Bed Slats vs Box Spring: Which Should You Use? (2023)

No matter how comfortable a mattress is, it will not support you correctly if placed on the wrong foundation. If sagging and indentations develop, you may be forced to rest in uncomfortable sleep positions, causing pressure and tension to build up in the muscles, leaving you sore and stiff in the morning.

To get the best sleep possible, it is important to use the right foundation for your mattress. However, determining whether you need slats or a box spring is often difficult. To help, we outline the differences between these two types of foundations. Plus, we cover the pros and cons of each so you can decide which is right for you.

Bed slats are long planks typically made of solid wood or metal. Slats sit inside a mattress foundation or bed frame and are typically spaced 2 to 2.75 inches apart to support the mattress. They’re designed to keep body weight evenly distributed and prevent sinking.

Some bed frames have slats connected to one another, similar to a ladder. This style is often wrapped in fabric to keep slats together and prevent slipping. Other types of slats are not connected and rest side by side.

Both types of slats are secured to the side of the bed frame or foundation.

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The side rails, center support, and slats of our Amerisleep Platform Bed are made of solid wood. The slats are oversized to minimize any unsupported gaps, while the half-inch high side rails keep the mattress from sliding.

This platform bed stands 13.5 inches tall. It gives any bedroom a modern look, with its neutral gray casing and clean corners.

Amerisleep’s Platform Bed is also incredibly easy to put together and requires no tools. It can support any mattress type, including memory and latex foam beds and hybrid mattresses.

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Pros and Cons of Slats

Although slatted foundations have been available for many years, they have recently become a popular alternative to the standard box spring. Many people find bed frames with a slatted base to be more supportive, comfortable, and convenient. Below, we outline the pros and cons of slats.

Pros

  • Affordable: Since slats have less material, they are more affordable than a standard box spring. If you purchase a bed frame with a slatted foundation where the slats are no more than 2.75 inches apart, there is typically no need to purchase a separate box spring. Most mattress types can rest directly on the slats.
  • Durable: Most modern box springs are made of a wooden frame wrapped in fabric—they offer height but very little support. Slats are much more supportive and will ensure your mattress doesn’t sink or slide.
  • Easy assembly: Wooden slats are lightweight and easy to disassemble, making them easier to move than heavy, cumbersome box springs.
  • Airflow: On a slatted bed foundation, air circulates freely around the mattress. The open space prevents heat retention, allowing sleepers to remain cool throughout the night.

Cons

  • Possible sagging: Slats spaced more than 2.75 inches apart could cause certain types of mattresses to sag. For example, memory foam mattresses should only be used with slats spaced no more than 2.75 inches apart.
  • Possible shifting: If bed slats are not secured properly, they could move or fall during the night. This could lead to injury or damage to the mattress and bed frame.

What is a Box Spring?

Box springs are a metal or wooden box covered with fabric. They are sold separately from the mattress and the bed frame. Traditional box springs housed coil springs for shock absorption and even weight distribution. These springs were designed to push against the coils in the innerspring mattress above.

Bed Slats vs Box Spring: Which Should You Use? (1)

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However, today, most box springs no longer have spring coils and are hollow inside instead. While conventional box springs were designed to support the mattress, most modern box springs simply provide height. Plus, as more modern mattresses become popular, box springs are no longer necessary for adequate support.

Pros and Cons of a Box Spring?

Although box springs are no longer as popular as slats, they are still useful, particularly if you have a pillow top or Euro top mattress with a traditional innerspring core. We outline the pros and cons of box springs to help you determine if they are right for you.

Pros

  • Added height: Most bed frames with a slatted foundation have a low profile look. For those who prefer a higher bed, a box spring can be used to elevate the mattress.
  • Possible bounce: If the box spring has spring coils, it will provide a slight bounce when paired with an innerspring mattress. However, not all box springs have coils. If a bouncy quality is important to you, be sure to keep this feature in mind when shopping.

