Metal bed frames are built for longevity, but some argue they’re not as comfortable or stable as wooden frames. Could the two be combined by putting plywood over a metal bed frame?
You can use plywood on a metal bed frame. It’s actually encouraged to do this since a metal bed frame with thin beams can’t offer you and your mattress the same support as one with wider beams. Plywood slats can combat this by reinforcing the frame.
It’s essential to consider the merits and limitations of combining plywood and metal, so continue reading for a detailed discussion.
How To Use Plywood for Metal Bed Frames
Plywood is a sturdy and versatile material that can significantly improve your sleeping habits if used right. If a metal bed frame is causing any kind of discomfort, instability, or damage to a mattress, then this might be the solution.
Use Plywood As Structural Support
How a mattress sits on top of a bed frame is pivotal to the sleeper’s comfort. If the mattress exhibits any of the below, placing a plywood board over the metal bars of a bed frame is advisable.
- Sagging in the middle.
- Dented from lousy support.
- Too thin or soft to cushion metal bars.
This is as easy as cutting a plywood board to the dimensions of the inside of the bed frame so that it fits in snugly, then placing the mattress over it.
This creates an even surface for the mattress, making the sleeper more comfortable, and putting less stress on the mattress, which would likely have warped over time.
Some plywood types are far more challenging to work with than others; for example, hardwood plywood may require you to have special tools to chop it.
If you need something for this, the SKIL 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide (available on Amazon.com) is equipped with a Spindle lock for quick and easy blade changes and a built-in blower to eliminate wood dust. A guarded trigger and safety lock minimizes the chances of accidental injury.
Your plywood will need to be at least 0.75 inches (19mm) effectively support your mattress. Even though the plywood isn’t a standalone base, it needs to be thick enough to last, so stick with the 19mm and above recommendation.
Another option is to remove the metal beams and replace them with solid plywood slats no less than 4 inches apart. These slats should be upwards of 30mm thick since they’ll be supporting your entire weight this time.
Plywood boards have a few benefits over metal:
- Even weight distribution.
- A firmer base to combat sagging.
- A unique appearance.
There is one downside to using an entire plywood board in your base. Because the mattress is directly on top of the board with no ventilation, any exposure to moisture could result in a build-up of mildew or mold, which is incredibly unpleasant and unhealthy.
The solution is to make the plywood water-resistant with paint, epoxy, or polyurethane. Otherwise, it’s best to use plywood slats instead of a sheet.
The Roxil Wood Protection Cream (available on Amazon.com) provides 10 years of waterproofing. It’s resistant to cracking and warping while still breathable and works on various wood types.
Use Plywood for Visual Appeal
Plywood is functional and beautiful; combining metal with various plywood types makes for a distinctive design.
Plywood comes in a range of designs:
- Dark stained plywood: This is when plywood is overlaid with imitation dark wood veneer. It makes for a gorgeous, luxurious look.
- Light plywood: Light plywood isn’t a category on its own but rather refers to the typical light shade of plywood. The simple and fresh tone elevates a room’s design.
- Marble plywood: Laminate sheets or veneer are placed over plywood sheets to create an artistic look for a fraction of the price of solid wood or marble.
You could also buy some paint with your plywood to customize your home for relatively cheap. Taking the time and effort to customize a bed feature that most people won’t ever see may seem pointless, but these little details personalize a room and make it one-of-a-kind.
Which Plywood Is Best for Beds?
Plywood is an ideal choice for adding support to a bed frame. However, there are various types of plywood, each suited to different scenarios.
The table below describes the plywood types, their physical qualities, and recommended applications.
