Bed Buying Guide

Your bed is undeniably one of the most important pieces of furniture in any home. It's the place we all crave at the end of a long day - a little oasis of comfort to keep you cosy throughout the night. Choosing one is not a decision to be rushed into. 

When buying a bed, there are a lot of practicalities to consider. For instance, are you looking to get the biggest bed possible? Is a stylish frame a must-have? Maybe you're after something with some built-in storage.

We've put together this bed buying guide to give you the lowdown on bed frames, sizing, style and everything in between to help you choose the right type of bed for you.

Keep reading to find out how to choose a bed today…

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Young couple enjoying breakfast in bed
Find the perfect bed with our handy guide

What is a bed frame or bedstead?

Whether you are talking about a "bed frame" or a "bedstead", both are describing the same thing: the base, or platform, that your mattress is placed on. At Mattress Online, we tend to use the term "bed frame".

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Should I replace my bed frame?

You may be undecided about whether you need a new bed frame or not. Unlike buying a mattress, there’s no real guide for when you need to replace your bed frame, although Good Housekeeping recommends doing so around every 10 years.

Consider how long you’ve had your bed and what condition it’s in. It may have visible signs of wear, such as scratches, dents or stains, or it may be broken in places, such as broken slats. 

If you have any of the above, it’s time to buy a new bed frame. Not only will the above flaws affect the overall look of your bed, and therefore your bedroom, but major defects could also start to impact the quality of the sleep you get. 

Of course, there are other reasons why you might want to change your bed frame too. Your current bed frame may:

  • Lack the storage features you need.
  • No longer suit the style of your bedroom, especially common if you’re redecorating.
  • No longer suit your needs. For example, if your children are growing up and now need a larger bed.

Whatever your reason, our guide to buying a bed will help you make the right choice.

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How to choose a bed

Before you get to the fun stuff like choosing a colour or style of bed, you must first consider the following five things when buying a bed: 

  1. Space
  2. Sleeping arrangements
  3. Firmness
  4. Storage
  5. Style

1. Space

A bed frame is one of the biggest items of furniture in your bedroom. Since bed frames are usually larger than a mattress - unlike divan beds, which are the same dimensions as a mattress - it's important to check the overall width, length and height of the bed frame, especially if you have a small room.

Unlike divans, bed frames include a headboard and a foot end as standard. Make sure you include this within your measurements to ensure your bed frame will fit comfortably in your room.

To measure the available space you have for your bed frame, outline the area for your bed on the floor using masking tape. Remember to add some clearance space if you want to add drawers.

It's not just the dimensions and floorspace to consider, though. One thing people often forget to think about is the height of the bed frame. There are more varieties than you'd think, and the right elevation can really set the look and feel of a bedroom.

A high frame can add a touch of grandeur to a bedroom and also make it look bigger, while a lower frame creates a peaceful space that brings to mind Japanese-style interior design.

Which size bed should I choose?

The ideal bed size will often depend on how much space you have in the room. While a bigger bed is more comfortable, a superking wouldn't be a practical choice for a small room. On the other hand, most main bedrooms will have enough space for a king size or double bed.

Beds for small bedrooms

In terms of size, a single or a small double bed is probably the best option for a small room. Choosing a bed frame with storage, or with plenty of under-bed space to store your items, is helpful for maximising space.

If you need a bed for your loft room or box room, the Silentnight Hayes White Wooden Bed Frame is a great choice. It doesn’t have a headboard or foot end, so it fits well under sloping ceilings.

Beds for tall people

We recommend that your bed is 10cm longer than you are. A king size or superking size bed frame is longer in length than a double.

We also offer a number of bed frames with low foot ends, and a selection can even be made to measure. Please get in touch for more help and information.

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2. Sleeping arrangements

Your sleeping arrangements are also a crucial factor. Whether you're living alone or sharing with a partner, it's essential you're comfortable and have the personal space you need.

No matter what your sleeping arrangements are, a bigger bed will always give you a better sleep. Larger beds offer more space and comfort for you to stretch out and enjoy a great night's sleep.

If you’re buying a bed for someone else, consider how others will be sleeping in your home. Do you have children who need their own kids' bed, or do you often have visitors to stay and require a guest bed?

3. Firmness

Bed frames are constructed using two types of base. These are called slats, and they determine the overall firmness of the bed. 

