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Bed Basics

Everything You Want to Know About Bunkie Boards

Shopping for a new mattress is complicated. From deciding on firmness level and height to overall construction, there’s a lot that goes into buying a new mattress. But equally important is what you’ll set that mattress on when you bring it home.

When shopping around for a mattress foundation to support your mattress atop a classic frame, you’ve probably encountered a few options. Box springs are sturdy, and can give your mattress support and longevity. But for something with a lower profile, bunkie boards are a solid option. You might have heard it called a bunk bed board, a bunky board, or even a bucky board. But no matter the name, what exactly is a bunkie board, and do you need one?

Below we’ll explain the history of bunkie boards, how they’re constructed, and the situations where having one could add to the lifespan of your mattress and ensure you’re getting the best support possible from a foundation.

What is a bunkie board, and how did they come into existence?

It’s all in the name when it comes to bunkie boards. These relatively thin and often wooden platforms were originally designed to use on bunk beds. The nature of bunk beds makes using a traditional box spring almost impossible. With minimal headroom, stacking a mattress on top of a box spring on a bunk bed would create vertical challenges. The bunkie board solves that problem by providing a flat platform surface to support the mattresses on bunk beds.

Today, most bunkie boards are about two inches thick — made of wood or metal — and consist of a frame surrounding slats to make for a flat and supportive platform surface.

Bunkie boards support your mattress

Stephen Ferguson, a Sleep Expert™ at Mattress Firm, says we should think about our mattress setup like a house. “The foundation of your house is the most important part of it,” he says. “If you pour a really good slab, then everything above it stays stable and lasts longer.”

The same is true with mattresses. A great bed won’t perform well if it doesn’t have the proper support. Inadequate support can result in a lumpy mattress and can even jeopardize its lifespan and void the warranty.

“Your box spring, your adjustable base, or whatever you’re putting your mattress on, if it’s not stable, that’s going to affect the mattress, which affects you because you’re on top of that,” Ferguson says.

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Is a bunkie board right for my mattress?

There are several things to consider when figuring out a foundation for your mattress. For one thing, if you’re sleeping on an adjustable bed, you would not want a bunkie board or a box spring, as their rigidity would prevent the base’s ability to chage positions. If profile height and accessability are not a factor, box springs remain a popular choice for many sleepers.

However, bunkie boards shine in a few instances when they’re used in addition to another support system to make for a firmer, more durable platform, particularly for foam mattresses.

Ferguson says bunkie boards are great for adding to a platform base. These bases have a handful of slats but could benefit from the additional support of a bunkie board. Essentially, the bunkie board adds extra slats to the frame, making for a more durable and sturdy foundation. This extra support means your mattress can perform at its best without risking sagging or developing lumps.

However, he cautions that a platform foundation with too few slats, between three and five, won’t be enough to support a bunkie board.

True to its name, bunk beds are an excellent place for a bunkie board. A bunkie board can also be the perfect way to add additional support to dorm beds. Ferguson also encourages anyone using a flat-pack foundation to add a bunkie board, too.

“I highly recommend using a bunkie board with that type of frame,” Ferguson says. “It will give you that flat smooth surface for your mattress to sit on to prevent lumps.”

Before deciding on what type of base your mattress should rest on, it’s always worth reading the fine print on your mattress. Almost all mattress warranties will explain what kind of support system works best with the mattress, though bunkie boards are often great with memory foam mattresses or latex mattresses. Not only does that foundation play a considerable role in your mattress’s lifespan, but it’s also essential to use your bed on the proper foundation to make sure you’re adhering to the warranty policy.

A bunkie board alternative: the solid foundation

If it’s a modern low-profile look you’re after, Ferguson recommends checking out a lower-profile solid foundation for your bed frame.

If you’re already using a box spring under your mattress and would like to add additional height, the bunkie board is a great and relatively inexpensive way to add a few extra inches.

Best bunkie boards

tulo Metal Bunkie Board

tulo Metal Bunkie Board

Zinus Quick Lock Bunkie Board

Zinus Quick Lock Bunkie Board

Sleepy's 2" Bunkie Board

Sleepy's 2" Bunkie Board

Shop Bunkie Boards and Box Springs