Storage Stairs for the Playhouse Loft Bed

Submitted by Ana White on Wed, 09/08/2010 - 07:11
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Stairs for the playhouse loft bed. Featuring lift top storage, behaving much like a large hidden toybox. Give your child easy safe access to their bed!

Special thanks to Kimberly for sharing her

You have our community project request forum to thank for today's plan.

Because I certainly didn't believe I had the skills to develop a plan like this.  But you believe in me.  So I try, and what do you know?  We got a playhouse loft bed with stairs.

There are unlimited number of ways to approach building stairs with storage.  And I thought of all the options.  And this one seemed to make sense.  Because there is a window on the other side of the bed, this side would most likely be in a corner, removing all access from the stairs side of the bed.  So drawers could be done, but there would be a huge amount of wasted space in the very back.  We'll do a different type of design for stairs on a different bunk bed where we use drawers.

I personally love the idea of lift top stairs because they are inexpensive to do - just three sets of hinges is all you need for hardware - and they take advantage of all the space in the stairs.  You could stash suitcases, costumes, stuffed animals, sleeping bags, extra bedding - what couldn't you stash in those stairs?  And the lower stairs could be a toy box that your child uses regularly.

The stairs are going to add about 2 feet to the overall width of the bed. Same height.


Shopping List

In addition to what you purchased for the playhouse loft bed without the stairs, you will need:

Another sheet of 3/4″ MDF or Plywood or Particle Board
4 feet of 1×10 Boards
6 – 1×3 Boards
6 – 1×2 Boards
2 – 1×4 Board, 10 feet long
1 – 1×3 Board, 10 feet long (you can use a 1×4 here if you can’t find a 1×3)
3 – Sets of Hinges

Cut List

Because of the complexity of this plans and since it is a modification of a previous plan, cut list will go with each step.

General Instructions

Well, you already got half the story in yesterday’s post of the Easy Playhouse Loft Bed. Go through and read that post. You will need to build the front and the side wall without the ladder. The cut list will change, as some of those pieces will change for the modifications. So update the cut list - the one shown below is ONLY for the back wall and the stair wall and the stairs.


Step 1

The top platform is 18″ (bench height) below the mattress slats, so your little one (and probably you too) will have somewhere to stand and climb on to the mattress from. The stairs are 10″ rises – a full 3″ greater than what they should be for regular stairs, but I did quite a bit of research on these types of bed stairs, and concluded that what you buy is built to these same standards. And a big improvement over a ladder for little ones.

Step 2

Build the Front and Side Wall

Follow the directions in the ladder Playhouse Loft Bed plans to build the front wall and the wall without the ladder. ONLY BUILD ONE FRONT RAILING. Do not cut all the boards shown in the cut list, as the cut list changes with the addition of the ladder.

2 – 1×4 @103 1/2″ (Top and Bottom Trim)
3 – 1×3 @ 11 1/2″ (Rails for Back Legs)
20 – 1×2 @ 11 1/2″ (Rails)

Instead of building two of the front rails, build only one front rail, and the back rail as shown above. The purple boards are 1x3s, blue are 1x4s and white are 1x2s. Leave a 3″ gap between the boards. Mark the joints on the top and bottom trim and drill pocket holes on both ends of all the rails. Attach with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and glue.

Step 3

3 – 1×3 @ 68 1/2″

Attach the back legs to the railing as shown above. Use 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Adjust for square.

Step 4

1 – 1×3 @ 103 1/2″ (Bottom Support)

If you can’t find a 1×3 103 1/2″ long, go ahead and use a 1×4. Check for square and attach to the bottom of the legs, as shown above. Use 1 1/4″ screws and glue.

Step 5

Step 6

2 – 1×4 @ 37 1/2″
8 – 1×2 @ 11 1/2″

Outside Stair Wall Railing

Build your railing with pocket hole screws as you did all the other railings. Space railing as shown in the diagram directly above.

Step 7

2 – 1×3 @ 68 1/2″ (Legs)

Outside Stair Wall Legs

Attach the legs to the sides of the stair wall. At this step, it is very important that you leave 3/4″ on the inside of the leg and 1″ on the outside of the leg as opposed to centering the leg on the plywood and railing.

