Mattress/Boxspring Question
October 29, 2004 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Why do we need boxsprings?

I am designing a bed frame to build in the wood shop, and I was wondering why do we need boxsprings? My brother has 2 beds in his house without them, though I don't know if they are special mattresses, and futons don't use them. I'd like to build this without if that's possible.
posted by Eekacat to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Trick question. We don't? I once read that boxsprings prolong the life of the mattress, but recently I had a long conversation with the twenty- or thirty-year owner of a mattress store, and he said the trend is now the opposite, toward firmer boxsprings that are actually better for the mattress.

He didn't think my idea (a plywood and 2x4 frame rather than boxspring) would lessen the mattress life at all.

I'd just toss the mattress on the floor, but it's a little colder, I'm used to being up a little higher, and one of my cats loves to sleep under the bed.

I'm not sure what the origin of boxsprings is--I'll leave that to someone else.
posted by Shane at 6:57 AM on October 29, 2004

There's another reason you don't want your mattress directly on the floor -- it's terrible for your floor. Humans sweat a lot while they sleep, and the result is that your floor is quite likely to mildew and/or warp if there's no room underneath the mattress to breathe.

Once you have the mattress up off the floor, you need either a boxspring or slats to provide support for the mattress, and boxsprings are springier and less prone to breakage than most slats. That's it.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:07 AM on October 29, 2004

Slats work just fine.
posted by blueshammer at 7:10 AM on October 29, 2004

You don't need one. Those who say so are just tools of Big Boxspring.

Seriously, the only reason I know of that boxsprings are helpful is that they absorb sudden shocks better — if you jump/dive/fall onto a mattress supported by slats, you're more likely to break the slats than break a boxspring. But you can get along just fine without it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:23 AM on October 29, 2004

I slept with my mattress on the floor, and it was great. Only good thing about having an elevated bedframe is you can store stuff under your bed.
posted by gramcracker at 7:46 AM on October 29, 2004

I have a solid latex mattress (which, incidentally, is BY FAR the most comfortable I've ever slept on), and there's a slightly denser also latex "boxspring" underneath it, which sits directly on the floor. The only reason I can see for it is variable support.
posted by Caviar at 8:22 AM on October 29, 2004

I always thought the answer was, because you can't buy a mattress without a box spring. Can you? I made some calls, and none of the mattress stores I talked with would sell a mattress by itself.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:31 AM on October 29, 2004

I bought my mattress sans box spring.

Some beds are designed with the expectation that you'll use a box spring--with them, I think you need one.

Beds that are not are called "platform beds." That's what I've got. Bunkbeds also generally do not take box-springs, but use "bunk-boards" instead.
posted by adamrice at 8:46 AM on October 29, 2004

Only good thing about having an elevated bedframe is you can store stuff under your bed.

That's one reason my bed sits on the floor: if I had an elevated bedframe, I'd store stuff under my bed.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2004

We don't. There may be a mattress lifespan difference somehow with just a plain mattress on a good surface.

I've been sleeping on an inner spring mattress for 15 years and love it. I'm on my second one, I got them from Original Mattress Factory. Inner springs are heavier than a regular mattress, but very comfortable without the additional bulk and height of a box spring.
posted by yoga at 9:55 AM on October 29, 2004

Some of them actually have some spring to them. As such, they act as part of the bed's support. Those that are rigid provide a mostly-hollow ventilated space under the mattress. You could use other things for that, of course, like a futon, wood slats, whatever.
posted by scarabic at 2:14 PM on October 29, 2004

I have a solid latex mattress

You mean latex foam?
posted by jjg at 11:07 AM on October 30, 2004

Response by poster: I appreciate the input, I will design something sans boxspring, and send the boxspring down the well. My house is small and I would like to maximize the space as well as I can. Thanks!
posted by Eekacat at 6:03 PM on October 30, 2004

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