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

Once you have found the perfect mattress, you’ll want to pair it with a sturdy foundation. Though there are many options to choose from, it’s best to find a foundation compatible with your mattress type.

Bed slats and box springs are both popular choices among sleepers. However, deciding between the two can be difficult. In this article, we’ll outline the qualities of bed slats and box springs. Also, we’ll look at the benefits and disadvantages of each, so you can decide which is the best fit for you.

What Are Bed Slats?

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (1)Bed slats are a foundation type with long planks made of solid wood or metal. Slatted foundations sit directly on top of a bed frame and are spaced 2 to 3 inches apart. It’s best to avoid slatted foundations with slats wider than 3 inches. Slats with wider spacing do not provide a stable foundation for sleepers and can cause your mattress to sink.

Slats also help distribute weight evenly across your mattress and also provide a firm sleeping surface. If your mattress feels too soft, you can firm up your mattress by placing it on top of slats.

Some slatted foundations have individual slats, while others may be connected. Interconnected slats are usually wrapped in fabric to keep them in place.

Individual slats rest side by side and may require screws to secure them. If the slats are improperly fitted to the bed frame, they can slide around or collapse from bed movement.

SEE ALSO:Mattress Foundation Sizes and Dimensions Guide

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Benefits of Using Bed Slats

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (2)Slatted foundations are a more affordable option compared to a standard box spring. Not to mention they provide even support for all types of mattresses. 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. The open spaces throughout the foundation prevent moisture from building up, keeping sleepers cooler throughout the night. Plus, with more ventilation, you won’t have any mold or mildew issues.

SEE ALSO:Mattress Sagging vs Body Impressions: What’s The Difference?

Drawbacks of Using Bed Slats

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (3)The downside of using a slatted foundation is it could cause your mattress to sag. It’s best to avoid slatted foundations with too-thin slats because it does not provide adequate support for your bed. If your bed has thin slats, it’s best to place a bunkie board on top of your foundation for better support.

Slatted foundations are also prone to sliding when they are not appropriately secured. This may cause your slats to shift to one side of the bed or fall off.

What is a Box Spring?

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (4)Box springs are a traditional foundation type and are best suited for innerspring mattresses. These foundations absorb shock impact to reduce wear and tear on your bed.

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However, box springs are more compatible with older spring beds. Most modern-day mattresses such as latex and memory foam beds do not require a box spring.

Box springs are typically the same size as your mattress and consist of a solid wood frame filled with springs. Modern box spring models are hollow inside and do not contain coils or springs. These models do not provide the best support, but they will add some extra height to your bed.

Benefits of Using Box Springs

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (5)Box springs provide your bed with a slight bounce when it’s paired with an innerspring mattress. Some sleepers prefer the springy responsiveness of the innerspring beds, so using a box spring is usually the best choice.

It’s worth mentioning some box springs do not contain coils or springs. So, if a responsive bed is one of your preferences, you’ll want to keep this in mind while shopping.

Box springs are also an excellent option for sleepers who want to add extra height to their beds. The greater bed height may also make it easier to climb in and out of bed.

However, a box spring is not suitable for all mattress types. For example, you should not pair a box spring with a memory foam mattress.

Drawbacks of Using Box Springs

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (6)Traditional box springs are more expensive than slatted foundations. They also are not compatible with all mattress types. If you have a memory foam or latex mattress, it may be better to look at other foundation options.

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Placing a foam or hybrid mattress on a box spring can damage the bed’s materials and cause premature sagging. Keeping one of these mattresses on a box spring can also void the warranty.

If you do pair a bed like a memory foam mattress with a box spring for added height, you need a piece of plywood or a bunkie board to provide a stable surface.

Box springs are heavy, and some bed frames may not be able to support their weight. As a result, your bed may lose support over time. Additionally, box springs do not have extra storage space for sleepers and are not the best option for individuals with limited space.

Other bed frame options, such as platform beds, may offer under-bed space and even pull-out drawers. This extra features can be helpful in smaller spaces, such as hosts who need to squeeze in storage options along with a mattress for guests.

SEE ALSO:Platform Bed vs. Box Spring

Bed Slats vs. Box Spring: Which Should You Use? - eachnight (7)

Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight can bed slats hold?

