What is a Bed Frame? All That You Need to Know

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On February 27th, 2024
What is a Bed Frame? All That You Need to Know

Key Takeaways

  • Function of Bed Frames: Bed frames are essential components of a bed setup, providing support and stability for your mattress and foundation. They keep your mattress off the floor, preventing moisture build-up, dust, and mold. Bed frames come in various styles, from basic to decorative, with options like headboards and footboards.
  • Types of Bed Frames: Types include platform bed frames, which eliminate the need for an additional foundation; floating bed frames that create a modern, space-saving look; panel bed frames with headboards and footboards for added style; sleigh bed frames for a decorative touch; and more, such as trundle beds, bunk beds, loft bed frames, Murphy bed frames, and daybed bed frames.
  • Bed Frame Materials and Heights: Bed frames are commonly made from wood, metal, or upholstered fabric, each offering a distinct aesthetic. They come in various heights, including low-profile, standard-profile, and high-profile frames. The choice of material and height can impact the overall look and functionality of your bedroom.

Bed frames (also called bedsteads) refer to the railing for your bed, though some frames feature a headboard and footboard. The bed railing holds your foundation, which then holds your mattress.

Bed frames raise both your mattress and the foundation off of the floor, helping them stay safe from moisture build-up, dust, and mold. However, compared to basic mattress foundations or bases, bed frames are most often decorative and come in a variety of styles. Modern bed frames can be minimalist frames, or you can go with something more classic that has a headboard and footboard sandwiching the mattress foundation.

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Since bed frames are merely a prop for your bed and its foundation, they work with any type of mattress. Below, we outline the various types of bed frames available and why they might work well for you.

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Types of Bed Frames

Bed frames come in a variety of sizes and styles and offer unique features, such as being cost-efficient, space-saving, or multipurpose.

Platform Bed Frames

A platform bed is a type of bed frame that eliminates the need for an additional foundation. Rather than having one or two rails just to hold up a box spring or mattress foundation, platform beds have a slatted wood foundation to support your mattress independently. For a bed frame to be considered a platform bed, the slats must be no further than 2 to 2.75 inches apart.

Some platform beds are simple and only have the side railing, but other platform bed frames have headboards and footboards to make them more decorative. They also come in the usual sizes, with a queen platform bed suiting most needs and fitting in most bedrooms.

Floating Bed Frames

Floating bed frames are a type of platform bed frame. Traditional platform beds have four, clearly visible legs to hoist the frame off of the floor while floating beds have discreet legs or none at all. Instead, floating beds are anchored to the wall.

Floating bed frames have a very modern look and can give a smaller bedroom the illusion of having lots of space. While you can technically use the underside of the bed for storage, it defeats the decorative appeal of a floating bed.

Panel Bed Frames

A panel bed is a type of bed frame that includes a headboard, footboard, and side panels. These panels can be solid or have slats, and they enclose the mattress area. The panels add visual interest and can be made of different materials, such as wood or upholstered fabric. Panel bed frames often have a traditional and elegant look, adding a touch of style to a bedroom.

Just be careful with the wooden slats, as they need to be close together to support a memory foam or latex mattress. For foam mattresses and hybrids, you want no more 2.75 inches between supportive slats.

Sleigh Bed Frames

A sleigh bed frame is a decorative bed frame with a curved headboard and footboard, similar to an actual sleigh. Sleigh beds are a statement piece of furniture for your bedroom, though they can be quite costly. They’re commonly made from wood but sometimes have fabric upholstery instead.

Four Poster Bed Frames

A four-poster bed frame is a type of bed that has four vertical posts at each corner, usually taller than the height of the mattress. These four posts can be ornate or plain, and they often support soft coverings like a decorative canopy or curtains that can be drawn for privacy or aesthetics.

Four-poster bed frames are known for their classic appearance, adding a touch of grandeur to a bedroom. If you want the effect without the frame, try a DIY bed canopy.

Trundle Bed Frames

Trundle beds are beds with a roll-out mattress beneath them. The extra mattress is most often in a large drawer low to the floor, kept underneath the primary bed, but it can also sit on a pop-up frame. Trundle beds most commonly come in twin and full sizes, but you can occasionally find a queen or king bed with a trundle.

Mattresses in a rolling trundle bed frame are often quite thin, so they’re not the best for nightly usage. However, they work well for the occasional guest and in children’s bedrooms.

Bunk Bed Frame

Bunk beds are two—sometimes three—bed frames stacked over each other. Most bunk beds fit twin mattresses, but you can find some bunk beds that work with twin XL, full, queen, and even a king size mattress.

A bunk bed is great if you’re looking to maximize the space in your bedroom. It works well for kids’ rooms, guest bedrooms, and rental properties. Bunk beds are also common in college dorms.

Loft Bed Frames

A loft bed frame is a type of bed that is raised off the ground, creating space underneath for other activities. It typically has a ladder or stairs to access the bed, and the area underneath can be used for a desk, storage, or even another bed. Essentially, lofted frames are bunk beds without the bottom bunk. Loft beds are great for saving space in small rooms or creating a cozy study or play area in a bedroom.

