Understanding Bed Slats

What are bed slats?

Slats are one type of bed frame base. They consist of a series of connected wooden planks or bars that stretch across the width of the bed in question. They are almost always made of solid, sturdy wood. There are two types of slats: solid and sprung, with sprung slats being slightly arched and made of a softer wood that can bend to a certain degree. 

Purpose of bed slats

The general purpose of bed slats is to support your mattress, much like a box spring. However, they are also designed so that a box spring is not necessary, catering to those who feel that box springs are a waste of money and space. They’re commonly used in situations where a sleeper benefits from a supported mattress but does not want to invest in a bulky box spring. 

Read also: Do I Need A Boxspring If I Have Slats?

Do bed slats make a difference?

In short, yes. Bed slats do make a difference. The difference when compared to boxsprings specifically comes in when you consider that a slatted base is lighter, easier to maneuver, and cheaper than box springs. In terms of support, though, there isn’t too much of a difference unless your slats are unevenly or unfavorably spaced, or the material used to make your slats is not strong enough, in which case, the slats will not work properly. 

How big should the gap between slats be?

There are no specific rules when it comes to slat spacing. In general, though, the closer the slats are together the more support you’ll have. Slat spacing should be 2”-4 ½” inches apart, with the sweet spot being 3 inches. 

Types of bed slats

Slats are made of either wood or metal. Wood slats can be prone to bowing, whereas metal slats will not. Both are great options. 

What is the best wood for bed slats?

Wooden slats can be made out of a variety of woods. This includes cherry, mahogany, and pine. Any wood that is easy to work with and relatively strong will do. Softwoods are not usually used to make slats, as they bend and bow and are not as resistant to pressure or weight. 

Can you put a mattress on wood slats?

Yes, you can – but should you? This is debatable because it is physically possible to put a mattress onto slats, but it may compromise your bed’s support. Wood slats come in packages and are the most popular type of slats for resting a mattress on. Metal slats aren’t as flexible and are not as easy to arrange for optimal support, so they almost always need something between them and the mattress.


  • Michael Roempke
    at 3:52 pm

    The motorhome which I was delivering has bed-mattress over wood slats and when I attempted using, I heard a wood slat give and then break. This was not the first time this occurred. My weight of 200 pds. should not factor into it.

  • Michael Roempke
    at 6:57 pm

    Some motorhomes are furnished with the bed having wood slats. I attempted kneeling onto the mattress and heard a wood slat snap and give in. This was not the first occasion of this occurrence. I don’t think being 200 pds. enters into the equation.

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