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A bed frame or bedstead is the part of a bed used to position a mattress or foundation set off the floor. Bed frames are typically made of wood or metal. A bed frame is made up of head, foot, and side rails. Most double (full) sized beds, along with all queen and king size beds require some type of center support rail, typically also with extra feet extending down to the floor.

Headboards, footboards, and bed rails

Though not truly within the definition of a bed frame, most people include headboards, footboards, and bed rails when speaking of bed frames. Headboards and footboards can be made of wood or metal that is stained, painted, or covered with fabric or leather. Bed rails are usually made of steel angle iron.[citation needed]

While most bed frames are constructed to have a headboard attached to them, they do not usually accommodate footboards, unless you buy a specific type of frame that has attachments at both ends. For beds with headboards and footboards, the frame is made up of bed rails that are attached to the headboard and footboards with slats positioned perpendicular to the bed rails to hold and support the boxspring or foundation and mattress.

Bed rails and frames are often attached to the bed post using knock-down fittings.[citation needed] A knock-down fitting enables the bed to be easily dismantled for removal. Primary knock-down fittings for bed rails are as follows:

  • Pin-and-hook fastener. A mortise or slot is cut vertically in the bedpost. Pins are inserted horizontally in the bed post so that the pins perpendicularly intersect the mortise. For example, if one looked in the mortise, one might see part of one horizontal pin at the bottom of the mortise and a part of a second pin toward the top of the mortise. Hooks are installed at the end of the rail. Usually these hooks are part of a plate that is attached to the rail. The hooks then are inserted into the bed post mortise and hook over the pins.
  • Plate-and-hook fastener. Instead of pins inserted horizontally into the bedpost, an eye plate (post plate) is installed on the bedpost. The hooks are installed or welded on the bed rail, either as surface mount or recessed. Depending on the hardware, the bedpost may require a mortise in order to allow the hooks to fasten to the plate. This is also referred to as a keyhole fastener, especially if the connector is more of a "plug" than a "hook".
  • Bed bolts ("through-bolts") are a different means of knock-down connection. A hole is typically drilled through the bedpost. The bolt head is inset and covered with a plug. In the rail, a dowel nut or other type of nut receives the bolt.

Brass beds

Brass beds are beds in which the headboard and footboard are made of brass; the frame rails are usually made of steel. Brass beds can be made of 100 per cent brass or of metals that have been brass plated.[citation needed] The brass used in making brass beds is usually 70 per cent copper and 30 per cent zinc. The ratio of metals may vary between manufacturers.

Brass beds were originally simple and plain. Throughout the centuries, designs have become increasingly elaborate and can contain extensive ornamentation such as porcelain finials. Some brass bed styles include traditional, Art deco, Victorian, transitional, Edwardian and contemporary.

Iron beds

Iron beds are beds in which the headboard and footboard are made of iron; the frame rails are usually made of steel. Iron beds were first made in the 1850s. From the start of their production in the 1850’s until World War I, iron beds were hand made with the pride and craftsmanship for which that era is known. The manufacturing process included hand pouring and polishing intricately detailed casting and hand applying finishes. In the many small foundries of the time that employed only a handful of employees, it could take days to produce a single bed.

After the end of World War I, the mass-production methods used for war time affected the iron industry as well. The hand-made quality of yesteryear gave way to cost-effective mass production. Not only did this cause many of those small foundries to close their doors forever, it also meant the death of finely-detailed, meticulously-finished iron beds.

Today’s iron beds are constructed of cold roll, heavy-gauge steel tubing and solid bar stock for strength and durability. Iron beds are available in contemporary and antique styles with a variety of finishes.

Almost all iron beds now have a beech wood sprung slatted base in a steel framework which gives excellent support to all types of mattress. As memory foam mattresses become more prevalent, it is important to ensure correct support levels. On a good iron bed the base 'rails' are bolted through the rail and into a threaded rivet in the bedpost, giving a firm fixing.[citation needed]

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