After spending 100 hours sorting hundreds of look-alike bed frames, interviewing a mattress designer, and building and disassembling six contenders two times each, we recommend the Zinus Quick Snap 14 Inch Platform Bed Frame for your foam or spring mattress, no box spring or foundation needed. It’s affordable, it’s more supportive than other inexpensive frames, and it ships quickly. It’s also one of the easiest beds to assemble (we put it together in five minutes).
The Zinus Quick Snap 14 Inch Platform Bed Frame isn’t the most supportive frame we found (that’s our runner-up), but it will hold couples with a combined weight of 500 pounds, not including their mattress. The slat spacing (2½ inches apart) meets the requirements of most foam-mattress warranties. The black metal frame brings a 10-inch or taller mattress up to a good height, and provides 11½ inches of clearance for storage. If you want to upgrade the look of this frame, predrilled mounting holes allow you to attach a headboard. People who bought and built the Quick Snap say good things about it, you get a 30-day return policy and a five-year warranty, and we found it simple to disassemble, without any loose hardware to get lost.
Our runner-up pick is harder to assemble and heavier to move around, but KD Frames’s Nomad 2 Platform Bed, in its queen-size Plus configuration, can hold more weight than the Zinus Quick Snap and has a more traditional look. You can stain, paint, or finish the Nomad 2’s solid poplar, or leave it as it is. The heavy wood-on-wood construction makes this frame durable and secure, raising a mattress 15 inches with 11½ inches clearance underneath. Although assembling this model involves working with more pieces than on our top pick, the process is straightforward. This frame is just as simple to disassemble, too. Like our main pick, the Nomad 2 Platform Bed Plus has slat spacing to support a foam mattress, and it’ll also work for spring mattresses.
If you want a headboard for your frame but don’t want to have to buy it separately (or pay the high cost of retail furniture beds), Zinus’s Upholstered Button Tufted Platform Bed is a decent option for foam or spring mattresses. Its headboard and sides are upholstered with a durable polyester-cotton blend. Our preferred version comes in dark gray, but other headboard models come in taupe and light gray. This frame is not as easy to build as our top pick, but it’s still far easier than most frames we tested. All of its pieces pack into a zippered compartment on the back of the headboard, a feature that’s unique and quite handy if you’re moving. It raises your mattress 14 inches off the ground and allows 12 inches of clearance for storage underneath. And this platform bed has the proper spacing to help you honor most foam-mattress warranties; Zinus offers other headboard styles, but not all of them have the slat spacing that mattress makers suggest.
If you have a California king mattress and need an affordable frame that is easy to buy and painless to assemble, the Zinus Platform 3000 Metal Bed Frame is a near-replica of our top pick. It looks, costs, and ships about the same as the Quick Snap, and has similar slats. Those slats, though, are spaced slightly farther apart, and the bolt-based assembly and disassembly require more time and attention to detail. I did not test this bed, but a coworker purchased it and agreed with the majority of Amazon reviewers that it is a sturdy frame and easier to assemble than most DIY furniture. We haven’t found a better California king option for under $150.
I am the author of our guide to the best foam mattresses you can buy online. Foam mattresses require a tricky balance of support and breathing space, but mattress makers usually provide only broad guidelines as to the amount of support their mattresses need. After readers left comments and sent us tweets asking for help in this regard, I dug in. This guide is the result of dozens of hours spent researching frames, frame types, and mattress support, along with time spent interviewing the bed designer at Casper and reading through hundreds of comments and questions on beds and frames, both for that guide to foam mattresses and for this guide.
In addition to that experience, I’m a writer experienced in home goods, having tested and recommended cutting boards, steam mops, dehumidifiers, and many other home items that people assemble and use for a long time.
With a platform bed frame (sometimes referred to as a “platform bed” when a headboard or footboard is attached), you don’t need a box spring or foundation. You can put a spring, foam, or hybrid mattress directly on top of the slats or other support in the frame. You would add a foundation or box spring only if you wanted a higher bed surface, though you could buy a taller frame to take care of that, too.
