The best wooden bed frames will last for many years without looking tatty or outdated. I suspect that may not be the case with a diamante crushed velvet bed. You also tend to get a headboard included, which saves an extra purchase.
The main downside with wooden beds for me is the occasional wallop on the knee whilst going to the toilet at 2am. Perhaps that’s just due to my clumsiness
The three things you need to know if you want to buy the best wooden bed frames
- Most wooden beds are made from pine which is a softwood but posh wooden beds are made from oak. Pine is perfectly adequate for most people and doesn’t usually look cheap, but oak is a fancy upgrade.
- Some wooden beds have sprung slats whilst others have solid slats. Solid/rigid slats feel a bit firmer. Sprung slats feel a bit springier and softer. The firmness of the mattress is more significant, but the slats certainly add to how the mattress feels. Sprung slats usually cost a bit more.
- You can use a memory foam or sprung mattress with a wooden bed. However, make sure the gaps between the slats aren’t too big or the mattress might get lumps and bumps. This guide reckons a gap of 7cm/3 inches or less is preferable. Rather annoyingly, most wooden beds online don’t actually tell you how big the gaps are.
Another option is to board over the whole thing with thin wood but that’s the kind of job I’d never get round to doing. In some instances mattress manufacturers specify the maximum distance between slats within the warranty, or provide a recommendation. Our graph below gives a few examples:
Mind the gap on wooden bed frames
As the graph shows, several manufacturers stick with a figure which is recommended as a maximum by the National Bed Federation (75mm). Eve Sleep, Hypnos, Dormeo and Emma all say that 75mm is the maximum gap that you should have between slats for their mattresses. Ergoflex and Simba Sleep are more-or-less the same at three inches. Silentnight give a higher figure of 100mm for their memory foam mattresses. Figures are correct at the time of writing.
Right, let’s get on to our pick of five of the best wooden beds on sale in the UK. We’ve picked our wooden beds based on customer reviews, specification, value for money, awards and warranty length.
1. John Lewis & Partners Wilton Wooden Bed Frame – £199
You might assume John Lewis & Partners would be a pricey option for a wooden bed frame. However, this Wilton bed frame is good value for money. Customers rate it positively with an average of 4.3/5 from about 500 reviews at the time of writing.
It comes in three colours (white, grey and ‘natural’) and in the usual sizes (single, double or as a king size wooden bed).
The slats are solid which means they will make your mattress feel a bit firmer than a bed frame with a sprung base. It doesn’t say how far apart the slats are, but there’s a picture to give a bit of guidance. By my count, there are 14 slats which seems to be the same number as several other wooden beds I’ve looked at.
You can also buy matching bedroom furniture if you really want to live the John Lewis dream.
What’s this wooden bed made from?
It’s made from pine which is often used in cheaper furniture. However, it’s perfectly decent and isn’t going to collapse into a heap after 10 minutes.
One issue to consider with pine furniture is that it is considered a softwood. Only the more expensive bedframes use a hardwood such as oak (see number 2 and number 5 on this list).
The issue is to do with Volatile Organic Compounds which are naturally emitted by wood (and other natural materials).
Do softwoods or hardwoods make the best wooden bed frames?
According to researchers in Solvakia, ‘Softwoods emit the highest concentrations of wood VOCs’ (Phleven, Bernard et al, 2019) whilst ‘VOC emissions from hardwoods are considerably lower (approximately 50 times)’
The question, of course, is whether these higher levels of VOC emissions are a problem or not. A scientific study by Gminski, Marutzky et al in 2011 found that ‘short-term exposure to high VOC concentrations…released from pinewood does not elicit sensory irritation or pulmonary effects in healthy humans under controlled conditions’. Their study looked at how people responded such as ‘sensory irritation, pulmonary function…and eye blink frequency’.
One complication is that this data is based on how adults respond to pinewood. Junge, Buchenauer et al decided to look at the ‘effects of an exposure to multiple wood-related VOCs on asthma development’ amongst children. They found that ‘emissions from wood and wood products at levels commonly occurring in the living environment do not exert adverse effects concerning wheezing or asthma development’ (2021).
