Slats are arguably the best mattress support system. They are affordable, breathable, and available in a wide range of options.
Above all, most bed frame manufacturers provide strong frames capable of carrying any human weight. This is possible as bed frame manufacturers design slats based on statistical data.
Unfortunately, slats aren’t without shortcomings. For instance, wooden slats can sag and even break after a few years. Insects, dampness, and rotting can also affect the structural integrity of wooden bed slats.
This guide looks at several practical ways of how to make bed slats stronger before you consider replacing the whole bed frame.
What’s the Easiest Way to Make Bed Slats Stronger?
- Secure the slats to the bed frame
- Get stronger wood slats
- Use slat spacers
- Add more slats
- Reinforce the supportive center beam
What are Bed Slats?
Bed slats are found in platform beds. They run horizontally across the bed frame and help support the mattress. Slats are typically made of wood. However, metallic slats are not too uncommon.
Bed slats perform two main functions. First, they offer a platform for the mattress. Otherwise, where would you put your mattress?
Secondly, they help evenly distribute the weight of the mattress and the bed user throughout the bed frame. Spreading reduces the risk of a broken frame.
Types of Bed Slats?
Not all beds have slats. For instance, divan beds have a solid bed base instead of slats for holding the mattress. So, you don’t need slats in this case.
However, where present, slats are of two types;
1. Solid slatted platforms
Solid slats are made from wood or metal. The wooden slats are often made from pine, while metallic slats are often aluminum.
Solid slatted bed platform slats are spread evenly across the width of the bed frame for a firm, supportive mattress platform. However, you need a firm mattress to enjoy using solid slats. Otherwise, sagging is inevitable.
2. Sprung slatted platforms
Sprung slats are made from malleable wood types to prevent cracking and stress. So, beech is a popular choice. But, more importantly, they feature a slight upward curve to their shape, like an upward arch.
As a result, they provide a bouncier surface for your mattress. The “bounciness” of sprung slatted beds makes them more responsive to the sleeper’s weight.
Moreover, you don’t necessarily need a firm mattress as the risk of sagging is minimal.
When Bed Slats Become Loose/Shaky: Causes and Consequences
Unfortunately, solid or sprung bed slats can weaken over time and become shaky or wobbly. Weak, shaky, or wobbly bed slats can cause many problems, including;
- A squeaky bed: Wobbly bed slats often make squeaky noises that can be uncomfortable for everyone in the house and your neighbors.
- Greater risk of bed frame damage: Slats that keep changing position can damage the bed frame. For instance, friction can make slats shorter or make the frame wider. It can also loosen the joints.
- Preventable accidents: Occasionally, a wobbly slat structure can slip out of the bed frame, resulting in preventable accidents.
The good news is that you can strengthen bed slats or make them firmer to prevent the above consequences.
How to Make Bed Slats Stronger
The following are nine practical ways to make your bed slats stronger for a more durable bed frame and greater sleeper safety.
1. Secure the slats to the bed frame
Many beds have slats that sit on the rails unfastened. Unfortunately, such slats can shift easily, increasing the risk of weight concentration and a broken frame/slats.
Screwing down the slats solves this problem once and for all. Alternatively, you can hold down the slats with nails. You need 2-inch or 2 1/2 -inch wood screws and a drill for this project.
Alternatively, you can use smooth-shanked nails and a hammer if you decide the nail down the slats. If using screws, begin by pre-drilling holes into the slats.
Then inserts the screws into the holes and fasten them through the slats into the railing. Using nails is a little trickier because nailing directly onto the raised rails can weaken the bed.
Additionally, disassembling the bed when relocating is more difficult if the slats are nailed onto the bed frame rails. Nevertheless, nailing will strengthen your bed frame and stop slats from shifting.
2. Top the bed slats with plywood
An excellent alternative to nailing or screwing down the slats is to top them with plywood. A piece of plywood helps keep the plywood from shifting while also providing a better platform for your mattress support.
Therefore, it reduces the risk of mattress sagging. The only downside is that plywood is expensive. A sheet goes for around $20, though some types of plywood can cost as much as $70.
You need a saw, drill, tape measure, and pencil for this process. Of course, you also need plywood and screws. We recommend 0.75-inch plywood.
