How To: Easy $86 Camper Van Bed Platform

You need a bed that’s comfortable, fits into the dimensions of your van, and one that fits your needs as a traveler. This simple and cheap camper van bed platform is perfect for people with limited construction knowledge.

In order to maximize your storage space you’ll need to build a platform that allows for at least 12 inches of vertical space below. This will keep your mattress at your desired height of elevation so you can store things below.

It’s super cheap and easy to build one for yourself. You need minimal construction knowledge to build your own bed platform.

We already had a small drill and a tape measure (the one that came in a sewing kit I bought a few years ago.) So we only needed to buy a hand saw, screws, plywood, and 2×4’s from Home Depot. The total cost to build the platform was $86.

If you have never done any sort of simple construction before, YOU CAN DO THIS. If you’ve never bought wood and tools from Home Depot, I’ll tell you how it’s done. It’s so easy!

I’m going to break everything down for you as if you don’t know anything at all about construction, tools, etc. Just follow these steps; I gotchu!

Step 1: Purchase Materials

Plywood

Your platform part of your bed platform will be made from plywood. Measure the inside of the back of your van and determine how big the piece will need to be and write it down! Again, I did this with a simple sewing tape measure. (no reason to buy a construction measuring tape if you don’t want to)

Tip: When buying your plywood, don’t choose the thinnest board. You want it to be sturdy. I choose the 1/2 inch plywood.

2×4’s or 4×4’s

Your legs will be made from either 2×4’s or 4×4’s. It’s up to you. (I chose 2×4’s because they’re cheaper, but honestly I think 4×4’s would work best.)

Then, decide how high you want your bed platform.

For our camper van, I decided on a 12 inch high platform. 12 inches allowed me to still have space to sit up on the bed, as well as fit my bins below the platform.

Also, when I laid the seats down to extend our bed space, a 12 inch bed platform lined up with the laid down seats perfectly. This is something you should consider as well if you plan on extending your bed by laying down a row of seats.

However, something else to consider is that a lot of plastic bins, cubes, etc. at Walmart & Target are 12 inches tall. A 14 inch high platform will allow for most common bins to fit underneath.

Decide how many legs you will need. I recommend at least 5. One at each corner and one for the middle. You can use more, but if you use too many it will be hard to slide bins and other items under the platform.

You can either buy a handsaw or have the store cut the 2×4’s (or 4×4’s) for you. Typically, they will be available to cut them for you.

However, when I was there, it was a random day that they weren’t offering the service. If that happens to you, buy a simple handsaw like this one. It’s not difficult to cut them yourself.

Quick Tip: If you’ve never shopped for wood before, here’s what you do. Walk into the store and grab a big cart. Not a small grocery cart size, the kind that holds wood. Once you have what you need in your cart, tell an employee you are needing some wood cut. They will either walk back and cut it for you or direct you to someone who can cut it for you.

Wood Screws

For screws, I bought a 50 pack of Exterior Wood Screws. This was plenty of screws for this project.

Step 2: Attach Legs

To attach the legs we used wood screws and this drill.

I choose to put a leg on each corner and one in the middle. I marked on the plywood a few inches into each corner so that the legs where all in the same place on each corner of the plywood.

There isn’t a set distance you really need to shoot for. I think 2-4 inches into the plywood from the edge is a good choice.

Start by drilling pilot holes into the plywood. If you put the screw into the wood first you could cause the wood to crack and splinter.

{you can see the pilot holes I drilled in the picture above}

To drill a pilot hole, find a drill bit that is about the same size or slightly smaller than the INNER dimensions of the screw. (the skinniest part of the screw, not the outer pieces that stick out the farthest)

Then, simply hold the 2×4 or 4×4 leg up to your plywood where you marked it should go. I needed help with this part. It took one person holding the wood in place and one person drilling the screws into the plywood and legs.

Step 3: Optional Support

After I attached the legs, I felt that the platform needed more support. I bought an additional 2×4 and added the additional support beams that you can see in the picture below.

I ended up using three legs down each side of the mattress, one leg in the middle, and two support beams at each end of the platform. This picture below is what it looked like when completed.

Step 4: Top & Try It Out

I chose to use the memory foam topper off my bed as the mattress for my camper van bed. You can buy any type of mattress topper and cut it to size or fold it to fit your bed platform dimensions.

I have my memory foam topper folded on my bed platform because when I’m not camping I still use it on my bed at home.

Another good option is a futon mattress.

Our bed platform has worked wonders all over the country for me and my girls. & I know yours will be perfect for you too!

Conclusion

Camper van bed platform should fit YOUR needs. This is why I can’t recommend enough that you build one yourself. As you can see, building one doesn’t require a lot of construction knowledge or money either. Are you planning on building your own camper van bed platform? If so, I’d love to hear your plans!

Follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest 🙂

Other posts you might like:

8 Ways To Make A Road Trip With A Toddler Easier

The A-Z Of Traveling With Toddlers

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