There are two types of bed frames that use slats:

Solid slats

A firmer, more supportive option, solid slats enhance the firmness of your bed. They are rigid and more sturdy than sprung slats, and offer no "give". Choose solid slats if you prefer a firm bed.

Silentnight Hayes White Wooden Bed Frame
The Silentnight Hayes White Wooden Bed Frame features solid slats for a firmer feel

Sprung slats

Sprung slats are slightly curved, or bowed, creating natural flexibility. They are less firm than solid slats and offer more gentle support. They may also help to prolong the life of your mattress.

A black Time Living Alderly Metal Bed in a bedroom that is decorated in black and white.
An example of a bed frame with sprung slats: the Time Living Alderley Metal Bed Frame

Divan Firmness

If you’re shopping for a divan bed, there are two different types of bases to be aware of.

The first is a platform-top divan base, which has a solid surface for your mattress to rest on. This can make your mattress feel firmer.

Another option is a sprung base. Rather than having a solid surface, this type of divan base has a layer of springs beneath where your mattress rests, which can make your mattress feel more spongey.

4. Storage

Another practicality to think about is whether you need extra storage. Coupling a comfy bed with space to store clothes and spare duvets will be a big help if you don't have room for multiple wardrobes.

Underbed storage is particularly useful if your bedroom is small. While most bed frames do not include storage underneath as standard, some do include built-in storage. Check out our bed frames that include storage.

Are you just looking for under-bed space rather than fixed storage? First, check the dimensions of the specific bed frame you like for further information. The clear space underneath is what we call "under-bed clearance".

If you want to know more, check out our guide to storage beds.

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5. Style

Finally, there's the style factor. Does a fabric-covered frame take your fancy? Or maybe you prefer natural materials like a classic solid wood frame, a shaker bed, or a polished metal bed for a chic modern look?

With so many options to consider, we're here to help. You can browse our range of beds and familiarise yourself with the available options, or read on to learn more about specific bed types.

Young couple laughing and making the bed
Whether you need extra storage or want something really stylish, we can help you find the perfect bed

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A guide to bed types

Read on for plenty of useful information about the most common types of beds available and the benefits each can offer.

Types of bed frames

Bed frames are available in a great range of styles, materials and colours. At Mattress Online, we offer four main types of bed frames: wooden, metal, leather and fabric. Below, we explain more about each:

1. Wooden bed frames

Silentnight Hayes White Wooden Bed Frame
The Silentnight Hayes White Wooden Bed Frame is great for a classic look

A wooden bed frame is a classic addition to your bedroom and creates a warm and attractive look. A natural product, a wooden bed can be made from pine, oak, or other types of wood. Many wooden beds are also environmentally-friendly since they are constructed using wood from sustainable sources, such as Scandinavian pine.

2. Metal bed frames

Time Living Tetras Metal Bed Frame
One of our best metal bed sellers - the Time Living Tetras Metal Bed Frame

Metal bed frames are a popular choice. Sturdy and stylish, they add a sophisticated look to your bedroom and are equally suited to traditional or modern decor.

Available in a wide range of colours and styles, with budget-friendly prices - they're a good option if you're on a tight budget.

3. Fabric bed frame

Novo Chico LED Ottoman Bed Frame
For a plush look and feel, take a look at the Novo Chico

On trend and available in a wide range of colours, a fabric upholstered bed is a great choice if you're looking for a stylish centrepiece for your bedroom. Perfect for contemporary and traditional tastes alike, a fabric bed frame can give your bedroom a cosier feel than metal or leather beds.

4. Leather bed frame

A leather bed adds a cool, sophisticated touch to any bedroom. A stylish focal point, you can choose between faux leather or real leather, and they're available in a choice of colours. Leather beds tend to offer a wider variety of storage options than wooden or metal beds, while still offering durability.

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Other types of beds

Divan beds

The Silentnight Bloomsbury Silver Velvet Bed Frame in a large bedroom in front of tall windows - one of our Top 5 Recommended Beds 2023
Divan beds like the Bloomsbury provide a timeless feel

One of the most popular styles on the market, the divan bed comes with drawer space in which you can store a multitude of items. They're ideal if you have no other place for additional duvets, towels or packed-up seasonal clothing.

