What’s The Difference Between A Panel Bed And Platform Bed?

April 21, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team
A part of the platform bed and mattress A part of the platform bed and mattress A part of the platform bed and mattress

When the time has come for a new bed, the first question on most people’s minds is often: queen or king size? However, there’s another question that should also be front and center: panel bed or platform bed

A bed’s foundation can shape the comfort and feel of your sleep. And with differing designs and traits, certain bed bases can match your lifestyle better than others. So what makes a panel bed different from a platform bed?

The key difference between panel and platform beds is that panel beds require a box spring or mattress foundation, while platform beds do not. In this article, we’ll discuss panel beds, platform beds, and the important differences between these two bed bases.

Soon enough, you’ll be sleeping like a queen or king in your new panel or platform bed.

What is a Panel Bed?

Panel beds (or box spring beds) support mattresses with the help of wood slats or metal bars—hence the term “panels.”1 Most panel beds also have a side railing, footboard, and headboard in matching solid wood or metal. 

More elaborate and traditional in design, panel beds are considered the standard bed model. Their classic structure complements larger spaces with additional benefits:

  • Breathability
  • Increased height
  • Decorative features (headboards, footboards)
  • Mattress foundation and box spring compatibility

An important note—panel beds require a mattress foundation or box spring. Without one, mattresses won’t receive proper support and will prematurely sag. 

What is a Platform Bed?

Platform beds are designed as one solid surface to uphold your mattress—no box spring or mattress foundation required.2 If no box spring is needed, that may have you wonder what the difference is between a platform bed vs. box spring. Think of a platform bed as both a bed base and bed frame, whereas a box spring is just a bed base. 

This extra sturdy bed frame embodies a less-is-more mentality for your sleep. Simple and sleek, most types of platform beds come without a headboard or footboard—perfect for tiny city apartments or minimalism devotees. Like panel beds, they’re often made with wood or metal materials, like our aluminum Casper Platform Bed Frame.

For those who want a modern feel to their bedroom, platform beds offer the right features:

  • Lower height
  • Extra firmness
  • No mattress foundation required
  • Compact design 

If you want to spruce up your platform bed, consider an option with an attachable headboard or footboard. In fact, our Casper model offers an easy-to-install matching headboard. 

Panel Bed vs Platform Bed—Which is Better for Me?

To panel or to platform, that is the question—or at least the start of many questions.

Headboard or no headboard? Flexibility or sturdiness? Sleeping up high or down low? 

To help make the decision easier, let’s break down the top factors bed owners should consider before deciding between the different types of beds.

Price

All bed bases vary in price due to material, size, and quality. Between panel and platform designs, you can find plenty of models that fit your budget.

However, as a rule of thumb, panel beds tend to be pricier than platform beds for a few reasons: 

  • They usually have a more intricate design with their wooden or metal support beams.
  • Panel beds often come with decorative features—headboards, footboards, railings—that add to the overall price.
  • They require box springs or mattress foundations (remember to tack that onto your budget). 

Regardless of which you choose, you should consider a bed base that’s affordable to maintain. Otherwise, you’ll be sleeping on a source of stress, not comfort.

Size & Space

Is sitting up and hitting the ceiling fan in your chic city apartment a concern? Or do you have a spacious room you’re trying to fill up? 

When choosing between a platform vs standard bed, size and space are important factors. Generally, both models offer different height ranges. For panel beds, the required mattress foundation or box spring adds to a taller height. On the flip side, platform beds sit lower with their simple mattress-only design. However, if you prefer a taller bed height, there are many options for how to raise a platform bed

Whether panel or platform, a bed size should fit your physical comfort and room space. 

Comfort

Some people love a rock-hard bed surface, while others prefer a marshmallow feel. Between panel and platform beds, each type holds a few key differences for sleep comfort:

  • Breathability – A box spring bed’s wood slats provide more airflow, making for a cooler sleep experience. With less breathability, platform beds retain more heat.
  • Firmness – Spaced out panels give more “bounce” or flexibility to a traditional bed. If you want peak firmness, go for a modern platform bed design.
  • Support layers – Since panel beds require a support layer beneath mattresses, that will affect your cushion levels. Test out how a foundation or box spring feels under your mattress.

Design

Function and practicality are always important. But at the end of the day, people also choose a bed to fit their style.

Classic and maximalist, panel beds complement traditional homes with their extra height and decorative features. Platform beds, on the other hand, have sleek minimalist designs built for contemporary rooms. 

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some panel beds are very simple and elegant. Some platform beds carry nifty features like visible drawers or steps. But for most buyers, each model is appealing for its core aesthetic.

Choosing Your Bed Base with Casper

The good news? There’s no wrong answer when debating a panel vs platform bed. Both bases offer strong support, practical features, and an appealing style. 

From aluminum platform beds to upholstered panel bases, the Casper Bed Frame selection can fit any sleeper. Explore our options to find a bed base that supports not only your sleep, but also your individual style. 

Platform Bed

A modern support in aircraft-grade aluminum.
Platform Bed

Sources: 

  1. Architecture Lab. Platform Bed vs. Panel Bed: Differences & Similarities. https://www.architecturelab.net/platform-bed-vs-panel-bed-differences-similarities/
  2. Elle Decor. Everything You Need to Know About Platform Beds. https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/a25240357/what-is-platform-bed/