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What is the Difference Between a Bunkie Board, a Box Spring and a Foundation?

Mattress Foundation on white backround

One of the biggest influences on our sleep quality is what we sleep on. It goes without saying that most of us sleep on a traditional innerspring, memory foam or hybrid mattress. However, a mattress alone is not enough to provide the comfort and support you need. Your mattress needs a foundation. This is where bunkie boards, box springs and platform beds or slatted foundations come in. All four of these bases lift your mattress off of the ground to provide additional support and to enhance your bed’s overall performance. While a bunkie board, a box spring and a foundation all perform similar functions, there are notable differences between the three. Let’s unbox these differences to give you a better idea of which mattress base will work best for you.

What is a Bunkie Board?

A bunkie board is generally a thin, flat wood board that is placed between a mattress and its base. Essentially, a bunkie board is used in addition to or on top of a box spring or foundation to provide more substantial support for a mattress. A bunkie board is not usually a mattress foundation that stands on its own like a box spring would, rather, it is used as a complementary piece to an already existing bed set-up. For example, box springs do not provide enough support for all-foam or hybrid mattresses on their own, so a bunkie board would be used in addition to the box spring to provide the adequate support.

Benefits of a Bunkie Board

One of the biggest advantages of a bunkie board is its convenience. Bunkie boards are inexpensive, not too heavy, and can be easily transported. They are compact and add more stability to a mattress, sometimes making a mattress feel firmer. Although a bunkie board is typically made of plywood, it is available in other materials.

Drawbacks of a Bunkie Board

A few of the benefits of the bunkie board may also double as drawbacks. While convenient that the bunkie board is a thin, lightweight material, on some occasions it may be too thin and lack proper stability as a result. People with back problems may find that a bunkie board doesn’t offer enough support. Since this base is a lightweight board, it could also have a tendency to move around while you sleep, especially if you toss and turn. Depending on the quality of your bunkie board, it may not last the lifetime of your mattress, either.

What is a Box Spring?

A box spring resembles a boxy looking mattress, standing at about 6”. Box springs are filled with bounce-inducing steel or metal coils covered by an anti-skid fabric, surrounded by a sturdy wood frame. A box spring is more substantial than a bunkie board, so it remains stationary in use. A traditional box spring is best paired with a traditional innerspring mattress.

Benefits of a Box Spring

Box springs are perfect if you want a durable mattress base that also promotes airflow and ensures an even distribution of weight. Box springs pair well with the standard bed frame and mattress set-up, so you won’t have to worry about spending money on additional elements. Box springs should not move around during sleep, even if you are a restless sleeper.

Drawbacks of a Box Spring

A major downside in having a box spring is that it is bulky. Once it is set up, it is cumbersome to move because it usually cannot be broken down. Box springs are also known to become noisy over time as your coils wear down and begin to creak. If your box spring is old enough, you may actually begin to feel the coils after some time. The primary drawback to traditional box springs is that they are not compatible with all mattresses, specifically memory foam and hybrid mattresses. A box spring cannot adequately support a foam-based mattress, leading to mattress sagging and lack of support. All-foam and hybrid mattresses are better paired with solid foundations.

What is a Foundation

A mattress foundation is a frame with wooden or metal slats across the surface. Like a box spring, it is usually covered by a breathable fabric. Unlike box springs, foundations are designed to provide more support than give. The spacing between the wooden slats determines how much support will be given to the mattress. Smaller spacing between slats provides more support. A mattress foundation is compatible with most mattress types, including memory foam and hybrid mattresses. In fact, because of their compatibility, we offer the Clever Connect™ foundation on BedInABox.com. The Clever Connect™ is a neutral gray foundation that provides both strong and sleek support for your mattress. It can be assembled in about five minutes without any tools and has the option of pairing it with wooden legs if you do not have a bed frame. For very little effort, you can have long-lasting mattress support.

When it comes to your sleep, you should not settle. When deciding between a bunkie board, a box spring, or a foundation, you want to invest in what will work best for you. All three sleep set-ups will enhance your sleep in some way, so it may come down to what pairs perfectly with your mattress, your lifestyle and your budget. If you have questions about the BedInABox® Clever Connect™ foundation, or are looking to elevate your sleep with our adjustable base, feel free to contact our Customer Service team who will be glad to help!

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