Cons

  • Difficult to move: Most box springs do not collapse or break down for transportation, making them awkward and difficult to move.
  • Heavy: Some bed frames may not support the weight of a box spring, mattress, and sleeper, resulting in damage to the bed frame and mattress.
  • Lack of support: Box springs without spring coils provide very little in terms of support. The perimeter of the mattress may be supported, while the middle is not. This could result in sagging and indentions, especially for a mattress with a foam base.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long are slats for a twin bed?

A twin mattress measures 38 inches wide. Therefore, the slats for a twin size bed frame should measure between 40 to 44 inches long. The extra 2 to 3 inches on each side allows for bedding and ensures the mattress does not fit too snugly on the frame.

Can I use plywood instead of a box spring?

Depending on the type of mattress you have, slats may need to be spaced no more than 2.75 inches apart. For example, memory foam beds may sag and become damaged if slats are too far apart. If your bed frame has wide slats, you can place a 1-inch piece of moisture-resistant plywood on top of the slats to support your mattress and prevent sinking.

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A bunkie board serves a similar purpose. These boards are typically 1 to 3 inches thick and made of wood, plywood, or particleboard. Bunkie boards sit beneath your mattress and are designed to provide a stable, supportive base no matter what type of bed frame or foundation your mattress rests on.

How much weight can bed slats hold?

Most modern bed frames with a slatted foundation provide sufficient support for up to 600 lbs. However, some are designed to hold no more than 300 pounds, so be sure to verify the manufacturer’s weight limit before purchasing.

Is it bad to put a mattress on the floor?

Placing your mattress on the floor may provide firm support. However, most experts don’t recommend placing it directly on the ground since this can cause dust, dirt, and bacteria to collect in the mattress. If you live in a humid climate, moisture can accumulate and lead to mold and mildew. This is especially true if you have hardwood floors. Over time, exposure to these contaminants can lead to serious health issues.

How many bed slats do I need for a full size bed?

Full size mattresses also referred to as double beds, are 54 inches wide. Slats on most full size bed frames will be between 56 to 60 inches long. Most slats are roughly 2 to 6 inches longer than the mattress itself.

(Video) Box Spring Vs Bed Frame: Which is Better?

Conclusion

Bringing home a new mattress is exciting. It is a chance for you to find deeper, more restful sleep. However, if you pair it with the incorrect bed foundation, it may not stay comfortable for long.

An unsupportive base can cause sagging and sinking, leading to spinal misalignment, sleep disruptions, and morning aches and pains. While a box spring may be suitable for some mattress types, slats are much more versatile, supportive, affordable, and convenient.

FAQs

Can I use bed slats instead of a box spring? ›

Using slats instead of a traditional box spring may ensure your mattress won't sag. Additionally, wooden slats are lightweight and easy to assemble. You can place most slatted foundations on any bed frame for firm support. Slatted foundations also provide better airflow.

Is it OK to put a mattress on slats? ›

Bed slats can support any type of mattress. However, keep in mind that since platform beds tend to sit lower than beds on a traditional frame and box spring, a bed with slats might be best suited for a taller mattress.

Is more bed slats better? ›

Do Bed Slats Make a Difference? Yes, they do! Bed slats help to make your mattress more comfortable and supportive. They work together with your mattress to provide you with much-needed support when you lie on your bed.

Is a box spring necessary with slats? ›

Platform bed frame – slats

These use slats for support instead of the solid foundation. As long as the slats are close enough together to satisfy the mattress warranty, this frame would not need a boxspring either. As a general rule of thumb, slats should not exceed 4” apart from each other.

Why are box springs no longer used? ›

Most modern mattresses including mattresses in a box do not require a box spring. In fact, traditional box springs don't provide the rigid support needed for many newer foam and latex beds. Box springs are primarily designed for use with coil-based mattresses.

How thick should bed slats be? ›

Slats should be flat, sturdy, non-flexible, and preferably made of strong wood that is at least ¾” thick. Plywood slats are not recommended unless the ply is at least 1” thick. To avoid mattress flex between slats, the spacing should be less than 3” apart but no more than 4” apart.

Do slats make mattress firmer? ›

Step 5: Invest in a new bed frame or slats

A brand new bed frame with new slats will offer more support. To make your mattress firmer, you should consider bed frames with solid slats as they provide a more supportive feel.