Pros: established and respected brand with matching furniture available in the range. There’s also a choice of colours. It’s a popular model with lots of reviews and it has a low price.
Cons: softwood construction rather than posher hardwood, solid slats tend to be cheaper than sprung slats
2. John Lewis & Partners Montreal Wooden Bed Frame – £499
If you can afford the upgrade, have a look at the John Lewis & Partners Montreal wooden bed frame. The main difference from the cheaper Wilton model (see #1) is that it’s mostly made from oak which is a harder wood. As mentioned above, there are some advantages to buying an oak product over a pine bed. These include the significantly lower levels of ‘Volatile Organic Compounds’ (Phleven, Bernard et al, 2019).
It gets similar reviews of about 4/5 at the time of writing.
It’s worth noting that it has sprung slats (unlike the Wilton wooden bed – see #1). That means it will have a softer feel than the Wilton bedframe. Again, it doesn’t state the gap between the slats but it has the same number of slats as the Wilton (14 for those taking notes) so there’s no real advantage there.
The Montreal is available in double, king size and super king size. There are also storage versions which have drawers underneath.
Pros: award winning retailer, hard wood construction, sprung slats.
Cons: only available in standard sizes, much more expensive than most other wooden beds
3. Dreams Woodstock Wooden Bed Frame – £199
The best thing about this Woodstock wooden bed frame from Dreams is that it actually lets you choose whether you want sprung slats or solid slats.
I’ll give a reminder of what that means for those who have drifted off (I don’t blame you).
Solid slats give the mattress a firmer feel whilst sprung slats usually cost more and make the mattress feel a little bit softer and comfier. This is because they are more flexible.
It doesn’t tell you how far apart the slats are with both options. However, there looks to be 14 slats, which is the same as the two John Lewis wooden beds above.
The customer reviews are reassuringly positive, with an average of 4.7/5 from 1000+ reviews at the time of writing.
What’s it made from?
Another plus point is that it’s made from ash (and ash veneer) which is a hardwood whereas a lot of cheap wooden beds are made from pine. The edges aren’t as pointy and sharp as some so there’s less risk of waking everyone up with your swearing because you’ve banged your knee whilst going to the toilet.
You can pick from having a white wooden bed frame or a natural wood colour bed.
It comes with a bog-standard one year guarantee. It comes in lots of pieces, but several reviewers say that it was straightforward to put together. You can buy the Woodstock as a single wooden bed, a double wooden bed or a king size wooden bed.
Pros: choice of sprung or solid slats, lots of positive customer reviews, low price, partly made from hardwood.
Cons: only a one year warranty, no super king size available.
4. Birlea Phoenix Wooden Bed With Storage – £355
This wooden bed also features in our ottoman bed guide as it has a great big storage space underneath the bed. It has a clever hydraulic lifting thingy so you won’t need the strength of an ox to access your bedding or Christmas decorations.
It’s made by a company called Birlea which was scoring 4.1/5 on TrustPilot and 4.6/5 on Google when I checked in 2022. This particular model gets great reviews of:
- 4.4/5 from about 270 reviews on Amazon
- 4.6/5 from 300+ reviews on the Happy Beds website
- 4.6/5 from 100+ reviews on Google reviews
You get a five year warranty if you buy it from Happy Beds which is four years longer than most of the wooden beds we’ve found in our search for the UK’s best wooden bed frames.
You can buy it as a white wooden bed, a natural wood colour bed or in different combinations of blue and grey.
How is it constructed?
Regarding its specification, it is made from rubberwood. Google tells me that rubberwood is a ‘strong and cheap’ wood but that it has a ‘dense, coarse grain’ so you wouldn’t use it for fine furniture. You can get a good idea of its build quality from this video about how to build the Birlea Phoenix.
The slats on this one are sprung which will give it a softer and bouncier feel that you get with solid/rigid slats. Again, it doesn’t tell you how big the gaps are between the slats but there are 14 slats in total which is the same as the first three featured in this guide.
