panel bed and platform bed
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Panel Bed vs Platform Bed: Understanding The Difference

    Last Updated
    November 7, 2022
    min read

    On average, Americans spend about a third of their lifetimes sleeping or trying to do so. That’s over 30 years in bed! As such, it’s important that you find a bed style that ticks all your boxes – and then some. But with all sorts of bed frame styles out there, it can be difficult to make a decision. 

    Here, we help you resolve some age-old questions about bed frame shopping: what is the difference between a panel bed and a platform bed? And which one is better? 

    What Is A Panel Bed?

    A panel bed is a type of bed frame that uses wooden slats or metal rods (panels) to hold up a mattress and mattress foundation. It should be noted that panel beds cannot support a mattress on their own. They need a mattress foundation or box spring to hold up the mattress; otherwise, the mattress will eventually sag.

    While some modern panel beds no longer come with side railings, footboards, and headboards, most traditional panel beds still do. So if you like the look and feel of a “classic” bed, a panel bed is the best option for you. 

    What Is A Platform Bed?

    A platform bed is a type of bed frame, often made of metal or wood, that provides one solid, sturdy base on which you can place a mattress directly. Unlike panel beds, platform beds do not require box springs or foundations to provide adequate support to the mattress. 

    If you’re wondering what the difference between a platform bed and a box spring is, the answer is support. Whereas platform beds come with a built-in foundation, box springs must be used together with a bed frame. Think of it this way: platform beds double as both a base and a bed frame. 

    Platform beds are also quite simple compared to panel beds. While panel beds usually come with headboards, footboards, and railings, most platform-type beds forego these features. The result is a sleek, minimalist, and space-saving design. 

    Panel Bed vs Platform Bed: What Is The Difference?

    The main difference between a panel bed and a platform bed is simplicity. Since platform beds can support mattresses on their own, they’re far simpler to use. As mentioned, most platform beds also don’t come with a lot of the stylistic bells and whistles that most panel beds do.

    Here are additional key differences between the two types of bed frames:


    Since panel beds require the use of a box spring or a mattress foundation, they tend to be taller than platform-type beds and thus easier to get in and out of.

    On the other hand, platform beds are usually closer to the ground. If you want some extra height, though, you can get a raised platform bed.


    Both bed types generally take up the same amount of space. However, panel beds that come with headboards, footboards, and side rails may feel bulkier than simpler platform beds.

    Another plus of choosing a platform bed? Storage options. You can find ones with extra bed storage space underneath, whether in the form of pull-out drawers or cubbies. 


    Panel beds can be more comfortable in warmer climates because the slatted base provides more airflow, keeping the mattress (and you) cooler at night. On the other hand, platform beds tend to be warmer since the base is typically one solid surface. 

    When it comes to firmness, however, platform beds win. The panels on a panel bed have some flex to them, resulting in a bouncier bed. With platform beds, the mattress is firmly in place, with not much give. 


    As mentioned, panel beds are more traditional bed frames, with railings, headboards, and footboards. But if you like the old-school, classic look of a panel bed, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Meanwhile, platform beds have a more minimalist and modern design. The aesthetic appeal is undeniable.


    Simply because they require more materials and work to put together, panel beds are more expensive than platform beds. Panel beds also require a separate box spring or mattress foundation; otherwise, you’ll be in for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.

    So, when it comes to price, platform beds are the clear winner. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you use a regular mattress on a platform bed?

    Yes, you can use pretty much any type of mattress on a platform bed, be it a memory mattress, an innerspring mattress, a hybrid, a gel-infused foam mattress, a polyfoam mattress, or a latex mattress. As mentioned, you don’t need an additional mattress foundation or box spring to use a platform bed. 

    What is the difference between a platform bed and a regular bed?

    Platform beds are capable of supporting mattresses on their own. They are also typically lower than regular beds; come in a simpler, minimalist design; and may have built-in under-bed storage as well. 

    Panel beds vs platform beds: which one requires a box spring?

    Panel beds require the use of a box spring or mattress foundation. Platform beds can support the weight of a mattress without the need for any additional support. 

    Panel Bed vs Platform Bed: Which One Is Better For Me?

    Panel beds are a great option for those who live in warmer climates, as they provide more airflow and allow the mattress to breathe. Panel beds are also typically higher than platform beds, making them ideal for people who may have trouble getting in and out of bed, such as seniors or small kids.

    However, if you want something sleek, simple, and minimalist, the platform bed style is your best bet. Not only is it sturdy and firm, but it also requires fewer parts and allows for under-bed storage.


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.

    Brooke Reynolds
    Senior Product Manager of Bases and Smart Comfort

    Brooke Reynolds is a Senior product manager of bases and smart comfort at Purple. She's passionate about designing bases specifically to support Purple mattresses and educating customers on how adjustable bases can improve sleep, provide targeted support and enhance your bedtime routine.