Best Bed Buying Guide: 6 Trendy Bed Materials, Structure and Buying Tips

by Emma Shaw

Do you have a good sleep? Do you believe a good bed changes your life quality? Some people may spend tons of money on branded handbags and clothes, but they may not spend that money on a sturdy, ergonomic bed. Don’t they care about the quality of sleep? Yes, they do. But they just don’t know the importance of having a good bed. In this article, I will give you some useful tips, which let you choose the most suitable bed without any effort.

leather bed

What to consider before choosing a bed?

Before buying a bed, you should know your demands for bed, for example:
1. Style: does the bed style match your home design? Is the bed structure easy to use?

2. Material: what is your favorite and the most comfortable for you? How to choose a good quality bed? Is it eco-friendly?

3. Budget: how much would you like to spend on the bed? Does the bed include a mattress and bedside table? Are there any discounts? When is the best time to buy?

4. Size: what is the best size that suits your bedroom and family?

5. Function: does it have extra storage space or extra extended sleeping area when receiving a guest?

When it comes to size, it depends on the size of your bedroom and the persons that share the bed.  If you are buying a bed for your child, and the bedroom is large enough, try to choose a bigger bed as much as possible, because the child grows fast, you don’t have to buy a new bed a few years later. A bigger bed can reduce the risk of rolling out of the bed when your child sleeps alone.

A trundle bed is also a good choice for receiving guests. It can also be combined with drawers and a storage box into the bed to maximize the storage space in the bedroom.

Bed Structure

Generally, a bed structure here means the bed frame, is consisted of a headboard, a footboard, two horizontal side rails, cut slats, and a mattress.

Headboard decides bedroom style.

Different headboards bring your bedroom a different look. Regardless of what the surface material is, the main headboard frame is made of wood.
Headboards are designed with or without legs. They have the same sturdiness, only differ in style.

For people who prefer reading on the bed, a cushioned headboard is a good option. However, the cushion is fixed on the headboard; it can’t be uninstalled and washed when it gets stains. If you prefer a headboard without a cushion or even without a headboard, you can place one or two pillows to support your back.

For people with a need of storage in the bedroom, a headboard with storage space will be the best choice. Also, there are electrical outlets on the headboard for a convenient light source.
Which one is the best bed headboard? The answer is to choose what you like. Perhaps, you may prefer no headboard.

Side rails create more storage space.

The two horizontal side rails are the load-bearing beams of the entire bed. They must be strong enough to withstand the weight of a mattress, bedding, and your body.

Due to limited bedroom space, people must get the most of the space for storage. The bedside rails have been replaced by the storage drawer frame boards, which are stronger and create more storage space. There are 2-3 large drawers opened only on one side plate. You can storage seasonal beddings and stuff in the drawers.

For sanitary reasons, the drawers under the bed should be designed as a closed space to prevent dust gathering.

bed with drawers

Trundle beds are stylish and modern. It makes good use of the space under the bed. The wheels allow you to move in and out easily. It solves the problem that there is no enough sleeping space in the small bedroom when your child or your family receives guests.

When choosing a trundle bed, make sure to ask the seller what the size of the mattress is, so you will know the size of beddings for the trundle.

Usually, it is easy to put together the trundle bed. You can get full instructions from the seller.
Check all components are working and complete, such as if the wheels can lock or not if there are any burs or nails exposed,  and if the trundle frame is sturdy enough.

trundle bed

Bed foundation supports your mattress safely.

There are mainly three types of bed foundations: slatted bed base, flat board bed foundation, gas lift bed foundation.

Slatted bed base

  • Slatted bed bases have a certain spring force and can bear the weight evenly. Thus, slatted bed foundations are stronger.
  • The gaps between wooden slats make your bed breathable and reduce the growth of bacteria and mold. Bed slats are suitable for homes with humidity and poor ventilation, such as bedrooms on the ground floor.
  • If you prefer a slatted bed foundation, a thicker spring mattress will be the best match, as it can absorb the shock when you turn over on the bed.
  • When choosing bed slats, make sure that there are no burrs on the slats and the joints between slats are firm enough.

bed slats

Flat board box bed foundations

They are suitable for people who love sleeping on a firm bed. You can just sleep on a thin mattress or a summer sleeping mat.

