Basic Guide About The Parts Of A Bed

Basic Guide About The Parts Of A Bed

People spend an average of six to eight hours in bed every night. Over time, that adds up to about a third of your entire life. But there might be plenty about your bed that you aren’t even aware of. Learning more about beds is a great way to appreciate them more. It can also help you make smart buying decisions when finding beds in the future. This article will cover all the different parts of a bed to help you tell headboards, footboards, and rails apart.

What Are The Parts of a Bed Called?

So what are the different parts of a bed? This guide will take a look at all of them, in turn, covering features and aspects of each. However, it’s important to know that every bed is different. They all have similar structures and purposes, but they can have different designs and parts. This list will cover some of the most common bed parts, but your own bed might not have all of them.

The Headboard

The first section of the structure we will examine is the headboard. As the name of this part implies, it is found at the head of the bed, where the top of the sleeper's body is found. You usually place pillows just below the headboard and rest your head there before going to sleep.

  • History -  Historically, this bed-frame element was used to insulate people's heads against the cold. Thanks to modern heating systems, this purpose is no longer needed. It can still be helpful though to add a little extra warmth, especially if you live in an older home.
  • Structure - The headboard is a large piece that forms the back of the bed. It is often pushed up against a wall. But it may remain freestanding if the bed is in the center of the room or away from the walls.
  • Purpose - The headboard is both a decorative and functional element of the overall structure. It can add elegance to the bed itself, while also offering support for sleepers.
  • Advantages - You can rest back against this item while sitting up in bed. This makes it useful for people who like to read before they sleep. It's also handy if you want to use your bed during the day or for special moments like breakfast in bed.
  • Design - You can find headboards in a huge range of materials and designs. There are fancy upholstered king bed frames headboards that are soft and supple to the touch. Then, there are cool metallic queen size bed headboards that can add a modern touch to the bedroom. There are even kid bed headboards designed with little ones in mind.
  • Storage - It’s possible to find some models with built-in storage areas. This can turn your bed into a veritable storage unit with lots of space for keeping items like sheets, toys, and more.

Headboard Pieces

A headboard can be broken down into several smaller pieces and may have some or all of the following parts: 

  • Slat - The slats of the headboard are vertical sections positioned in the back of the frame. They give the board structure and definition. 
  • Top Rail - This rail runs along the top of the slats. The slats are vertical, with the rail stretching sideways along the top of them. 
  • Cross Rail - The cross rail can add extra reinforcement and strength to the overall unit. It runs beneath the slats, connecting the board to the rest of the bed frame. 
  • Legs - Headboard legs may also be present, extending down to the ground and supporting the slats. The legs work to keep the product in its position, at the desired height.

The Footboard

This part is, in essence, the opposite of the headboard. As the name suggests, it can be found at the foot of the bed, near the feet of the sleepers. It adds structure to the frame and can have various uses and advantages.

  • History - In the past, this part of the unit was designed to insulate the feet of people sleeping in bed. It acted as a barrier against cold winds. This was very useful in olden times when homes didn’t have such good insulation as they do nowadays.
  • Function - The primary function of this piece is to add style and allure to the bed's design. Units with footboards tend to be seen as more glamorous and attractive. 
  • Advantages - This piece has a functional purpose, as well as adding beauty to the bed. It can help to keep the bedding and sheets in position, providing a barrier to prevent the sheet from slipping out. It also makes it almost impossible for duvets and blankets to slide off the end of the bed. 
  • Design - Like headboards, these parts can be made from various materials. They may be metal, wood, or upholstered. They often tend to have some form of upholstery, making them soft to the touch. They can add comfort to the bed by giving taller sleepers something to rest their feet against.

Footboard Pieces 

As with the headboard, the footboard may also be broken down into several smaller components, including:

  • Slat - Just like in the headboard, the slat is the main vertical screen piece. It gives the board structure and definition.
  • Top rail - This rail runs horizontally along the top of the slats. It’s great for keeping sheets and blankets tucked in tight at the bottom of the bed.
  • Bottom rail - The bottom rail is situated along the base of the slat, running sideways from one end to the other. It provides the finishing touch for the footboard.


The frame of the bed is the general "skeleton" of the structure. It consists of the various rails and pieces that make up the main body of the bed. 

  • Types - There is a range of different types to choose from. So if you ask "What is a bed frame called?" you can get all kinds of answers like platform, panel, base, or foundation. These different varieties have their own specific designs and styles, but they all do the same basic thing: they form the base of the bed, onto which you place your mattress.
  • Structure - A classic panel frame is made up of four legs, base rails, side rails, and then slats or cross rails in the center to support the mattress. Platform frames, meanwhile, have a flat surface on which the mattress can sit.
  • Design - Frames are usually made of either metal or wood. There are lots of designs to choose from. You can find modern, minimalistic frames that are almost invisible. You may also discover chunky wooden frames that stand out and help the bed add warmth to the room. 