A platform bed eliminates the need for a box spring or foundation for a few reasons. For one thing, box springs were designed to raise and support mattresses that were two-sided (and required flipping), whereas newer, one-sided mattresses, both spring and foam, don’t require a box spring, just a supportive and stable surface. Simultaneously, lower-profile beds caught on in the world of home decor. Platform beds serve the needs of most mattresses, and give you one less item to worry about maintaining and moving.
Some people put their mattresses right on the floor, and some mattress makers suggest this is okay, if you prop it up once or twice a week to air out. But elevating an all-foam or foam-topped mattress allows for continual airflow through the mattress—to let it “breathe” underneath. Moisture from your body, the floor, and the air in your home can condense underneath a mattress on the floor and lead to mold issues, especially in humid homes. Mattress maker Nest Bedding warns against putting a mattress on the floor, and commenters in a MetaFilter thread provide examples of mold growing under mattresses that aren’t regularly rotated or allowed to breathe.
Most people, then, should consider a bed frame.
Search for bed frames online, and you’ll see that manufacturers tend to shove a lot of descriptions into their item names. Here are some simple definitions to cut through the confusion.
Because it’s now so easy to order a foam mattress online and have it shipped directly to your door, we sought bed frames offering similar convenience: affordable, available for instant purchase online, and delivered in the same time frame as a mattress.
We focused on picking out bed frames that had:
Most important, we sought frames that provided solid support to a foam mattress and adhered to the “no more than 3 inches apart” rule of slat spacing mentioned on many mattress maker sites (see Leesa, Tuft & Needle, and Purple, for example) and in some warranties. That 3-inch rule, mentioned in many reviews and customer questions on retail sites, is something of a make-do guideline, according to Jeff Chapin, head of product design and co-founder of online mattress maker Casper. The dimensions of the slats, particularly thickness, matter more to the overall stiffness of the base and support for the mattress, Chapin said in a phone interview, although spacing is still an important factor. But asking customers to seek out slats with a specific thickness-to-spacing correlation would generate more questions and problems than answers, Chapin said, so the 3-inch guideline remains the general rule.
You should have wider, thicker slats under your mattress, spaced not too far apart. Many customers reviewing cheaper frames with thin, wide-spaced slats or wires report various kinds of sagging. Casper’s Chapin told us about more subtle failures of bad frames, too. If you don’t have enough slats to hold the weight of both the people and the mattress, and the slats bow downward, the sunken middle can cause your shoulders to collapse forward and compress your chest, making sleep uncomfortable. Thin wires or broken slats create soft spots and compressions in the mattress that can put your body in awkward positions. Wider and thicker slats provide a solid, unyielding surface that lets a mattress do all the things you paid for it to do.
Ideally, you should be able to attach a headboard to a frame with minimal effort. Many bed frames have universal mounting slots or holes on their top and bottom rails, and just about any headboard you buy at a big online retailer or furniture-focused store should fit them. Buying a headboard or footboard separately gives you far more freedom to determine the look of your bed.
Beyond simple, utilitarian frames, we also looked at those with some kind of design, either upholstery or textured metal or wood, and possibly attached headboards. Most furniture sellers offer only complete beds, with headboards and footboards, built-in support slats, and sometimes under-bed storage cabinets. If you want specific styling, better fabric upholstery, or a certain wood finish, it’s worth spending more to get just what you want. But if you want only a solid bed that looks decent with a headboard attached, you can get that for less than $300.
Using these criteria, we looked through the offerings of furniture purveyors, including Ashley Furniture, Costco, Crate & Barrel and CB2, Macy’s, Room & Board, Target, Wayfair, and at least a dozen more. After reading through hundreds of reviews, recommendations, and articles about bed frames, we decided to bring in four basic frames and two beds with built-in headboards to test.
We tested a queen-size sample of each frame as a person would use them in real life, re-creating the experience anyone would have while buying, receiving, and building these frames:
As discussed in How we picked, slat support is important. Casper’s Jeff Chapin shared with us his preferences (¾-inch-thick hardwood, minimal knots, 3-inch spacing), and the specific formula for thickness, width, and spacing that his company used in creating Casper’s foundation. That formula gave us a sense of how frames compared with one another (but since it’s from just one mattress maker, we didn’t use it as a primary factor in rating each frame). Given what we know about Casper’s foundation, though, we recommend it if you’re looking for a traditional frame/box/mattress setup.
