Can You Put a Box Spring on Slats? Yes, But...
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Are you looking at buying a new bed? You have plenty of choices for mattresses, from memory foam and latex models to innerspring and hybrids. While many people focus on the mattress, they usually don't put the same effort into deciding on their bed frame. Many just put their box spring on slats without thinking about it.
Bed frames come in two designs – slats and box springs. So, what's the difference between these models? Which is the best choice for your new bed, and can you combine box springs on slats? This post answers all your questions. We'll give you the best advice for selecting your new mattress.
What are Box Springs?
A box spring bed frame provides stability and shock-absorbing functionality for your new mattress. It stops sloping in the mattress, providing a sturdy foundation.
The outer frame features construction with plywood or wood, with inner springs comprising the internal working parts of the structure. These types of springs are stiffer and thicker than those you'll find inside of a mattress.
The box spring frame features a fabric covering, and the box covers the length and width of the mattress. Box springs are heavier and larger than slats.
Benefits of Box Springs
Box springs give the bed a bit of bounce when combined with an innerspring mattress. Some sleepers prefer an innerspring mattress for its firm and springy response under them.
If you like a responsive bed, then the box spring paired with the innerspring mattress is ideal for your bedroom. Box springs are a great choice for adding extra height to the bed, making it easier to get in and out.
Drawbacks of Box Springs
The box spring design is only suitable with innerspring mattresses and hybrid types of mattresses that rely on innerspring designs in the mattress base. They aren't compatible with memory foam or latex mattresses. Placing a memory foam or latex mattress on top of a box spring base will cause the bed to sag, resulting in damage and premature wear on the mattress.
Conventional box spring foundations are more expensive compared to slatted designs. Also, placing a memory foam or latex mattress on a box spring may void its warranty. You'll have to pair a box spring with a Bunkie board or plywood board when placing a memory foam or latex mattress on it to add height to the bed.
Box spring foundations are heavy. Some types of bed frames might not have the strength or build to handle the weight and dimensions of the box spring, resulting in the bed losing support. Slats can improve this stability, in which case a box spring on slats can be preferable.
Most box spring frames don't have an option for adding storage space in the base, which could be better for homeowners or renters with limited storage. Other options, like platform beds, offer pull-out drawers or under-bed storage space.
What are Bed Slats?
Bed slats, like box spring bases, provide support for the mattress and prevent it from sagging. Typically, they feature a design with horizontal wood or metal slats spaced 2 to 2.75 inches apart, running the length of the bed frame. They're easy to install and lightweight.
Some people will lay a thin piece of plywood across these slats as well, though it's not necessary and effects air flow through the mattress. Bed slats are among the many box spring alternatives people have invented up over the years.
Benefits of Bed Slats
A slat foundation is far more affordable than a box spring base. Slats also provide support for all mattress types. Wood slats are easy to assemble and lightweight. Many bed frames come with fittings to allow the installation of a slatted foundation to provide firm support for the mattress.
Slat designs give better airflow to the underside of the mattress, which is important for heat dispersion in latex and memory foam mattresses, especially in older generations of these models. The spaces between the slats prevent the buildup of moisture and reduce the chances of mold or mildew growth.
Drawbacks of Bed Slats
There aren't many disadvantages to using slats as the foundation for memory foam or latex mattresses. However, there are better choices for innerspring or hybrid mattresses. These models will work better with a box spring base.
Should I Place a Box Spring on Slats?
Yes, you can place a box spring base on top of the slats. However, there's only a little point to it unless you're using a frame made specifically for slats that don't support a box spring foundation. Most slat bases have a specific design for memory foam and latex mattress models but can also accept a box spring.
However, they're also compatible with innerspring mattresses. Box spring models are the better choice for pairing with an innerspring mattress though you can go without one, too. The reason to use one is the two work in concert, complementing the best features of each component, providing an optimal sleep experience.
Placing an innerspring mattress on top of the slats is fine, but you'll notice a significant improvement in mattress response and sleep comfort when pairing the innerspring mattress with the box spring base.
Simply put, using a box spring with slats together is a waste of time unless your bed frame includes them, which can help with the stability of the frame. Don't go out of your way to add slats if you don't need them.
