Selecting a Bed Frame

We have just selected our new mattress. Then we decided on a box-type foundation suitable for the mattress. We don't really want to set the foundation directly on the floor—moving the bed would be a real bear—so we need a bed frame. What kind of frame do we get for our mattress and foundation?

What are our options? Do we get a bed we can fit the foundation and mattress into? Or do we get a steel bed frame with legs? First of all, we do not have to get the bed frame the same place we are buying the mattress. We are free to look around.


Trib Scroll Bronze Iron Bed (OVRST)  Quatrafoil-Queen-Canopy-Bed-(OVRST)
Winslow-White-Full-Double-Platform-Storage-Bed-(OVRST)  INSPIRE-Q-Giselle-Antique-Victorian-Iron-Bed (OVRST)

The oldest option is a bed. Beds usually have more clearance underneath then steel bed frames, so if we get a bed, we need to make that foundation a low-profile model. There are many quality beds on the market, both in stores and online, including metal and wood models.

Most beds made to hold a box spring or other foundation have sideboards with slats between. The foundation sits on the slats. Larger sized beds, Queen and up, should have a beam under the slats down the middle of the bed. Some King-size beds may have two or three beams for more evenly distributed support. No matter how well we like a bed, we have to ask, "Will this foundation and mattress fit?" The frame has to be wide enough and long enough. For instance, a standard Queen-size mattress and foundation are 60" wide by 80" long. so if we buy a wood bed, we need at least 60" between the side boards and at least 80" between the headboard and footboard. Since the foundation has to be dropped into the frame, an inside dimension of 60½"x80½" to have room. This also helps for getting the foundation out.

There are several domestic manufacturers of quality beds, such as The BedWorks of Maine. Many styles are available, from poster (canopy) beds to plain frames with minimal headboards. Beds are made of wood, steel, bronze and other materials. But no matter the syle, the bed has to be sturdy enough for the foundation, mattress, bedding and sleepers. Some mattresses (such as memory foam mattresses) are heavier than others (such as innerspring mattresses). Waterbeds are the heaviest of all, and air beds are usually the lightest.

Steel Bed Frames

Mantua MetalBedBase  Knickerbocker emBrace queen_thumbWSP Waterbed Frame GliderWSP CasterGAW AV50SPG-500x375

In the middle of the1900s, the slatless steel bed frame was invented by the founder of Glideaway. This type of bed frame has side rails of steel angle with cross bars of inverted angle. Larger sizes should have a middle cross bar. Some have a middle rail with legs under it. Now there are many manufacturers of steel bed frames, including Mantua, Leggett & Platt, Knickerbocker, and other domestic and foreign companies.

Some steel bed frames are fixed in size, but most are adjustable so we can fit it exactly to the foundation. This is important, because box springs and foundations can vary slightly in width and length. Some mattress and foundations are 59" wide instead of 60" in queen size. This makes it easier to place the foundation into a standard bed, but necessitates narrowing a slatless frame. Look for this adjustable feature in the frame if you have the narrower size mattress and foundation.

Most beds frames have gliders or coasters on the feet. This makes it easier to move the bed. Gliders can move any direction, while casters have to rotate to move straight. Most current casters are locking, which keeps the bed from moving once it is in place.

If one of the sleepers using the bed is very heavy, a reasonable option is to buy an extra strength mattress and foundation. Some bed frame manufacturers, such as Knickerbocker, are making heavy duty bed frames.

Most slatless steel bed frames come with headboard brackets (or have them as an option). Some also offer footboard brackets. So we can have a headboard on our bed, and a footboard too if we want. Some now have the option of attachable side boards to make it look like a standard bed.

Whether we get a standard bed or a slatless bed frame, several options are available. A slatless steel bed frame costs less than a standard bed. And if we move the bed to another room or house, the frame is easily disassembled and packed.

Final Considerations

When we decide on a bed or bedframe, we need to take a few things into consideration:

Size – Will the foundation fit into the frame?
Strength – Is this frame or bed sturdy enough for our mattress and foundation?
Style – How will this look in our bedroom?
Price – Can we afford it? And is this worth the cost? is a proud member of these and other organizations