After comparing each assembled bed frame, as well as everything it took to buy them—money, time, and effort—we arrived at our picks.
The Zinus Quick Snap 14 Inch Platform Bed Frame is the best and most convenient simple bed frame you can buy for your mattress. Thanks to its slats and middle support rail, it provides much more support than other frames at this price. The slightly textured slats also do a better job of keeping the mattress from slipping. The Quick Snap is by far the easiest bed frame to assemble and disassemble we’ve seen. It looks more like actual furniture than other inexpensive frames, and it has mounting holes for a standard headboard, which is not a given for a build-it-yourself frame. You also can’t beat the price, and it should arrive in a week or less for customers in most of the US.
The slats on the Quick Snap frame are spaced 2½ inches apart, and Velcro straps that stick to the frame sides hold them together in a roll. Although the ½-inch-thick slats are not as thick as the ¾-inch recommendation we got from Casper’s engineer, when that thickness is combined with their nearly 3-inch width and 2½-inch spacing, they provide more support than those of any frame we considered in this price range, and the reviews bear out their durability. Supporting those slats in the center is a thick steel beam held up on an also-thick leg. We put a 10-inch foam mattress on the Quick Snap and did some light jump-ons and 190-pound body slams, and the Quick Snap held firm. Plastic pads on the bottom of all the feet prevent damage to floors, in the rare event the frame does shift around.
Our mattress stayed in place fairly well with just its own weight and some light resistance from the wood grain. Other frames with smooth-top wood made the mattress slide more inside the frame. Zinus provides sticky tape to prevent mattress sliding, but we didn’t find it necessary. Rotating your mattress every three to six months is a good habit, and tape makes that task messier.
In our tests, assembling the Quick Snap took very little time—about 20 minutes the first time, including unpacking everything from the box, and five minutes for reassembly. Buyers aged 17 and 73 praise its easy setup in Amazon reviews. Most other mattresses (besides our picks) took the better part of an hour to build, involved dozens of uncomfortable back and knee bends, and required bolts and screws that wanted to get dropped and lost. The Quick Snap has one bolt and comes with a rubber mallet. You line up the sides and the center rail, join them at the corners with a few mallet whacks, unfurl the slats onto the Velcro-lined sides, and you’re done.
Disassembling the frame for a move is just as easy: Peel off the slats, unscrew the center leg, and tap the sides up and out of their joints. Most other frames we tested require far more effort to take apart, and involve a lot of small bolts and pieces that are easy to lose and hard to replace.
The Quick Snap looks modern and inoffensive. The metal legs are square and wide, and painted a matte dark brown that works with a lot of color schemes. Most frames under $150, in contrast, consist of simple brackets of black metal with thin legs. You can attach a standard headboard to the Quick Snap with the two standard mounting holes drilled into the sides of the top brackets. Not all first-time bed buyers know that you don’t have to buy a whole bed to get an upholstered-headboard look while supporting your mattress. Researching this guide made me wish I had not spent so much (more than $700) on a full bed and had instead purchased a simple frame along with a separate, inexpensive headboard, spending the difference on good sheets.
The 14-inch Quick Snap raises your mattress to a 14-inch height, which, deducting the thickness of the frame, allows for 11½ inches of clearance if you want to slide storage totes or other items underneath. That’s a tight fit for our favorite storage container, among other bins around that size. If you need more height under the bed, Zinus makes an 18-inch Quick Snap frame with 16 inches of clearance. For people upgrading from a simple metal frame and box spring, however, the 14-inch frame should unlock a whole new realm of storage.
You can buy a slatted bed frame for less than the Quick Snap; Zinus itself makes many. Most of them have slats (or wires) that are too thin, too narrow, and spaced too far apart. Some frames that cost nearly twice as much as the Quick Snap still have less support, more complicated assembly, no headboard mounts, or inconsistent stock or slow shipping. IKEA, the go-to store for fixing up a room quickly and inexpensively, charges $60 to $100 for heavy-item delivery and ships by freight, which usually arrives many days, or even weeks, later than the UPS or FedEx delivery of the Quick Snap. The Quick Snap ships for free, whether through Amazon Prime or through Zinus directly, and it will probably arrive before your mattress if you order them at the same time.
