Building a comfortable camper van bed is crucial for every van life enthusiast. A thoughtfully designed bed frame not only offers a cozy resting place but also optimizes the van’s available space.
In this guide, we’ll take you through simple steps to build a platform bed in your van using an aluminum frame. If you prefer a ready-to-use bed solution, we invite you to visit our store and explore our van bed offerings.
Alternatively, for the DIY enthusiasts, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of building your platform bed from scratch. Whether you decide on a pre-built option or embark on a DIY project, a well-crafted bed will elevate your van life experience to new levels of comfort and convenience.
HOW TO BUILD A BED FRAME FOR YOUR VAN
Creating a sturdy bed frame for your van is easier than you might think. Follow these steps to get started:
Step 1: Measure and Plan
Before embarking on the process of building your camper van bed, taking accurate measurements of your van’s interior is crucial. This step ensures that your bed will fit snugly within the available space and provides you with the necessary information to plan your bed frame accordingly. Here’s a detailed guide on measuring your van’s interior:
Clear the Space: Remove any items, gear, or furniture from the van’s interior to get a clear and unobstructed view of the space you have to work with.
Gather Tools: Grab a reliable measuring tape, a notepad, and a pen to record your measurements. Having a friend to assist you can be beneficial, especially for larger vans.
Measure Length and Width: Start by measuring the length and width of the van’s interior. Measure from the farthest points, accounting for any curves or angles. For a more precise measurement, take readings from multiple spots along the length and width and use the average.
Measure Height: Next, measure the height of the van’s interior from the floor to the ceiling. Again, measure from different locations to account for variations caused by the van’s design.
Account for Obstacles: Take note of any obstacles, such as wheel wells, interior fixtures, or cabinets, that might affect the positioning of your bed frame. This step will help you design your bed around these obstacles, ensuring a smooth fit.
Consider Ergonomics: While measuring, take into consideration your height and body size. The bed should be long enough for you to stretch out comfortably and wide enough to provide a good night’s sleep.
Step 2: Sketching Out a Simple Bed Design
Once you have all the measurements, it’s time to put your ideas on paper and create a simple sketch for your camper van bed. Sketching allows you to visualize the design and make necessary adjustments before starting the actual construction.
Here’s how to sketch your bed design:
Choose Your Preferred Configuration: Based on your van’s interior dimensions and your personal preferences, decide whether you want a bed that runs lengthwise, crosswise, or diagonally in the van.
Outline the Bed’s Dimensions: On a piece of paper or using a digital drawing tool, draw a rough outline of the bed’s dimensions according to your measurements. You can use a scale, such as one square representing a specific measurement, to maintain proportionality.
Consider Storage and Features: If you plan to incorporate storage compartments under the bed or add any other features, include them in your sketch. Visualize how these elements will fit into the overall design. Checkout our offers for van under-bed storage for Ram Promaster, Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter.
Evaluate Accessibility: Ensure that the bed design allows for easy access to doors, windows, and other essential areas of your van. You don’t want the bed obstructing access to important features.
Review and Revise: Take a critical look at your sketch and make any necessary adjustments to optimize the layout and functionality of your bed.
By following these steps and investing time in accurate measurements and thoughtful sketching, you’ll be well-prepared to build a camper van bed that not only fits perfectly but also complements the layout of your van, providing you with a comfortable and enjoyable home on wheels.
Step 3: Gather Materials
Once you have measured your van’s interior and sketched out your bed design, it’s time to gather the necessary materials to start building your camper van bed. Whether you prefer to shop at a local hardware store or order online, acquiring the right materials is essential for a successful and sturdy bed frame construction. Here’s a detailed list of the materials you’ll need:
- Choose high-quality plywood or lumber that is suitable for building a strong and durable bed frame. Opt for materials that are resistant to moisture and can withstand the rigors of travel.
- The thickness of the wood boards will depend on your design and the level of support required. Typically, ¾-inch or 1-inch thick boards are commonly used for camper van bed frames.
- Use wood screws designed for construction purposes. The length of the screws should be appropriate for the thickness of the wood boards you are using. It’s essential to choose screws that are long enough to provide a secure hold but not so long that they protrude from the other side of the wood.
- You’ll need a saw to cut the wood boards to the required lengths and shapes according to your bed design. A circular saw or a jigsaw is commonly used for this purpose, but ensure you follow safety guidelines and take necessary precautions while operating the saw.
