All of the bedroom soundproofing you do, and white noise machines you buy will not help your sleeping if you are being betrayed by a squeaking bed. Generally, beds become squeaky over time. Worn mattresses, loose frames, and/or worn contact points.
We have put together a list of the more common causes of a squeaking bed, how to diagnose them, and how to fix them. Please read on for help to solve your squeaking bed issues.
How to Find a Squeak in a Bed
As with about everything, you can’t fix it if you can’t find it. And the best way to find the squeak is to pull the bed apart and check out the individual parts. Here are the most likely places to find squeaks.
Finding Mattress Squeaks
If you have a foam mattress, it will not squeak. Period. But an innerspring or hybrid mattress with springs inside can squeak. These noises are almost invariably caused by the metal springs inside the mattress. They can be old and worn, rusty, or misaligned.
To check if the squeaking is coming from your mattress, take it off the bed, put it on the floor, and lay on it. And roll back and forth listening for noise. (Note: Make sure that the floor is not squeaking. That will give you a false-positive.) You can get your kids to do the rolling, but they may not produce any noise because they probably do not weigh what you do.
Finding Box Spring Squeaks
Now that you have the mattresses on the floor it is easy to check for box spring squeaks. Noise coming from the box spring will come from 2 places–the springs inside the mattress and/or box spring contact points with the frame. As with the mattress, getting onto the box spring and moving around should give you a pretty good idea of where the noise is coming from.
If the noise is produced by the springs inside the box, you will eventually have to replace the box spring. But you may want to try the fix we listed below. It may only be temporary, or it might create magic–allowing you to get much more use out of the box spring.
If your noise is coming from the box spring on frame contact, one of the fixes listed will produce long-term positive results for you.
Finding Frame Squeaks
Frames that are loose and do not fit together tightly will move around. The individual parts (metal or wood) can rub together. A loose frame can cause the headboard to rub or tap against the wall. Maybe during some vigorous pre-sleeping exercise. And the whole frame can move on the floor. Or be off level causing tapping or thumping sounds as you move in the bed.
The floor itself can be the problem. Move the bed and make sure that the floor under the legs is not squeaking by standing on, or walking over, the spots. Laminate and hardwood floors are notorious for squeaking if installed improperly–such as without proper underlayment. For more information on underlayment please see our article Best Soundproofing Underlayment.
Metal frames often need a little positive pressure to seat the cross pieces properly. Our frame has no bolts. It is held together by welds or large rivets. The V-shaped sections just slide together and are held in place by gravity and weight. A little dry silicone spray lubricant and a rubber mallet make sure they are completely seated and tight. This eliminates one potential source of squeaks.
Wood frames can have a number of slats to support the mattress. If not installed properly, wood will squeak loudly against wood.
If you want more information on quiet bed frames please see our article The Best Quiet Bed Frame of 2022.
8 Ways to Fix a Squeaky Bed
Your bed may be squeaking for any one of a number of reasons. Following are some of the repair options for most of the common ones and a few not so common ones.
1) Fix Your Squeaky Mattress
If your mattress is making squeaking noises, you have entered the countdown to buying a new one. There are really no long-term fixes for a squeaking mattress. But here are a few ideas that could prolong its life.
- Flip the Mattress. Turn your mattress over so you are sleeping on what was the bottom. If you are sleeping with a partner who is significantly lighter or heavier than you are, this evens out the wear and tear on mattress springs. Turning it end for end at the same time will also change the weight distribution points sightly. (Note: Pillow-top mattresses are not made to be turned over.)
- Turn the Mattress. Turn the mattress end for end. This will allow the weight to be on slightly different springs.
- Add a Mattress Topper. Adding a 2″ or 3″ medium firm memory foam or gel-infused foam mattress topper may spread the weight enough to eliminate the squeak. (Note: Remember to make sure your fitted sheets will still fit after adding the topper.)