Depending on whether you want a firm or softer base, you can choose from a platform divan (with a solid base) or a sprung edge divan (with more bounce).

Affordable and practical, divans usually sit on solid legs or castors, which help with ease of movement.

If you're thinking about purchasing one of these space-saving beds, why not read our guide to divan beds for more information?

Ottoman beds

Novo Luminaire Ottoman Bed Frame in a grey bedroom - one of our top 5 recommended beds 2023
Our Novo Luminaire Ottoman Bed Frame is ideal when you need extra storage space

Who doesn't need additional storage space in their home these days? If you need a bit more room, it's worth taking a look at an ottoman bed.

With the help of a gas-hydraulic system, the storage space in ottomans can be accessed by lifting the mattress from the side or bottom, which reveals a larger compartment within the bed. Because ottomans allow you to use the entire base of the bed as storage, the space is much larger than drawers.

For more information on these space-saving beds, check out our guide to ottoman beds.

Or, you can take a look at some of our popular ottoman beds:

Sofa beds

Novo Aizlewood Sofa Bed in a guest room with a green side table and lamp next to it.
Sofa beds are stylish and multi-functional - like the Novo Aizlewood!

Sofa beds are among the most versatile options around and are perfect for spare rooms or smaller flats. They come in a huge range of styles, sizes and colours, while often sitting towards the lower end of the price scale.

We offer sofa bed buying advice if you’re also looking for a new sofa bed. 

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When looking at sofa beds, make sure you choose one with a mattress that fits your needs. Depending on whether you have occasional guests or a long-term visitor, you need to find the right mattress which offers both comfort and durability.

Guest beds

The Jay-Be Supreme Folding bed with Micro e-Pocket Mattress in a white guest room.
The Jay-Be Supreme saves on space and is super easy to set up!

It's always important to make sure that your guests are as comfortable as possible. The last thing your visitors want is to toss and turn on an uncomfortable bed. Luckily, we have a wide variety of cosy guest bed options available.

Folding guest beds are a very popular choice as they have a sleek metal frame which is quick and easy to set up. It can also be neatly tidied away when your guests have said their goodbyes.

If you want more advice on how to choose a guest bed, our handy guide can help you make the right decision.

Kids beds

For younger children and toddlers, a small kids' bed is important to ensure that they feel cosy and secure.

If you're a parent, there are multiple things to consider when you want to give your child the perfect place to sleep. Will you need some extra storage for toys and games? Is there more than one child to consider?

Whether you opt for a bunk bed or a small single will often come down to how much space you have and what's best for your children.

Child reading in her own bed
Let little ones snuggle up in their own child-sized bed

Check out our kids beds here

Adjustable beds

If you suffer from mobility issues or sore joints, your doctor or physiotherapist may suggest looking into adjustable bed options.

These mechanised beds give you the ability to elevate your head or legs at the tap of a button and find the optimal position to keep the aches and pains away.

You can read our adjustable bed guide to learn more about how these beds work and how they can benefit you.

Sleigh beds

The sleigh bed is popular if you want your bedroom to be as stylish as possible. From modern to traditional French-style sleigh beds, there is something for everyone.

They are designed to be large and robust, yet despite this sleigh beds tend to have a softer appearance thanks to a curved scrolling base and headboard.

Sleigh beds offer a range of material options too. The frame can be upholstered in fabric, covered in faux leather or left wooden, which gives you plenty of scope when matching a bed to your home.

TV beds

Novo Contempo TV Bed
For the most luxurious relaxing experience, check out the Novo Contempo TV bed

TV beds do exactly as their name implies. The bottom of the base contains a television that can be raised or lowered as needed. TV beds are perfect if you love to binge-watch in comfort and dream of having movie nights under the duvet.

The addition of a TV doesn't compromise on design, as solid attractive frames are now the norm. They're also a practical solution that saves space because you won't need to find a surface for an extra bedroom television.

If you’re looking into buying a TV bed, we have plenty of advice on finding the best TV bed for you!

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If you're still unsure about the right type of bed for you, don't hesitate to get in touch with our expert team.

Before buying a bed, you also need to consider which bed base is compatible with your mattress. Please read our Bed Base Guidelines page or contact our helpful customer service team for more information.

Once you have decided on the perfect bed, you'll need the right mattress, too - see our firmness and size guides for more information.