- A power drill is essential for making holes for screws and assembling the bed frame. Make sure to have drill bits suitable for the size of the screws you’re using.
Optional: Sandpaper or Sander:
- Sand down any rough edges or surfaces to achieve a smooth finish on your bed frame. This step is essential for safety and comfort, as well as ensuring your mattress rests evenly.
Optional: Wood Stain or Finish:
- If you want to enhance the appearance of your bed frame and protect it from wear and tear, consider applying wood stain or finish. Choose one suitable for interior use, and follow the application instructions carefully.
Before making any purchases, it’s a good idea to revisit your sketch and bed design to ensure you have accounted for all the necessary materials. Additionally, consider any additional features or modifications you plan to include, such as storage compartments or foldable sections, and gather the materials for those as well.
By gathering all the materials listed above, you’ll be well-prepared to start building your camper van bed frame and create a comfortable and functional sleeping space for your van life adventures. Remember to follow safety guidelines and take your time to ensure the best possible result. Happy building!
Step 4: Cut and Assemble
Now that you have gathered all the necessary materials and have a well-defined bed design, it’s time to bring your camper van bed to life. Follow these steps to cut the wooden boards to size and assemble the frame securely:
Measure and Mark:
- Lay out the wooden boards on a flat surface, making sure they are aligned properly according to your bed design.
- Using a measuring tape and a pencil, mark the exact dimensions for each piece that needs cutting, including the bed platform, sides, and any additional support pieces.
Cut the Wood:
- Use a saw (circular saw or jigsaw) to cut the wooden boards along the marked lines. Take your time to ensure accurate cuts and follow safety precautions while using the saw.
Assemble the Frame:
- Begin assembling the bed frame by laying out the bottom platform. Attach the side pieces to the platform using the appropriate screws and a drill. Ensure that the corners are square and the boards are flush against each other.
- Add any additional support pieces as needed, such as center beams or cross braces, to provide extra stability and prevent the bed from sagging.
Reinforce the Corners and Joints:
- To ensure a stable bed structure, reinforce the corners and joints of the bed frame.
- Consider using corner brackets or L-brackets to strengthen the connections between the platform and the sides of the frame.
- If you have access to woodworking tools, you can also use wood glue in addition to screws for added strength.
Test for Stability:
- Once the bed frame is fully assembled, carefully lift it and place it inside your van at the desired location. Check that it fits snugly and does not wobble.
- Apply gentle pressure to test the stability of the frame. Make any necessary adjustments or additional reinforcements if you notice any weak points.
Sand Down Rough Edges:
- Use sandpaper or a sander to smooth down any rough edges or surfaces on the wooden frame. This step is essential for safety and comfort, preventing any accidental splinters or discomfort while using the bed.
Optional – Apply Finish:
- If you want to enhance the appearance and protect the wood, you can apply wood stain or finish according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the finish to dry completely before placing any bedding on the bed.
By following these steps and paying attention to the details of your camper van bed construction, you’ll create a sturdy and stable bed frame that provides a comfortable sleeping space for your van adventures. Regularly inspect the bed frame for any signs of wear or loosening of joints, and make any necessary repairs or reinforcements to maintain its integrity over time. Enjoy your cozy and functional van bed!
Step 5: Install the Bed Frame
With the camper van bed frame fully assembled and reinforced, it’s time to securely install it inside your van. Proper installation ensures that the bed frame remains stable during travel and provides a comfortable and safe sleeping space. Follow these steps to install the bed frame securely:
Position the Bed Frame:
- Carefully lift the bed frame and position it inside your van at the chosen location. Double-check that it aligns properly with your van’s interior and fits snugly within the available space. Take into account any obstacles or features in the van that may affect the positioning of the bed frame.
Mark the Attachment Points:
- With the bed frame in place, use a pencil or a marker to mark the locations where you’ll be attaching it to the van’s interior. Mark the spots where the screws or brackets will go to secure the bed frame.
Use Proper Mounting Hardware:
- Depending on your van’s construction and the materials used for the interior, you may need to use different types of screws or brackets. Choose hardware that is appropriate for the surface you’re attaching the bed frame to (walls, floor, or existing fixtures).
Pre-drill Holes (if needed):
- To make the installation process easier and to prevent wood from splitting, consider pre-drilling pilot holes for the screws. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws you’ll be using.
Secure the Bed Frame:
- With the attachment points marked or holes pre-drilled, proceed to attach the bed frame to the van’s interior using the selected mounting hardware. If you’re using screws, ensure they are long enough to provide a secure hold but not too long to damage the van’s exterior.
