How to Build a Loft Bed

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 05/05/2019 - 20:41
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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

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

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.


loft bed dimensions
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″ 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.

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

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.

Help Improve This Plan

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Ana White (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 08:44

Thanks all!

Hi Allen, this bed is actually inspired by this bed from Pottery Barn Teen… and is very close dimensionally (and this bed is also made of pine boards) to this bed, which also lacks cross supports.

However, if you would like to make your bed stronger and more stable, cross bracing would definitely help and would be easy to add. Also, like the Design DIR photo shown in the post, adding more rails will help considerably.

I find myself on a balancing act between overbuilding and creating a plan that is too expensive or too difficult for a non-woodworker to build, yet also creating projects that are sturdy and last longer than a comparable piece from a retailer.

And for those of you standing by to add desks, bookcases and other "accessories" for under the bed, by attaching, like done in this bed… will only create more stability.

Kirsten (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 10:42

Just a note regarding stability: my dad built me one that looked just like this when I was in my 20's and renting a 9x9 room in a house. The only difference is it looks like the braces around the bottom were up a foot or so higher and the ladder was flat against the bed. Oh, and he just used single 2x4's for the legs. It was perfectly stable enough for me as an adult. And, like someone else said, you could always attach it to the wall if you were worried about it.

Thanks for the plan, Ana!

Catherine Hans… (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 10:42

Awesome plan as always! Your office space would look so good with some hot pink photo frames up on the shelves....

Jennia Hart (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 10:49

I have wanted to have a loft bed for my teen boy for several years now. The money is always what gets in the way.... now I think we can make it happen. What a great project this will make for our summer vacation which starts in just a month.

I want to create a double size version, so THANKS!, for the included instructions. I also want a desk underneath, would that be a short under one hour project for you to draw up??? (I'm hoping so!)

Mindy (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 12:14

I just discovered your blog last week from a friend who posted about building a bookcase from one of your plans. I have already taken over a corner of my husband's shop to make my very first project (from your coffee table design with the flip up top).
No joking, last night as we were watching tv I showed him a picture of the PB Teen Sleep & Study Loft & said, "I want to build this for Wesley next. I just need the plans." It's like you read my mind, or at least my comment on the Flickr suggestion page where someone else had posted a picture of the PB bed.
Thanks a million times over, Ana!
I've always been a crafter (scrapbooks, quilts, knitting) & have wanted to build furniture (like my awesome mom who has built me a cedar chest, a nightstand, among other things) - I just never had a 'recipe' to go by.
Thank you for sharing your talents.

Ashlee (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 16:26

HOORAY!! Thankyou Thankyou!! I am SO looking forward to may be a month or so before I can get to it, but my son will LOVE it!! It will open up some floor space for playing in his room too, so that will be GRAET! Thanks!!

Katie (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 17:24

THANK YOU! I've been waiting for these plans and hope to help my hubby build them for 2 of my 3 kids. I think I'm going to add a book case to one end and a cork board to the back because we're always looking for more storage and a space to display artwork.

Janey (not verified)

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 18:34

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I was planning to redecorate my daughter's room while she was away at camp a month or so from now, and I was reeeeeeally hoping you would have the plans for this up before then. Yay! I'm so excited! Now I need to go find the money for the lumber... (while doing the happy dance!) You rock, Ana!

Crazy Easton Family (not verified)

Sat, 05/08/2010 - 13:37

Funny that you said plum high gloss! I made a loft bed for my two oldest about 5 years ago... one of them was high gloss purple :) The other was bright green. I think you would have liked them! Wish I had your plans then too, would have helped a LOT !!