Murphy Bed Frames

A Murphy bed is another type of bed frame designed to maximize bedroom space. It’s a bed you store vertically against the wall inside of a closet or cabinet.

During the day, you can store the bed away and have open space to use in your bedroom or in a studio bedroom apartment. Then at night, you simply pull the bed down and sleep on it as normal.

Murphy beds are available in many different sizes, but are most commonly designed to fit queen size mattresses.

Daybed Bed Frames

Daybeds are a multipurpose bed frame and have three frames to resemble a deep couch. Daybeds double as a sofa or bench during the day. All you need is a couple of pillows to make them comfortable to sit against. At night, you can use your daybed as a traditional bed. They fit regular mattresses as well, so you won’t have to worry about finding a special daybed mattress.

Adjustable Bed Frames

An adjustable bed frame is a special type of bed frame that can be changed to different positions to make sleeping or lounging more comfortable. It has a motor that allows you to raise or lower the head or foot of the bed, so you can find the perfect position for reading, watching TV, or sleeping. Adjustable bed bases are especially helpful for people with certain health conditions or those who want extra flexibility in their sleeping arrangements.

Bed Frame Materials

The three most common materials bed frames come in are wood, metal, and fabric upholstery. Choosing your bed frame’s material affects your room’s appearance and primarily comes down to your personal preferences.


Wood is a very classic and reliable material for bed frames. Wood bed frames are usually made from 100 percent wood, medium-density fiberwood (MDF), or particleboard.

Solid wood frames are sturdy, match with most bedrooms, and are long-lasting. However, wooden bed frames can get quite heavy, especially if the frame is made with real wood.


Metal bed frames are made from iron or steel. Metal bed frames are often quite minimalistic appearance-wise, though they’re also very sturdy and durable. Since metal bed frames are generally lighter than wood frames, they’re easier to transport. Unlike wood, some metal frames can be squeaky if they’re not constructed properly.

If you do have a squeaky bed frame, try checking all the screws, bolts, and joints on the metal bed frame. Use a screwdriver or wrench to securely tighten any loose connections. If that doesn’t work, try a bed frame lubricant.


Upholstered bed frames have a fabric or leather casing over wooden frames and can be very luxurious. They fit the aesthetic of both modern, contemporary and traditional homes.

One benefit of upholstered bed frames is that they come in a variety of different colors, whereas most plain wood and metal frames are neutral-toned. You can even complete the look with a fabric bed skirt.

Why Might I Need a Bed Frame?

You might think that a bed frame is not necessary, just like bedsheets. But imagine sleeping without a pillow or bedsheets – it wouldn’t be very comfy, right? A bed frame is a crucial part of completing your bed’s comfort, often feeling better than simply keeping your mattress on the floor.

However, there are reasons beyond comfort why a bed frame is important. Let’s explore some of the benefits!

Support for Your Mattress

First and foremost, a bed frame raises your mattress off the ground, keeping it stable and providing extra support. A bed frame and a box spring or box spring alternative distribute your body weight evenly, helping your mattress maintain its shape. Mattress support prevents mattress sagging, which can lead to back and neck discomfort, making it harder to sleep well.

And a proper bed frame is a more supportive alternative than improvising ways to raise your mattress, such as putting a new mattress on top of an old mattress.

Enhances Bedroom’s Look

Most sleepers will agree that a room with a mattress on the floor doesn’t look as nice as one where the bed is supported by a bed frame. Whether you prefer a classic or modern bed frame or a wooden or wrought iron bed frame, the mattress base helps bring together all the design elements in your room. Without it, your room will feel incomplete. You don’t even need a fancy frame, as minimalist bed frames can still offer a clean and sturdy vibe.

Extra Storage Space

Beds can take up a lot of floor space, especially if you have a large queen or king size bed frame. But by raising the mattress, you can create valuable storage space underneath.

Depending on the type of bed frame, some even come with built-in drawers instead of empty under bed space, allowing you to make the most of your room’s space. Or there are bookcase bed frames, with shelves where a traditional headboard would be.

You can even go for a loft bed, which raises the bed high enough for a dresser or desk underneath.

Bed Frame Heights

While the height of your bed frame isn’t a crucial factor for most people, if you struggle with limited mobility, Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source the bed’s total height can affect your ability to get in and out of bed.

We recommend a total bed height—your bed frame plus your mattress—of around 25 inches, or just tall enough so your knees are in line with your hips and your feet are flat on the floor when you’re seated at the edge of your bed. If you need to, measure your mattress before purchasing a new bed frame.

Bed frames are available in three heights, or profiles: low, standard, and high.

Low Profile

Low profile beds are close to the floor and are less than 13 inches tall. A low profile bed frame looks great aesthetically in a simple, minimalistic bedroom. It also works well if you have a small bedroom, but want to give it the illusion of being spacious. However, low profile bed frames often come with little to no space for storage under the bed.

