What is a Platform Bed? Choosing the Right Bed for Your Needs.


Why a platform bed? Take a look at: factors you should consider before buying a platform bed, mattresses that can be used with a platform bed, and platform bed vs. box spring bed or foundation bed.

So what is a platform bed?

In simple words, a platform bed is one that uses just a mattress. It is also known as a cabin bed. It is made up of a raised solid rectangular frame and rows of wooden slats or sometimes a flat wood slab to serve as a support for the mattress as opposed to a box spring or a foundation. They may or may not have a headboard and/or a footboard. These beds were the first manifestation of man’s attempt to create a raised sleeping area to protect themselves from small insects, rodents, and cold. They seem to have their origin in Egypt where ornate platform beds were made for the Pharaohs and other members of the royal family and simpler ones for the commoners. These beds resembled today’s day beds or chaise longues. A more recent precursor to the modern platform bed was the loft bed. These were raised at a height from the ground and the space below could be conveniently used as living area.

what is a platform bed

Materials Used

Wood, leather, and metal were the materials used in ancient times for manufacture of platform beds. Bone slat bases or ropes were also sometimes used while precious metals and ivory were used to decorate them. Modern platform beds may be made up of one or more of the materials like wood, leather, metal, and bamboo. Engineered wood or MDF, laminates, or wood veneers are used to make affordable platform beds though of course, they are not as durable as those made of hardwoods. Metals are also a popular material though not in pure form. Alloys are used to make sure higher strength and stability.

Types of Platform Beds

Some basic types of platform beds are:

Traditional Platform Beds

These are the classic style beds influenced by the art and craft movement in furniture, mission style furniture or colonial furniture. They can range from ornate, elaborately made ones to uncomplicated simple designs. They may also be a blend of Asian and American styles. Material used for this type of platform beds is mostly particle board or wood.

Asian Platform Beds

These are the more popular ones incorporating Asian, more specifically Japanese style that give them an exotic yet simple look that reflects the Japanese culture and architecture style representing simplicity and precision.

Modern Platform Beds

Modern or contemporary platform beds are simpler with clean lines and edges that reflect the European furniture style. They can be made of wood, metal, MDF, etc. depending on the quality that the buyer wishes to go for. A common feature of these beds could be upholstered panels or chrome accents with a minimalistic design.

Storage Platform Beds

These are platform beds that are high enough to have space for drawers or shelves for storage under the slats. These help in efficient use of available space in your bedroom.

Transitional Platform Beds

Transitional style beds are a blend of traditional and contemporary/modern style beds. They combine the clear lines with intricate curves for a fusion look.

Platform bed with cabinets

The Reasons for Buying a Platform Bed

  • Sturdy: Platform beds are sturdy due to their closely placed slats and provide ample support to all kinds of mattresses. They are also quite stable due to their low height.
  • Economic: These beds can be made of a variety of materials including engineered wood or bamboo and wood veneers which makes it a pocket friendly option for those who want a hardwood look but do not have a big budget.
  • Eco-friendly: Platform beds may also be made using sustainable items like bamboo or mango wood making them a green alternative for the environmentally conscious.
  • Space for storage: These beds have enough space underneath them either for an in-built storage area or for stowing boxes or cases under them.
  • Wide choice: You can choose from many varieties of platform beds ranging from traditional to modern to fusion designs to suit the look and decor of your home, especially your bedroom.

Factors to consider while buying a platform bed

Buying a bed is a decision that needs to be taken after proper research as it is usually a long term decision and you will likely live with it for at least a decade, if not more. Beds are also where you spend a big part of your life, almost a third of it, and so it is only natural that you must like where you sleep and be comfortable in it. Once you have decided that you are going to buy a platform bed, you must consider below factors before making your final choice among its different varieties:

  • Durability: Platform beds can be made of a number of materials, as discussed above. Before choosing the bed, you must keep in mind the durability of beds made with each of these materials. For example, if you expect the bed to last a lifetime and have the budget to pay more for it, you should go for a hardwood bed. On the other hand, if you do not have that long a time period in mind and are likely to move, going for a less expensive and lighter bed made of MDF is perhaps a better idea. Even among the hardwoods, you can use lighter options like mango wood which gives you durability and a great appearance without being too expensive.
  • Size of the Room: Keeping the size of the room is important while deciding on the type of platform bed you want to go for. If you are looking for a bed for a child’s room, then a smaller size storage bed can create extra space for toys, books, etc. On the other hand, if you want a bed for a master bedroom, a four poster will be a perfect choice.
  • Bedroom Decor: Another reason to consider is the decor of your bedroom, existing furniture pieces, or the look that you wish to create. The ornate Victorian style fits in with antique furniture and warm colors while a modern look is best achieved with a minimalist contemporary bed design.

