A DIY bed frame sounded so awesome and SO SCARY to me, for a long time.
Finally, we did it! This DIY platform bed frame is inspired by some of the $1000 – $2000+ beautiful wood bed frames we love. SO, what does it take?
One weekend, $100, and a few simple tools most beginning DIY enthusiasts have!
The process of designing and building our bed is so rewarding, we learned a ton! In this detailed step by step tutorial, I will share with you our free DIY bed frame with headboard building plan, plus everything we have learned in this project:
Part 1: Planning. How to select lumber for strength, work-ability and beauty – SUPER important!
Part 2: Step by step tutorial on how to build a wood bed frame that can be easily disassembled when moving.
Part 3: How to adapt this DIY bed frame plan to any size bed, such as a king bed, a twin bed, with or without headboard, etc.
Part 4: Best natural finishes for your wood bed frame and headboard.
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
A little background story: We just spent an entire year sleeping on the floor, like this-
Last summer, prompted by a move, and inspired by this amazing book: The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, we decided to embark on an epic decluttering of everything, and only surrounding ourselves with things that spark joy in us.
In a gesture of grand declaration, the first things we let go of were our huge mattresses and box-springs. Oops!
I will share more about our decluttering in a later post. It did take us a while to decide on a new bed and mattress which would spark joy in us every time we walk by or use them.
I always wanted to design and build a beautiful wood bed that is uniquely ours, and share the simple plan and tutorial with everyone.
When I shared my idea with our dream mattress company Sleep On Latex, they generously sent us some amazing gifts to support our DIY project : a heavenly mattress made of 100% natural latex foam, certified organic cotton and organic New Zealand Wool! Plus two luscious latex pillows!
OMG, now I don’t even have the option to chicken out. 😉
The lovely mattress and pillows sat in the box for another 2 months while I fine-tuned the designs, and mustered up the courage to go for it with dear hubby’s help!
Hubby is always super supportive. This time, he is not only supportive, but beyond excited about how surprisingly easy it was to build this bed and how much he, a born perfectionist, loves our new, sturdy, gorgeous bed!
Please follow good practices to build safely and smartly. Follow safety guidelines for each tool. Work on a clean level surface, free of clutter or debris. Always use straight boards. Always wear safety goggles and hearing protection. And remember to check for square after each step!
Step 1: Planning your DIY bed frame ( very important!! )
Do NOT use pressure treated lumber, there can be toxic chemicals in them!
To build a wood bed frame that is beautiful and sturdy, we need to choose wood for strength, work-ability and beauty. Select wood with structural integrity, tight grain, small knots , few cup and twist, and no splits.
Knots are very dense, making them hard to drill and cut through. Study the plan to see where the screws are, and select boards with few knots in those areas.
We used Douglas Fir for our bed posts and rails. It is a popular structural/construction lumber on the west coast. The wood is very stiff and strong. Southern Yellow Pine / Spruce Fir is also a great choice and popular on the east coast. Other great choices are Poplar, Ash, Oak, Alder, Birch, Cherry, and Maple.
If you are using other species of lumber, make sure that the wood is good for structural use. Don’t just base on the name ‘hardwood’ or ‘softwood’. An example about hardwood vs softwood: Doug Fir is a softwood that is super strong, while Basswood, a hardwood, is super soft and has poor screw holding characteristics. Which means a rocky and squeaky bed frame!
Step 2: gather materials and tools.
When we showed our DIY bed frame plan to a nice Home Depot employee, he got so excited for us, and cut most of the wood for us with great care, which made it so much easier! Take the plans and cut list with you ! 🙂
4×4 posts: (2) 4×4 @ 1’2″ L, (2) 4×4 @ 4’5″ L, cut from (1) 4×4 @ 12′
2×6 rails: (2) 2×6 @ 4’8″, (2) 2×6 @ 6’6″, cut from (2) 2×6 @ 12′
2x4s : (2) 2×4 stringers @ 6’8″, (1) 2×4 @ 4’8 for top of headboard, cut from (1) 2×4 @ 8′, and (1) 2×4 @ 12′
1x4s : (9) 1×4 @ 4’8″, (3) 1×4 @ 2’11.5″, cut from (3) 1×4 @ 8′ and (3) 1×4 @ 10′
Plywood slats and spacers: (14) 3″ wide x 5′ long. We used PureBond 1/2″ thick plywood which is a great quality, formaldehyde-free plywood. The sheet is 4’x8′. Home Depot cut it to 4’x5′ first, then to 3″x5′ slats for us. We cut one of them into smaller spacers later.
