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7 Easy Ways to Build a Campervan Bed (2024)

A campervan bed is pretty much the centerpiece of the entire build. Around it, all else is built. So in this guide, we will examine 7 campervan bed ideas and how you can build one! Cosy night's sleep incoming... ๐Ÿ’ค We will look at how to build a campervan fixed bed, folding campervan bed, pull out campervan bed, and sliding campervan bed. Every campervan bed frame or campervan bed system you can imagine!


I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan, writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!


Now let's jump in and let's check out 7 of the best campervan bed ideas!

7 Easy Ways to Build a Campervan Bed

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Design the campervan bed first!

Broadly speaking, there are two types of campervan bed frame: fixed and non-fixed. In our 2023 study, we found that 57% of people install a fixed bed, it is by far the most popular of the beds discussed.

fixed vs non-fixed campervan bed

Before hopping into building a campervan bed, it is essential that you mock it up on paper or with CAD software first! Here is a full guide on campervan design that will help you get started. I highly recommend Vanspace3D for designing your campervan interior - it's an awesome drag n' drop CAD tool specifically for van conversions.

When working through the design of the campervan bed, there are a few things that you should take into account...


Account for the insulation & cladding

Make sure you take into account the depth of the insulation and cladding on the walls of the van - they will take away from the dimensions of the bed you are able to build.

Sleeping direction

Choosing whether to sleep length-ways or side-ways in a van is a surprisingly big decision. As a general rule of thumb, if you are taller than 5'9" (175cm), you will probably need to sleep length-ways.

I am just a hair under 5'10" and I need to sleep length-ways in my Ford Transit. However, different vans have different widths. You can find the dimensions of the most popular vans for conversion in this article.

A cramped sleep is a crap sleep. If you are intent on sleeping side-ways, there are two things you can do to give yourself more wiggle room:

Option #1. Create cut-outs: This means, using less insulation at the head and toes of the bed in order to give more sleeping room.

@traceythetransit - Creating cut outs during the build
@traceythetransit - Creating cut outs during the build

Georgia and Joe, owners of @Traceythetransit installed cut outs in their awesome build. Needless to say, there are pros and cons to this... Notably the lack of insulation can cause a heat bridge that will allow heat transfer to occur more easily, making winters colder and summers colder. But it might just be worth it for the extra room in your campervan bed!

@traceythetransit - The finished product!
@traceythetransit - The finished product!

Option #2. Install flares: Flares are protruding panels installed on your van which add more lateral volume. A van flare is installed in much the same way as a campervan window. Here is a video on how to install van flares.

van flares
Flares - functional and badass; @the4x4spaceship

In terms of campervan bed size, most people want a double bed of a comfortable size. Below is a chart of typical mattress dimensions.

campervan mattress dimensions

With all that out of the way, let's hop in and look at 7 campervan bed ideas!


Campervan Fixed Bed

The campervan fixed bed is the most common type of campervan bed system found in conversions. There is no faff with setting it up, because there is nothing to set up!

campervan fixed bed
Lots of lighting around this fixed bed; @all.about.adventure

If we put our x-ray glasses on for a moment, we can see how it's built...


The campervan bed frame of the fixed bed should be built with thick and sturdy carcassing timber. Gorilla glue is the best wood glue for carpentry. Bed slats are then installed on top to give a comfortable, springy feeling.

campervan fixed bed slats

One critically important thing that I want to point out when building a campervan fixed bed (or any weight-bearing surface for that matter) is the manner in which we join/screw timber together. Screws are not designed to take shear force. Weight-bearing timber should rest on top of the adjoining piece, it should not be screwed into the side. Make note of that when you are building your campervan bed frame. You can learn all about campervan furniture and carpentry here.

How to screw wood together

The legs of the campervan bed frame should be made of very stiff wood with zero flex. The legs are bolted directly to the walls of the van.

building a campervan fixed bed
@faroutride secured the legs with cross nuts

If you want to do a really pro job, Flatline Van co. sells pre-built aluminium frames.

Flatline van co. bed frame
Awesome engineering from @FlatlineVanCo

Table bed

After the fixed bed, the campervan table bed is the second most popular choice of sleeping device. The table bed is the bed I have in my van.

campervan table bed
My campervan bed

Here's how it works: A table top is mounted on an adjustable marine pedestal. When the table is up, you have a place to eat, work, or have friends over. When the table is down, you have a big, luxurious place to sleep!

campervan table bed
My bed... when it's a table!

This system is my personal favourite. Yes I do need to lower the table and make the bed each evening, but the comfort it gives me in the van is amazing. I have a huge space to work from, can have 4-5 people over for dinner, and lots of headroom!

Campervan van fixed bed down

Apart from installing the bed on an adjustable pedestal, you will need to build two benches (they double up as storage containers) on either side of the table.


How to build a table bed in a campervan

campervan bed dimensions
Campervan bed plans

Step #1: Build the Benches

First build the carcassing frame using 2X2 timber. These are your benches and your bed, so give it lots of structural support! Most of the time these benches will be installed over the wheel wells of your van, so create an interior frame for the wheel arches too.