If something happens during assembly or disassembly, Zinus offers a 30-day full return policy (with free shipping and a FedEx pickup), and a five-year warranty against defects. Many cheaper frames come with coverage for only 90 days or one year, although IKEA does offer longer warranties on various pieces of its beds.
As noted, the Quick Snap feels supportive and sturdy, but Zinus’s stated weight limit for all frame sizes is 500 pounds (not including the mattress weight). Heavier couples may need to look elsewhere; our runner-up pick, the Nomad 2 Plus, has stronger slats, and although its official weight limit is 500 pounds, heavier couples praise it in owner reviews. The Quick Snap isn’t available in California king, through Amazon or Zinus (but we do recommend a different Zinus frame for that size). While it supports a headboard, it does not have holes for a footboard; drilling them yourself, into the metal frame, likely wouldn’t turn out well.
A caveat inherent to the Quick Snap, and all other frames you can buy online and have shipped to your house: Things happen to heavy shipments. These are collections of heavy, sometimes flat-edged boards and rails, shipped inside cardboard and loaded on and off pallets and trucks by many people along the way, whether in dry weather or pouring rain. All but one of the frames I had shipped for testing arrived intact and undamaged; one of three boxes from IKEA was broken open and had its slats soaked by the rain. A co-worker ordered our pick for a California king frame, and it arrived with pieces of the frame missing—two separate times. After a total of three shipments over six weeks, the bed was fully intact, and my co-worker paid nothing extra. While the majority of the reviews for our pick are positive, and the shipping is usually much faster and more convenient than traditional furniture ordering, you are at some risk of bad luck.
If our top pick is unavailable, you prefer the look of solid wood, or you want a bit more weight support, the Nomad 2 Platform Bed Plus from KD Frames is a very attractive alternative. We recommend the Plus version of the Nomad 2 because it has foam-mattress-friendly slats spaced tightly together (the standard Nomad 2 frames don’t have the right slat spacing). Compared with our top pick, this model is not as easy to assemble or move, but the instructions are clear, and the pieces fit. And while its official weight limit is 500 pounds (not including mattress weight), buyer reviews and a retailer of the frame suggest that it can likely hold much more.
The Nomad 2 Plus takes a good bit longer to assemble than the Zinus Quick Snap, as you have to join together each leg and side with hex bolts and a few screws. The process took us 40 minutes the first time, being extra careful, and less than 25 minutes the second time. The instructions are clear, however, and the pieces fit snugly together, unlike with most build-it-yourself furniture. You’ll feel like you’ve put together something solid with the Nomad 2 Plus, rather than wondering which bolt you couldn’t tighten all the way will eventually come loose. Disassembling the frame is just as straightforward, and undoing its bolts and screws doesn’t damage anything.
The Nomad 2 Plus looks fine on its own, with some natural wood variations to the beams and just a few bolts showing on each side. You could stain or paint it, or leave the frame in direct sunlight to age it slightly. The frame allows for 11½ inches of clearance on each side, enough room for some storage bins, Nomad-brand rolling drawers, or a roll-away trundle twin frame. You can raise the bed with a different set of 18-inch legs, bringing the clearance to 14½ inches.
The Plus model of the Nomad 2 leaves only a 2.8-inch gap between the slats. The slats themselves are 2 inches wide by 1 inch thick; combined with their spacing, the slats’ dimensions nearly triple the minimum strength formulation we got from the Casper engineer, adding up as the strongest slats we tested. A manager with a Nomad 2 retailer, Shop4Futons (World of Futons on Amazon), wrote in an email response to our query that the bed’s stated 500-pound weight limit is “very cautious,” and that many reviews by heavier couples indicate no problems holding their weight.
