Your mattress is suddenly sagging, or your sleep is suffering. You need to quickly figure out what is making your bed so uncomfortable before this starts to really bother you.
One of the first and easiest places to check is your bed support. Box springs can and do wear out, resulting in sagging mattresses and bad sleep. I’m here to help you figure out if your box spring has worn out, and what you need to do to fix it.
Understanding Box Springs: Their Function And Purpose
Box springs traditionally have three functions:
- Raise the mattress height and keep it off the floor
- Absorb shock and reduce wear to the mattress
- Provide a support platform for the mattress
Overall, a box spring is there to support your mattress, keeping it clean and functional.
The Aging Process: How Time Affects Box Springs
How long do box springs last? Typically 8-10 years, about the same as your mattress.
Like most household goods, box springs have a life span. Consider that this is a furniture piece you use every night: it’s going to show some wear and tear over time. There are structural changes and clear signs your box spring is done.
A. Physical and Structural Changes Over Time
Just like coils inside a mattress will sag with time, so will the coils inside a traditional box spring. This is because the constant pressure of use over time starts to weaken the coils, which reduces their ability to carry out their function as a shock absorber and support platform for your mattress.
A low quality box spring may last a few years, while a good quality one can last more than 20. Most will last around 8-10 years. Box springs therefore have a lifespan, they are not something that lasts forever and ever while you just change out the mattress that goes on top of it.
Do box springs cause sagging? Yes, if your box spring is at the end of its life and lost its ability to support your mattress, your entire bed will sink. Even if you have a new mattress.
B. Key Indicators of Wear and Tear
These are the main signs that your current box spring has passed its use-by date:
- It makes a creaking or squeaking noise when weight or pressure is put on it
- If you can see any sagging or bowing anywhere across the platform
- If you can see any bending or damage to the steel grid
- If the steel springs are more than 10 years old they’re probably starting to wear out
How do you know if your box spring is bad? It’s doing any of the 4 things above. The more problems it has, the sooner you should replace it.
If you’re unsure about whether your mattress is worn out too, this article will help you decide.
Common Misconceptions About Box Springs’ Lifespan
I have seen many unhappy people who have bought new mattresses, only to find them saggy and lumpy almost straight away. Often, this is not the fault of the mattress, but because the box spring it is sitting on is too old. People often just go ahead and buy a new mattress, without even thinking about the foundation they will put that mattress on.
This can be a disaster as any mattress, whether you spent $5000 or $350, will sag if it’s on an old and worn out box spring. Your mattress won’t stand a chance, and you’ll be left feeling uncomfortable and cranky.
So when you invest in a new mattress, it’s worth checking if you need to invest in a base for it too. The base does NOT have to be a box spring!
To Replace or Not to Replace: Making the Decision
I’m pretty much of the opinion that box springs are dated. You can replace yours with something else that won’t empty your pockets and will do a good job.
Let’s look at the top replacements and alternatives.
A. Is it Time for a New Box Spring?
These are my top two box spring replacements. One is actually a metal frame that looks like a box spring, stands alone, offers storage space and a lifetime warranty. The other is a simple, more traditional looking, low profile box spring.
Note that modern box springs no longer actually have springs in them, they’ll typically have wood, as it’s more durable and gives better support for your mattress.
GhostBed Metal Foundation
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Is it ok to use an old box spring with a new mattress? If you need to then sure. You’re probably going to miss out on a lot of benefits from your mattress though, because it’s not being supported properly.
I know that cost is a big factor in these decisions, so look for brands that offer bundle deals. Emma is a brand that runs awesome discounts and great value bundles. I have their beds in my house so I’m happy to vouch for their quality.
B. Alternatives to Traditional Box Springs
I personally don’t use a box spring. I don’t like them. They are dated, and just plain unnecessary these days.
I actually use an adjustable bed (see cheesy pic of me setting mine up). Not only is it super durable and suitable for most modern mattresses (memory foam, latex, hybrid) it’s amazing for sitting up in bed, reading, if you snore, if you’ve got sore legs, if you have a cold, I could go on.
I know an adjustable bed may seem like a radical departure from a box spring so if you want something simpler here are your options:
- Wood foundation: these tend to look like box springs, but are just wood inside with no springs. They are often sold as bases with mattresses in stores. I’ve reviewed a really solid and beautiful wooden bed frame here.
- Metal platform: this will look like a metal grid on legs. It will probably have a reinforcing line down the middle. When looking at a platform, make sure any spaces within it are no more than three inches wide. Anything wider than three inches won’t support your mattress properly and could contribute to sagging. If you’re looking for a metal platform bed I’ve taken a look at some of the popular Zinus models in this article.
- Wooden slats: this is a wooden frame with a reinforcement down the middle, and wooden slats that look like ribs. Just like with the metal platform above, you need to make sure that the slats are no more than three inches apart. Avocado have a great value bed frame here.
Whatever you do, don’t just toss your old box spring and put your new mattress straight on the floor. Most mattresses stipulate that it should be used on an appropriate support base and going against this could actually void your warranty, along with leaving your mattress prone to mold and other nasties due to air not being able to circulate around it!
Recycling and Upcycling: Sustainable Solutions for Old Box Springs
So you’ve decided to replace your old box spring with either a new one, or another type of mattress support. You find yourself with an old box spring you now need to dispose of.
What will you do with it? The obvious answer would be to dispose of it somehow, or perhaps chop up the wood. But did you know that there are hundreds of ideas for upcycling your old box spring?
Now that a lot of people are looking at ways of reducing their waste and reusing old items, you might find some of these interesting. Pinterest has a ton of ideas, but these were my favorite four:
- Use a section of the old springs as a photo frame
- Use the old base or part of it as a pinboard
- Use the old base or part of it as a kitchen tidy (or for any room where you can organize stored items by hanging them in baskets)
- Use a single spring for a fun craft project, such as the Christmas snowman ornament pictured
Now you know how to spot if your box spring is worn out. You know how it can affect your whole bed.
I’ve given you my advice on how to get rid of it and what to replace it with, so I think we’ve covered everything! If you think there’s anything missing from this article, please send me a message. I’m always happy to hear from readers and update this site for you.
GhostBed Metal Foundation
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