Can You Use Plywood Instead of a Bunkie Board? Step-By-Step Guide (2023)

If you have a mattress that needs a base with a flat surface and not slats with gaps, then you’re probably considering buying a bunkie board. But can you use plywood instead of a bunkie board?

You can use plywood instead of a bunkie board however plywood is less durable than a bunkie board and less aesthetically pleasing. A DIY bunkie board is a better alternative than using plywood alone.

Let’s first consider the pros and cons of both approaches. This guide will help you make the right decision.

Related articles:

  • How do you fix a squeaky bunkie board? Maybe you don’t need to buy plywood!
  • What are some other alternatives to bunkie boards?

What Are Bunkie Boards?

A bunkie board is a solid, flat mattress support base often used as a replacement for a box spring. Bunkie boards lay directly on top of your bed frame. Since they’re usually no more than 4 inches thick, they add much less height to your mattress than box springs. They are useful if you prefer having your mattress lower, or if you don’t have a lot of available vertical space.

Because bunkie boards are made of a single, flat piece of material, they’re also well suited for memory foam and latex mattresses. Other mattress support systems have slats with gaps in between that can damage memory foam and latex, or even void your warranty!

Related articles:

  • You may like this article on what are bunkie boards made out of (bunkie board materials)
  • Can a bunkie board replace a box spring?

What is Plywood?

Plywood is made from layers of wood veneer. These wood veneers, or ‘plies’, are arranged on top of each other so that the wood grains are alternated. The plies are then glued together, creating a strong, lightweight material.

Plywood can be either hard or soft, and comes in different qualities. Some characteristics of plywood to consider are durability, brightness, hardness, flexibility, and physical stability.

Note that both plywood and bunkie boards can be used as alternatives to box springs…it really depends on your mattress. You can also use either one on top of a box spring to reduce some of the squeakiness.

Can You Use Plywood Instead of a Bunkie Board? Step-By-Step Guide (1)A fabric covered bunkie board. Image from Amazon.

Pros and Cons of Using Plywood Instead of a Bunkie Board

If you’re considering making your own DIY plywood mattress support instead of buying a bunkie board, here’s a quick pro and con list to help you make up your mind:

  • Bunkie boards can be more aesthetically pleasing than simple plywood.
  • Bunkie boards can be stronger and more durable than plywood.
  • Making a DIY bunkie board is a fun and easy DIY project which also allows you to control your costs
  • Plywood costs less than a bunkie board.

Bunkie Boards Can be More Aesthetically Pleasing Than Simple Plywood.

Bunkie boards often come with a fabric covering designed to look good. This is especially important if you plan to use them for a bunk bed or a loft bed, since the board will be visible from underneath.

A simple piece of plywood, on the other hand, may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a fabric covered bunkie board. Plywood can also develop chips and may snag on your bedding and mattress. This will depend on the quality of the plywood you purchase. Higher quality plywood often has a nicer finish on the outermost layer. Our article on the best bunkie boards shows you many varieties of bunkie boards with different price ranges.

Bunkie boards can be stronger and more durable than plywood.

Bunkie boards are designed to support the weight of a mattress, and may therefore be stronger than a thin piece of plywood. If you want to make your mattress support out of plywood instead of a bunkie board, you need to choose thicker, higher quality plywood. We recommend that you buy plywood that is at least 1 inch thick since standard bunkie boards are between 1 and 3 inches thick. Thicker, better quality plywood will be strong enough to support the weight of your mattress.

Related article:

  • How long do bunkie boards last?

Plywood costs less than a bunkie board.

One reason to make your mattress support out of plywood instead of a bunkie board is that plywood is cheap. Using plywood instead of a bunkie board can therefore save you some money.

The price for quality bunkie boards is around $100, and some of the best models can go up to several hundred dollars. Plywood, on the other hand, is much more affordable and a lot more people can find that it’s within their budget. Plywood that is suitable for your needs usually costs about $50.

Making a DIY bunkie board is a fun and easy DIY project which also allows you to control your costs

With the right tools and a little know-how, making your own bunkie board mattress support is a fun and easy DIY project. See below for instructions.

Can You Use Plywood Instead of a Bunkie Board? Step-By-Step Guide (2)Plywood is layered wood veneer glued together. Image from Ilimtimber.

How to make a DIY Bunkie board out of plywood and save money (instead of buying plywood alone)

So, you’ve decided to make your own mattress support from plywood instead of a bunkie board. Here are the items you will need:

  • One plywood sheet.
  • Medium-grit sandpaper.
  • Quilted upholstery fabric.
  • Upholstery spray adhesive.
  • A heavy-duty staple gun.
  • (Optional) a circular saw or an electric sander.

These are general guidelines. If you’d like a more in-depth guide follow link. There are also several guides on Youtube.

To get you started, here’s a step-by-step tutorial that you can follow to have your mattress support ready in no time:

Step 1: Measure the mattress size so you know how large a bunkie board you want to build.

First of all, take the mattress off your bed. Then, measure the area of the bed frame to know how much space your mattress takes up. After that, subtract about an inch from the length and the width, and you will get the proportions needed for your Bunkie board.

Keep in mind that you’ll be covering the plywood sheet in upholstery fabric. The thicker the padding you choose, the smaller the board you will need to be to fit into the bed frame.

Step 2: Cut your plywood with a circular saw or have it cut for you.

Once you have the plywood ready, cut it in the proper size. For this, you can use a circular saw (ideally with a carbide-blade since it was specifically designed for plywood). For bunk beds and twin-size beds with 38 x 75 inches frames, you should cut a piece of 36.5 by 73.5 inches, or perhaps an extra inch on the sides for thicker upholstery.

If you don’t have a circular saw, we recommend you take your plywood sheet to your local hardware store where they should be able to cut it for you.

Step 3: Sand down the rough edges until they’re smooth.

Use the sandpaper you prepared for smoothing out any roughness or irregularities that you might notice on the cut edges. A power sander will make the process much faster. You want a sleek and smooth board to prevent wear over time.

Step 4: Cut the upholstery fabric to the correct size.

Measure and spread out the quilted upholstery carefully on the floor with the inside side up. Then, cut out two pieces with scissors. One for the top and one for the bottom of the plywood board. Although the bottom one can measure the board’s exact width and length, make sure that the top piece is a few inches longer on each side so it can be wrapped around the plywood.

Step 5: Glue the upholstery fabric to both sides of the plywood board.

First clean both sides of your plywood sheet. Then spray one side of the plywood sheet with upholstery adhesive spray and carefully fit the upholstery fabric to it. Repeat with the other side.

Step 6: Staple the fabric in place.

With the board bottom side up, carefully fold the excess fabric from the top so it’s flush to the board. Pull it firm, and staple the folded fabric in place. Repeat the process on all sides of the plywood board. The corners don’t have to be perfect, but if done well, they will make the appearance of the board more pleasant.

If you have followed all of these steps correctly then you’ve transformed your piece of plywood into the perfect bunkie board. In case you want to use a third piece of fabric and have your board looking even more polished than take a look at the next step.


Should you make a DIY mattress support out of plywood instead of a bunkie board? It can be done, and if DIY is your thing, you’ll find that this is a simple project. But depending on your needs, buying a bunkie board may be the better option for you.

We hope we answered some of the questions you might have had regarding bunkie boards and plywood, and which one to choose. Our advice is that you think carefully about all the factors, and the pros and cons of both products, so you can make the right decision.

Buying plywood helps you save money, and allows you to have your DIY project. But if you can afford it, buying a bunkie board is a more convenient solution since they’re designed to support your mattress.

Related Article:

  • Guide to bunkie board costs.
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