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Platform Beds – Purchasing Guidelines

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Platform beds have been around for a long time but have only recently gained popularity, especially in the natural and organic market. A platform bed incorporates the support of a box spring or foundation into the design of the bed frame by utilizing either a solid surface or wooden slats. The platform bed allows you to place a mattress directly on the bed frame without needing a box spring or foundation to support the mattress, and also eliminates the need for a bed skirt or long bed spread to cover up the unsightly box spring.

A common misconception about platform beds is that they are always modern in design. There are actually many different styles of platform beds from very traditional to modern. The Natural Sleep Store sells a range of platform bed styles made by Pacific Rim and the Bedworks of Maine.
There are many companies today that sell platform beds and it is important to choose a quality product for longevity and for proper support of your organic or natural mattress. In this article I will discuss what to look for as far as durability, materials, and support.

I like to see metal on metal construction where the side rails meet the headboard and footboard. These joining areas are the places on the bed that take the most strain over time. Eventually, you will probably have to tighten these joints and a metal on wood connection can strip much easier than metal on metal connections.

metal on metalTo the left bedrail hookis a diagram of a “bed bolt” connection where a long bolt threads into a metal nut and holds the connection in compression
To the right is a diagram of bedrail hooks that latch onto a metal fitting

When purchasing a bed frame look for strong structure to support your natural or organic mattress with a base of either slats or a solid surface. I prefer wooden slats over a solid surface. If you choose a platform bed that has a solid surface instead of slats I recommend one with holes for ventilation.  Without proper ventilation, mold or mildew can form between the mattress and bed surface. On a slatted platform bed, especially if you will be using it with a natural latex mattress, the slats should be no more than 3 inches apart and should be at least 3/4” thick by 2” wide. Additionally, it is an absolute necessity for a slatted platform bed from full to king size to have a center support that runs perpendicular to the slats (from head to foot).

The last thing that I look for in terms of durability is solid wood. Veneered particle board is not the best choice for most parts of a bed frame because it has less structural integrity than solid wood. Because of its structural intergrity solid wood will also last much longer than veneered particle board.
The other element that I find important in choosing a platform bed frame is healthy materials.  Again, I always look for solid wood over plywood or particle board. Metal can be a good choice as well. Metal is mostly neutral (i.e. does not out-gas) as long as the finish on it is not toxic.
The majority of the odor and out-gassing in a furniture product can come from the glue that is incorporated into its construction. A solid wood product has little to no glue depending on how it is made, whereas veneered particle board has a tremendous amount of glue in it.  It is glue that is holding the little particles of wood pieces together and glue that is holding the veneer to the particle board. The other thing to consider about this is that glues are much more volatile over time than stains are. Once a stain dries or cures it is mostly inert whereas glue will release odor and chemicals over time when it is affected by temperature and changes in humidity. For people highly sensitive to odor, I also suggest products with low to no Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) finishes or completely unfinished.
Mattresses, especially natural latex mattresses are heavy, so it is best to put them on a platform bed that has a strong base with proper slats, a center support, and made with strong materials that have metal on metal connections.  Choose solid wood or metal to compliment your healthy organic mattress and keep the air in your bedroom clean from VOCs.

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