That pesky gap between the mattress and the headboard can be irritating, especially if you have to pry your pillow out of it in the middle of the night. It also can be dangerous for small children who get their necks caught, or arms pinched. Fortunately, several solutions exist for filling that gap.
You often can eliminate the gap by buying a new mattress or headboard or making small adjustments to the position of the mattress, boxsprings, or headboard. If the gap exists because the mattress moves during the night, you can find ways to keep the mattress in place. You can also block, pad, or get simply get rid of the gap by tossing the headboard.
Buy A New Mattress
Mattresses come in standard sizes. Sometimes the gap exists because the bed frame is the wrong size for the mattress, such as a queen-size mattress and full-size bed frame. If this is the case, the best way to fill the gap is to buy a mattress that’s the same standard size as the bed frame.
Buy A New Headboard and Bed Frame
If your mattress is still relatively new and you’d like to keep it, you may also fix the problem by buying a new headboard and bed frame that are the correct size for the mattress.
Often, a simple adjustment will fix the problem.
- Check to see if something is obstructing the mattress and, if so, remove it.
- If that doesn’t help, remove the mattress completely and then reposition it.
- Sometimes you also need to adjust the box springs. Stand at the foot of the bed and push the box springs until they hit the headboard.
- If neither of the first three steps works, the bedframe may need adjusting. Adjust the frame to be wider than the headboard by unhooking it in the middle and widening it. Then push the frame back against the headboard. Add the boxspring and mattress and push them against the headboard as well.
Prevent Mattress Movement
If a moving mattress is the problem, you can prevent this movement in several ways. The first option is to put rubber between your mattress and box spring or bed frame. You could use a yoga mat, a clean rubber welcome mat, or non-skid rubber area rug pads. You also can purchase self-adhesive rubber strips.
You also can use Velcro strips. The number you’ll need depends upon your bed size; a twin bed needs fewer than a queen-sized bed, for example. Try placing one at each corner and two in the middle. If this doesn’t work, try adding a few more.
You can also purchase a non-slip mattress pad and place it between the mattress and frame or box springs.
Finally, sometimes mattress sliding is caused by debris that gets between your mattress and frame or box springs. If this is the problem, a good vacuuming will fix it.
Block the Gap
If you don’t want to buy a new mattress or headboard and adjusting doesn’t work, you may try blocking the gap. You can block the gap in several ways.
Screw one or two boards against the headboard at the height of the top of the mattress. Alternatively, push the mattress all the way up to the headboard and put the boards in the gap between the mattress and footboard instead.
You can also use gap fillers. They take slightly different forms and are sold under slightly different names. Wedges can be made of foam or other materials, and many also include a small storage space to hold glasses or a remote. Mattress extenders or extender blocks are often made of foam and can be placed either between the headboard and mattress/box spring or the footboard and the mattress/box spring. Gap space eliminators come in sizes of two inches, four inches, or six inches.
You can also make your own gap filler. If a 2×4 will fit between the footboard and the box spring, you can make a rectangular structure that will span the entire distance. The structure is built in two halves with a cut piece of a 2×4 separating the halves. The steps are:
- Measure the bed and cut pieces accordingly. For example, a bed that is 58 inches wide with a space from footboard to the bottom of the box spring of 18 inches would require a structure that is about 57 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
- You cut the wood so that the two halves of your structure will equal the correct width. So, for example, if you are making a structure that is 57 inches wide by 18 inches deep, you would cut four pieces of wood 26 1/2 inches long. (The two halves will equal 53 inches, and the 4 inches of the 2×4 will make this 57 inches long.) You also cut three pieces of wood 18 inches long (2 for the sides and one to divide the structure in half.)
- To build the left half, join two of the 26 1/2 inch boards to two of the 18-inch boards with wood screws so that you have a rectangle that is 26 1/2 x 18.
- You then build the right half. The right half will not join with the left half with screws since the opposite side is not accessible. So, you can either use a pocket hole jig or steel angle at each joint to secure the two sides. Then secure the remaining two longer pieces to the remaining short piece with wood screws.
- Then place the structure between the mattress and footboard.
Pad the Gap
If you want a decorative touch, you can add a pillowtop. A pillowtop is an upholstered section fitted below the headboard and built into the headboard. This works well to hold pillows in place when the gap is small. It does not work well for children’s beds or invalid’s beds because it only hides and impedes the gap rather than truly filling it.
You can devise your own gap padder by rolling up a quilt and tucking it in between your footboard and mattress or headboard and mattress.
Toss the Headboard
Most of the time, a headboard isn’t really necessary. If you don’t think you’ll miss the headboard, toss it. Instead, you could place a mural or tapestry behind the bed. Or, move the bed away from the wall and out into the room and put a folding screen behind it. Shelves and old shutters or doors also make a great alternative to a headboard.
Make Your Own Headboard
You can also make your own headboard using things you might already have around the house or can buy inexpensively. Some of these materials are jute, cedar shingles, plywood, twine, or pegboard.