7 Alternatives to Box Springs (Our Best & Cheapest Picks)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

While box spring beds may seem like the norm, especially if you live in the United States, there are other ways to get a comfortable night’s rest without resting your mattress on box springs. In fact, you do not need a box spring, and if you currently have one, it may be doing you more harm than good.

It’s not uncommon for people to experience back pains as a result of their mattress and box spring combo. However, you can prevent soreness and get better sleep by opting for an alternative.

Alternatives to box springs include memory foam, slats, platform, innerspring, and hybrid mattresses. Box springs are used to add a base of comfort and structure to the mattress, so any alternative is a matter of personal choice. You can also use old milk crates, wooden pallets, or cardboard as a base for your mattress.

With that said, let’s take a look at these options so that you can save your back and possibly some money along the way!

What is a Box Spring?

Before we begin, it’s important to understand what exactly a box spring is and its’ purpose in your bedroom. Put simply, a box spring is just a wooden frame with a cloth covering and springs inside. It provides a foundation for your mattress and is essentially a shock absorber.

Its’ main purpose is to create a barrier between the mattress and the floor, keeping it away from dirt. They are very efficient and keep your mattress free of dust, food crumbs, human hair, and even pet dander. Since box springs are also used as a shock absorber, they will prevent your mattress from sagging and also evenly distribute your weight across the mattress while you’re getting in or out of bed.

By placing a mattress on top of a box spring, you also create a much higher bed. As a result, many choose to use a box spring if they prefer to simply have a taller bed.

Alternatives to Box Springs

Fortunately, if box springs aren’t the ideal situation for you, for a variety of reasons, you do have other options to achieve the same foundation and shock absorption. Let’s explore the top seven alternatives to box springs.

1. Memory Foam Mattress

As the name suggests, memory foam mattresses are made up of a foam material that perfectly forms to your body shape. With this alternative, your body is given the support it needs, in all the places that it needs it. Memory foam mattresses are known for being very comfortable and are often the best choice for those that suffer from chronic pain or just pain in general.

While they tend to be on the softer side, memory foam mattresses will give you an amazing sleeping experience, without the need for a box spring. In fact, they tend to be one of the mattress types where pairing with a box spring is discouraged.

Although memory foam mattresses are a bit pricey, they last longer than many other options due to their durability. Therefore, while you may have to pay more upfront, the expense will be made up over its long lifespan. As an added bonus, memory foam mattresses also repel allergens.

Pros of Memory Foam Mattresses:

  • Durability
  • Comfortability
  • Ideal for those with back, joint, or general body pain
  • Repel allergens
  • Long lifespan

Cons of Memory Foam Mattresses:

  • High price point
  • For sensitive individuals, the chemical odor may be too strong
  • The ability to retain body heat can make you hot while sleeping

2. Innerspring Mattress

With an innerspring mattress, you remove the need for a box spring due to the structured nature of this alternative. Innerspring mattresses have, as you might expect, a spring coil system inside of the mattress. They serve as an excellent alternative to box springs, due to the fact that they provide the same function without needing to purchase an additional bed foundation.

Put simply, an innerspring mattress is essentially a mattress and box spring all-in-one. Although they may feel similar to traditional mattresses, they offer much more support. Not to mention, the pricing is reasonable and they are readily available from many manufacturers.

As opposed to memory foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses do not repel allergens. They are susceptible to both allergens and dust mites and must be cleaned regularly. Also, while they are comfortable, many report that extended time on an innerspring mattress results in uncomfortable pressure and joint pain.

Pros of Innerspring Mattresses:

  • Comfortability
  • Inner coil system offers superior aeration
  • Ample support
  • Longevity
  • Good at retaining heat, for those who tend to be cold while sleeping

Cons of Innerspring Mattresses:

  • Do not limit transfer of motion, which can make sleeping difficult if you share the bed
  • Due to their low price, they tend to be made of lower quality materials and can feel fragile.
  • Spending an extended period of time in bed can result in joint pain.
  • Prone to dust mites and allergies

3. Hybrid Mattress

A hybrid mattress is basically a combination of an innerspring mattress and a memory foam mattress. They are the best of both worlds with the top-most layer being made of memory foam, or gel, for optimal support and comfort, and the inside containing springs, usually pocket coils.

Since hybrid mattresses are a combination of the two aforementioned alternatives, they possess a combination of their pros and cons.

Pros of Hybrid Mattresses:

  • Comfortability of the memory foam
  • Incredible support offered by the inner coils
  • Respond well to someone getting out of bed, offering immediate support
  • Excellent motion separation, ideal for sharing the bed with a partner

Cons of Hybrid Mattresses:

  • Since they’re new, there isn’t much research about their longevity.
  • They experience the same downsides as memory foam and innerspring mattresses such as heat retention, squeaking springs, and difficulty transporting due to their substantial weight.
  • Not widely available
  • Pricier than other options

4. Adjustable Bed

Adjustable beds provide maximum comfort for virtually any situation – whether it’s sleeping, watching TV, working from your bed, reading, or lounging, you’ll be able to achieve the perfect position. These types of beds consist of multiple hinges, allowing you to adjust them to fit your needs.

