There comes a time in every adult’s life when they face one of the biggest challenges they never saw coming: buying a new mattress.
Sound dramatic? If so, you probably haven’t checked the box on this rite of passage just yet.
Buying a mattress can be a tedious experience of gathering information you aren’t particularly interested in, testing out mattresses that all seem the same, and finally realizing that mattresses don’t automatically come standard with box springs.
At Modloft, we understand shopping for a new mattress isn’t at the top of anyone’s list of fun activities. It is, however, a necessity, and we can help you save some time by explaining to you the differences between platform beds and box spring mattress sets.
What Are Bed Bases?
All you needed was a mattress, but now you’re lost down a rabbit hole of terms that all have “-pedic” as their suffix. It has also come to your attention that you may need more than just a mattress if your current bed doesn’t have the appropriate base to support it. Who knew?
Bed bases are what raise your mattress up to a height that makes it comfortable for you to get in and out of bed. They also function as support for your mattress and help prevent your mattress from sagging.
There are several different types of bed bases.
Wooden foundations are similar to shipping pallets. These wooden boxes have slats going across that help support the weight of your mattress. They are usually wrapped in fabric that matches the mattress they are sold with, although you can purchase a wooden foundation separately.
Wooden foundations sit inside of your bed frame, and your mattress then sits atop the wooden base. Wooden foundations are sturdy, but the cloth covering often rips, and the wood can begin to creak as it ages.
If your mattress is not particularly thick or comfortable, the wooden foundation may prove to be a bad option, as they aren’t necessarily designed with comfort in mind.
Adjustable bases have been in use for decades. They were originally designed to be used in settings where individuals who have trouble getting in and out of bed could be assisted by a base that could adjust to help lift them from bed.
Adjustable base beds are now popular for at-home use to accommodate people who prefer to sleep with their legs raised or torso raised. These types of bases usually come standard with an accompanying mattress.
An adjustable base can be a great option for people who have difficulty getting comfortable or who suffer from a specific type of pain while lying in a prone position.
Bed frames are essentially the chassis of your bed. It’s what holds your mattress in place. Some bed frames can also have an attached headboard and/or footboard, but the most basic bed frame has the sole purpose of holding your mattress.
You will not need a bed frame if you use a platform bed base or an adjustable bed base. You will need a bed frame for wooden foundations and box spring bases.
To learn more about platform and box spring options, read on.
What are Box Springs?
Box springs are one of the most common types of bed bases. These types of mattress supports have been used since the advent of innerspring mattresses. Innerspring mattresses were much too heavy to be supported by a bed frame alone, and because of their design, they often sagged in the middle.
The solution was to build a base for these mattresses that could support them and prevent sagging. Box springs became the bride of the innerspring mattress, and they are still popular today.
Box springs consist of a wooden box with inner coils. These coils help absorb shock and support your mattress without creating a hard, uncomfortable surface. Box springs, like wooden foundations, are usually covered with a layer of thin cloth that matches the mattress sold with it.
Just like a wooden foundation, the cloth on a box springs foundation can rip, and the coils inside the box spring can begin to make an unpleasant sound after years of use.
What is a Platform Bed?
A platform bed is another type of bed base; however, it is the least complicated and arguably the most modern and stylistic design available.
A platform bed is a type of bed frame that uses wooden slats to support your mattress. The design of a platform bed frame is made to be able to hold even the heaviest memory foam-styled mattresses, so the use of a wooden foundation or box spring is not necessary.
With a platform bed, all you need to buy is a new mattress. Maintenance and care of a platform bed are also very simplistic. Most of the time, the wooden slats in your platform bed will last for decades. They rarely need replacement because their design allows for equal weight distribution across the slats.
Depending on your mattress, you may need to cover your platform bed’s wooden slats with a protective material to prevent the slats from picking or getting caught on the bottom of your mattress. Although this is rare, it is something to consider.
Platform Beds vs. Box Springs: Which is Better?
Box springs, though still in use in many American homes, are relatively outdated. As such, when you begin shopping for a new mattress, you may find there are much better options for mattresses that don’t require box springs.
If, however, you have an heirloom, antique bed, you may always need either a wooden foundation or box springs to accommodate a mattress, no matter what kind of mattress you buy.
We compared platform beds and box springs based on ease of use, aesthetics, comfortability, and overall value. Here’s what we found.
Ease of Use
Ideally, getting in and out of bed shouldn’t require much effort unless there is a limiting mobility factor involved. Platform beds tend to sit lower than other bed frame and base types, which can make it slightly more difficult to get out of bed, especially if you have mobility issues.
Box springs generally add at least a foot of height to your bed, which can make it easier to get in and out of bed and easier to make the bed as you won’t need to bend down as low to tuck in the sheets.
The clear winner for aesthetics is the platform bed. Mattress and box spring combinations tend to be used on older-style beds. Newer, more modern beds almost always use a platform bed design.
Platform beds have a low-profile design but are available in numerous style options, making it easy to select one for any home or room.
Box springs aren’t attractive. There’s really no way around it. Your box springs will also be visible unless you have a quilt, duvet, or bed skirt/dust ruffle that is long enough to cover them. The fabric the box springs are covered in will quickly become part of your room’s design if they are visible.
While both a platform bed and a bed with a mattress and box springs option can be comfortable, the deciding factor will really rest with your mattress selection.
If you have a box spring and select an extremely thin mattress, you’ll probably experience the feeling of coils beneath you or simply an overly soft level of firmness.
Likewise, if you opt for a low-quality mattress on your platform bed, you’ll probably be disappointed with the level of firmness and overall comfortability. The wooden slats on the platform create an incredibly sturdy surface that doesn’t give much room for flexibility.
Ultimately, you should pick a mattress that is both comfortable and certified safe.
When we discuss value, we’re not really discussing price so much as we are discussing how you can get everything you want within your budget. However, in terms of which will cost you more, a mattress and box springs combination will likely be more expensive.
A platform bed requires less in terms of pieces of furniture and support, which means even when you have to replace your mattress the next time (yes, there will be a next time), you won’t need to spend as much money.
A box spring will need to be replaced every time you replace your mattress. Your mattress manufacturer will give you specific replacement timelines, but generally, you will need to replace your mattress every 6-8 years.
The Bottom Line
A platform bed is the clear-cut better option for style and value. If you have an antique bed that you absolutely love, it may require a box spring for use.
Your mattress itself will be the biggest determining factor when considering comfortability.
Modloft offers both platform beds and mattresses that are built to last and look modern and beautiful.
Do You Need a Box Spring? What are the Benefits of Using One? | Sleep Advisor
When Should You Replace Your Mattress? | Sleep Foundation
Mattresses and Mattress Pads Flammability | CPSC.gov