are also now being designed with more durability and less flexibility in order to support this type of mattress construction. For instance, other types of box springs, like the above-mentioned metal box spring, are sturdy enough to support heavier mattresses like foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses.
Elevated look and feel. As box springs are designed to support your mattress from underneath, they give it some added height and make your whole bed appear taller overall. Typically, the standard height of a bed with a box spring and accompanying bed frame is around 25 inches tall. So if a higher bed that looks and feels bigger is what you are going for, then a box spring is the move for you. This also makes getting in and out of bed easier for those with mobility issues.
Box springs disadvantages
Limited mattress options. As mentioned, traditional coil box springs usually make the best complement to spring mattresses and vice versa, due to the lighter weight of spring mattresses. Most box springs are not ideal for heavier more modern mattress types that can weigh down the coils in a box spring and cause them strain and damage. So, your selection of mattresses to pair with traditional coil boxes spring are much more limited.
However, there are a selection of more modern coil-free box springs that can pair reliably with their modern mattress counterparts, such as low-deflection or metal box springs. Made without wire coils like in traditional box springs, these types of box springs can withstand the heavier weight of mattresses and sleepers alike.
Pro tip: Be sure to research your mattress type before pairing it with a box spring, as many bed-in-a-box brands will void the warranty of their mattresses if it’s used with a box .
Limited design, bulky look. Having a bigger bed may be more appealing to some than others. Box springs are an additional foundation made to go under your mattress, which can make your bed look and feel bigger and bulkier. They also have a rather simple design that fits a traditional aesthetic, but not much else. With more interior styles trending towards modern and minimalist these days, box springs can be considered dated and limited in their design.
Pro tip: If you prefer a box spring but don’t want your bed to look and feel bulk, consider choosing a low profile box spring like our Quick Lock® Metal Box Spring.
Platform Beds vs. Box Springs: Which is better for you?
At the end of the day, choosing between a platform bed and a box spring comes down to a matter of preference. Several factors will play into deciding what the best choice is for you. Below is a breakdown of how the two compare within each department.
Mattress choice. Which bed base is optimal for you will depend largely on the mattress you place on top. If it’s a spring mattress, you should consider a box spring. If choosing a foam, latex, or hybrid mattress, a platform bed is your better bet.
Durability and longevity. With proper care, a platform bed frame is durable enough to last for decades, so you likely won’t need to replace it with each new mattress. A box spring will provide optimal support and keep your mattress in good condition for as long as possible, usually needing to be replaced every 5–10 years, around the same time you buy a new mattress.
Look and feel. If sleek and modern is your vibe, a platform bed is the way to go. Because it’s a bed frame and bed base in one, it will look less bulky in your room. By contrast, a box spring is a better choice if a taller, bigger, and more inviting bed is what you’re going for, as it gives your bed several inches of added height. As far as feeling goes, platform beds generally give you a firmer sleeping surface compared to the more responsive “springy” feel you get from box springs.
Cost. Of course, cost is always an important consideration when choosing between two options. While platform beds tend to have higher upfront cost, keep in mind they are long lasting and can typically uphold for decades without needing replacement. On the other hand, box springs are generally inexpensive, but they wear more easily over time and need to be replaced more often. Also, when pairing a box spring with a bed frame or other foundation, these items are usually sold separately.