Wednesday, February 27, 2013

{DIY: The $100 Platform Bed, Box Spring Replacement + Refinished Nightstands}

Kate and I have planned to upgrade to a Cal King bed for a while now. We sold our queen bed and purchased an adjustable bed frame for our mattress and box spring in the interim. The plan was to buy a Cal King mattress, box spring and make a custom wood headboard.

After completing the headboard, we were left with a list for or master refresh that looked like this:
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Purchase and/or possibly refinish nightstands
  • Upgrade to a Cal King bed set.
  • Get a full size mirror (like this one)
  • Eventually put up crown molding
  • Build a headboard
  • Build/purchase closet organizer
A box spring isn’t really a “spring” at all—it’s just a wooden box riser. We realized how silly it was to spend several hundred dollars for what amounts to a couple pieces of wood, some cardboard and matching fabric cover that 99 percent of people are going to cover with a plain sheet. That said—no one wants to put the mattress on the floor.

You don't need to spend the money on a box spring or expensive platform bed to get the benefits.
I went searching for DIY platform bed plans and everything was overly complicated. My method is a simple  two-step process that includes building a basic platform followed by wrapping the raw wood with more attractive boards. It's the same basic principle as putting painted and textured drywall over a wall frame when you are building a house.

The best thing about a platform bed is that space isn’t wasted like it would be if you bought a box spring. That means storage! You can never have enough storage space and with this platform bed there is a ton of storage underneath. We haven't even decided what to do with all that space. This is the biggest selling point on a platform bed for most people. Most of the platform beds at a furniture store come with drawers underneath, but for the $900+ I’ll save my back and store things under the bed I don’t use often. You *could* get fancy bins for clothes, etc.

The complete tutorial after the break!

Tools needed (if you like DIY projects, these items are all good to have around):

  • Tape measure
  • Skill saw (or miter saw + table saw)
  • Cordless drill (or corded if you are really old school)
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Safety glasses
  • Palm/orbital sander
  • Nail gun (optional, but way easier)

Materials needed:

  • 80 & 150-grit sand paper for sander (had)
  • 000 steel wool or 220 grit sand paper (had)
  • Stain & Polyurethane, or paint (had)
  • 3 foam brushes ($3)
  • Disposable gloves for staining (had)
  • 1 lb. of 3” wood screws ($4)
  • 1 ¼” nails for nail gun (had)

Lumber needed for a Cal King platform bed (You can return what you don’t use for a Queen):

  • 9 – Doug Fir 8’ - 2x4s ($25): straight as possible, the wet ones are cheaper and don’t split as easily
  • 3 – Pine 8’ - 1x6s ($21): pick out the best ones
  • 3 – Pine 8’ - 1x4s ($15): pick out the best ones
  • 2 – Sheets of ¾” OSB ($32)


A) Measure the mattress length, width and depth with a tape measure. Write it all down. Here’s a good list for the common sizes, but each mattress is a little different. For example, our Cal King was only 83.5” long. I added 1” (0.5” on each side) to accommodate sheets and under blankets.

B) Determine the height of the bed you want, factoring in the depth of the mattress. The depth is almost always unique to the model. We made our platform 18” tall. With the mattress our bed sits just over 28” tall, my feet hang just a bit and I’m 6’2”.

C) Cuts (measure twice, cut once).
  • 4 - 2x4s the length of the bed minus 2” (reason being that the width boards will add 3” to the length and you only need 1” extra for sheets)
  • 2 – 2x4s the width plus 1” for sheets.
  • 28 – 1x4 cut to height of bed minus roughly 3.5”
  • 3 - OSB cuts (see below for instructions).
  • 2 – 1x6 pine boards to full length + the width of the pine board itself which should be about 0.5” additional with a 45 degree angle on one side. Tip: cut the angle first, then the final length. *Best to have platform already built at this point so you can measure exact size you need*
  • 1 – 1x6 pine board cut the full width + the width of two of the pine boards with 45 degree angles on both sides. I actually messed this one up! Measure twice—four times if you tired.

D) Assembly
  1. It is best to assemble this in place.
  2. You are going to lay out the six pieces of 2x4 you cut for the length of the frame. Equally space the length boards across the full width (that means measure and mark). The width boards go over the ends of the length boards to create a header and footer. Screw the board together with two screws a piece to create a frame. Pre-drill holes if your wood is dry.
  3. If you don’t have space to flip the entire frame over, you’ll need to prop the frame up with something to attach the legs or have someone hold the frame in place. I clamped the cut legs to each frame corner. Use a level; we don’t want to encourage the toddler to roll into your back any more than they already do. You can cheat the frame up (legs down) as needed, but you don't want the end of a leg stick up.
  4. If you have clamps, they come in handy for this process.
  5. Using two screws from the inside and two from the outside, attach the legs to the inside corners of the frame. Try to get a couple into the leg from both sides of the frame (they will hit if you aren’t careful).
  6. Corner, with leg cheated down to achieve level
  7. Place additional legs in the center of each long span, including the interior boards. If you have a material other than carpet, use furniture pads on the bottom of each 2x4 leg
  8. Frame fully assembled. You may notice how it also holds the headboard in place.
  9. Rip the OSB down “hamburger style” so that it fits the frame. You want it to sit on top of the 2x4 frame, but with no overhang. The second piece of OSB will have to be ripped for length and width, put this piece at the bottom. To do this, mark the width measurement onto the OSB in three spots and use a straight edge to mark your line. Screw the OSB in place in the corners making sure to sink the screw heads so they don’t get caught on your mattress.OSB is manufactured to be smooth and we want to keep it that way.
  10. Grainy phone picture of the OSB install, but you get the idea.
  11. Put the mattress in place now if you want. You can even sleep on it at this stage. 

