Bed Slats vs. Plywood: Here’s the Best Option…

According to the CDC, 33% of Americans do not get enough sleep. Comfort is a big factor and having the proper bed base is critical to your comfort. But should you buy a set of bed slats or use a piece of plywood instead. We’ve do the research and the results are in.

Bed Slats Vs. Plywood

Are Bed Slats Better than Plywood?

Yes, bed slats are better than plywood. They offer more comfort, more circulation, less work, and are safer than plywood. The only exception is the rare chance your mattress requires a solid bed base, but there are better options than plywood, even in these situations.

Can you Use Plywood Instead of Bed Slats?

To answer this question, we must understand what bed slats are and what they do. Bed slats are a series of horizontal cross beams that lay perpendicular to your bed frame. They create the bed base, connecting your mattress to the bed frame.

It is possible to use plywood to achieve this function but only use plywood as a short-term solution. Bed slats have many inherent benefits that a sheet of plywood lacks. Additionally, plywood has some significant downsides.

Is it O.K. to put a Mattress on Plywood?

Again, only use plywood as a short-term solution. The most common way a mattress will get ruined is through the spread of mold or mildew. A solid sheet of plywood suffocates the underside of a mattress. Sealing off your mattress prevents proper ventilation, and it is only a matter of time before moisture sneaks in, creating the ideal environment to grow mold and mildew. Once mildew sets up, shop, you’ll need a new mattress right away.

Wood is also a perfect place for bedbugs to make their home. If you want to do more than replace your wooden base, check out our product guide on the best metal bed frames for bed bugs.

Additionally, plywood has formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer in humans. Manufacturers will use formaldehyde to increase the lifespan of the wood and prevent pests such as termites from making their homes there. In most cases, the application of formaldehyde is perfectly safe, but not when you’re sleeping on it every night.

Finally, plywood provides no give. By lacking anything in the way of flexibility, plywood creates an inanimate bed base, which creates a rigid sleeping experience. This can lead to back or neck pain and make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Are Slatted Beds Better?

Yes, slatted beds are better. However, the most crucial feature of bed slats is ample ventilation. By nature of design, bed slats provide more than enough space for air to cycle into the hard-to-reach places underneath your bed. Air ventilation helps in two ways. First, it significantly reduces your risk of mold exposure, but it also helps keep the body cool while falling asleep.

A cool sleeping experience is one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep quality. If you are overheating while trying to fall asleep, check out these amazing pillow protectors that help you stay cool.

Bed slats also come in several varieties. There are flat slats that provide firmness without rigidity and curved slats that create a softer, more flexible sensation. Bed slats are typically easier to install and replace than plywood, so you can experiment to find your ideal solution.

Bed slats are so flexible that you can have half your bed be firm and the other half be soft.

Replace Bed Slats with Plywood

Despite their benefits, there are a few occasions when you may want to replace your bed slats with plywood. The first occurs if your mattress needs to rest on a solid base. The premier example of this type of mattress is the solid memory foam mattress.

A memory foam mattress can slip into the space between the slats. Over time, the mattress will sink into those spaces and become deformed beyond repair, and you’ll need to buy a new one. However, there are better options to consider because of the ventilation and safety concerns.

You should also consider replacing your bed slats with plywood when you identify mattress sagging. Mattress sagging happens when a mattress does not have enough support, generally at its center. Over time, the mattress’s shape will change due to the lack of support. Usually, the shape turns into a sloping “U,” where the walls of the mattress of higher than the center.

A piece of plywood underneath a mattress is a cheap, short-term solution to mattress sagging. However, if you notice that your bed is sagging, you need to identify why it is sagging before working out a long-term solution.

Beds sag for two reasons, they either lack the support noted above or are made from low-quality materials. First, pull the mattress off the frame and rest it on an even surface to figure out your problem. If sagging is still present, your mattress probably needs to be replaced if it is level, then it’s a support issue.

If it is a support issue, you need to research a solution that provides you the comfort and support you and your mattress deserve.

Curved Bed Slats vs. Flat Bed Slats

If convinced of the superior support bed slats provide, we should take a deeper look at the available bed slat options.

Curved Bed Slats

Curved bed slats arc up towards the mattress and bend without breaking. This design means they have plenty of give when applying weight to the top. Because of their give, your sleeping experience will be softer. If you prefer a softer experience, you should consider buying curved bed slats.

Flat Bed Slats

However, consider flat slats instead for those of us who prefer to sleep on a firmer surface. Flat slats run straight across the bed frame and center support beam. They still provide a small amount of give to protect your back and neck, but not enough to remove the support we prefer.

Reinforce Bed Slats with Plywood

One of the downsides to using bed slats is that they are prone to breaking or slipping off the frame over time. An easy solution is to reinforce your bed slats, either curved or flat, with a sheet of plywood. Then, you still have something to sleep on if your slats give out in the dead of night.

Be cautious when using plywood to reinforce your bed slats. If one, or a few, of your bed slats, break or slip, you need to repair the situation immediately, or your mattress will deform.

Additionally, when reinforcing your bed slats with plywood, you still have the formaldehyde issue, so we recommend using this paint to seal away the releasing gas. You need to apply a few layers and let the product dry before placing it underneath your mattress.

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Bed Slats vs. Solid Bed Base

When should you consider replacing your bed slats with a solid bed base? It depends on you. Bed slats are an easy solution to nearly every bed build-based problem, but not all of them. For example, some people prefer the even weight distribution of a solid bed base, a condition that
slats cant meet.

Having a firm and consistent weight distribution is perfectly acceptable if you do your research! Ensure the product you are buying has ventilation options such as smaller holes or a fine mesh. Additionally, make sure the product doesn’t have any toxic components. Finally, accept that a solid bed base will likely be harder to install, replace, and move.

MDF or Plywood Bed Base

We’ve mentioned the formaldehyde found in plywood several times. Still, it is critically important to understand that many bed slats or solid bed bases are made from MDF. MDF is typical in indoor wood products such as furniture or cabinets but, like plywood, is made with formaldehyde.

If using an MDF bed base, make sure you take the same precautions as if you were using a plywood bed base. The properties of each are similar except for density. MDF is denser than plywood and offers more rigidity.

Does Bed Base Affect your Mattress?

Yes, your bed base plays a significant role in your mattress’s shape, quality, and comfort.

Platform Bed Wood vs. Metal Slats

You may think if formaldehyde is in plywood and the material they make bed slats out of, what is the safest option? Metal. Metal bedding materials, such as slats, provide all the benefits of their wooden counterparts without formaldehyde.

The design of metal frames has come a long way from the squeaky metal bunk beds we remember from childhood. So check out this chic option to replace your wooden frame and trust that you are sleeping healthier.

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