With decades of construction experience, I thought this would be a great project. I am stuck in Thailand right now and there are no pallets in this rural area so I researched how to build a pallet foundation for when I return to Nova Scotia after COVID-19.
Follow these steps to build a pallet foundation:
- Ask hardware store for free pallets
- Buy flat metal fasteners and 50 2” screws
- Buy a quart of paint
- Clean them with a pressure washer or bleach and water solution
- Place one against the wall with 48” sideways
- Place second against the first
- Add two or four more for height
- Fasten together
- Add mattress
The above video is one of three I wanted to share. It is more of an entertaining video that helps stimulate the creative brainstorming process for ideas to design your DIY build. The below articles are more step-by-step instructions to watch after you have a design in mind.
TIP: If you are only looking to adjust the height of your existing foundation you can follow one of the options in my article here.
Steps, Tools, Materials, and Cost
The below steps will guide you through this enjoyable DIY project from start to finish. I hope that I have the answers to any questions that you have during construction. Please let me know if I missed anything or how I can improve the guide.
How Many Pallets for a Full-Size Bed Frame, Tools, and Cost
The below video is a good step by step guide to building a free foundation that looks rustic, which is the goal right? Tools, materials, and costs required for this project include:
- four wood pallets that are dry, clean, and stain-free (free).
- an electric sander and 60 and 120 grit sandpaper ($30).
- an electric drill (If you want to DIY projects I am going to assume that you have one already).
- 12 simple flat metal brackets from your local hardware store. See the picture below ($25).
- 2” screws pack of 50 at Home Depot $8.34.
- a quart of paint or stain ($10).
- 2.5 – 3 inch (6 – 8cm) paintbrush ($5).
Total project cost is approximately $78.34 plus applicable taxes.
TIP: For more pallet specifications please see Wikipedia and you can download the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association specifications sheet.
Pallet Bed DIY Steps
- Locate free pallets: ask for freebies at your local hardware store, businesses in industrial parks, and moving companies. You can often find them piled near garbage dumpsters for businesses in industrial areas.
- Use bleach to soak the wood if they are dirty and contaminated. Rinse and let dry in the sun.
- Plugin your sander and invite your children to help with this task (age-appropriate of course) and use the 60 grit sandpaper first to remove the larger wood burrs. Sand the edges and will be exposed to feet and calves and also the top pallet so it doesn’t tear the mattress to pieces.
- Paint or stain the sanded wood until you get the finish that you want. An option is to add a sealer to protect the wood and paint against moisture and spills.
- Stack the first one against the wall where you want it installed with the longer end running left to right for a queen mattress.
- Place a second one on top of the first running in the same direction.
- Use two metal plates and screws to fasten the two pallets together on the left and right sides near the wall.
- Place the next two against the first two.
- Use two metal plates on each side (4 total) to fasten the new pallets to its mate against the wall.
- Use two metal plates on each side (4 total) to fasten the new pallets to each other, one near the middle and one near the foot.
- Use two metal plates on the foot to tie the top and bottom pallets together.
- Install the mattress and enjoy your awesome DIY accomplishment.
Are Pallet Beds Safe
They are safer than most one purchase at a store if built properly. Think about it, how much of the frame touches the floor with one purchased from a store? Most bed frames only have 4 – 12 legs to support the weight of:
- the bed frame: average 25 – 50 lb.
- box spring: 60 – 100 lb.
- mattress: 50 – 100 lb.
- two adults: 300 lb+.
- additional vertical and horizontal forces due to “activities” on the foundation.
The total weight is between 435 lb and 550 lb, which is not including forces from movement on the bed. With a four-leg bed frame that is between 109 lb and 138 lb per leg.
So the entire weight is distributed through the bed frame to only four points, which requires heavier construction of the structural system.
If your bed frame has 12 legs the weight distributed to each leg is between 36 lbs and 46 lb. More legs allow for less heavy construction to support the weight as it is dispersed over a bigger area.
With pallets, there are three are heavy lumber rails about four inches wide each plus heavy and strong wood boards to distribute the weight over a much larger area, so this construction method can support much more weight.
If the pallets are fastened together securely this is about the safest bed frame possible after a poured concrete frame!
How To Add Storage
Adding storage is a challenge with this design, but if you build it on casters it provides about 5″ of space underneath. You can also add a pallet headboard and build shelves in the spaces between the slats (or remove a slat or two)
This video is a good step-by-step guild for adding hidden storage space in the center of the bed, simply by lifting the bed with the assistance of hydraulic arms that are surprisingly cheap to purchase.
In this design, the frame is larger than the mattress so the sleeper must be careful when getting in and out of the bed, which is usually harder in the morning with a foggy head… unless you went to sleep wearing beer goggles.
How To Add Lights
If you want to spice up your DIY project and show it off to your friends the video above shows an easy and low-cost addition to impress your family and friends.
And of course it greatly enhances the decor and ambiance of your bedroom, and its functionality also.
The above video shows the construction step by step with a father and son team. Another great benefit of building a bed frame with pallets is that you can be built to many heights to meet your needs.
The teenager in this video wants to sleep low near the floor, so only one pallet high is adequate. Most standard pallets are 6.5” (16 cm) high so your options for bed frame height are:
Fake and Expensive Pallet Bed DIY Option
I watched the below video and was stunned. The video is titled Pallet Bed Frame DIY, yet not one single pallet was used for the construction.
Nope, not one. As I was thinking of all the colorful ways I was going to describe this project to you I had a thought, what if you don’t have a truck or cannot locate any pallets?
Ok, maybe building one of these using new lumber from the hardware store is the only option for some folks.
I consider using new lumber to imitate real pallets as a very last resort, but it can certainly work if you follow the steps in the below video.
If you follow this method I would ask that you measure twice and fasten once as the double 2×4 beams in the video are not evenly spaced like a real one would be.