Step 8

2 – 1×3 @ 37 1/2″ (Trim Boards)

Outside Wall Exterior Trim

On the outside side of the outside wall (the side you left 1″ of space) attach with 1 1/4″ nails or screws the trim pieces as shown above.

Step 9

2 – 1×3 @ 68 1/2″ (Legs)

Front Legs for the Outside Wall

Attach two more legs to the front leg of the outside wall as shown above. Keep all outside edges flush and use 2″ finish nails and glue.

And this finishes the outside wall! Just one more wall and the stairs to go! Click on page 3 below to see the next wall.

Step 10

5 – 1×3 @ 11 1/2″ (Rails)
2 – 1×4 @ 21 3/4″ (Top and Bottom Trim)

Inside Stair Wall Railing

As you have built the other railings, mark out the rail joints on the trim boards. Then drill two pocket holes in both ends of the rails. Attach to the trim boards with 1 1/4″ screws and wood glue.

Step 11

2 – 1×3 @ 68 1/2″ (Legs)
1 – 1×2 @ 66 1/2″ ( Interior Railing Support)

Putting the Interior Wall Together

As you did with the other walls, attach the railing and the plywood panel to the legs with either pocket hole screws from the plywood and railing into the legs or with 2″ screws (predrilled) from the exterior of the legs into the plywood panel. Leave 3/4″ on the legs on the inside (where the stairs go) and 1″ on the playhouse side (shown above. Attach the stair support to the railing with 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Attach to the plywood all the way down.

Step 12

1 – 1×3 @ 15 3/4″

Inside Stair Trim

Attach the inside stair trim to the top edge of the inside of the wall (where the mattress goes) with 1 1/4″ screws or nails and glue.

Step 13

1 – 1×3 @ 37 1/2″ (Trim)

Trim on Stair Side

Flip the wall over and add the final piece of trim, as shown above. Overlap the trim on the railing by 1″ to secure the railing in place. You may wish to add one additional 1×2 to the inside top exposed edge of the plywood (the 1×2 would be 15 3/4″ long). This completes the inside stair wall. See next page for details on assembly and constructing the stairs.

Step 14


With the five walls built, assemble the bed by attaching the three short walls to the back wall. Use 2″ screws and glue, screwing together the leg pieces. Then attach the front wall to the side walls. The remaining end wall will feel flimsy at this stage – not to worry, the step will “beef” it up. You can also attach your cleats and slats as directed in the playhouse loft bed plans with ladder.

Step 15

1- 1×3 @ 21″ (Top Stair Trim)

Stair Back Trim

Now we begin to build the stairs. Use glue and 1 1/4″ screws or nails to fasten the back trim piece inside the stairs, with 29″ below the piece. This is just a trim piece.

Step 16

4 – 1×2 @ 14 1/4″ (Top Stair Cleats)

Top Stair Cleats

Now measure up 29″ from the tops and bottoms of the stairs and glue and screw the cleats in place. Use a level to make sure the cleats are level. The top of the cleat sits at 29 1/4″. Do this on both sides. Also add the bottom cleats.

Step 17

3/4″ Plywood, MDF or Particle Board @ 29 1/4″ x 22 1/2″

Top Step Plywood Panel

Slide the plywood in place. Place just two screws near the top of the plywood so that you can easily slide it out when dis assembling the bed. DO NOT USE GLUE.

Step 18

4 – 1×2 @ 10 1/2″ (Middle Stair Cleats)

Middle Stair Cleats

Measure up 19 1/4″ and attach the middle stair cleats. These cleats will hold the top stair plywood in place as well. Use glue and 1 1/4″ screws and glue. By using this method, you can simple pull take out just a few screws and pull the plywood panels out to dis assemble the bed.

Step 19

1 – 3/4″ Plywood @ 22 1/2″ x 19 1/4″

Middle Stair Plywood

As you did the top stair, place the middle stair plywood flush with the cleats and screw to the cleats with just two screws. Image is shown a

Step 20

4 – 1×2 @ 10 1/2″ (Bottom Stair Cleats)

Bottom Stair Cleats

Measure up 9 1/4″ from the bottom. This is the top of your bottom stair cleats. Attach the cleats with glue and 1 1/4″ screws to the plywood. Use a level to ensure that the cleats are level. Make sure there is a 3/4″ gap between the cleats and the front legs. You may need to adjust the length of your cleats accordingly.

