Panel vs. Platform Bed – Differences, Pros & Cons

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Which one is better – a panel bed frame or a platform bed frame? If you’re in the process of moving to a new home or redecorating your room, you might be wondering what kind of bed you should get—a panel or platform bed. While people often use the terms interchangeably, these two bed frame types are very different from each other.

This article defines what platform and panel beds are and highlights the key differences of each one as well the pros and cons. It compares the various features, from design to style to material and even accessibility, comfort, storage capacity, and more to help you decide which of the two you should get.

Panel bed frames vs. platform bed frames – side-by-side comparison

Panel bedsPlatform beds
DesignOften come with headboards and footboards, making it a complete bed.May include headboards, and some platform bed frames have built-in storage drawers or shelves as well.
StyleMore options – from traditional to modern styles.Contemporary and minimalistic. Often placed in a big, open-concept bedroom.
ComfortHigher profile, making it easier to get in or out.Lower profile (harder for those with mobility issues).
StorageMost platform beds allow for storage underneath, and some have built-in drawers and shelves as well.Sometimes come with built-in shelves, drawers, and cubbies, but there’s usually no empty space for storage underneath.
CostDoesn’t have to be expensive, but real wood and extra features drive the price up.Generally very cheap due to the simplistic design. Additionally, most platform bed frames will only require a regular mattress.

What is a panel bed?

Panel bed with a black metal frame and rustic wood slats in between, standing on a carpeted floor with a lamp and a nightstand
For more examples, check this Amazon product search.

A panel bed, also known as a box spring bed, comes with side rails and a base made of slats or metal bars. It is designed to hold and support a mattress, thus its base is often sturdy. Panel beds are often traditional-looking and have large headboards and footboards as well. They also usually stand higher from the ground, making it easier to get in and out of bed.

Pros of panel beds

  • Panel beds come in a variety of styles, allowing you to choose one that best suits your needs and the decor of your room.
  • Because panel beds are elevated, it’s a lot easier to get in and out of bed.
  • Most panel bed frames either have built-in storage compartments for your belongings, or you can store boxes on wheels under the frame.
  • You can always buy boxes for additional storage underneath your panel bed.
  • Panel beds are traditional-looking and will look great in a classic room design.

Cons of panel beds

  • Panel beds require a box spring or specialized mattress with built-in support (some panel bed frames have support slats included, though).
  • Traditional panel beds don’t come with built-in storage. If you want additional storage, you have to buy them separately.
  • Panel beds are generally more expensive than platform beds due to the use of materials and design.
  • Panel beds are generally supposed to be placed against a wall, limiting the options to arrange your bedroom as you like it.

If you like panel bed frames and consider getting one for your bedroom, check out these genius under-bed storage drawers.

What is a platform bed?

Black minimalistic metal platform bed frame with a black nightstand and a black lamp in a bright room
For more examples, check this Amazon product search.

A platform bed has a large solid base and a sleek, modern design. Despite their look and association with modern design, they are actually an ancient design, used by Egyptians and Greeks. They do not always have a mattress foundation and generally have a lower profile. Most platform beds do not have headboards or footboards but include built-in features like drawers, shelves, or cubbies.

Pros of platform beds

  • Platform beds come with various features, including built-in drawers, shelves, or cubbies. Some even have under bed storage.
  • If you like a minimalistic interior design, platform beds are the best option.
  • Platform beds don’t always require you to purchase a box spring foundation or a special type of mattress. Simply place any type of mattress on top, and it’s ready to use.
  • You don’t need to set aside a budget to repair broken slats or replace box springs.
  • Platform bed frames are often sold without a headbord, and you don’t have to place them against any wall.

Cons of platform beds

  • Platform beds can be challenging for people with mobility issues as they sit closer to the ground.
  • Platform beds tend to look a bit bulkier as the platform itself is often bigger than the mattress.
  • If you have a solid platform, you may need to rotate your mattress regularly.
  • While some platform beds have storage shelves, drawers and/or cubbies built into the frame, the low profile makes it difficult to store larger items under the bed.
  • Since platform beds don’t always have a headboard, you can’t lean your pillow against anything when you want to read a book.

Panel vs. platform beds – comparison of features

Design

Panel bed: A panel bed takes on a more classic, traditional look, often including a headboard and/or footboard. They require box springs which serve as primary support for your mattress. They stand higher up from the ground, which allows you to easily clean or create additional storage underneath them. They come in a variety of styles that can add to the aesthetic appeal of your room.