Check for Stability:
- After securing the bed frame, gently shake or put pressure on the frame to check for stability. Make sure there’s no wobbling or movement that could affect your comfort or safety during travel.
Test the Fit:
- Lay your chosen mattress or sleeping surface on the bed frame to test the fit and comfort. Make sure it rests evenly and securely on the frame without any areas that feel unstable or uneven.
Optional – Additional Reinforcements:
- If you notice any areas where the bed frame feels less secure, consider adding extra reinforcements, such as additional brackets or support beams. Ensuring a solid and stable bed frame is vital for your safety and a good night’s sleep.
- Before you hit the road, do a final check to ensure that the bed frame is firmly secured and stable in its position. Verify that it does not interfere with any doors, windows, or other essential features in the van.
By carefully installing the bed frame and checking for stability, you’ll create a comfortable and secure sleeping space in your camper van. Having a well-built and properly installed bed frame enhances your van life experience, providing you with a cozy and inviting place to rest after a day of exploring the great outdoors. Enjoy your adventures on the road!
HOW TO BUILD A PLATFORM BED IN YOUR VAN
When it comes to optimizing space and comfort in your camper van, a platform bed is a fantastic solution. This versatile design not only provides a sturdy foundation for a good night’s sleep but also creates valuable storage space underneath. Whether you’re a seasoned van lifer or just starting your journey, building a platform bed will undoubtedly elevate your van life experience. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a platform bed in your van.
Step 1: Choose the Platform Design
Choosing the right platform design for your camper van bed is an important decision that will impact the functionality and versatility of your sleeping space. There are two primary options to consider: a fixed platform bed or a foldable platform bed. Let’s explore the features and benefits of each design to help you make an informed choice:
- Fixed Platform Bed:
A fixed platform bed is a bed frame that remains in place and cannot be folded or stowed away. It is a popular choice for those who prioritize simplicity and ease of use. Here are some key features of a fixed platform bed:
Stability: Fixed platform beds provide excellent stability and a consistent sleeping surface. Once installed, you don’t need to set up or pack away the bed each night, making it convenient for frequent use.
Permanent Space: With a fixed platform bed, your sleeping space is always ready and accessible, allowing for quick and easy bedtime arrangements.
Durability: Since fixed platform beds are permanently secured within the van, they tend to be more durable and resistant to wear and tear.
Reduced Setup Time: With a fixed platform bed, there’s no need to go through the setup process each night, saving you time and effort.
- Foldable Platform Bed:
A foldable platform bed, as the name suggests, can be folded or stowed away when not in use. This design is ideal for those who want to maximize space and have more flexibility in their van’s layout. Here are the advantages of a foldable platform bed:
Space Efficiency: One of the main benefits of a foldable platform bed is that it frees up valuable floor space during the day. You can fold up the bed and create extra room for various activities or storage.
Versatility: By having the option to fold the bed, you can easily adapt your van’s interior for different purposes, such as dining, working, or socializing.
Travel Comfort: Folding the bed when driving allows for more space in the living area, making your travel experience more comfortable, especially during long journeys.
Concealed Storage: When the bed is folded, the space underneath becomes accessible for storage, enabling you to keep larger items or gear neatly tucked away.
Temporary Bed Option: If you have guests traveling with you, a foldable platform bed can provide an additional sleeping space without the need for a separate bed setup.
In conclusion, whether you choose a fixed platform bed or a foldable platform bed for your camper van depends on your priorities and van life preferences. If you value simplicity, stability, and ease of use, a fixed platform bed might be the better option. On the other hand, if space efficiency and versatility are essential for your van lifestyle, a foldable platform bed can offer extra benefits. Carefully consider your needs, space constraints, and desired level of flexibility before making your decision. Regardless of your choice, creating a well-designed platform bed will significantly enhance your camper van experience.
Step 2: Measure and Cut
start by measuring the dimensions of your van’s interior, ensuring accurate readings for length, width, and height. With these measurements, cut the platform bed’s base using plywood or other suitable materials that align with your design. Precision is essential during this process to ensure a snug fit and optimal use of available space. Once the base is cut, it sets the foundation for building a sturdy and comfortable platform bed in your camper van.