|Lumber core||Two layers of veneer with layers of wood in the center.||It’s incredibly rigid and robust and is frequently used for furniture.|
|Veneer core||Layers of wood bonded together with an odd number of veneers for a core.||Known for its flexibility and strength, veneer core plywood is used in furniture and flooring.|
|Overlaid||Regular ply covered with a veneer of ornamental wood||Overlaid plywood gives flooring, cabinets, and other furniture a water-resistant and decorative finish.|
|Moisture-resistant (MR)||These boards are made of tiny wood fibers bonded under immense pressure.||Moisture resistant and not susceptible to mold, this is perfect for items frequently exposed to moisture.|
|Flexible plywood||Layers of hard plywood bound in the same direction to give it a flexible build.||These sheets are highly bendy and versatile, making them a favorite amongst carpenters.|
|Soft plywood||Layers of softwood bonded together. Common choices are fir, maple, and Douglas fir.||Softwood is malleable and lightweight and is most commonly found in construction.|
|Hard plywood||Layers of hardwood bonded together perpendicularly. Popular choices are birch, oak, and maple.||Hard wood is considered the most versatile for its durability and beauty. It’s used for furniture, flooring, musical instruments, and construction.|
|MDF core||Layers of wood with a multi-density core.||It’s thick, stable, and frequently used to make doors.|
This table shows that the best options for placing on a metal base are:
- Hardwood plywood: This is the jack of all trades and is built for longevity.
- MR plywood: Moisture resistance helps keep mattresses from molding, especially in high-humidity areas.
The exact pricing of a plywood sheet depends on the grade of the plywood, but hardwoods take longer to grow and are thus more expensive, though less costly than solid hardwood.
The MR plywood, or commercial plywood, varies dramatically from one distributor to another. The price goes up with big-name brands, so if you source it from a small-time local distributor, it should come much cheaper.
Note that MR plywood is a grade of its own, which can still be graded by the traditional method. It’s a type of commercial plywood that has moisture-resistant capabilities.
Essentially, a piece of plywood could be be graded MR but still be graded according to the hardwood grades below.
Hardwood grades work as follows:
- A-grade: The highest quality and most expensive.
- B-grade: Slightly flawed and not as smooth as A-grade.
- C-grade: This grade has more obvious flaws and minor knots on the surface.
- D-grade: The cheapest grade with larger knots and significant flaws.
Learn more about the plywood grades and which works best for your project at Forest Plywood.
How To Maintain Plywood and Metal Bed Frames
Usually, beds don’t require any more maintenance than other furniture items. A quick wipe-down with a damp cloth to remove dust is a great start, but there are several tricks to extend the shelf-life of your furniture.
How To Maintain Plywood
Maintaining plywood is slightly more difficult than maintaining metal. However, it’s still a relatively easy process.
Here’s how to maintain plywood:
- Dust the plywood slats or sheets on your bed frame regularly is crucial. The bottom of a bed gets covered in dust faster than most places in the house, so it’s vital that you regularly dust and wipe the plywood with a clean, damp microfiber cloth.
- Clear out all of the crevices and cracks; this is where most of the grime and dust build up.
- If the plywood does get wet, remove the mattress and dry the plywood off with a soft, dry microfiber cloth. Return the mattress to the frame once it’s totally dry.
Leaving any moisture allows bacteria and mildew to thrive and could result in rusting metal frames.
How To Maintain a Metal Frame
Maintaining a metal bed frame is quite simple. Wipe it down regularly with a damp cloth, dry it off, and that’s about it. Remember to dry it off quickly to keep it from rusting.
Dust doesn’t collect on metal as quickly as on plywood, but it’s still a good idea to dust it every time you do a big clean to stop the dust from accumulating.
A few extra steps will keep a metal bed at its best.
- Heat-resistance: Treating a metal bed frame with a heat-resistant solution is a good idea if you live in a particularly hot or humid area. Find one with antibacterial qualities; that way, the cleaning job is more manageable.
- Rust treatment: A mixture of petroleum jelly and Camphor applied annually should stop your metal bed from rusting. Apply a thin film, and ensure it gets in the joints and corners.
If the metal bed frame begins to rust, the solution is simple:
- Soak a cloth in vinegar and rub a generous amount on the bed frame.
- Once the vinegar has soaked in, scrub it down with steel wool until the rust is gone.
- If the metal still has sharp or lumpy sections from the rust, feel free to sand these down with some sandpaper.
- Dust the frame once you’re done.
Before you leave, if you’re passionate about woodworking, I recommend reading my guide on pine wood and exterior trims. You’ll learn why pine wood is an excellent choice for the project. [Can You Use Pine Wood for Exterior Trim?]
Using plywood on a metal bed frame adds the much-needed support that may be lacking in a metal frame with small or unstable beams. With adequate care and proper ventilation, plywood and metal are a brilliant combination.