How to Build a Loft Bed

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 05/05/2019 - 20:41
Difficulty
Intermediate
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A loft bed that works with an entire system of plans to get your teen more space and storage in their room.  Step by step plans from Ana-White.com

This plan works with our Loft Bed tall bookcase plan and our Loft Bed desk and small bookcase plans.

Collections
loft bed with storage in blue bedroom

Special thanks to Anne for sharing her photos from this plan.

This plan is just for the loft bed.  You can customize the storage underneath by adding a tall bookcase and a desk system. (plans linked)

This plan uses a built in slat system as shown.  You can use any type of 3/4" material - check your mattress recommendations for slat spacing.  I usually will burn up scrap wood here.

 

Dimensions
loft bed dimensions
Fits standard Twin Mattress. Dimensions shown in diagram.

Preparation

Shopping List
  • 15 – 1×3 Boards, 8′ Long
  • 3 – 1×8 Boards, 10′ Long (cut one long and one short cut from each)
  • 1 – 1×8 48″ Long (cut 1 short cut from this one)
  • 3 – 1×4 Boards, 8′ Long
  • 1 – 2×2 Board, 8′ Long
  • 11 – 1×2 Boards (Less if you have a bunkie board or box spring), 8′ Long
  • 1 1/4″ self tapping screws (can also use brad nails and glue)
  • 2″ self tapping screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Finishing Supplies (Wood Filler, Sand Paper, Paint, Brushes, etc)
Cut List

Cut List for Loft Bed

  • 8 – 1×3 @ 71″ (Inner Legs and Outer Legs)
  • 4 – 1×8 @ 37 1/2″ (Large Planks, Ends)
  • 2 – 1×4 @ 37 1/2″ (Top Planks)
  • 3 – 1×8 @ 80″ (Front and Back Rails)
  • 1 – 1×4 @ 80″ (Top Back Rail)
  • 2 – 1×3 @ 46 1/2″ (Back Filler Piece, Long)
  • 6 – 1×3 @ 2″ (Back Filler Piece, Short)
  • 2 – 1×3 @ 56″ (Front Filler Pieces, Long)
  • 2 – 1×3 @ 7 1/2″ (Front Filler Pieces, Short)
  • 1 – 1×2 @ 80″ (Back, Top Piece)
  • 2 – 1×3 @ 40 1/2″ (End, Top Pieces)
  • 2 – 1×2 @ 75″ (Cleats)
  • 1 – 2×2 @ 76 3/4″ (Center Support)
  • 14 – 1×2 @ 39″ (Slats)

 

Cut List for Guard Rail

  • 1 – 1×4 @ 61” (Rail)
  • 1 – 1×2 @ 61” (Top)
  • 3 – 1×4 @ 15” (Uprights)
  • 6 – 1×4 @ 2” (Filler Pieces)

 

Ladder Cut List

  • 2 – 1×3 @ 65 3/4″ Overall (Bottom end cut at 15 degrees off square, top at 75 degrees off square)
  • 10 – 1×3 @ 10 3/8″ (Spacers, ends cut parallel at 15 degrees off square)
  • 5 – 1×3 @ 12 1/2″ (Treads)
  • 2 – 1×3 @ 10″ (Top Spacer, cut to match top sides)
Cutting Instructions

Converting to Full Size This bed can easily be converted to full size. You will simply need to add 15″ to all boards that run parallel to the ends. This includes the planks, end top pieces and the slats. Shopping list will need to be adjusted as well.

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
Level
General Instructions

On a large project such as this one, it is crucial that you build straight and square. To do this begin by working on a clean level surface. Select boards that are straight and free of cracks or other imperfections. Check for square after each step. Predrill and countersink all of your screw holes to avoid splitting the wood and to hide your screw heads. Use glue unless otherwise directed. Of course, you should be safe and have fun! Remember, you can click images for larger views.

Instructions

Step 1

UPDATE: If you have narrow door opening (or are building the bed in a full size) you may need to assemble the bed in the room or not use glue so that the bed can be assembled and disassembled. The boards shown above in pink are not to be glued to the bed, and will be inserted in the slots on assembly. You will then on assembly use screws to fasten the rails to the bed ends.

Step 2

Ends Begin building the ends by screwing with 2″ screws and glue the planks to the inside legs. Center the planks on the inside legs, leaving 7/8″ on either side of the planks. Use the measurements above to guide you. Glue these pieces.

Step 3

Front and Back Rails Instead of fastening the front and back rails, mark their positions on the ends, as shown above. You can use one or two screws to fasten each board in place temporarily.

Step 4

Back Filler Pieces Measure and cut your filler pieces to fit the back as shown above. You can save yourself quite a bit of time by gluing and clamping these pieces in place. When you fasten the outer leg on, it will secure these pieces with screws. If your nailer is handy, a few 1 1/4″ nails would hold everything in place. You can use glue in this step. The filler pieces will hold your rail boards (the one’s you did not glue down in step 2) in place for now.

Step 5

Step 6

Outer Legs Pieces First unscrew the rail boards that you loosely screwed in step 2, and remove. Then, using 2″ screws and glue, predrill and countersink your screws as you fasten the outer leg boards to the inner leg boards. If you are staining or leaving natural, I highly recommend using a measured bolt pattern or screwing from the inside of the legs on this step.

Step 7

DO NOT FASTEN in the gaps left for the rail boards. Test fit your rail boards to make sure they fit in the opening. The diagram above shows how the rail boards should be removable.

