Bunkie Board: What Is It and How Do You Use It?

By Sheryl Grassie

May 23rd, 2022

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A bunkie board is not a cousin to a surfboard or used for water excursions. It is a classification of bed support that goes under your mattress. It is a thin, solid, fabric covered piece of wood that acts like a box spring.

What is a Bunkie Board?

A bunkie board (also spelled bunky board) is a niche item for reinforcing a mattress and providing better support. They were developed to be used as an underpinning with bunk beds which needed something slimmer than a box spring.

The History of Bunkie Boards

Originally, large single plank pieces of wood, were used on bunk beds to buttress the mattresses, hence the name bunkie boards. These have since morphed into boards made from a variety of materials like plywood or composite to reduce the cost. They are then covered with fabric of some sort and are intended to be used like a box spring with no cover.

Bunkie Boards are flexible, user friendly tools. They can be easily stored, shipped, or transported and come in folding models. Bunkie boards are not just for bunk beds and come in all bed sizes. They are generally 2 inches or less in height and add very little to the overall elevation of the sleeping platform. They are lightweight and easy to move or store as needed.

How Do You Use a Bunkie Board?

You use a bunkie board by placing it between your bed frame and your mattress to give the mattress an extra layer of support and make it more comfortable. People sometimes purchase an inexpensive bunkie board when their bed starts to sag to stave off purchasing an entirely new set.

Bunkie boards can be placed between the bed platform and the mattress, between metal or wood bed slats and the mattress, or on top of a box spring beneath the mattress.

Bunkie Board vs. Box Spring

A bunkie board is a mattress support for a bunk bed, similar to how a box spring supports a regular bed. In essence, they serve the same purpose as box springs, but bunkie boards can accomplish the task of a box spring without adding so much bulk. You might choose a bunkie board for your standard bed over a box spring in the following circumstances:

  • If you want something to increase support on top of slats or with a platform bed.
  • If you need support with bunk beds.
  • If you want a less expensive option than a box spring for bed support.
  • If you have a memory foam bed, bunkie boards are designed to handle the weight of heavier foam beds.
  • If you have an old box spring, a thin bunkie board can be used in conjunction to add more support.
  • If you have an antique iron bed with a high platform, bunkie boards can replace a box spring and lower the profile, making it easier to get in and out of bed.
  • If you have a tight space, like a third floor or a basement with a narrow staircase, bunkie boards can fit where box springs cannot.
  • If you want to transport it yourself, bunkie boards often fold and can fit in an SUV or truck, no need for special delivery.
  • If you would rather purchase online and have it directly shipped to you.

Bunkie Board vs. Slats

Most mattresses can be supported by slatted foundations, although some, like all foam mattresses, may not be fully supported by a slatted base. A bunkie board provides a sturdier foundation to support your mattress, better sleep, and the lifespan of your mattress.

Tips for Buying a Bunkie Board

First, decide if this is the right bed support for you. Do you have a low profile bed that needs a thin layer of support? Do you have a foam mattress, an old iron bed, or a bunk bed? Is your mattress starting to sag through the slats? If the bunkie board seems like the right choice for you then go online and do some research.

Here are some things to consider when deciding what and where to purchase.

  • Do you need a folding bunkie board?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • How thick do you want it to be?
  • What do you like the look of?
  • What color options are available that match your decor?
  • If you want to pick up and self-transport, what stores sell bunkie boards that are close by?
  • Who ships for free if you are purchasing online?
  • What brands get the best ratings?

Most furniture stores, mattress stores, and many big box stores, sell bunkie boards. You can order on line and have them shipped to your home. The average cost for a twin size is around $50. For queen and king sizes you can spend from under $100, to close to $200 at some higher end stores.

Wherever you decide to purchase, these bunkie boards can add real support to your mattress and ultimately improve your sleep.

How to Make a Bunkie Board

Instead of buying a bunkie board, you can make one yourself. We’ll walk you through it step-by-step.

To make a DIY bunkie board, follow these instructions::

  1. Get a sheet of plywood: Thin plywood (about 3/4 inches thick) is best.
  2. Measure your bed base: Remove your mattress from its current foundation and measure the inside length and width with a tape measure. You will want to subtract 1-2 inches for each measurement so the plywood fits correctly instead of being flush.
  3. Cut your plywood: Once you acquire a thin sheet of plywood and take your measurements, you’re ready to cut.
  4. Sand the edges: Smooth out the edges of your board with sandpaper or a sander.
  5. Measure and cut quilted upholstery fabric: Cut one piece in the exact measurements of your bunkie board and a second piece that adds 6+ inches to each side.
  6. Adhere the fabric to the board: Use upholstery spray adhesive to adhere one sheet of fabric to one side and the other on the opposite side of your plywood board.
  7. Staple the excess fabric: Fold in the remaining fabric and staple it in place.


Although they aren’t the most popular type of mattress foundation, a bunkie board can be a reliable, sturdy base to reinforce your mattress and offer superior support. Traditionally designed for the bunk bed, a bunkie board is compatible with most other mattress types as well. If you want a bunkie board for your mattress, you can purchase one or even make your own!