Box Spring vs Slats: Picking the Perfect Bed Support

Written by: Andjela Kastratovic
Updated: 10/02/2023

With so many choices for mattress foundations out there, it’s easy to get confused. Should you go for a trusty box spring or more modern bed slats? 

Like your body, your mattress also needs support, so you must choose the best option for both of you. 

This guide will explain everything you need to know about box springs and bed slats and which one you should go for. 

Let’s dive in! 

What Are Box Springs?

Box springs are sturdy platforms covered in fabric, and they’re used to support mattresses. 

Traditional box springs feature coil springs for slight bounce and support, but many modern versions are hollow inside. 

This base is designed to sit between your mattress and bed frame, giving your bed support and added height. 

They offer a firm and level surface, unlike bed slats, which we’ll cover later. They’re great at evenly distributing weight and absorbing movement, so they reduce wear on the mattress. Plus, they provide better breathability and are an excellent option for hot sleepers who need a cooling mattress.

Most modern day mattresses are built to give enough reinforcement on their own, so you might not need a standard box spring at all.

Whether you prefer the traditional box spring or the more modern, straightforward design, this foundation has your back.

What Are Box Springs Best For?

A box spring is an excellent choice if you want to reinforce your innerspring mattress, which is one of the most commonly bought types. It offers stability and absorbs shock and movement, prolonging the mattress’s lifespan. 

Even though they’re very supportive, you should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure your mattress is compatible with a box spring. 

Box springs are also suitable for various sleepers. They’re especially great for older individuals or those with back issues because they add more height, making it easier to get in and out.

Box Springs – Pros and Cons

Box springs come with their own set of pros and cons that you should keep in mind. 


  • Better support: A solid, even surface can improve reinforcement and extend the lifespan of your mattress, especially if it’s an innerspring mattress. 
  • More height: A taller sleeping space makes getting in and out of it more manageable, and you can also change sheets with less hassle. 
  • Absorbs movement: A box spring absorbs most shock and movement, reducing motion transfer. 
  • More durable: Box springs can be very durable and last as long as a regular mattress. 
  • Better airflow: More breathability can help regulate temperature and keep you cooler while sleeping. 
  • You won’t void your warranty: Some manufacturers require you to use a box spring as a base. Otherwise, you’ll void the warranty. 


  • Not suitable for all mattresses: Box springs were initially made for innerspring beds, which they work best with, so a memory foam mattress or a latex mattress might not get the reinforcement they need from this foundation type. 
  • Weight: Box springs can be heavy, making them less convenient if you need to move frequently. 
  • Price: Box springs can get relatively expensive, and you’ll still need a bed frame to accompany them. 
  • Noise: box springs can become noisy over time, potentially disrupting sleep. 

What Are Bed Slats?

Bed slats are wooden or metal planks that run horizontally on the bed frame and are crucial to supporting your mattress.

Typically spaced about 2–3 inches apart, these slats distribute weight evenly, preventing sagging and ensuring comfort. 

You’ll find two main types: standard, which is a flat surface that offers firmer support, and spring, which has a bit of flex for softer reinforcement. 

Slatted foundations provide reinforcement and create space underneath, making them a practical choice for storage solutions. They can be connected in a ladder-like pattern or rest side by side.

Metal vs. Wood Slats

You can choose between metal or wood slats, and both of these have their pros and cons. 

Wooden slats are budget-friendly, but these bed slats break easily. On the other hand, metal slats are more robust and termite-resistant, making them a great choice if you’re looking for lasting reinforcement. However, metal slats can be creaky, which might bother light sleepers.

If you’re on a budget, wooden slats could work, but metal slats are your go-to choice for lasting strength. Make your decision based on how durable you want the slats to be and how big your budget is. 

What Are Slats Best For?

The slats can fit all mattresses if they are correctly spaced. But, for example, if the spacing is too broad and you have a memory foam mattress, chances are it will get damaged. 

Other than that, slatted foundations suit various sleepers. They offer firmness for stomach sleepers, and the spacing between the slats provides better airflow for hot sleepers. 

The evenly distributed reinforcement helps maintain mattress quality and prevent sagging, which is excellent for heavy people who sleep on firmer beds. 

Bed Slats – Pros and Cons

Let’s explore the pros and cons of using slatted foundations.


  • Budget-friendly: Bed slats are often less expensive than other mattress foundations. 
  • Supportive: As long as they’re appropriately spaced and made from high-quality materials, bed slats can give more support, prevent sagging, and extend the mattress’s lifespan. 
  • Versatile: Bed slats are compatible with all mattress types. 
  • Better airflow: The slatted foundation promotes better airflow, helping regulate temperature and keeping you cool. 
  • Storage space: They create additional space under the bed, which can be especially useful in small bedrooms. 


