How To Build A Platform Bed - A Detailed Guide

Beds come in all shapes and sizes. You can choose from dozens of styles, forms, and literally thousands of variations. Despite all this variety, you’d be surprised how similar the basic construction of all beds is.

How To Build A Platform Bed - A Detailed Guide

In this guide, we will discuss how to build a platform bed. Since we have a lot of ground to cover, let’s dive straight into it.

How To Build A Platform Bed

In this guide, we will discuss how to build a platform bed. Since we have a lot of ground to cover, let’s dive straight into it.

Step 1 – Choose the components of your bed

A typical platform bed has four basic components: headboard, footboard, side rails, and the platform mattress support.

  • Headboard

A typical wooden headboard consists of two legs or posts placed at the head of the bed, the headboard rail, and some sort of board that extends up above the mattress.

The height of the headboard can vary just above the pillow height or several feet higher than the mattress. Experts recommend keeping a height of 10-12 inches above the mattress.

  • Footboard

This is the scaled-down version of the headboard and usually reflects and complements the headboard’s elements. Some people find footboards rather confining while others like the visual and physical closure it offers rather comforting.

  • Side rails

The side rails connect the headboard to the footboard and support the mattress. On most platform beds, side rails simply consist of rectangular boards. You only need to “dress them up” for a fancy, curved bed.

  • Platform support

There are two kinds of platform supports: slatted and solid. Both are made with plywood or some kind of sheet material.

A plywood solid platform is less troublesome to make than a slatted platform. However, even a solid platform needs significant support under it to prevent sagging. For most bed sizes other than king, you can opt for a recessed box sitting on the floor. You can also add wooden or metal struts underneath to support a platform without a box.

How To Build A Platform Bed - A Detailed Guide

Step 2 – Decide the size of the bed

If you are building the bed according to the size of the existing mattress, measure the mattress size as well as thickness. Mattresses can vary up to 9 inches in thickness, with the average-sized mattress being between 6 and 7 inches thick. Here are the standard mattress sizes available on the market:

Standard Name Width in inches Length in inches
Double or Full
California King
  • Determine the correct headboard and footboard rail lengths

The distance between the side rails should be ¼ to ½ inch greater than the mattress is wide. However, the exact length of the headboard and footboard rails also depends on the width of the legs, the side rail thickness, and the space between the rails.

Step 3 – Buy the hardware

In addition to the wood, MDF, and birch plywood, you will need the following:

  • Bed bolts

These join the side rails to the bedposts. You can opt for traditional bolt joints or Hex-head bolt joints. Both work well and are readily available in hardware shops. You can also go for barrel nuts or hidden bolt joints.

Whichever joint you use, you also need a system to prevent the bolts from rotating or moving sideways or up and down. For this, you need to add a short tenon at the end of the rail. Plug the tenon on a shallow mortise on the bed’s leg – the keyword here being shallow. The mortise should not exceed ¼ to ½ inch depth, otherwise, it could weaken the leg.

  • Bed bolt covers

Since bed bolts leave a hole in the leg, you need to add a decorative cover to hide them. The covers swivel – so they hide the bolt – but still keep the bolt accessible.

  • Wooden knockdown joints

To join the side rails to the headboard and footboard legs, you can also use wooden knockdown joints. They make a solid connection and also an interesting addition to the bed’s design.

  • Under-bed storage on wheels

To use good storage space under the bed, add a storage box on casters. This will help you roll the box in and out with ease.

In case you’re going for a straightforward design, simply use a box of appropriate size with casters set in four corners. You can use either fixed or swiveling rubber-wheel casters.

How To Build A Platform Bed - A Detailed Guide

Step 4 – Start Building

  • Make the template by cutting a proper radius on scrap poplar. Then trace on the MDF. Use a jigsaw and cut the template to shape. Align case side over template and clamp both to bench.
  • Cut the poplar edge banding to size and then clamp securely to bench. Glue and clamp poplar to case top and let dry. Shape poplar edge by routing with 1 ¼ inch radius rounding over a bit.
  • Glue and clamp poplar edge banding to front of headboard top. Let dry and then rout the rabbet in back edge of top for back case.
  • Rout spline grooves in top of front panel and bottom of edge banding. Apply glue insert spline and clamp to top panel assembly.
  • Rout radius on top corner of headboard edge and banding with 1 ¼- inch rad rounding over a bit. When done, sand over a bit.
  • Cut long base sides for bed to size then cut rabbets at the end with 3/4th inch straight bit and router edge.
  • Lay out positions of cross-members in bed base side rails.
  • Assemble bases and glue corner blocks in place. Bore clearance holes for screws.
  • Temporarily install connecting screws to secure both bases. Check for flush alignment then remove screws.
  • Repeat the process for the footboard.
  • Attach edge banding and support strip to platforms. Then rout radius on bottom edge first. Turn it over and rout top edge.
  • Cut the storage drawer to size and plow a groove in drawer sides and cut dadoes in front and back.
  • Assemble the storage drawer using glue and brads. Slide bottoms into the grooves and fasten in place by screwing into bottom edge of the back.
  • Bore pilot holes through the back of the drawer fronts into faces to mark the position of drawer front adjusters.
  • Drill a hole into the back of the drawer face to for each adjuster. Press the adjusters in the holes and attach drawer face to drawer fronts using machine screws. Tighten the screws.
  • Mount the drawers, head board, footboard, and finish the assembly.
  • Apply the finish and allow curing time.
  • Complete the job by painting the bed.

FAQs On How To Build A Platform Bed

Q. Which is the best wood for platform beds?

You can use beech, birch, poplar, oak and other wood which can ensure sturdy and strong slats with proper bending strength and stiffness. Maple is also a great choice in platform bed making.

Q. Which plywood is best for making platform beds?

Use a birch plywood core to make your platform bed as it is very sturdy and can ensure that your bed is built to last.

Q. How thick should plywood be for a platform bed?

Never use plywood that is thinner than 3/4th inch, as it won’t be strong enough to hold a thick mattress along with one or two people laying on the mattress.

Q. How much plywood will I need to build a platform bed about 7 x 6 ft.?

7 x 6 foot is a California King size bed. If you opt for an uncomplicated design, you need 2 pieces of plywood measuring about 4 x 8 inches. You will also need four 8-inch long 2 x 8 pieces for the side rails.

For the platform supporting the mattress, you’d need seven 8-inch long 2 x 4s cut down to approximately 6 inches and screwed to the ledger boards. These will support your mattress firmly.

Note that each 4 x 8 sheet of plywood has a total of 4608 square inches.

Q. Does a platform bed need a foundation?

No. With platform beds, you can place any type of mattress over it directly without the need for box springs. In case  you’ll be building a traditional bed frame, you’ll need a foundation or a box spring for supporting the mattress.


How to build a platform bed? If you like to go the DIY route and have the know-how in woodworking, then, you can easily make your own platform bed.

Make sure to research different platform bed styles and plans. This will help you decide the size, type of storage – if any, and the styles and dimensions of headboard and footboard.

Once you have finalized a basic plan, create a template on paper with actual dimensions. Next, a trip to the hardware store can help you get all the materials. Begin the woodwork by taking help of a friend, if needed.

We hope this brief guide helps you build a sturdy platform bed.

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