Most modern bed frames with a slatted foundation can support weight up to 600 pounds. However, some slatted foundations can only hold 300 pounds. It’s best to verify the manufacturer’s weight limit before purchasing. It’s also important to understand how much a mattress can weigh.

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Should I use metal or wood slats?

Wooden slats are more affordable than metal but may not provide the best support for your bed. Metal slats are a more durable option as they provide sufficient support for the weight of your mattress and the sleeper. Furthermore, metal slats do not bend or break as easily as wooden ones.

Can I use a box spring with a latex or memory foam mattress?

We do not recommend pairing a latex or memory foam mattress with a box spring. Box springs do not provide stable support for latex and memory foam beds. Not to mention, the springs may bend under the weight of the mattress. Some better options for foam beds include slatted or solid foundations and platform beds.

Can you buy slats for a bed frame?

You can easily purchase slat separately for your bed frame. Bed slats are for sleepers looking for an affordable support system for their mattress. Rather than using a box spring, you can purchase a bed slat system and quickly place it on top of their frame.

Do bed slats break easily?

Some slatted foundations are sensitive and may break easily with excess weight. When a person places too much pressure on one slat or area of the bed, it can cause the slats to bend, creating an uneven surface for your mattress. It’s always best to check the weight requirements of your product before purchasing a mattress foundation.


When you bring home your new mattress, it’s best to pair it with the correct foundation. Sleeping on a sturdy foundation will prevent your bed from sinking or sagging. Not to mention, some warranty companies will revoke your warranty agreement for using an incorrect foundation.

Box springs may work for some mattress types, such as innerspring beds, but slats are a lot more versatile. However, remember your slats should be no more than 2 to 3 inches wide. If your slats are too wide, it could cause your mattress to sink or cause permanent damage.


Should I use slats and a box spring? ›

When it comes to your bed's foundation, you need either a box spring or slats, not both. That being said, some sleepers still prefer a flat surface in between the slats and mattress, especially to help avoid sinking. Instead of a box spring, you can place a piece of plywood or a bunkie board there instead.

Are wooden slats better than a box spring? ›

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.

Can you put mattress directly 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. Kids assembling a wooden slats bed base.

Is a base or slats better? ›

Slatted bases are better for softer and thinner mattresses, while solid bases are better for firmer mattresses and heavy people.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

Can foam mattresses go on slats? ›

Foam and hybrid mattresses must be placed on a solid surface or on slats no more than 2.75 inches apart. 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.

Do mattresses need slats to breathe? ›

Mattresses should be able to breathe, through a slatted platform or a box spring. If you have to put your mattress on the floor, simply leaning it up against the wall on its side once a week would allow it to air out and should be a good solution until you are able to find something permanent.

What happens if you use slats as a bed frame? ›

The downside of using a slatted foundation is it could cause your mattress to sag. It's best to avoid slatted foundations with too-thin slats because it does not provide adequate support for your bed. If your bed has thin slats, it's best to place a bunkie board on top of your foundation for better support.

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.

What is an alternative to a box spring? ›

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

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.

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 thick should slats be for a bed? ›

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.

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.

What is the strongest bed frame? ›

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 kind of box spring is best for a memory foam mattress? ›

Semi-flex box springs are ideal for adding the bounce of coils and the firm platform of a mattress foundation. These types of box spring also work well with weighty memory foam and latex mattresses, because they are supportive while still being lightly flexible.

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.

Do wooden slat beds creak? ›

Wooden beds squeak for a whole host of reasons, but common causes can include loose joints, broken slats, a worn-out spring mattress or even heat expansion.

Do you sleep better without a box spring? ›

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.

What happens if you don't use a box spring on a bed? ›

Reduced airflow – Since the mattress sits directly on the floor, it will not be able to expel air and breathe as easily as it could on a boxspring or platform bed. Less hygienic – Everything that gets on the floor can now more easily get on your mattress. This includes dirt, dust, allergens, or even bed bugs or mites.

How can I make my bed more comfortable without a box spring? ›

Instead of a boxspring, go with a platform bed or solid, premium wood foundation as a way of protecting your mattress investment. Doing so is even more important if you're buying a bed that'll last you years and years, like a natural latex mattress.

