We know the value of sleep and the value of a good night’s sleep. Being well-rested for a day of work or other activity can mean the difference between good work being done and falling asleep at your desk or workbench.
We know in the woodworking shop that being well-rested can help avoid accidents and injuries – after all, we’re working with power tools, sharp blades, and hammers.
A comfortable bed is essential to a good night’s sleep. Having your body evenly supported on the mattress contributes to that good sleep. For a while, I slept on a floor futon, one I simply rolled out each night, lay down on, and sleep quite comfortably.
The floor offered a firm foundation, and the futon was enough cushion for some measure of softness. This was when I first bought my house and hadn’t furnished it yet. My body was evenly supported by the floor, with no sagging anywhere over my 6’1″ body.
Later, I purchased a platform bed that had a roll of slats (like the rolls of bamboo fence I will be erecting around my meditation garden) that attach to the ledge of the wooden bed frame with velcro.
The slats are spaced 1″ apart from head to toe, and the surface created supports the memory foam mattress I sleep on evenly and firmly. It’s a terrific system, and I sleep well on it.
But not all platform beds or bed frames come with a roll of slats. So, measurements are taken, and wood slats are cut and laid out from one side of the bed frame to the other, and the mattress is laid on them. How many do you need? Is one wood better than another for those wooden planks? What spacing should you use between slats, if any? Will they sag?
What Are Bed Slats?
Bed slats are thin, horizontal pieces of wood or metal that support a mattress. They are typically spaced 2 to 3 inches apart and are attached to the bed frame in some fashion. Bed slats help to distribute the weight of the sleeper evenly across the mattress, preventing it from sagging. They also allow air to circulate beneath the mattress, which helps to keep it cool and dry.
There are two main types of bed slats: solid slats and sprung slats. Solid slats are made from a single piece of wood or metal and are typically wider than sprung slats. Sprung slats are made from a series of interconnected slats that are held together by metal brackets.
Solid slats are more supportive than sprung slats, but they can be more expensive. Sprung slats are less supportive than solid slats, but they are more affordable.
The type of bed slats that you choose will depend on your personal preferences and budget. If you are looking for the most supportive option, then solid slats are the best choice. If you are looking for a more affordable option, then sprung slats are a good choice.
Here are some of the benefits of using wooden slats:
- They help to distribute the weight of the sleeper evenly across the mattress, preventing it from sagging.
- They allow air to circulate beneath the mattress, which helps to keep it cool and dry.
- They can help to extend the life of your mattress.
- They can provide a more comfortable sleeping surface.
- Those of us who work with wood likely have scrap pieces in our shop that we can cut to size and use as solid slats, so they need not be expensive.
What Are The Best Woods For Bed Slats?
The best wood for bed slats is a hardwood that is strong, durable, and flexible. Some good choices include:
These woods are all strong enough to support your weight and flexible enough to conform to your body. They are also durable and will last for many years.
You can also use softwood for bed slats if your budget is tight, but there are downsides. Softwoods are not as strong or durable as hardwoods, so they may not last as long and will need to be replaced more often.
No matter what type of wood you choose, make sure that the slats are at least 1 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches wide. This will ensure that they are strong enough to support your weight.
Here are some additional tips for choosing bed slats:
- Make sure that the slats are evenly spaced. This will help to distribute your weight evenly and prevent the mattress from sagging. We all know how uncomfortable a bed can be when it sags here and there as we stretch out.
- Choose slats that are the same length. This will help to keep the mattress from sagging in the middle.
- If you are using a memory foam mattress, make sure that the slats are flexible enough to conform to the mattress.
Should You Attach Bed Slats to Your Bed Frames?
Whether or not bed slats should be attached to bed frames depends on the type of bed frame and the type of mattress.
For platform bed frames, slats are typically not attached. This is because platform bed frames are designed to support the mattress directly (as I mentioned, the roll of slats I use on my platform bed are attached with Velcro). However, for slatted bed frames, slats are typically attached to the frame.
This is because slatted bed frames are not designed to support the mattress directly, and the slats provide the support.
For mattresses, it is generally recommended that slats should be no more than 2.5 inches apart. This is to ensure that the mattress has adequate and uniform support from the headboard to the footboard and does not sag.
Attaching them to your bed frame may not necessarily make bed slats stronger, but it will prevent them from sliding or alter the spacing between them. Sliding bed slats can lead to sagging in the wider spaces in between, and that leads to an uncomfortable sleep.
Slat spacers can also help hold wooden slats in place and keep them from sliding. Slat spacers are simply pieces of wood you place and attach between the slats where they rest on the ledge of the bed frame to keep the slats from roaming and spreading.
They need not be anything fancy – just pieces of scrap wood cut to size and attached to the ledge along the bed frame that supports the ends of the slats. Slat spacers eliminate the need to attach the slats to the frames.
