Antique Bed Springs vs. Modern Box Springs
November 7th, 2012

For 40 years I have been dealing in antique iron beds. In that period of time, I have never bought or sold an old original spring unit. Is it because they are so rare and difficult to come by? Hardly…..When I started in the business those people wanting to sell me beds, throughout the backwoods and far reaches of Pennsylvania, W. Va, Ohio, and New York beseeched me to please take the spring unit that came with the bed frame. But no one wanted them when they did buy the iron beds from me.

The old metal spring units had a number of technical draw backs, not to mentioned the “rythm band” effect when the bed was being used for something other than sleep.

The metal coils were placed on thin metal straps that were held in  place by thick wire. They were then connected to the other coils by long slim metal springs. The theory was if you through more springs into a “bed spring” unit, you’d achieve more comfort. That theory is still being used today. Except today’s box springs have a distinct difference from those early models in the 1800’s.

With so many connecting points of iron spring against more metal springs and metal wire, the noise factor was difficult at best. Also because the coils were very wide apart, they didn’t hold up weight well at all. They sagged like a hammock.

Today’s “box springs” come in a wide variety of quality and construction. Once again …… the rule of thumb is …. the more individual coils, the better. But here’s where it gets tricky with today’s new box springs…….the coils have to be tight and made of thick gauge spring wire. The also have to be individually wrapped and tied, for strength. One of the two things that distinguishes an old spring unit from a modern box spring is the padding and stuffing that goes into  and all around the springs in a box spring. And the other is the same reason in the old days they were called “spring units” and today they are called “box springs”……….because today the entire spring unit is encased in what appears to be a box. There is a thick damask material that surrounds the sides, top and bottom. It is sewn tightly around the unit that was constructed with a wooden framework for strength and rigidity. All the better box springs are stuffed with dense cotton for the noise factor and to give a much more universal displacement of any weight that is put on top of  it.

One thing to keep in mind when using a box spring ……… always make sure it was the oe that was specifically made for the mattress that’s on top of it. If it isn’t, the spring count and placement will not line up. And if they don’t line up, the springs in the mattress will start bending in an odd direction instead of straight up and down and divuts and lumps will start forming in your mattress. It’s because of this that mattress dealers say you should turn and flip your mattress every few months. That way if the springs aren’t aligned properly……your box spring and mattress won’t have a chance to start creating those lumps we all hate.

I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website


to answer any and all questions you might have about antique iron beds.

I also invite you to take a look at our company  Face Book page for multiple photo albums on Custom Finishes, Canopy Conversions and a comprehensive “Before & After” King Conversions album.

Cathouse Antique Iron Be#B1BE56

Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | Comments Off

Contact Cathouse Beds

Custom Antique finishes

bed styles

cathouse blog
Cathouse Beds   30765 Pacific Coast Hwy. #167  Malibu, CA 90265
Fax: (310)457-1106 Phone: (310)457-1106  
Email:  ironbeds@cathousebeds.com

Antique Iron Beds

Bed Frame Styles: Art Deco| Art Nouveau | Austere | Craftsman | Geometric | Scrolling | Tailored | Victorian
Iron Bed Frames: Brass | Tops | Corners | Tubing | Castings | Canopy Beds | Iron Bed Frame Finishes
Iron Bed Conversions: Canopy Conversions | Welding | Molds & Casting | Finishing

by Cathouse

Select a Bed | History of Iron Beds | Bed Time Stories | Before & After Images
Antique Beds Directory |
Resources 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Iron Beds Home | Site Map |

Magazine Features
Architectural Digest | Arts &Antiques | Bedroom & Bath | Buzz | Country Living | Decorator Showcase
Home Remodeling &Decorating | InStyle | Metropolitan Life | Mirabella | Ralph Lauren
Romantic Homes | Shabby Chic | Veranda | Victoria | Victorian Homes& Gardens