To choose the best slat bed, a consumer should evaluate the materials, construction, finish, and price of each model and select one that fits his particular needs. Most slat beds are made of wood, but metal models are available. The manner and quality of construction varies widely between models, and some are much more durable than others. Overall appearance and finish matter because a bed should blend in with the rest of a bedroom ensemble.
Slat beds consist of a base made of slats, or flat pieces with some space between them. These slats generally run parallel to one another and are anchored on each end to the frame of the bed. Beds that are larger than twin size usually include one or more center rails to support slats in the middle of the bed. Headboards and footboards are usually, but not always, part of a slat bed.
The materials used to manufacture a bed vary greatly between different models. Some of the cheapest beds are made of pine wood. These beds can be excellent economy choices, but soft woods such as pine are neither as durable not as sturdy as hardwoods. Beds made from oak or other hardwoods are more expensive, but these woods are both potentially more durable and more aesthetically pleasing.
Some models of slat bed are made of metal. Heavyweight metal framing members are very durable and are not typically overly expensive. Lightweight metal supports and slats are no more durable than inexpensive wooden supports, although they are more prone to bend than break, which is a small safety advantage.
A customer should evaluate the design and construction of a slat bed. The spacing between slats should not be too great, as this can be felt through some mattresses. Center rails should be included and should be sturdy, to minimize the risk of slats breaking or bending. The headboard, footboard, and frame should be sturdy and should attach together with durable fasteners.
Appearance matters when shopping for bedroom furniture. One way in which more expensive hardwood beds have an advantage over other sorts of slat bed is in visual appearance. Oak, walnut, and other more expensive woods can be stained to produce rich and elegant finishes. Similar work can be done with pine or other softwoods, but this is less common, and the fact that softer woods are more easily damaged makes such finishes less likely to last.