Begin by measuring and cutting enough plywood for the bed area. Then lift the slat structure from the bed, and begin nailing or screwing the plywood.
Always join plywood pieces from left to right rather than top to bottom if you need more than one piece. Then put back the reinforced slat system onto the bed frame.
See also: Alternative to plywood for outdoor use
3. Use slat spacers to prevent the slats from shifting
So, perhaps you don’t want to permanently screw the slats onto the bed frame, given that doing so makes it harder to disassemble the bed.
Similarly, you prefer not to screw plywood onto the slats. In that case, another way to keep the slats spaced out appropriately is using slat spaces.
Slat spacers are simple items that you place between existing slats to prevent them from shifting. You can purchase them online or make them yourself. However, we recommend making the slat spacers yourself to save time and money.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to make and use slat spacers. Begin by acquiring a wood plank about as wide as your bed slats. Then cut them into pieces as long as the spaces you want between your bed slats.
Now, put the slat spacers onto the rails, positioning them between the existing slats. Once you’ve out all the spacers and are happy with the outlook, put wood glue at the bottom of each spacer, put it back, and press it to stick firmly.
4. Add more slats/pull the slats closer
The first three tips above attempt to fix the problem without modifying the slats, slat structure, or bed frame. However, a time comes when the slat structure is too weak and shaky.
Nailing down, adding plywood, or adding spacers to an extremely damaged bed slat system may not solve the problem. So, you need to think outside the box. The rest of the tips on this list provide alternative solutions.
First, we recommend that you try to add more slats to “help out” the existing slats. Adding new slats does two things; strengthening the existing slat structure and spacing out the slat network for even weight distribution.
Begin by determining the number of slats you need. Typically, you need an extra plank between every two existing planks. Then get the measurements.
How long ad wide should they be? Also, how thick should they be? The length and thickness should match the existing planks.
Finally, decide on the wood type you want? Pine wood is the most popular choice. Then order the extra planks and screw them onto the existing slat framework.
5. Replace/reinforce a weak/saggy center beam
The center support beam plays a crucial role in keeping the bed sturdy and strong. It also prevents sagging slats and can help keep the slats from shifting.
Of course, not every bed has one. However, wider beds usually have a center support beam. A weak center support beam is one of the main causes of sagging slats.
For instance, maybe the beam is already sagging? Or worse, you may have a broken center beam. Exerting too much weight on a bed with a broken center beam is risky.
You have two options; reinforce the existing beam or remove and replace it. Reinforcing works best if the beam is still strong but a little saggy. Get a strong plank of wood about four inches wide, and screw it onto the existing beam.
However, if the beam is broken, it’s best to replace it because merely reinforcing it leaves you with a risky weak link.
6. Add a supportive center beam
You can introduce a central support beam even in a smaller bed if your bed slats are sagging dangerously. A center beam runs the entire length of the bed from head to bottom, passing through the center of slats.
You need about 810 inches of 2×8 wood planks and about 30 3-inch screws or nails for this project. You also need two posts for the support legs.
When you’re ready, lift the bed and lean it on its side. Then measure the distance from the bottom slat to the topmost slat, transfer the measurement onto your 2×8 wood plank, and cut it.
From there, measure 12 inches from the ends of the beam and mark these locations. Then screw or nail the leg support posts onto these locations at 90-degrees to the beam.
Remember to trim the support legs to match the length of the bed frame’s legs. After that, position the bed frame over the beam and screw it onto the frame using the screws or nails. Now you have a much stronger bed slat structure.
7. Replace the slats with thicker lumber
Another practical solution to sagging or broken bed slats is to replace them altogether. This can be an expensive project. But it’s necessary, especially when dealing with broken slats.
Replacing the broken slats is the only way to restore bed frame function and strength. We recommend two things. First, consider replacing the slats with thicker lumber.
Secondly, consider stronger wood. Most hardwood will do the job excellently. However, oak planks are arguably the best replacements are they are easy to find and exceptionally strong.
Determine how many slats you need. Alternatively, consider replacing the whole slat framework. Two-inch thick 2×4 planks are the best choice, though 2x8s and even 2x10s are okay.
Cut the lumber to the sizes of the original planks and begin replacing the damaged or broken slats. You can use nails or screws to fasten the wooden planks to the bed frame; the choice is yours.