E) Beatification

  1. After the pine boards are cut to size, sand them with the 80-grit sandpaper, followed by 150-grit sandpaper. Round all the corners on the side rails front and back or you will get splinters tucking your sheets (learned the hard way). 18 of the leg pieces should have all straight edges, the other 18 should have rounded edges only on the front sides.
  2. Use damp cloth or tack cloth to clean boards. Clean the work areas. (Dust-Free)
  3. Stain with foam brush in well-ventilated area. Wipe down with a cloth after 15 minutes (or earlier depending on desired color). Don’t forget the edges!
  4. Stained pieces.
  5. Apply a coat of polyurethane or alternative in well-ventilated area, let dry 3-4 hours minimum.
  6. Lightly sand with 220-grit sandpaper or buff with 000 steel wool. 
  7. Clean up again, removing the dust from the boards with tack cloth or damp towel.
  8. Apply second coat of polyurethane, let dry 24 hours. Same rules apply for paint, if you don’t want the wood look. If you rush it, your bedroom will smell pretty bad while the polyurethane/paint continues to cure. I left my garage door cracked and the garage window open for max ventilation. You can use a urethane alternative, but they typically don't match the performance that you will get out of the real thing.
  9. Nail or screw the 1x6 around the perimeter of the bed, making sure the board is flush with the bottom of the 2x4 frame. I put two nails every 18" or so. This should give you a nice lip to keep the mattress from sliding around and will hide the OSB plywood that might be peaking out from underneath the mattress.
  10. Create a “box” around the legs with four 1x4 pine boards, don’t worry about the seams that much because they will be obscured. Nail the boxes to the 2x4 legs and each other. Nail gun really makes this fast, but you can also glue the legs in place and use shorter screws to attach them to the 2x4s. Screws are going to show more than a small nail hole. I didn’t bother filling any holes for this project, they are too small and the stain is too dark to notice unless you look closely. I wouldn’t feel the same way about screw holes.

***Note: You could use 4x4 support legs and stain/seal them before assembly, skipping the leg wrap pine boards. This is slightly more expensive and means staining/sealing the legs and then staining stealing the other pieces later. I’d probably go this route if I did the project again because it requires a lot less labor, but I'm happy that the legs look more substantial with the stained pine wraps.***

That’s it! The entire project can be done in a weekend for about $100 depending on what materials you already have on hand.

Nightstands with tops sanded.
Finished top, with one coat stain and three coats of poly.
Since I had to break out the sander and stain again, I also refinished the tops of the nightstands we found on craigslist to match. The only things extra they required were more sanding to take off the old finish, a coat of pre-stain conditioner (older wood doesn’t accept stain as well as new wood) and a third coat of polyurethane for durability.
Viola! A custom matching headboard, platform bed and nightstands…all for about $200. If you include the cost of the nightstands, it’s still only $340. You can’t beat that, not even at Ikea for something made out of particle board veneer. Ikea also doesn't sell anything in Cal King.

We easily saved enough on the box spring alone to do all three of these projects and buy a nicer mattress. It will never need to be totally replaced either. Even if parts gets a little dinged up, we know the stain color and can simply pop in a replacement board as needed.

We’re down to just one thing on the master bedroom refresh list and that’s to put up crown molding. We’re not in any rush to put up crown molding, so for all intents and purposes the bedroom refresh is complete! I’m sure my wife will continue to tweak things for the better, but my work is done.

We couldn’t be happier with the results. If you like DIY projects, this one is well worth the time and money. Here are a bunch of pictures my wife took of the finished product.


Missy said...

looks awesome!!!! very detailed tutorial!

Kay g said...

will have to try this for my new mattress, getting a full so will have to adjust measurements but no biggy. Going to try with 4x4 corners instead of wrapping them, although I do like the look either way. Thanks for sharing.

Nothy Lane said...

OMG! These are adorable! I love the nightstands (and the platform bed too but its too ambitious for me)!

Anonymous said...

We made this bed thus weekend, it took about 8 hours over two says. We had the cuts made by the lumber yard then stained and assembled thanks for the inspiration

Christian Sprunger said...

This looks great! I'm inspired to try it. One question about how it turned out: was the bed stable and squeak a minimal amount when you're moving around on it? If not, is there something you would have done differently with the leg supports to make them more stable?

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