Can I Use 2×4 For Bed Slats? Yes, But

There are many different scenarios that will dictate how you can use 2×4 lumber. Below I explain in detail how to deal with different situations so just follow the instructions for your situation.

2x4s can be used for bed slats on all foundation types, but are best suited for wood platform foundations and box spring bed frames. They can be added to metal platform foundations, but it is much easier to add plywood to this type of bed.

UPDATE June 6, 2023: You can buy a top selling bed frame on Amazon here if you want a fast and cheap fix.

Scott Boyd

2×4 Bed Slats on Existing Wood Platform Foundation

If you have this option you are in luck. I am guessing that your existing slats are 0.75″ thick and a 2×4 is actually 1.5″ thick. This is because lumber dimensions go by their “rough cut” size. 2×4 lumber is then planned down to 1.5×3.5.

You can simply remove your existing ones and replace them with the new 2x4s. However, there will be some complications including:

  • The frame likely was higher than the 0.75″ slats by about 0.75″ to hold the mattress in place.
  • The tops of the 2x4s might be visible between the mattress and the frame,
  • Your original ones may have felt or other material to help reduce noise

Prevent Mattress Movement

A couple of simple things that will reduce or prevent mattresses from moving include adding a product like this two-sided tape for $11 to the perimeter and adding this cheap anti-slip mat for $8 from Amazon.

Hide The New Slats

This is easy to accomplish with a bed skirt or a piece of wood trim that can be nailed or glued into place. The trim is a good idea if the lumber sticks up much as you might catch your legs on the corners while getting in and out of bed.

A benefit with this system is that you can also easily fasten the ends of the 2x4s to the frame to:

  • Prevent movement
  • Increase the strength by approximately 88%
  • Reduce noise, squeaks, and creaks

If you have 3/4″ plywood you can do what I did in this article here.

Scott Boyd

Prevent Slat Noise

Prevent noise by installing furniture felt between the slats (and how to make them stronger in 7 steps here) and frame, fastening each end to the frame by pre-drilling the holes, and installing 3″ bugle head screws.

2×4 Slats on Metal Platform Foundation

This is a much more challenging project since you cannot simply swap slats. In this scenario, you can build a new platform on top of the existing metal grid or bars. There are a few options including:

  • Use 2.5″ self-taping metal screws to fasten 2x4s directly to the metal foundation.
  • Build a 1.5″ wood frame and install the slats in the middle.
  • The easiest solution is to buy a 3/4″ sheet of plywood and fasten it to the top.

There you go, you can use 2×4 bed slats on a metal platform foundation, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to complicate their lives this way.

Throw one or two sheets of 3/4″ plywood on the foundation and fasten it with 1.5″ self-tapping screws.

Add 2×4 Slats to Box Spring Frame

This is a simple project as 2x4s can be cut to length and installed on the metal frame. I recommend using self-tapping screws to keep everything from moving and making noise, but it is not necessary. I did this to one of my old metal beds and it is super strong and noise-free with the 2x4s just sitting within the frame.

If you continue using the box spring then you only need about six slats. If you are deleting the box spring and going with a lower bed (or one of the super thick mattresses) then you will need many more 2x4s. Keep the gaps to less than three inches to meet most mattress warranty gap requirements.

TIP: If you are super cheap (and I know some of us are!) you can save a 2×4 or two by using wider gaps at the foot and the first one at the head. This is because there is much less weight at our feet and most of our coconuts are not super heavy. For more tips for less sag (make firmer) please read this.

Reduce the gaps where we are heaviest and fattest, closer to the middle. Read How To Fix Sag In 60 Minutes here.


You can use 2×4 for bed slats but I only recommend it for wood beds and steel and wood box spring frames. This is a simple project that can extend life for many years and even decades.

Some of the money saved from needing to buy a new bed can be used to buy a case of beer to enjoy while working on the project.

For more information please see:

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