The main drawbacks to the Nomad 2 Plus: Sturdier poplar hardwood pieces are heavy, and bare wood is susceptible to nicks, cuts, pen marks, cat claws, and other household agents of ruination. This frame also has a lot of pieces, so disassembling it for moving requires keeping track of dozens of slats, sides, and hardware.
Although the Nomad 2 Plus doesn’t have built-in holes for a headboard, anyone with some drill know-how could make a headboard work. Shop4Futons/World of Futons also sells KD Frames’s Charleston 2 Platform Bed, which is essentially the Nomad 2 with a similarly styled headboard, available in the same foam-friendly Plus version.
The Nomad 2 Plus costs a good bit to ship because it’s a lot of boards, so a queen currently ends up costing nearly $250 on Amazon (though roughly $30 less on Shop4Futons’s own site). But paying for a Nomad 2 Plus frame means you are unlikely to ever need another frame in that size. While we’d expect a Zinus frame to last seven to 10 years with regular use, the Nomad 2 Plus feels like you could give it to your kids when they get their first apartment. You could stain or paint it if you ever tire of the look.
If you want a low-cost bed frame with an integrated headboard, quick shipping, easy assembly, and good foam support, get Zinus’s Upholstered Button Tufted Platform Bed. We didn’t test this model, but we did try a very similar Zinus frame that didn’t end up having the right slat spacing. The Upholstered Button Tufted Platform Bed is almost identical to the frame we did test, just with a slightly different headboard and better slat spacing for a foam mattress. It looks far better than its sub-$300 price—my spouse suggested it looked similar to the $700 West Elm bed we own. The frame ships relatively quick and for free (through either Zinus’s site or Amazon Prime), and it has a high overall rating among verified buyers on Amazon.
Zinus frames with headboards are much easier to assemble than most beds you can order—more like the quick experience we had with our top pick than the all-afternoon odyssey of other build-it-yourself furniture. It comes with about a dozen bolts and Velcro-held slats. If you ever have to move this bed, all the pieces pack into the headboard itself, which has a zippered opening on its back. Compared with the slow process of ordering a whole bed from a furniture retailer, or installing your own headboard, a Zinus upholstered model is a far more affordable and convenient option—with one notable caveat.
Zinus is very inconsistent in detailing, and answering questions about, the spacing between the slats on its headboard frames. We chose the Upholstered Square Stitched Platform Bed for testing because at the time we didn’t realize that the spacing on a queen model would be as wide as it was. Zinus (under its sub-brand Sleep Revolution) answered a customer question about the Square Stitched bed’s slat spacing claiming it was 4¾ inches, but we measured the queen frame’s slat spacing at 3⅝ inches. Zinus told us that all of its platform beds had the same style of base and slats, but that it sold models, such as the Upholstered Button Tufted and Upholstered Nailhead Trim, that specifically called out their less-than-3-inch spacing to meet foam mattress makers’ warranty requirements.
We recommend the Upholstered Button Tufted Platform Bed in particular. The shipping, the assembly process, the all-in-one storage, and most other aspects are the same as with the model we tested. The Upholstered Button Tufted model has tighter, warranty-abiding slat spacing of just under 3 inches, a very high rating among verified Amazon purchasers, and all the conveniences of the model we tested. If, however, you particularly like the look of another Zinus upholstered platform model, such as the Square Stitched, Scalloped, or Diamond Stitched design, we would simply caution you that, while the reviews generally indicate satisfied customers, the frames (and the mattresses you’re likely to top them with) have not seen use long enough for anyone to guarantee their longevity. Zinus offers a five-year warranty on its frames, and most foam mattresses come with a 10-year warranty.
California king bed frames are not easy to find, even at major retailers, and especially for under $200. None of the frames we tested come in a California king size, but the maker of our top pick and our upgrade headboard model, Zinus, does sell the Zinus Platform 3000 Metal Bed Frame in California king. We didn’t test the Platform 3000, but a Wirecutter writer bought and assembled it for his California king mattress and (despite some shipping mishaps) found it to be a sturdy, good-looking frame, especially given the under-$150 price.
