What Are Bunkie Boards Made of? What’s the best bunkie board material?
A bunkie board is a solid platform attached to a bed frame or placed on top of a slatted bed base to support the mattress. Bunkie boards range in thickness from 1 to 3 inches. The thickness depends on the kind of bed you have and how much height you want to give to the mattress.
Bunkie boards are made of Plywood, Particle Board, Solid Wood or Steel. Sometimes fabric is used to cover the Bunkie board.
Bunkie boards can be used in platform beds, day beds, bunk beds, and even trundle beds. Their purpose is to provide support to the mattress just like the bed slats and the box spring do.
Why Use Bunkie Boards?
So what is a bunkie board and why use a Bunkie board when you can use a box spring or when you already have bed slats?
Bunkie boards are much thinner than box springs, and are therefore ideal when you don’t want to add too much height to your mattress. Bunkie boards also protect memory foam and latex mattresses from damage caused by slatted bed bases.
Let us talk about box springs first. The primary difference between a box spring and a bunkie board is that most box springs are very thick in size and may add too much height to the mattress. If you are already using a thick mattress, and don’t want your mattress to be too far off the ground, a bunkie board is an excellent choice. Moreover, Bunkie boards can be less expensive than box springs. If you’d like to learn how to fix a squeaky box spring first, before considering a bunkie board, you might enjoy our step-by-step guide.
Bunkie boards may also be useful when you use bed slats as a base to support your mattress. Bed slats have gaps in between them and those gaps can affect a mattress’s longevity and durability, especially if it’s a memory foam or latex mattress. In fact, some mattress companies will void the mattress warranty if the mattress isn’t laid on a proper platform.
Make sure to check out our favorite bunkie boards here. We discuss the best bunkie board for innerspring, memory foam, latex foam, and hybrid mattresses.
What Materials Are Bunkie Boards Made of?
Bunkie boards are made of one of the following materials:
- Particle Board
- Solid Wood
Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each material so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
The most common material to make bunkie boards is plywood. As you know, plywood is not a type of wood but a material made out of layers of wood veneer glued together. Wood veneer is a thin sheet of wood often used as a decorative top layer in wooden furniture. In plywood, however, a number of wood veneer layers are glued together with a strong adhesive.
When layered, the grains of the wood veneers are alternated. This, as well as the adhesive material used to glue the veneers together, provides stability to the plywood.
Bunkie boards made of Plywood are lighter and stronger than bunkie boards made of particle board, and much lighter than (though not as strong as) bunkie boards made of steel. The density of an average plywood is about 600 kilograms per cubic meter. A 1.5 inch-thick plywood bunkie board for a double bed will weigh around 23 pounds. In addition to being lightweight, plywood also resists moisture better than particle board, making it a better choice for people living in humid climates. Note that you can use plywood alone to replace a bunkie board (as a low cost alternative).
The downside of bunkie boards made of plywood compared to particle board is the price; plywood is more expensive than particle board.
Particle board, also known as LDF or light density fiber-board, is another material that bunkie boards are made of. Just like plywood, it’s also a wood based material. Because particle board is made of waste wood (like wood chips and sawmill shavings), it’s more environmentally friendly than plywood.
Waste wood is pressed together using adhesives and heat to make particle board. Additional chemicals are added to make the material more resistant to moisture, fire and termites.
The biggest advantage to bunkie boards made of particle board is their affordability. Bunkie boards made of particle board are less expensive than plywood or steel bunkie boards. Particle board is also much lighter than steel (though still heavier than plywood). While particle board is designed to be moisture resistant, it’s still less moisture resistant than plywood.
Particle board comes in different qualities. Grade A particle board is better quality than grade B particle board, but it might be more expensive. When buying a bunkie board made of particle board be sure to ask the grade of particle board used.
The biggest disadvantage to particle board is the strength of the material; particle board is the weakest material bunkie boards are made of.
A particle board bunkie board is a good choice if you are looking for a cheaper option or temporary solution to provide support to your mattress. Particle board Bunkie beds are available in different thicknesses ranging from 1 to 4 inches.
Bunkie boards made up of solid wood are also available. The types of wood used can vary and can affect the price of the bunkie board. The advantage of a solid wood Bunkie board over plywood or particle board is that it is much more sturdy.
