Solid Wood vs. Plywood: Which is Best for your Bed Frame?

Bed Frames
February 1, 2021

Having a strong reliable bed frame is essential when you want something that will last for years to come.

So what is the difference between solid wood and plywood? Which should you choose for your next bed frame purchase? Here is a quick description of each and the pros and cons for both.

Solid Wood

Let's start by talking about the almighty solid wood.

Solid wood is made up of slabs of sawn wood that are then kiln dried. When lumber is cut from logs, it is usually cut in one of three ways: quarter sawn, rift sawn, or plain sawn. Each of these sawing methods allow the grain of the wood to be shown in varying patterns.

Solid wood is then dried in a kiln which removes 90-95% of the moisture from the wood.

Pros

  • Considered to be "top of the line"
  • Less moisture in the wood which prevents warping due to kiln drying
  • Strong and stable due to kiln drying
  • Has stood the test of time - a process that has been alive for thousands of years
  • Aesthetically pleasing - varying wood grains

Cons

  • Solid wood will shrink and expand due to changing seasons and atmospheric humidity despite kiln drying

Plywood

Plywood, on the other hand, is made up of multiple sheets of wood that are them layered on top of each other and glued together. Something interesting about plywood is that each layer is places so that the grain direction is 90 degrees to the adjacent layer.

To put it more simply, the layers are oriented in such a way that the grain is going against each other, creating more "friction" and thereby resulting in a stronger piece of plywood.

Pros

  • Less susceptible to cracking, shrinking, and warping
  • More affordable
  • Can be easily painted or stained, meaning customizability is more of an option

Cons

  • Not as strong as solid wood - more prone to sagging
  • Easy to get splinters during transportation

Conclusion

So based on this research, which type of wood is better and more long lasting for your next bed frame? Solid wood is stronger, more aesthetically pleasing, but is more prone to warping and is unfortunately more expensive than plywood. Plywood, on the other hand, is less susceptible to cracking, shrinking, and warping and is more affordable, however it is more prone to sagging. Both are solid choices (pun intended), but as with many things in life the choice is up to you. Ultimately what it comes down to is the design of the bed frame itself. Do the pieces of plywood/solid wood assemble in such a way that it enhances the woods strength? Definitely consider this when you are thinking about buying a solid wood bed frame as the wood will shrink and expand over time.