How to Disassemble a Sleigh Bed – Step by Step

Whether you have a traditional wooden sleigh bed or a contemporary leather and upholstered sleigh bed, when it comes to packing up your bedroom, disassembling the bed may seem like the most troublesome task. However, when the disassembly is done with the right tools and some know-how, you can move or replace your existing sleigh bed with ease. We’ll discuss how to disassemble a sleigh bed in this article. 

To disassemble a sleigh bed, remove everything from the bed, detach the slats from the bed, and tape the slat pieces together, then detach the side rails, and tape the side rails together, and finally remove the headboard and footboard. 

What Is a Sleigh Bed?

A sleigh bed is a timeless bed design that can work well in both traditional and contemporary design schemes. They are popular for their sturdiness, elegance, and unique shape. Read our article on sleigh bed styles to learn more about the wide variety of sleigh beds that are available. 

A sleigh bed is a style of bed that curves outward at the headboard and footboard. Sleigh beds come in a wide variety of designs, colors, and sizes. They can be made of wood or metal, and come in upholstered versions.

Before moving on, make sure to also reference our entire guide that answers the somewhat simple question, what is a sleigh bed? We think you’ll also find interest in our definitive guide to sleigh bed pros and cons. Make sure to check that article out as well.

A sleigh bed includes a scrolled headboard and footboard.A sleigh bed with a tufted upholstered headboard and footboard creates an elegant look in a bedroom. Image source: Amazon.

Traditional sleigh beds are larger than the majority of other designs, with most models having large side panels which reduce the under-bed area. While this limits storage space underneath the bed, you can choose a sleigh bed that includes a built-in storage area as part of the frame that lifts up. Read our article about lift-up storage sleigh beds to choose between traditional and lift-up storage sleigh beds. You may also find interest in our guide to sleigh bed lift kits too. This article will help you maximize the storage space you have underneath your traditional sleigh bed too.

There are several components to a sleigh bed which include its often ornate head and footboards, as well as the side rails that add to the sleigh bed’s elegant features. Read our step-by-step article about how to replace a sleigh bed’s side rails if your rails are damaged and need replacing. 

Materials Needed to Disassemble a Sleigh Bed

Below is a summary of the materials needed to disassemble a sleigh bed:

Materials Needed Notes Amazon Product Example Price
Drill  A drill is used to unscrew some screws and loosen the pegs that hold the posts to the headboard and footboard Black+Decker Cordless Drill ~$70
Screwdriver A screwdriver is used to unscrew the sideboards of the bed and any beams that run through the middle of the headboard or footboard 8 in 1 Screwdriver ~$10
Mattress Bag and Box The mattress bag will help protect your mattress while you disassemble and move your bed to a new location Mattress Box Kit ~$55
Packaging Tape with a Tape Gun The tape will hold all the slats and rails together when transporting them, to prevent anything from getting lost or damaged.  Packing Tape Gun ~$15

Before you start disassembling that sleigh bed, make sure to take a look at 5 methods to turn a sleigh bed into a bench and how to turn a sleigh bed into a couch. We even have a step-by-step guide on how to turn a sleigh bed into a porch swing. Who knows, maybe you can repurpose it.

Steps to Disassemble a Sleigh Bed

If the bed came with an instruction manual or if one is available online, the disassembly and reassembly process will be much easier. Some people suggest using the assembly manual in reverse, but this could sometimes be confusing. Below we describe general steps, for more specific steps refer to a manual like this one for assembly of a Colorado sleigh bed.

To disassemble a sleigh bed first remove all bedding and the mattress from the bed. Then detach the slats from the bed and tape them together. Next detach the side rails, tape them together and place the screws, nuts and bolts into a plastic zipper bag. Finally remove the headboard and footboard and wrap them in bubble-wrap to protect them. 

Before getting started, examine the bed frame to determine the tools needed for disassembly. Then get another person to help because disassembling a bulky bed frame such as a sleigh bed is definitely a two-person job, and you don’t want to get hurt. This article from Europe PMC discusses three approaches to avoid lower back injury when lifting heavy items, like bulky sleigh beds. 

Step 1. Remove Everything from the Bed

You first need to remove all pillows and bedding from the sleigh bed. Strip all the bed linen, then wash them, dry them, and fold them neatly to pack them away. Many people like using vacuum bags like these from Amazon to store linens because they reduce the volume of bulky items. 

Next, lift and remove the mattress from the bed and slide it into a plastic mattress storage bag with the help of another person. Read our article on folding mattresses to move them for some tips to avoid damaging your mattress. 

Use storage bags for bedding when you dismantle a sleigh bed Vacuum storage bags remove the bulk when storing bedding. Image source: Amazon.

Step 2. Detach the Slats from the Bed

Now that you see only the slats and the frame, it is time to remove the slats from the rails. If your slats are joined together, you may be able to roll them up. If not, then you will need to unscrew each slat individually. Use a drill and a screwdriver to unscrew the slats from the holes in the side rails. Drop the screws, bolts, and nuts in sealable plastic bags to ensure you don’t lose any. Make sure you label the packages so there won’t be any confusion about what goes where when you reassemble the bed frame.  