What do you put under your mattress on slats? ›

The box spring sits under the mattress to help absorb shock, add bounce, and give the bed some additional height. A slatted foundation has a wood or metal base and includes supportive wooden slats instead of springs.

What can I use in bed instead of slats? ›

If your bed frame doesn't have a solid base or the slats are further apart, you will need a flat base to place your mattress on. That's where a bunkie board can help. A bunkie board can be used on top of any bed frame or foundation to create a stable surface for your mattress.

Do slats make bed softer? ›

Solid slats make your mattress feel a lot firmer as they are designed to offer more support by adding pressure to your mattress. To make your mattress softer, you could invest in a bed frame with sprung slats. This is because sprung slats provide more cushioned support and move with your mattress throughout the night.

How long do slat beds last? ›

Bed frame life expectancy: Wooden bed frames with slats typically last 7-10 years if properly maintained, while metal bed frames last 15 years or more.

Are slats a good bed base? ›

These bases provide good firm support and are a simple and cheaper option. Slat beds overall are good for the mattress providing good support and allow for good ventilation to the mattress keeping them cleaner and more hygienic.

How much weight can bed slats hold? ›

Weight Capacity

Metal slats take more weight than wooden slats. Nevertheless, a slatted foundation takes an average of 600 pounds of the cumulative weight of the sleepers.

Do people still use box springs? ›

They may seem outdated given some of the other types of mattress support out there, but box springs are still useful in some cases. It isn't bad to have a mattress without a box spring as long as there is another form of support below. This support can come from a platform bed, foundation, or, if you prefer, the floor.

When did they stop putting springs in box springs? ›

The mattress industry moved away from using traditional box springs almost 20 years ago, replacing them with foundations.

How often should you replace a boxspring? ›

A high-quality box spring or foundation could last up to 10 years while a low-quality option could give out in less than five years. That's why it's important to prioritize craftsmanship when it comes to your mattress foundation.

Do box springs make your bed harder? ›

Find a Compatible Bed Base

Bed bases are crucial to your mattress. They provide support and can alter the feel of your bed. For example, memory foam mattresses feel firmer on a box spring and softer on a solid foundation, platform, or adjustable base.

What size slats do I need for a full size bed? ›

So, what size of bed frame slats are recommended for full beds? Full mattresses or double beds are about 54 inches or 137 centimeters which will require slats that are at least 56 to 60 inches or 142 to 152 centimeters.

Can you put memory foam on slats? ›

You can place your memory foam mattress on a slatted platform as long as the slats are no more than 2.75 inches apart. If the slats are too far apart, the mattress can sink between them, causing premature sagging that will reduce the mattress's comfort and support.

What size slats do I need for a queen size bed? ›

Standard length for these slats is 61 inches.

How do I keep my bed slats from sagging? ›

An easy and economical solution is to lay a couple of MDF sheets across the slats (side to side) bridging the central support bar to form a flat even surface for your mattress.

What's better wood or metal bed slats? ›

Metal bed frames are strong yet lightweight, but they're more prone to creaking. Wooden bed frames can be extremely durable, but there are plenty of cheap, flimsy options that are best to avoid.

Are beds with slats noisy? ›

Slats rubbing against the frame (or one another) is another common reason for a squeaky bed frame. To quiet any sound coming from the slats, take old socks, shirts, or towels and use them as a buffer between the slats and the frame to add a quick noise-canceling cushion.

Does it matter if bed slats are upside down? ›

I wouldn't advise long term using the sprung slats upside down as I do believe this will damage the mattress or at least reduce the longevity over time. It may cause a sag in the centre of each slat where it curves.

How do you tell if your bed is too soft or too hard? ›

If you are experiencing pain on your side as a side sleeper, it is likely your mattress is too firm, or does not have enough padding. If you are experiencing lower back pain, chances are your mattress is either too soft, or is broken down in the middle.

