Buying Guide – How to Buy a Bed Frame
A ‘bed frame’ is used to support a mattress and its sleeper(s). Some bed frames are also designed to support the mattress base or foundation, while others come equipped with slats that properly support the mattress without a base. Most bed frames sold today are either made from wood, metal, or a combination of these two materials, and some models are upholstered with foams and/or fabrics.
This guide will explore the various types of bed frames that are available for today’s shoppers, as well as our picks for the top bed frame models of 2021. First, let’s look at some common features of bed frames made and sold today, as well as the most popular styles.
Please note that a bed frame cannot be adjusted, making it different from an adjustable bed base. To learn more about these products, please visit our Adjustable Beds Reviews page. Additionally, bunk beds are bed frames that are designed to accommodate more than one mattress. We have reviewed these products separately; please visit our Best Bunk Beds guide for more information.
Bed Frames: Common Characteristics and Styles
The term ‘bed frame’ refers to any standalone structure that supports a mattress and base independently. The precise construction of a bed frame will vary by type, as will the typical profile (or height) of the bed. Some bed frames are upholstered with fabric for a softer feel, while others do not feature any upholstery. Not all bed frames are suitable for use with a boxspring, and though not all mattresses require a boxspring this is something to keep in mind if you prefer to use one.
Common types of bed frames include the following:
- Canopy: All four posts of a canopy bed are connected to an overhead frame (or canopy) that can be used to hang curtains, drapes, or other decorations that provide additional privacy for sleepers. Traditional canopy beds are often ornately crafted, while contemporary canopy beds tend to be thinner and more minimalist.
- Panel: Panel beds, also known as box spring beds, are constructed with flat wooden panels for the headboard and footboard. Unlike platform beds (see next), they also have side rails to support both a mattress and a base, and tend to be taller than most other bed types.
- Platform: Platform beds feature evenly spaced or latticed metal or wooden slats that are capable of supporting a mattress without a base/foundation. Reinforced center support bars are often required for Queen, King, and California King sizes (see warranty section for more information).
- Four-Poster: A poster bed has posts that are not connected using an overhead canopy. Four-poster beds, the most common type, have four taller posts; low-poster beds have shorter posts; and half-poster beds have taller head posts and shorter foot posts. The posts may be rounded or pointed (also known as ‘pencil posts).
- Sleigh: Sleigh beds get their name from the curved headboard and footboard that resemble the construction of wooden sleighs. These beds are considered more comfortable for sitting up in (due to the rounded surface). Sleigh beds are usually made from wood, but metallic models are also available.
- Storage Platform: Storage beds are platform bed models outfitted with drawers on one or both sides, and are ideal for shoppers who need a bed and would like to free up some extra bedroom space. These may also be known as ‘captain’s beds.’
The table below details the similarities and differences between these six bed frame types.