Box Spring vs Slats: Which Mattress Base Is Better?

Are you looking for a new mattress and trying to decide whether to go with a box spring or slats?

The box spring vs slats debate is a common one and it is worth taking your time to consider the pros and cons of each before making up your mind.

Neither can really claim to be objectively "better" as both have their benefits and both have their shortcomings.

Which one you chose ultimately comes down to which features are more important to you.

The Benefits Of A Box Spring

A Box Spring Extends The Life Of Your Mattress

The biggest credential of a box spring is that it acts as a shock absorber for your mattress. The extra give and support reduces wear and tear on the mattress and prevents it sagging prematurely.

Slats on the other hand have much less give than a box spring and without the extra support reduce the life of the mattress.

Given that a mattress should be at least a once every ten year purchase, and that it is a high cost product, anything that extends the life of the mattress is beneficial.

A Box Spring Doesn't Shift

One of the biggest problems with slats, particularly cheap slats, is that they can shift and move.

By virtue of being heavy, solid and one piece a box spring doesn't have this drawback.

A Box Spring Can Withstand Bouncing

If you have kids or are planning on having kids then one thing to consider is how well your bed can handle bouncing.

The extra give and support from a box spring will tolerate the wear and tear from bouncing much better than the alternatives.

The Benefits Of Slats

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Slats Are Aesthetically Pleasing

While box springs are arguably better for your mattress they aren't as pleasing to the eye when compared to stylish sleek platform frames with slats.

Personally the functionality of a mattress is more important to me, but if design and look is important to you then this is a good case for slats.

Underbed Storage Space

You cannot store anything under the bed when you have a box spring, but you can with a slat bed.

If you are pressed for space in your bedroom then a slat bed can be very useful at freeing up much needed storage room.

When I lived in an apartment I don't know how I would have managed without the extra underbed storage afforded by my slat bed.

Better Air Circulation

Whether you have a box spring or slats you should regularly air your mattress.

However it's not always easy to remember to do this all the time. One benefit of a slat bed is that it still gets some airflow to the underside of the mattress, while a box spring does not.

This helps keep out moisture, mold and mildew. It doesn't replace regular airing but it does help a little bit.

Slats Are Cheaper

Generally speaking a slat bed will be cheaper than a box spring. I would argue that the extra cost of a box spring is worth it, however the cost savings of slats can be significant.

This means that you can spend more money on the mattress itself and get a higher quality product.

However you need to weigh this up against the fact that the box spring will slow down wear and tear on your mattress, which may make it more cost effective in the long run.

Slats Are Easier To Move

Moving a box spring can be a real hassle. It's heavy and incredibly difficult to manoeuvre up stairs and in tight spaces.

Unassembling a slat bed by comparison is a piece of cake. If you move often or have difficult access into your property then consider slats.

On the other hand, the inonvenience of a box spring is only a one off.

Slats Mean Less Metal

If you are concerned about the amount of metal in your bed and the potential health effects, then opting for a wooden frame with slats takes this out of the equation.

If you pair that with a mattress, such as natural latex, then you have a sleeping environment without any metal.

A box spring, by definition, contains a significant number of springs, which increases the overall metal content in your bed.


Overall the argument between a box spring and slats comes down to quality vs convenience.

The key feature of a box spring is that it is a shock absorber for your mattress, in the same way that the mattress is a shock absorber for your body.

But do you really need this? Many would argue that a platform bed with slats provides adequate support and that the mattress on its own is sufficient.

I think having a box spring is better than not having one. Especially given the huge outlay of a new mattress and the need to protect it so it can do a good job for years.

However slats do offer a compelling case for convenience by virtue of being cheaper, offering storage space and being easier to move.

My recommendation is that you should err on the side of a box spring unless you have a pressing need to choose slats.

Image credit: Rex Roof