If you’d like to keep your bedroom activities private in a building with paper-thin walls, there are two methods you could try. You could either work on soundproofing those walls and floors or cut the noise off at the source. If you want to eliminate squeaking sounds, the first thing you should address is the foundation under your mattress. Learning how to fix a noisy box spring will improve your sleep quality — and keep your reputation intact.
Ultimately, there are various ways to keep your box spring from creaking as you shift your weight while in bed. Better still, most of the solutions can be implemented within thirty minutes. So even if you discover a pesky squeaking sound right before bedtime, you’ll be able to fix it quickly.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a moment to discuss why box springs tend to be so noisy.
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Why Is Your Box Spring Squeaking?
If you want to know why your box spring is squeaking, you’ll need to understand what it looks like on the inside. Luckily, there are only two basic kinds of box springs.
The traditional kind has metal coils inside — which is how it got its name. Those springs are supposed to provide even more shock absorption than a mattress usually offers. But since metal is corrosive, it’s only natural that the springs eventually develop a squeak or two. Of course, there is a more common reason these kinds of box springs start making noise — uneven wear.
On the other hand, metal and wood box springs like this one have a visibly simplified design. But, even though they don’t have springs, they can still be somewhat noisy. That usually only happens if they’re not assembled properly, or they come loose over time. Luckily, all it takes to sort out that problem is a wrench and some kind of lubricant.
Both of these kinds of mattress bases are supposed to add height to your bed, but only the first one will alter the flexibility of the sleeping surface. Hollow foundations also allow air to reach the bottom of the mattress, which prevents overheating. However, not all mattresses need a buffer. Unless your mattress bed frame warranty calls for one, you could go without a box spring.
After all, most of them will start squeaking at some point. Yet, they’re not the only things that could make sounds when you shift your weight on your bed. Let’s take a second to list the other potential noisemakers before I tell you how to fix your squeaky box spring.
If It’s Not the Box Spring — Where’s the Noise Coming From?
Depending on the build quality of your bed, most of its components have the potential to produce creaking sounds. In addition to the box spring — which not all beds have, anyway — there are:
- Bed frames, which can have loose parts that contribute to the noise. If some of the nuts and bolts aren’t tightened all the way, the wood or metal parts will start rubbing against each other. Fortunately, if you’re looking to transition to a quieter bed frame, there are plenty of options out there.
- Mattresses, which sometimes have springs that make the same kind of noise box springs do. Granted, most of the mattresses we now have are at least partially foam-based, so the chance that they’ll start squeaking is greatly reduced. Still, you should always consider whether there are any alternative sources of noise before you point the finger at the box spring.
In fact, the source of the noise doesn’t have to be a single item at all. Both of the items I’ve listed above are in direct contact with the box spring, so you may discover that the sound is coming from the space between.
For example, let’s say that your wooden bed frame has a shiny finish, and the box spring has a vinyl coating around the sides. The squeaking noise could conceivably come from the two rubbing together, not from any flaws in their designs.
That’s also something I’ll address in the guide below. I’ll start this guide the way I usually do, though — by showing you how to pinpoint the source of the noise.
How to Fix a Squeaky Box Spring
Since there are different kinds of box spring foundations, not all of the following steps will apply to the one you have. However, I’ll make sure to clarify which kind I’m talking about so that you’re able to determine which solutions are appropriate for you.
1. Confirm the Source of the Noise
First, we have to figure out if the sounds you’re hearing are indeed coming from the box spring. That means you’ll have to take everything off the bed and test each component individually.
Start by clearing a section of the floor and making sure the floorboards in that area aren’t squeaky. The section should be larger than your mattress because that’s where you’ll be doing most of these experiments.
When you place the mattress flat on the floor, take a second to roll around on it. That’s probably going to be the most entertaining part of this guide.
If you don’t hear any squeaking, you can lean the mattress against a wall and do the same thing with your box spring. Try to pinpoint the exact area the noise is coming from; you could even mark it with a pencil or chalk. And remember which side is the closest to the headboard — you’ll need that info for the next step.
