How to Assemble a Metal Bed Frame

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Metal bed frames with headboards and foot boards are the easiest to assemble.
Metal bed frames with headboards and foot boards are the easiest to assemble. (Image: frazaz/iStock/Getty Images)

Metal bed frames come in all shapes, styles and types. An adjustable bed frame, the most common frame used for twins, full beds, queens and kings goes together fairly simply once you lay out the two side L-angled rails and unfold the horizontal support bars. Some bed frames may have a center support that runs vertically the length of the bed that attaches to the supports that fold out from the side rails. All you need are some common household tools to assemble the bed frame before adding the box spring and mattress. Gather the tools needed before you begin.

Things You'll Need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Tape measure

Step 1: Measure the Bed

Measure the width of the box spring, as this is the part of the bed that fits inside the metal bed frame. Write down the measurement.

Step 2: Lay Out the Pieces

Lay the L-shaped side rails on the floor near the area where you want to set up the bed, with the bracketed ends at the top of the frame for the headboard. Unfold the support bars from the side rail at 90-degree angles to the side rails. You should also have four or more coasters or glides that attach to the frame as feet. Look for two L-shaped plastic end caps that slide on the end of the side rails at the foot of the bed. For the keyhole-type frame, lay the expander bars at the head and the foot of the bed after unfolding the supports.

Tip

  • Depending on the metal frame that you have, you probably have two long L-shaped side rails, each of which has three bars folded inwards at the top, middle and bottom, unless you have the frame that runs the support bar vertically down the center length of the bed. This type of bed frame secures the bottom and the top supports that fold out from the side rails to the center support with an expander bar held together with bolts and nuts or pegs that slide into a keyhole and lock in place. The bed frame with the horizontal supports typically use a slide-on fastener that secures the supports in place by tightening the wing nut instead of a separate bar, bolts and nuts.

Step 3: Add the Feet

Add the coasters or the glides to the metal frame to serve as the frame’s feet. Insert the plastic tips over the L-bracket at the foot of the bed. Add the box spring and mattress, and make up the bed for sleeping.

Step 4: Secure the Supports

Slide the piece that has a wing-nut fastener on each arm of the “E” on the left side, if that is the type of bed frame you have, and lay the support from the right side over the left side bar support. Slide the fastener over both bars and tighten loosely to hold them together, repeating for each horizontal support. On the keyhole bed frame, set the small expander bar over the two bars that protrude from the side rails and the center support bar at the top and bottom of the frame, aligning them by the holes in the frame based on the box spring width. Set the bolts or the pins in the bars through the holes so that the two sides and the center support are connected. Lightly fasten the nuts on these to keep them in place if they have them or slide the bar to lock the pins in the holes.

Step 5: Measure the Frame's Width

Measure the distance between the angled L-shaped side rails to match it to the box spring's width, adjusting the distance between them as needed to fit the box spring measurement. Tighten the slide bracket’s wing nut when the measurement is correct. Repeat for each of the support arms. For the center support frame, once the width measurement is accurate, tighten the nuts onto the bolts with the wrench if included.

Step 6: Attach the Headboard

Attach the headboard, if you have one, to the metal frame securing it by inserting the bolts through the brackets and through the holes in the headboard. Add the washer and nuts on the opposite side of the headboard so that they face the wall, and tighten. Repeat for each hole, bolt and nut that goes into the bracket.

Tip

  • Metal bed frames with separate headboard and foot boards usually have slots in them to set the side rails into, which may or may not be secured by bolts and nuts, depending on the type. The center supports for these beds are usually secured to the side rails via bolts and nuts you tighten, or they may have a pin that slides into a hole to keep them in place.

Warning

  • Don't tighten all the bolts and nuts until the measurement is accurate; otherwise, you'll have to take the frame completely apart and readjust.

    If you have a hardwood floor, assemble the bed frame on a blanket to avoid scratching the floor during setup.

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