Bunkie Board vs Plywood: Can You Use Them Interchangeably?

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 3 minLast updated on May 5, 2020

So, a bunkie board is a flat wood sheet or slatted construction covered in tenacious fabric. It can work instead of a traditional box spring and has a small height which allows using it for bunk and low-profile beds.

And plywood is a flat wooden sheet made of thin layers of veneer placed onto each other and glued together. If you trim it to the size of your mattress, you’ll get the easiest DIY bed base ever made.

But can you use these two types of mattress support interchangeably?

Well, let’s see right below, in my detailed bunkie board vs plywood comparison!

What’s Similar Between a Bunkie Board and a Plywood?

What’s Similar Between a Bunkie Board and a Plywood

To answer the main question of this article, first, let’s see what a standard bunkie board and a plywood sheet have in common.

Because there are a couple of similarities between these two.

First, both a bunkie board and a plywood sheet are very durable. With the former, durability is a result of a sturdy and rigid construction that can withstand both static and dynamic loads for years.

The latter has a layered structure and can comprise up to 15 layers. This helps make the material resistant to shrinking, bending, and cracking and ensure that it will properly support even a heavy user.

Also, both a bunkie board and a plywood sheet generally are low-profile. The thickness of plywood varies between 1/8” to 3”, and bunkie boards are generally 1-2 inches high. This allows you to use them with high-profile mattresses or place them in bunk beds where safety is crucial.

Bunkie Board vs Plywood: Differences

Bunkie Board vs Plywood: Differences

Even though plywood and a bunkie board look very similar, they definitely aren’t the same. 

And the differences between them define how well each foundation will suit your particular needs, so let’s be sure that you understand them.

Compatibility with Mattress Types

Probably the most significant difference between a bunky board and a plywood sheet is that they work well with different mattress types.

And the reason for this lies in their design.

Plywood is flat, and while this is good for even support and bounciness, it’s bad for airflow. The flat surface won’t let the air in and out of the mattress, which might lead to heat and moisture build-up inside the layers, and consequently, mold development.

Slatted bunkie boards, on the other hand, allow for some air circulation, even if the spaces between the slats aren’t too wide.

Bottom line?

If you have a breathable mattress — such as hybrid, innerspring, or latex — you can use either a bunky board or a plywood sheet. 

Memory foam mattresses, however, often have issues with heat retention and are more prone to mildew development, so they will work better with a bunkie board.


A bunkie board is a ready-made furniture piece. It comes trimmed to the size of your mattress and all you may need to do is to encase it in the cover — if it comes with one or if you can make one yourself — and install it on your bed base.

That’s the reason why a bunkie board is a more expensive option.

A plywood sheet is a way cheaper material and you can purchase it literally in any hardware store or lumberyard. However, it also requires a more DIY approach: you need to measure your bed frame precisely and trim the sheet to fit these dimensions. 

And don’t forget to find a piece of cloth to cover your plywood foundation because unfinished wood might damage the mattress cover and void your warranty.

“Thicker plywood sheets can also be pretty heavy, so you may need to recruit someone to help you bring it to your bedroom.”

Can You Use Plain Plywood Instead of a Bunkie Board?

Based on the info above, the short answer is: yes, you surely can.

But don’t forget about the nuances:

A bunkie board is designed to standard specifications and is readily available at any mattress store. Plus, it will work with any type of mattress.

However, if you’re a ‘do-it-yourself’ person and want to save some money, then a plywood sheet — and a bit of physical work — is all you need.

So, what do you think? Which type of foundation will satisfy your needs better? I’d love to read your answers in the comments!

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