Step 3. Tape Slat Pieces Together

Once you’ve removed the slats, stack them and secure them together using wide tape. If the slats are attached to middle posts, untighten and remove the posts. Then place the posts together and secure them with tape too. If you want to add extra protection to the side rails and posts then consider using bubble-wrap.

Step 4. Detach Side Rails

Now it’s time to detach the side rails from the head and footboard. If the side rails are attached to the headboard and footboard with screws, use a screwdriver to remove the screws, nuts, or bolts. However, if the rails are connected with brackets that hook into the bottom inside of the headboard and the footboard, then lift one bedpost and position the weight of the bed on a block to push the brackets loose. 

Dismantle a sleigh bed by removing the side rails from the headboard or footboard Side rails can hook into slots in the bed posts. Image source: Amazon.

Step 5. Tape Side Rails Together

Like the slats, you need to stack the side rails together and tape them to protect them from getting lost or damaged. After taping them, you can wrap them in bubble-wrap for extra protection. 

If you have a wooden bed frame, you should wrap the rails with moving blankets, instead of a plastic material to avoid scratching the surface of the wood. If you have a metal bed frame, you should wrap the rail in bubble wrap to protect the frame from dings, dents, and scratches. 

Step 6. Remove the Headboard and Footboard

The final step in disassembling a sleigh bed requires that you remove the headboard and footboard. After unscrewing the headboard and footboard, make sure you store them properly according to the material they’re made of. For more information about different headboard materials, read our article on how headboards work.   

How To Disassemble A Storage Sleigh Bed

Assembly instructions for a storage sleigh bed can be used in reverse to disassemble itImage from lilic queen storage sleigh bed assembly manual.

Though a storage sleigh bed might look complicated to disassemble, the process doesn’t actually differ that much from a traditional sleigh bed. This is because the storage system is attached to the side rails. So, the same steps used for dismantling the side rails for a traditional sleigh bed will be followed for disassembling the storage sleigh bed. Here are some tips to follow.

To disassemble a storage sleigh bed, remove everything from the bed, detach the storage side rails from the headboard and footboard, and collect all the screws in a zip-lock plastic bag to avoid losing anything.

Step 1. Remove Everything From the Bed

Start by removing the pillows and the bedding from the bed. Then, empty the storage drawers. If the drawers are full of items, it’ll be very hard to detach the rails and to disassemble the bed. Next remove the slats before starting the disassembly process. Use a screwdriver or a drill to unscrew the slats if they’re screwed to the side rails.

Step 2. Detach the Storage Side Rails

Detach the first storage side rail by pulling it out of the post slots if the side rails are attached to the head and footboards by hooks. If the rails are screwed to the head and footboards, use a screwdriver to unscrew them. Repeat the same process with the other side. Be careful while detaching the storage side rails since they tend to be much heavier than ordinary side rails. Have someone to help you so that you don’t injure yourself or damage the bed. 

Step 3. Collect the Screws in a Zip-lock Plastic Bag

A storage sleigh bed usually used more screws than a traditional sleigh bed—all of which are essential for the reassembly process. To avoid losing any screws, collect all of the screws in a zip-lock bag, and clearly label the bag with a permanent marker

How to Dismantle a Sleigh Bed Headboard or Footboard

Sometimes people need to change only the headboard or the footboard of their beds. This is actually an easy thing to do because you only need to dismantle either the headboard or the footboard, not the whole bed. Read our article on how to replace a footboard on a sleigh bed for helpful tips to remove and replace a footboard. 

To dismantle a sleigh bed headboard or footboard, first remove the mattress, then remove the slats, and finally detach the footboard or the headboard from the side rails.

Step 1. Remove the Mattress

The first thing to do to dismantle either the head or the footboard of your sleigh bed is to remove the mattress. Removing the mattress makes it easier to reach the brackets that connect the side rails to the head and footboards. You need to have your bed frame exposed to see how the headboard and footboard are attached to the rails. 

Step 2. Remove The Slats

After removing the mattress, you need to remove the slats. The slats can be joined together like these ones, so you might need to roll them up. If they are screwed to the bed frame, unscrew them with a screwdriver. Then, you can easily remove them from the bed. After doing so, you will have the headboard and footboard totally exposed and you can see exactly how they are attached to the rails. 

Step 3. Detach the Headboard or the Footboard

There are three possible ways the head and footboards might be attached to the side rails. First, they might be screwed to the rails. In this case, simply use your drill or screwdriver to remove the screws. Alternatively, the rails can be attached to the head and footboards with hooks, so you’ll need to pull them up out of the post slots. The third possible way which the headboard and footboard may be attached is with both screws and glue. In this case, you need to heat the glue with a hairdryer, but you need to be very careful not to damage the finish. Then you can remove the screws and detach the head or the footboard. Read our article on fixing a wobbly headboard for more information about headboards and how to fix them if they need a little tightening.