Box spring or wood slats?
March 14, 2014 1:01 PM   Subscribe

We just got a nice new mattress. It came with a box spring. We were using our old mattress on an IKEA bed (the Redalen, which I guess they don't sell anymore) with their cheap wooden slats, the Sultan Lade, as support. All things being equal, we'd stick with the IKEA bed and slats. But are all things equal? Are there advantages to using the box spring instead of the slats?
posted by Xalf to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The box spring is going to result in the mattress being higher off the ground.

Whether this is a good thing is entirely up to you.
posted by valkyryn at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: Some mattress warranties are only valid if you use the matching box spring. On the other hand, I've never used a mattress warranty, and neither has anyone I know personally.
posted by ethidda at 1:06 PM on March 14, 2014

I have those Sultan Lade slats on my bed (no box spring), and they shift around horribly and come out of place a lot. This is the first bed I've had that doesn't have a box spring, and I notice a little less firmness overall but generally don't have complaints about bed softness. My boyfriend has back problems and absolutely hates the Ikea slats (I think more because of the shifting than the firmness), but he does seem to have more back pain & use a heating pad more often than when we had the same top mattress but also used the corresponding box spring.
posted by jabes at 1:07 PM on March 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

You want either slats or the boxspring. They provide the same function - they lift the bed off the floor and provide extra support with a bit of give. Mattress manufacturers usually require a boxspring or you void their warranty, but there's often an exception for a 'platform bed' which is what you have. Also, yes, the warranty is generally pretty pointless anyway.

Long story short, I think you're good to just use the slats if that's what you want to do. Try it out and if you don't like it, try the box spring instead.
posted by muddgirl at 1:08 PM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: I've been on slats a couple of years and am not a fan for many of the reasons jabes has. Going back to boxspring. However, I have a king, so a couple of twin boxsprings aren't hard to find, either.

If you take out the slats, is there enough form/support to have boxsprings on there?
posted by tilde at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2014

Do you have kids? If so, I would go with using the box spring. I remember breaking a slat bed as a kid from jumping on my mattress.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:33 PM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: When I bought a mattress, it came with a foundation. A foundation looks just like a box spring, but it's hard all over, just a fabric-covered box with no give, no springs inside. If that's what you have, I would far prefer it over slats. Slats are weaker and can shift and squeak. A foundation is firm and silent. Boxspring is somewhere in between.

IMO: slats < boxspring < foundation
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have those slats and had the shifting problem. A dowel placed between the two rows of slats fixed the shifting. My Ikea bed frame is just a bit longer than my mattress, which was similarly fixed by putting a small wood block between the mattress and the frame. I'd guess you wouldn't have to do all that if you used a boxspring, but it was a dead simple fix. I've had close to 500 pounds of people on the bed, in, um, highly active situations, and have had no issues.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:43 PM on March 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Matresses need to have either a box spring/foundation or a solid, flat surface.

Those slats are meant to fit inside the rails of a bed frame, upon which you would place the box spring. Ideally, though, the slats should also have center supports, which those Ikea pieces don't seem to have.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:52 PM on March 14, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have jumped in sooner about the IKEA slats. Ours have a center bar and we have never had a problem with them shifting.

I guess we'll just try it both ways to see if we feel a difference.
posted by Xalf at 1:59 PM on March 14, 2014

We use a dozen or so 2x4s covered with a piece of 1/2" plywood. I used cedar for the lumber and a good quality single-face birch for the ply. Less squeeky (not at all!) than commercial slats, doesn't have the undesirable height or expense of a boxspring. Probably cost around $100 all told. All that was necessary was a few cuts for width.
posted by bonehead at 2:07 PM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We do something similar to what bonehead does, except we build the whole thing out of 2 x 4s so there's ventilation. It's like a frame covered with slats. I loathe boxsprings, for some reason they destroy my back.

My claim to fame, apparently: I HAVE returned a mattress under its warranty!
posted by HotToddy at 2:32 PM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We tried the Ikea slats. The very first night they shifted out of place and sent the mattress and me crashing to the floor. I returned them the following day and replaced them with a box spring, which has never caused us any trouble.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:58 PM on March 14, 2014

My claim to fame, apparently: I HAVE returned a mattress under its warranty!

That's a pretty exclusive group you're in. Mattress warranties are so famously loop-hole-riddled and vague as to be nigh-on unenforceable.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on March 16, 2014

I've just acquired an Ikea bedframe with the same slats you have, and mine came with dowels to hold the slats in place. They seem to be working perfectly well. While I haven't, ahem, intensively wear-tested it yet, the bedframe came from a friend who I assume probably did. I've had no problems with it so far, and as far as I know she didn't either.

My ex-husband and I moved way too many times, and had many mattress configurations over the years. I liked our last slat bed much better than the ones we had with box springs, and in fact specifically looked for a slat bed for myself.

Box springs seem to me to have no significant advantages apart from the height (which would, admittedly, be useful), so it doesn't take much by way of disadvantage to convince me to dispense with them. And there's a big one: box springs SUCK to move. The rigid frame meant I had to take more than one apart, carry up pieces separately, and put them together in the appropriate room because they wouldn't go up stairs or around corners. Mattresses bend. Those things don't. And screw that. While I don't plan on moving again any time soon, it is SO MUCH EASIER to carry the slats that I'm over to this for life.

So I say yay slats. And apparently I feel surprisingly strongly about it. It was *really annoying* taking those things apart and putting them back together.
posted by Because at 10:14 PM on March 16, 2014

My claim to fame, apparently: I HAVE returned a mattress under its warranty!

That's a pretty exclusive group you're in. Mattress warranties are so famously loop-hole-riddled and vague as to be nigh-on unenforceable.
posted by Thorzdad Yesterday [+]

It was a BeautyRest mattress returned in 1998 or 1999 because some of the coils just gave up within a year of purchase. Maybe return policies were different then? It was an easy return, I remember that.
posted by HotToddy at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2014

Response by poster: We tried it both ways. Box spring felt a little more comfortable, so box spring it is.
posted by Xalf at 7:25 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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