Bed slats are long, thin and narrow boards or strips of wood or metal that form the base of a bed. They extend from one side of the bed to the other, with a beam fitted lengthwise at the centre, creating support for the mattress.
They can be totally flat or slightly curved or arched. Wooden slats are solid and flat, and are made of pine or other hardwoods, while sprung slats are curved and therefore able to provide softer support.
Some bed frames come with slats while others do not. Those that come without slats come as solid platform beds with a solid and sturdy base.
Solid or wooden slats usually connect the two longer sides of the bed together, while sprung slats often connect to a beam at the centre of the bed base. Unfortunately, due to this feature, sprung slats are likely to cause a ridge in the middle of the mattress, more so if the mattress is of poor quality.
Making the slats
Most bed slats are made of wood. Nails or screws are used to hold the slats together. Always use good quality wood such as pine to make your slats as this will guarantee you a strong bed.
Start by measuring the width of the bed and subtract approximately a half inch of the width. Cut your slats according to this width and mark the square edge. Use a bench or circular saw to make a clean cut on the marked edge. It should cut at 90 degrees across the wood.
Strengthening bed slats
First consider adding screws that are 2 inches in length at the end of all the slats, a screw for each end. This should help reduce slat movement when human weight is added at night or even during the day. Ensure the screws sink right into the wood so that the mattress is not trapped by the screw heads as this can damage the mattress.
Other ways of strengthening wooden bed slats
- You can strengthen your bed slats by increasing the number of slats particularly where there are gaps.
- You can opt to use stronger wood or hard wood such as camphor to make your bed slats.
- Another option is to change or replace the wood with thick lumber.
- You could also choose to add plywood to the existing bed slats. You will need two ply sheets for king and queen size beds.
- Consider the possibility of removing the wooden slats and replacing them with metal slats.
- You can add a box spring to the slats.
- Lastly, you could add a beam at the centre of the bed to reinforce the slats.
- There is also the method of fixing wooden slats by using plastic binding tape which is much more preferable to using cloth tape. This is because plastic binding tape is much stronger and tends to last longer.
How to us spacers for strong bed
If you want to add spacers to strengthen your bed, simply get some wooden planks that are as thick as your slats. Ensure that they are also as wide as the side rails that hold them.
Proceed to cut them into pieces that are as long as the space you want between the slats. At the end of it you will have spacers that are about 125 inches wide which is the standard width of side rails. The length will be 3 inches long and the thickness will be ¾ of an inch.
Advantage of using spacers
Proceed to install the spacers between the slats. Use of slat spacers is ideal for a bed owner who does not want to permanently affix the slats to the bed frame for one reason or another.
Once you have all your pieces ready, put your slats onto the rails one by one, separating them from the spacers as you move on. Use clamps to hold the pieces together or optionally, apply some glue to the bottom of each spacer and press it back into place. Mark the spots where your spacers should go using a pencil. This will help you avoid smearing the glue on the slats.
Remove the slats before fixing the glued pieces. You could also opt to screw the bits in place for additional firmness. Remember that you can always buy some side rails that come fitted with slat spacers to avoid the hassle of fixing the spacers yourself.
How far apart should bed slats be?
The recommended distance for bed slats is 2 to 3 inches apart. This spacing guarantees an even, firm and strong support for the weight of the mattress. However, slats that are spaced more than 2 ¾ inches apart are known to cause sagging of certain types of mattresses such as memory foam mattresses.
The maximum spacing for this type of mattress should be strictly 2 ¾ inches apart. The closer the slats are to each other, the stronger the bed platform will be.
How many slats should a bed have?
A strong king size bed should have a minimum of 18 to 20 slats. Most bed slats measure one by two inches therefore to cover the frame completely you will need 40 slats.
A queen size bed should have a minimum of the same as well. For a twin-size bed, 16 to 18 slats are recommended. For a standard size bed, 12 slats should do although nothing prevents you from opting for more slats. The more slats you have, the more stable the platform of your mattress will be.
The number of slats used depends on the bed size and the width of the slats. There should be no more than 3 inches of space between the slats. Most bed slats are made with 1×4 inch boards or 1×6 inch boards.
This gives you slats that are about 3 ½ inches to 5 ½ inches wide. They should never be wider than this because you need adequate air flow between the slats. Good air circulation reduces the risk of mould or mildew. It also prevents accumulation of dust and allergens.
Most manufacturers of bed frames seek to meet the most basic needs of consumers in a bid to cut down on manufacturing costs. This leads to the high prevalence of bed slats that are weak and which sag over time, providing poor support for the mattress.
Do your due diligence to ascertain that your bed slats are of good quality or do what you can to strengthen them.
How much weight can a slatted bed hold?
Bed slats should be very strong, solid and durable so as to be able to hold the weight of two or more adults on a mattress. Metal bed slats are very strong and are not prone to bowing from the weight of two adults on the bed.
Wooden bed slats on the other hand are prone to bowing, thus the need to ensure that the wood used is of great strength and also the kind that is easy to work with.
Both types are great options that allow you to settle for your preference. Some manufacturers of slat beds include a weight capacity on their bed labels.
It is however important to remember to include the weight of the mattress so as to determine the average human weight the bed slats can handle.
For overweight people, it is recommended that they should consider purchasing a slat platform bed. Individual slats are very sensitive and can easily break when subjected to excess weight.
How long do bed slats last?
The durability of bed slats depends on the material used to make the slats. Slats made of metal will definitely last for many years, so will slats made of hardwood, particularly where the slats are thick or many.
Wooden bed frames made with slats last between 7 to 10 years on average if well maintained and handled, while metal bed-frames with metal slats last approximately 15 years and could last even much longer because they are much stronger as compared to the wooden ones.
Can I put plywood on top of slats?
It is possible to put plywood on top of slats and indeed it is recommended to do so, particularly when using a mattress that is dipping. Doing this helps to keep a weak foam mattress from dipping or sagging.
Plywood gives the mattress a much firmer bed base. Simply lay a standard plywood sheet on the slats of your bed frame and then place your mattress on top of it.
Size of plywood
Ascertain the plywood is at least ¾ inch thick. This will ensure it is strong enough to hold both the weight of the mattress and the weight of one or more adults lying on the bed. The thicker the plywood, the better.
Fixing the plywood
When fixing plywood, nail or screw it to the bedframe after placing it on the existing slats. Proceed to nail or screw the plywood to the slats to increase the strength of the bed.