- Add Plywood. Lay 1/4″ or 3/8″ Good One Side plywood between the mattress and box spring or bed frame. This stiffens up the base and spreads the weight more evenly–possibly cutting down on the squeaking. (Note: Oil or Varathane the plywood to create a smooth finish and prevent splinters snagging the mattress.) Do not use MDF. It may crack–creating more noise problems.
- Take a Book to Bed. If you can isolate the noise, it might be helpful to place something stiff under it–like a hardcover book. Stick to something less than 200 pages. War and Peace will probably create a lump.
If all else fails, and you need a new mattress, give serious consideration to either a memory foam mattress or a natural latex mattress. They are available without metal parts, so they will remain quiet for their lifetime. Memory foam will retain more heat than latex, making your sleep warmer, or maybe even too hot. The 2 different options are roughly the same price for equivalent-sized mattresses. Which should make your choice about personal preference.
Note: Some foam and latex mattresses are hybrid products that include coil springs. This is not a problem as long as you are aware of the construction and the possibility of the mattress eventually starting to squeak.
2) Fix Your Squeaky Box Spring
Box springs generally squeak for one of two reasons. The coil springs inside the box or friction between the box spring and the frame it is sitting on.
Box Spring Coil Squeaks
Squeaking coil springs inside the box spring is usually a sign of impending replacement. But there is one thing you can try to extend the life span. Turn the box spring over and remove the bottom cover. (You will probably have to cut this off.) If it is in good shape, you can save it and re-install it later. But if the cats have been in it, buy a Cambric Box Spring Dust Cover and an upholstery staple gun and replace the whole thing.
Once the fabric is off lubricate all of the springs with Dry Silicone Spray Lubricant. Silicone does not stain so it should not be a problem if you get a little on the mattress top. I suggest doing all of the springs when you have the cover off. Then you should not have to go back in there for a while. (Because as we all know, another spring will start squeaking in a couple of days if you just fix the noisy ones.)
Once the silicone accelerant has evaporated, install the new cambric fabric, or replace the old one. (Note: The accelerant has a fairly strong odor, but the silicone itself is essentially odorless.)
Note: If you have a compressor and staple gun, use those to install the fabric. (Wide crown staples if possible for a better hold.) Some of the wood in box spring frames gets awful hard after a few years. Using a hand stapler can get a little frustrating if the staples cannot be fully buried in the wood.
Box Spring Friction Squeaks
Most box springs are designed to fit fairly tightly inside the metal or wood bed frames. By itself, this eliminates a lot of potential squeaks. Unfortunately, some manufacturers of frames and box springs did not get the memo, and frames can come a little too large, and/or box springs can arrive a little too small providing room for movement.
Magzo Foam Insulation Tape should solve this problem easily. It is available in multiple sizes, so should fit most applications. Just peel the protective tape off and stick the closed-cell foam to the bed frame where the box spring sits. You now have a non-skid gasket between the two that prevents movement and keeps two hard products from interacting noisily with each other. If you also want your box spring to fit tighter inside the frame, just line the sides of the frame with the appropriately sized foam tape.
3) Tighten Bolts, Screws, and Fasteners
Many bed frames need to be screwed or bolted together. If you have one of these, make sure every fastener is tight. Do not overtighten. Make sure that everything is tightened the same amount. (No, you do not need a torque wrench. Just try for the same amount of resistance on each bolt, nut, or screw.) Adding a lock washer or locking nut to any bolts will eliminate the need to tighten them again.
4) Lubricate Friction Points
Bed frames hold a lot of weight and are subject to quite a bit of movement. Even if all of the fasteners are tight, there is the possibility of friction squeaks. Box springs on metal or wooden frames, mattresses on wooden slats, slats on the frame, and feet on the floor. Dry Silicone Spray Lubricant can be your best friend. Because it does not stain and does not leave a residue, it is usually the first thing I reach for to stop squeaking, rubbing, and binding.
Spray it anywhere on the bed frame that may have parts rubbing together. Spray it on the frame or slats holding up the box spring or mattress. Don’t be shy. Make sure everything gets a good coating. You can even add a second coat if you want. Silicone goes on wet because of the accelerant used to get it out of the can. It evaporates fairly quickly, leaving the silicone to adhere to whatever it is sprayed on. Try not to get overspray on laminate floors. It will make them slicker than goose poop.
