Choosing A Bed Frame

Posted by Vinnie Rouge on 2/28/2015 to Buying Guide - Bedroom
Choosing A Bed Frame
A bed frame is one of the most important furniture purchases you can make, since we spend about a third of our lives in bed. Selecting that bed frame can be difficult, though, since there are so many different ones to choose from. You can make the decision easier by asking yourself some key questions first.
  • What size of bed frame do I want?
  • Do I need my frame to accommodate a box spring, or only a mattress?
  • Do I want the bed to have storage?
  • Do I prefer an upholstered headboard, a wood or metal headboard, or no headboard at all?

Note that this buying guide refers specifically to freestanding beds. If you are interested in learning about bunk beds or loft beds, check out our 'Bunk Bed Types' buying guide.

Start by determining what size of bed frame is right for you. The four most common North American bed sizes are twin (also called single), double (also called full), queen, and king. The size of a bed frame can vary according to its style, so make sure you measure the room the bed will be going into before doing any shopping.
  • A twin size bed, also called a single bed, is designed to accommodate a mattress approximately 74 inches long by 39 inches wide. Twin beds are often used for children's rooms or guest rooms as they fit into a variety of spaces and are typically inexpensive. For an adult, however, a twin bed may be too short.
  • A double size bed, also known as full size, is designed to accommodate a mattress approximately 74 inches long by 54 inches wide. Double beds can be good for an older child or a shorter adult, particularly one sleeping in a smaller room. However, taller adults may find a double bed too short.
  • A queen size bed is designed to accommodate a mattress approximately 80 inches long by 60 inches wide. Queen beds are excellent for smaller or cuddlier couples or for a single adult who needs a lot of room. A couple that likes extra space when they sleep may find a queen bed too narrow.
  • A king size bed is designed to accommodate a mattress approximately 80 inches long by 76 inches wide. King beds are great for adult couples who need extra space to sleep comfortably, since the extra width basically allows each person the same amount of space they would get in a twin bed. Being the largest standard size bed, it may be difficult to fit a king bed in some bedrooms (or to get it into those rooms).
Some bed frames require only a mattress, while some also require a foundation or box spring. Typically, what makes the difference is the type of support the bed frame itself provides. If the bed frame features a platform or a full set of slats, then you do not need a box spring, though depending on how high you want the bed to be, you may want a box spring. 
Bed frames which include only three or four slats, however, will need the additional support that a box spring provides - using these frames with only a mattress is unsafe. 


Since extra storage space is at a premium in many homes today, there are a lot of bed frames that offer built-in storage of several types. 
  • Storage drawers. These are built into the main bed frame itself and may extend out from either side, from the foot board, or some combination of these. This gives a lot of options for additional storage of bedding, clothing, toys and so on. However, the number and size of drawers can vary widely from bed frame to bed frame, so if you want a bed with drawers, keep drawer clearance in mind when you're doing your measuring.
  • Storage headboards. These offer either open or enclosed shelving within the headboard itself. This makes items stored inside very easy to access, but keep in mind that it will substantially increase the length of the bed frame. 
  • Lift-up storage. This is where the entire inside of the bed frame (i.e. under the mattress) has a hydraulic mechanism and can lift up to reveal storage. This type of storage can provide more actual space than the other storage options, but it can be the most difficult to access, since you have to lift not only the frame but also a potentially heavy mattress.

The most visible part of any bed frame tends to be the headboard, since it's often much taller than the rest of the frame. It's therefore important to consider what material you want the headboard to be made of - and if you want a separate headboard at all - both because it'll define the style of your bed and because it may affect your comfort level when sleeping on the bed. When talking about headboards you can split bed frames into three broad categories:

  • Upholstered headboard. This type of headboard is covered in a material such as leather or linen, which is typically at least somewhat soft. Having this type of headboard can be more comfortable if you find yourself resting against it a lot or you enjoy sitting up in bed, but such a headboard can be harder to clean, and is less likely to feature storage.
  • Non-upholstered headboard. These headboards are often made of wood or metal, are easy to clean and maintain, and sometimes have built in storage. They may not be as comfortable, though, if you like to sit up in bed or if you occasionally contact the headboard in your sleep.
  • No visible headboard. What this actually means is that the headboard is only the same height as the foot board and does not rise up above the mattress. This can make a bed frame less restrictive, particularly for tall individuals, but may make the bed appear more unfinished.

Give some thought to these points and bed shopping will be much easier for you!