Platform bed: A platform bed is the heavier and bulkier bed of the two. They often sit closer to the ground. Sometimes they come with headboards and footboards, or sometimes they have other innovative features, like built-in drawers, bookshelves, and cubbies. Platform beds are usually associated with contemporary, minimalist homes.

Storage capacity

Panel bed: Panel beds don’t come with built-in storage. Nevertheless, because they are elevated from the ground, you can easily purchase some boxes and containers if you want to store things under your bed. This is perfect if you’re looking for a place to keep seasonal clothes, shoes, and more. In general, if you get a panel bed with a good structure and at a good height off the ground, it offers you a lot more storage—you just have to measure underneath it to decide which boxes or containers can fit and purchase them separately.

Platform bed: Several platform beds come with built-in storage, such as bookshelves, drawers, and cubbies. This is helpful if you want to keep your alarm clock or some reading material on hand. If the platform bed you want to purchase has drawers, you can easily store beddings, sheets and even items like phone chargers and books for easy access. While some platform beds come with storage, it’s important to note that not all do, and some may come with fewer storage options than others, which can be challenging especially if you have a lot of things to store.

Comfort

Panel bed: A bed’s comfort depends on both the frame and the mattress. Panel beds with a slatted base make it easier for the mattress to breathe, which in turn leads to a cooler, more comfortable sleep especially during summer nights.

Platform bed: Platform beds have a more solid base and you will find that they often come without slats. While this provides extra support, it can be hard for the mattress to breathe. A quick solution could be to install a mattress foundation composed of slats and use it as a base between the bed and your mattress so you can have a cooler, more comfortable sleep.

Accessibility

Panel bed: Panel beds stand higher off the ground, which makes getting in and out of it relatively easy. Their box spring support and mattress add several inches and make it convenient for you. A panel bed’s headboard or footboard can also serve as a means to assist people in getting up. Some beds even come with a rail along the sides that can be gripped.

Platform bed: Platform beds sit closer to the ground, especially if they don’t have any under bed storage. If you have mobility issues or suffer from back or knee pains, this could be a concern. There is an option, however, to either raise the frame by a few inches by attaching bed risers. Another option is to install grab bars against the wall.

Trundle bed compatibility

Panel bed: If you’re looking for extra space for an additional bed, a panel bed is the way to go. You can get a small, low-profile bed that can easily be pushed underneath your panel bed when it is not being used. A panel bed’s elevated height allows you to have an extra sleeper option for kids, guests, or even family pets.

Platform bed: Because of the low height, it’s impossible for a trundle bed to fit underneath a platform bed. Even if you attach bed risers underneath your platform bed, they won’t create a space that’s big enough to slide a trundle bed underneath it.

Materials

Panel bed: Modern panel beds are made of various materials. You will most likely come across panel beds that are made of frames using metal or wood. Additionally, aside from the overall bed frame, panel beds have slats or bars that are designed to support the box spring foundation. Over time, when these become damaged or broken, they will need to be repaired or replaced.

Platform bed: Like panel beds, platform beds are made of various materials, including metal and different kinds of wood and even veneers. They don’t have slats that you need to replace every now and then, but once the frame of the bed breaks or becomes damaged beyond repair, you’ll have to replace the entire bed.

Cleaning

Panel bed: It is relatively easier to clean the floor underneath panel beds. Their elevated height from the ground allows you to easily vacuum and mop underneath them regularly. Even if you keep some items underneath in storage containers, you can easily pull them out to clean underneath your panel bed.

Platform bed: Platform beds are lower to the ground which can make cleaning the floor underneath them a bit of a challenge. Plus, they are a lot bulkier and heavier to move around, so you might not be able to clean under them as regularly as you want.

Which is better – panel bed or platform bed?

There’s no quick answer to this other than: it depends on you.

Are you looking for something a bit more comfortable with various storage options and a classic, traditional design? Are you thinking of getting a trundle bed eventually as an extra sleeper? Is the person who will be sleeping on the bed elderly or do they have mobility issues? If the answer to all of the above is yes, then the panel bed is for you.

Are you, on the other hand, looking for something more modern and sleek to go well with your minimalistic bedroom interiors? Do you want a bed that will let you keep your alarm clock, phone cords and chargers, and some reading material close by? Are you looking for a solid base that comes with some drawers and shelves to put your things on? If the answer is yes to all, then a platform bed would suit you best.

At the end of the day, you’re the one who knows how you will be most comfortable and what is guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep.