What Is a Bunkie Board?
All beds have three essential components: a bed frame, a mattress, and a mattress support system. The mattress support system prevents the mattress from falling through the frame. There are commonly three types of support systems: box-spring mattresses, slats, and bunkie boards. So, if you're wondering 'What is a bunkie board?', the answer is ...
Bunkie boards are a type of mattress support system composed of a single, flat board that has been covered with cloth. They are much thinner than box-springs--typically only two inches thick--and are therefore convenient if you need to support your mattress without adding too much additional height.
- How to fix a squeaky bunkie board
- The best bunkie boards for different mattresses
- How much weight does a bunkie board hold?
What Is a Bunkie Board Made of?
Bunkie boards can be made of particle board, plywood or solid wood. Each material has both pros and cons.
Plywood is made of thin layers of wood glued together with an adhesive. Bunkie boards made of plywood are light and long lasting, but can be more expensive than particle board (unless you decide to use plywood to make your own bunkie board).
Particle board is made of wood chips which have been glued together. Bunkie boards made of particle board are the cheapest option. But you need to be careful when choosing a bunkie board made of particle board because particle board has been shown to have associated health risks.
After time the particle board will begin to disintegrate, releasing formaldehyde fumes, which may be toxic. To reduce health risks, take note of the kind of formaldehyde being used when choosing particle board.
Particle board is produced using either urea-formaldehyde (UF) or phenol-formaldehyde (PF). Urea-formaldehyde is more toxic, and should be avoided, whereas the phenol-formaldehyde (PF) is still toxic, but will not leak fumes, and should be safer (alternative link).
Solid wood bunkie boards are long lasting, but they’re heavy, expensive, and can be quite hard to find.
You can tell what a second-hand Bunkie board is made of by removing the cloth covering and checking whether or not it has a veneer covering particle board or plywood, or if it’s made of solid wood.
For a detailed guide about 'what is a bunkie board made of', read this article.
|Particle board||Cheap |
Available in different densities. Low density fibreboard, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and hardwood.
|Higher density fiberboards can be heavier. |
Prone to expanding when exposed to moisture.
Can leak toxic fumes.
Lower shelf life.
If the glue disintegrates, so will the particleboard.
|Plywood||Needs less adhesives than particleboard. |
Less density than particle board, therefore lighter.
Cheaper than particular board if you are making the bunkie board yourself.
Lasts longer than particle board.
Cheaper than solid wood.
The fibres are applied in layers with a crisscross pattern, and are less prone to disintegrating than particle board fibers.
|More expensive than particle board. |
Here's a detailed guide comparing using plywood sheets vs. bunkie boards
|Solid wood||Lasts longer than plywood. |
Uses significantly less glue, reducing health problems.
|Can be more expensive. |
Can be hard to find bunkie boards made of solid wood.
What Is a Bunkie Board Used for?
Mattresses need to be elevated off the floor or they will become damp, resulting in problems such as mold. Bunkie boards are the thinnest mattress support systems available, providing airflow with the minimum amount of space and materials. They are ideal for use with memory foam and latex mattresses.
Overview of Bunkie Board Alternatives
Here is a brief overview comparing different types of mattress support systems with bunkie boards in different situations:
|Support system and Situation you might be in||Why this system may be problematic||The recommended solution (is a Bunkie board needed? necessary / not absolutely necessary)|
|You are using a Memory or latex foam mattress on a box-spring.||The springs of the box-spring will disfigure and damage the foam.||Use a bunkie board instead, or put a bunkie board between the box-spring and mattress (necessary).|
|You are using a box-spring that is disintegrating due to age.||It is expensive and inconvenient to get a new box-spring. The box spring may also damage any mattress you put on it.||Use a bunkie board instead of a box spring, or put a bunkie board between the box-spring and mattress (necessary).|
|You are using a new mattress on a new box-spring||Box-spring adds too much height to your bed.||Use a bunkie board instead to reduce the height (not absolutely necessary).|
|You are using a box-spring on a bunk bed.||The box-spring may be too heavy and cause undue strain on the bunk bed, and the height of box-spring may decrease the room available to the sleeper.||Replace the box-spring with a Bunkie board (absolutely necessary).|
|You are using slats or a Bunkie board to support a heavy mattress.||There will be visible signs of strain and eventually, breakage in the slats and bunkie board||Use both wooden slats and a Bunkie board to ensure your mattress can be supported (absolutely necessary). Can a bunkie board replace slats?|
|You are using a foam mattress on a plywood platform.||There is no airflow underneath the mattress, which makes the bed prone to mold.||Replace the plywood with a slat-based Bunkie board (absolutely necessary).|
|You have an innerspring mattress on a plywood platform.||Your mattress cannot breathe on plywood so it may accumulate moisture and get moldy.||Replace the Plywood with a well-ventilated bunkie board (absolutely necessary).|
A bunkie board is necessary as a mattress base because you need to provide enough ventilation to a mattress and you need to support the shape of your mattress. The most notable features of bunkie boards are how thin and cheap they are. Make sure to also check out our article, mattress foundations vs bed frames for more information and ideas too.
Bunkie Board vs Box-spring
The difference between bunkie boards and box-springs is that the bunkie board is thinner. Box-springs are much larger and heavier. Bunkie boards take up much less space and are much lighter. Finally, bunkie boards are cheaper than box-springs.
However, there are some advantages that box-springs have over bunkie boards. For instance, they are more durable. Also, they are much less likely to move around in response to active bed occupants, or earthquakes.
|Product qualities||Bunkie board||Box-spring|
Bunkie Board vs Plywood
You may use plywood instead of a bunkie board. It is cheaper. But the lack of airflow will mean that you will not be able to put a foam mattress on top without having issues with mold, and other moisture accumulation related problems. Whereas a piece of plywood has no structure through which to allow airflow, Bunkie boards are a small frame with slats and a cloth covering, which is more naturally conducive to maintaining ventilation.
Bunkie Board vs Slats
Slats offer similar results to bunkie boards, but with less support for mattresses. If you are using a memory or latex foam mattress, slats will dig into the mattress potentially causing damage.
A slat frame can be used in conjunction with a bunkie board to give the frame more support for a heavy mattress.
|Product qualities||Bunkie board||Slats|
How Thick Should a Bunkie Board Be / Bunkie Board Dimensions
|Bunkie Board Sizes||Dimensions (Inches)||Dimensions (Centimeters)||Best Use||Example from Amazon|
|Twin Bunkie Board Size||39" X 75" X 1.5"-2"H||99cm X 190.5cm X 3.81cm -5.08cm||Bunk beds,day beds,twin beds, trundle beds||Golda Multi Slat Base|
|Twin XL Bunkie Board Size||39" X 80" X 1.5"-2"H||99cm X 203.5cm X 3.81cm -5.08cm||Twin XL beds||Simple Contemporary Twin Bunkie|
|Full Bunkie Board Size||54" X 75" X 1.5"-2"H||134.5cm X 190.5cm X 3.81cm -5.08cm||Full sized beds||Pemberly Row Bunkie.|
|Queen Bunkie Board Size||60” x 80” x 1.5” - 2” H||152.5cm X 203.5cm X 3.81cm -5.08cm||Queen sized beds, bunk beds with a queen-sized bottom bunk||.|
|King Bunkie Board Size||76” x 84” x 1.5” - 2” H||193cm X 203.5cm X 3.81cm -5.08cm||King sized beds||Traditional King Bunkie from Bowery Hill.|
|California King Bunkie Board Size||72” x 84” x 1.5” - 2” H||183cm X 213.5cm X 3.81cm -5.08cm||California king sized beds||Nader's Cal King Bunkie (not on Amazon).|
Bunkie boards are usually two inches thick, but if your mattress is very heavy, such as a high density foam mattress, you may need a thicker Bunkie board.
Do I Need a Bunkie Board for a Platform Bed?
The main issue with any mattress is maintaining airflow. Both bunkie boards and box-springs can be used on platform beds but there generally isn’t a need for it since the platform bed will have a flat top or a slatted top already.
If you really want to put a foundation on top of your platform bed, consider the following: while bunkie boards are less durable, they add less height to the mattress, which may look nicer in the case of platform beds that are low to the ground.
Do I Need a Bunkie Board on Top of a Box-Spring?
If you have a foam mattress and a bed foundation with a box-spring, you may need to put a bunkie board on top of the box-spring. This will ensure that the springs do not warp the shape of the foam.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article about bunkie boards! You now have a better understanding of the difference between bunkie boards, box-springs, plywood, and slats. You can now pick the mattress support system for your bed!