How to Make a Bed Frame or Platform

Making sure that your bed and bedding are made of the safest possible materials will be one of the most significant changes you can make that results in reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals. A safe bed is made of all natural materials with no synthetics, is free of harmful chemicals and is metal free – no metal springs in the box springs or mattress and no metal in the bed frame. Metal in the bed enhances electromagnetic field issues.

Therefore, the following offers guidelines and instructions for making an inexpensive bed frame or platform that is metal free.

  • Use only solid wood. Do NOT use manufactured wood such as particleboard or plywood.
  • Pine is the most inexpensive softwood, but it has terpines that outgas. If you use pine it will have to be sealed with a vapor barrier sealant. (See below)
  • Poplar is a wood that is fairly inert and less expensive than many woods.  It may not need a vapor barrier sealant. Maple also may not need a vapor barrier, but it is more expensive.
  • Make frame as desired.
  • Paint or seal, if desired.
  • To seal wood, test a sample of the chosen wood, finished on all six sides to determine if you like the look of the finish and to see if the finish seals in wood terpines. This means that you should not be able to smell the wood through the seal. This is especially important for the chemically sensitive. See the following options for sealers:
  • Clear Natural Vapor Barrier Finish
    • Seal all six sides of all pieces of wood before assembly with one coat of Shellac – apply away from the home.  NOTE:  Please do a test sample to see if the gloss finish is desired. This is a natural vapor barrier finish and will seal in wood terpines. Do not bring into home until totally outgassed.
    • Bull’s Eye Shellac Sealer and Finish by Zinsser ( 732-469-8100). This product is very volatile when applied – the applicator should wear a respirator. Apply and cure away from the home. May take up to three weeks for this product to cure, especially if it is cold and damp.  Provide ventilation and airflow to hasten curing. After curing there is no low level outgassing and it is a very safe finish.  It has the advantage also of being a natural material and not synthetic.
  • Clear Finish – Varnish
    • Varnish from Charles Bailey (1-877-453-5433 or 1-870-453-543) –Comes in flat, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. This varnish provides some coverage of terpines and is easier to work with than the Shellac – but it is not a total vapor barrier. This will take 3 weeks or more to outgas.
  • To paint wood, choose from the following:
    • Painted Finish
      • No need to seal in wood terpines (if using wood like maple or poplar)
      • Prime with desired non-toxic primer and paint. Three Branches recommends:
        • EnviroSafePaint – ( 1-888-281-6467 or 830-232-6167 – Jim Lee, family owned and operated) Premium quality paint and other coatings specifically formulated to improve air quality. Uses filtered well water to make the paint. Has virtually no odor, no VOCs  – below 5 grams per liter – and no toxic fumes or preservatives; free of formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, crystalline silica and petroleum. Uses no VOC tinting. Available in any color, including custom color matching, formulated for both indoor and exterior applications. Has no biocide – even the semi gloss.  Uses a variation in the amount of clay – most clay in flat paint, least clay in semi gloss.
        • EnviroSafe Primer – use flat white as the primer. If using the Satin or Semi Gloss this will save you money as the primer will be the flat white and not two coats of Satin or Semi Gloss. If trying to cover a color, tint the flat white to the color of the finish coat. Envirosafe is totally self-priming.
    • Painted Sealed Finish
      • Use if need to seal in wood terpines such as in pine
      • Seal all six sides of all pieces of wood before assembly with one coat of Bin Primer Sealer (1-732-469-8100), which will seal in all odor from wood terpines.  Let cure at least six weeks (not in home) before assembling bed. Assemble bed and then paint with chosen safe paint.
    • For adhesives and glues use only solvent free water-based carpenter’s glue:
      • Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue (1-888-435-6377). Low odor, nontoxic, water based glue for porous materials. Most brands of white carpenter’s glue are acceptable. These white glues are made from low toxic polyvinyl acetate (PVA). On back of label look for circle with AP in the center. (ACMI certified AP). Needs to have AP in the circle.  On all glues near bar code look for AP. If has CL in the circle – do not use – this has a hazardous material.
      • Elmer’s Stainable and Waterproof Carpenter’s Glue – available from home depot  has wood fibers. This is an AP (safe) glue.
      • Weldbond by Frank T. Ross and Sons ( : 416-282-1107) Paul Ross. Latex free adhesive well tolerated by the chemically sensitive. Bond wood to wood, etc.

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