You pay less on the mattress. Though it’s not that breathable as the slatted base, it’s not a big deal if your bedroom has good ventilation.

If you have a storage space under the bed, the board will protect your belongings from dust.

Gas lift beds

Gas lift beds are creating amazing extra storage space for you. It can store almost all of your seasonal beddings and clothes under your mattress. The gas lift mechanism allows you to lift the whole mattress with minimal effort.

gas lift bed

Footboards hold your mattress and beddings firmly.

A high footboard requires raising the mattress when you are changing the bedsheets. If there is only a foot rail, it will be easy to do that. However, a beautiful footboard is also practical as it can hold your mattress firmly on the bed.

footboard style

Bed legs and height affect your health.

According to study research, the best bed height is between 45-50cm (18-20in), which is usually the height of your knees. Bed height is the height from floor to mattress top surface. Bed legs that are too short will make you breathe the dust on the floor and the mattress will be affected by humidity. However, the height of the bed can be chosen according to your preference.

A good mattress is the key to good sleep.

A good mattress is vital for a good night’s sleep. It must be strong enough to support your body when you lie on it. The best posture is that your spine is in the same state as when you are standing.

It should not be too hard and too soft, so it allows you to move the body freely during sleep. A good mattress makes you awake free of back and neck pains.

The mattress must be breathable, ergonomic, and eco-friendly. The surface cloth should be skin-friendly.

Bed Material

Bed material here mainly refers to the material of bed frames. There are solid wood, fabric, engineered wood, leather, metal, bamboo, etc.

Solid wood bed

• Have a natural woody smell and beautiful grain.
• More eco-friendly. It doesn’t require too much chemical treatment. The bed surface is generally coated with a simple varnish, which protects your solid bed from humidity and pests.
• Long lifespan. A good solid wood bed can last decades. Bed of high-end luxurious solid wood can be passed down from generation to generation, such as rosewood.
• Stylish looking. Solid wood beds combine the connotation of traditional beds with the simplicity of modern beds and add a stylish touch to your bedroom.

However, not all wood is suitable for bed frames. Solid wood can be mainly divided into hardwoods and softwoods. There are large price differences for various solid wood according to the hardness. The harder the wood, the more beautiful the grain, the more difficult it is to process, and the higher the price.

A few popular hardwoods for bed frames are oak, maple, walnut, and cherry due to their durability and stability. The most common softwood for bed frames is pine. It is the most used wood for rustic home furniture due to its shock resistance and budget-friendly. Pinewood is easy to shape and process.

Oak bed

Wayfair bailes oak bed

Source: Wayfair Bailes Oak Bed

Walnut bed

Wayfair walnut bed

Source: Wayfair Walnut Bed

Pine bed

Wayfair Kira low profile pine bed

Source: Wayfair Kira Low profile Pine Bed

Upholstered fabric bed

  • Add a cozy and stylish touch to your bedroom
  • Fashionable designs or minimalist pure colors
  • Breathable and skin-friendly fabric such as cotton, velvet, linen
  • Comfortable supporting padding
  • Optional changeable outer cover for easier care
  • Two or three rows of bentwood slat support or gas lift storage box foundation.

How to choose a good quality upholstered fabric bed?

1. Check the surface fabric.

Generally, the fabric can be cotton, linen, or velvet. The cloth of nanotechnology is also becoming more and more popular for beds due to its great resistance to abrasion, humidity, and oil. It is an artificial but breathable fabric. Thus, it is an excellent replacement for leather beds. When the bed of nanotech cloth gets dirty, you can just wipe it off with a wet cloth.

The higher the knitting density, the better the fabric. The thicker the fabric, the smaller the chance of tearing.

2. Check the stuffing.

Make sure the fabric bed is stuffed with good quality artificial cotton or shaped foam in the headboard, footboard, and padding.

3. Choose the type with a changeable outer cover.

As fabric collects dust, sweat, hair, and so on, in addition to vacuum your bed regularly to keep it clean.
You are recommended to choose a fabric bed with a removable outer cover. So that you can change and wash frequently to prevent the gathering of mites and germs. Also, you can transform your bed with different cover designs as you like.

