Mattress and Boxspring Shopping Advice

Mattress Set or Mattress Only?

What is the value of a box? When shopping for a new mattress should you need to buy a new box, or can you use your old box?  Is using a platform bed as good as using a box?

All of these are good questions, and the answer may vary.  Most boxes these days are just fabric covered height.  They have wooden slats across the top; oftentimes there will be cardboard over the slats.  The few companies that still use coils or metal in their boxes, use a rigid structure with little to no give.  Therefore, a box is merely height to hold a mattress on a frame.  This is one of the reason platform beds have become more popular over the years.  As boxes became an unnecessary part of the support system, people have chosen to save money by selecting frames that no longer require a box.

It used to be that boxes were an integral part of that “support system”.  If you go back far enough in the history of mattresses, you’ll find that batting materials like hay, wool, and cotton were the sleep surfaces of choice for most people (nowadays, we would liken these beds to futon mattresses).  Back then coil boxes would provide responsiveness to a sleep surface that was generally quite firm.  As mattress companies became more developed, coil systems were inserted into beds to increase their comfort life.  These heat tempered coils were able to maintain their shape for up to 2 million compressions, whereas batting materials compressed fairly quickly.

With coils now being part of the mattress, the coil boxes became a liability to mattress companies.  The number of coils used in boxsprings were not numerous enough to handle the weight of a mattress plus people combined; and mattress companies were more likely to have warrant-able sags to mattress sets they sold.  Often times, people needed to insert plywood between the mattress and box to firm up their sleep surface.  When people didn’t firm up the bed themselves, sags in low coil count boxes led to problem for mattress manufacturers and consumers alike.

So mattress companies changed.  Boxes are now manufactured with little to no give so that sags are less likely to be a result of the box, and are sometimes an unnecessary purchase.

If you are now in the market for a new bed, and your bed frame requires the use of a box, do you need to buy a new one?

Unfortunately, you may.  Mattress warranties require that you put the mattress on good support system.  Platform beds are almost always okay, but old boxsprings generally aren’t.  As I said before, these old support systems can develop sags, and that will telegraph through, and potentially even damage a new mattress. If your old box has a slatted wood top and no give, then you should never need to replace it.  These platform boxes are a permanent solution; and essentially all mattress are okay on these.

Then why did the salesperson tell me I have to replace my box, or that it would void my warranty?

It may be that the salesperson doesn’t know; or it could be that a rare mattress company has a unique policy.  A platform box is equivalent to a platform bed.  If there is center support under the middle of the box or mattress, you will meet the requirements for nearly all companies.   If you are using a box, anything over a twin or full size should have center support; if it’s a platform bed even a full needs that support.

9 thoughts on “Mattress and Boxspring Shopping Advice

  1. Very interesting point with a guarantee of the mattress. I understand that if the bed frame does not meet the standards of the mattress – a guarantee disappear? Some companies offer a lifetime limited warranty, they probably rely on ignorance of the buyer. Thank you that opened my eyes, I do not think about it.

  2. Pingback: It’s Not Rocket Science | Bedrooms and More Seattle

  3. Your advice is awesome! I’m going to replace my 20 years old mattress but don’t know how to shop a new mattress. Your article helps me a lot! I have a question, which one is better the latex mattress or memory foam?

  4. Latex is firm and more eco-friendly, memory foam relieves pressure points but is made with harsh chemicals. Another alternative is latex memory foam.
    CONSIDER THIS: Latex and/or memory for are quite warm to sleep on. I personally cannot sleep on any foam type mattress, as they make me toss and turn trying to keep cool, irregardless of pressure points.
    IMHO: I like the individual coil spring pillow-top mattress the best, they draw the heat away, provide support, and in a king size bed, do not affect the other bed occupant (as combined-wrapped coils tend to draw the fabric tight).

  5. There is a difference between “botanical latex” and “synthetic latex”. As with any petroleum based foam (memory foam, the poly foam in your car seats and synthetic latex), people tend to sleep warm. Botanical latex does not have that problem. If you couple it with wool, you will be even happier w/ the results (if you tend to run hot). Another thing, “natural latex” is not the same as “botanical latex”. Mattresses labeled as “natural latex” might be all botanical, a mix of botanical and synthetic or 100% synthetic. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW! So, be sure to look at the mattress tag. It will tell you (by weight) what is in the mattress.

  6. Hi, Gary here.
    We have handled both the memory foam and the Botanical Latex beds for many years. The Latex mattresses are by far the superior sleep system, and our favorite product. They are long lasting, comfortable, and as natural as you can possibly get your bed to be. Everyone here chooses to sleep on the latex beds. There are many firmness levels to pick from to satisfy your comfort needs, and the expected life span, based on customer input and personal experiences, should exceed 30 years. (They have actually been around since the 1930’s.) We display over 30 different models to choose from from three different companies including Englander, OMI, and our own 45th Street Bedding models.
    On the other hand, we have had terrible luck and input from customers on the memory foam beds. Complaints include their odor, they sleep too hot, hard to move around in, and they change dramatically with use and climate or room temperature changes. They are well advertised and most models are actually more expensive than a comparable comfort level in the Botanical Latex models.
    I’m not sure where you live, but we would be delighted to have you visit our showroom and test drive the Latex beds. If you live far away, we would be happy to answer any questions you may have by phone. We are here 7 days a week – M-F 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday 11am to 5pm. We work hard to make our shop a comfortable and informative experience for you.
    Thank You for your interest. I look forward to talking with you.

    Gary Hurst
    Bedrooms & More
    300 NE 45th St
    Seattle, WA 98105
    206-633-4494 or 1-888297-8844

  7. I have a Rice Bed. I bought a box spring (9″) and Serata Winding Creek Fm Mattress (10″). The height of the bed has gone up. If I put slates on the bed and remove the box spring ……will that be a good support to my mattress.

  8. Does anyone have any information about the Stearns and Foster bed the “Kathryn”. We are looking into purchasing a new bed but have a store credit for the last new bed we bought. It developed a “valley” within 6 months.


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