The Complete Buyers Guide to Bed Frames

A bed is the centerpiece of any bedroom. It adds character, helps to define the look of the room, and provides an important function.

If you choose the wrong bed you can end up disappointed with the whole room. But if you take the time to get it right, you are going to have a wonderful haven that reflects your personality.

There are two key elements to finding the perfect bed. These are choosing the bed frame, and the mattress. The bed frame defines the look of the room and is a reflection on your own personal taste.¬†While the mattress provides the support you need for a perfect night’s sleep.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a bed. But it doesn’t need to feel overwhelming or daunting. In this guide I break down everything you need to know in easy to digest pieces.

Choosing a bed should be a fun and interesting process. As you read through the complete buyers guide to bed frames let your imagination and creative side run wild.

You will find a bed that far exceeds what you thought you would find.

What Is a Bed Frame?

The Complete Buyers Guide to Bed Frames

Bed frames are the entire frame of a bed without the mattress. So looking at a bed frame you will see the legs, base, slats, support beams, side panels, foot end and head board. They can come assembled, but more often are flat-packed due to their size when built.

Bed frames vary in design and construction, So some will may have more or less slats than others. Some may just have a flat base panel even, or a wire mesh like the older style.

At their basic level they are designed support mattresses so we do not have to sleep on the floor. Making it easier to get in and out of bed, and historically provided a solution to bugs and insects on floor level.

Types of Bed Frame

The majority of bed frames are made from wood or metal. There are also upholstered, plastic and other material options. These are generally more bespoke options, but there are always more interesting designs hitting the market.

The wood frames allow for both simple and elaborate designs. While being strong, and easy to move and maintain. While metal gives a very different look and often comes down to preference.

Bed frames come with headboards as part of their overall construction. So there is no need to buy a headboard separately, and the look is more complete as a one piece.

Larger beds like king size, queen and doubles will have a center support beam. Slatted bases will will be split across the two halves as well.

History of the Bed Frame

Egyptian Bed Frame

The first bed frames can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptian times. These were very primitive designs of course and only reserved for the wealthy. The Romans took the designs a step further and made beds more accessible.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that bed frames became common place and a wider range of options started to become available.

What Is a Bedstead?

A bedstead is just another word for bed frame. There is no difference between the two.

The Difference between Bed Frames and Divans

The Difference between Bed Frames and Divans

There are two main choices when it comes to choosing a bed. A bed frame or a divan. This isn’t usually a difficult choice as these options are very different from each other. You will end up choosing whichever is going to meet your requirements better.

Bed frames are a more decorative option and are usually chosen depending on their look and the decor of the bedroom. There is a massive range of options, you can find frames in just about any color and shape.

Divans on the other hand are simple block bases. Often coming in two halves for ease of movements and will be a little less expensive. Divans are a no-frills option that doesn’t bring anything to the look of a room.

Divans do come with draws for extra storage almost all the time. Which can be a deciding factor for people who are short on space. However, divans do not have slatted bases and are firmer so you are compromising on comfort.

Advantages and Pros of Bed Frames

  • Slatted bases allow for some flexibility on the firmness of the base.
  • Slatted bases allow for airflow to the underside of the mattress.
  • There are many more designs and styles to choose from.
  • Most are flat-packed for easy transporting.
  • They are low maintenance and easy to clean.
  • Most are raised on legs making it easy to clean under the bed.
  • They are stronger than divans.

Disadvantages and Cons of Bed Frames

  • Slats can break and make the bed sag until they are fixed.
  • No storage options underneath them.
  • Not all mattresses are suitable for slats, always check with the manufacturer.

Considerations before Choosing a Bed Frame

We spend about a third of our lives in our beds. Our health also relies on being comfortable and getting regular, quality sleep. So it’s an important investment that should not be rushed.

Choosing a frame that fits in with your interior design is just one factor. You also need to think through how you are going to get the bed into the room, how big it is, what mattress you will be using,

Checking You Have Enough Space for the Bed Frame

check you have enough space for a bed frame

Too many people choose a huge bed that looks stylish and comfy. Then when it comes to building the bed they are left with a small amount of space in the room to move around and it looks impractical.

Making the most of the space you have is important and you need to consider the whole layout of your bedroom. A useful tip here is to mark out the space on your bedroom floor with string where the bed will go.

Get a feel for walking around without stepping into the area that will be filled with the bed. It’s worth taking this step to be double sure it’s going to work out. The hassle of returning a bed or living with it and being unhappy isn’t worth it.

Which Mattress Size Do You Need for Your Bed Frame

This sounds obvious but it’s anther area where mistakes are made. You need to get the right bedstead size for the mattress you already have, or are going to buy. The UK mattress sizes are as follows:

Small single mattress – 75cm x 190cm (2’6” x 6’3”)
Single mattress – 90cm x 190cm (3′ x 6’3”)
Small double mattress – 120cm x 190cm (4′ x 6’3”)
Double mattress – 135cm x 190cm (4’6” x 6’3”)
King mattress – 150cm x 200cm (5′ x 6’6”)
Super king mattress – 180cm x 200cm (6′ x 6’6”)

Bed frames are sometimes slightly larger to accommodate the mattress comfortably.

Where this gets a little complicated is with European mattress sizes, and the rest of the world. If you are in the UK make sure the manufacturer is dealing with UK regulations and sizes.

