Bed Buying Guide: How to Buy a New Bed | MattressNextDay
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Bed Buying Guide: How to buy a new bed

Bed Buying Guide: How to buy a new bed

When buying a new bed, most of us tend to give attention to the mattress. However, your sleeping surface is only part of the equation. Even the most luxurious mattress money can buy isn’t going to give you a good night’s sleep if it’s sat on top of an inadequate bed frame. Too large, and the mattress will shift and slide, allowing pillows to drop between the mattress and the wall or headboard. Too small, and you’re in for an even more uncomfortable night!

Elevation is important, as it keeps the underside of the mattress exposed to the air and prevents the build-up of moisture. In addition, buying a new bed frame that’s the correct height allows you to get in and out without too much fuss. However, if you’re pushed for space, that under-the-bed area can be used for storage, such as in the case of divan beds.

Perhaps most important of all, a good bed frame needs to be able to support the weight of the mattress and anyone who happens to be sleeping on it. As mattress-manufacturing technology evolves, many mattresses are using heavier, denser materials in their fillings and support systems, which requires a bed frame that’s up to the job.

However, bed frames are more than a mere practicality. Now that they’re available in a range of styles, colours, and materials, your new bed frame can help to give your entire bedroom something of a facelift.

What is the difference between a bedstead and bedframe?

One of the things that can confuse anyone buying a new bed frame is the terminology. You’ll frequently hear the words ‘bed frame’ and ‘bedstead’ bandied about. Unless you’re sleep-slang savvy, this can be a little bewildering. The good news is that they both refer to the same thing. The base, construction, or platform that your mattress sits on top of.

Bed in the centre of a light coloured bedroom

What is the difference between a divan and a bedstead?

Although divans and bedsteads both support and elevate your mattress, there are some key differences between the two. A bedstead is essentially a frame on which your mattress rests. Typically, they use wooden slats as the support system. This offers a gentler form of support beneath the mattress, as the wood can expand and contract according to weight and temperature. Bedsteads are available in a variety of styles, materials, and colours, allowing you to add that personal touch to your surroundings.

Divans, on the other hand, are mattress-sized boxes, with the mattress sitting on top. Because the top of the divan is solid, these offer firmer support, with less room for bending and bowing. These tend to be favoured by those who prefer a minimalist, modern and fuss-free style. They can be just as elegant as their framework cousins but lend themselves better to more contemporary surroundings.

However, the main difference between the two is how they use the space beneath the mattress. Your common-or-garden bedstead does have room underneath for storage boxes and clutter you want to keep out of sight. However, piling stuff up under your bed can make it difficult to access and keep in order. Divan beds have drawers built into the box-frame. These allow you to optimise your spare space by keeping it organised.

How do I choose a bed frame?

Choosing the right bed frame can be just as important as choosing the right mattress. Let’s look at the top five factors you ought to take into account if you’re asking yourself ‘how do I buy a new bed frame?’.

1. Set your budget. Before you go anywhere near a showroom or online store, have a good idea of the amount you want to spend and buy the best bed frame possible within those parameters. Getting it right first time can help your mattress achieve its intended lifespan and ensure you get night after night of comfortable and supported sleep.

2. Size is important! If you’re hanging onto your existing mattress, make sure you measure it up. If you’re buying a new one, then ensure that the bed frame you choose is designed to accommodate its dimensions. On our website, you’ll find all the necessary measurements when you choose the right frame. You also need to be sure that there’s enough room in your bedroom for your new purchase.

3. Pick your style. This is the fun bit. You’ll find bed frames available in all colours, shapes, and sizes, allowing you to put your stamp on your surroundings. If your home leans towards the rustic side, a wooden bedstead might be what you’re looking for. For clean lines, metal bedsteads might be better.

4. Hard or soft? As we’ve seen, solid-top frames offer firmer support than their wooden-slatted cousins. Deciding what is the most comfortable bed frame will depend very much on your sleeping requirements. If you have back problems, something firmer will help keep everything properly aligned. Side-sleepers, however, might prefer the more forgiving support offered by slats.

5. Storage. If space is a premium in your home, divans are a superb solution. With built-in drawers, you can keep anything from clothes to those homeless knick-knacks safely stowed away.

How much space do I need for my bed frame?

If you’re not careful, calculating how much space you need for your bed frame can be something of a stumbling block. Many people make the mistake of relying on the dimensions of the mattress, rather than the frame itself. It might seem obvious but remembering that your bedstead is the bigger of the two can save a lot of heartache – and possibly backache!