The Cut Slats

If you lift the mattress off from the top of your bed and look underneath, you may notice several wooden pieces stretching from one side to the other. These are the cut slats.

  • Structure - Cut slats are often quite narrow and slender pieces of wood, cut at very specific sizes. They can be placed in rows across the bed frame. This results in a kind of grid or screen-like appearance. 
  • Purpose - These components basically provide the foundation on which your mattress sits. They give the mattress a base to rest on. 
  • Strength - Strength is really important for cut slats, as they have to support a lot of weight. They need to be tough and resilient to hold up the mattress and the sleepers on top. Weak slats can snap or crack, so you have to choose carefully. 
  • Quantity and Quality - When it comes to these items, quality, and quantity both matter. Quality products are stronger and more durable. And if you have more slats, your bed will often be more stable and secure.

The Box Spring 

A box spring may also be present in your bed's design. It doesn't always appear, but this part has been an integral component for many bed models for years. It is also known as a "divan" in some parts of the world. 

  • Structure - The box spring is usually made of a wooden frame, covered in cloth, and containing springs. 
  • Purpose - This unit is habitually positioned over the frame, with the frame acting as a foundation for the box. The mattress can then be put on top. It's also possible to just use a box and a mattress, without the need for any kind of framing component.

The Side Rails

As one may infer from the name, these parts are the railings that run along the sides of the bed. They can be pushed up against walls or left open, allowing people to climb in and out of the unit itself. 

  • Purpose - Most side rails are low and flat, in line with the rest of the frame. They may be a little higher than the slats. This is so that the mattress can be placed on the slats and held in place by the side rails. This way, it won't move around left or right due to sleeper movements or pressure. 
  • Additional Usage - It is possible for some types of sleeping apparatus to have tall or high rails on the sides. They may feature beds for young children to help with security. They may also be used for older adults with mobility issues, helping them get in and out. 
  • Storage - Some side rails come with built-in storage, while others act as a kind of cover to hide things that might be stored under the frame. 
  • Design - These railings are usually made from either metal or wood. They can be found in an array of colors to suit the theme and design of each product.

The Legs 

Beds also tend to have legs. These extend from the four corners of the frame, letting it "stand" in its position. They work in much the same way as other leg-like components on other pieces of furniture, such as tables and chairs.

  • Purpose - The legs help to elevate the main frame of the bed off the ground at the desired height. 
  • Structure - They may be built into the headboard and footboard if these pieces are present. Or they can be connected to the main frame itself. They may also come as separate pieces that can just be screwed into the base of the frame or the boards. 
  • Styles - You can find legs in a range of sizes and heights. Some of them are able to push the main body of the bed quite high. Others are shorter, resulting in the mattress being closer to the ground.
  • Materials - These parts may be made of different materials to match the rest of the frame. They can be wooden, for example, or might be made of metal. It's also possible to find legs made from other materials.
  • Design - Most leg parts of a wooden bed frame tend to be simple and have basic designs, but it's possible to find decorative examples too.


Posters are not commonly found on many beds. But they might be found on more expensive or elegant models as parts of a bed frame. They are commonly associated with the idea of the four poster beds. 

  • Definition - Posters are basically tall posts that extend from the four corners of the unit's frame. 
  • Purpose - These pieces can add allure and beauty to the structure. Many people like the idea of a bed with posters as it is seen to be more regal and classy.
  • Aesthetics - Beds with these components are often associated with nobility and monarchy. In the past, only very wealthy people were able to afford them.
  • Function - The main use of posters is to hold up a canopy (see below for additional information on canopies). But it is possible to have poster beds without any kind of canopy on top. Some people just like the look and feel of the posts and don't feel the necessity for any extra layers.
  • Necessity - In terms of "What does a bed need?" posters are not necessary components. They are seen as luxuries or optional extras.
  • Types - There are various forms of poster beds. The low poster bed has posts that are shorter than normal, while a pencil poster has columns that are much skinnier, like pencils. There are also half-posters, which have short columns at the foot and regular-sized ones at the head.


As introduced in the previous point, a canopy may be present on a bed with posters.