Even if you confirm that the box spring is squeaky, see if the bed frame is contributing to the noise. While the mattress and the box spring are on the floor, you’ll be able to lightly shake it. If any of the parts need to be lubricated or tightened, they’ll sound off.
Finally, check if the floor under the bed is an additional source of the noise. You probably won’t be able to move the whole bed frame to the side while you do this last check. Still, you should hear a difference between the noises produced by the frame and a squeaky floorboard.
After you deal with all the other potential issues, you can focus solely on your squeaky box spring.
2. Rotate the Box Spring
Now, the reason I want you to remember which side of your box spring is pressed against the headboard is quite simple. Namely, the springs can sometimes start squeaking because of uneven weight distribution. That usually happens when you keep your mattress and box spring in the same position for long periods.
Because of their simple construction, modern box springs generally don’t have that issue. So if you have that kind of setup, you may be able to skip a few of these steps.
On the other hand, if your box spring has started to sag, feel free to rotate it by 180 degrees. The side that used to face the headboard should now be at your feet. That should take some of the pressure off the area where you lie the most.
While you’re at it, you should consider rotating your mattress as well, especially if it has a metal framework inside. In fact, I have a list of other steps that would make your bed quieter overall.
3. If You Have a Traditional Box Spring: Lubricate the Coils With WD-40 Spray
If you take the time to mark squeaky coils when testing your box spring, lubricating them should be a breeze. Start by accessing the area from the bottom side after locating the sections you’ve previously marked.
Full disclosure: you’ll probably have to cut through the fabric cover to get to the coils. That will depend on the type of box spring you’re working with. If you’re lucky, yours will be the sort that easily opens up. If it’s not, you may have to:
- Pull out the staples that hold the cloth down on the sides of the frame with a special tool
- Cut into the fabric directly underneath the squeaky coil with a utility knife
In any case, when you gain access to the springs, hit them with some WD-40 spray. That should remove any grease, gunk, and rust — which is often the underlying cause of the sounds we’re trying to prevent.
I recommend getting the kind with a straw applicator if you want to be super precise with your application. After you finish spraying, flip the box spring right-side up and roll around on it to distribute the lubricant down the length of the coils.
Lastly, use a sewing kit or a fabric repair patch to close the hole you made in the fabric. Alternatively, if you had to yank out some staples to open the bottom of the box spring, close it with a heavy-duty staple gun for upholstery.
Use a Book to Compress a Squeaky Spring
If you have a traditional box spring, you can opt for the written word to help you out. Simply place a thick, preferably hardcover book between the mattress and the box spring, right over the noisy coil you’ve identified in the first step of this guide. The extra weight will keep the spring compressed even when you’re not in bed.
When you lie down and shift your body, the spring shouldn’t make any noise because it won’t move as freely as it would without the extra weight. Basically, this method is the best way to handle a traditional box spring if you want to take a more targeted approach. The squeaking will go away without affecting any of the other springs.
Put a Wood Panel Between the Box Spring and the Mattress
If you can’t identify the exact spring behind the squeaking sound or you suspect that several of them have teamed up to keep you awake, you can use a bigger buffer. You’ll need something firm, solid, and preferably heavy if you want it to be able to compress the faulty springs. That’s why I’d recommend going to your local home improvement store and getting a wood panel that’s slightly smaller than your bed.
Naturally, you wouldn’t want it to stick out between the mattress and the box spring. But even if it’s slightly larger than necessary, it won’t be a huge waste. If you have a table saw in your garage workshop, you should be able to customize the board. And that brings me to my next point.
If you don’t want to block the flow of air to the mattress, you can also drill holes in the board. That should keep the mattress dry and bacteria-free. Just make sure that the holes aren’t too large or close together, as that might ruin the integrity of the wood. If it breaks in half, the pieces won’t evenly distribute your weight across the squeaky springs, which would defeat the purpose of the solution.
Once you’ve customized your board, put it on top of the box spring, and top it off with your mattress. If you implement this solution on a narrow bed, you might have to stick to the middle of the mattress. Alternatively, if you prefer to sleep closer to the edge, you can share the bed with another person. Such sleeping arrangements would take full advantage of the wood buffer by evenly distributing the weight over the coils.