  • Spacing issues: Incorrect spacing with too big gaps can lead to discomfort and mattress sagging, so bed slats need regular maintenance. 
  • Durability: How long bed slats last depends on the quality of the material they’re made from. 
  • Noise: Slats can become noisy over time, which disrupts your sleep. However, there are a lot of ways to fix a squeaky bed
  • Weight limit: Slats can have weight limits and give less reinforcement if you exceed those limits. 

Box Spring vs. Slats – Main Differences

Now that you know what box springs and slatted foundations are for, it’s time to discuss their main differences. 


Adding a box spring can get the job done if you want a bed with more height. On the other hand, bed slats don’t add any height to the mattress. 

Why would you want more height? It makes getting in and out of bed more manageable, which is excellent for older adults. Some bed frames are naturally very low and need that extra height. 


If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, buy slats. A box spring offers more support but costs a lot more. They’re big and heavy, so they need more material. 


Both box springs and bed slats add more support and comfort to the sleeper, but box springs do a better job. It’s a big and even surface, which is excellent for support, especially if you have an innerspring mattress. On the other hand, slats can even damage your mattress if they’re not appropriately spaced. 

Storage Space

Bed slats are your friend if you’re looking for storage under your bed. On the other hand, box springs offer little to no room under the bed frame. 


Even though both box springs and bed slats are versatile mattress foundations built to hold various mattress types, bed slats are slightly better. Traditional box springs were made for innerspring beds, so they do an excellent job supporting them, but adequately spaced bed slats are suitable for all mattress types

Other Mattress Foundation Types

Box springs and bed slats are prevalent, but there are also some other foundation types you should know about. 

Bunkie Board

A bunkie board is a thin, flat panel between your mattress and bed foundation, usually made from plywood. Bunkie boards offer extra support without adding height and work with any mattress or bed frame size. However, bunkie boards may reduce airflow, making them less suitable for hot sleepers.

Adjustable Base

An adjustable bed lets you raise or lower the head or foot to your desired bed height. This offers comfort and accessibility, making getting in and out of bed easier and helping with back pain. However, this bed base isn’t compatible with a lot of mattress types.

Platform Beds

Platform beds offer sturdy support for your mattress, eliminating the need for a box spring. They come in various styles, some with built-in storage. However, consider other foundation options if you prefer a softer surface or a higher bed.

Solid Foundation

Solid foundations, like a slatted foundation, are made of wood but without gaps between boards. They offer robust support, preventing mattress sagging, and are ideal for latex, hybrid, and memory foam mattresses.

Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between a box spring and bed slats for your mattress foundation depends on your personal preference. Box springs offer classic support and elevation, while bed slats are versatile and budget-friendly. 

Some of the factors you should take into account are your 

  • mattress type, 
  • sleep style, 
  • bed frame,
  • aesthetic preferences.

This will help you make the right choice for your sleeping environment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Weight Can Bed Slats Hold?

The weight bed slats can hold depends on their thickness and quality. Generally speaking, they can support 250 to 600 pounds per slat or more, but checking the manufacturer’s specified weight capacity is crucial to ensuring proper reinforcement.

Can You Use a Box Spring With Slats?

You can choose a box spring or bed slats for your mattress foundation, but there’s no need to use both. Some people like to have a firm, level surface between the slats and the bed frame, but try putting a bunkie board between the two instead of using a box spring. 

Is It Okay to Put a Mattress on Bed Slats?

It’s okay to put a mattress on bed slats, provided the slats are correctly spaced and offer adequate support for your mattress type. Correct spacing and quality slats can help maintain mattress integrity and comfort.

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen that box springs offer height, reinforcement, and a touch of classic charm. On the other hand, bed slats bring versatility, cost-effectiveness, and breathability to the ring. 

The winner? Well, it’s all about what you need. 

Box springs may suit those who are more traditional, while bed slats are more modern. So before you choose one of them, pay attention to your mattress, sleep style, bedroom aesthetic, and other factors. 

We wish you a good night’s sleep!

Reviews written by:

Andjela Kastratovic - Co-editor

Anđela is a content writer by the day and an Illustrator by night. She loves anything creative, but sleep takes the cake – that’s why she enjoys writing for Anatomy of Sleep so much!

While in high school, she got accepted for her dream job – a ‘professional sleeper’. Her job was to test new mattresses from a local mattress brand and write reports on the quality of sleep. Ever since then, she’s been in love with reviewing mattresses and putting her compelling research into ultimate buyer’s guides. While not exploring the latest brands, she likes to illustrate and spend time with her dog and friends.