The Platform 3000 (sold as part of Zinus’s Modern Studio Collection on Amazon) looks similar to the Quick Snap and assembles in much the same way, except with four bolts on each corner instead of mallet-pressed joints. That means it’s a 20- or 30-minute assembly, rather than five or 10 minutes. The Velcro-fit slats are the same material and thickness as those of the Quick Snap but spaced slightly farther apart (3¼ inches apart, versus just under 3 inches for the Quick Snap). Many Amazon reviewers say they find the bed sturdy enough as is with a California king mattress. If you are concerned about your mattress warranty, you could add two slats to reduce the spacing, or have a full-size (or two half-size) pieces of plywood cut at your hardware store to give the bed more even support. But most people who buy the Platform 3000 are likely to assemble it in the span of one TV episode on Netflix and hardly think about it again.
Zinus, maker of two of our picks plus our California king choice, dominates the low-cost platform bed category. The company makes dozens of other platform beds to accommodate foam mattresses, under both its own brand and white-label names (such as Sleep Revolution) for online and brick-and-mortar sellers. Most of the beds are made of intersecting metal wire and beams, such as the SmartBase, or widely spaced wooden slats, like the Modern Studio Collection. Aside from slat spacing that technically voids many foam mattress warranties, or a wire frame that you can’t really measure for strength, many of these frames had enough owner reviews mentioning mattresses bulging through the supports, pieces being dented upon arrival, or other defects that we decided to seek out sturdier models.
We built IKEA’s Hemnes bed in lieu of testing the more universally known Malm, as the Hemnes bed was made with solid wood instead of veneer, and looked more traditional (and we already have co-workers who know and love their Malm). The build experience was a familiar IKEA afternoon of screws, holding bolts, dowels, and reading the instructions multiple times. The bed itself was fine, but we could feel the flexible nature of the slat base underneath. The Lönset slat base (queen size $40 extra) provides slats that are just over ¼ inch thick, and while they’re tightly placed at 1¼ inches apart, the net effect is a less firm, flat support for a mattress. Some friends and co-workers with IKEA bed frames have noted broken or slipped slats, too. If you’re ordering a lot of IKEA furniture already, and you particularly like the look or accessories, a Hemnes or Malm will probably do just fine.
Two frames from LexMod/Modway, the Sharon Fabric Bed Frame and the metal Ollie Bed Frame, appeared to be affordable, claimed to offer good support (both with a 1,300-pound weight limit), and had slats that, according to a posted company response to a customer question, measured 3 inches wide and 3½ inches apart. But they seemed to be frequently out of stock for online ordering, with their restock dates pushing further and further back as we researched this guide.
The Stella Metal Platform Bed Frame requires far more effort to assemble, with 85 screws and washers. The slats are wide but thin and spaced 4 inches apart, which works out to about the same level of support as the Quick Snap offers, according to the formula we got from the Casper engineer. But because the Stella costs significantly more than the Quick Snap at this writing, its 9-inch height allows only 6 inches of clearance on either side, and it’s far trickier to assemble and disassemble, we’d recommend it only to someone who wants a much lower frame.
The Handy Living Wood Slat Bed Frame is a common type you’ll find at many sites and retailers, with curved wooden slats nested in rubber holders hammered into the metal frame. In our tests it was easily the most annoying frame to assemble, with instructions that seemed poorly proofread or translated. In assembling, disassembling, and then trying to reassemble the frame, we managed to break two rubber holders by bending the plastic pegs that sink into the frame. Ultimately it held a mattress, but with a feeling of sinking under pressure. The three-star Amazon reviews tell the tale: “not horrible,” “not a long-term solution,” “okay,” and quite a few mentions of busted slats.
Currently the Floyd Platform Bed costs just under $600 for a queen-size frame, with no option for outside headboards (adding Floyd’s own raises the queen price to over $800). It looks plenty sturdy, with multiple layers of flat birch boards and steel supports. But when it is not in stock at Floyd’s site (as it was not in mid-July), buying it from third-party stores usually involves at least $50 more in shipping. It also stands quite low to the floor, with just 6 inches of clearance for storage, and platforms with a solid surface like Floyd’s (no slats) can cause a foam mattress to get moldy in humid spaces.
(Photos by Kevin Purdy, except where noted.)