How to Build a DIY Daybed

DIY Daybed

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 3 - 5 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Yield: 1 daybed
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $150 to $250

Multi-functional and versatile, daybeds are dedicated to a wide range of relaxing activities like lounging, reclining, reading, and chatting. When the back pillows are removed, the daybed allows for daytime naps and it can even serve as an extra bed at night.

A daybed is simple and couch-like, with a low backrest and two side arms. What distinguishes a daybed from an actual couch is its deep seat. Most sofas are no more than 22 to 24 inches deep. Yet daybeds are a minimum of 39 inches deep, large enough to accommodate a twin-size mattress, and some are even deeper.

Inspired by a daybed found at a resort on Ko Lanta island, Thailand, this DIY daybed's clean, simple lines are evocative of elegant, rustic furniture often found in the tropics. This daybed will accept a standard twin-size mattress measuring 38 inches by 75 inches.

Carefully applied wood stain can make less expensive softwood two-by-fours look similar to hardwood. Use water-based polyurethane coating to protect the wood while maintaining a soft, velvety texture. Oil-based coatings will give the wood a harder, shell-like feel.

Safety Considerations

This project requires the use of an electric miter saw. Observe all safety precautions for the miter saw when cutting the lumber.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Electric miter saw
  • Random orbital sander
  • Drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Countersink bits
  • Tape measure
  • Speed Square
  • Carpenter's C-clamps
  • Tack cloth
  • Staining pads
  • Sandpaper, #120 and #220


  • 12 two-by-fours
  • 5 one-by-fours
  • 2-inch screws
  • 2-1/2-inch screws
  • 3-inch screws
  • Wood stain
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Polyurethane wood sealant, water-based


  1. Cut the Wood

    Cut the wood according to the measurements in the chart below:

    Part # Lumber Length Quantity Purpose
    A 2x4 39 inches 2 Seat platform sides
    B 2x4 76 inches 2 Seat platform front and rear
    C 2x4 36 inches 7 Seat platform inner slats
    D 2x4 39 inches 2 Side support bottom
    E 2x4 39 inches 2 Side support top (armrests)
    F 2x4 30 inches 4 Side support vertical pieces
    G 2x4 36 inches 2 Side support cross-braces
    H 2x4 43 inches 2 Seat back vertical pieces
    I 1x4 76 inches 5 Seat back horizontal slats
  2. Build the Seat Platform Perimeter

    Place the two platform side pieces (A) 73 inches apart from each other and parallel to each other.

    Place the platform front and back pieces (B) between the two side pieces, forming a rectangle.

    Drill pilot holes into the outer sides of the side pieces, where the sides meet the front and back pieces.

    Sink 3-inch screws into the pilot holes to attach all pieces, two screws per attachment point.


    To hide visible screwheads, one variation is to drill pocket holes for the screws rather than screwing into the visible faces of the lumber. You'll need a pocket jig and special screws if you decide to do this.

  3. Add the Seat Platform Inner Slats

    With the tape measure and pencil, mark 9-1/8-inch increments on the top of each the platform front and back pieces (B). Do not include the side pieces (A) in your measurements.

    Insert the seat platform inner slats (C) between the long front and rear pieces. Center each slat on pencil marks. For now, insert only the middle five (of seven) slats. Leave off the two end slats for now.

    Drill pilot holes and then use 3-inch screws to screw the slats into place. Use two screws per attachment point for a total of 14 screws.

  4. Build Side Support Perimeter

    Two side supports carry the seat platform, their top edges acting as armrests.

    Lay a side support bottom (D) parallel to and 30 inches apart from a side support top (E).

    Place two of the vertical side supports (F) perpendicular to and between the previous two boards, at each end.

    Join the boards with screws to form a rectangle.

  5. Add the Cross Brace to the Side Support

    The side support has a cross brace located 20 inches above the floor that helps the seat platform attach to the side support.

    With the tape measure, measure 20 inches from the end of the side support bottom (D). Do this for both sides.

    Add the side support cross brace (G) between the two pencil marks, centering the brace on the marks.

    Slide the cross brace so that it is flush with the edges of the side support vertical pieces.

    Create pilot holes and add screws to attach the cross brace.

  6. Build a Second Side Support

    To build another side support, duplicate previous steps for building the side support perimeter and adding the cross brace.

    Side supports should be exactly the same dimensions. So, use the first side support as a model, if necessary.

  7. Attach the Seat Platform to the Side Supports

    Elevate the seat platform on boxes or stack of books so it is as high as the cross braces on the seat platforms.

    Attach the seat platform to the side supports by drilling from the inside of the seat platform. This will hide the screws. Use 2-1/2-inch screws. Place four screws per side.

    Remove the supports.

  8. Add Remaining Seat Slats

    Add the two end seat platform slats that were omitted earlier.

  9. Add the Seat Back Vertical Pieces

    Choose one of the DIY daybed's long sides to be the back.

    Clamp one of the seat back vertical pieces (H) to one of the side support vertical pieces. The bottoms should be flush with each other.

    Still working from the back, screw the two boards together with 2-1/2-inch screws. Use six screws.

    Repeat on the other side of the daybed.

  10. Attach the Seat Back Slats to the Vertical Pieces

    Clamp one of the seat back horizontal slats (I) to the tops of the seat back vertical pieces. Use one clamp per side.

    Use the 2-inch screws to screw the seat back slat into place, two screws per side.

    Working downward, add four more seat slats. Space the slats by 1/2-inch.

    When adding the bottom slat, keep the same 1/2-inch distance between it and the upper slat. But there may be a gap of 1 to 3 inches between the bottom slat and the seat platform. This gap does not need to be filled in.

  11. Round Off Edges and Corners

    Use the random orbital sander and #120 grit sandpaper to round off the corners and edges of the daybed. For a sharp, defined look, round off as little wood as possible. For a more rustic look or for the appearance of time-worn furniture, heavily work down the edges and corners.

  12. Sand the Wood

    Sand the flat surfaces with #120 grit sandpaper if there are any rough spots. Mainly, use #220 grit paper on the flat surfaces.

  13. Apply Wood Conditioner

    Clean off the daybed with a tack cloth to remove sawdust. With a staining pad or brush, apply pre-stain wood conditioner to all surfaces of the daybed.


    Wood stain pre-conditioner is necessary if you want to make less expensive softwood look like hardwood. The conditioner seals the wood for a smoother wood stain finish, avoiding the sharp contrasts and striations that characterize stained softwood.

  14. Apply Wood Stain

    Use the staining pads to apply wood stain to all areas of the daybed. Apply in several light coats rather than in one or two heavy coats.

  15. Seal the Wood

    Seal the daybed with water-based polyurethane wood sealer. Since water-based sealers are very light, apply at least three coats for protection and to enhance the color of the wood stain.

  16. Finish the DIY Daybed

    Add a twin size mattress to the daybed (not a twin XL mattress). Cover the mattress. Add three or four large couch pillows to the backrest.