Difference between a Box Spring and a Foundation

Updated on August 1, 2018

A wide array of support systems for mattresses are now available, thanks to the evolution of design processes. Today, two types of bed bases are rising in popularity – the box spring and the foundation. This article draws the line between the two.

Summary Table

Box SpringFoundation
A type of bed base with rows of coiled springs that are aligned in a grid pattern and covered by fabricA type of bed base made up of a solid wooden material that is usually designed with a corrugated board covered with fabric on top
Works best for an innerspring mattressWorks best for a hybrid, foam, airbed, or latex mattress
Less cost-efficientMore cost-efficient
More capable of adapting to different sleeping positionsCan cause body aches, specifically if the same sleeping position is maintained throughout the night

Definitions

box spring base
The internal makeup of a box spring

A box spring is a bed base made up of rows of spiral springs that are attached to a sturdy frame and covered by fabric.

bed foundation
A foundation

A foundation is a flat structure that serves as the base of a mattress. It is typically made up of wooden materials and it has a corrugated board on top.

Box Spring vs Foundation

Both of these options provide sturdy support for mattresses, but this doesn’t mean that there is no difference between a box spring and a foundation. Below are some of their main differences.

Construction

A box spring is a type of bed base made up of a solid material that provides support through metal slats. Inside the box spring are rows of coiled springs that are aligned in a grid pattern. The springs, which are covered by fabric, allow equal weight distribution, specifically when used for an innerspring mattress.

A foundation, on the other hand, is a solid wooden frame that is usually designed with a corrugated board on top. Unlike a box spring, a foundation has no slats or gaps, and it is not made up of coiled springs. Its flat structure is mostly made up of wood, which offers stable support. The corrugated board is covered by fabric.

Mattress Type

A box spring and a foundation have different working mechanisms. A box spring was originally designed to offer support to an innerspring mattress, which also has built-in springs. The coils of the box spring and innerspring mattress move along with the movements of the sleeper, thereby allowing equal weight distribution.

However, since a box spring has gaps or slats, it is not an ideal bed base for hybrid or foam mattresses, which have a multi-layer design. Since these mattresses were made to offer comfort on their own, they only provide stable support when they are placed on a hard, flat surface such as a foundation. Using a box spring for these mattresses can result to sagging, which can cause severe discomfort. Other contemporary mattresses such as airbed or latex also work best with a foundation as a bed base.

Cost Efficiency

Building a box spring is a meticulous and time-consuming process since the metal springs, which are quite expensive, must be perfectly aligned in a grid. Since the cost for the manufacture of a box spring is higher than that of a foundation, most companies promote a foundation, which is more cost-efficient and versatile.

Comfort

Another main difference between the two is the level of comfort they provide. Since a foundation is made up of a firm wooden material, it can cause body aches, specifically if the same sleeping position is maintained throughout the night. A box spring, by contrast, is able to adapt to different sleeping positions, making it more equipped to provide a more restful sleep. Its metal coils can also absorb shock and will limit mattress wear and tear.

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