4. If You Have a Modern Wood or Metal Box Spring: Stuff or Tighten the Joints
As I have previously mentioned, modern box springs usually lack metal coils and are instead simple wood or metal frames with fabric cases. Over the course of a few years, the joints that hold these frames together can come loose. The extra space between the poles will allow them to shift against each other, which can lead to creaking or squeaking noise. Luckily, you can prevent that from happening.
First, you’ll have to strip the box spring of its fabric case. Many wooden box frames are upholstered using permanent techniques, so you may have to remove some staples from the frame. Taking the fabric off a metal box spring might be even easier. If it isn’t sewn on, it’ll probably have a simple fastening mechanism like a zipper or snap buttons.
In any case, after you gain access to the inside of the box spring, you’ll be able to see what kinds of joints you’re working with. If the frame is bolted together, you’ll need a wrench. If you see nails or screws, get a hammer or screwdriver. You might even want to reinforce the joints with L-shaped corner brackets.
Ultimately, your goal will be to bring all the parts together until they’re completely immobile. If the frame is metal, you might want to spray it with WD-40 before you tighten those screws. Alternatively, if you’re working with wood, use beeswax or pad the space between parts with fabric or rubber.
5. Pad the Space Between the Bed Frame and the Box Spring With Soft Materials
Now, this tip will sound somewhat similar to the one I’ve mentioned before. However, as I explain it, keep in mind that this one has a different purpose. What’s more, unlike the previous tip, it should work on both traditional and modern box springs.
Putting a sheet of wood between your mattress and box spring mainly helps distribute your weight evenly across the springs. Padding the space between the bed frame slats and the box spring with soft materials accomplishes a different goal. Namely, you’ll reduce the friction between the bed frame and the box spring, which sometimes results in noise.
In fact, if you don’t have a board between your mattress and box spring, pad that area as well. Just think of what a pair of corduroy pants sounds like when you’re walking. That may be what’s happening between your mattress and box spring if the fabric covers simply don’t mesh well together.
Fortunately, padding the area with more compatible fabrics (like rugs or old T-shirts) should eliminate the sound. I’ve even heard of people using paper and cork to do this. If you have some art prints you’d like to keep flat, you can stick them under your mattress too. You’ll probably forget all about the noise until you take them out again.
6. Rub Wax on the Inner Edge of the Bed Frame
Even if you have dealt with all the issues I have highlighted and fixed every squeaky coil in the box spring, there is one last thing that might produce noise. As we have established, the fabric covers of the mattress and box spring can rub together in a way that can produce sound. Something similar can happen between the box spring and the bed frame.
Depending on the materials the two are made of, the friction between them can lead to some interesting sounds, to say the least. To prevent that, you’ll need to put a barrier between them. As far as I know, there are two ways to accomplish that:
- Rub beeswax or candle wax on the inside edge of the bed frame where it comes into contact with the box spring (perfect if you have a box spring with vinyl sides)
- Stuff old T-shirts between your bed frame and the box spring (which can be a natural progression of the previous step I explained)
Either of these methods will give you the effect you want and prevent these two components from rubbing each other the wrong way. If your box spring has a regular fabric cover, though, and you don’t want to stain it, stick to the second method.
If Nothing Works: Replace the Squeaky Box Spring
Now, there is a chance that none of the tips I’ve shared will work. Your box spring may turn out to be impressively stubborn and refuse to stop squeaking despite your best efforts.
To be fair, that usually only happens with traditional box springs. But even so, those thin metal coils can be incredibly difficult to silence.
In the end, if nothing helps, I’m afraid there’s only one thing you could do — get a new box spring. Alternatively, you might want to consider one of the many quiet box spring substitutes. As I have recently discovered, there are less noisy ways to get more airflow, bounce, and height. And ultimately, your mattress and bed frame may not even need a standard box spring.
If you want to stick to your guns, though, at least get a modern, coil-free design, preferably one with a removable fabric cover. They’re much less prone to squeaking and, frankly, easier to fix if they do start making noise.