Platform Beds vs. Box Springs: Similarities and Differences

Wooden platform with large bed with striped sheets and large window behind

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

When it comes to a comfy bed, a bed base is just as important as a mattress. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night feeling discomfort, consider buying a new bed base. Bed bases can significantly improve your bed’s comfort level (particularly if your current bed base is low-quality, old, or nonexistent), and buying a new one is much less expensive than buying a new mattress

A platform bed is a bed base that doubles as a bed frame, while a box spring is strictly intended to support your mattress. Both types have their own pros and cons. This comparison will help you determine which one is right for you.

Platform Beds

What Is a Platform Bed?

A platform bed is a bed frame topped with either slats or a solid surface. Relatively low profile, platform beds are usually between five and 12 inches high. They can support your mattress independent of another bed base, so you can place your mattress directly on top of the platform.

Support

The level of support a platform bed can provide depends on its construction. If it has a solid surface, it will provide firm support to your mattress, providing little to no give. That’s a good option if you prefer a firm sleeping surface. 

Platform beds with wooden slats may have a slight amount of give, depending on the strength of the wood and how far apart the slats are spaced. Slats spaced farther apart will have more give, while ones that are closer together will be more firm. A mattress topper can help soften the overall bed feel if needed.

Durability

Platform beds are generally very durable and can last decades without damage. But ultimately, how durable your platform bed is depends on what it’s made of. If your platform bed is made of solid wood or metal, you can rest easy knowing it will last you a long time. Particle board or composite wood platform beds are usually less expensive options, but they aren’t as durable and can wear down comparatively quickly.

Mattress Compatibility

Platform beds are compatible with most mattress types and work well to support even heavy memory foam or latex mattresses. You have a wide variety of mattress types to choose from if you have a platform bed.

Appearance

Popular and stylish, platform beds easily make your bedroom look sleek and modern. Because they don’t require additional bed bases, like box springs or foundations, they have a low profile and don’t make your bed look bulky. You can also make your own platform bed to match your decor style perfectly.

The downside of platform beds being low to the ground is that people with mobility concerns may have trouble getting in and out of bed.

Box Springs

What Is a Box Spring?

A box spring is a bed base that is designed to be placed on top of a bed frame. Typically, a box spring is a wood frame that contains a network of steel coils covered by breathable fabric.

Support

Instead of solid slats, box springs use steel coils to support a mattress. The coils are relatively flexible, especially with use over time, meaning this bed base type has some give to it and provides support that’s somewhat springy feeling. They absorb shock and your body weight, but are typically only compatible with lightweight innerspring mattresses. Latex or memory foam mattresses are heavier and can weigh down the springs, which compresses the coils and damages the box spring.

Durability

Depending on how often you use it, box springs can last as long as 10 years. In other words, the box spring in your sparsely-used guest room will last longer than the one you sleep on every night. With use over time, the steel coils in box springs naturally wear down and provide less and less support. 

Mattress Compatibility

Heavy mattresses can strain the steel coils in box springs, so avoid placing a foam or latex mattress on them. The ideal mattress for a box spring is an innerspring mattress because they’re relatively lightweight and won’t cause damage to the box spring.

Appearance

Box springs raise the height of your mattress to make it easier to get in and out of bed. If you have mobility issues, that’s a game changer. That said, box springs are bulky and can make your bed look big. Box springs have a simple design that looks well in rooms with a traditional decor style.

Platform Bed vs. Box Spring

Platform Bed
  • A bed frame and bed base in one

  • Low profile

  • Modern, sleek look

  • Long-lasting

Box Spring
  • Bed frame not included

  • Raises height of bed

  • Bulky

  • Absorbs shock

  • Springs can wear down over time

Platform beds and box springs are two very different types of bed bases. While they both work well to support your mattress, they look and feel completely different. The right one for you depends on your preferences—if you prefer a firm sleeping surface, a platform bed is ideal (and vice versa). 

If you’re going for a more sleek and modern style in your bedroom, a platform bed will fit in nicely. But if you prefer a big, tall, inviting bed, go with a box spring. 

Also consider the type of mattress you have already. If you’re in the market for a whole new bed, your options are wide open and you can consider both bed bases. But if you’d like to keep your mattress, consider whether it’s compatible with a platform bed or box spring before buying your bed base.

Tip

Consult your doctor if you have medical concerns that require special sleeping conditions.