Why Does Your Bed Need Support?

image of a bed on a box spring or foundation

Just like your body, your mattress needs the right kind of support to perform at its best. Without adequate support, a mattress is prone to sagging and premature wear, which means you won’t get the comfortable sleep you need. When it comes to mattress support you have several options, starting with a traditional foundation (a.k.a. box spring).

Historically, a box spring—basically a wood box filled with coils—existed to add cushioning to the thin mattresses of the day. Today’s mattresses are thicker and more comfortable than ever, so the support underneath them has taken on an entirely different role (and hasn’t contained springs for about 20 years). A foundation’s job now is to protect your mattress and raise it to a comfortable height.

Is a box spring or foundation necessary?

The short answer is no, you don’t have to use a traditional foundation or box spring. You could, for example, toss your mattress on the floor and get the support you need (though because of dust, mold, and allergens it’s not recommended).

You do need a foundation if:

  • You’re using a standard metal bed frame or any bed that provides only a rim around the perimeter. Without a foundation, the mattress won’t have adequate support.
  • Your bed frame is set at a height that assumes a foundation. (The optimal height of a mattress is 25 inches off the floor.)
  • Your mattress warranty requires a specific type of foundation.

For the best aesthetics and performance, you can purchase your new mattress as a set with a matching foundation. But it’s fine to use your existing foundation as long as it’s less than five years old; isn’t sagging, squeaking, or otherwise damaged; and your new mattress warranty doesn’t require a specific type of foundation. If you are keeping an existing foundation for a new queen or king size mattress, be sure it has adequate center support to prevent sagging.

Learn More About Saatva’s Innerspring Mattress and Adjustable Base

Saatva Classic Innerspring

Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.


Lineal Adjustable Base

With weightless, Zero Gravity support, the Lineal adjustable base allows you to set your ideal position for sleeping—and living—with one touch of the remote.


Platforms and adjustable bases

Platform bases provide a solid surface for your mattress, without the need of a traditional foundation or box spring. The main attraction of a platform is one of style: because they have sleek lines and sit lower to the ground, they’re a good choice for contemporary interiors.

(Platforms can be slatted as well as solid; just make sure the slats are no more than four inches apart.)

For the ultimate in comfort, consider an adjustable base.An adjustable base is a motorized platform that allows you to customize the position of the mattress by raising the head and/or foot of the bed. Today’s adjustable bases come with a lot of special features; Saatva’s Lineal base, for example, has under-bed lighting and head and leg massage options.

Whatever you do, don’t even think about using your old mattress as a foundation. It’s too soft and won’t create a stable, comfortable surface for a good night’s sleep, the most important feature of any bed.