How To Build A Bed Frame

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Building a bed frame is a great opportunity for you to get creative and add your unique touch to the bedroom. However, before starting your project, make sure you have a plan and all the supplies you need.

In this article,  we'll look at how to build a bed frame from scratch. We'll look at some simple and practical plans, with no need for expensive power tools. You even have the option of building your frame using recycled wood if you like – keep reading to find out more.

Measure your bed to see how many boards you'll need

The first thing you need to do is measure your bed.

First, find the overall dimensions of your mattress and add 2 inches for the thickness of a standard box spring. This will give you an idea of how long you'll need each side piece of wood. Then, measure the width of your frame and add about 1 inch to that measurement. This should give you an idea of how wide each end piece needs to be (it's better to have excess length than not enough).

How to Build a Platform Bed
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Keep in mind, most beds will require 4-6 boards to make up this size – so multiply your measurements by 4-6 if necessary. 

Decide on a plan for building the frame

If you don't want to get too fancy with your design, you can simply use four pieces of wood cut to size for the sides and two boards cut to size at both ends (or two pieces of wood if you're using a king-sized bed).

If you'd like, however, there are several other options available:

You could attach headboard trimming to each end piece. You should be able to find some in varying widths at your local home improvement store. This is an attractive and simple way to give your frame some flair. 

Another option is to create corner trimming – this will look nice and prevent jagged edges. Again, most home improvement stores will carry these items. They typically come in long lengths with rounded corners so that they can fit tightly together.

You can also use decorative wood pieces or molding for your frame – this is a great way to give your frame some extra character. Stay away from using overly large or awkward shapes, as they may become uncomfortable to lay on top of.

If you're artistically inclined and want to decorate your bedroom, this is an excellent opportunity to get creative. Use scrap pieces of wood, old picture frames, or even dresser drawer handles to give it some personalized flair. 

Get the supplies you need to build

Once you've settled on a design for your bed frame, here are the materials that will be required:

Wood – this will vary depending on what kind of design you choose (see above). If you want hardwood such as oak or cherry then expect to pay about $15-20 per board foot (a board foot is a measurement based on the size of a piece of wood and averages out at 144 cubic inches). Some lumber wholesalers may not charge by the piece, but instead, place a flat rate cap on how much you can purchase. If you're looking to save money, be sure to shop around and find a place where you can get the best deal. Painting wood is always an option if you're after a new look.

Wood glue and brad nails – to hold each board together. A good quality wood glue will cost about $8 per gallon, but it's well worth the price since it should last for years (don't use cheap wood glue as it tends to dry out easily). Brad nails are small finishing nails that tend to be about 1″ long. They come in various sizes (the number refers to their size) and will run you around $6 for 500 nails. 

Orbital or table saw – to cut the wood. If you don't own one, a good alternative is to head over to your local home improvement store and ask them if they'll cut it for you (this may cost extra). 

After you have all the supplies you need, it's time to start building your bed frame. 

Create the side pieces

Begin by cutting four pieces of wood to size (or however many you'll need for the sides of your bed). You can do this with a table or an orbital saw, depending on how accurate you want them to be.

If you're using any kind of molding or trimming, cut those boards down to size as well now. 

Once all the boards are ready, lay one piece at a time horizontally on top of another piece and attach them with glue and brad nails along the edges. When done attaching each board, let them dry completely before proceeding (around two hours), as excess moisture from the gluing process could cause a warp to form in your wood. If any warping does occur, you can just sand it down and brush it on another coat of glue. 

Repeat this process until all the board pieces are attached. 

Create the footboard

If you choose not to add trimming or molding along the bottom of each side piece, head back over to your saw and cut two pieces of molding that will fit snugly on the top and bottom portion – these become the “feet” for the bed frame. Let them dry as well before proceeding with the next steps. 

Attach a center support board

Find the center of one of your side pieces and attach a single board across the back, perpendicular to it. The length of this board should be about 1/3 of the entire width (you can always cut off the excess after). 

Attach it using glue and brad nails. Repeat these steps for each side piece until they all have been secured with this support system. Attach boards on top to create a headboard. If you want a headboard, then in addition to attaching trimming or molding along the bottom, you also need to add boards on top as well (what goes at the bottom becomes part of the footboard). Attach them again using glue and brad nails – just make sure that they are evenly spaced (for an even look). 