Which mattress can be used with platform beds?

We know that platform beds do not require foundations or box springs or a metal frame as the beds are designed to support a mattress with the help of closely spaced rows of wood, metal, or bamboo slats that give ample support for mattresses which can sit right on the bed. Most mattress types are suitable for platform beds; however, you must keep in mind a few factors before deciding on the mattress:

  • Weight limit of your bed: This, in turn, would depend on the material used, the space between slats, the width of slats, etc. Some mattresses can be heavier than others and understanding the different varieties before buying them would be a great help in the decision making process.
  • Comfort: The definition of comfort varies from person to person. Some people prefer a foam bed while others may prefer a latex one, yet others would swear by water beds. Each of these types of beds may have different compatibility levels with your platform bed which need to be considered.
  • Height: The height of the mattress along with your bed should also be taken into account to make sure it’s comfortable for you and ergonomically suited.

Now let’s look at the different types of mattresses and how well they match up to your platform bed:

  • Latex Mattresses: Latex mattresses composed of latex cores with layers of cotton, wool, or latex on the top work well with a solid, sturdy base as they tend to be heavy. If you are buying a latex mattress for your platform bed, make sure that the slats are closely spaced or the bed has a flat wooden slab for supporting your latex bed. You could also check if the mattress is within the weight limit of your bed.
  • Memory Foam Mattresses: These mattresses can be gel-based, plant-based, or traditional. They are made of poly foam cores with layers of memory and gel foam on top. These are quite suitable for platform beds as they need a good support, especially the denser beds which can a bit on the heavy side.
  • Innerspring Mattresses: These are made of interconnected coils with foam and fiber layers on the top. These are suitable for box spring beds and usually sold along with them. When used on a platform bed, they may not feel very comfortable as they can be a little too firm.
  • Futon Mattresses: Thin and weighing little, futon mattresses are made of layers of foam and fiber. These can be easily rolled and generally used with futon frames. Though these can be easily used with platform beds, they may feel uncomfortable if they are too thin or if they do not have sufficient padding.
  • Waterbed Mattresses: Though hard side waterbeds are not fit for platform beds, soft side waterbeds may be used with them. Keep in mind that these waterbeds tend to be heavy due to water pockets inside them and require support of a sturdy base.

Foundation vs. Box Spring vs. Platform Bed

We have already learnt about the platform bed and its design and advantages. Let’s understand the other two varieties before we compare them.

Foundation Bed: This type of bed is like a wooden box with wood slats or metal supports on the sides and a flat and solid surface to put your mattress on. This type of bed gives your mattress full support and helps absorb all the weight that you and the mattress put on the bed when you sleep on it.

Box Spring Bed: A box spring bed is one which has metal springs inside a rectangular box. These springs move along with the mattress springs absorbing the stiffness of your mattress and making you feel comfortable. Box spring beds also raise the height of the bed and are suitable if you prefer taller beds.

Comparing the different types of beds

Box spring beds have slowly become less useful what with the developments in the mattress manufacturing processes. The biggest advantage of these beds is the support it provided to the spring mattress. However, now that the mattresses with springs are no longer manufactured much, foundation beds and platform beds are preferred as they provide support not just to the mattress, but also your back by distributing the weight evenly on the bed.

Other advantages of a spring free bed are that you can place almost any kind of mattress on them and do not have to worry about the spring noises and squeaks as they get older. In terms of buying costs also, you save money on a spring free bed as they also require a spring mattress. Of course, it all depends on what you find more comfortable. Some people just prefer box springs while others would rather go for firmer support. Foundation beds are great for heavier mattresses but if you have no set preferences then platform beds come across as the best alternative given their many advantages. Not only are they less expensive and fit almost all kinds of budgets, they come in so many varieties in terms of both design and material that you are sure to find one that suits your personality.

From sleek modern ones to heavy Victorian ones, you will be spoiled for choice. The storage advantage is great for those living in small flats which require efficient use of available space. In terms of stability too, platform beds score as they have a lower height compared to others. If you want the bed for kids’ room or for anyone moving a lot while sleep, platforms are a safer option.

In conclusion, while box springs are a dying variety, foundation beds are good but the best choice which gives you the advantages of a foundation bed and a lot more is the platform bed.

Author: John Clax

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