Step 8

Back, Top Using 2″ screws, fasten the back top piece to the tops of the legs. The back top piece will be flush with the outside of the legs, but not the inside. Do not use glue. This board will be removed to move the bed through a doorway.

Step 9

Top, Ends Using 2″ screws and glue, fasten the top end piece to the top of the ends, as shown above.

Step 10

Cleats On assembly, fasten your side cleats to the side rails, flush with the bottom edge. Use 1 1/4″ screws. Then fasten your center cleat to the end planks, flush with the bottom of the 1×8 plank, using 2″ screws and NO glue. Center the support on the plank.

Step 11

Slats Position your slats with approximately 4″ gap between the slats. TIP: Cut 2 1×2 scraps at 4″ and uses as a spacer between the slats as you are assembling. Screw the slats down with 1 1/4″ screws. For extra support, you can also screw a couple of the center slats from the outsides of the 1×8 rails using 2″ screws.

Step 12

Guardrail Use 1 1/4″ fasteners (nails would work just fine) to build your guardrail. Fasten from the inside to hide holes. Then add the 1×2 top, keeping all outside edges flush.

Step 13

Guardrail Attachment Attach the guardrail to the bed as shown above. From the inside, use 1 1/4″ screws. Don’t use glue so you can remove it.

Step 14

Ladder So cutting the top of the sides is going to be a little tricky. Think of it this way, you are leaving a 15 degree angle on the top of the board, then trimming off the top 2 1/4″ to remove the sharp pointy end. The best way to do this is FIRST cut your top angle at 75 degrees off square (leaving 15 degees on the board). You will need to use a jigsaw or circular saw. Then snip off the top 2 1/4″ at a right angle (90 degrees) from the back of the top (where the leg rests against the bed. THEN measure down the leg 65 3/4″ and cut your 15 degree angle on the bottom of the leg. Then use the top as a pattern when cutting the top filler pieces. Construct your ladder as shown above, using 1 1/4″ screws when joining the filler pieces to the leg sides, and 2″ screws to join the treads to the leg sides. Don’t forget your glue. See an exploded view below.

Step 15

Step 16

Assembly The boards shown in pink above are removable and are not glued down. You should be able to slide the boards out of the notches to disassemble the bed and move. Slide the boards back into the notches to assemble and use 2″ screws to screw from the outside of the leg into the rail boards. Also screw the back top to the top as show above. In this method, you should be able to easily assemble and disassemble the bed without destroying the finish.

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Comments

Melissa (not verified)

Wed, 05/05/2010 - 21:00

I want to make this bed for my daughter! The only thing I can see wrong is that when we move to a bigger house (it will happen eventually, at least I hope), there is no way to get the bed out the door, so we would have to leave it.

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 05/05/2010 - 21:05

Melissa, you have a really good point! What you can (and probably should) do is to attach the rails to the bed with screws (and not glue). Then you can assemble and disasemble. It would be like assembling an IKEA bed (or even the Pottery Barn Teen bed that this bed is inspired by).

For those of you with small door openings, you will need to assemble the bed in the room.

ShezAGeekess (not verified)

Wed, 05/05/2010 - 21:31

My wedding cake was a smaller version of yours, with pale-pink edged roses. Mine also had a bit of a lean, because it was also home made-- I made mine myself. :)

Krie (not verified)

Wed, 05/05/2010 - 23:07

Ana, thanks for your awesome projects and all the hard work.
I have awarded you with the sunshine award along with other friends of mine (the only exception is that I don´t know you personally) who inspire me to be creative and have fun!
Keep up the great work :)!
Love,
all the way from Germany!

Tru (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 00:41

For not being able to sew, it looks pretty darn good. I also made my own wedding dress, 'cause I'm in agreement with you; you shouldn't go into debt for a wedding.

Jess (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 03:05

YYIIPPPEEEE!!!! This is the bed that I have been waiting for to make for my son!!!! I will be making it this summer. WOO HOOO!!
Since you already have all the hard work done, when you have time (yeah right) could you show us how to put a desk insert in? I think that after looking at your other projects I could wing it but.....
Thanks for everything.

Branwen (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 03:56

OH WOW!!! Did I say WOW?! That is awesome Ana!! You ROCK! I don't know why I never thought of this but my 2 little ones share a room and bunk beds didn't work. I need to change my build plans!! Thank you sooooo much, we love u and appreciate all you do!! Oh and your wedding pictures are great! I love knowing that I'm not the only person who didn't go into debt for my wedding. We DIY'd the entire thing! Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you go to a wedding? Some have GOT to be pocketbook nightmares. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing and I thought your dress and cake were beautiful! You obviously CAN sew, you just have no confidence...right? ;)

Jennifer (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 05:02

Awesome!!! Both of my girls have been asking for loft beds for the past two years. I'm going to be making each of them a full size bed sometime in the next few months, just need to decide WHICH bed plan of yours to use!!!

Couldn't agree more about going into debt for a wedding. I didn't make my own weddig dress, but we did keep the whole wedding inexpensive and had a family friend make our cake.

Seriously cannot believe you made your own weddig dress (thinking you couldn't sew well) and it turned out that beautiful!!! You look beautiful in that photo!!

PS: I've heard it's recommended to fasten loft beds (top heavy) to the wall for safety. is that true, or does the ladder help with some of that?