Ever noticed your mattress has some signs of sagging, and you hear the slats creak every time you lay down? Your bed slats might be weak, and they can’t bear the weight and pressure anymore. If yours are new and you see signs of weakening, you’ll need to strengthen them before they get worse.
If you don’t want to buy a new bed frame or mattress, you’ll need to make your bed slats stronger by fixing them or replacing them with sturdier ones, but why? Simply, weak bed slats can turn your good night’s sleep into a restless night every single time until you replace or fix them (all that just from bed slats, yikes!)
So how can you retrofit or make your slats stronger? In this article, we’ve prepared eight methods you can follow to make your bed slats stronger and longer-lasting than before!
Method 1: Make Sure the Slats are Secured to the Bed Frame
You may not have noticed, but sometimes, the squeaky sounds you hear under your bed when you move during sleep are not because your slats are inherently weak—they’re just not secured in the frame, giving you a wobbly bed.
To properly attach the slats to the frame, you have three options: use screws or nails, or wood glue if you want something long-lasting. Using nails and a hammer would be good if you want a quick fix. If you prefer using screws and a drill driver, by all means, choose them.
Ensure there are sufficient gaps between the slats to allow airflow to your mattress, especially if you have a memory foam mattress since they sleep hot.
However, if you want to permanently secure the wooden slats to your bed frame, you can use nails or screws or simply glue the slats onto the center support (or center beam) and bed frame. Do note that you can’t disassemble the slats once you use wood glue.
Method 2: Put a Piece of Plyboard Between the Slats and Mattress
If you don’t want to use screws, nails, or glue to secure your slats to the bed frame, you can put a piece of plywood between them and the mattress to help reduce slat movement, keep the slats from shifting, and generally strengthen your bed.
Apart from that, a plywood helps the mattress not to sag prematurely. However, one drawback of using a plyboard is the change in the feel and softness of your mattress. If you’re not a fan of firm mattresses, using a plyboard is something we don’t recommend.
A plyboard, nonetheless, helps strengthen bed slats and help provide ample mattress support—killing two birds with one stone (strengthening bed slats. prolonging mattress life, and giving support for the mattress).
Method 3: Buy Slat Spacers to Stop the Slats from Moving
Slat spacers are a cost-effective solution to isolate slat movement and keep them from shifting, aside from using nails, screws, and glue. Spacers are made from light metal or hard plastic to make them durable and handle the movement of slats.
The main benefit of using spacers is convenience. Compared to screws, nails, and glue, spacers can be detached easily without leaving damage or glue residue. So slat spacers are good when you know you’re likely to need to disassemble your bed in the future.
To acquire slat spacers, go to your local mattress store and buy a set that corresponds to the number of slats you have. As for sizes, standard spacers can handle two inches wide slats or more, so you shouldn’t have to worry about size differences. Install them directly on the slats and secure them tightly.
Method 4: Add More Slats & Reduce Gaps
Adding more new slats and reducing the gaps between them is a great way to strengthen the overall strength of the slats and the bed frame itself; it also adds that needed mattress support. Adding more slats is recommended when your existing slats are too weak.
Follow these steps:
1) Remove bedding accessories and other bedside furniture.
2) Lift the bed and remove the slats from the bed frame and place them closer to each other.
3) Measure the extra space created when you pull the slats closer.
4) Measure the length and width of an individual slat.
5) Divide the value of the extra space by the width of a single slat to determine how many slats you need.
6) Go to your local hardware store and choose from oak, pine, poplar, hickory, beech, fir, ash, birch, or spruce wood—they are all remarkably durable.
7) Once you buy the wood, mark where you’ll cut and use an existing slat as your template. Cut them into pieces using a circular saw with a metal blade for ease of use. You might also need a grinder to polish your existing wood cuts.
8) Install the new planks on the bed frame’s side rails and central support beam (if your frame has it). Make the bed and reinstall every accessory afterwards.
Tip: Choose pine or hickory wood, as they’re durable and have good workability
Method 5: Reinforce the Centre Mattress Beam
The center mattress beam or center support beam is an integral part of a bed frame, but it pays to know that not all bed frames have support beams. So if yours have a centre beam, you’ll need to check it out (together with the slats to the bottom part of the bed) for cracks and other damages to see if the beam’s still intact.
If you see signs of damage, you’ll need to reinforce or retrofit the centre beam, if not completely replace it. But you have two options: reinforce the existing one or completely replace it; your call.
To strengthen the existing one, get a 3-inch thick and 6-7 inches long wood plank and screw it to the centre beam to support the beam’s structure and aid in impact support. To replace a centre mattress beam, follow these steps:
1. Measure the length of the bed frame.
2. Go to your local hardware and get a 4-inch thick wood plank with a length corresponding to the length of your bed frame.