While solid wood is much stronger than plywood or particle board, it’s also heavier and much more expensive than both the plywood and the particle board.
Additionally, solid wood is prone to changing its shape slightly due to weather. Bunkie boards made of solid wood may expand in humid conditions, or contract in drier climates. If this happens, your bunkie board may no longer fit your bed frame.
Bunkie boards made of steel are the strongest of all the Bunkie board options available. Unlike, other bunkie boards, steel bunkie boards do not come in the form of a solid sheet. Steel bunkie boards are made of steel slats held together by a steel frame.
Similar to a slat platform, steel bunkie boards have gaps between the slats, but may come with a thick fabric cover. Because steel bunkie boards can bear the most weight, it’s an ideal option for use in the upper part of a bunk or loft bed. Another benefit of a steel Bunkie board is that it is resistant to both fire and water, and you don’t have to worry about termites eating away your furniture. Bunkie beds made of steel also won’t warp or change due to weather conditions.
The biggest disadvantage of bunkie boards made of steel that they do not provide as much protection for your mattress. Even though the steel slats may be covered in thick fabric, they will dig into the mattress when you put pressure on it. This may cause damage to the mattress. This is especially the case with memory foam and latex mattresses. Using a bunkie board made of steel may even void your memory foam or latex mattress warranty. Therefore, steel bunkie boards are not suitable for memory foam or latex mattresses. Steel bunkie boards may also squeak more often. You may want to read our article on how to fix a squeaky bunkie board.
Steel Bunkie boards are also much heavier than the other Bunkie boards, which makes them difficult to carry and transport. Steel Bunkie boards are more expensive than plywood and particle board. However, even with the added weight, they are great foundations for trundle day beds.
Which Bunkie Board Material is The Best?
No one material can be ranked the best because each material has its own pros and cons. However, one material might be better for your needs. We have discussed a variety of factors that can help you make the right decision about what bunkie board will be the best for you.
Here’s a summary of the different criteria that you should use to find which bunkie board material is the best for you:
- Steel is the best bunkie board material for weight bearing capacity. Steel is especially good if you are looking for a Bunkie board for your bunk bed or loft bed. Sometimes steel bunkie boards come with aesthetic fabric covers, which is a great thing if you are using a bunkie board on the top bed of a bunk or loft bed. This is because the bunkie board will be visible from beneath.
- Plywood is the best bunkie board material for portability. If you want something that is lightweight or easily portable, then we advise you to go for a plywood or particle board bunkie board. Some of these bunkie boards are also foldable, making them even easier to move around.
- Steel is the most durable bunkie board material. If you think a steel bunkie board with slats is too heavy, or if you’re using a memory foam or latex mattress, the next best option for durability is a solid wood bunkie board.
- Solid wood and steel are the best bunkie boards due to their resistance against damage to humidity and damage. If this is your number one concern, then forget about particle board. Even though particle board is made somewhat resistant to water, fire and insects, it still is the least resistant to environmental damage compared to the other bunkie board materials. Extreme humidity can sometimes cause the layers of plywood to come part. Solid wood is more resistant to environmental factors, but may also experience changes in size and shape due to weather. That leaves us with stainless steel bunkie boards which are not only resistant to changes in weather but also can’t be eaten by termites.
- Plywood and particle board are the cheapest bunkie board materials. Although they are less durable than the other options, they provide good value for money.
We recommend you to take into account all these factors when choosing your bunkie board to make the best decision for your resources and needs. Also note that box springs are a great alternative to bunkie boards (although, as outlined above, they have their own advantages and disadvantages). You may also like this article on all the bunkie board alternatives.
Examples of Bunkie Boards Made of Different Materials
|Product Name||Material||Price||Product Link|
|Acme 02529 Twin Bunkie Board||Plywood||~$45||See on Amazon|
|Continental Sleep 2-Inch Wood Split Bunkie Board||Solid Wood||~$175||See on Amazon|
|Signature Sleep Ultra Steel Bunkie Board||Steel||~$100||See on Amazon|
|DMI Folding Bunkie Bed Board||Particle Board||~$35||See on Amazon|