How Can You Make Sure Your Bed Slats Are Strong? 8 Tips To Follow
We’ve established that bed slats need to be strong enough to provide an adequate and strong support for your entire body in order to provide a good night’s sleep.
To ensure that, here are 8 tips to help:
- Use hardwood instead of softwood. Hardwoods are stronger and more durable than softwoods, and will not have to be replaced often.
- Make sure the slats are at least 1 inch thick, although thicker lumber is better. Thinner slats are more likely to break. Oak planks can be a very good choice.
- Space the slats evenly. This will help to distribute the weight of the sleeper evenly and prevent the slats from sagging.
- Use a sealant or varnish to protect the wood from moisture and damage. You don’t want broken slats, and in fact, it’s a good idea to keep extra slats handy just in case one does bend, sag, or crack. Those extra slats easily replace broken slats – just lift the mattress, remove the broken slat, and insert one of the extra slats in its place.
- Reinforce the slats with metal brackets or screws. This will make them more resistant to breaking.
- If you have a memory foam mattress, make sure the slats are flexible enough to conform to the mattress.
- The use of a center support beam, a plank running down the center of the bed from headboard to footboard and upon which the slats can sit, can be very helpful, especially on wider beds – king size, California king size, for instance. We do this when framing a house and assembling floor framing, so why not a supportive center beam for a bed, too?
- Using slats with plywood is another option. Thick slats on top of which you lay a sheet of plywood will also add strength to the platform on which your mattress sits. A sheet of plywood adds cost to the project, of course, but it can make the use of bed slats stronger. My grandfather used wooden slats, a box spring mattress, a sheet of plywood, and a mattress sandwiched on his bed because of a back condition – strong support and even weight distribution were assured. Before you buy that sheet of plywood, though, watch this video first:
By following these tips otherwise, you can make your wooden bed slats stronger and more durable. This will help to extend the life of your bed and mattress and provide you with a more comfortable sleeping surface.
Are Metal Bed Slats Better than Wooden Slats?
Metal bed slats and wooden bed slats both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the best type of bed slat for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Maybe you are using a metal bed frame and want to use metal slats with it.
A metal frame platform bed is common, and many mattress shops include one when you purchase a mattress.
Here is a comparison of metal and wooden bed slats:
- More durable than wooden bed slats
- Can support more weight
- Less likely to bend or break
- May be more comfortable for people who sleep on their side
- Can be more expensive than wooden bed slats
- May be more noisy than wooden bed slats
- May not be as aesthetically pleasing as wooden bed slats
- More affordable than metallic slats
- May be more aesthetically pleasing than metal bed slats
- May be quieter than metal slats
- May be more comfortable for people who sleep on their back or stomach
- Not as durable as metallic slats
- May not support as much weight
- More likely to bend or break
- May not be as comfortable for people who sleep on their side
If you are looking for the most durable and supportive bed slats, then metal bed slats are the best option. However, if you are looking for a more affordable and aesthetically pleasing option, then wooden bed slats may be a better choice.
What About a Box Spring Mattress – Is It Better Than Bed Slats?
Whether a box spring is better than slats depends on your individual needs and preferences.
Box springs are typically made of wood or metal and have a hollow interior. They are placed under the mattress and provide support and aeration. Box springs can help to prolong the life of your mattress by preventing sagging. They can also provide a more comfortable sleeping surface, especially for people who sleep on their backs or stomachs.
Box spring mattresses are not going to roam – they are a stable foundation for your mattress and are much less expensive than a mattress. A well-built box spring will hold its shape for a very long time. They help maintain an even weight distribution and prevent mattress sagging.
Box springs will raise the mattress, though. This can be problematic in a way – higher distance to climb into bed, higher distance to fall. This may sound funny, but wait until you get older. 🙂
Slats are made of wood or metal and are placed directly on the bed frame. They provide support and aeration for the mattress. Slats can be a more affordable option than box springs, and they can be easier to move. They can also provide a more responsive sleeping surface, especially for people who sleep on their sides.
How Important Is A Good Night’s Sleep?
You may not consider bed frames, bed slats, box spring mattresses, and such to be an odd subject for a woodworking website. But being well-rested is important when working in your shop surrounded by sharp and potentially dangerous tools.
A good night’s sleep is essential for good health and well-being. It helps to:
- Improve your mood and cognitive function
- Boost your immune system
- Regulate your hormones
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your risk of chronic diseases
- Improve your athletic performance
- Promote overall health and well-being
Most adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. A comfortable bed can help ensure that.
There are many things you can do to improve your sleep habits, including:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down before bed.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Get regular exercise, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
- See a doctor if you have trouble sleeping.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s important to make changes to your sleep habits and, when necessary, make your bed more comfortable. Getting enough sleep is essential for your health and well-being.