All Bunkie Board Alternatives, Pros & Cons, and What’s best for your Bed / Mattress type
A bunkie board is a flat and relatively thin platform that provides reliable support for a mattress. One reason that bunkie boards are so popular is that they do not increase a bed’s height or bulkiness. While bunkie boards are quite convenient to use underneath your mattress, there are several alternatives that can also provide sturdy support and comfort for you while you sleep. You may be wondering what some bunkie board alternatives could be.
Standard bunkie board alternatives include slats, plywood, standard box springs, low profile box springs, and split bunkie boards. Depending on the type of bed and mattress you have, one of these bunkie board alternatives may be a better choice for you than a standard bunkie board.
- What are the uses of bunkie boards and what materials are they made of?
- Can a bunkie board replace a box spring?
Reasons You May Need a Bunkie Board Alternative
Some reasons you may need a bunkie board alternative include the following:
- Some bunkie board alternatives might be better for certain kinds of beds or mattresses.
- A bunkie board alternative may be cheaper than a standard bunkie board.
- Your personal preference may be to use an alternative type of mattress support.
As mentioned before, slats, plywood, standard box springs, low profile box springs, and split bunkie boards are some noteworthy bunkie board alternatives that can support your mattress and make your bed much more comfortable to sleep in. Below, we will compare these alternative mattress supports to regular bunkie boards, and we will also discuss some of the pros and cons that you should consider before deciding which bunkie board alternative to choose.
A slatted support system is usually made of wooden or metal slats that are spaced approximately 3 inches apart. These slats are usually removable, so they can easily be replaced with new ones, or simply removed. Moreover, slats can be built into the bed frame of almost any type of bed.
Slats are one of the most popular alternatives to bunkie boards. Some bunkie boards also have individual pieces that are connected and covered in fabric, but bunkie boards are thought to provide better mattress support than just slats on their own. Therefore, bunkie boards are commonly used along with the slats that are built into a bed frame.
Some of the major pros and cons of slats in comparison to bunkie boards are below:
|Pros of Slats vs. Bunkie Boards||Cons of Slats vs. Bunkie Boards|
|Provide reliable support and stable base for mattress||If slats are built into the bed frame, they might be difficult to detach and replace bent pieces (with bunkie boards, you don’t have to worry about this)|
|Individual pieces can be replaced if damaged, rather than changing the whole set of slats||Gaps between individual slats might cause sagging (especially with memory foam and gel mattresses)|
|Low profile slats do not add too much height to the bed, just like bunkie boards||Might require a standard bunkie board or an alternative to create a sturdier foundation for the mattress|
|Free space between slats allows for good ventilation of the mattress (especially good for people with allergies)|
Plywood is another alternative to using a standard bunkie board. Plywood is commonly used to “DIY” a wide variety of items, including plywood bunkie boards. Custom-made plywood boards are a popular mattress support among individuals that are good at woodworking. With a plywood mattress foundation, you can choose the height and thickness level that suits your preference.
Below are some of the primary pros and cons of using a plywood mattress foundation in comparison to bunkie boards:
|Pros of Plywood vs. Bunkie Boards||Cons of Plywood vs. Bunkie Boards|
|Provides sturdy support||Does not come as a ready-to-use foundation, unlike bunkie boards|
|Easy to customize and choose your preferred dimensions and thickness||Since there are no holes or cutouts in a plywood foundation, it may be hard to ventilate the mattress|
|Plywood does not shrink or expand over time (as opposed to regular wood)||Generally not as durable as standard high-quality bunkie boards|
- Standard Box Springs
A box spring is a mattress foundation made of a solid wooden frame covered in fabric. Originally, box springs consisted of springs or coils, but modern box springs might not contain even a single spring. Typically, box springs are approximately 7-9 inches high, which is about 2 inches taller than standard bed frames (which are usually 5-7 inches).
Bunkie boards were actually designed as an alternative to box springs, especially since bunkie boards are much thinner and avoid adding extra bulk to a bed. Nowadays, the choice between a bunkie board and a box spring mostly depends on individual preferences and the type of bed frame and mattress that the foundation will be used with.
Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of box springs as a bunkie board alternative:
|Pros of Standard Box Springs vs. Bunkie Boards||Cons of Standard Box Springs vs. Bunkie Boards|
|Innersprings in a traditional box spring guarantee proper pressure point management and weight distribution||The mattress must be rotated and flipped every 2-3 months to even out the stress put on the box spring and the mattress|
|Standard box springs can extend the lifespan of some types of mattresses by absorbing body weight||Some box springs do not have enough stability to properly support a mattress|
|Provide sturdy support for mattresses and prevent them from sagging, just like bunkie boards||Can add too much height to a bed|
|Work best with spring mattresses rather than memory foam or latex mattresses|
- Low Profile Box Springs
Low profile box springs are another major alternative to bunkie boards because of their low height and contemporary features. While the height of a standard box spring is approximately 9 inches, low profile box springs are about 4.5 inches thick. While providing the same support as traditional box springs, low profile box springs are characterized by a thinner design, which gives them a much more modern look.
Below are some of the pros and cons of low profile box springs compared to bunkie boards:
|Pros of Low Profile Box Springs vs. Bunkie Boards||Cons of Low Profile Box Springs vs. Bunkie Boards|
|Provide stable support without significantly increasing the height of the bed, much like bunkie boards||Might not absorb body weight and movement as well|
|Modern design||Still thicker than the average bunkie board, so may make the bed higher than you want|
|Portable and relatively lightweight||Usually more expensive than a standard bunkie board|
|Relatively inexpensive compared to traditional box springs|
- Split Bunkie Boards
Split bunkie boards are commonly used as an alternative to standard bunkie boards. Split bunkie boards are almost the same as standard bunkie boards, except that they come in two separate pieces of identical size. Split bunkie boards can fit any bed perfectly; you just need to put the two split pieces next to each other.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of split bunkie boards vs. standard bunkie boards:
|Pros of Split Bunkie Boards vs. Standard Bunkie Boards||Cons of Split Bunkie Boards vs. Standard Bunkie Boards|
|Portable, easy to fold and move||If not perfectly fitted within the bed frame, the separate pieces might slide and cause a gap|
|Relatively lightweight||Might not provide solid support in the case of long-term use|
|Ideal for individuals who often move from one place to another|
|Easier to fit into the bed frame by moving sections one at a time|
You can find more about the characteristics of various bunkie board alternatives such as slats and box springs by following the link to our article.
Bunkie Board Alternatives for Different Mattress Types
There are various types of mattresses available on the market, and some bunkie board alternatives might work better with certain types of mattresses. But what are bunkie board alternatives for different mattress types?
Bunkie board alternatives for different mattress types include plywood for latex mattresses, and plywood or split bunkie boards for memory foam or gel foam mattresses. Hybrid mattresses often won’t need a bunkie board alternative since they have built-in support at the bottom of the mattress, and futon mattresses can use almost any type of mattress support as long as it fits well with the futon frame.
To make it easier for you to choose between bunkie board alternatives, the following sections will provide further information about why a specific foundation may work best with a certain mattress type.
- In case you're wondering what bunkie board size to use with a futon mattress, consider this guide to futon frame sizes, mattress sizes, and sheet sizes.
Use Plywood or Plywood Bunkie Boards for Latex Mattresses
Latex mattresses are characterized by exceptional durability and comfort. Although lots of people do not use any type of support foundation with latex mattresses, you might need to use one to feel comfier while sleeping. Since the majority of bed frames come with built-in slats, there might not be any need for an additional bunkie board alternative. However, the slats should be about 3 inches apart from each other. If the spacing is too large, slats might cause the mattress to sag, impacting your spinal alignment as well as the quality and lifespan of the mattress. For more information on beds and spinal alignment, see this journal article from Ergonomics.
Latex mattresses are self-ventilating, which allows you to use a support system that does not have any cutouts or holes. Therefore, you could use a custom-made plywood foundation.
The only bunkie board alternative that is not recommended for supporting latex mattresses is a traditional box spring. The inner springs and coils might bend, making it harder to provide reliable support.
Use Regular or Split Bunkie Boards or Plywood for Memory Foam / Gel Foam Mattresses
Since memory foam and gel foam mattresses are slightly soft and require a bit more time to return to their original shape, it is not recommended to use slats or box springs as support foundations for these mattresses. Besides, memory foam and gel foam mattresses are self-ventilating, which means that there is no problem with using plywood as a foundation. If you notice that your mattress absorbs too much moisture, you can replace your plywood with a regular or split bunkie board.
You may not need a foundation for Hybrid Mattresses
Hybrid mattresses consist of several layers of support, including innersprings or wrapped pocket coils and a set of foam layers. The top foam layers usually consist of three different types of foams, such as natural latex, memory foam, and gel-infused foam.
In most circumstances, hybrid mattresses do not require any support system since they already have a box spring–like layer at the bottom of the mattress.
