What Is a Platform Bed?

Find out if you need a platform bed frame to go with your mattress.

By Nicole Gleichmann

Whenever you walk into a bedroom, the first thing that you notice is the bed. Your choice of bedframe forever alters the room’s aesthetic. Are you wanting a bold frame with a headboard that takes over the wall, or something more subtle and sleek? Does the modern, cutting-edge metal style fit your interior decor, or would a flawless natural wood be a better fit?

Platform beds are a popular choice thanks to a variety of styles and a sophisticated, low profile appearance. Thanks to their standalone support, shoppers can avoid the need for a lofty and expensive box spring. This minimalist aesthetic yields the platform bed’s unique style and impressive affordability.

Box Spring vs Platform Bed Frame

Solid platform bed

When shopping for a bed frame, you have two options: a traditional bed frame or a platform bed frame.  

Traditional bed frames require the use of a traditional box spring, a supportive foundation designed for use underneath innerspring mattresses. Platform bed frames, however, offer standalone support using either a solid surface or slats.

Deciding which type of support is best largely depends upon your type of mattress

Box springs were designed as a way to provide extra support for innerspring mattresses. Their wooden frame pairs with bouncy, supportive steel springs to absorb movement and distribute weight. The result is a more comfortable night’s sleep and enhanced mattress longevity. 

Because box springs provide extra support for innerspring mattresses, they protect the sleeping surface from sagging and wear and tear. For this reason, many mattress manufacturers require the use of a traditional box spring for innerspring mattresses to be covered under warranty. 

Unlike innerspring mattresses, no box spring is needed for memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses. With no springs in their makeup, these beds have different best practices. 

For a good night’s sleep and enhanced longevity with memory foam or latex, you simply want even support. For extreme minimalists, this means placing the mattress directly on the floor. But for anyone who wants a more sophisticated, modern look, the answer is a platform bed

Platform beds have a simple frame that negates the need for a box spring or added mattress foundation. Platform bed frames offer standalone mattress support, sufficient for most foam and latex mattresses. 

The way that platform beds provide adequate support varies from one model to the next. Some use a solid platform, typically a sheet of solid wood. Others use metal or wooden slats spaced closely together. 

Traditional Bed Frames  Platform Bed Frames 
Box Spring Provides Support Slats or a Solid Platform Provide Support
Best for Innerspring Mattresses Best for Memory Foam or Latex Mattresses
Stands Taller – Easier to Get In and Out Of Lower Profile – More Contemporary Appearance
Costs More Due to Bed Frame + Box Spring Affordable

*Always check your mattress warranty. Some will specify how a mattress needs to be supported. If you do not follow these directions, your warranty can become void.

Types of Platform Beds

Platform beds can be categorized by their materials and construction. The following are the main types of platform beds

Related: Best Platform Beds 

Slatted Platform Bed

Slatted platform beds have rows of slats that run parallel to the top of the bed frame. These slats are made from wood, metal, plastic, or composites (an amalgamation of two or more materials). When compared to solid platform beds, slatted beds allow for greater breathability. This air circulation helps memory foam mattresses sleep cool. 

An important factor to consider when buying a slatted platform bed is the distance between the slats. Too large and the surface won’t be supportive. Too small and the mattress can sleep hot. You want to find slats spaced 3” or less apart. 

Solid Platform Bed

Platform beds with a solid, flat surface are called solid platform beds. These beds offer the greatest level of support. They are a good choice for anyone who would like their mattress to feel slightly more firm. Additionally, the solid structure is more comfortable than slats when combined with a thin mattress. 

Wood Platform Bed

Platform frames are made from either wood or metal.  A wood platform bed is a classic choice that matches nearly any interior. From rustic to elegant, wood has never grown out of style. Wood beds are strong and long-lasting (when properly cared for). But beware that they are heavy and colors fade with time. 

One benefit to this type of bed is that storage space is sometimes built-in to the bed base. Wooden storage drawers provide extra space that you do not get with metal frames. By reducing the need for bulky armoires, wooden platform beds with under-bed storage engender a minimalist aesthetic.

Wood platform beds come with either a solid or slatted surface. Some will go all the way to the ground, while others leave the space underneath open. 

Metal Platform Bed

Metal platform beds are a favorite for people looking for a contemporary or industrial feel. They are incredibly durable and often look like new for many years. Metal box springs range in style from incredibly bare-bones, appearing nearly invisible underneath a mattress, to having a built-in headboard and footboard

The variety of metal mattress surfaces is greater than the variety of wooden platform beds. The common solid or slatted options are ideal for foam beds. An alternative option is a metal grid system that is incredibly supportive, making it an excellent choice for an innerspring mattress with a boxspring

Upholstered Platform Bed

Both wood and metal bed frames can come upholstered with fabrics. Upholstered beds tend to give a softer, more voluptuous look. They can be elegant or artistic and often serve as a statement piece.

zinus bed slats

Do You Need a Platform Bed?

Platform beds are just one of many options to house your new mattress. The common alternative is to opt for a traditional bed frame, one that stands higher off of the ground and is built to pair with a box spring

Platform beds are best for anyone:

  • With a memory foam or latex mattress
  • Who likes the low-profile look
  • Who sleeps hot (opt for a slatted base)
  • Looking to save money

Traditional beds are a better option for anyone:

  • With an innerspring mattress (although some platform beds will also support a boxspring)
  • Who needs ample storage under their bed
  • Who struggles to get into or out of bed

When shopping for a bedframe, be sure to check your warranty and review the manufacturer’s instructions. Some mattresses will last longer when used with a boxspring, or without one. Others will only be covered under warranty when using specific types of foundations. 


Summary

Bed designs are about both function and fashion. When it comes to platform beds, the first draw for most consumers is their contemporary style. They offer a modern, sleek appearance that goes well with present-day interior design trends. Fewer people realize that different mattresses perform best with different support structures. Platform beds are primarily built for latex and memory foam mattresses. Innerspring mattresses usually require a boxspring for optimal performance and pair well with traditional bed frames. Regardless, both options provide a solid base for your mattress.


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