Most mattresses are sold as a set, so most people just buy them as a set without much thought into why. Why do I need to buy the set? Do I need to buy the set? Good questions. Let's explore.
The box spring was first used in the late 19th century to provide a flat surface for mattresses and to lift them off of dirt floors. Box springs were created with a flexible spring in them to allow for more softness for the spring mattress. Early mattresses which utilized the traditional Bonnell or wire-tied coil system were rigid, so the flexible box spring gave them more give, which made them feel softer. And following suit, furniture companies produced beds that accommodated the box spring.
But over the past several years, mattresses have become better in quality and don't rely on a flexible base to provide the cushioning. And yet why do we still have box springs?
Go to any mattress store, mattress sale, natural mattress store, memory foam mattress store, furniture store, Costco...they are sell mattress sets. Why? Because there is a good profit margin in the box spring. Box springs nowadays are nothing more than a wooden frame with fabric around it, which costs the company very little money to make and has a very nice profit margin. In fact, one of the more recognizable memory foam manufacturers will go so far as to tell consumers that if they don't buy the box spring, it voids the warranty. Talk about manipulation! If you ask why, they will tell you it's because the mattress needs a rigid base, and yet they will sell the mattress in the same store on an adjustable base that moves up and down. Go figure.
My professional advice? Unless your existing box spring is broken or squeaky, use you existing box spring. But do NOT purchase a mattress from a company who tells you it would void the warranty. Would you really want a mattress that is so poorly made that the box spring you set it on voids the warranty?
Now, if your current box spring does in fact have some flexibility or springiness, your new mattress will feel different than the one of the showroom floor, keep that in mind. What I recommend to all my customers is, if you don't already have a good, usable box spring, set your mattress on a sturdy, rigid, breathable base. That can be a slatted platform bed, a non-broken box spring or an adjustable bed foundation.
If you have an existing headboard, footboard and rails with the traditional three slats to hold the box spring, you can simply add more slats to make your bed a platform support system. Make sure to leave no more than 4" space between the slats for proper support.
I get asked all the time if you can simply use plywood, to which I say a resounding "NO!" Mattresses need to breathe. Everyone sweats in their sleep, moisture has mass and weight, gravity pulls that moisture down to the bottom of the mattress. If it has nowhere to go, the bottom of the mattress, latex, memory foam, wool, cotton...any material...will potentially mold.
Check out our site for a great variety of affordable bases!