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 mattresses softer on slats? ›

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.

Can you put a memory foam mattress on a bed frame with slats? ›

Metal or wood slat bed foundations often work well with foam mattresses. Each bed slat is evenly spaced and collectively provides a solid support for the foam mattress' weight. To that end, your mattress manufacturer should recommend what kind of slatted foundation will work best for your new mattress.

What is the purpose of bed slats? ›

Slats are a type of base made for a bed. They are a series of connected bars that lie across the width of the frame. Made from strong wood such as pine or beech, these bars work together with your mattress to provide support. You can choose from two types of slats - solid slats or sprung slats.

Why should your mattress be off the floor? ›

Keeping a mattress on the floor can result in unwanted moisture issues, which can lead to mold and mildew. To counter this, it's wise to periodically prop your mattress up against the wall to allow it to air out. Whenever you move your bed, be sure to check for signs of moisture, excessive dust, and bugs.

Is it necessary to screw in slats? ›

If the slats are installed in sections, and only go halfway across the frame, they're susceptible to sagging. If the slats don't attach to the side rails, but simply rest on a lip, they're more likely to sag. Slats should be secured with screws or by some other method.

What type of bed frame lasts the longest? ›

For longevity's sake, it's best to find a frame made primarily of longer-lasting options, like a solid wood bed frame and metal bed frame, rather than wood composites or plastics. The former options are less likely to break and will stand up to more wear and tear over time.

Is it better to have your bed on the floor or on a frame? ›

If your choices are between the floor or a bed frame that's cracked, wobbly, or sagging, then the floor is almost certainly a better bet. Not only does it guarantee support for your mattress, but it can also help you feel secure while sleeping.

What is the best bed for back and shoulder pain? ›

Best Mattresses for Shoulder Pain: My Top 9!
  • Best Overall – Helix Sunset Luxe.
  • Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain – Loom & Leaf.
  • Best Mattress for Neck and Shoulder Pain – Puffy Royal Hybrid.
  • Best Mattress for Back and Shoulder Pain – DreamCloud Premier Rest.
  • Best Hybrid Mattress for Shoulder Pain – WinkBed.

Is a harder or softer bed better for your back? ›

A softer mattress is usually recommended for those who are experiencing back pain on a standard mattress, or those who have pre-existing back problems. They're also recommended for lighter individuals as a harder mattress can end up not compressing for them at all.

What is the best bed for lower back and hip pain? ›

If you sleep on your side or on your back, a medium-firm memory foam mattress may provide enough support to keep your spine straight through the night and help relieve hip pain. But if you sleep on your stomach, a pillow top mattress or hybrid with an innerspring might fit your needs better.

Does it help to put a board between mattress and box spring? ›

You use a bunkie board by placing it between your bed frame and your mattress to give the mattress an extra layer of support and make it more comfortable. People sometimes purchase an inexpensive bunkie board when their bed starts to sag to stave off purchasing an entirely new set.

Do you need both box spring and bed frame? ›

A box spring, specifically, is not always necessary. The important thing to keep in mind is that box springs do require the support of a separate bed frame (in most cases). If you have or prefer a basic metal bed frame with just one or two center support bars, you likely need a box spring to complete the set.

Can you put a spring mattress on a slatted base? ›

Pocket spring mattresses are compatible with any bed base but work particularly well with solid slatted bases and platforms. Solid bases with no flex facilitate pocket spring range of motion, ensuring the springs work as intended by the manufacturer.

Can box spring make mattress sag? ›

A bad box spring can't support a mattress properly, which can lead to sagging.

Do box springs make bed firmer? ›

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.

Are beds better without box springs? ›

For the most part, box springs aren't really necessary. However, box springs are a good match for spring mattresses because the coils in a box spring will align with the coils in your innerspring mattress. This makes the mattress feel softer and can help isolate motion and enhance its support.

Are beds with slats good? ›

Benefits of Using Bed Slats

Not to mention they provide even support for all types of mattresses. 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.

What sort of mattress is best for a slatted bed? ›

Memory foam mattresses are ideal for slatted beds. However, it's a good idea to minimise the space between slats, use a box spring or fit a bunkie board, as memory foam can begin to mould around the slats over time.


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