4. There is no harsh smell.

The main structure of the fabric bed is commonly MDF or plywood. A good quality bed should not have any peculiar smell. The peculiar odor, which is formaldehyde, usually comes from too many harmful chemicals added in the wood board and fabric dye.

5. Check the workmanship.

Make sure there is no breakage, stains, discoloration. All necessary parts are complete.

6. Shake and lift. Check the stability by shaking and check the durability by lifting.

Engineered wood bed

Engineered wood, also called manufactured wood, for beds, usually refers to HDF(High-Density Fiberboard), MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), plywood. They are connected by hardware screws.

  • Easy to assemble and convenient for transportation.
  • Engineered wood beds should be used in dry bedrooms.HDF and MDF have great hardness and resistance to moisture, are not easy to deform and crack. Plywood is the cheapest and softest among these. Thus, in order to make your engineered wood bed last longer and healthier, it should be used in dry and ventilated bedrooms.
  • Check whether the board is fully covered by veneer and there is no harsh smell. Good quality engineered wood is processed by good quality glue, which contains less harmful substances. The details will be strictly inspected in the factory. Therefore, there should not be any breakage, glue stains, and harsh smell on high-quality manufactured wood beds.
  • Hardware is important. Make sure all hardware is complete and tightly jointed. You can also ask the seller to give you several more spares or make sure the screws can be easily purchased in any hardware store.
    The harder the engineered wood, the smaller the chance of joint loosing and noise making.

Leather bed

Most leather beds are made of cowhide, which has high toughness and durability.
It looks luxurious and sleeps softly and comfortably.

How to choose a good genuine leather bed?

1. Color. High-end leather beds adopt thicker cowhide with high and even color purity. There is no peculiar smell. But the color of inferior leather is uneven and variegated.

2. Texture. Good leather has a fine surface of luster and elasticity. It can stretch and snap back easily to its original shape. Inferior and faux leather has a dull surface and poor elasticity.

3. Seams. Due to the limited size of each leather part, there is no perfect leather bed. Seams can be easily found on any part of the genuine leather bed.

4. Price. As leather beds are derived from animal skins and processed through various steps, the cost of a good genuine leather bed is very high. Therefore, if you have a limited budget on a bed, a faux leather bed can allow you to enjoy the fine touch of leather without spending too much.

5. Special care. Genuine leather requires special care as it can easily get stained with oil, also it is not resistant to scratches. It’s best to use a dry cloth and special leather cleaner to wipe it gently. Do not use water directly.

Metal bed

bronze tone lovely metal bed

  • Classic and stylish with beautiful designs
  • Greatly reduce the pollution of the indoor decoration
  • Easy to assemble, move and storage when not in use
  • Fewer color options: black, silver, and bronze tone
  • Metal beds have good flexibility, strength, and a bright appearance. Metal pipes with thicker walls can bear heavier weight.
  • Compared to spray paint, enamel baking paint is more eco-friendly and firmer.
  • Make sure all joints are tight and firm. Shake the bed to check the stability before purchasing.
  • Lie on the bed to make sure that there is no noise when you turn over.
  • Metal beds should be placed in dry bedrooms. Humidity will make metal beds get rusty.

Rattan bed

rustic rattan bed

  • Rattan bed is natural, durable, breathable, lightweight, and eco-friendly.
  • It can add a rustic and vintage touch to the bedroom.
  • Tightly woven with old rattan, which has excellent hardness, toughness, and elasticity. If the rattan bed has a wrinkled surface, it means that it is made of young rattan, which has poor toughness and strength, is easy to break.
  • Before purchasing, make sure there are no spots and moth-eaten marks on the surface.
  • Shake the rattan bed to check the stability of the rattan bed frame before buying.
  • It is not suitable for jumping just in case a small amount of rattan-covered parts may become loose after the use of time.
  • The rattan bed should be placed horizontally without direct sunlight exposure and too much humidity.

Air bed/mattress

  • Air beds are comfortable, help you eliminate fatigue fast.
  • Space-saving, convenient to carry anywhere when you are camping, swimming, or taking a nap at work.
  • Easy to use and storage
  • Suitable for young people temporarily sleeping.  As it’s made of waterproof PVC, it’s not that breathable, to have a better sleeping experience, you can pad a cotton sheet on it to absorb your sweat, this can reduce the risk of skin diseases. Moreover, there is no enough support to your spine like solid beds. It’s not suitable for the elderly and children to sleep for a long time.

