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What Is a Platform Bed?

What Is a Platform Bed?

So, you’re in the market for a new bed. There are so many things you’ll need to consider: the size of your mattress, its material, your bed frame, your sheets, your bedding, what mattress topper to get … the list goes on and on.

One of the terms you might hear when shopping for a bed is “platform bed.” It’s a lesser-known phrase when it comes to bed buying, but it’s a very important one that can change what type of bed you buy and how it sits in your bedroom. 

Today, we’re going to talk about platform beds. By the end of this short article, you’ll know everything you need to know about this design statement. 

The Platform Bed

Platform beds are a popular trend today, but they’ve actually been around for centuries. Even if you haven’t heard the term before, you’ve probably seen or even slept on a platform bed without realizing it. 

A platform bed is a specific type of bed frame. While some frames require some sort of additional bed base to go between the frame and the mattress, a platform bed needs no such thing. 

A platform bed has a surface or platform on which your mattress can rest directly. This platform is usually made with slatted wood or metal. This leaves air gaps between the panels of the platform, but the mattress is still well-supported and held up by the frame. 

Because the platform bed doesn’t need a major piece that other bed frames need, platform beds have a lower profile than other beds. They also don’t sit as high off the ground, making them more affordable than other beds. 

Can You Use Regular Bedding? 

The type of bed frame you use has nothing to do with what kind of bedding you can use with your mattress. Most sets of bed sheets, comforters, and pillows will work with any mattress. 

The main factor you need to consider when looking at new bedding is your mattress’s dimensions. Of course, you need to look at the mattress size, whether it’s a twin, queen, or king. You may also want to look at how tall the mattress is — there’s nothing worse than finding out your fitted sheet won’t fit over the corners of your extra-thick mattress. 

Can You Add Mattress Pads?

You can use mattress pads on platform beds just like any other bed. Mattress pads simply rest on top of your mattress to make it more comfortable or more temperature controlled, so mattress pads can fit on virtually any mattress of the same size. 

Are There Other Types of Bed Bases?

Platform beds aren’t the only type of beds out there. There are several types of bed frames and bed bases to choose from, each designed with different needs in mind. Let’s walk through a few of the more prominent competitors to the platform bed so that you can make an informed decision as you revamp your bedroom furniture. 


Foundations are a bit different, although they are closely related to platform beds. Foundations utilize a similar supporting method to platform beds. It’s usually staggered wooden slats that support the mattress. 

What makes a foundation different is what holds the slats up. Where a platform bed is simply held up by legs, a foundation is usually surrounded with planks of wood, often that are covered in fabric or upholstery. 

This means that you cannot see any space underneath the bed. The frame is planted firmly on the ground, and the mattress is placed on top of that. 

Box Springs

Perhaps the most popular — and the most traditional — bed base option aside from platform beds are box springs. A box spring is a support for your mattress that fits perfectly underneath it. They’re the exact same length and width as your mattress. 

Still, what makes box springs unique is not their size, but what’s inside them and how they function. Box springs have a sturdy wooden frame that contains springs to support the mattress. The whole outside of the frame is covered with a breathable fabric. 

Box springs typically fit into a bed frame without a bottom. The frame has a lip around the edge that the box spring fits neatly into, lifting the box spring off the ground. These frames are typically collapsible ones. 

Bunkie Boards

Bunkie boards are named as such because they were originally created for use in bunk beds. Back in the early 20th century, they provided a more low-profile alternative to box springs. This was necessary because bunk beds are stacked on top of each other, so they needed to be smaller to give each sleeper enough space over their heads. 

Bunkie boards are quite simple. They are a solid platform that is typically one to three inches thick where the mattress sits. These platforms are usually made of wood, plywood, or particle board. 

Adjustable Bed Bases

One of the newest technologies when it comes to bed frames is adjustable bed bases. With these, everything goes out the window. These bases are created with a special frame that the mattress lays in. 

This frame can fold and move up and down in specific directions, providing the sleeper with multiple sleeping positions for comfort and more support for specific body parts that need it throughout the night. 

As time has gone on, these adjustable bases have grown in popularity. They are now computerized and electronic, making it easy to make adjustments to the shape of the bed quickly. 

Compare and Contrast

There are a lot of differences between these five types of bed frames. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each. 

Pros and Cons of Platform Beds

Platform beds have a lot of advantages. For starters, because you don’t have to also purchase a box spring or another piece of the bed, they’re much more affordable than other options. 

Platform beds are also quite breathable. They support good airflow above and below the mattress for cooler temperatures, which is good for sleep. 

On top of that, platform beds can support any type of mattress, from innerspring to memory foam to gel foam. 

Platform beds are also low-profile. They sit low to the ground. This can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on who you ask. Low-profile beds are good for modern-style bedrooms but aren’t as well-suited for styles like traditional or farmhouse. 

The only obvious potential downside is that platform beds are sturdy and don’t have much give, so your mattress might not feel as soft on a platform bed. However, this can be easily rectified with a high-quality mattress pad. 

Pros and Cons of Box Springs

Box springs have been around for centuries. They have more bounce and give, which can make for a softer experience with your mattress. They also provide even support for your mattress and fairly good airflow.

Box springs also protect the mattress and can improve its lifespan. Box springs absorb some of the impacts that the mattress would normally take. 

This bed base lifts the mattress higher than platform beds. Again, this is a matter of preference. Certain styles prefer higher beds, and others prefer lower beds. 

One of the big drawbacks to box springs is that they are only compatible with innerspring mattresses, not memory foam, latex, or hybrid mattresses. While they work in harmony with innerspring mattresses, they don’t provide the flat support that other mattresses need to prevent sagging.

Pros and Cons of Foundations

Foundation beds share a lot of properties with platforms. They’re affordable, breathable, sit low to the ground, and support any type of mattress.

The main difference is that there is no space between the bed and the ground. While platform beds allow for storage underneath the bed, foundations don’t have this feature. 

Pros and Cons of Bunkie Boards

Bunkie boards are a bit of a one-trick pony. While they are low-profile and are good for a bunk bed sleeping situation, the things they excel at can be better accomplished by other bed frame options. 

They don’t take up much space at all, and they provide sturdy, even support for any type of mattress out there. However, they offer much less breathability than other options. There is virtually no airflow underneath the mattress, which can raise your sleeping temperature and even contribute to a dirtier mattress. 

For this reason, most bunk beds today are made with platform beds and wooden slats rather than bunkie boards. 

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Bed Bases

Adjustable bed bases are a bit of a luxury. They are specifically designed to provide good support for your mattress, and they have the obvious advantage of being able to raise the head or foot of your mattress for comfort and customization. Some adjustable bases even offer massaging or temperature-adjusting features. 

However, these beds are fairly niche. Not only are they quite expensive, but they’re only compatible with a few types of mattresses, so make sure that your mattress will work with this bed before you buy it.

Which Bed Is Best?

You’re the only person who can answer this question for yourself. There are a lot of pros and cons to each bed type. Only you can know your specific needs, style, and preferences. 

At the end of the day, choose the bed that makes you the happiest and gives you the best night of sleep. Thankfully, now you have all the info you need to do just that. 


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