DIY Platform Bed Substitute - Out-Of-The-Box, Portable, Lightweight & Inexpensive

Picture of DIY Platform Bed Substitute - Out-Of-The-Box, Portable, Lightweight & Inexpensive
I wanted a portable, lightweight and inexpensive platform bed substitute that I could put together and take apart at will and whose individual pieces I could carry in my car when I move. I did find a few metal bed frames that seemed at least somewhat portable - http://www.walmart.com/ip/Smart-Base-Bed-Frame-Queen-King/10924588 for $109 for example, but found them too heavy and unwieldy. I didn't think they would fit in my car when moving, and in addition, I thought the steel edges would tear up my planned improvised mattress out of several sleeping bags. After a lot of research, I found a solution that is working great for me. The items are easily available in a standard, international chain (IKEA) and each individual piece weighs just 10 lb and measures (as packaged) 22" W x 2.125" H x 33.125" L. You need no tools to assemble it and the improvised platform bed costs (as of 05/26/10) just about $96.

Note: I am also using an improvised mattress made out of eight $9 sleeping bags inserted into a zippered vinyl mattress cover to go with this DIY platform bed for a complete, inexpensive, portable, lightweight bedding solution. Details are at  http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Mattress-Substitute-Portable-Inexpensive-L/

Step 1: Buy 12 "LACK" Side Tables from IKEA

Picture of Buy 12

For a queen bed, buy 12 "LACK" side tables from IKEA - http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20011413 ($7.99 each as of 05/26/10). Each individual piece weighs just 10 lbs and measures (as packaged) 22" W x 2.125" H x 33.125" L. Though made of particleboard and therefore extremely light, I was told each table can support the weight of one adult standing on it. I was able to load and fit all twelve packages into my subcompact car quite easily.

paulaceder1 year ago

I have an eastern king bed (78" X 80") of organic latex making it very heavy. Conventional wood bed frames did not do the job. So I bought 16 Lack side tables from Ikea on sale @ $4.99 each and followed the instructions provided above.

The tables were simple to assemble as already noted, as you just turn the legs into the top with the screws provided. I am delighted at the sturdiness and stability of the platform and given the height of the Lack tables, if you wanted to use the space under the bed for storage it would be no problem at all.

This is an excellent, easy and cost-effective fix to the old mattress-on-the-floor problem. If you have an 18" mattress, which is pretty standard these days, your assembled bed will be a little higher than is typical, but I find it luxurious and I really like having to climb into bed at night.

Don't anticipate any issues with this installation and I highly recommend it as an attractive and cheap fix for your platform bed challenge.

Good luck!

sbansban (author)  paulaceder1 year ago

Thanks so much Paula. It makes me so very happy to know that I have been able to help anyone at all - I only started out intending to solve my own little problem and then when it turned out well, thought of sharing it publicly just in case someone benefited from it. Thanks to these forums, all of us internet users are now connected and empowered to help each other in so many small ways!

Have had the bed almost a year now and it is holding up beautifully. No issues with the tables getting creaky or moving around-just as sturdy as when I first created it.

Thanks again for the excellent idea!


Will keep you posted on how well it lasts-thanks again sbansban.
urgemore3 years ago
@LowKeyEnergy's observation is inaccurate. My new wife and I destroyed a bed frame, so I replaced it with this and dropped our queen sized memory foam mattress on it. Now there's no bed wobble, no squeaking.

As a bonus, there's a nice "bench" worth of length left at the foot, for sitting while putting on shoes and such. It turned out very nice looking.

Thanks, @sbansban!
So "my new wife and I destroyed a bed frame"? What are you here for? To learn or to brag? :-)

I guess I should follow up with some 1-year-later update. The platform remains solid, but it turns out that the tables aren't great for sitting on. Over time, the handy bench area shows wear where the legs want to push up through the top laminate. No such thing has happened under the mattress.

I'd recommend maybe setting a flat board or plexi cover on top of any exposed tabletop that you might sit or stand on.
sbansban (author)  urgemore1 year ago
@urge - I have been sleeping on the tables (with my 9-sleeping bag mattress on top) for 2.5 years now and don't have a single issue with the tables. I have been using them as bed frame only though - not individually as tables or for sitting on.
paulaceder4 days ago

Just to let you know my platform bed is now in year three and despite my very heavy mattress it is help up beautifully. No shaking, creaking or weakness at all- a great cheap fix as I've said earlier and one I appreciate having learned about very much.

Thanks again!


patty_a_gogo10 months ago

I know other people have asked this question regarding total weight load and stresses on the tables re vigorous activity but I would like to hear from people who are over 200 pounds and have experienced said activity.

Any crashes, embarrassments, injuries?

patty_a_gogo10 months ago

I know other people have asked this question regarding total weight load and stresses on the tables re vigorous activity but I would like to hear from people who are over 200 pounds and have experienced said activity.

Any crashes, embarrassments, injuries?

sbansban (author) 1 year ago

Update May 2014: The top of one side table gave way about a month back - but for me, no biggie. It has served me for four years and the replacement cost is only $8.

Ok the side table platform is GENIUS. But the sleeping bags as a mattress? That is just awful. You can buy a futon mattress that rolls up or an air mattress that deflates. Both would be quite cheap and probably considerably more comfortable

jwallace211 year ago
Tried it and LOVE. It's a little bigger than I expected but I like the extra "bench" space for when you don't want to sit on the mattress. Plus, the tables can be used for a million other purposes after they are done being a bed. Thanks a million
claudg19502 years ago
It's true that a structure of parallel members --with no diagonals-- tends to be weak (it deforms easily under lateral stresses), but: first, these tables have short members and they are built to be really strong, and second: if a strong side force is applied the mattress will slide long before the tables flex.
So how much weight could this support? And what about activity resistance? LowKeyEnergy had a good point. Not just sexual activity, but what about kids that run and jump onto the bed to be with mom/dad? That may not add a lot of weight, but sudden force in one area might affect it. Anyone?
sbansban (author)  whisperonthewind2 years ago
I was told by the sales person at IKEA that each of these side tables can support at least one adult standing on it. They never had a problem supporting my weight (around 180 lbs) and I am confident each table can support a much heavier person as well.
This would also be a quick and easy way to create a platform for a model railway, or a big gaming table for miniature battles.

Would it be strong enough to use as a makeshift riser for someone giving a speech?
sanewby4 years ago
if you did need extra tension for lateral force you could order the spare part tension rod that comes with the malm beds - those metal tension rods can be adjusted and hidden up nice and tidy but do give opposing resistance and strength,
this has no resistance to lateral shear force . if you try to have sex on it , the legs will break off .
 Use zip-ties to keep the legs together. No need for messy duct tape and if you need to change it or move you can easily cut the ties.
sbansban (author)  bigwhitebear185 years ago
@bigwhitebear18: Thanks for the suggestion. However, I found that the tables stay together on their own - never needed duct tapes or anything else.
 You could make it really interesting and buy one of each color.