If you want to add a frame, then cut that out as well and attach it using the same process. A good alternative though is to use some 2×4's to create a border for your bed. These can be added along all sides of the headboard or footboard (just make sure they are secured securely).     

Attach side rails

Side rails need to be secured between each piece of wood on both the top and bottom pieces of your bed frame. If the first board you laid down was 11″ long, then find the center point of it and measure up 4 1/2″ from either end, placing one nail on each side at this measurement mark. Use a framing square to make sure that your rails are at a 90° angle.

Replace the nails with flat head screws and take off the braces you used to hold up the side pieces (these can now be removed).     

Swing down each support board at an angle, attaching them to their corresponding sides using glue and brad nails. At this point, your bed frame should technically be finished. You can add some style by adding corner posts or even painting it, but for now, let's continue with how to create a mattress foundation.  

Create your mattress foundation

There are a variety of ways you can go about this, but for this tutorial, we'll show you how to create a plywood base. 

Start by cutting an even number of pieces that will fit snugly within the frame of your bed (this should be 3 to 5 inches wider on each side). 

Next, measure and mark where you'd like your screws to be at and make sure they're placed at least 2-3 inches apart. 

Glue and screw each piece together using 1 1/2″ screws. Once completely dry, drill holes in each corner for wires or ropes if needed.     

Add a mattress frame

You now have everything necessary for your mattress to fit into your bed frame. All that's left is to add a frame for it and that can be done in several different ways: You can buy a premade foundation from your local hardware store or you can buy or make some wooden slats to create this framework.

These slats will need to be spaced about 1/2 inch apart. The easiest way is just to use a ruler, clamped down flat against your work surface, and find the centers (making sure they're slightly smaller than the size of your mattress). 

Tack it down using small nails on each side (these will need to be replaced every year, but you can DIY a replacement or just buy something new if you're feeling ambitious). 

DIY Bed Frame Designs For Bedrooms With Character
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Firmly place your mattress on top and you'll have yourself a finished bed frame.   

How do I know what size bed frame to build?

Determine what size mattress you want to put on your bed- if you're going to be using a box spring, then the height of this should be at least 3 inches higher than your mattress. You also need to account for any additional support that may need to go along the sides (as explained above). If you plan on getting a slatted mattress frame then simply measure it out and make sure it will fit into the space. 

How do I build a king-size bed frame?

A king-sized bed is just two twin beds pushed together, but they are usually about 2 feet wider than average. Since this creates some problems with connecting them, it's best just to build one huge frame out of 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's. You can do it in the same way you would build a queen-sized bed frame, just using longer pieces.

Get creative with your inner headboard, but remember that it will need to be stronger than ever since more outward forces are pulling on it.

king size bed frame
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Should my bed frame have slats or not?

If you're going to have a box spring, then yes. Box springs need to be supported by slats that are no more than 2 1/2″ apart. This will prevent sagging and keep your mattress in good shape. If you don't plan on using a box spring, then it's best just not to add the extra structure of slats and instead opt for a board frame.

What is a trundle bed frame?

Trundle beds are usually kept in dorm rooms or can be pulled out from under your existing bed when there's a lot of company (makes much more sense with kids). A typical one has legs that swing up into place so it looks like an adult-sized bunk-bed but without the ladder. You can make one by making a king-size bed frame and an additional twin-sized one. This will allow you to pull out the trundle and use it separately or together with your main bed while still having some extra room on either side of it for storage or even seating.

Final thoughts on how to build a bed frame

In conclusion, building a bed frame is not as hard as you think. It's just the same as building any other furniture. If you know how to assemble different varieties of furniture, then you are set for making your bed frame even if it is made from scratch. The most important thing about building woodworking projects is to have patience and do precise measurements.

By following these tips above, you will succeed in making a bed frame.

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin is a household and appliance enthusiast and loves to follow the latest trends in kitchen and house decoration. He also loves to walk the isles of Home Depot and Lowes to review products and materials in person. Before joining Kitchen Infinity, Kevin owned a handyman company.

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