The difference between box springs and foundations can be confusing, but the difference between them is very simple. The first being that box springs aren’t really a thing anymore.
You can get them, but you can also still get a pager if you are determined enough.
For the most part, modern mattresses come as a set. When you look at an unmade bed you will see a mattress, and then the piece underneath supporting it, and finally, the bed frame.
That supportive piece has evolved a lot since the 2000s.
The old version was a box spring, which would be a flat wooden piece with springs on top.
In the late 2000s the Consumer Product Safety Commission (more on them in a future post) changed some of the regulations related to fire resistance.
While many folks in the mattress industry have strong opinions on the merits of these regulations, one great thing to come of them was forced innovation.
Now, mattresses have to be soft or firm on their own right, without relying on springs underneath them. The box spring was phased out in favor of a foundation, which is basically a sturdy wooden frame to go under the mattress. By having a foundation, the mattress is uniformly supported and creates it’s comfort level totally on its own.
This switch to foundations has allowed memory foam mattresses to shine. While memory foam predates that change, the solid support of a foundation allowed it to compress uniformly which is advantageous since foam lacks the rigidity of steel springs.
TLDR: If you purchased your bed in the last 10 years, you probably have a foundation instead of a box spring. But as long as you’re happy, we’re happy!