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Bed Slats vs Plywood: Which is Best for your Bed Frame?

Carl Heinrichs, owner of Quagga Designs.
Written by,

Carl Heinrichs

CEO of Quagga

Are you wondering what type of slats is best for your mattress to rest on so you can get a good night's sleep?

Deciding which type and material your mattress rests on does not just influence your mattress's longevity and sleep quality!

In this article, we will compare bed slats vs plywood so you can choose the right bed frame. We will answer the most commonly asked questions and share everything you need to know about these two materials to feel confident in your choice!

What are bed slats?

A brown stained bed frame without a mattress with a headboard on a white background

Bed slats are strips of wood on your bed frame where your mattress rests. They provide support and help keep your bed steady.

Bed slats are usually made from pine or beech wood. They are also available in various sizes and thicknesses to meet the needs of different frames.


  • Circulation: Bed slats provide air circulation to your mattress, which regulates your body temperature, so you have a better, healthier sleep!
  • Portability: A slatted bed base is lighter than other frames making it easier to move if you ever want to want to rearrange your furniture or are moving locations.
  • Replaceable: Due to how light they are, bed slats are easy to install (place them on the frame of your bed), and you can easily replace bed slats.


  • Less Durable: Bed slats support your back but are less durable than some frames and can easily break if not properly taken care of. It may also be unsuitable for heavier, dense mattresses (e.g. a solid memory foam mattress). However, they can still handle box springs.

As you can see, bed slats provide air circulation through your mattress, so your body's temperature is regulated. They're lightweight, portable, and easily replaceable.

Where they fall short is in their durability. Consider the weight and density of the mattress you place on top of the bed frame to ensure nothing breaks. However, replacing bed slats will be no problem if they do break!

What is plywood?

Sheets of plywood next to each other
Credit: / @cottonbro

Plywood is made of solid wood strips glued together in alternating grains. This makes it strong and sturdy, as the layers of wood act like reinforcements against pressure.

Plywood bed frames are usually more expensive than bed slat frames but are much sturdier. They can easily support heavier mattresses (e.g., a dense foam mattress).


  • Durability: Unlike slatted bed bases, a plywood platform bed provides a solid structured bed base for all mattresses, including a heavy dense foam mattress. A plywood slatted bed base can have slats on its side to increase the load capacity significantly!
  • Firmness: Since plywood slats are stronger than regular bed slats, this can provide a firm feel to your mattress, which is always better for your back! Your chiropractor will thank you for it.
  • Style: Compared to bed slats, plywood frames come in more unique styles and designs, so you can easily find one to fit the aesthetics of your room.


  • Weight: Plywood bed frames are heavier than bed slat frames due to the solid wooden base. Moving is difficult if you frequently rearrange your furniture.
  • Expense: Plywood frames are typically more expensive than bed slat bed frames as they require more materials and labor.

Plywood frames are much sturdier than bed slats and can easily handle heavier mattresses. They come in various styles and designs but are heavier and more expensive.


Can I use plywood instead of bed slats?

The Quagga No Fuss Plus bed frame on a wooden floor with white walls

Yes, you can use plywood instead of bed slats!

Plywood is an incredibly versatile material whose strength and flexibility make it a great option for furniture pieces like beds or other types of furniture.

Due to the strength of plywood, your mattress can feel much firmer than regular bed slats, dramatically improving your sleep and back health! (Don't believe us? Look at our platform bed frame reviews and see how our platform beds have transformed how people sleep!)

Overall, plywood is an excellent choice if you're looking for a sturdy, stylish bed frame.

Is it OK to put a mattress on plywood?

The No Fuss Plus bed frame with a mattress and bedding on a wooden floor with white walls next to a nightstand

Yes, it is OK to put a mattress on plywood.

Plywood is not only good for making furniture, but it can also provide a solid support surface for you and your mattress.

Checking your plywood slats' thickness, strength, and spacing is important before throwing your mattress on some wooden slats.

The thicker the plywood, the better to provide lots of support. However, bed slat spacing is the thing you should pay the most attention to.

Most mattress manufacturers and experts recommend 2-2.75 inches for ideal bed slat spacing, and most frames abide by this rule. This will give your mattress the perfect support and air circulation.

This bed spacing is the recommended standard, but depending on your mattress type, you can get away with spacing closer or further apart.

For example, if you have a dense mattress like a memory foam mattress, you'll likely want to get the recommended slat spacing of at least two inches. Memory foam mattresses may droop between the slat spacing, damaging your expensive mattress, causing discomfort, and affecting your back health and sleep!

If you have a spring mattress, you can get away with bed slats that are further apart (make sure they aren't too far apart to the point where your bed is not giving you enough support!)

Why do beds have slats instead of solid wood?

The top right corner of a brown stained bed frame with no mattress and a headboard on a wood floor against a stone wall

Beds that are constructed with slats instead of solid wood provide multiple benefits.

They allow more air to circulate beneath the mattress, making it last longer since there's less moisture buildup. This also prevents mold from accumulating, which is bad for your health!

Slats also provide a more comfortable sleeping experience by providing enough support that doesn't feel overly firm like a rigid platform. They add an extra support layer for the mattress to sit evenly on the frame.

Finally, they can be easily removed and taken apart when the bed needs to be moved or transported, reducing its overall weight.

With so many advantages, it's no wonder why slats have become such a popular choice as bed supports!

What's better, slats or base?

Choosing between slats or bases can be tricky when it comes to making sure your furniture is as comfortable and inviting as possible. 

Slats provide airflow to you and your mattress so you sleep comfortably. They evenly distribute your weight across the frame providing plenty of support. However, slats break a lot more easily and can shift around, which can cause the entire bed to feel uncomfortable and may affect your back health.

On the other hand, a quality base offers both sturdy support and superior comfort. everything stays in place, and there is less risk of anything breaking. They are also heavier and will make your mattress feel firmer. However, using a base may not offer the same stylish appeal as slats, and there may be a higher risk of mold accumulating since there is less air flowing through the mattress.

We may be biased, but we recommend getting high-quality plywood slats placed on their sides, like a platform bed frame from Quagga. They are strong and provide lots of airflow throughout your mattress, making this the perfect hybrid between a bed frame with slats and a base.

You may also be interested in having a sheet of plywood where your mattress rests rather than slats. Here are some common frame sizes:

  • Twin bed: 39” x 75”
  • Full size bed: 54” x 75”
  • Queen size bed: 60” x 80”
  • King size bed: 76” x 80”
  • California king size bed: 72” x 84”

Double check the dimensions of the bed you buy to ensure the sheet will fit in the frame.

Ultimately each situation requires careful consideration to make the best decision for you and your furniture!

Bed slats vs plywood: which should you choose?

Take time to figure out the bed frame that best meets your needs.

Consider bed slats for a lightweight bed frame that provides air circulation or plywood frames for a stronger bed frame with exceptional support.

Also, consider the weight of your mattress to prevent any slats from breaking. Plywood is much stronger than regular bed slats, so if you have a heavy, dense mattress like memory foam, choose this plywood over bed slats. And don't forget to consider the aesthetics of your room!

By understanding bed slats vs plywood, you can make the right choice for your bed frame and ensure a great night's sleep!

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Carl Heinrichs

CEO of Quagga
Carl Heinrichs is the Founder of Quagga, Canada's most innovative furniture design solutions that are easy to assemble and playfully made.

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