  • Definition - The canopy is a kind of curtain, sheet, or piece of fabric that may be hung over the top of the bed. 
  • Function - The posters help to support the canopy in position, and it can be used to block out light at night. This fabric is also good for keeping bugs away from sleepers and insulating them on cold nights. 
  • Beauty - Many people enjoy canopy beds due to their aesthetic advantages too. The canopy is able to enhance the beauty of the bed and is associated with wealth and elegance. If you wonder "How do you make a pretty bed?" then adding posts and canopies is a good method to try.

The Mattress

When it comes to answering the question "What does a bed consist of?" it's clear to see that no bed is complete without a mattress. This is the part on which people sleep, providing comfort and support for the body.

  • History - In the past, mattresses almost always contained springs. But modern mattresses tend to be made of other materials like foam, pocket coils, and latex.
  • Sizes - Mattresses can come in a huge range of sizes to suit different sizes of frames. The common size names are Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King.
  • Materials - You can find a huge range of different product types and materials. Some units have memory foam to shape the contours of the sleeper. Others are designed with cooling gel to absorb excess heat and keep the sleeper cool on warm nights. 
  • Foams and Firmness - There are also lots of foam varieties. Some are soft, while others are firm. People can have different preferences in terms of firmness levels, depending on the level of support they need. 
  • Sleeping Positions - Certain types of mattresses tend to be better suited for certain sleeping positions. Stomach sleepers, for instance, might like a bit more firmness to avoid uncomfortable sinking. Back sleepers might be happier with a softer mattress they can really slip into.

Alternative Bed Types

The components listed above feature in the vast majority of beds. However, there are lots of alternative forms of sleeping apparatus. These models can have wildly different designs and components. 


A daybed, as the name implies, is one that can be used in the day as well as at night. It is created to combine the uses and features of both a sofa and a bed. This means that the headboard and footboard are usually the same sizes as shapes. 

The two boards are designed to look like and function as the armrests on a sofa. There's also usually a large side-rail structure at the back, which serves as the backrest for the sofa. A lot of daybeds are made of metal, but it's possible to find wooden and upholstered units also.


The futon is a Japanese type of sleeping equipment. You can usually find them in student accommodation or the rooms of children. They may also appear in apartments or homes with limited space. 

They're a lot like daybeds, as they can be used both for sitting in the day and sleeping at night. They're also usually able to be folded up and stored away when not in use. They can therefore be very efficient and space-saving.


Very popular in the late 20th century, waterbeds are less fashionable nowadays but are still enjoyed in some homes. As the name implies, this type of structure consists of water inside the mattress. They usually have wooden frames encircling the water-filled central area. 

The unique structure of this type of bed provides sleepers with unique levels of comfort. These beds may be used for certain types of physical therapy or recovery after bodily injuries. They're good for soothing aches and pains in joints and other areas like the lower back.

Air Bed 

An air bed is one that is filled up with air. They can consist of nothing more than a mattress, or they may involve some sort of frame on which the inflated sleeping surface can be placed. 

When not in use, the bed can be deflated, folded up, and stored away. These beds are really useful for camping and travel. They're also great for using when guests come to visit.

Floating Bed 

Many people have never seen or slept in a floating bed. This variety is quite rare and expensive, so they're only usually spotted in the homes of rich and famous people. 

They make use of a special system of magnets that allows the mattress to essentially hover a short distance off the ground. This type of product is considered very fancy and futuristic but may become more common in the future.


This variety of bed is all about storage. They allow the main mattress to be lifted up with part of the frame, opening up a huge space to store items inside. There's usually some sort of pneumatic system in place that makes it easy for owners to move the frame up and lower it back down. 

This is a really good choice of sleeping apparatus for people who have lots of items and not enough free space to store them. It gives you all the benefits of both a bed and a storing solution in one great product.


A sleigh bed is a very unique form which looks like a traditional sleigh, with curved footboard and headboards. The curved boards offer aesthetic beauty. They can also be functional as blankets and decorative throws can be positioned across them. 

This type of product was really popular in parts of Europe several centuries ago. The style is gradually making a comeback in modern times too. Many people see this design to be highly elegant and intriguing from an aesthetic point of view.


Bunk beds are very popular in kids' rooms, dormitories, student accommodation, and hostels. They feature multiple mattresses - usually two but sometimes three - positioned above one another, with a ladder or stairs leading to the higher levels. 

This format allows multiple people to sleep on the structure without taking up too much floor space. It's a great choice for large families with lots of kids. Younger people, in particular, tend to enjoy this style as it can be fun to climb the ladder and sleep on top.


Hopefully, this guide has helped you see your bed in a different light and appreciate the different parts of a bed more deeply. Each part has a role to play, and no bed can be complete without the right set of parts. As this guide shows, some are more important than others, and the more you know about each piece, the better prepared you’ll be to choose the ideal bed to meet your needs.