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.


Guest (not verified)

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 08:45

This is THE bed I need for my boys. It's just a matter of convincing my very capable, yet time-pressed husband, to make the time to do it.

Can you give some idea of how long it takes to complete this bed?


Tom S. (not verified)

Fri, 07/06/2012 - 16:31

I made this bed for my 7 year old daughter. I made the full bed version with the desk and bookcase. The total cost was less than $250 and it took me one day to cut all of the wood and another to assemble the bed (with my daughter's help). She loves her bed and she has been using it for about a year now and it is the perfect bed for her small room.


Thu, 01/12/2012 - 09:08

Sue, if you're going to be waiting for somebody else to build it, I would put the estimate in years. If you're going to build this, and learn the construction skills yourself, I'd guess a couple of weekends. That depends on the age of the boys and how easily you can pawn their care off on somebody else (siblings and friends with kids are awesome for this).

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 11:02

Thanks Clay, I really wish that me building the beds was a realistic option. So, since it's not, I'm looking for a time frame I can present to my husband and I can say something like, "Honey, it will only take (fill in the blank) hours and your wife and children will be ever so happy and grateful"

D Velarde (not verified)

Thu, 02/02/2012 - 16:46

Hi Ana! We are re-doing my daughter's room for her 12th birthday. She has always wanted the PBTeen loft bed. I could not believe it when my husband came across this bed - it is perfect! He is starting on it soon. On top of that, the picture you posted of it in the turquoise room - that is (seemingly) EXACTLY the color my daughter wants! I am beyond frustrated trying to pick, match, buying color samples that aren't right. Can you PLEASE tell me if you have the specific color info for this room? Thank you so much for your time!

Guest (not verified)

Sun, 02/05/2012 - 20:05

How much did the loft cost to make yourself trying to decide if its easier and cheaper to buy from walmart its y 250 there let me know please

J-Lon (not verified)

Wed, 02/22/2012 - 12:40

I too am curious about the cost. It is so funny that you posted regarding the loft beds at Walmart---I have been considering the Twin Premium Metal Loft Bed, White for $169. We need two, and we need them in about a month's time. I am thinking it would be so much easier to buy then make, but the plans are all right here, spelled out to clearly . . . (Thanks Ana White for sharing your AWESOME talent and time!!)

Curious about the cost of the bed in these plans?

In reply to by Guest (not verified)


Wed, 02/22/2012 - 13:19

There's no way for somebody else to predict the cost. Material availability and price vary too widely. What I can predict is that you can build it for less, and if you buy good quality materials and construct it properly, it will last a lot longer than anything you can buy in stores.

Recently we went to Ikea as a family, and my dad and I were looking at the dining room sets they sell. It was a nice set, with a table and four chairs, for $100. To make a profit, I could only make the table for that money (and that would be a bit low).

But, looking at the construction of the Ikea table, it will last probably one year, two at most. The table I build, my grand-daughter can serve dinner to her grandchildren on it.


Wed, 02/22/2012 - 14:24

I would say even if it is a little more expensive to build it, I would. We have a futon from wally world and it has been rebuilt at least 6 times (I am building our new couch this year) and we have a playground from wally world as well it started falling apart before it crossed a year. This year it is been completely torn down and we are building our own. Between the two it was almost $1000 wasted, imagine what we could have built for that money!
Even factoring time; I have six kids, I home school, have a disabled child, etc and I am going build 3 lofts. Well maybe I'll finish two this year on top of the other 'to dos'. Good luck :)

In reply to by Guest (not verified)


Wed, 02/22/2012 - 15:34

Building it with your kids is an ideal way to integrate building the furniture you need with practical home schooling. Lots of good applied mathematics and practical geometry.