Don’t leave too much space between the slats or avoid spaces altogether.
8. Replace wood slats with metallic slats
Metal slats are a much stronger alternative to wooden slats. Of course, a few hardwood types offer almost as much reliability. However, these are often very expensive hardwoods that may set you back several hundred dollars to acquire.
Moreover, you may not even find the harder hardwoods at the local hardware store. Metallic slats are cheaper and readily available.
After making up your mind, acquire the necessary metallic tubing from your local hardware store or machine shop. Square metal tubings work best.
Ask the store to cut them for you. Otherwise, you need a grinder, hacksaw, or circular saw with a metal blade to cut the metal tubes to size.
Pre-drill holes into the metal tubes in line with the bed frame dimensions and fasten the tubes onto the frame.
9. Buy a box spring
Finally, it’s advisable to consider a box spring in addition to strengthening your bed slats, replacing some slats, or installing metal slats.
Box springs are almost similar to plywood. Indeed, they do the same job; provide the foundation or platform for the mattress. The main difference is that a box spring is thicker, stronger, and looks like a mattress.
A typical box spring, also known as a box spring mattress, comprises a lightweight wooden or metal frame filled with metal springs/coils wrapped in fabric. So, it’s like placing a smaller, sturdier mattress under the real mattress.
Putting a box spring on your bed frame is easy. First, remove the foam mattress and lay the bunkie board down on the base of the bed frame.
Then put the box spring on top and return the foam mattress. Alternatively, you can put the bunkie board over the box spring. The main downside of box springs is that they are much more expensive than plywood underlayments.
For more tips and strategies on how to keep bed from sliding on wood floor and achieving a secure and comfortable sleep environment, don’t forget to check out our comprehensive article on this topic.
When to Replace the Bed Frame/Bed Frames
Unfortunately, a time comes when strengthening, reinforcing, or replacing the slats alone may not be enough. So, you should know when to replace the bed frame altogether.
The following are telltale signs that it’s time to find a new bed frame;
- A sinking mattress
- Extremely weak bed frame
- Intense squeaking and creaking
- Poor sleep
Here are some of the perfect wood for bed frames to use.
How do I reinforce a platform bed?
There are four ways to reinforce a platform bed. First, consider tightening the frame screws to make the bed sturdier. Secondly, realign joints that have shifted out of position. Alternatively, add new slats or replace broken/weak slats to strengthen the slat platform.
How do I reinforce bed frame legs?
First, tighten loose joints. A wobbly bed quickly impacts leg stability, resulting in strange noises and poor sleep. Tightening the loose joints will fix the problem. Secondly, reinforce the slat framework to distribute weight better. Better weight distribution increases overall bed stability, including at the legs.
How do I fix bed slats that keep falling?
Begin by checking if the pins intended to keep the slats are in place and replace them accordingly. However, if that doesn’t solve the problem, use velcro straps to secure the slats onto the bed frame. Alternatively, screw plywood onto the slat framework.
Can you add slats to a bed frame?
Yes, you can add slats to a bed frame. It’s one of the best ways to make your bed slat framework stronger and the bed sturdier. Additional bed slats also prevent the mattress from sagging and increase weight distribution.
How do I reinforce a metal bed frame?
The most straightforward way to reinforce a metal bed frame is to add extra metal beams between the frame’s slats. Extra slats make the bed sturdier. It also allows the bed to bear any extra weight. You can purchase extra slats from most hardware stores.
What is the best bed reinforcement kit?
The best bed reinforcement kit is the POROHOM height-adjustable support leg. Although it also works as a height adjuster, the POROHOM bed reinforcement kit is primarily designed to provide additional support to the bed frame, center slat, or center support beam to prevent the slat framework or your mattress from sagging.
It features a heavy, carbon-steel round base and a rubber round antislip cushion bottom design that increases bed stability without scratching the floor. The kit costs about $15.
Read also: What is the best Wood Filler for Plywood edges?
There you have it – nine ways to make your bed slats stronger. The main takeaway is that bed slats can weaken, shift, or become wobbly after several years.
Or worse, a few slats or the entire slat network can break. Fortunately, you can strengthen, stabilize, or replace the slat system without much trouble.