Many mattresses come paired wih a box spring which serves as a foundation for the mattress. An alternative to a mattress and box spring combination is a mattress and slat bed base. The slatted bed base in many cases can serve as substitution for a box spring. Some taller standing bed frames however may require the use of slats instead of a box spring. Several factors can help you decide between a box spring and slats.

Slats are an alternative to a box spring.

Slats Defined

Buyers can choose between a box spring foundation or a foundation using a slatted bed base. Bed slats are pieces of wood or metal that run across the width of the bed in order to support the weight of the mattress. The number of slats that run across the width of the bed depends on the size of the mattress. Slats are separated anywhere from one-half to several inches apart form one another depending on manufacturer. Slats that are spaced closer together add more firmness to the mattress.

Box Spring or Slats

Box springs are an extra foundation beneath the mattress that can be anywhere from six to 12 inches high. A box spring raises the height of the mattress which are both installed within the outer edges of the bed frame. Slats, on the other hand, are low-profile and run across the base of the bed frame. Slats usually cost less then a box spring foundation.

Slat Foundations

Some bed frames such as futons, bunk-beds or daybeds often have slats built into the frame of the bed base. These types of foundations do not require a box spring. The materials used on these are either completely metal or a hybrid of a metal base with wood slats built into the frame or vice-versa. These are referred to as fixed frames. Other bed frames, however, can typically use either a box spring or mattress. The slats can be changed and switched easier with an open frame in the event one of them should crack.


Slats provide an advantage over box spring foundations in that the mattress has more room to breathe. Dust and other allergens have a tendency to become trapped between the box spring and mattress. A slatted bed base is an open design because the slats are spaced apart. Standard spring mattresses with probably feel the same between a box spring or slat base. Latex and foam mattresses however, tend to feel more supportive on a slat base as the mattress conforms to the shape of the slats, providing a stronger base for support.