Weight Limit for Bed Slats
Typically, a slat base bed frame supports up to 600 lbs or more. Check the weight rating before making your purchase. Some models only support half of that. It depends on the thickness and spacing of the slats.
Weight Limit for Box Springs
Most standard wooden box springs support up to 300 lbs while heavy-duty ones have a weight capacity of 450 lbs, depending on the size of the base and construction of the box. They aren't as sturdy as slats, and you might get significant compression of the box spring with two heavy-set individuals using it.
What Design Components Add Strength to Slat Designs?
Slat bed foundations are already very strong and don't have the same flex and yield as box springs. However, they may break if overloaded. Although, that's going to take a significant amount of weight. Still, you can try these additions if you want to strengthen the slat base.
Add Center Supports
Some slat bases come with center beam support in queen and king-size beds. The center support runs the vertical length of the bed from head to foot and usually features steel construction.
You can add plywood board to the base, covering the top of the slats. The board must be a snug fit to the frame interior.
Metal Bed Slats
Swap out the wood slats for metal ones, and you'll greatly improve the weight capacity of the bed frame as well as the stability for larger users. In these cases, a box spring on slats can be a noticeable improvement.
Should I Place My Mattress on The Floor?
Placing a mattress or box spring on the floor isn't ideal. The primary reason is it makes the bed prone to developing mildew or mold growth due to the lack of ventilation.
Memory foam. Latex and hybrid models are usually "no-turn" mattresses. That means you can't sleep on the bottom side of the bed like you can with some innerspring mattresses.
Are Bed Slats Right for All Mattresses?
Bed slats are compatible with all mattress types. However, as mentioned, there are better choices for innerspring models. The innerspring mattress combines with the box spring for a more functional and comfortable sleep experience.
If the slats are spaced too far apart, a memory foam mattress might press in between the slats. The minimum spacing for slats should be 2.75 inches apart. Any further apart and the bed will sag, reducing service life and voiding the warranty. However, it's hard to find slats that don't comply with this design rule.
How Many Slats Does a Bed Need?
For the standard queen and king-size bed, you'll need a frame with slats measuring one to four inches in width, with two inches being the common standard. Most structures will have between 16 to 20 slats, depending on if it's a regular-length or extra-length mattress. Twin bed frames typically use 16 to 18 slats.
How Do I Measure a Mattress for Bed Slats?
Most manufacturing brands sell bed slat foundations to fit a specific bed frame and mattress size. If you have an extra-length bed and provide a standard-length slat foundation, you'll have a gap of two to three slats at the end.
This isn't ideal, as one end will sag. If that's the case for you, and you can't get extra slats from the hardware store or timber store, consider skipping one slat at the head and one at the foot of the base to give more overall support and prevent sagging.
Most manufacturing brands connect the slats using a fabric, typically nylon, allowing easy installation, assembly, and disassembly. However, some brands may provide loose slats for fitting to the base.
Does a Mattress with Slats Feel Different?
Whether you choose a box spring base or a slat foundation depends on your mattress choice, bed function, and budget. A box spring base is typically the better choice for the innerspring mattress, while the slat is ideal for memory foam beds.
Box springs give your bed more bounce from the coiled spring design, and bed slats don't feature coils, providing less buoyancy. Either way, choose the right model for your preferences, budget, and mattress type.
Key Takeaways Regarding a Box Spring on Slats
Here's the high points of our discussion regarding placing a box spring on slats.
- Bed slats or a box spring are available for your bed frame and mattress.
- Choosing the right one depends on your mattress type, budget, and preferences.
- Box springs have more buoyancy and bounce but less stability.
- Slats are durable and strong but less comfortable.
- You can pair slat foundations with any mattress.
- Box springs are only compatible with innerspring mattresses and hybrid models.
So do I need a box spring if I have slats? No, you don't need one and it's not recommended for memory foam mattresses. But for spring mattresses and hybrid options, it's totally fine and there's plenty of valid reasons for doing so.
Can You Put a Box Spring on Top of Slats?
That should guide you through your decision making process. Yes, you can place a box spring on slats if you want the extra height or other benefits of using one, but don't pair it with a memory foam mattress. Hybrid mattresses are okay, though.