Mattress and Boxspring Shopping Advice
One question we frequently hear from our Seattle shoppers is, do I need a mattress set (mattress plus boxspring, also called a box) or can I get by with a mattress only?
Ready for some Q&A? We’re here to help dispel some myths about mattress shopping and make the process easier and more transparent for you.
Q: What’s the value of a box? When shopping for a new mattress, do I NEED to buy a new box, or can I use my old boxspring? Is using a platform bed — a bed that supports the mattress all on its own on a raised, horizontal frame — as good as using a boxspring?
A: 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 reasons platform beds have become more popular over the years. As boxes have become an unnecessary part of a bed’s 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 a bed’s 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 evolved, 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 for 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 problems 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.
Q: I’m in the market for a new bed, and my bed frame requires the use of a box. Do I need to buy a new one?
A: Unfortunately, you may. Mattress warranties require that you put the mattress on a 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 mattresses are okay on these.
Q: Then why did the salesperson tell me I HAVE to replace my box, or that it would void my warranty?
A: It may be that the salesperson doesn’t have enough education, 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 warranty requirements for nearly all mattress companies. If you are using a box, anything over a twin or full size mattress should have center support. If you’re using a platform bed, even a full needs that support.
Let’s talk. We’re listening.
What are your top questions about boxsprings or platform beds? Lay them on us. We’ll respond!