How to Build a Loft Bed

Submitted by Ana White on Wed, 05/05/2010 - 20:41
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About Project

A loft bed that works with an entire system of plans to get your teen more space and storage in their room. Special thanks to Anne for sharing her photos from this plan.

It was time.

I just needed to find THE time.

With a super active preschooler, it's difficult to commit to large plan posts like this one.  Because I never know exactly how much time I have to work, when I will get interrupted, or when I will have to quit mid mouseclick.  It's heartbreaking listening to Grace say "Mom, you always promise you are coming to bed, but you don't."

So I try and post shorter plans, plans I know I can finish in an hour.  But every now and then, I just gotta go for a bigger plan.  And this one is quite large.

And all I'm asking for in return?  How about some plum high gloss?

image from Ohdeedoh

Turquoise would be fabulous too!

image from Ohdeedoh

Or you could paint just the ladder this vibrant pink.  Love that pink, it reminds me of my wedding cake.

Yes, the cake is leaning.  But that's what happens when it's a DIY cake (cake made by my sister, Esther, we decorated it with DIY flowers between the ceremony and the reception).  And a DIY wedding dress (told you I can't sew).  But that's all I could afford at the time.  And it never occurred to us to go into debt over a wedding.

Now I've just got new inspiration for my color hungry office makeover!

We are a looooooong way from done here, and this space is needing some color.  I can't wait to share the plans from my new favs, the credenza and the chunky sneaky storage console desk.  Now how did we go from loft beds to weddings to offices?  Back to the loft bed.

image from DecorDIR

You could skip the painting all together!  I love this!
Fits standard Twin Mattress. Dimensions shown in diagram.


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″ Screws
2″ 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.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
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.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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.