Platform Bed Installation in a Camper Van Conversion


Platform Bed Installation in a Camper Van Conversion

Our Ford Transit DIY camper van conversion is build mostly around the mountain bikes and the platform bed is no exception. We wanted a permanent raised bed above the “garage” (over the bikes and other stuff); no need to fold/unfold the bed at night & it creates a lot of storage room under the bed.


To provide enough clearance for the mountain bikes, there is 40″ height between the floor and the lower frame of the bed. (38″ or 39″ inches is probably enough. Check with your own mountain bikes!)



The platform bed is 76″ long x 72″ wide. We have an Ikea matress that is 75″ long x 54″ wide x 4″ thick; the unused portion of the platform will be use for storage cabinet.

We were quite aggressive with the width of the platform: it is wider than the floor and the frames above, so we’re up for some challenges when we will build the walls! But this way, the living space is maximized.



To maximize the living space between the bed and the driver & passenger seats, we installed the platform bed the most rearward as possible. It leaves 80″ of usable space for the kitchen and the “living room”.




TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 16-20 hours


TOTAL COST : 220-300$ USD


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We’re not woodworkers. We’re not well equipped in tools. So this is not a “How-To”.  This is just how we did it with our limited knowledge & limited access to appropriate tools. There are probably standards, but we’re probably not following them . That being said, we’re very satisfied with the final result and we are proud of what we accomplished!



First of all, this is what we have in mind
Our actual layout,  for now… interactive 3D model is here

Alright now, let’s install a bed in our van!



The platform bed legs are made of 1″ thick russian birch plywood. The legs are really stiff; there is no flex at all (¾” thick Russian birch would probably have been enough). Each leg is attached to the van frame by two fasteners that are screwed into Cross Nut (Buy from Amazon) (see our post about Cross Nut here).


Squeaks Eliminator 2000

To ensure there will be no squeak at all, wood must never be in contact with metal. We therefore left a gap between the legs and the van walls; the gap is created by the Crossnut flange and two fender washers (Buy from Amazon).


Horizontal Frames

Each pair of legs are connected by an horizontal frame. Horizontal frames will increase “lateral” stiffness (left to right) and provide “vertical” stiffness to support our weight; having stiff frame allowed us to reduce the platform thickness (we used 3/8″ thick Russian birch plywood) and shave some weight.




The horizontal frames are a composition of a 5/8″ x 4″ frame and a 5/8″ x 2″ frame. We found this arrangement to provide plenty of stiffness for our need; there is barely no deflection when we hop on the bed.


There is an additional frame in the back of the van. There is not much loads here so we started with one 5/8″ thick x 2″ height, but to get the stiffness we wanted it finally ended with three 5/8″ thick x 2″ height glued together.


Squeaks Eliminator 3000

Relative movement between components produces squeaks. Even where you think there is no movement…

Therefore, we screwed & glued every wood frame together (the platform is not glued to the frames because we want it to be removable). The glue provides the bonding, the screws hold everything together while the glue cures (the screws could be avoided if we had fancy woodworking tools!).


We use #4 screws (1″ length) (Buy from Amazon) and Titebond III Waterproof Wood Glue (Buy from Amazon):



The Platform

We used two 3/8″ thick, 4′ wide x 8′ long, Russian birch plywood sheets. We trimmed the sheets to get the bed width and length we wanted (72″ x 75″) and fastened them using 1/4″ flat head bolts, nuts and fender washers that we countersunk.



nice & smooth


We now have used the platform bed throughout the summer and it is working as intended: it is very stiff and does not squeak. Yay!

The 4″ thick ikea mattress is very comfortable too (if you like firm mattresses) … very neat for a 150$ mattress!

At the time of writing these lines, we still have to finish the wood with Danish Oil or Varnish to add some protection. We will also eventually add a decorative frame at the back & front of the bed.





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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!




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44 thoughts on “Platform Bed Installation in a Camper Van Conversion”

  1. hi Antoine; Wondering if now after 6months (Mike’s question about under mattress moisture) you’ve anything to add to your reply ? Thanks Grayham

  2. Hi Antoine, I can’t tell in any of your pictures if you added wood paneling under your bed (garage). I’m assuming no since it’s not visible and could be considered dead weight adding paneling to cover the insulation. Thanks for your help.

    • Barbara, the pre-installed threaded holes in the Ford Transit take M8 bolts. In addition, there are a number of holes in the roof supports and walls that are M8 (instead of 1/4-20 like most of the holes). I installed M8 rivnuts on several of those holes (especially on the roof ribs). Hope that helps.

  3. Hi, Getting there! ready to start on the bed platform. thanks for all your help. i am a little confused, looking at your diagrams, it appears that the upright legs are 5’8″x4″, and then a horizontal 2″x4″ connecting the legs side to side. Yet your second diagram shows a combo..2″ by4″ in vertical position as crossbeams and you say 5/8×4′ horizontal between these 2’X4″? So, are the 24 raised to be flush with the 5″8 horizontal and the the plywood lays flat and is attached to the 5’8″x4″?
    As always, thanks and enjoy the ride..and now stay safe.

  4. Would it be possible to use Baltic birch 3/4” for the vertical and horizontal frames or is Russian birch vital for the horizontal frame?

  5. Have you guys experienced any issues with mildew developing beneath your mattress? I’ve read in multiple forums that if you do not have some sort of airflow between the mattress and the platform that bacteria will begin to grow. Some people drill holes or cut channels. Wondering what your thoughts are on this. Thanks!

