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What is a Platform Bed? – What You Need to Know About Sleeping Without a Box Spring

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A platform bed is essentially a single level bed base that can support a mattress without the need for a box spring. Sounds simple enough, right? While this is true, there are many different types of platform beds out there and it can get confusing even for the savviest of mattress shoppers. We take a deep dive into what makes a platform bed and whether it’s the right bed for you.

Why do people prefer using a platform bed?

wooden pallet platform bed ina bright room
Platform beds provide a modern aesthetic

It’s easy to mistake a platform bed for other traditional bed frames. In fact, a lot of bed terminology are used quite interchangeably. At the end of the day, we all want something that could help us achieve a good night’s sleep. But everyone’s needs are different. Style and taste also factor greatly into what constitutes a great bed for either you or me.

Platform beds gained popularity near the end of innerspring mattresses’ longstanding reign, around the same time as the ascent of the much revered memory foam mattresses. Most mattresses nowadays do not require traditional box springs. As archaic and old-fashioned they may be, a good number of people (mostly those from the Baby Boomer generation) still do prefer them and a lot of mattress manufacturers still churn out mattresses that can be used with a box spring. But the majority of the vote would still go to platform beds in the platform bed vs box spring battle.

Let’s find out why.

Traditional bed frames such as a panel bed, sleigh beds, canopy beds and four poster beds may still require the added support of a box spring – otherwise, they won’t be able to fully support a mattress (plus a person’s body weight). Platform beds often have solid surfaces and offer more support to almost all mattress types. They are also a more affordable option compared to getting a bed that requires a separate component such as a box spring.

Other platform beds, however, such as wooden platform beds feature wooden slats, rigid slats or flexed slats in place of a level, solid surface and this offers increased air circulation – crucial for all foam mattresses. Most slats are spaced between 2 – 3 inches apart. Bear in mind that the smaller the space in between the slats, the better the support. The downside to slats are although they can help keep your mattress cool, they also tend to wear down much quicker and would need to be replaced. Some platform beds also come in the form of a metal frame, with a metal platform and a metal grid. Metal platform beds, although more durable and secure, also tend to wear out quickly – and this wearing out can not only be seen but also heard (creaky bed, anyone?).

Platform bed frames are usually a low profile bed frame. The standard height of a platform bed spans between 5 to 12 inches. Even though they lay quite close to the floor, a lot of platform beds have storage drawers or compartments underneath which makes the platform bed a great option for those who live in smaller spaces.

A platform bed frame also fits perfectly with today’s more modern aesthetic. It does not matter whether the running theme or decor of your home/bedroom is shabby chic or industrial minimalist or something in between, platform beds can easily blend in, especially when dressed up with corresponding bedding that suits your preferred aesthetic inclination. Platform beds can also come with headboards and footboards but are typically still more sleek and streamlined than your traditional box spring bed which can often look quite bulky.

Types of platform beds

minimalist floating platform bed
Floating Platform Bed

Solid Platform Bed

A solid platform bed is a bed that is made of solid material with no clearance underneath. The solid material can be made from various materials such as wood, plastic, metal or even composite material. It has a solid base as well as a level support surface that you can lay you mattress directly on. It does not require a box spring although some mattress manufacturers also produce solid platform beds that can be used with a specialized box spring. Coupled with a memory foam mattress, solid platform beds can isolate motion perfectly.

Floating Platform Bed

A favorite among minimalists, floating platform beds have no visible legs but have a sturdy, center support for your mattress. They are usually low to the ground and offer no storage space, giving off the illusion that they are suspended in the air, hence the moniker. Some floating platform beds are designed to be wider and longer than the average mattress.

Metal Platform Bed

Most of the ready made bed frames are metal platform beds because they are easy to assemble and transport. Made from either wrought iron or steel, they are durable and can last a long time. Unlike upholstery or wood, a metal platform bed will not stain or fade over time.

Storage Platform Bed

Storage platform beds have bed bases that double up as storage space. Most of the newer storage beds have discreetly designed drawers for extra storage. Other storage beds open from up top. People who are short on space and have small houses usually go for a storage platform bed.

Headboard and Footboard Platform Bed

These are simply platform beds with a headboard and footboard already attached to the main frame. These types of beds usually come upholstered and are a great option for colder climates.

Different styles of platform bed surfaces

An excellent mattress foundation must have strong support surfaces to handle not only the weight of the mattress but of the sleeper as well. Platform bed surfaces act as the only mattress support.

Slatted Base

As mentioned previously, a slatted platform bed that utilizes a slatted base can have either wooden slats or metal grids. These slats provide extra support for the mattress as well as the sleeper. Some slats even curve down the middle, providing a slightly bouncy effect to the bed, even when using an all foam mattress. This can help alleviate pressure points. Please note that all slats are designed differently and can either be closer together or further apart, depending on the support and air flow you prefer.

Solid Base

A platform bed frame with a solid base can provide a very sturdy base but very minimal air circulation. The base can be made from a variety of materials but we have found that most solid bases are made out of wood.

Bunkie Board

Bunkie boards are a bit of an outlier when it comes to platform beds but we are including them here because they serve the same purpose as bed slats. Most people use them when they DIY their own bed, such as wooden pallets grouped together to form a bed base – a favorite among the Pinterest/Instagram crowd. Bunkie boards can also be used with an existing bed frame.

storage platform bed
Provides extra storage space

Pros and Cons of Platform Beds

Can be the more affordable optionCan be large and heavy, making them hard to transport in the event of a move
Does not require a box springLow to the ground which can be extremely uncomfortable for those with lower back and knee problems
Platform beds' support can be exceptionalCan be expensive, depending on the type of material used
Can be used with all types of mattressesIn the case of solid platform beds, air circulation can be poor especially when used with memory foam mattresses
Can either be a simple frame or something more elaborateAlthough not taboo, use with innerspring mattresses can be uncomfortable
Can provide storage spaceIs not an adjustable base
Come in a wide variety of styles, including headboards and footboards
Most newer upholstered platform beds are made with a breathable fabric

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