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

Maija (not verified)

Tue, 03/29/2011 - 14:24

I'm so glad I saw this!  You know...shipping to Northern AK is super expensive, so I'm happy to find this! 

My daughter needs a loft bed because she has the smallest room and needs room for her piano and desk!

I spent exactly $48 on my wedding dress, made my girls dresses, made the men's Kuspuks, went to Burlington for their shirts, pants and ties and we all wore mukluks.  My homemade wedding cake was leaning just a bit, but that's OK. 

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 10:24

Do you have the plans for this but for a full sized bed instead of twin?

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 14:42

Hi, I'm a college student and am considering making a loft bed using these plans. What I need to know though is how much weight can it safely hold. I weigh 130 but i imagine my 160lb roommate will at some point end up sitting up there with me. Can this bed support nearly 300lbs?

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 06/02/2011 - 14:40

Can you make a loft bed in Queen size? (With out it falling apart)I gave my daughter a queen size bed and promised my husband I won't change her mattress until she moves out. Then now her birthday is coming up and she wants a loft bed more then anything. Help!

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 06/07/2011 - 12:44

If I were to add more of the 37 1/2 in boards to the ends would they hold up to use as a ladder? Would it make the bed tippy at all when being climbed on? I would then make both side rails go from end to end instead of the space for the ladder. In my mind it would give the bed more support too but I have never built anything like this bed. My husband is doubting my ability but I want to prove him wrong! The ladder seems beyond my capability though. Thanks!

In reply to by Guest (not verified)

claydowling

Thu, 06/09/2011 - 20:48

Most people make this just using the regular dimensional lumber you can pick up at the home center or lumber yard. It's likely to be pine, but could be generic white wood, which is probably spruce or hemlock (which is actually red and smells bad).

Guest (not verified)

Wed, 06/15/2011 - 12:48

Just wondering if you could update the shopping list for the full-size bed? It says to add 15 inches, but I'm not sure which ones from the shopping list that would be. Thanks!

Schaeferjrcs (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 12:07

Anna,
Thanks for your site and assistance here. One question before my husband and I move forward with this. Our youngest son will be using this loft in his small room to create more space. He is almost fourteen years old. He is 6' tall and still growing and is over 240 lbs. The pediatrician says he will wind up around 6"4" and about this weight. I can figure out how to make the bed long enough and get a longer twin set up. My / our question is this, do you believe this loft will be sturdy enough to support our son? He's a big guy and I'd hate to see the desk under it and lap top and books get ruined.... oh or him get hurt. We also don't have the funds to spend money buying one so this option would be great if it will work. Thanks and God bless.