Bed frame types – how to choose the best bed for you

Discover the bed frame that fits your room and suits your style. This is the essential guide

bedroom with blue and white bedding
(Image credit: Future PLC)

A bed frame is the essential partner to a mattress. It’s the centerpiece to a bedroom whether it’s minimal in appearance or a more substantial presence.

The bed frame isn’t just important for aesthetic reasons, however. It contributes to the quality of your sleep. Even the best mattress needs a bed frame: the two combine to optimize comfort and support for a great night’s shut-eye. The bed frame also extends the life of any mattress.

Here, we look at the bed frame options on offer with designs to suit every bedroom in your home.

Bed frame types

There are many factors that contribute to a good night’s sleep, including the bed frame, mattress and the bedroom environment. ‘Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature,’ recommends the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

When you’re choosing between bed frame types, there are several important factors, including the dimensions of the room in which it’s going to be located. The bed frame needs sufficient space around it. 

‘Allow 22 inches clearance at the sides of the mattress so you can make your bed,’ says Dr Leona Hawks, home furnishings and housing specialist at Utah State University Extension. ‘If one side of the mattress is pushed up against the wall, the bed should be mounted on castors for easy movement.’

The frame also needs to fit your bed ideas in its style whether you prefer a traditional look or a more contemporary finish.

These are the bed frame types you can select from.

Platform bed frame

Yellow velvet bed, white bedding, stone wall

(Image credit: Photo Colin Poole/Styling Annabelle Grundy)

A platform bed frame is just what you might guess it is from the name. It’s a frame on which you place a mattress with nothing else required. In other words, you don’t need to invest in a box spring in addition because it’s a base and frame in one.

A platform bed frame will create a sleek, modern aesthetic for a bedroom. They’re typically made from wood or metal, and may have an upholstered finish. A platform bed often comes without a headboard or footboard, although there are designs with headboards on offer or you may be able to add a matching headboard to your purchase. If you’re short of space in the bedroom, you might want to opt for a version with built-in storage. 

Be aware that choosing a platform bed may create a firmer feel than you might be used to. Consider, too, their lower height, which doesn’t suit everyone when it comes to getting in and out of bed. 

Panel bed frame

Orange bedroom with trellis wallpaper and blue bed linen

(Image credit: Joy Coakley Photography / Fiorella Design)

A panel bed frame is designed to be combined with a box spring as well as a mattress to create nighttime support. Like platform bed frames they’re made from wood or metal, plus there are upholstered designs. They typically have a headboard and may have a footboard, depending on the style, as well as side rails.

The height of a panel bed can make it easier for some people to get into and out of bed.

If a panel bed is your choice, don’t forget to add in the price of the box spring as well as a mattress to be sure of the final cost.

Four-poster bed frame

four poster bed with white pillows

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Raeside)

Choose a four-poster bed frame to make the bed a more substantial centerpiece for a room. With a post at each corner and top rails that join them, it will impress with its height and elegance.

Often made from wood, four-poster bed frames are often thought of as a more traditional option in terms of their style. However, they can be sleek and contemporary, too, and made from metal as an alternative to wood.

Avoid choosing a four-poster bed for a room with a low ceiling as it will draw attention the room’s dimensions. They are, of course, perfect for lofty spaces.

Sleigh bed frame

Master bedroom with sleigh bed

(Image credit: Future)

A sleigh bed frame is an alternative to a four-poster if you’re looking for a design with presence. The sleigh shape is created by the imposing headboard and footboard, so these designs are best for large bedrooms.

Traditional in style, a sleigh bed is typically a wood design, although you can find upholstered versions that have the same curvaceous lines.

Adjustable bed frame

Adjustable upholstered bed in neutral bedroom

(Image credit: Made to Last)

If you want to be able to sit at a comfortable angle for reading, working or watching TV, or you need to have either your feet or your head raised as you sleep, an adjustable bed frame will make life easy.

Plug it into an outlet and you can adjust one of these motorized designs, raising or lowering part of it. 

Bear in mind that you will need to purchase a mattress that’s compatible with an adjustable bed. Those made from memory foam and latex often are, while an innerspring would need to be specified for an adjustable bed frame. Always check before purchase that your adjustable bed and mattress are suitable to use together.

Trundle bed frame

Underbed storage ideas with trundle bed

(Image credit: Little Folks Furniture)

A trundle bed frame is a clever way to provide a place for guests without taking up floor space. A second bed is stashed underneath the bed ready to be pulled out when it’s required, and pushed away after use.

Be mindful that while some trundle beds can be raised to the same height as the other bed frame, this often isn’t the case, making them less suitable for adult sleepers.

In terms of materials, trundle beds are typically made from wood, metal or MDF.

Bunk bed frame

white bedroom with shiplap walls, bunk beds with double bunk below, blue stripe rug, console and chest of drawers

(Image credit: Karen B Wolf Interior Design/Raquel Langworthy)

Made from wood, metal or MDF, bunk beds stack one bed on top of another, saving floor space. While the arrangement is often twin mattress on twin mattress, designs such as a twin over a double are also on offer. You can also size up in larger rooms with options such as full over full size mattresses.

Bunk beds are often a choice for kids’ rooms so if you’re thinking of accommodating adult sleepers this way, be sure to check the weight capacity of the design you’re interested in.


What is a basic bed frame called?

The most basic bed frame is called a frame-only, simple, or traditional bed frame. Usually made from metal, it has legs that raise it up from the floor and may be on wheels that allow it to be moved easily. It doesn’t have a headboard or footboard. One of these will need a box spring as well as a mattress. 

The advantage of a simple bed frame is its low cost. On the downside, it’s utilitarian rather than stylish.

Does type of bed frame matter?

The type of bed frame does matter as the frame along with the mattress determines the comfort level of any bed. The bed frame supports the mattress and needs to be sufficiently sturdy to support the weight of the particular mattress design. Bear in mind that if it’s not well constructed, over time it can also start to creak which may disturb sleep.

The type of bed frame is also important because their heights vary. Some people won’t find bed frame types that are lower easily accessible. Bear in mind, too, that the bed frame type will influence how firm the bed feels. A platform bed can make the sleeping surface feel firmer, which may or may not be desirable. 

The type of bed frame also matters if you already have a mattress you plan to use with it. They need to be of the same size, while the type of mattress – be it foam, innerspring, and so on – needs to be compatible with the particular bed frame.

Thinking of opting for a bed frame with space for a TV on the footboard? For healthy sleep, the AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine), recommends, ‘Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.’

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.