Adding A Bed To Gidget
When planning out our van build we knew we didn’t want to have to make the bed every night. We also wanted plenty of storage space under the bed and in overhead cabinets. A platform bed was really the only option.
To save space we decided to install it width wise in the back of the van. In the side cutouts of the van, there was exactly enough room to install a full size mattress.
- Casper Full Size Mattress – $750
- 2 2″x6″x8′ pieces of Douglas Fir wood for supports – $9.78
- 6 2″x3″ pieces of Douglas Fir wood for slats – $12
- 2 11/32″ AC exterior plywood – $41.46
- 2 0.625″x5.375″x96″ pieces of Red wood for edge trim – $38.40
- White wash semi-transparent exterior wood stain – $37.96
- Pre-Bulbed 1/4-20 .280 Grip Plus Nuts – $55.86
- Drill and various drill bits
- Chop saw
- Orbital hand sander
- Plus nut installer tool – $59.00
- Spade bits
After making a few rough sketches we purchased all the wood we thought we would need. 2×3’s for slats, 2×6’s to mount to the van frame, and some plywood for the top of the platform.
To support the 2×6 at the rear edge we installed pre-bulbed plusnuts into the existing holes.
Figuring out the bolt locations on the wood was the hardest part. We must have make a 1000 measurements and installed and removed the 2×6 about a dozen times to get it right.
Once we figured out the bolt locations we drilled the holes and used a spade bit so the bolt heads would sit flush.
The second side was easier since we had a template from the first side. Thankfully the bolt locations on both sides are identical.
Before we mounted the 2x6s for good, we sanded them and applied a layer of wood stain for protection.
After mounting the support pieces we measured and cut 2x3s for the bed supports. 6 seemed like enough to prevent any sagging of the bed.
Because van bodies flex while driving we decided to only screw down the passenger side of the 2x3s and let the driver side float.
On the driver side we screwed in blocks between the slats so that they could move and flex as needed. The 2×3 slats are not screwed in.
We cut 2 pieces of plywood as the base of the bed. We decided to install the seam closer to where our feet would be. Our mattress is plenty thick to not feel it.
We then installed an edge on the bed to prevent the mattress from moving. We used a 0.625×5.375 piece of redwood and screwed it into the 2×3 slats.
Before installing the wood pieces they were all sanded using an orbital sander and stained.
It was now time to install the mattress and test it out. We choose a memory foam so that it could be squeezed into the allowed space. After lots of research we settled on a Casper.
Installing the bed width wise saves us almost 2 feet of space in the galley and living room. But it’s a tight squeeze between the 2 walls of the van and doesn’t allow any room to hang a foot or hand off the mattress. We plan on doing a few test nights to make sure that we can sleep this way.
Another thing we need to figure out is how to cover the insulation. We can’t really put wood paneling up as the mattress needs all the space it can get.
We are happy with how it turned out except when driving. Every little bump in the road results in a squeak. It kind of sounds like the metal is flexing where the wood attaches. Maybe we should have put something like felt in between the metal walls and the 2×6 wood? Or maybe we need to take some of the load off of the van walls with a support in the middle of the platform? We’re going to do some experiments to see if we can get the noise down.
Update 2016-07-04: We fixed the squeaks with felt