Standard Profile

Standard profile bed frames are the most common bed frame height. They are 13 to 15 inches tall, making them high enough off of the floor so you can use the underside as a storage space without being overly tall.

High Profile

High profile bed frames are taller than 15 inches. Tall bed frames look nice in bedrooms with high ceilings as they fill up the vertical space in the bedroom. High profile bed frames also work well if you plan on using the underside of the bed to store lots of items.

Changing Bed Frame Heights

If you need to make a bed frame taller, the simplest way is to use bed risers. There are different types of bed risers, but the purpose of each is to attach them to the leg and use it to safely raise the frame. This method also increases under bed storage space.

If you want a taller mattress without needing extra storage under the bed, you can also use a box spring alternative or mattress foundation to raise the bed height. Even a bunkie board can add a couple of inches if it’s thick enough. And if you just want the appearance of a tall bed, you can go with a headboard size that gives the illusion of a bigger bed.

Safely making a bed frame lower without replacing it entirely can be tricky. One option is to remove the legs or supports of the frame and replace them with shorter ones. Alternatively, you can place the bed frame directly on the floor without any legs. However, it’s important to ensure that the modifications are stable and secure to maintain the safety and stability of the bed. The lower frame must also keep the mattress off the floor and ensure enough airflow.


What is the difference between a bed and a bed frame?

The main difference between a bed and a bed frame is their function and components. A bed refers to the entire setup that includes the mattress, bed frame, and any additional features like a headboard or footboard. Usually it even refers to sleep accessories such as sheets and pillows, hence the phrase ‘making the bed.’ It is the complete sleeping surface where a person rests.

On the other hand, a bed frame specifically refers to the structure that supports the mattress and provides stability. It consists of the frame, usually made of metal or wood, along with support slats or a central beam. The bed frame raises the mattress off the ground and ensures proper support for a comfortable sleep. While the bed frame is a crucial component of a bed, it is not the entire bed itself.

How much does a bed frame cost?

The cost of a bed frame can vary depending on its size, material, and design. On average, a basic bed frame can cost around $100 to $300. Fancier frames like a four poster bed or larger bed frame sizes can be more expensive, sometimes costing up to a few thousand dollars.

Can a bed frame ruin a mattress?

If you use your bed frame incorrectly, it can potentially wear your mattress down. Unless you’re using a platform bed frame, most bed frames are incapable of supporting a mattress independently. However,a bed frame or similar foundation can also be a key part of avoiding mattress sagging.

You should place a mattress foundation or box spring between your mattress and your bed frame. Without the proper foundation, a bed frame doesn’t have enough slats or rails to support your bed, causing your mattress to sink and sag.

Can you use a bed without a frame?

You can use your bed without a frame, but always use a mattress foundation or box spring to keep your bed off of the floor. Your mattress foundation supports your mattress and lifts it off of the floor, while most frames are merely a decorative casing for your foundation and bed.

We don’t recommend using your mattress directly on the floor without an additional foundation. The floor often carries bacteria, dust, and bugs and has a cold draft. Your mattress also won’t get proper airflow when directly on the floor, so it’s more susceptible to mold and mildew growth. Above all, using your mattress on the floor voids nearly all mattress warranties.

Does a bed need a headboard and footboard?

No, a bed doesn’t necessarily need a headboard and footboard. While headboards and footboards can add style and decoration to a bed, they are not essential for its functionality. A bed frame and mattress are the main components needed for a comfortable sleep.

Headboards and footboards can provide support for pillows or act as a barrier to keep the mattress in place. However, some people prefer a more minimalistic or space-saving design without these extra attachments. If you’re taller, you may even bump your feet on the footboard, which can get annoying when you’re trying to sleep.

What is the difference between a bed frame and bed rails?

Bed frames are supportive railings with four sides. They’re designed to support your mattress and mattress foundation without connecting to a headboard or footboard.

Conversely, bed rails are two independent side rails used to connect a headboard and footboard and secure the bed. Some bed rails have a center support rail to better carry your mattress and its foundation. Either way, it’s important to make sure after you install bed rails that they are secure and free of wobbling.

How do you fix the gap between a mattress and a bed frame?

Bed frames have slightly larger dimensions than their corresponding mattresses to ensure the mattress will fit in the railing. However, you are sometimes left with a small gap between your mattress and the frame, causing your mattress to move around at night.

We suggest using a thin pad, mat, or towel between your mattress and the frame to keep your bed in place. You can also use non-slip adhesive strips between your mattress and the foundation to stop the mattress from shifting.


A bed frame isn’t always an essential element to your sleeping set-up, but it makes for a great focal point in a bedroom. If you’re trying to save space, bunk beds, trundle beds, and daybeds offer great value. If you want to save money, platform beds and floating beds are a good option since you won’t need an additional bed foundation for your bed.

There a number of options that could be the best bed frame for you, as long as the frame supports your mattress.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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