How high should my bedstead be?

The height of your bedstead offers much more than convenience; it can even impact on your spinal health. Too high, and you’ll be subject to constant impact when you get out of bed. Too low and you can risk curving your lower spine unnecessarily as you put your feet on the floor. Your feet should be able to sit flat on the floor and your knees should be at the same height as your hips. The best way to find out how high your bedstead should be is to try one out.

Will my bed frame affect how firm my mattress will be?

The short answer is ‘yes.’ A traditional bed frame is lined with supporting slats. These allow air to circulate around the underside of the mattress and will gently bend in accordance with the weight put on them. Bedsteads with slats are better for side sleepers and those who don’t want too much resistance against pressure points, such as the shoulders, hips and lower back.

In contrast, ottomans and divans use a solid top to support the mattress. By their very nature, these offer firmer support and are well-suited to those who need to keep their spines in alignment. In this case, putting a firm mattress on top of a divan or ottoman bed frame is going to give the best results.

Which bed frames are the best for storage?

Storage can be an important factor in deciding which is the best bed frame for you. While you’ve probably heard the terms ‘ottoman’ and ‘divan’, you may not be aware of the difference between the two.

An ottoman uses the whole of the box-frame as a storage area, without dividing it up into compartments. Instead, the top of the frame acts as a ‘lid’, allowing items to be hidden away. This form of storage is ideal for storing things that rarely see the light of day. The ottoman lid is enhanced by an opening mechanism, allowing for easy lifting, and is a great solution for those who don’t have the opening space for drawers, either side of the bed.

Divan beds break the storage space down into drawers, which are easy to slide in and out. These are the better option for those who need regular access to the things they’ve put away. Divans are often used to store clothing and bedsheets. In the case of children, toys that might otherwise never find a home other than the bedroom floor!

How much should a good bed frame cost?

Believe it or not, you can buy a bed frame for under £100. At the other end of the scale, the cost can run into the thousands. However, given that we spend around one-third of our lives in bed, it can be worth investigating beds that fall somewhere between the two. A good starting point for durability, style, and comfort is around the £200 mark.

Styles of bed steads

If you’ve been anywhere near an online store or a showroom, you’ll know that there are bed frame styles to suit virtually any kind of home and décor. From pocket-sprung ottomans and velvet-upholstered divans to bunk beds and traditional bedsteads, the choice seems almost endless. You can choose something homely and rustic, something sleek and contemporary or something bright and friendly. However, the question that most people ask is: is metal or wood frame better?

Wooden frames

Wooden bed frames tend to be the choice for those who favour its timeless appeal. Whether you live in something small and cottagey or a spacious period home, wood suits both rustic and classic backdrops. Wooden frames are fabulously robust and will withstand the occasional bout of children bouncing on them, quite cheerfully.

Colour-wise, the selection is more limited, as good wood needs to be shown off, rather than hidden beneath a layer of paint. In addition, there’s the weight to consider. A good wooden bed frame will have solid wood components, and these can be incredibly heavy once put together. Combined with a mattress, this could cause problems for homes with floors not built for that kind of weight. If you’re buying a wooden frame, you might also want to consider whether the raw materials have been sustainably sourced.

Metal frames

Metal frames, by comparison, are much lighter. They are available in a kaleidoscope of colours, from dark, minimalist tones, to vivid and vibrant colours, perfect for kids’ bedrooms. While they can be just as robust as their wooden counterparts, they might not withstand a game of ‘trampolines’ quite so cheerfully. However, metal bed frames are far easier to clean and maintain than wooden ones: a quick wipe and the job’s done.

By their very nature, metal frames use metal pieces and fixings in construction. As they age, these metal-on-metal parts can become worn which, in turn, can give rise to a squeaky bed. The other thing to watch out for is the quality of the metal used. Poor-quality metal has a tendency to rust which, if left untreated, can eat away at the frame’s structural integrity. When buying a bed frame, it’s always worth asking about the quality of the materials involved.

Author: Lucy

Lucy is a copywriter, trend spotter, and our resident sleep expert! Lucie has been with the team since 2018 and her articles cover a sweeping array of subjects from general product care, the latest bedroom design trends, ways to promote healthier sleep and jargon-busting explanations to help you understand what goes into our products. Do you have questions for Lucy & the team? Call one of our sleep experts today!