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Differences Between a Bed Base & Bed Frame

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

All you want to do is get a new bed, but now you get bombarded with frustrating, ambiguous bed lingo. Honestly, what’s the difference between a bed base and a bed frame!? And more importantly, which one is the best?

That’s all you want to know, right?

You clicked on the right link then. In this article/blog post, The Mattress Warehouse will tell you all you need to know about bed bases, bed frames, the difference between the two, and which one will work the best for you.

Let’s dive in.

What is a bed base?

A charcoal grey designer bed base with quilted sides.
The Grey Designer Base is sturdy and reliable

Broadly speaking, a bed base is the support structure on which your mattress lies (this would include a bed frame). However, it has become popular in the States to call a box frame a bed base. And like most things that originate in America, it spilled over to the rest of the world. So for all practical purposes a bed base is that upholstered wooden box under your mattress.

These wooden boxes either have a platform top or a set of springs to support the weight of your mattress (and you). Moreover, a bed base does not include a headboard.

  • Platform top – These bases offer complete support to your mattress and will give your sleep surface a firm feel.
  • Box Spring – Similar to mattress spring systems, the base comes with a spring system inside the box. These kinds of bed bases will give you a softer, more bouncy sleep experience.

Often times when you buy a new bedset, it will come as a base and a mattress.

Tip: A bed base and a box frame are synonyms for the same thing.

What is a bed frame?

The Kooi Zina Teak bed frame has a built in headboard and slats for a foundation.
The Kooi Zina Teak bed frame’s neutral tone will anchor your bedroom aesthetic

A bed frame, like bed bases, is also a structure that supports your mattress. Moreover, a bed frame is not a box or in a box shape. It has four legs, a foundation and either bed slats or a mesh on which your mattress lies. Another diagnostic feature of a bed frame is that the foundation and mattress are so far off the ground that you can see (and store items like shoes) underneath the bed.

Bed frames generally include head- and footboards, which make it aesthetically appealing (on’t confuse a headboard and a bed frame). Moreover, it can come in a variety of materials and styles:

3 Differences between the bed base & bed frame

You can probably spot the differences without us telling you what they are. But just to make it easier, we’ve listed the three main things that sets a bed base and a bed frame apart.

1. The basic structure

A bed base is a box-like piece of furniture that is covered in fabric or upholstery. It is a closed off unit that has no real aesthetic value on its own.

On the other hand, a bed frame stands on four legs and is not closed off. It can be used to create a specific look in your bedroom. For instance, you can use a wrought iron bed frame to give your room a classic farmhouse look.

2. The foundation

The foundation of a bed base or bed frame is that part of the base that is directly under the mattress and gives the mattress the support it needs.

On a bed base with a platform top 100% of bottom surface of the mattress makes contact with the bed base. This gives the mattress complete support and will increase the longevity of your mattress. Box springs give more targeted support to those areas of the mattress that carry the most weight. So in effect it acts like a mattress for your mattress. It makes for a great night’s sleep but can compromise the longevity of your mattress.

As a rule, bed frames come with slated foundations. These slats normally support between 50- and 80% of the bottom surface of the mattress. So it is not as effective at keeping your mattress in shape. However, with the slightly lower support, comes increased airflow which is good for mattress hygiene.

3. Pricing

As a rule, bed frames are more expensive than box springs and bed bases. Probably because bed frames are built out of more expensive materials, like solid wood, than bases which are often manufactured from more affordable wood.

So, what’s better: the bed base or frame?

This might not be the answer you are looking for, but… it depends.

You have to choose, do you prefer the more affordable, more supportive option of the base? Or do you like the good looks and extra storage that comes with the frame?

Another factor to take into account is what kind of mattress you sleep on or intend to buy with your new bed base/frame. If you enjoy sleeping on a memory foam mattress, the platform top bed base is for you. Just like the top of the foam mattress conforms to your body, the base of the mattress will conform to the shape of the bed foundation. So if your foundation is slated, your memory foam mattress press into the voids between the slats. In the long run, this will harm the integrity of the foam and rob you of those precious zZz’s. Spring mattresses work better with slats than foam mattresses.

What is the best base for a bed?

  • Bed base – If you want affordable, sturdy support that will increase the lifespan of your mattress, you should buy a bed base. Check out the Sealy Ponto Firm base and mattress combo.
  • Bed frame – If you want your bed to make a statement and focus the aesthetic of your bedroom, you should buy a bed frame like the Paris Leather bed frame.

Browse the full range of bed bases for sale

Now that you know a bed base is more supportive and a bed frame looks better, you should have a clearer picture of which one to get. So go ahead and spoil yourself – browse our full range of bed bases and pick the one that you like most. Once you made your pick, we’ll bring it right to your door.

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