Bed Slats vs Box Spring: Which Is Better?

Bed Slats vs Box Spring: Which Is Better?

Written by Dreamcloud Editorial Team

Last Updated on Jun 14, 2022

In this article:

    The importance of deep and restful sleep is undebatable today. For it, people go to any lengths, be it whooping expensive bed sheets, mattresses, or even sleep machines that lull you into sleep. But all of these would go down the drain if the support or foundation for your mattress is not right.  

    A wrong foundation would lead to sagging, indentations, and other such problems that would lead to uncomfortable sleep and soreness, stiffness, and body ache when you wake up.  

    Given that, there are two popular types of foundations - the bed slats and the box springs. But which one reigns supreme? Let’s find out by understanding them and their pros and cons.

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    What Are Bed Slats?

    Bed slats are nothing but long planks of solid wood or metal. They sit inside the bed frame or mattress foundation and are usually rested side by side with a distance of 2 to 2.75 inches between them. It helps hold the weight of the mattress and the sleepers and helps distribute the weight and pressure evenly to avoid sinking and other problems.  

    A few bed frames also have bed slats connected like a ladder. Such a slatted bed base is generally covered with fabrics to help them stay put and avoid slipping.  

    Both types of slats are made more robust by securing them to the side of the bed frame or the foundation. 

    Benefits of Using Bed Slats

    Even though the slatted foundation has been around for long, its popularity has surged recently as an alternative to the standard box spring. It is more convenient, supportive, and comfortable than other foundations.  

    A few leading benefits of using metal or wood slats for bed are: 

    • Affordable 

    Be it metal or wooden slats, they are often hollow but strong and durable. Hence, they use fewer materials. Consequently, they come cheaper than other foundations and become far more affordable.  

    • Lightweight 

    The inherent design of bed slats makes them lightweight yet durable and strong. Hence, they are far easier to transport and move about. 

    • Easy to Assemble 

    The lightweight and often separate pieces of bed slats make them easy to assemble, disassemble, and move around as compared to heavy box springs.  

    • Better Air Flow  

    The open spaces between the slats facilitate better airflow, increasing ventilation and preventing heat retention and any moisture build-up. Consequently, sleepers remain cool through the night, and the bed and mattress also remain protected from mold or mildew problems.  

    • Durable 

    Despite the lightweight design, bed slats have proved their mettle regarding durability.  

    All these advantages make the bed slats an excellent option for all the people on a shoestring budget and looking for a light, affordable, yet durable option. It is especially recommended for seniors to help them live independent lives and all sleepers who suffer from heat build-up sleeping problems.

    Drawbacks of Using Bed Slats

    Slats can also prove problematic.  A few of its drawbacks are: 

    • Potential Sagging 

    If the slats are too thin or spaced more than 2.75 inches apart, you might find your mattress sagging, regardless of your mattress being of premium quality. Hence, you might discover proper support missing. For instance, memory foam sags because of its characteristics if the slats are spaced wider than 2.75 inches.  

    • Potential Shifting  

    If you are using too thin and light slats, they might shift. It might even break and lay flush with your bed frame. The outcome would be a potential injury to you and damage to your bed frame.  

    If the slats are too thin, it's best to make them more robust by placing a bunkie board above them.  

    • Prone to Sliding 

    We know that the bed slats need to be secured to the bed frame. If they are not properly secured, they might slide and shift to one side of the bed. They might even fall off and lead to an accident and injury.

    What is a Box Spring?

    The second foundation option is the box spring. It is a heavy platform generally crafted of a wooden skeleton, housing spring coils. This box frame is typically made of wood, though metal is also used. A thin fabric layer covers the frame as sheeting or cushion.  

    These housed coil springs help in even weight distribution and shock absorption and provide sufficient bounce and durability.  

    Because they are thicker than a slatted bed base, they offer a height elevation missing in a slatted bed foundation. They are also much heavier comparatively. 

    Benefits of Using a Box Spring

    While box springs are not as popular today as bed slats, they offer several advantages.  

    • Possible Bounce  

    Traditional box springs had spring coils inside to provide an extra bounce. In contrast, modern box springs are hollow inside without those spring coils. However, they offer terrific bounce with spring coils inside and when paired with an innerspring mattress.  

    However, since modern box springs lack innerspring coils, you need to check for them if you crave that extra bounciness.  

    • Added Elevation  

    The box springs have a natural height, and hence, they provide an elevation that is missing in the bed slats. It makes it easier for people who require that extra height, making mounting and dismounting the bed easier.  

    • Stable Support System 

    The design of the box springs is such that they are heavy and do not move or shift. Hence, they do not shift like bed slats and offer a sturdier support system.  

    Given its height advantage, box springs are considered better for senior adults. Its lift and support are also ideal for people with back pain. It is also suitable for super-quality mattresses as it enhances the mattress specifications and increases its durability. 

    Drawbacks of Using Box Springs

    • Heavy and Cumbersome to move 

    Box springs cannot be broken down into components. They also need more materials. Thus, while their weight offers support and prevents sagging, they are cumbersome to move around even in the house. They are meant to be placed in one position.  

    Moreover, it might not be ideal for all bed frames since not all frames can take their natural heaviness and might get damaged.  

    • Lack of Support  

    If the box springs are hollow inside without spring coils, its middle gets little support though its perimeter might be supported. As a result, it might cause sagging and indentions in your mattress, especially the foam base ones.  

    • Extra Firmness 

    The box spring foundation might prove too firm without spring coils, especially for sensitive sleepers. However, if you desire durability and do not mind firmness, you should opt for it.  

    • Expensive  

    Since the foundation uses more material, it comes at a higher price tag and might not be affordable for some. 

    Things to Consider While Choosing Bed Slat vs. Box Spring

    While deciding between a bed slat and box spring is a personal choice, a few considerations would help you make an educated choice. 

    • Mattress Type 

    The foundation plays a crucial role in optimizing mattress performance. The bed slats work with all types of mattresses except innerspring. Furthermore, it can only work with a memory foam mattress if the space between the slats is narrow and less than 2.75 inches.  

    Likewise, the innerspring mattress works exclusively with box springs. All other mattresses work fine with a box spring.  

    • Bed Height 

    Since box springs provide a natural height, it is the choice if you need extra elevation.  

    • Weight Capacity 

    Metal slats take more weight than wooden slats. Nevertheless, a slatted foundation takes an average of 600 pounds of the cumulative weight of the sleepers. In contrast, box springs have a few thousand pounds average weight capacity. You can choose accordingly.  

    • Aesthetics

    If you want to enhance your bedroom's luxurious look, then the box springs would be a better choice than bed slats.  

    • Maintenance 

    Box springs tend to gather more dust and require more care and maintenance than bed slats.  

    • Storage  

    Bed slats offer plenty of storage space, while box springs offer little to no storage space.  

    • Budget 

    Bed slats are always cheaper than box springs if budget becomes your primary concern. 

    Conclusion

    Both bed slats and box springs have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice would depend on the type of mattress and your preference. Nevertheless, slats offer a more convenient, versatile, affordable, and suitable option than box springs. In contrast, the box springs offer you a sturdier, more durable, and longer-lasting experience

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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