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How to choose the right bed frame

A styled bed in a blue background

To get a good night’s sleep, you need to start with getting the right support under your mattress and box spring. First, it’s a good idea to learn more about what a bed frame is so you can shop for what you need. There are a lot of different options out there, so read our tips on how to pick the one that’s right for you and your room.

Sizing

You may be keeping your mattress, or have a headboard you want to use, so you’ll already know what size bed frame you need. If not, then size is the first thing you should figure out. If you’re starting totally from scratch, first consider the size of the room. The bed should fit comfortably between any nightstands or lights, and still provide enough space for each person sleeping there to easily get in and out of bed. If you have a headboard, footboard, or side rails, those can add on to the space you’ll need. It's a good idea to take measurements.

Next, find out which size fits you and that space. The most common bed sizes are:

  • Twin: Twin bed dimensions are usually 38 inches wide by 75 inches long. Twin beds might not be long enough or wide enough for adults to sleep comfortably. This size is often used in kids’ rooms, but may also be a good choice for a spare or extra bed.
  • Full: A Full (called a Double in some places) offers standard dimensions of 53 inches wide by 75 inches long. A full-size bed can be comfortable for a single, average-sized sleeper but might be a tight fit for more.
  • Queen: Queen bed dimensions are typically 60 inches wide by 80 inches long. A queen-size bed is a good choice for couples who don’t need as much sleeping space or who want more living space in their bedroom.
  • King: King-size beds often measure 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. A king-size bed is the best choice for couples who want maximum personal sleeping space. This size bed takes up a lot of your bedroom space, so be sure to check your room’s dimensions before purchasing.
  • California King: California King bed dimensions are 72 inches wide by 84 inches long. For a large bedroom, or an especially long bedroom, the California king can help fill the space and give you plenty of room to fall asleep comfortably.

If you are taller than average, you may also want to look for XL sized frames, which are a specialty size just to fit those with longer bones. You can also use two Twin XL beds to make up a split King bed, which can be useful for sleepers who want to be able to separate from their partner.

Bed frame vs. platform bed

A traditional bed frame requires a box spring and then the mattress, but a platform bed supports the mattress without the need for a box spring. With a platform bed, the mattress sits directly on the support (usually wood slats or a metal wire deck). This style is gaining popularity because it eliminates the cost and hassle of buying and maintaining another component of your bed. Platform beds may offer storage, either as extra space underneath or with built-in drawers and shelves. Because they’re all one piece, it’s important to make sure the support is of good quality so it will hold up to years of use.

Platform beds come in many styles and often already include the headboard. Bed frames usually include brackets at the head to attach to a headboard. The frames can be modified with accessories so that you can pick the headboard you prefer.

Headboards and footboards

There are different ways to attach a headboard/footboard to your bed: bolt-on slots, hook-on hooks, or a combined headboard/footboard/side rail system. The combined system is usually what makes up the frame for a platform bed. If you want to add a headboard to your bed, you should make sure that the frame you pick has the brackets that match your preferred headboard. Attachment hardware usually comes with the headboard/footboard, not the frame. There are accessories that will to convert the frame to the other version, if needed. Footboard brackets often do not come standard with a bed frame, so may have to be purchased separately.

Bed frames for different situations

Standard bed frames provide options for most uses, but there are also specialty frames for unique situations. They do still sell waterbeds, and if you have one you’ll certainly want to have a frame that supports it. Here are some other special situations to consider:

  • Height: The standard height of a frame is about 7 inches tall, so if you need your bed to be lower to get in and out more easily, find a low profile design. Or, find adjustable feet to raise the frame if you prefer additional height.
  • Support: If you want to make sure you’re supported, whatever you put on top of your frame, choose a heavy-duty model made especially for extra strength. The better the support, the less your mattress and bedding will break down – which means you have longer before you have to replace it.
  • Flooring: If your bed is resting on vintage wood or expensive carpet, you want to choose feet for your bed that won’t cause damage. Glides are usually perfect for this.
  • Mobility: You may want the option to roll your bed around to clean, or rearrange the room. There are mobility options for your bedding support. You can choose a frame with wheels for sliding around the room (they lock when rolling is not preferred).
  • Easy to store/transport: If you expect to move your bed, either because you’re providing a temporary sleeping space or because you’ll be changing your residence, you can choose a frame or platform that’s easy to take down and fold up. One option for guest rooms is roll-away beds or trundles (day beds). 
  • Changes: You may be buying a frame for a fast-growing child, in which case it’s nice when it can grow with them so you don’t have to replace it later. Some bed frames can be adjusted to different bed sizes so they can expand as your sleeper does.
  • Non-standard sizes: If you have a custom or antique bed already, it may not fit the standard sizes. You can get an adjustable frame that fits more than the normal Twin/Full/Queen/King measurements. Another option might be a rail support system, which replaces flimsy wood or broken slats on an existing headboard/footboard/rail system.

Getting quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and that all starts with the right bed. There’s more to think about than price – make sure to choose the bedding support that will give you the sleep experience you want.