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Are Box-Spring Beds Better Than Normal Ones?

By Jeff Frank

Box springs are more expensive than foundations made without springs.

Mattresses have improved dramatically over the past 20 years. In general they have become thicker and heavier.

The foundation (or box spring) that supports modern mattresses no longer makes a huge difference in the comfort of the bed.

It also does not affect the lifespan since either a foundation or box spring should last at least as long as the mattress.

There are very few actual box springs being sold currently.

40 years ago a box spring actually was a box with springs inside to support a mattress.
As mattresses became thicker and heavier, manufacturers realized that the springs weren’t actually doing much.

It was a lot cheaper to just provide a wooden box with a little bit of foam padding and a matching fabric. These are usually called foundations by anyone under the age of 60.

Above is a photo of a high end foundation from Ghost Bed constructed using solid wood. The selling price is currently $250.

It is far more common for foundations to be made using a simple plywood box. Those can be made for less than $50.
There is very little that can go wrong with foundations. Their primary purpose is to elevate the mattress so that it is a comfortable height above the ground.

As far as support goes they are only marginally better than placing a mattress on the ground (or in a platform bed.)
That is the way most foundations are constructed today. The few high end box springs that are still made will probably never wear out. They get very little stress.

In most cases, when a new mattress is purchased, the buyer also replaces the box spring or foundation.

The main reason for doing this is because they want the foundation fabric to match the mattress ticking.

Since nearly all box springs/foundations are completely covered with sheets, blankets and comforters, the fabric can’t be seen most of the time. There really isn’t any functional reason for replacement.

Foundations or box springs may need to be replaced for health reasons. This includes infestation with bed bugs or other pests, saturation with bodily fluids, mold, etc.

Historical note: Box springs began to give way to foundations beginning in the 1970s when platform beds became very popular in Europe and began appearing in the U.S.

Box springs had been marketed for decades as a vital component of a complete bed that provided additional comfort and support for the mattress.
Platform bed design did not include space for a box spring.

People soon discovered that placing a mattress directly on a wooden platform without a cushioning box spring was perfectly adequate for most people, particularly as mattresses began to improve.

Manufacturers began focusing on improving mattresses. This increased manufacturing costs.

To counter-balance the increased mattress costs, manufacturers reduced the cost of the supporting foundations.

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