How Wide Should Bed Slats Be? How Many Do You Need?

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How wide should bed slats be on your bed frame? Is there a correct number, and how many do you need for a comfortable night’s sleep? We’ve done a deep dive of research to see what we could find out to have you snoozing in comfort. Here’s what we found.

Bed slats tend to rely on the size of the boards available. Since most bed slats are made with 1×4 inch boards or 1×6 inch boards, that means your slats are about 3 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches wide. You don’t want them any wider because the airflow between slats helps keep circulation going and reduces any risk of mold or mildew.

As to how many slats, typically, the space between the slats is a board’s width. So, if your bed is 80 inches long and you want to keep 3 1/2 inches between slats, using 1×4 inch lumber, you’ll need approximately 12 slats. 

We’ll look at the thoughts behind this and different types of bed frames. We’ll also discuss if mattresses feel different on slats, if you can use 2×4 boards for bed slats, how thick a plywood base should be for a bed, if you can put mattresses directly on the slats, and if metal or wood slats are better. So please, keep reading.

Evenly made wooden bed slats, How Wide Should Bed Slats Be? How Many Do You Need?

The Right Size For Bed Slats And How Many You Need

Bed slats are the horizontal pieces of wood or metal that run from one side to the other of your bed frame. They create a platform for your box spring and/or mattress to rest on while allowing airflow and support. But is there a formula for how many you need? And are there standard sizes?

Typical Sizes For Bed Slats

Bed slats are usually dependent upon the size of lumber available in board form. In general, the most common sizes for bed slats are 1×3″, 1×4″, 1×5″, or 1×6″. What this means is the board is 1″ thick (really about 3/4″ because of milling) and anywhere from 3″ to 6″ wide (about 2.5″ to 5.5″ because of milling). The length is dependent upon the side-to-side width of your bed frame.

Detailed framing of bed slats

Can I Use A 2×4 For Bed Slats?

2x4s are certainly the most common size of lumber available. They’re used regularly in buildings, and it may be that you have a few lying around. So could you use them for bed slats?

You can use 2x4s, and they will certainly make a very sturdy platform. One issue may be the ledges on the side of your bed frame. It could be that your 2x4s will show above the edge of the bed frame.

Can I Use Plywood For Bed Slats?

Though you don’t want to cut plywood to make slats, you can use plywood in place of slats. This solid piece of plywood will provide a sturdy frame for your mattress. It works particularly well if you don’t have box springs and have chosen memory foam bedding. 

Be sure to choose plywood that is at least 3/4″ thick. Any thinner and it might not hold up to the weight of you and your mattress without some bowing.

How Many Slats Do You Need For A Bed?

This is entirely dependent upon the length of your mattress. But the simple formula is to take the width of your slat and multiply it by two. Then divide the length of the mattress by this number. That will be your number of slats. Round up to the next whole number.

For example, if your slats are 2.5″ wide, multiply by two; it will give you 5″. If the length of a twin mattress is 75″ long and you divide 75″ by 5″, you get 15. This means you will need 15 slats.

Because a twin mattress is generally 38″ wide, you’ll need 15 1x3s that are approximately 38″ in length. Be sure to measure from the side of the bedframe lip to the other side for exact measurement; it may be slightly wider than the mattress itself.

Does A Mattress Feel Different On Slats?

With beds, your choices are often box springs, a sprung divan base, or slats. Each has a slightly different feeling. Box springs will give you extra height, a sprung divan base is a bit more elastic, and slats are going to feel firm and supportive.

Detailed photo of the bed slat framing

If you have a good mattress that is firm and thick, you won’t even know the slats are there. But if you’re concerned, some people suggest putting an old duvet underneath as a first layer between the slats and the bottom of the mattress for additional thickness.

Can You Put A Mattress Directly On Slats?

Mattresses can be put directly on slats. In fact, many of today’s modern bed frames are made to hold a mail-order mattress. One of the more popular brands is Zinus. They make a huge variety of bed frames with slats and mattresses to place on top of them.

Mattresses can be placed directly on top of this simple bed frame. No box frame is necessary. Click here for this frame on Amazon.

If your slats are moving around, then you could also add wooden spacers between them or lay a piece of pegboard or plywood over the top to keep them steady. Pegboard has holes that allow circulation, and it isn’t as heavy for when you have to move the bed.

Are Metal Or Wood Slats Better?

There are pros and cons to both metal and wood. Wood is inexpensive and readily available. It can bow or even break, but if it does, it’s pretty cost-effective to replace.

Metal, on the other hand, is very sturdy and will probably never have to be replaced. The con is that it’s heavy, and if left to the elements, could potentially rust and leave stains on your mattress.

These roll-out bed slats are so nice. Because they are stitched together,  you don’t have to worry about them sliding around under your mattress. Plus, they’re so easy to move when you need to. Click here for these on Amazon.

When Would You Choose A Box Spring Over A Slatted Bed?

Box springs are bed bases consisting of a sturdy wooden frame covered in cloth and containing springs. The box-spring is placed on top of a wooden or metal bed frame, and the mattress sits on top of the box spring. Box springs can be placed on top of the slats, resting directly on the ledges of the bed frame.

One reason you might want a box spring is it will add some added height to your bed. If you don’t like being close to the floor when you sleep, this might be a good choice. The best situation would be to place your box spring on top of your slats; then you never have to worry about them sagging.

Platform Beds

These beds have grown increasingly common over the years, but what are they exactly? A platform bed is a bed that doesn’t require a box spring to go with the mattress. The advantage to this is cost, ease of use, and an easier bed to get into because it’s closer to the ground.

It’s also great because so many mattresses are available now to be shipped directly to you in a large box. They simply need to be unrolled, allowed to puff up for a day, and then you place them on your platform bed for a great night’s sleep. 

Here you can clearly see the slat construction of this platform bed. All you need is a mattress, and you’re in business. Click here for this bedframe on Amazon.

Here’s another example of a platform bed with slats and no headboard. These types of beds are readily available at loads of online retailers and come through the mail, making buying a bed really easy.

Click here for this attractive bedframe on Amazon.

Bed-In-A-Box mattresses are just that. They’re delivered to your door packaged up tightly with vacuum pressure. When you take them out and unroll them, they fluff up to their intended thickness. Such an easy way to finish off your platform bed.

Click here for this on Amazon.

Slats Are Not A Hard Thing To DIY When You Need Them

Now that you see how easy it is to figure out how many and what size you need your slats to be, you can get your bedroom set up. Many beds come with slats, so you don’t need to worry about it, but occasionally you may need to do it yourself, and now, you know how.

We hope you found this post here at HomeDecorBliss helpful. Check out a few others below that we think you may like:

How Big Is A King Size Bed? [Various Types Discussed]

8 Mattress Alternatives You Can Consider At Times of Need

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