However, there are some hybrid mattresses that lack the lower layer of wrapped pocket coils and only consist of layers of different foam types. In this case, you will need a mattress foundation. To decide which bunkie board alternative to choose for a hybrid mattress, identify the material that the mattress is made of and follow the directions provided in the sections above for latex mattresses or memory foam and gel foam mattresses.
Futon Mattresses may utilize plywood or a box spring instead of a bunkie board
Futon mattresses can be made from a wide array of materials, including latex, cotton, wool, fiber, and foam. Depending on the material that your futon mattress is made of, you should consider the tips that we have provided above. You may want to use a plywood mattress foundation with a futon mattress since you can customize it to be the right size for your futon, but you could also use a box spring placed on top of slats. Make sure that the size of the foundation corresponds with the size of the futon.
Alternatives to Bunkie Boards for Different Beds
Your bed type may affect the type of bunkie board alternative you need, but choosing the right type of bunkie board alternative is mostly dependent on the kind of mattress you have. But what are the best alternatives to bunkie boards for different beds?
Alternatives to bunkie boards for different beds will vary depending on the type of bed frame you have. However, the material the bed frame is made of won’t make much of a difference. Platform beds generally don’t need any kind of mattress support; trundle beds should use plywood, low profile bunkie boards, or split bunkie boards; futons should use plywood or a regular box spring on top of a few slats; and adjustable beds have their own built-in support system, so they don’t need a bunkie board alternative.
Beds with Metal or Wooden Frames
The material of your bed frame does not make much of a difference when choosing a bunkie board alternative. Since various types of beds can be made of either wood or metal, it is more important to consider the type of bed frame you have, rather than the material it’s made of. The following sections will give you more information about which bunkie board alternative to use based on your bed type.
Platform Beds usually have solid base and don’t need any other mattress foundation
Platform beds have a large, solid base that serves as a sturdy mattress foundation. Since these beds are already designed to hold a mattress, there is no need for any additional support systems. For more information about platform beds and their support capabilities, see this abstract. Check out our comprehensive guide on whether or not you need a box spring with a platform bed; you can also learn more about different types of platform beds and their pros and cons by reading our in-depth guide.
Slats can be used with Trundle Beds, Bunkie boards make great alternatives
With a typical trundle bed, one bed is stored under the main bed, saving some space when it’s not in use. While the main bed might not require any additional support, the trundle bed is only supported by a set of slats. Therefore, you might want to give this mattress extra support by adding another mattress foundation.
Since the trundle bed has to be stored underneath the main bed, there might not be enough space to use a box spring as a foundation. Instead, you could use low profile options such as plywood, a low profile box spring, or a split bunkie board. Any of these alternatives would work as long as the size of the bed is considered when choosing the mattress foundation.
To get further information about the size of a trundle bed, follow the link to our article.
Futon Beds may need a bunkie board or an alternative, depending on configuration
Modern futons are essentially sofas that can be easily transformed into a bed. These are especially practical for rooms with limited space, but futons generally need a mattress foundation for additional comfort. Good options would be plywood or a regular box spring on top of a few slats, but you can use another type of bunkie board alternative depending on what material the futon mattress is made of.
Adjustable Beds cannot utilize typical bed foundations
The surface of an adjustable bed can be modified to a few distinct positions, allowing the user to feel more comfortable while resting or sleeping. Since these beds come in a curved design, the use of a bunkie board or alternative support isn’t an option. These beds are already equipped with a special mobile support system that can provide a solid foundation for the mattress.
Examples of Bunkie Board Alternatives
Below, you’ll find some examples of recommended bunkie board alternatives.
|Product Name and Link to Amazon||Type of Mattress Foundation||Why Is This a Good Bunkie Board Alternative?||Approximate Price|
|Classic Brands Attached Solid Wood Bed Support Slats||Slats||Solid supportRelatively inexpensiveEasy to replace individual slats||~$120|
|Single Piece of Baltic Birch Plywood||Plywood||DIY with needed dimensions and thicknessRelatively cheap option||~$30|
|Zinus Armita 7-Inch Steel Mattress Foundation||Box Spring||Pressure point managementBodyweight absorption||~$200|
|Zinus Edgar 4-Inch Low Profile Wood Box Spring||Low Profile Box Spring||Modern designDoes not add significant height to the bedProvides a sturdy foundation||~$230|
|Greaton 2-Inch Wood Split Bunkie Board||Split Bunkie Board||Easy to fold and moveRelatively lightweightEasy to fit in the bed frame||~$90|