  6. First I would like to thank you for all the info you post. They are really helpful .
    My question is how do you make sure the bed platform is leveled ? Also, do you have inside dimensions of the
    2020 Awd Ford transit (crew van, RWB, mid roof). I would like to build a bed behind the second row seat and wonder how big of the bed I can get?
    Thank you so much
    Tin nguyen

    • To make sure the bed is leveled, all of our “legs” are exactly the same length.
      Don’t have the dimensions for the van you mentioned, sorry!

      Happy new year!

  7. Question, how do you get up onto and off of your bed? It’s tall, just like our is, and we are struggling to figure out an efficient way to get up and down.

    Thank you for your continued time and assistance…You guys are helping a heck of a lot of people. 🙂

  8. Hi you two!
    Would it be okay to use any kind of wood, like solid pine, if it is the same dimensions (width, thickness) for the frames and legs? Or, does the birch plywood add a significant increase in stiffness that is necessary?

    • If you use solid wood, you probably don’t want to go below 2″x3″ because it’s warped and bent when you buy it (go see for yourself at home depot). You will probably have to use different sizes to get a strong base (like 2×3 and 2×4).


  9. Nice van! Awesome set up. Where did you purchase the sliding hardware that allows you to pull your bikes in and out on the wood platform? Thanks for sharing your van life! Cheers, Amber

  10. Hello Isabelle and Antoine,

    Amazing site and I appreciate all the hard work you put into your van and then to share it on the site. I am just wondering how tall you are? I am 6’1″ and am building out a Ram Promaster. We will be storing bikes under the bed as well and I just can’t see anyway to make it so I can sit up in bed. It sounds like you also are not able to completely sit up in bed?

    The max amount of space I see myself getting is maybe 29″ above the mattress and that is cutting it close on everything. Is it a problem not being able to sit up? I feel like it would drive me crazy.



    • Hi Kevin,

      Not Isabelle or Antoine, but I am also 6’1″ and in the midst of a Promaster High Roof conversion. My solution to being able to sit up in bed is the Magura Vyron electronic seatpost. I hate the idea of electronics on my bike, but the wireless seatpost means that I can still have a dropper while being able to remove my seat for storage.

      With the post out, the highest point on my bike is my handlebar at about 32″ from the ground (including bike rack). This means that the bottom of the bed platform can be 34″, which hypothetically should allow me to fully sit up in bed if I use a fairly thin mattress (something like an Ikea Minnesund or Meistervik at ~4″). I did some pretty detailed figuring to flesh this out, feel free to reply if you want more info.

      I haven’t finished building the bed platform yet, but it’s the next thing in our build. If you follow up on this post in about a week, I should be able to report back.

  11. What did you use to measure the holes to choose the correct, and desired Plusnut? I have a Chevrolet Express Van, and you sold me on using plusnuts, but am lost as to how to measure a hole that small to ensure I order the correct box of 100.

    Thanks ~

    • Cause we wanted to prevent squeaks (=gap) and the two bolts are doing the job. There not exactly “legs”; the reason they extend so low near the floor is because we needed a solid attachment. If there was a solid attachment higher from the floor, we would have use it.

  12. i love this build journal its inspiring me for so many parts of our own bid! So you’re saying the legs aren’t touching the floor then? They look to be in the pictures.

  13. First thanks for the inspiration. We are ordering our Transit in October (to hopefully receive it by March). You have taken all the hard thinking down several notches for me. Which is good because we plan on building while still holding full time jobs. I plan to buy a few things off Amazon and will gladly go though your links.

    My question:
    I see some people use legs and others (like traipsingabout) just mention supports on the wall. In all your thought process why did you go the legs route?

    If you ever make it to Bozeman, MT I hope you say hello and let us show you our favorite trails.

    • Aaron,
      It’s quite simple, the Transit just don’t have support at bed level (at OUR bed level, at least); its just a thin sheet metal without any attachments points. The legs are just an extension to reach two existing holes where we inserted plusnut, they actually are not touching the floor! Having a Sprinter, we would have done like traipsing about… love their build! It’s a big inspiration for us.

      Hope that helps!
      We would love to ride your local trail, just wait for us :p


    • The platform is 72″ wide (a bit less after you add the wood paneling) and a queen mattress is 60″. It will fit, depending if you build a side storage like we did. After we added the storage, we can fit a 54″ mattress.

  14. Quick question for you, Ford says max cargo length for the LWB EL is 172″ what are they actually referring to as you said you only have 80″ for the kitchen area?

  15. Man, you guys are the inspiration!

    ?: what program are you using for your solid models?

    ?: Can’t remember if it was you guys or ?, but are you not snowboarders as well? Snowboards = winter surfing = close to water surfing = my other passion (besides skiing/mountain biking.

    Sooooooooo, where are you all planning on stowing the snowboards? I am looking to do something similar to you but w. space for 3 boards (10’/9’/? for last size) along w. the bikes and skiis.

    My modus operandi is to carry all at all times. You never know when you are passing by a once-in-a-life time unknown break going off (can you say malibu @ 4′ w 4 riders…not quit unknown but the quality), or MTB trail, or epic pow day. Grab and go!

    • Grab and go… i like how you think!

      We’ll be carrying 2 snowboards and 2 splitboards; they will be located under the platform bed, on the left side of the van just beside the bikes. Not sure how the boards will be stored yet, but i don’t expect it to be very challenging to figure out. The challenging (?) part will be to think of a way to efficiently drain the water from the melting snow.
      Snowboards location

      You can have a better view looking at the interactive 3d model here.

      We planned for about 65-70 inches length for storage, so our layout would not work for surf boards (or skis).

      Happy shredding!


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