Note: Do not use original WD-40. It stands for Water Displacement and the 40th try at perfecting the product. It is a great product–just not as a lubricant. It will dry out and the squeaking will be back. I know this is sacrilege to all of you who think the sun rises and sets out of a can of WD-40. Sorry.
5) Lubricate Wooden Frames
Take care of the wood in wooden bed frames–not only to reduce squeaking but to keep it from drying out. It is quite normal to polish, wax, or oil wood furniture but ignore wood bed frames–mostly because they are out of sight, out of mind. Some of the products you can use on the wood include:
- Dry Silicone Lubricant. As mentioned above, Dry Silicone will lubricate almost anything, including wood on wood contact that rubs and squeaks.
- Wax. Z’s Wood Nectar Wood Wax is meant to be applied, left to absorb, then wiped off. It should not stain the undersides of mattresses or box springs. Other types of waxes that will preserve and lubricate the wood are beeswax and even candle wax.
- Oil. Multi-purpose oil such as 3 in 1 oil work great for lubrication, but make sure it does not touch the fabric on the bottom of box springs or mattresses. It will soak in.
6) Fill Squeaky Bed Frame Gaps
You can’t lubricate parts that do not normally touch. Some bed frames have gaps between sections that are too big to lubricate effectively. But they could rub and squeak when there is movement in the bed. One of the best products to fill the gaps and stop the squeaking is cork. Although these 12″ x 12″ Juvale cork squares are fairly inexpensive, I hesitate at suggesting buying 4 square feet of cork when you need a few square inches. Unless you have another use for the leftovers.
Cutting up 2 or 3 wine corks is just as effective. You can customize the pieces you need. And have a reason to drink the wine.
You can also use Magzo Foam Insulation Tape to pack gaps in your bed frame. Just keep in mind that it has adhesive on one side and could be a large pain to remove–if it ever becomes necessary.
7) Use Anti Vibration Pads
I know the bed is not vibrating, but thin dense anti vibration pads that you can put under each leg are great products. They will:
- Stop the bed from moving around
- Protect the floor
- Level the bed
Sometimes people will change flooring from carpet to laminate without considering the possibility of creating a squeaking bed. Carpet reduces movement and is almost self-leveling. Laminate and hardwood are much less forgiving.
Another perfect spot for these pads is between the box spring and the metal bed frame. Cut them to size and place them where needed. (Our box springs came with a 1″ x 1″ x 6″ long L-shaped piece of plastic-wrapped on the underside of each corner. Eventually, some of the tabs broke off and box springs began to make noise.) These particular pads are self-adhesive. If you choose another brand, you can staple or glue the isolation pads to the bottom corners of the box spring, or you can use glue or double sided tape to attach them to the corners of the frame.
8) More Squeaky Bed Fixes
So you have oiled, sprayed, or waxed most everything you can see but there are still squeaks. Some of the following suggestions might work better to fix your problems.
- Magzo Insulation Tape. I mentioned this product as something to use between the box spring and frame. It is also something you can use on wooden slats as a gasket between slats and mattress or box spring. Applying tape to the slats will eliminate any chance of rubbing.
- Squeaking Castors. If you have castors on your bed’s feet, you can prevent them from rolling with the anti-vibration pads mentioned above. If you still think they are moving and squeaking, give them all a squirt of Silicone Lubricant to keep them quiet.
When all else fails, and you are sick of living with the noise, you may have to buy a new bed. Or, quite often, just a new bed frame because you replaced the mattress recently. For more information on choosing the quietest bed frame please see our article The Best Quiet Bed Frame of 2022.
If the frame is not the problem, and you decide to spring for a new mattress and/or box spring, give some consideration to purchasing a memory foam mattress. These mattresses do not have any springs in them. This eliminates the possibility of the next squeak coming from the mattress.