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What is a Bed Frame?

Updated March 29, 2021

You may have a mattress that you feel is perfect for you, so what next? Although laying your mattress on the floor as a young adult who has just acquired their own place may be the norm, nobody is truly happy with that situation for long. This is when you begin to wonder what sort of bed frame you may need.

It won’t take long to realize that there are many, many types of bed frames available from which to choose and that finding the perfect one may be a challenge. But today we are going to address exactly what is a bed frame- to help provide you the specifics in order to stay both in the budget and realize all your possibilities pertaining to this topic.

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Bed Frame Definition

Bed frames, also occasionally called bedsteads, is the term used to describe the type of support your mattress rests upon. For as long as people have created a comfortable sleep surface, there has been some sort of bed framework involved to help hold the bedding for a more comfortable rest. In early Neolithic times, this may have meant an area dug out to hold bedding, or raised slabs of rock held off the cold ground. But within a few thousand years wooden frames with rope supports had become popular in many cultures- describing a construct more familiar to our modern times.

Since the mattress as we know it wasn’t even patented until the mid-1800’s, bed frames only needed to support overly large, and thick, pillows like pads stuffed with grasses, straw, feathers, cotton, wool, or any other type of material that was both comforting and supportive to the body.

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Popular Bed Frame Materials

Areas of soft dirt and raised rock slabs may have been the earliest framework for padded sleeping material, but we have come a long way since then. Now manufacturers of bed frames use a variety of materials to provide not only support for modern mattresses but also provide aesthetic choices for a variety of decor, as well as preferences for size and storage purposes.

— Wood


Some of the most popular beds still mimic traditional construction materials, however, with wood being one of the most widely used materials in modern frame design. Solid wood panels, support, head and foot boards are very popular as furniture pieces worthy of heirloom quality.

Even more so is pressed wood boards (or particle boards), that takes wood scrapes and basically rescues wood waste by gluing it together to create a strong, durable board. These are often covered with a vinyl that mimics natural wood grain for a less expensive alternative to solid wood.

— Metal


Metal framework is popular as a strong foundation to other materials, or as a stand-alone. Brass and stainless steel are common in that they provide many opportunities to showcase metalworking and are not overwhelming in size, or against other furniture pieces.

— Fabric and Leather


Fabric and leather, as well as faux leather, coverings to head and footboards, and even sideboards, have become more common to more closely match a contemporary decor. Fabric does require a more rigid base, which is often a plywood to provide a durable frame and surface to attach the material to.

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Popular Bed Frame Styles


There are literally dozens of different bed frame styles from which to choose. Compact bed frames, such as folding frames, or Murphy (wall beds) are a great go-to for small spaces, or when company comes calling. Trundle bed frames which slide beneath larger frames, and lift, can quickly open up the room when in storage, or make a twin bed a full bed with very little effort. Daybeds can serve as a sitting area by day and a great place to lay your head at night.

If you need a sleeping solution more specific to night, then you have your choice of platform beds, panel beds, or even sleigh beds- which are named such due to their curving head and footboards that mimic an old-fashioned sleigh.

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Basic Bed Frames

Although everything described proves a quick overview of what a bed frame can be, you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to get your mattress up off the floor. Basic bed frames, such as this Hollywood Premium Bed Frame provide the structure you need to support your mattress and get it off the floor.

This is the perfect solution for a budget-friendly frame and only requires that you add the mattress support needed. For example, your innerspring mattress should have a box frame, and your foam or hybrid mattress most likely requires a more supportive platform to rest upon. The addition of a bunkie board or bed slats are easily added. These types of beds also have the ability to add a head and footboard of your choice which can be bought separately to meet your decorating (or budget) needs.

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Choosing a Bed Frame for You

No matter what your personal preferences are, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a bed frame. The following steps can help you narrow down your choices and provide you with an idea of what you need, and want:

  • What size mattress do you have?
    Unless you have an adjustable frame, such as the Hollywood example provided above, your frame will be specific to your mattress size.
  • How much space do you have to place a bed frame within?
    See How Wide is a King Size Bed Frame to give you an idea of bed frame sizes in general.
  • Do you have any storage needs?
    Not all beds allow for storage underneath, while others have built in storage for you to take advantage of.
  • Do you have a budget?
    There are many bed frames available for you to consider no matter what budget limitations you may have. Simple designs may run you less, but they have the ability to be added to when your finances change. Other choices may be an investment, but one that you never have to make again.
  • What are your personal preferences?
    We spend almost a third of our lives in bed and what we sleep and rest upon is a great influence on our physical and mental health.

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Conclusion

Now that you know what, exactly, a bed frame is, you can better start your search for the perfect choice. Remember, there are many variables to take into account, but basically anything that supports your mattress choice is a bed frame, and you should always approach a purchase of one with care for quality and dependability.