A good quality air bed/mattress should have:

  • Thick and even material.
  • A sturdy, flat surface after inflation
  • Nice seams and seals
  • Full inflation for days in different weather
  • Ergonomic support to your body
  • Fast inflation and deflation
  • At least 20cm/8″ longer than your height for better sleep

How to choose a good quality bed?

Regardless of what bed material it is, the skills for choosing a bed must include looking, lifting, shaking, touching, lying down, and smell.

Look

1. Look what wood it is.

Is it solid wood? What solid wood is it? The prices of different solid wood beds may differ hundred times. The harder the wood is, the more beautiful vein it has, the higher price is.

The engraving craftsmanship is also a factor in bed pricing.

Being aware of the difference between solid wood and engineered wood will make every penny you spend worth.

tips to distinguish solid wood

For example, you can find wood scars and knots on both sides of solid wood rails and slats, as there are no wood scars on veneer slats.

There are beautiful wood veins on both of wood surface and cross-section. But you can only find wood veins on the surface of plywood or manufactured wood slats. Because they are consisted of thin glued wood layers and are wrapped by a veneer coat, which has discontinuous and repetitive wood veins on the cross-section.

2. Look at what structure the bed is.

Is it a tenon-and mortise structure or fixed with screws? Are the joints of every part tight enough? Generally, a good solid wood bed has a tenon-and-mortise structure, and the load-bearing joints are reinforced with screws and protective blocks.

If the bed is structured with only screws, it may be firm at the start of us but will get loose after a period of time.
However, almost all modern beds are connected with screws and hardware. The quality of the screwed bed also depends on the hardness of nails and wood. Hardwood beds with accurate screw holes are usually tightly connected. You can test its stability by shaking the solid wood bed.

tenon and mortise structure

3. Look at the workmanship and material of the hidden part of the bed.

Does the bed have the same material in the hidden parts? Are there cracks, tree scars, mildew, and wormholes on the board?

Due to good quality solid wood beds are expensive, some manufacturers will use non-scarred wood on the surface rails and boards, but use scarred wood on the inner side to save costs. Or you may find composite wood flat board bed foundations under the mattresses while the so-called solid wood beds have solid wood headboards, footboards, side rails. It is not a big deal as long as the composite wood has a good quality.

You may not choose the most expensive bed, but it’s important to make your every penny worth. You get what you pay for.

The wood origin is also a reference for the quality of the bed. Because the moisture of the wood varies from different origins. It can determine the possibility of cracking and deformation

4. Look and touch whether there are protruding nails and wooden thorns.

Regardless of the bed is painted or not, a good bed must have a smooth surface, edges, and joints.

wood board with cracking, scars

Shake and lift

This is the way to check the stability of the bed. The heavier the bed is, the more stable it is. A firm and stable bed allows you to turn over freely without any noise. And it’s also a safe bed for your child.

Smell

Regardless of the material of your bed is, smell if there is any harsh chemical odor before buying. This is the direct way to check if the bed is eco-friendly or not.

You can only smell a natural woody scent, or mixed woody and paint smell if the bed is painted. If the bed has a pungent smell, then don’t buy it.

The seller may tell you the odor will vanish after using a period of time. However, the scattered smell of formaldehyde in your bedroom will also do harm to your family’s health, won’t it? Why not choose the beds without a harsh smell, which may be pre-treated by the manufacturers and coated with eco-friendly paint? After all, an eco-friendly bed is vital to the health of your family.

Lie on the bed

You will know the load-bearing capacity and the noise by lying and turning over on the bed. So that you can have nice dreams in a silent bed.

Shop around and compare the price and quality

It is the key point before you buy everything. If you have got the above skills and have spare time, then go to as many stores as possible in your city. If you’re going to buy a bed online, do more research and read more reviews. You’re recommended to choose the most cost-effective and suitable, not the most expensive or fashionable.

For branded beds, you can get guaranteed quality and after-sales service. Shop around and know your desired bed styles. Keep patient until the brand off-season sales and holiday sales, you can buy a better bed for less money.

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