Step 3: Add Support
After cutting the platform bed’s base to fit your van’s interior, it’s time to add essential support. Install support beams or legs underneath the platform bed to evenly distribute the weight and maintain the structural integrity of the bed frame. These support elements play a crucial role in preventing sagging and ensuring a comfortable sleeping surface. Choose sturdy materials and position the support beams strategically to provide optimal reinforcement for your platform bed. With proper support in place, you’ll create a durable and reliable sleeping platform for your camper van adventures.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Pay attention to the finer details of your platform bed to ensure both comfort and safety. Use sandpaper or a sander to smooth out any rough edges or surfaces on the platform. This step not only improves the aesthetics but also prevents any potential splinters. Additionally, consider adding a non-slip surface to the platform to keep your mattress securely in place during travel. A non-slip material, such as rubber or non-skid fabric, will prevent your mattress from sliding around while you’re on the move, ensuring a more comfortable and restful sleep during your camper van adventures.
HOW TO BUILD AN ALUMINUM BED FRAME FOR A CARGO VAN
Aluminum stands out as an exceptional choice for individuals seeking a bed frame that is both lightweight and long-lasting. To construct an aluminum bed frame, follow these steps.
Step 1: Choose the Aluminum Frame
When selecting aluminum bars or beams for your bed frame, it’s crucial to consider both the size of your van and the desired dimensions of your bed. Here are some additional details to keep in mind:
Van Size: Measure the interior dimensions of your van carefully to determine the available space for the bed frame. Consider the length, width, and height to ensure the aluminum bars or beams fit comfortably within the van’s interior.
Bed Dimensions: Decide on the ideal dimensions for your bed based on your height, sleeping preferences, and the space you want to allocate for other van features. The length and width of the bed should provide ample sleeping space while leaving room for other elements in the van.
Weight Capacity: Consider the weight capacity of the selected aluminum bars or beams. They should be able to support the combined weight of the bed frame, mattress, and occupants.
Profile and Strength: Evaluate the profile and thickness of the aluminum bars or beams. Opt for materials with adequate strength and rigidity to ensure a stable and durable bed frame.
Corrosion Resistance: Aluminum is known for its natural resistance to rust and corrosion, making it an excellent choice for van life. However, consider selecting materials with additional protective coatings or treatments for enhanced durability, especially if you plan to travel in various weather conditions.
By carefully selecting aluminum bars or beams appropriate for your van’s size and desired bed dimensions, you’ll lay the foundation for a sturdy and reliable bed frame that enhances your camper van experience.
Step 2: Cut and Assemble
it’s time to put your selected aluminum bars to use and create the bed frame for your cargo van. Follow these steps to cut and assemble the frame:
Measure and Mark: Measure the lengths needed for the aluminum bars according to your bed frame design. Use a measuring tape to ensure accurate measurements and mark the cutting points on the bars with a pencil or marker.
Cutting the Aluminum Bars: Use a hacksaw or a similar cutting tool designed for metal to cut the aluminum bars to the required lengths. Take your time to make precise cuts along the marked lines.
Smooth the Edges: After cutting, use sandpaper to smooth down any rough edges on the aluminum bars. This step ensures a neat and clean finish, reducing the risk of any sharp edges.
Assemble the Frame: Once you have all the aluminum bars cut to the appropriate lengths, it’s time to assemble the frame. Depending on your chosen design, you can use connectors specifically designed for aluminum or opt for welding to join the bars securely.
Welding (Optional): If you decide to use welding, make sure you have the necessary welding equipment and skills to carry out the process safely and effectively. Weld the aluminum bars together at the designated joints to form a sturdy and stable bed frame.
Double-Check Stability: After assembling the frame, double-check that all connections are secure and there are no loose parts. Test the frame’s stability by gently applying pressure to different areas.
By cutting and assembling the aluminum bars carefully, you’ll create a strong and reliable bed frame for your cargo van. Whether using connectors or welding, ensure that the joints are secure and the frame is stable, providing you with a safe and comfortable sleeping space for your adventures on the road.
Step 3: Test for Sturdiness
Before proceeding with the installation of the aluminum bed frame in your van, it is crucial to test for sturdiness and stability. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and secure bed frame:
Check Connections: Examine all the joints and connections of the aluminum frame. Make sure that they are properly aligned and securely fastened together. If you used connectors, ensure they are tightly locked in place, and if welding was used, verify that the welds are strong and without any cracks.
Apply Pressure: Gently apply pressure to different areas of the aluminum frame to test its stability. Press down on the corners, the center, and along the edges to check for any wobbling or shifting. The frame should remain steady and not exhibit any signs of weakness.
