Build your own Box Spring – Twin, Full, Queen, King Size

Top Half of old Box Spring
The top part of our old box spring

For years I have scoffed at our noisy box spring, but when we started co-sleeping with our toddler, the noise was too much.  Why did I delay replacing it?  I didnt want to pay for a new box spring that might have the same problem and I wasnt sure if the Do it yourself options would be compatible or comfortable with my mattress.  The lack of information available is astounding, but my final solution was dirt cheap ($30 for a queen) and easy as can be.

Here are your options if you are trying to replace your box spring:

  1. Buy a new box spring –  This can be expensive, may still be squeaky, and will cost a lot in shipping
  2. Put your mattress on the floor – Easy for bugs to get to you(which I have read is the reason we use frames) and it may cause a mold problem.
  3. Plywood – Cheaper than a new box spring, but with some concern about mold growth.  At the queen size you have to buy 2 sheets and cut to fit.
  4. Slat of wood –  Cheapest, but many different ways of going about it.

Plywood Box Spring Mattress

Our bed is queen size and that requires 2 sheets of plywood to cover the whole area.  This concerned me because I didnt want the mattress to sag in certain areas.  Our bed frame has center supports but I couldnt figure out an acceptable way to cut the plywood sheets that would be supported properly by the frame.

If you wanted a more flexible foundation, perhaps 1" boards would work for you?
Me holding my daughter(210lbs together) in the center of a 60″ plank at the foot of the bed with no center support (The planks at the head and the foot of the bed have no center support because the would never be subjected this much weight normally). This piece did not deflect at all.

The other concern with plywood seems to be mold growth.  Some people online seem to wonder where the moisture would come from?  The most direct would be from the person sleeping in the bed!  We lose an incredible amount of moisture through our skin and atleast half of that is directed straight into your mattress.  The caveat here is that if you have a waterproof mattress cover you need not worry, because your moisture is directed right back at you.  Hence the reason some people can’t stand mattress covers.

The mold growth solution for those of you without mattress covers would be to drill several holes into your sheet’s of plywood.  I have no idea how many.

At this point I had discovered I would need to purchase 2 thick, quality sheets of plywood (~80-$100), cut them to fit, then drill several large holes in them.  With a background in engineering, that just isnt solid enough for me, and with a background in healthcare, the offgassing of the glue used in the plywood is also a concern to me.

And then I found what I was looking for. . .

Slat’s

Essentially, what I wanted to duplicate was a platform bed.  I decided to use 12″ x 2″ non pressure treated wood.  The 16 foot version

Transforming a traditional bed frame into a platform bed
Our Bed frame with the slat’s and my daughter testing them out.

was roughly $14 at our local Home Depot, and they did all the cuts for me at no charge.  I had 6 cuts total, but since I came at a slow time and I was polite, they did not charge me for the 4 cuts they should have(an extra $2 if they had charged me).

When I got home that evening, I dropped the slats right into the frame, lubricated some parts of our metal frame, and tightened a few bolts that had come loose.  Standing in the middle of the slats they deflect approximately 1/16″ at the headboard and the footboard portions of the bed where there is no middle support(I weigh ~180 lbs).  These boards will almost never support that kind of weight while we sleep.  There is no deflection at any point for the slats that contact the center support(the slats that will be supporting the majority of your weight).

I can finally escape from the bed in the morning without waking up the baby(and my back hurts less).  It feels as though the bed is an extra inch or two wider because the edges of the bed are more firm and don’t allow you to roll off as easily

Bed Size

Width

Length

# of Slats

Slat Length

Planks Needed

Twin

39”

80”

6

39”

1 – 12”x2”x16’

Full

54”

75”

6

54”

2 – 12”x2”x16’

Queen

60”

80”

6

60”

2 – 12”x2”x16’

King

76”

80”

6

76”

3 – 12”x2”x16’

Cal King

72”

84”

6

72”

3 – 12”x2”x12’


Step by step

  1. Find your bed size in the chart above, then MEASURE YOUR OWN FRAME.  It should be the size above, but its better to be safe.
  2. Go to a lumber supply yard and pick up the planks of wood you need.  Be sure to spend some time choosing flat, straight boards.
  3. Have them cut at the store(no way am I fitting 16′ boards in a Corolla) or at your house if you have the tools.
  4. Drop the boards into the frame, leaving 1″-3″ spaces between them(the spaces allow water to escape if you don’t use a mattress cover).
  5. Don’t throw away your old box spring until you’re sure you like the new platform!
  6. Enjoy your practically new bed (or maybe get a few more years out of an old mattress like ours).

These steps should work with most frames and mattress types and are easily adaptable.  I just tried to put all the information about turning your box spring into a platform in one place.  Please take a moment to share this page or comment about your personal experience.

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