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What is a Bed Frame?

By Matthew F.
Updated May 16, 2024
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A bed frame is the wood or metal outline that provides the foundation for a bed. It holds the mattresses and keeps the bed standing. The bed frame includes the headboard, the footboard, and side boards. On beds of certain sizes or specifications, the frame also includes a center support rail, bed posts, or other features. The bed frame is sometimes also called a bedstead.

Though they can be made of other materials, bed frames are most commonly made of wood, steel, or brass. In most frames, the design is the same. Four legs, two at the head of the bed and two at the foot of the bed, hold up a rectangled set of shelves that provide the frame for the mattress to rest on. On top of the two legs at the foot of the bed is an additional board known as the footboard, and over the two legs at the head of the bed is the head board. Some beds feature extensions of the legs, known as bed posts, at either side.

On larger beds, such as king or queen size beds, the internal part of the bed frame features an additional steel or wooden piece crossing the frame lengthwise. This bar is to support the otherwise unsupported middle of a large mattress. While the edges of a mattress are supported, the middle would sag under the weight of a person without this middle bar. On smaller mattresses, such as twin or double size, the bar is unnecessary because the mattress is supported fully by the shelves on the edges of the bed frame.

The parts of the bed frame, especially the posts or headboards, are often painted, stained, or covered in fabric or designs. On brass beds, the parts are either made of pure brass or of parts that have been completely brass plated. The designs on many designer beds, such as Art Deco, Edwardian, or Victorian, can be very intricate and artful. Bed frames from the late 1800s are often seen as the pinnacle of bed framing. They characteristically utilize iron frames and a level of craftsmanship that was common of the era.

Many bed frames are made to be easily disassembled and reassembled. The parts of the frame are often attached with easy to remove fasteners, such as pin-and-hook fasteners, bed blots, or plate-and-hook fasteners. The different pieces attach at the sides of the frame and headboards, and allow for easy removal or adjustment.

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Discussion Comments
By anon205969 — On Aug 14, 2011

Do bed frames come in different heights? I have just purchased a new bed skirt for my bed and it is made for a 17 inch length. It is about two inches too long and I was wondering if I can purchase a higher bed frame.

By bythewell — On Jul 17, 2011

I've seen some gorgeous bed frames available online. It's particularly good easy to get artistic bed frames for kids.

My favorite so far was one where the whole bed looked like the pumpkin carriage in Cinderella, with a bed inside it and steps leading up to the door.

But I've also seen tall bed frames shaped like trees, or beds that look like sailing ships.

And of course there are always the traditional race car beds that every little boy wants.

It makes me want to have kids so I can have the fun of picking out a bed frame for them!

Although they tend to be pretty expensive for something the kids will soon grow out of.

By lluviaporos — On Jul 16, 2011

I have a lovely wood bed frame at the moment. One of the things I like most about it is that it still smells of pine, even though I've had it for a while now.

I really think that slate bed frames are the most convenient. I've moved with this one a couple of times and it was always easy to pack up and fit into the trailer, with the mattress being the bulkiest part. I've had rigid bed frames before that don't come apart when you need to move them and they are really difficult to move anywhere. And getting them up stairs can be next to impossible.

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