Why Do Beds Squeak and 4 Easy Fixes


I am sure that I have encountered every possible cause of bed noise over my fifty-one years. I see some really foolish articles and videos on the Internet about the subject and I thought I could do a better job of creating a resource that is helpful.

Beds squeak due to movement of structural materials rubbing together, loose box spring cardboard, weak welds, loose fasteners, dry rubbing of materials during movement, weak frame slats, worn wood joints, worn or weak mattress coils, and broken coil tie wires or twine.

Why Do Bed Slats Squeak

They squeak when there is movement between two materials such as loose or unfastened wood slats subbing against the bed frame. Weak wood slats that sag under weight pull the ends of the slats towards the center causing it to rub back and forth on top causing squeaks.

Stop Bed Slats from Squeaking

Try these steps:

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  1. Remove the mattress and sheets.
  2. Remove the screws or nails in the slats.
  3. Purchase thin felt from your local hardware store and install on the bottom side of the slat and the end of the slats where they meet the bed frame rail.
  4. Screw the slats back into place. Make sure to have two screws on each side to help prevent slat twisting which can cause squeaking.

    You may need to pre-drill the holes for the screws if the wood is thin and soft. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw threads.

The below video shows a super fast slat squeak cure using masking tape. I am not sure how long it will last, but it is fast and cheap.

Their IKEA bed squeaked and creaked from the very first day and rather than return it they fixed it.

Wouldn’t you think a company as large as IKEA with designers and engineers on staff could figure this out in 10 seconds? It would be about a $0.50 fix at the factory.

AND who is testing these at IKEA? Do they actually pay big salaries to designers and engineers and not spend a couple of dollars for testing it?

The below video is pretty good at showing how to find what part is causing the creaking noises. It also shows several methods to fix the problem.

One great idea is using wax instead of lubricating oil.

One item I do not agree with is he is using WD-40 as a “lubricant”. He even admits it will evaporate haha. Use a real lubricant, not a water displacement (WD) spray.

Why Do Bed Frames Squeak

Bed frames squeak due to failing welds, loose fasteners, poor design, rail brackets rubbing against frame legs, wood slats rubbing on rails, metal rails squeaking against each other when multiple rails are attached together to create a larger frame, and wood rails rubbing against the headboard.

How do You Stop a Wood Bed From Squeaking?

You can stop squeaking with these steps:

  • Remove the mattress and sheets.
  • Remove the bolts that hold the rails to the headboard and the footboard legs.
  • Use a rag or paper towel to wipe lubricating oil on the parts of the wood that meet each other where the rail meets the legs.
  • Also, lubricate any brackets that attach to another section of the bed frame such as metal hooks that fasten rails to the legs.
  • Dip the screws into wood glue and reattach the rails to the legs. The wood glue will not prevent you from removing the bolts or screws later when you need to move the bed.

    It will help prevent loosening while in use now. This will also reduce the squeaking.

TIP: Do NOT use WD-40 like almost every website and YouTube video says to. WD initials mean Water Displacement. Noting to do with lubricating. Yes, it will work for a short period of time, but then it will evaporate and you are back to squeakville again. And it wasn’t much fun the first time so guess how much you will love doing it again in two months!

TIP: If the screw holes have become larger due to constant movement then purchase and install screws with a larger diameter thread, but with the same length.

TIP: Purchase and install lock washers on any bolts or flat head screws to help prevent loosening.

Is it normal for a new bed to squeak?

It is normal when:

  • it is cheaply made.
  • the wood is softwood or is thin.
  • the fasteners are weak.
  • You and your significant other exceed the design weight limit. Imagine John Goodman and Rosanne Barr bumping uglies on anything other than a heavy-duty timber or iron I beam constructed bed.

What is The Most Sturdy Bed Frame?

The most sturdy bed frame is one that cannot move. If you truly want a super sturdy model that will never squeak then you need to do one of the following:

  • Visit the local machine shop and get a quote to build a bed frame. It isn’t as crazy as you may think and you can work with the company to come up with a design that works best for you.

    Not a design that is trying to please millions of people to sell as many units as possible.
  • If you are cheap you can find free or low-cost hardwood pallets and make an incredibly strong squeak-free bed foundation with no box spring required.

    Unless you and your significant other exceed 4,600 lbs you are good to go!
  • There are a few manufacturers that offer strong metal platform frames that are welded rather than screwed or bolted together.

    These are solid and have strong metal slats that don’t sound like a squeaky toy under assault by a Rottweiler while you are getting busy.

Do All Metal Bed Frames Squeak?

Not all metal models squeak. Single frames with welded legs and slats joints will not squeak. Frames with folding legs and multiple units and legs screwed together squeak eventually and require tightening the screws. Often they still squeak as they have moving parts that rub against each other.

A bed frame made in China can have poor welds that will eventually make noise. I used to import products from China and sometimes the welding was horrendous. Poor welds may crack with years of use and these can cause noises, but it is rare.

Old metal beds with metal headboards, footboards, legs, and rails can as they are held together with fasteners and fitted brackets.

The cure is to disassemble the frame and use lubricating old on any parts that touch other parts of the frame. This includes the bracket catches and the end of the rails where they meet the legs.

Another option is to separate all joints with furniture felt used to protect floors from damage.

What Bed Does Not Squeak?

The only way to guarantee a quiet night sleep is a foam mattress on the floor. Another quiet option is a foam mattress on a DIY pallet wood frame. The next best is a heavy-duty metal platform bed with welded legs and metal slats.

All wood bed frames will squeak eventually regardless of the type of wood, construction quality, or how well it was built.

Like water can render mountains into molehills movement will cause wood beds to squeak.

Why Does Box Spring Squeak

This can occur when the cardboard at the edges rub against the wood frame when the bed is in use.

You can make a big improvement with this box spring rather than messing around with a cheap older one.

How to Fix a Noisy Box Spring

To learn how to quiet box spring an investigation is required to determine the noise source. Remove the mattress and place weight on box spring to determine the location of the noise. If noise is at the edge move the coils towards the center. The simplest solution is to add 3/4” plywood to the top.

If the noise is in the center you will need to get surgical and remove the covering to inspect the guts. Remove the staples and peel back the fabric. If the coils are squeaking between the bottom of the coil and the base they sit on you can spray lubricant to stop the noises.

Confirm all the twin is intact and repair and retie ones that are broken. Coils may have moved and are rubbing against the wood frame or other coils causing noises.

Glue or remove loose cardboard to the wood frame.

Why Do Mattresses Squeak

This can occur when the twine used to tie the coils into place may have broken or been improperly installed allowing springs to rub against each other. Fatigued metal springs can squeak when compressed. Springs may also become noisy at the base during movement on the mattress.

How to Stop a Mattress From Squeaking

It is not possible to stop a mattress from from making noise as there is rarely access to the internal workings to make repairs or modifications. A mattress topper or four-inch foam mattress reduces the noise by distributing the weight over a larger area and muffling the sounds with the additional materials.

This is cheaper than replacing the mattress and if this method isn’t as effective as you had hoped you can add 3/4” plywood between the mattress and the four inches of foam.

FIX your saggy mattress with simple and cheap solutions using the tips in my article here.

Scott Boyd

I spend my days doing research, performance testing, and materials analysis and reporting my experience and test results to help people make decisions before purchasing expensive furniture.

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