Adding plywood to wood bed slats & 10 kids jumping test

Air and I are building a giant 13′ wide bed with PVC pipe and it will take three sheets of 7/8 plywood to cover the entire platform foundation. We are screwing the plywood to the 1.75″ wood slats to make a sturdy bed that is “jumping party strong”.

10 children testing the bed strength
10 children testing the bed strength

Check out the video below to see what happens when 10 kids jump on the bed at once! And what happens when I (Scott at 200 pounds) stand on 400 pounds of weight on the frame in the center of the bed frame?

See photos and videos below to see how easy it is to do and watch 10 kids jumping on it! There is a short video below that shows all the steps so if you are in a hurry you should check that out.

Let’s get started!

Adding plywood to bed slats instructions

Step 1: Securely fasten the slats to the bed frame

A strong foundation is required for all construction projects. Many bed slats loosely sit on the frame and this is MUCH weaker than when they are fastened. See my article here showing the sag comparisons for each wood type and size.

  • Screw the slats to the frame with two screws per slat on each side (four total for each one) that penetrate the wood of the frame by 1″.

    TIP: Make sure to countersink the screws to allow the plywood to sit flat on the slats. Watch me do this in the video below if you need to see the process.

Read my article here for a much more detailed description of each step to fasten the bed slats to the frame.

Scott attaching lumber to the pipe crossmembers
Scott attaching lumber to the pipe cross members

If you aren’t sure, read my Do Bed Slats Need to be Screwed Down article here.

Step 2: Cut the plywood

This plywood is 7/8″ and is HEAVY, so ask a friend to help you move it around.

Scott measuring and marking the cut line
Scott measuring and marking the cut line
  • Measure the bed frame size that you will need for the plywood. Only one sheet of plywood is needed if you have a twin or a double size. For the double size you will use the leftover pieces from cutting the length, which will be about 75″.

    The plywood is 96″ long so that leaves 11″, enough for two pieces of 48″ x 5.5″. This should be enough to finish the sides for double-size slats (about 53″ total width).

    A second sheet of plywood is needed for queen sizes and larger. We bought THREE for our massive bed.
  • Mark the plywood on each side and use a straight edge (box, 48″ level, broom handle, chalk line, etc.).

    A fast way for some of us drywallers and carpenters to mark the plywood is to hold the measuring tape in your non-writing hand and use the other hand to pull the tape out to the measurement. Use a pencil in this hand and run the tape and your pencil between the marks.

    Ok, this is hard to explain, please see the super short video below.
  • Cut the plywood as needed using a circular saw, reciprocating saw, hand saw, or table saw if you are fortunate enough to have one.

Step 3: Measure the locations of the bed slats and mark the plywood

This is an important step because nobody wants to have to remove the heavy plywood to find the locations of the slats.

  • Measure the locations of the bed slats.
  • Mark the locations on the plywood, extending the marks across the entire width.
thick 7/8" plywood we are using for this project
thick 7/8″ plywood we are using for this project

Step 4: Install the plywood

  • Use a helper to position the large piece of 7/8″ plywood into position onto the bed slats.
  • Use a large drill bit or countersink tool (like the one in the photo below) to start the holes for the screws. This is so that the screw heads will sink into the plywood so they won’t damage the bottom of the mattress.
  • Install screws through the plywood starting on one side of the bed at 3/4″ from the edge of the plywood. This is to make sure the fasteners make a strong connection and the wood at the edge does not become weak over time.
  • Install screws every 6″ – 12″ to make a very strong bed frame.

    TIP: The screws should be the bugle head style (tapered) rather than pan head because any part of a screw sticking up above the plywood with damage the mattress, which will also void the warranty.
This DIY PVC big bed requires more than three sheets of plywood wide. I didn’t cut the lumber slats because we will take this apart for the construction of additional types.
Scott screwing plywood to 2x6 lumber
Scott screwing plywood to 2×6 lumber. So basically this is plywood on top of 2×6 slats on top of PVC cross members. Super strong!

TIP: Use 80 – 180 grit sandpaper to slightly round the edges enough to eliminate any possible areas of wood that can catch the mattress when flipping or moving it. You are less likely to scratch yourself when you drop items between the mattress and bed frame and reach down along the plywood.

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