For two or three generations, most beds consist of a mattress, a foundation (box spring, box platform or slatted box) and a bed frame. The bed frame for these is usually side rails, cross bars, and (for larger sizes) a center beam, made of angle steel. These frames have legs (or feet), usually with gliders or casters to facilitate moving the bed.
The invention of this kind of metal bed frame without slats is credited to Henry Feldman of The Fredman Brothers Furniture Company, who developed it in the 1950s. Glideaway is a subsidiary of Feldman Brothers. By now, there are several manufacturers of slatless steel bed frames, including Mantua, W Silver Products, and Knickerbocker Advanced Bed Support Systems. Most United States manufacturers of bed frames use steel angle made by Jersey Shore Steel from recycled railroad tracks, one of the toughest types of steel.
Before Feldman developed frames without slats, particularly useful with the almost universally used box springs, most mattresses were used with wooden or iron beds. This kind of bed had a head and foot with side rails. Between the side rails were slats to hold the mattress.
With the introduction of innerspring mattresses, usually 6″ to 8″ high, and box springs, which were usually 8″ to 10″ high, a mattress and box spring on a bed with 18″ to 24″ legs made the surface too high for many people. The slatless bed frame sitting only about 6″ above the floor made for a lower bed, easier to get into and out of at about 20″ to 24″ high. Higher mattresses stimulated the introduction of low profile foundations, solidifying the roles of slatless steel bed frames.
Now there are many variations of steel bed frames. The category has expanded to include steel bed foundations. These are steel frames with a steel grid to support a mattress directly without a box spring, slatted box or other foundation. These can have longer legs, achieving the same overall bed height with room under the bed for storage.
In another development, the increase in heavier sleeper and heavier mattresses and foundations has led to the introduction of sturdier bed frames. One example of these is the Heavy-Duty Bed Frame by Knickerbocker, which is sold by several retailers in this country.
Although many steel bed frames are imported, a good percentage of those sold in North America are made in the U.S.A. or Canada. Most bed frames sold as brands of mattress manufacturers are made by Glideaway or Mantua.
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