You’ve likely encountered adjustable beds in a hospital or nursing home setting, however, they can be used in your own home. They offer excellent health benefits, especially for those who suffer from chronic pain, are bedridden, have circulatory problems, or simply for achieving the most comfortable position possible.

As an alternative to box spring, the options are endless. You can use an adjustable bed to achieve the position you desire or need, all at your convenience.

Pros of Adjustable Beds:

  • Can be easily modified to fit your lifestyle requirements
  • Offers incredible health benefits
  • Improve quality of sleep by enhancing blood circulation

Cons of Adjustable Beds:

  • Notoriously expensive
  • Possible mechanical failures can be very inconvenient
  • After purchasing the bed, you must also buy a compatible mattress.

5. Platform Bed

If your primary reason for wanting a box spring has to do with requiring a taller bed, a platform bed is the perfect alternative. They come in a variety of heights to fit your particular preference. In most cases, they tend to look much nicer than a conventional box spring bed.

Platform beds come in a number of variations, while some appear like a “floating” bed, others are simply a solid unit that is raised off the ground. You have a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to platform beds, making it easy to find one that fits your design aesthetic.

Pros of Platform Beds:

  • Eliminate the need for a box spring
  • Offer additional storage underneath the bed
  • Amplify air circulation to the mattress
  • Can provide either a contemporary or conventional look, depending on the type

Cons of Platform Beds:

  • Very expensive
  • Not ideal for those that suffer from joint pains
  • Can lead to hip pain in those who sleep on their side

6. Slats

Slates are basically just wooden boards that extend the width of your bed frame to create a foundation for the mattress to rest on.

There are generally two types of slats to choose from:

  • Plain (wooden) slatting is the most basic option for supporting a mattress on a bed frame. This is likely the choice you’re most familiar with, as they are the type that comes with most Ikea bed frames. This type of slats works great with memory foam, hybrid, or innerspring mattresses, as they don’t need additional absorption.
  • Spring slats are the second type and they are basically slats that sit on a type of spring. One of the major benefits is that they can be adjusted to the individual, based on support needs. They also can work great with virtually any mattress type. This type provides excellent shock absorption without needing to purchase a box spring, or go another, pricier, route.

One of the primary benefits of slats is that they are incredibly inexpensive. They can even be made as a DIY project, using very little materials. Also, if the slats happen to break, they can be easily replaced for very little cost to you.

Pros of Slats:

  • Affordability
  • Widely available
  • Can improve aeration and air circulation to prevent night sweats
  • Increased storage space underneath the bed
  • Enhances the longevity of your mattress

Cons of Slats:

  • Over time, slats will bend and sag
  • Must be the proper width and length when purchasing, otherwise you’ll have issues
  • Can easily break if the mattress, the sleeper, or both are too heavy

7. Nothing – Placing the Mattress Directly on the Floor

Yes, you read that right. Nothing at all. Contrary to what you may have been taught before, an excellent mattress shouldn’t need more than a firm, flat base to rest on. This can be a great option for those on a tight budget. Simply putting your mattress on the floor provides you with somewhere to sleep, without having to spend any more money than you need to.

For those who don’t need a bed frame, don’t want one, or like a very simple look, the combination of your floor and a quality mattress can be a great alternative to a box spring. In fact, the Japanese have slept in this manner for centuries, with the futon trend becoming more and more popular in western culture as well.

If you still want to put something between your mattress and the floor, you can look into something like a Tamati mat or just a basic piece of plywood.

Pros of Nothing:

  • Great alternative for those on a tight budget
  • Easy!
  • No extra money spent
  • When done correctly, can be a very intriguing design choice
  • Looks great in a bohemian-style home
  • A good short-term solution

Cons of Nothing:

  • Many don’t like the idea of their blankets and sheets resting on a dirty floor
  • Can be hard to keep pets off your bed
  • No extra under-bed storage space
  • If the bed isn’t made, the room can look very unkempt
  • Not a good look if your home is contemporary or modern
  • Doesn’t offer much back support while sleeping
  • Not the best long-term solution
  • Will have to worry about falling out of bed and onto the floor, especially children.

DIY Box Spring Alternatives

Although the aforementioned alternatives can be effective, some can be relatively pricey. Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways that you can DIY a base for your bed. One way to do this is to recycle old milk crates and use them to fashion an effective box spring alternative. Ask your local market for their old milk crates and use them to form a base for your mattress. However, avoid doing more than two stacks high, as they’ll be too high and won’t form a very sturdy foundation.

Another DIY option is to simply use cardboard. While this may not sound like the ideal material to put between your mattress and the floor, it can work in a pinch. Finally, if you can get access to concrete cinder blocks or old wooden pallets, both can be used to craft excellent DIY box spring alternatives.

To avoid placing cinder blocks directly on your floor, use a piece of plywood as a barrier. As an added bonus, both cinder blocks and wooden pallets can also be painted to match the color of your room.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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