Slatted Mattress Frame


About six years ago, I replaced a worn-out pillowtop mattress with a natural latex mattress.  Although surprisingly heavy, a latex mattress has little rigidity; it will telegraph any unevenness in the surface below.  Therefore, it should be placed on a flat wood platform.  The platform frame should be slatted or otherwise provide ventilation holes for air and moisture.

As a temporary expedient, I plopped the mattress down on my conventional box springs, with a couple pieces of pegboard inbetween.

Six years later… I’m finally building the mattress frame.

I decided to make the show sides out of 1x6 hemlock and the slats from 1x3 douglas-fir.  But 3/4″ by itself didn’t seem stout enough for the frame.  So for each side, I screwed on a piece of 1x2 hemlock at the top and a 1x3 at the bottom.

I ganged the head and foot boards together in the vises and sawed a notch for the center support, which would be a 1x3 (notched at each end to match).  After screwing the center support in place, I used some corner clamps to hold each side to the head and foot while I screwed in some metal corner braces I’ve had sitting around.

I quickly realized that one bracket in each corner would not be enough to stiffen the frame.  I decided to see if all the slats would help, but figured I would have to add braces.


I crosscut the 1x3’s and began screwing them in place, starting in the middle.  I used a 1x3 as a spacer between them.  Then I flipped the frame over and added 1x3 braces in the corners.

Several years ago I purchased an electric router kit with fixed and plunge bases, and a small variety of router bits.  I’ve always been a little afraid to use the screamin’ demon, but today I got it out and used a roundover bit to soften the edges of the slats.

I put on a couple coats of shellac and then hauled the heavy beast upstairs.  It seems to work well.


After about 18 months of use, I realized the frame had sagged in the middle.  The 1x3 I used as the center joist just wasn’t strong enough to support the weight.  So today I pulled the mattress off, unscrewed all the slats, and removed that 1x3.  I replaced it with a red oak 1x6.  I cambered the top of the 1x6, so that in the center of the bed, it actually projects above the rim by almost 3/4″, and so the slats bow across it.