Divan or bed frame, which is better?

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There is no definitive answer regarding whether a divan or bed frame is better. Some mattresses perform better with divans, others with bed frames.

When choosing a new bed, many people underestimate the importance of the bed base the mattress is paired with. While the mattress provides comfort, the bed base provides the underlying support. Thus the two need to work together.

Whether you pair your mattress with a divan or a bed frame is, of course, down to personal preference. But it helps to understand the benefits of both so you can decide which bed base is better.

Divans

A divan is a wooden frame covered in material. The divan provides an even sleeping surface for the mattress to rest on. There are typically two types of divan, sprung or platform top. A sprung divan features an open coil or pocket sprung unit mounted onto the frame. The springs help cushion the mattress and improve the bed’s overall level of comfort and support.

A solid or platform top base is typically made from hardboard. It is usually cheaper and firmer than a sprung base.

divan bed with matching headboard dark brown
Divan bed with matching headboard

Bed frames

Bed frames come in various styles, such as wood, metal, fabric, and leather. The frame often consists of a headboard, footboard and side rails that attach to make the frame. The mattress can sit on top of slats, a metal grid, or woven wire. It can also rest on a shallow divan that sits inside the frame.

light wooden bed frame with matching bedside cabinets
Light wooden bed frame

Is it better to have a divan or bed frame?

There is no definitive answer regarding whether a divan or bed frame is better. Some mattresses perform better with divans, others with bed frames.

Memory foam mattresses perform better on bed bases that allow good air circulation. Slatted bed bases work well with memory foam mattresses as air can circulate freely underneath the bed, preventing moisture from accumulating. In contrast, some divans prevent moisture from escaping the bed, allowing mould and mildew to thrive.

As foam cradles the body, pairing a sprung divan base with a foam mattress may make the bed feel too soft. This may cause you to sink too far into the mattress, putting the body in an unnatural sleeping position and making it harder to turn over in bed. Memory foam mattresses tend to perform better on bases with platform tops that provide good ventilation or slats.

If you’re purchasing the mattress and the bed base separately, it is vital to ensure that the two are suitable for use together.

Another factor to consider is slat spacing. Most bed frames have a slatted bed base for the mattress to rest on. It is important to ensure the gap between the slats does not exceed the mattress manufacturer’s recommendations. Otherwise, the mattress may sag between the slats, which may damage the mattress and invalidate its guarantee.

It is also recommended not to place the mattress directly on the slats to prevent it from getting damaged by splinters. It helps to place a breathable blanket or mattress pad between the mattress and the bed base for protection.

You should also avoid placing a mattress on an old worn-out bed base, as doing so can damage the mattress and invalidate its guarantee. Also, a higher-quality mattress should not be paired with a cheap bed base, as the base will not provide adequate support.

While a sprung divan can improve the bed’s overall level of comfort and support, some sprung bases have a collapsing sprung edge. This can sometimes make you feel like you’re falling out of bed if you tend to sleep towards the edge of the bed.

Some divans come with a firm edge that helps prevent the base from sagging around the edges, extending the overall sleeping surface.

Design

Most people choose a bed because of its aesthetics. Bed frames come in various traditional and contemporary designs. Bed frames are popular because they can suit almost any room décor.

Most bed frames come with a range of matching furniture, such as bedsides, wardrobes, and chests, for a more streamlined look. However, some people consider this to look bland and outdated.

Divans come in various materials and colours, allowing you to create a modern, dynamic look by mixing the bed with the bedroom furniture.

Divans were once considered old-fashioned and would often be upholstered with cheap and hideous fabrics. However, nowadays, divans come in various materials and styles so that you customise the look. Some manufacturers also offer a range of headboards in matching fabrics.

Divans come with various storage options. A popular choice is the 2 + 2 drawer combination, which consists of two half-size drawers on either side at the top of the bed and two full-size drawers on either side at the bottom of the bed. The half-size drawers should open and close easily without the bedside cabinets getting in the way. Divans can also come with four standard drawers, an end drawer, or an ottoman with lift storage space underneath.

Bed frames don’t usually come with drawers, but you can use the space underneath the bed for storage.

divan with 2 + 2 drawers
divan with 2 + 2 drawer combination

Sizes

Bed frames tend to come in standard sizes. Some bedroom collections may only offer one or two bed frame sizes in the range. So, if you’re looking for a different size, you may have to mix and match by choosing a bed from a different range.

In contrast, divans tend to be more flexible on sizing. Some manufacturers may even offer bespoke bed sizes or tailor the divan to the customer’s requirements.

Comfort

Comfort is subjective, so it is difficult to determine whether a divan or bed frame is more comfortable. A sprung divan will provide a slightly softer feel, whereas a bed frame will provide a firmer feel because there is less give from the base.

Property access

Most bed frames are flat-packed, making them easier to deliver to the property. Bed frames are ideal for homes with access restrictions, such as narrow stairs, low ceilings, and tight spaces, where a bigger bed would usually be out of the question.

Most divans beds will split into two sections for easier access to the bedroom. Some manufacturers may even provide a quarterly split bed base on request, where the base comes in four sections. However, a bed frame may be the safer option where access is limited to avoid problems with the delivery. But before ordering your bed, remember to check your dimensions carefully.

Assembly

Assembly times can vary depending on the type of bed frame you choose. Most bed frames come flat packed and may require self-assembly. Setup is normally straightforward but usually requires two people to build the frame as it can sometimes be heavy and awkward to move.

Divans tend to be relatively straightforward to assemble. Most divans come with a split base, so it’s a case of fitting the castors or legs and linking the two sections of the base together. A headboard can be easily attached with the headboard bolts provided with the bed.

Overall, divans tend to be easier to assemble. However, many retailers provide a bed assembly service for a small charge.

Room space

Bed frames typically take up more room space than a divan as the mattress often sits inside a frame. Sleigh beds, in particular, are much longer than standard beds because of the curved headboard and footboard design.

However, most bed frames are elevated on legs which can make a small bedroom space look bigger by exposing the floor underneath.

Divans have a smaller footprint as the base tends to be the same size as the mattress it is paired with. But attaching a headboard will make the bed slightly bigger.

Manoeuvrability

Depending on the design and construction, some bed frames can be difficult to move. Some low bed frames may not provide sufficient clearance space underneath for cleaning, so you may need to move the bed each time you clean.

Divans often come with casters making them lighter and much easier to move for cleaning or if you need to rearrange the bedroom.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Wooden and metal bed frames are much easier to clean and maintain than divans. You can routinely clean the bed with a soft dry cloth to remove any dust, dirt, and debris from the frame. Most bed frames have sufficient space underneath the bed for cleaning and vacuuming.

Over time, divan beds can collect dirt and dust, and some fabrics may be difficult to clean and dust. Fabric tends to be less durable than wood and metal, so scuff marks, creases and pressure marks may form over time.

Durability

The durability of a bed often depends on its construction and the quality of materials. Higher-quality beds are much more durable and resistant to everyday wear and tear.

With slatted beds, sprung slats provide more give than solid slats. Sprung slats provide extra cushioning and can improve overall comfort and the mattress’s durability.

Sprung divans can improve the bed’s level of comfort and support. The springs help cushion the mattress, relieving some of the wear and tear and improving the mattress’s longevity.

Pocket sprung bases often provide better support than other bed bases. But it is important to ensure a pocket sprung base is compatible with the mattress it supports.

Final thoughts

Choosing a divan or a bed frame for your mattress comes down to personal choice. The most important factor to consider is whether the mattress and base are suitable for use together.

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About the author

About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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