3. Attach the wood plank to the frame using screws and wood glue for added durability.
Method 6: Replace the Slats with Thicker Wood
If you’re not fond of all the other techniques we’ve discussed so far, replacing the slats with thicker and stronger wood as additional support might be the method for you. The same steps in method 4 apply to this method minus the other measurement steps:
1. Remove bedding accessories and furniture.
2. Detach all the existing slats from the bed frame.
3. Buy wood and other tools and materials needed to cut slats.
4. Use an existing slat as a template and consider the added thickness, then proceed with the cutting process.
5. Varnish the slats for added protection (optional but recommended).
6. Install the slats in place using screws, glue or both.
Method 7: Replace the Wood Slats with Metallic Slats
One good way to strengthen bed slats is to replace the wood ones with metal. If you’re wondering if you can replace the wood slats with metal ones in a wood frame, yes, it can be done.
Wood doesn’t offer much protection against impact than metal would; that’s why metal slats may fare better than wood ones when we talk about durability and strength. Most metal slats are made from aluminium that retains a certain degree of flexibility—which is a good feature.
The only problem you would most likely have with metal slats is bending, especially with tremendous amounts of force (such as repeated jumping in bed). But then, wood slats will most certainly break apart instead of bending.
Method 8: Put a Box Spring Over the Slats
One ingenious way is to redistribute the force they receive by adding a box spring above them. To visualise it better, think of a box spring as the mattress topper for your mattress (hence why it’s also called a box spring mattress)
Since box springs use metal coils that absorb weight and impact, your bed slats would be relatively at ease. And if you’re a fan of using a soft bed, putting a box spring over your slats is more advantageous than using a platform bed frame.
If you have an extra box spring just lying around, you can use it and put it over your slats.
However, do remember that buying a box spring to place over your slats is impractical and expensive—use other methods instead to save money.
What’s the Easiest Way to Make Bed Slats Stronger?
We found the easiest way to make bed slats stronger is by buying and using slat spacers. Slat spacers are readily available and are easy to install in your bed frame. However, easier doesn’t mean better.
However, other methods we recommend include adding more slats to make them stronger, replacing the slats with thicker wood, or replacing wood slats with metal ones.
The drawback is that those three methods need you to have some experience and knowledge in DIY and carpentry work as it involves using several tools and equipment.
Slats Meaning: What are Slats?
Slats are made from long planks of solid wood of different types or metals (commonly aluminium).
These planks bear the weight of the mattress and the user/s. They are horizontally aligned and supported by a centre support base (though not commonly) and the side rails and support legs of the frame. Slats are placed apart, leaving gaps to allow ventilation and reduce bed firmness.
What are Solid Slats?
Solid slats are durable wood planks that have a length that covers the entire width of the frame. This slat type is rigid and inflexible, providing ample support and a firm feel.
Since solid slats are stiff, your bed might feel firmer, and your mattress might be strained as the slats are pretty solid and don’t allow a bouncy feel. A beam found on the bottom of the slats might make your bed feel firmer than usual if coupled with solid slats.
What are Sprung Slats?
Sprung slats are also made from wood planks curved upwards and are usually flexible to prevent cracking noises and too much resistance.
Sprung slats are placed horizontally in a frame with a centre support beam since they are shorter than conventional solid slats.
Why Do Bed Slats Become Loose/Shaky?
Slats become loose or shaky and emit those cracking noises when there are loose bolts and screws. Retightening those loose bolts and screws often fixes the problem.
However, slats can also become shaky when a handful of slats are damaged. Often, replacing those slats is the only solution.
There’s also the issue of a poorly constructed bed frame which makes the slats move around incessantly. Detaching and retrofitting the slats may do the trick in these cases.
What Happens When Bed Slats Become Weak?
When bed slats become weak, you may notice one or more of the following:
1. Squeaky noises in the bed frame’s legs, especially when moving around the bed
2. Cracking noises on the bottom of the bed frame’s side rails when moving around
3. Saggy spots in your mattress as some slats are broken down
4. Shaky bed, either horizontally or vertically
If you notice these signs, it’s time to retrofit or replace your bed slats with better ones.
Can I Pair Any Mattress with My Slatted Base?
Yes, any mattress type will pair well with a slatted base (or slatted bed frame). However, do note that if you have a heavy mattress (say dense foam, pocket coils, or hybrids), fix your base first.
If your slats feel weak and you’re about to place a heavy mattress, the slats can sag, give in, and break. Follow the methods we’ve covered above before you use a heavy mattress to provide ample comfort and support.
How Do I Assemble a Bed Frame with Slats?
To assemble a slatted frame, follow the steps below:
1. Lay down the assembly materials in a wide, workable space.
2. Assemble the side rails to the head rail, and work your way to the foot rail.
3. Once they’re secured, get your slats and attach them directly on top of the side rails.
4. Fully secure using spacers or screws; you’re good to go.