Fix a Squeaking Bed Frame

Finding exactly where that squeak in your bed is coming from can be frustrating work—enough so that some opt to fix every possible squeak instead of bothering to find the offending joint or spring. Locating and diagnosing the squeak will often save you time in the long run. It will provide you with information about the state your bed is in, which is helpful should any other issues arise in the future.


Locating the Squeak

  1. Listen to your bed while someone moves slowly across it. This should clue you in to the general location of the squeak. Pay particular attention to the joints and corners of your bed frame, as these are common noisemakers.
    • If you can’t enlist an aide for this task, you can move across your bed yourself. It will give you less flexibility, on account of your ears needing to stay relatively close to the rest of your body as it moves across the mattress, but this can still provide the necessary information.
    • Lift your mattress and box spring up if you’re unsure where your bed frame’s joints are, or drop to the floor and look at your bed from beneath it. At the very least, many bed frames will have support (and corresponding joints) width-wise along the head and foot of the bed, and length-wise along the middle.
  2. Rock your bed, gently. If crawling across the bed wasn’t sufficiently illuminating, you (or your helper) should go to the foot of your bed, grab hold of the bar or footboard, and gently rock your bed back and forth (pushing toward, and pulling from, the headboard and pillows). If you have help, again listen to your bed’s joints and corners while this is going on.
    • Not too rough! Any bed will start squeaking if you really go to town on it. Push gently, with a slow rhythm.
  3. Remove your mattress and box spring. If you’re still in the dark, you might have an easier time finding the squeak once you’ve isolated the major components. It’s also possible that the culprit isn’t your bed frame at all, but your mattress.
    • The mattress and box spring take up a lot of room, but find somewhere you can lay both down flat on the ground, as if they were on your bed. This will allow you to continue to effectively test them.
  4. Test the mattress, box spring, and bed frame separately. Repeat the techniques above, now that your bed has been partially disassembled. Gently rock your bed frame, and crawl across your mattress and box spring with a friend listening closely (or vice-versa).
    • If you locate a prominent squeak in your box spring, this can be efficiently treated by applying WD-40 to the base of the specific, noisy spring.
  5. Consider all possibilities. In the event that you’ve been unable to locate your squeak, you might need to broaden your investigation. The squeak could be coming not from the bed, but from a loose floor board beneath you bed. It could also be caused by unevenness in your floor.
    • Towels or folded-up sheets under a leg of the bed frame might solve minor floor-height discrepancies, but you should consider moving your bed to a spot in your home with more even flooring, if possible.
    • Keep in mind that it might not be a single squeak you’re dealing with, but two or more. Be thorough in your assessment.

Repairing a Squeaky Frame

  1. Tighten the metal fasteners. Before you entirely disassemble your bed, try tightening its bolts. This is a relatively simple task. You need only to determine the size of the bolt or screw, obtain an appropriate wrench (if it’s a bolt) or screwdriver (if it’s a screw), and then tighten them.
    • If you’ve been unable to isolate the squeak, try tightening every fastener on your bed.
    • With older, wooden beds held together by nails, tightening the fasteners (or taking the frame entirely apart) is not really an option. In this case, application of a lubricant to each intersection of support slat and bed frame will go a long way toward silencing the bed.
    • If a bolt continues to back out and loosen itself, it may need to be replaced (with a cost of roughly 50 cents). If the holes that the bolts go through are worn, however, this would indicate it may be time to rework or replace the frame.
    • Keeping the bolts tight will greatly increase the life of a metal frame, because the bolts can't ream out the holes as easily.
  2. Take your bed frame apart. To properly lubricate the squeak, you’ll need to be able to coat every component of the joint with wax or grease. With your mattress and box spring off the frame, unscrew the bolt or screw at the problem joint.
  3. Inspect the frame and flooring. Look for potential balance problems, such as an uneven floor or a damaged leg. Some bed frames use hard, plastic wheels at the corners and plastic standouts in the center of the frame; over time, this arrangement may distort the balance of the bed frame if the bed is on a soft surface, such as a carpet.
    • Removing the center standout from your frame and adding another type of support (e.g., a couple of books and a jar lid) might help.
  4. Lubricate each component of the joint. You’ll want to coat everything in wax or grease: the nut, the screw, the washer, the bolt, the aperture in the frame itself, and any other component that may be a part of your bed. The squeaking is being caused by friction, which you will reduce by lubricating every surface. [1]
    • WD-40 or a similar substance also works, as will any oil, silicon, or lithium based lubricant, though they tend to emit strong odors. Open your windows and air out your room for several hours before sleeping on the bed, to avoid nauseating fumes.
    • Paraffin wax is an excellent choice for lubricating your bed’s joints, and is sold in bar form at many supermarkets.
    • A bar of soap, candle wax, skateboard wax, or surfing wax are items you might have on hand that you could use to grease up these contact points.
  5. Slide cork cushioning between your frame's pieces. For wooden beds which connect through pegs and not bolts, you don't really have anything to tighten. Instead, try sliding corking or furniture pads between the pieces of your bed frame to provide cushioning. You can place it around the pegs as necessary, or get crafty and cut small holes in the pad or corking for the pegs to pass through.
  6. Reassemble your bed frame. You’ve got to sleep in this thing, right? After you’ve thoroughly lubricated the components of your bed frame, put it back together. Ensure your frame’s fasteners are tight, but don’t force them once they won’t move for you.
    • If your frame has wheels, turn the middle wheels toward opposite corners of the room.
  7. Layer towels, socks, or old t-shirts between the frame and the box spring. These should be wedged in each corner, laid out as smoothly as possible, and along each slat or metal bar if you have enough towels (or towel substitutes). These should prevent your box spring from shifting too much within the frame. After you’ve placed them, carefully replace the box spring.
    • Repeating the tests of part one are recommended at this point.
  8. Insert a pillow between your bed frame and the wall. [2] An object bracing your frame can provide support to a squeaky frame. This can lessen extant squeaks, and prevent your bed frame from loosening as time goes on.
    • Corking, furniture pads, towels, or multiple other objects can also serve this purpose.

Adjusting Your Mattress and Box Spring Properly

  1. Center your mattress on the bed frame. Uneven weight distribution often results in a squeaky sleep experience. Mattress can easily become misaligned, especially if you don’t sleep alone.
  2. Rotate the mattress. Again, balancing the weight distribution on the springs can often make a huge difference. Mattress manufacturers recommend that you periodically rotate the mattress to ensure even wear and tear.
    • Older mattresses should be flipped as well, though newer mattresses are designed so that flipping unnecessary. If you have a coil or foam mattress, however, flipping it wouldn’t be bad; the only mattress you should absolutely not flip is a pillow-top. [3]
    • Box springs should also be rotated, but should never be flipped.
  3. Place a flat, hard object underneath the mattress. A piece of plywood is appropriate for this. The added pressure may not remove the squeaking entirely, but will certainly reduce it. [4] You should feel minimal additional firmness when lying on your mattress.
    • If you found a particularly squeaky spot during your earlier investigation, try placing a hardcover book directly underneath it instead.


  • Although the time may come when you need to replace your bed, trying these repairs first can save you hassle and expense.


  • When using spray lubricant, you should apply enough to cease the squeaking, but it should be used sparingly. It usually takes far less than a half ounce of spray lubricant to stop a simple squeak.
  • Be careful when tightening bolts to use the proper wrench. An adjustable wrench may do the job, but it can also easily round the corners off the bolt and nut. If the corners are severely rounded, you may not be able to remove the bolt without filing new flats onto the side of the head. This is an undesirable task that can be easily avoided by finding a wrench that snugly fits the bolts.

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