Verify Load Capacity: Consider placing some weight or applying pressure on the frame to simulate the weight of a mattress and a person. This will help you evaluate its load-bearing capacity and ensure it can support the intended weight without bending or flexing.
Address Weak Points: If you identify any weak points or areas of concern during the testing process, address them promptly. Reinforce the connections, add additional support beams, or make any necessary adjustments to improve the frame’s stability.
Reevaluate Design: If you find significant issues with the frame’s stability, reassess your design and consider modifications that will enhance its strength. It’s better to identify and resolve any weaknesses before installing the frame in your van.
By thoroughly testing the aluminum frame for sturdiness and stability, you can confidently proceed with fixing it to the van’s interior. Ensuring a robust and reliable bed frame will provide a safe and comfortable sleeping space during your travels in the cargo van.
Step 4: Install the Bed
With the aluminum bed frame tested for sturdiness and stability, it’s time to install it inside your van. Follow these steps to position and secure the frame firmly:
Placement: Carefully position the aluminum bed frame at the desired location inside your van. Take into account any other interior features or fixtures to ensure the frame fits snugly without obstructing access to essential areas.
Align the Frame: Ensure that the frame is properly aligned with the walls or floor of the cargo area. Double-check that it sits level and square within the van.
Securing to the Walls: Use appropriate mounting brackets or fasteners to secure the sides of the aluminum frame to the interior walls of the van. Choose brackets or fasteners designed for the specific type of wall material, such as wood or metal.
Securing to the Floor: If necessary, use suitable anchors or fasteners to secure the legs or base of the aluminum frame to the van’s floor. Ensure that the frame is firmly attached to prevent any movement during travel.
Test for Stability: After securing the aluminum bed frame, test its stability by gently shaking it and applying pressure. Verify that it remains firmly in place without any significant wobbling or shifting.
Optional Non-Slip Surface: Consider adding a non-slip surface to the top of the aluminum frame to prevent your mattress from sliding during travel. This surface will help keep the mattress securely in place, ensuring a comfortable and restful sleep.
By properly positioning and securely fixing the aluminum bed frame inside your van, you’ll create a reliable and comfortable sleeping space that enhances your camper van experience. Enjoy the convenience and coziness of your newly built aluminum bed frame during your adventures on the road.
VANS WITH BUILT-IN BEDS
If you prefer not to build a bed from scratch, consider purchasing a van model that comes with a bed pre-installed. Some popular vans with built-in beds include:
If you’re looking for a professionally built campervan with a bed inside, Class B campervans are an excellent choice. These compact and versatile vans are specifically designed to offer a comfortable living space with essential amenities, including a built-in bed. Here are three popular Class B campervans known for their quality and functionality:
Winnebago Travato: The Winnebago Travato is a well-regarded Class B campervan that combines modern design with practical features. It typically comes with a Murphy bed system that folds down from the wall, providing a comfortable sleeping area at night and ample living space during the day. The Travato also boasts a functional kitchenette, a compact bathroom, and a dinette area for dining or working. With its reliable build and user-friendly layout, the Winnebago Travato is a favorite among adventure seekers.
Roadtrek Zion: The Roadtrek Zion is another popular Class B campervan that offers a luxurious and cozy interior. Its rear power sofa easily converts into a large and comfortable bed, ensuring a restful night’s sleep. The Zion boasts a well-equipped kitchenette, a spacious bathroom with a shower, and plenty of storage for all your travel essentials. With a focus on quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, the Roadtrek Zion provides a premium camping experience.
Airstream Interstate: For those seeking a touch of iconic style, the Airstream Interstate is an excellent option. As a Class B campervan built on a Mercedes-Benz chassis, it offers both reliability and elegance. The Airstream Interstate usually features a power rear sofa that transforms into a full-size bed, complemented by luxurious finishes and amenities. This campervan provides a blend of comfort, performance, and eye-catching design that sets it apart from the rest.
When choosing a Class B campervan with a professionally built bed, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. Each model may offer unique features and configurations, so take the time to research and compare to find the one that best suits your travel style and requirements. Regardless of your choice, Class B campervans promise unforgettable adventures and the freedom to explore the world with ease.
Building a camper van bed is an exciting project that can greatly enhance your van life experience. Whether you opt for a DIY bed frame using wood or an aluminum frame for added durability, the result will be a comfortable and cozy space for your adventures on the road. Alternatively, if you hit the road and enjoy the great outdoors as soon as possible, you can use our camper van conversion parts to save time and finish your project sooner.