Platform beds, or beds designed for use with only a mattress, not a box spring, have been in existence in various forms since at least the Late Neolithic Age. The inhabitants of the prehistoric Scottish settlement, Skara Brae, used large stone slabs covered with bracken and animal skins for comfort and warmth. Contemporary platform beds are lighter and more mobile than large stone slabs, but disadvantages remain.
How Low Can You Go?
Many of the most modern platform bed styles are very low to the ground; rather than sitting on the bed as you would a chair, you must sink several inches lower to reach the mattress, which can be highly problematic for people with knee or back injuries.
The lower base, particularly unupholstered versions, can present more of a hazard -- stubbing a toe or banging a shin into the platform edge -- to those who get up in the middle of the night or who are spatially challenged.
With the myriad mattress types now available, mattress thickness can fall anywhere within the range of 4 inches to 22 inches for a luxury pillowtop model. While thicker models, which are essentially hybrids with built in box springs, should provide more than sufficient support, their less substantial mattresses, which are often of lesser quality, may prove lacking. To prevent discomfort and possible back damage, invest in a good mattress.
Nowhere to Hide
For people who like to hide their mess under the bed, platform beds are typically too close to the ground to allow for anything to fit underneath. Platforms that are higher are specifically designed to not need a bed skirt, so any clutter is instantly notable.
If storage is required, you can find platform beds with drawer storage beneath. While ideal for small spaces, such an arrangement usually comes at a higher cost.
Some platform beds, including many low upholstered models, use slats instead of a solid platform and create a sunken space into which the mattress fits. This helps to keep the mattress in place and makes moving an easier process. Other models, however, feature one flat board that is slightly larger than the mattress itself. If you face a stairwell or hallway with sharp corners, transporting the non-bending platform can prove problematic.