Are slatted beds strong? ›

Durability: In terms of durability slatted base beds can be subject to slat breakage from excessive weight applied to the bed or jumping causing the slats to crack. A divan bed base is more able to absorb weight placed upon it than a slatted base, therefore making it more durable.

Can bed bugs live in bed slats? ›

As long as there are cracks where they can hide, and these are in plenty on any type of furniture, bed bugs can live there and you need to consider bed bug exterminator services.

What is the strongest bed base? ›

If you're looking for a bed frame that is heavy, strong, durable and stable, then a metal or steel frame is your best bet. The reason for this is simple: metal and steel are dense materials that can support more weight than other types of materials. Metal and steel frames also have several other benefits.

What type of bed base is best? ›

Pocket sprung edge bases are the highest quality bases you can buy in both their construction, components and overall feel. The pocket springs give the same benefits found in high-end mattresses by giving independent support. These pocket springs are then padded and upholstered to create a luxury base.

What type of bed frame is best for back pain? ›

The best bed base for back problems is an ergonomically slatted base which can actively support the lower back when you're lying on your side or on your back.

Can I put plywood on top of slats? ›

We usually advise when using any sort of slats to place an old duvet atop the slats to stop the mattress becoming indented. Similarly, if you're finding that your mattress is dipping then you can get some standard sheets of either MDF, plywood or peg board to place on the slats. You only need something like 3mm.

Can you use plywood instead of a box spring? ›

Note that both plywood and bunkie boards can be used as alternatives to box springs…it really depends on your mattress. You can also use either one on top of a box spring to reduce some of the squeakiness.

Do box springs break easily? ›

Low-quality springs, however, are more prone to breakage. In fact, poorly designed springs will collapse over time. If your springs are more than ten years old, it's likely that the box spring is starting to sag, lose its shape and support, and making sleep more uncomfortable than it used to be.

Which is better platform or box springs? ›

Platform beds last longer because they don't have springs that rust or lose tension. Also, their rigid slats lower the chances of sagging. Some platform beds have flexed slats or slats that bow outward – though these aren't as durable. Traditional box springs are less durable because the coils inside lose tension.

What can you use instead of a box spring for bed? ›

Instead of a box spring you can support your mattress with a platform, a foundation, a plywood support, or a coconut coir rug.

What can I use instead of boxspring? ›

An innerspring mattress also can be an excellent alternative for box springs as they offer the same functionality without needing the spring box. These are also known as coil spring mattresses. Innerspring mattresses come with an inbuilt spring coil system inside them, eliminating the need to use a box spring.

What substitutes a box spring? ›

There are several box spring alternatives that will provide a better foundation for your mattress to rest on. Alternatives like platform beds, wood foundations, and adjustable beds are longer-lasting than boxsprings.

What is the difference between slats and box spring? ›

A slatted base has a more open structure than a box spring, but the mattress on top of the slatted base (latex or foam) is more closed. As a result, a latex or foam mattress will also feel warmer than a well-constructed pocket mattress on a box spring.

Why do some beds not require a box spring? ›

Under Memory Foam, Latex, and Hybrid Mattresses

Mattresses without coils, like memory foam, latex, and hybrids, don't need the same assistance absorbing shock. The materials used to make them are already inherently shock absorbent. Box springs only change the feel of the mattress rather than provide any noted benefit.

Can you use a piece of plywood instead of a box spring? ›

Note that both plywood and bunkie boards can be used as alternatives to box springs…it really depends on your mattress. You can also use either one on top of a box spring to reduce some of the squeakiness.

Videos

1. Consumer Reports: Is a box spring really necessary?
(ABC7 News Bay Area)
2. Bed Frame vs. Box Spring vs. Platform Bed | Ultimate Mattress Buying Guide
(National Mattress Outlet Plus+)
3. Confused, do I need a bed frame or box spring, both? Help!
(Gardner's Mattress & More)
4. Why You Shouldn't Use Wood Bed Slats
(LetsGoSleepShopping)
5. 🔥How To DIY Bunkie Board ✨ Home Depot ✨ Home Projects 🔥
(Parvi K)
6. How many slats are needed for mattress only beds?
(US-Mattress.com)
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