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Do Memory Foam Mattresses Need Box Springs?

Malena Piper


Before you get your new memory foam mattress, you’ll want the best foundation to support it. Box springs work well with innerspring mattresses, but cannot support memory foam beds because memory foam mattresses need more support.

Due to the foam components of memory foam mattresses, they can only be used on certain surfaces, such as a platform bed, slatted foundation, or the floor. If you are using a slatted base with your memory foam mattress, the slats should be no more than 3 inches apart to maintain its longevity and preserve the mattress’s warranty.

This article discusses why your memory foam mattress needs proper support and which type of foundations are best for your new bed.

Why Are Memory Foam Mattresses Not Compatible With Box Springs?

A traditional box spring is constructed with a frame of steel springs or widely spaced wooden slats built into a wood frame. Box springs absorb shock from the sleeper’s movements and evenly distributes weight, preventing premature sagging.

Box springs typically have slats spaced more than 3 inches apart. When memory foam mattresses are placed on top of box springs, the memory foam dips below the slats, causing pressure points and leading to material deterioration.

An unsupportive foundation can decrease a bed’s ability to improve spinal alignment and increase the risk of premature sagging; in contrast, a supportive bed base can increase the mattress’s lifespan by maintaining the mattress’s shape and deterring premature sagging.

Alternative Support Bases for Memory Foam Beds

Foundations are best suited for memory foam mattresses, as they are sturdy. Some have slats built into the frame to provide enough support for a mattress, while others, like some metal frames, have no slats or platform, and must be used with a box spring.

Platform Beds

You can place a memory foam mattress directly on a platform bed because they have no slats or gaps on their surface. The platform bed has a sleek modern design made without a headboard. They are more affordable than traditional bed frames and are available in several heights.

Platform beds don’t allow for much ventilation, which may result in heat and moisture retention in the memory foam mattress. If you’re a hot sleeper, you may feel more comfortable with a slatted mattress foundation.

Slatted Foundations

Panel beds, or slatted foundations, can also support a memory foam mattress without additional support. They are made of wood and wooden slats—the slats should be no more than 3 inches apart to offer study, even support.

A slatted foundation can support the mattress’s weight while allowing air circulation for a cooler night’s sleep. We suggest looking for a panel bed strong enough to support your mattress’s weight plus one more.  Most foundations should support at least 500 pounds.

These foundations are often built with enough room under the bed for sufficient storage space.

For more infomation on the difference between slats and box springs, check out our bed slats vs box sping guide.

Adjustable Beds

An adjustable bed frame can adjust to any position you need to read, watch TV, and sleep comfortably. This type of bed base is excellent for sleep apnea and acid reflux sufferers, as it can prevent stomach acid from coming up the esophagus and it opens the airways for easy breathing.

Adjustable bases are not compatible with box springs or other mattress foundations because they cannot adjust with the base. Instead, adjustable bases have a solid, flat surface for your mattress to rest on, providing it with even support.

Some adjustable bases come with many high-end features, including massage motors, under-bed lighting, and USB ports.

Bunkie Board

Bunkie boards are flat objects made of plywood or particleboard. They are placed on top of box springs to create a solid, even surface for the mattress but are not supportive on their own.

Metal Bed Frames

Some metal bed frames have metal grid support systems and others have slats. The slats and grid systems on these bed frames can create pressure points, leading to mattress deterioration. Placing a bunkie board down before laying your mattress on top prevents premature sagging in your memory foam mattress.

Metal bed frames without slats require mattress foundations to provide a memory foam mattress with even, sturdy support.

The Floor

Placing the mattress on the floor is a temporary and viable long-term option, although you’ll encounter the same issues placing the mattress directly on the floor as you would on a platform bed. On the ground, air cannot flow through the mattress’s bottom, leading to heat retention, so make sure to air out the mattress once a month.

Frequently Asked Question

Why have A box spring?

75 years ago, box springs were the go-to base because innerspring beds were more popular and available. Box springs don’t just support mattresses, They prevent sagging and extend the mattress’s longevity. They also raise your mattress to a desirable height to get out of bed easier and creates a level surface to optimize the mattress’s comfort.

Now that people have different mattress and foundation options, box springs are not as common.

Are box springs obsolete?

Although box springs are not as popular so they once were, they are not obsolete. Many people use box springs with innerspring mattresses. You can also use a box spring to add height to a bed. Box springs initially had spring coils inside to absorb shock and keep body weight evenly distributed. Now, box springs are made of a wood-framed box covered with cloth. New box springs do not provide support for the mattress.

What should you put under a memory foam mattress?

A memory foam mattresses should be placed on a solid or slatted foundation. If slats are 3 inches apart or more, place a 1-inch piece of plywood or a bunkie board between the slats and the mattress. This barrier will prevent sagging and structural damage to the mattress. If you want to use a box spring with your memory foam mattress, you can also place a plywood board or bunkie board between the mattress and the box spring.

Can you put a memory foam mattress on the floor?

Yes, memory foam mattresses are sturdy enough to be placed directly on the floor. However, we don’t recommend doing this long term. Placing your mattress on the floor can cause it to become dirty quickly. Contaminates and moisture from the floor may build-up in the bed and cause it to deteriorate quickly.

Can you put a mattress directly on slats?

Most modern mattresses can be placed directly on a slatted foundation. However, memory foam and latex foam mattresses should be placed on slats that are no more than 3 inches apart since the soft foam can sink down into the slats and cause damage. To protect your mattress, you can place a 1-inch piece of plywood or a bunkie board between the mattress and the foundation.


If you’ve been sleeping on an old mattress and boxspring for longer than 10 years, you’ll want to throw out your box spring alongside the bed. A new mattress and supportive foundation will significantly enhance your sleep quality.

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