Adding a mattress to the best wooden bed frames
For the benefit of anyone also shopping for a mattress to go with this wooden bed, the two most popular options are:
These are the most popular option and what most of us are used to. Go for a pocket sprung mattress rather than an ‘open coil’ or ‘traditional’ mattress. It’s less wobbly and offers better support. Ideally, you want more than 1000 pocket springs. From an environmental point of view, a study has suggested that a pocket sprung mattress which uses layers of natural materials (e.g. wool, cotton) emits fewer greenhouse gases than one which combines springs with foam.
The study – by Mason, Glew et al – in 2012 also suggested that the potential for a smaller environmental impact is lower with natural materials than with foam materials. This requires steps to be taken once they are disposed of, such as ‘refurbishing natural ﬁbre mattresses and reusing the springs, coupled with recycling the waste components’.
These offer more consistent support but some people don’t like the sinking feeling. They can also make you a bit warm. Some memory foam mattresses smell a bit plasticky for a few days when you first buy them. Studies have also shown that they emit higher levels of Volatile Organic Compounds than natural materials. However, it’s ‘well below the levels that could cause health effects’ for adults (WebMD).
There’s some debate over whether memory foam or pocket springs are better for people who have an allergy to dust mites. According to Mattress Next Day ‘Traditionally, foam styles tend to be the most popular choice for anti-allergy mattresses’. A study in Norway found the opposite result. It suggested that ‘A simple replacement of foam mattresses with spring mattresses may reduce the exposure to house‐dust‐mite allergens’. The study was called ‘House-dust mites and mattresses’ by Schei, Hessen and Lund in 2002.
That study suggested key factors which determine whether dust mites are present include: ‘dampness, age of mattress, cleaning of mattress, frequency of vacuuming the bedroom, mechanical ventilation, bedroom temperature and bedroom relative humidity’.
Pros: five year warranty, plenty of useful storage space, sprung slats, very positive reviews, choice of colours
Cons: relatively cheap type of wood, less well known brand than Dreams or John Lewis
5. Ercol Shalstone Wooden Bed – £899
If you’re a trendy wendy with a big budget then you might like this wooden bed by Ercol which costs three times as much as most wooden beds.
So what are you getting for your money besides a nice design?
Well, Ercol is a famous British furniture brand with a decent reputation. It’s been going for more than a century and has something called a Manufacturing Guild Mark which is a badge of honour handed out to a small number of furniture makers.
It’s made from high quality wood (oak, poplar and beech) and is pretty substantial. The double size version of this wooden bed weighs 66kg whilst the highly-rated John Lewis & Partners Morgan wooden bed frame weighs 39kg (see #2)
Customer reviews for this Ercol wooden bed are very good, with an average of 4.5/5 at the time of writing.
It’s got sprung slats, so it will have a softer and bouncier feel than a wooden bed frame with solid slats. There are 19 slats, which is five more than all the others on this list which will provide better support for the mattress.
Pros: posh brand which reputation for quality, constructed with higher quality wood than cheaper beds, positive reviews, sprung slats, higher number of slats than most beds
Cons: very expensive
Are wooden bedframes environmentally friendly?
There is an environmental impact that you might want to consider when weighing up what type of bedframe to buy. Wood has been shown to have some benefits in this area compared to other materials such as plastic or metal. According to Junge, Buchenauer et al‘Compared with other “non-wood” materials like concrete, steel or plastic, wood products usually have a lower quantity of greenhouse gas emissions during product manufacturing’ (2021).
This is reiterated by other academics, such as Sathre and O’Connor. They said that there is a ‘clear climate rationale for increasing wood substitution in place of other products, provided that forests are sustainably managed and that wood residues are used responsibly’ (2010).
Meanwhile, Thomson Reuters summarises a report by the United Nations in 2016 by saying that furniture ‘made of wood instead of metal or plastic could significantly help cut carbon emissions’. This is because they ‘require less energy to produce than aluminium or plastic, and on top of that wood continues to store carbon for years’.
However, the decision is complicated somewhat by what happens once you’ve finished with your bed. Figures from DEFRA (Department for Food Environment and Rural Affairs in the UK, 2017 data) show that only about 30% of household wood waste is recycled. For steel the figure is 77% – or about three quarters. Metal is certainly easier to recycle in general and it has a good sell-on value.