Slat supports: (2) 2×2 @ 6’3, cut from (2) 2×2 @ 8′, save the extra to use for stringer supports
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig: this one is a good starter pocket hole jig, use it with a woodworking clamp, or this bigger set which has a built-in clamp, 1.25″ Pocket Hole screws and 2.5″ Pocket Hole screws
- Bed rail brackets : Our DIY bed frame can be easily assembled or disassembled when moving thanks to these awesome bed rail brackets! They don’t come with instructions, so I have included detailed instructions on how to install these brackets.
- Sand paper : I used 120 grit sand paper for sanding the cut surfaces, and 300 to 400 fine grit sand paper to sand the exposed wood surfaces
- tape measure, combination square, pencils for marking
- drill, circular saw or jig saw, safety goggles, dust mask, hearing protection. Follow safety procedures!!
IMPORTANT: after all the wood is cut, check the pieces together which have the same length: this will ensure our DIY bed frame is square and all the pieces fit nicely. Consistency is more important than numbers!
For example: all the 1x4s on the headboard should be the same length as the two 2x6s on the headboard and foot-board. It is OK if all of them are, let’s say, 1/4″ less than what is written on the plan (this diy platform bed frame is forgiving if you are off by 1/2″ to 1″ ). It is NOT OK if some of them are 1/8″ more, and some are 1/8″ less than the 4’8″ on the plan.
Sand all the cut surfaces and exposed surfaces so the wood is nice and smooth. If you want to paint or stain the wood, now is a good time.
We decided to leave our wood bed frame natural, another good option is a whitewashed wood finish. Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to whitewash wood in 3 simple ways-
Step 3: How to install bed rail brackets on bed posts and side rails
This important step is not difficult, but it requires patience and accuracy. If you do it right, the rest of the DIY bed frame is super easy! Let’s see how to install bed rail brackets in detail.
These surface mount bed rail brackets come in 4 pairs. The brackets with the slots goes on the 4 bed posts, and the brackets with the “claws” goes on two 2×6 6’6″ long side rails, one on each end.
Set a 2×6 rail ( or use a smaller scrap piece of 2×6 ) on a foot-board post, the top of the rail should be flush with the top of the post. The end faces of the rail and post are touching when mounted.
Set the pair of brackets in a locked position onto the post and rail, and mark the outer edges of the brackets and each drill hole carefully.
First, pre-drill each marked drill hole, and attach the slot bracket onto the 4×4 post using 2″ to 3″ long screws. If you are off, the rail will not be flush to the post. Remember to keep checking at each step!
This happened to us once. We filled the drill holes with JB Weld wood putty and redid it.
Have some JB Weld wood putty handy, you might need it to correct mistakes!
Next, attach the “claw” bracket to one end of the rail, check everything is square and flush.
Don’t tighten the screws too much on the “claw” brackets yet. At this stage, we want to easily hook and unhook these brackets. In the final step when we get the brackets hooked together, we will tighten the screws so the bed is rock solid!
Repeat this process until you installed all the brackets. Keep checking to make sure everything is lined up accurately in all dimensions: height, width, and depth.
Step 4: build footboard and headboard
Tip: It is easier to drill all the pocket holes first, then screw the pieces together.
When building the headboard, create the center panel first, then attach it to the posts, and 2×4 top piece and 2×6 bottom rail. See diagram below. The key is to leave a tiny gap (even 1/32″ is enough ) between the 1×4 slats to allow room for wood movement. More about wood movement in the DIY headboard tutorial here
Instead of making this super long tutorial even longer, I have included detailed step-by-step instructions on how to build the center panel, how to check for square, wood movements, plus other helpful tips in this DIY wood headboard tutorial here. It also includes variations on how to build a wood headboard like this if you already have a bed frame and just want to add a headboard!
For our DIY headboard, I gave the boards a light gold stain to bring the white pine 1x4s closer in color to the Doug Fir posts and rails, using Recipe #7 in this tutorial: Easy Homemade All Natural Wood Stains with 7 Recipes!
To build the footboard, use 2.5″ pocket hole screws to attach the 2×6 to the 4×4 posts, ckeck they are flush at top and on the side that faces out.
Step 5: add supports for slats and stringers
We are 90% done with our DIY bed frame! Just a few small things left to do, on Page 2! Continue To Next Page…