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What’s the Difference Between a Panel Bed and a Platform Bed?

The difference between a panel bed and a platform bed determines whether or not you need to buy a mattress foundation.

What Is a Panel Bed?

Featuring rails along its sides, a panel bed is designed to hold and support both a mattress and mattress foundation. Panel beds often feature a large headboard made from a solid panel of wood or metal. The surface of the base of panel beds (on which you would place a mattress and foundation) is often made up of slatted panels of wood boards to increase breathability under the mattress foundation – helping to extend the life of both the mattress and mattress foundation.

bed foundation

What Is a Platform Bed?

A platform bed is a bed type featuring a large, sturdy base designed to hold a mattress and which does not require the extra support of a box spring or other mattress foundation. Many platform beds are designed a bit lower to the ground than regular bed types. While a platform bed does not require the use of a mattress foundation, it is perfectly fine to use one to raise the height of a platform bed.
While more traditional platform beds feature a sleek, minimalistic look – sans headboard or footboard – modern platform beds today incorporate a variety of style and design features (including both headboards and footboards).

Panel Beds vs. Platform Beds

Magnolia daybed
While panel beds are designed to support a mattress and a mattress foundation, platform beds are designed to take the place of a mattress foundation (so that you can place a mattress directly on a platform bed). In terms of appearance, modern platform beds and panel beds often share similar design elements – ranging anywhere from tufted upholstered headboards to under-bed drawer storage.

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