How to Shop for a Bed Frame

Shopping for a bed frame can be a stressful experience—there are so many styles, materials, and levels of quality to consider. Consider this your ultimate guide in how to buy bed frames.

What should you avoid when frame shopping? Most importantly, shopping for a bed frame can start to feel like learning a new language—there are so many options and materials—it can be hard to decipher what really matters. The trap of buying the most expensive thing in the store can make you feel like you got a great deal, but avoid shopping by price alone.

We believe three things count:

Materials If you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive solution—you’re going to get it. Plenty of simple, metal frames exist that will do the trick, but be mindful of longevity when shopping. Particle board, plywood, and other cheaper materials will work short-term, but if you’re looking for a piece to give the grandkids, go with a long-term product.

Hardwood and iron are great options and reliable. Generally, they come in plenty of variable options to suit your taste. Looks for a warranty on any product you’re investing in to be sure you’ll get what you’re paying for.

Ease of assembly No one wants to spend money on something that’s going to take a team of NASA scientists to figure out. Choosing something high-quality doesn’t have to mean complicated. Look for furniture designed with you in mind with simple assembly instructions and minimal parts. Bonus points if it doesn’t require any tools.

Honest pricing There’s getting what you pay for and then there’s paying what something is worth—furniture tends to be pricier simply because it can be. While your taste might dictate the price of a product, look for well-made, well-backed, designs that come with warranties, return policies, and work with your mattress to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

What size bed frame do you need? It seems easy—a king size mattress needs a king size bed frame and a queen mattress needs a bed frame for queen mattresses, but there aren’t truly standard frame measurements across manufacturers. Most frames should be clearly labeled with dimensions either online or in a store, but these are some general guidelines to make sure a frame can accommodate your mattress:

Twin: 75x39 inches Twin XL: 80x39 inches Full: 54x75 inches Queen: 60x80 inches King: 76x80 inches Cal King: 72x84 inches

A bed frame for king sized mattresses might not measure exactly 76 inches wide and 80 inches long, but as long as it isn’t significantly smaller or larger, your mattress should fit reasonably well. Something to keep in mind—if you’re looking for an adjustable frame to fit two Twin XL mattresses, typically referred to as a “split king”, the width of a king frame might seem slightly short. Most frames are designed with this in mind and can support two Twin XLs with no problem—just be sure you’re mattresses don’t hang over by more than an inch or two on each side.

What style of frame suits your mattress? More than mattress dimensions, does the frame you have your eye on support the type of mattress you own? For example, a foam mattress performs best on a platform style frame or slats that don’t leave too much more than 4-5 inches of space. Without enough support, foam can sag and cause a host of issues.

A typical spring mattress from a big box store might require a specific model of box spring or foundation to keep the warranty intact, so you may want to check that your frame is deep enough to keep your setup at your preferred height.

You also want to be sure that your frame allows for your mattress to breathe. A waterbed frame isn’t ideal for a traditional mattress, as it might encourage mold growth.

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Shelly Weaver-Cather
Shelly Weaver-Cather

Shelly Weaver is part of the Content Team at Tuft & Needle, leading the writing and editing of our blog. Not quite a Phoenix native, (They take that sort of thing super seriously.) Shelly has spent most of her life in the Phoenix Metro area and has no plans of leaving anytime soon. She made the unexpected jump out of wedding photography and onto T&N’s team in 2016, and found a passion for the people that keep the lights on. She still finds herself shooting in her free time, though these days there are less bridal portraits and more masterpieces of her first child, Duke, a lab-pit mix with an unparalleled love for both T&N mattress hogging and couch destroying.

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