After you have built the frames of the benches you can go ahead and clad or plyline them.

You can cut all this wood using a jigsaw or circular saw.

Note: These benches are identical. So batch your work! Double up the cutting of timber and cladding.

Building benches for a campervan fixed bed

Step #2: Build the slatted top

Next we need to build a slatted top for each bench. Ideally you should use bed slats for this - they are spongy and comfy! In my case, I used 1X4 timber and it has done the job well!

Screw some cross beams into the equally-spaced slats to secure them together.

Building slats for campervan bed

Finally, add some large box hinges to the top so that the slats can open and close.

Hinging campervan bed box

Step #3: Install the table

Cut the table to length using a circular saw. It can either match the length of the benches, or you can make it shorter if you are installing a third horizontal bench at the back of the van like I did.

Then screw the marine pedestal into the centre of the table (from the underside clearly...).

Installing pedestal on campervan bed

Next you can go ahead and screw the pedestal into the floor of the van. Use BIG screws for this.


Finally, screw a thick piece of carcassing timber along the top of each bench. This holds up the table when it is lowered.

Pedestal campervan bed

Folding campervan bed

Next up we have the folding campervan bed! @jakeheard came up with this bed shown in the image below! A bench that doubles up as a bed.

Folding campervan bed
A simple folding bed design; @jakeheard

The design of this campervan bed system is very simple. The carcass is made of 2X2 timber, and the top is ply lined. The two sections are attached together with several box hinges. The important thing to keep in mind here is that the backrest should be the same height as the legs of the bench part.


The backrest should have an angle of 15ยฐ. In order to cut the carcassing timber (4X1) at this angle you can use a miter saw. If you don't have a miter saw, you can use a miter block.



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Pull out campervan bed

The pull out campervan bed is another popular choice. Also known as a murphy bed, the pull out campervan bed is stored upright in the wall when not used and pulled down when needed. This gives you a lot of living space during the day! I thought the build below by @rydawell was particularly beautiful.

Pull out campervan bed
Beautiful Murphy bed design; @rydawell

Here's a detailed video on how to build a pull out campervan bed.


Sliding campervan bed

Next up we have the sliding campervan bed. Also known as a slat bed, the sliding campervan bed is a really efficient use of space. When not in use, it slides together to become half the size. I'm a really big fan of this type of bed - after a table bed, I think the sliding campervan bed is the next best convertible bed. Below is a photo of how @rayphungphoto built his.

Sliding campervan bed
Clean and simple; @rayphungphoto

Here are some plans on how to make a sliding campervan bed:

sliding campervan bed plans
Campervan bed plans

Campervan bed lift system

Okay, now we're getting into the seriously hi-tech systems. In the last couple years people have started building campervan bed lift systems. These are electrical beds that can be raised up and stored in the roof when not in use.


A campervan bed lift system is certainly something you could show proudly to all your friends. However, two important things come to mind... This system will take away from the standing height of your van, so it is not for tall people. The campervan bed lift system also draws a lot of juice from the leisure batteries, so you will probably need a big electrical system.


Check out the build from Evo Design below, you can actually buy the full system directly from them.

Campervan bed lift system
@evodesign supplies bed lift systems

Alternatively, you could build a campervan bed lift system from scratch! Here is a video on how to build one by the awesome youtuber Seven O Savage!


Campervan hammock bed

The last feature in our campervan bed ideas lineup is the campervan hammock bed. Simple, weight & space efficient, and damn comfy!

campervan hammock bed
@radam_gnawrot

The campervan hammock bed is one of the easier beds to install. All it requires is heavy duty eyelets on either end. The eyelets should be attached directly to the metal structure of the van.

Campervan hammock bed hook

Campervan mattress

The final part of the puzzle to building a campervan bed is to pick a mattress and cut it to size. Memory foam is the best bet for a campervan mattress. It is comfortable and easy to cut.


You will need to cut your campervan mattress into sections. The number of sections will depend on the type of bed you have chosen to build. Since I have a table bed, I need to cut the campervan mattress into four sections. Two for the bum rest, two as a back rest (when the table is up).


I marked the four sections with a sharpie (measuring very carefully and drawing very straightly). You need to cut the campervan mattress with an electric kitchen knife. Using an electric kitchen knife is the only way to ensure you get a clean, straight cut.

Cutting a campervan mattress

The last step is upholstering the four cushions of the campervan mattress. To be totally frank, I had zero experience in this domain so I went to the local upholster and got him to do it for me. I chose out the fabric and he did an excellent job sowing it up! It cost me about โ‚ฌ300 (and two weeks waiting) to get the job done.


If you are more adventurous and own a sewing machine, here is a really great video on how to sew a box cushion yourself!

upholstered bed
A handy swivel table bed system; @vanmonkeys

Conclusion

And that's all she wrote. 7 awesome Campervan Bed ideas!


Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).


If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!

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Until next time,

Shane โœŒ๏ธ

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