The Best Way To Build A Mattress Foundation

homemade bed foundation

This is a project for the DIY enthusiast who wants to repair or rebuild a broken box spring.

To create a bed foundation, the bed’s old box spring must be taken apart for measurements. Using these as guidelines, a new foundation can be built. 

Learn how to create your own bed foundation and how to make it a perfect fit for your mattress!


How To Build A Mattress Foundation

Box springs tend to be hardy. So hardy, in fact, that they are often inherited or go through several owners before reaching the end of their lifespan. However, sometimes things go wrong and a relatively new box spring breaks and causes the bed to sag and your back to ache. 

If you are a dedicated woodwork and DIY enthusiast, then this is the perfect project for you. Before you start, however, let’s review what this project entails. 

  1. Gathering the supplies. 
  2. Bringing the supplies home.
  3. Taking the old box spring apart. 
  4. Taking measurements.
  5. Building the new bed foundation.

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Gathering The Supplies

If you have done a lot of woodwork and similar DIY projects, then you might already have most of the tools that you will need for this project. If not, then here is your shopping list!

The Hardware Tools You Will Need

  • A staple gun.
  • A good saw.
  • An electric drill and drill bit.
  • Hammer.
  • A measuring tape and notebook.
  • A countersink drill bit that matches the screws.

The Building Supplies You Will Need

  • 2 boards – 2 x 6x 12
  • 12 boards – 1 x 4x 8 
  • 1 board – 2 x 4x 8 
  • Suitable screws for wood.
  • Staples. 
  • Enough fabric to upholster the frame.

You can also consider adding the best mattress topper to make your new bed more comfortable.

How To Bring The Supplies Home

delivery of planks

You have two choices to get new equipment and building supplies to your workshop at home. These days, most hardware stores will gladly deliver so don’t hesitate to take advantage of this service. They will save you the trouble of securing and transporting the unwieldy boards. 

That being said, if you have a vehicle that can comfortably stock the boards, then you can also collect the supplies straight from the seller. Just make sure that everything is secured. A lot of nasty road accidents happen because building materials make their escape in transit. 

How To Take The Old Box Spring Apart

This is the shlep part. You have to carefully strip all the foam, fabric and nails from the old box spring. Make sure that you do not have pets or small children that can injure themselves with rusty nails or bits of foam. 

This is a relatively long, hard, and messy job. But in case you are wondering why it is even necessary, you will see why in the next step.

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Take Note Of The Measurements

Your new bed foundation must have the same dimensions as your old box spring. This will allow you to use the same mattress without needing to replace that too. Take your measuring tape and notebook and record all the measurements of different parts. The measurements should go relatively quickly and should include height, width, length of the outside frame and the length of the slats.

How To Build The New Bed Foundation

measuring planks woodwork

Transfer The Measurements And Cut The Boards

Once you have the measurements of the old box spring, it is now time to mark them on your newly purchased boards. Take your time to mark and cut the boards – a wrong move or calculation could mean another trip to the hardware store to get some more wood! But at the end of the day, focus on getting the correct sizes for the new foundation’s box frame and the slats. 

If you want to get rid of your old mattress as well, learn more about how to dispose of a mattress in a way that is safe, quick, and environmentally friendly.

Arrange The Pieces For A Final Check

Place all the pieces for the outside perimeter as well as the slats to make sure that everything is the right size. If not, you can make it shorter or replace a too-short piece with a longer board (this is why it might be a good idea to purchase an extra board or two). Once you are satisfied that everything is correctly measured and cut, move on to the next step.

Build The Slat Support Rail

After cutting the boards according to the measurements, you will have several smaller pieces of boards left over. These can be used to create the support rail on which the slats will rest. Fitting them end-to-end along the inside of the two longest sides of the box, fix the leftover blocks to the frame to create the rail support. 

Once again, arrange the blocks beforehand without nailing them to see that everything fits and looks neat before you fix them permanently to the inside of the frame.

Learn how to cut a memory foam topper to size to suit your new bed foundation.

Create The Outer Frame For The Foundation

Drill the necessary holes in the corners of the four boards that make up the outer frame of the foundation. Double-check that they fit the original shape of the old box. Then, fix them together permanently with nails or staples.

Position the Support Beam

This board runs from the foot of the bed to the head, so to speak. Its purpose is to provide support for the slats and that is why it should be placed dead centre in the box, dividing it into two equal halves. Keep in mind that this beam should not be fixed flat. In other words, turn the board on its side.

Position The Wooden Slats

Since the wood of the slats is thinner, one needs to be careful when screwing the boards to the frame to prevent splintering and breakage. You might need to do some predrilling or use the countersink. Remember to screw each slat to the support beam as well.

You can also learn how to make a mattress protector at home.

The Final Touches

Cover the entire box with a single large piece of cardboard or thin wood. This, in turn, can be upholstered with a thin layer of fabric or some type of cushioning. Here you can use the staple gun to fix everything into place. The frame should now look well-upholstered. 


A Quick Summary On How To Build A Bed Foundation

  • Bed foundations last for many years but sometimes, when they break, you might want to tackle the situation as a DIY project instead of purchasing a new base.
  • This project is suitable for all levels of experience.
  • After gathering supplies, it’s essential to take the old foundation apart and to measure all the boards including the outer frame and the slats.
  • Cut the new boards according to these measurements.
  • Fasten all the new boards together to create the framework of the foundation.
  • Add the support beam and slats.
  • Add the supporting layer of cardboard and upholstery material. 

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About the Author Tom

My journey into the world of sleep came about through living in several properties over my lifetime and always seeming to have the worst luck with neighbors. All but one have been extremely noisy and very inconsiderate. What this made me realize early on, was that the little sleep my neighbors allowed me to get needed to be of great quality. So I started to learn all about sleep, and what helps people get the best quality sleep possible.