It’s possible to buy European sizes and there are often a little less expensive too. So always double-check all sizes and compatibility’s before placing that order.

Go as Large as Possible

I always recommend choosing the largest bed frame you can comfortably fit into your bedroom. You will be happier having space to spare in your bed than you will realizing its a little cramped.

With two people in a bed you have to respect the space needed for both of you to move around and not disturb your partner. The only conflict here is than modern housing is getting smaller, while people’s requirements are getting larger.

What Height Do I Want?

There are frames that are very close to the floor, like the Japanese style frames. As well as frames that are several feet high. Ideally you want a height that is easy for you and your partner to climb in and out of.

Remember to check the height with a mattress on if you are just looking at the frame.

Choosing Slats for a Bed Frame

curved slats

Bed frames have slats running across their base. Slats are designed to take the weight of a mattress and the body weight on top. The main two types of slats are sprung slats, and rigid slats.

Sprung Slats

Sprung slats are curved and have some flexibility to them. They are better for mattresses and can extend the life of a mattress. As well as being more comfortable as they absorb some of the weight as they bend.

Double beds have two rows of slats and a support beam in the middle. This ensures you are your partner will not roll into the middle of the bed.

Rigid Slats

Rigid slats are still the more popular choice overall. They give a firm feel and offer no movement. This can cause wear to the underside of a mattress, but they are less prone to breaking or becoming weaker over time.

Choosing a Style of Frame to Fit in with Your Decor

the beauty of bed frames is the wide range of styles and designs they are available in. You can find a frame to fit any room and decor if you look hard enough. This can be both challenging and rewarding, but it’s better to have so many options than not.

For example, a rustic metal look with fit well in a contemporary and retro look. While a large wooden frame can add a warm and welcoming look to a modern room. Or, if you are looking for something a bit more chic-modern browse some faux leather frames.

Let’s take a look at some of the different frame options available and what kind of room and decor they fit into.

Wooden Bed Frames

white wooden bed frame

The most fitting choice for a natural look with a warm and soft appearance is a wooden bed frame. If you have other bedroom furniture made from wood you should start by looking for a frame made from the same type of wood.

They are also environmentally friendly and can be recycled at the end of its life. Pine and oak are two of the more popular wood types and are light colored and have a soft look. While walnut gives the bed a darker and smoother look.

Metal Bed Frames

Metal bed frames are chosen for their more sophisticated and versatile style. They are durable and elegant, while providing a strong and reliable frame that will last for many years.

Upholstered Bed Frames

Upholstered bed

Upholstered finishes are typically suede or fabric. They offer a bespoke solution to a particular look in a bedroom. The drawback is that if you want to change the look in the bedroom you will probably need to change the bed.

Leather and Faux Leather Bed Frames

A quality leather bed will become the focal point of any bedroom. They are luxurious and fashionable, and make a statement. They are high maintenance and require cleaning and leather care if real leather.

Faux leather provides a more durable and easy to maintain solution. While looking just as good in most cases and being less expensive.

TV Bed Frames

TV Bed Frame

The most luxurious beds to hit the market in recent years are the TV beds. A TV will rise out of the foot board at a touch of a button and with surround speakers in the head and foot board you can have a really enjoyable experience.

They are expensive, but if your budget allows and you want the ultimate in luxury this is the bed for you.

Ottoman Storage Bed Frames

As discussed earlier divans are popular with people in need of tidy storage under their beds. Ottoman beds provide another solution to under bed storage. But instead of having draws, the whole mattress and slats lift up to reveal the inside of the bed.

This type of storage is discreet and easy to use. Good quality ottoman beds use an hydraulic system to make lifting the mattress easy. They offer more stylish options than divans, being available in a wide range of material finishes and looks.

Day Bed Frames

Day bed frame

Day beds are a combination of single or twin size beds and somewhere to sit or lounge. They have one raised side, making it easy to sit and get on the bed from the other side.

A lot of day beds have another pull-out bed underneath. So as the name suggests, it’s a bed you can use in the day to sit on, and at night it can convert into a double to sleep on.

Sofa Bed Frames

Sofa Bed Frame

Sofa beds are frames that are both a sofa and a bed. There is a pull-out frame that rolls out and becomes a bed base. The cushions are used to form the head board and the mattress is rolled out as part of the mechanism.

They aren’t comfortable as a permanent option. But provide extra sleeping options discreetly and quickly while not taking up any extra space than a regular sofa.

Children’s Bed Frames

Children’s beds are designed to be fun and durable. You can find novelty type frames that are designed to look like a race car or a boat. Or there are lots of options that incorporate storage and places to tuck away all their toys.

Bunk Bed Frames

Bunk beds frames

The original way to save space while having more beds. Bunk bed frames have a bed on top of the other. It’s important for health and safety reasons that these frames and very strong and never break. Having the top bunk fall through could be potentially very dangerous.


There is a lot of information to digest in this article. But if you start with a check-list or a general idea of what you want, you can narrow down your options pretty quickly.

You’re not going to be stuck between deciding on a TV bed frame and a day bed. They serve completely different purposes.

You will also have a vision of what you want from your bedroom decor. So narrow down your options and then start to look at the more intricate details.

Some of the key information is the size guides and picking compatible mattresses and beds. But now you aware of the different sizes available and what to look for, you will be fine.

You are well positioned to find that perfect bed now, have fun and good luck.

Image credits: Pixabay, Amazon