Step 21

1 – 3/4″ Plywood or MDF @ 22 1/2″ x 9 1/4″

Bottom Stair Plywood

Slide the bottom stair plywood in place. It should fit snugly. You can screw from the inside of the plywood into the wall legs if necessary.

Step 22

3 – 1×2 @ 22 1/2″ (Stair Hinge Supports)
Step 22: Stair Hinge Supports

Attach the stair hinge supports with 2″ screws and NO GLUE. You want these to be easily removeable. Keep edges flush with the plywood panels on the stairs behind the supports.

Step 23

2 – 1×10 @ 22 1/2″
1 – 3/4″ Plywood, MDF or particle board @ 13 1/4″ x 22 1/2″
Step 22: Stair Treads

Use the hinges to attach the stair treads to the supports from step 21. Remember, the real support comes from the cleats, not the 1×2 hinge support.

This completes the easy part. Finishing is going to be quite the project! I highly recommend painting the entire bed white, and then cutting in the color afterward on the panels. A sprayer would be a luxury too!


Guest (not verified)

Mon, 03/12/2012 - 18:53

Just wondering if you could tell me the modifications you made for the full size bed? The dimensions and such? Thank you for your time

Guest (not verified)

Sun, 01/29/2012 - 10:35

I really would love to make this for my son. But my husband is in the miltary and we move about every 4 yrs. My only question would be is the bed easy to move or to take apart for a move?

Tsu Dho Nimh

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 05:09

I'd make it as panels, like a regular bed, and hold it together with bolts, threaded inserts, and bed rail hardware. Make the stairs out of several layers and bolt them together.

When moving time comes, take out the bolts, tape them in a plastic bag inside the staircase box, and you are ready to go. TAKE PICTURES of how it goes together! (scroll down for pictures. Wherever possible, use the T-nuts with a washer under the bold. The threaded inserts

Tsu Dho Nimh

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 05:37

This has a kazillion bits of molding and is a PITA to paint.

To save time, prime and paint the flat panels after you make the cutouts. Prime and paint the molding while it is uncut, Cut the pieces to length, then paint any cut edges that will show.

You'll have to be more careful during assembly to protect the finish, but it's far faster than doing all the masking and fiddly bits of painting after it's assembled.

For priming small bits, lay one or more lengths of wood down (depending on size), separated by an inch, and use a wall-sized roller to spread the primer coat (or a sprayer if you have it - it can do both sides and the top at once). Clean up the drips with a brush and let it dry. Turn it over and repeat. Then do the sides.

Then cut.


Mon, 02/06/2012 - 14:53

I can't wait to make this bed for my almost 4 year old son! I already ordered a nailer/compressor and a rotory tool (couldn't help it.) It will be SOOO awesome to have my bed to myself again, AND I can go T-Rex WILD on the decorations... My son is obsessed with dinosaurs. I've been looking for dinoshapes that I can make wood cut-outs with and attach them to the bed rails to give it a little bit of dino-love! Any thoughts on where I can find some? I'm also going to put in some $10 shelves for his books to face out inside and maybe a toybox. :) I totally can't wait!

Jon (not verified)

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 20:26

My daughter asked me to build this for her 3 year old daughter (my grandaughter) and I said sure. I didn't realize what a chore was in store, but the end result was beautiful. My daughter wanted me to build it to a full size matress, so I cut all the pieces to accomodate a standard full matress. She then informed me, "oh, by the way, this is an oversized full matress". Thats where the chore came into play. I had to a lot of redesigning on the supports to extend the frame size for a larger matress. By doing this, I was able to (barely) fit the oversized full matress. I extended the width and length by adding a 2X2 on each corner and altering the 1X3's configuration. I also extended the rails vertically 6" and extended the stairs to 30" wide. With the bed width being more than the twin, I added 2 more steps with an 8" verticle between steps. I also elevated the playhouse door clearance by 6" since my grandaughter is so tall. I painted the outside wall of the stairs with a magnetic primer and chalkboard paint on top of it, so now she can draw with chalk and use magnetic numbers or letters to learn and play. The playhouse portion of the bed is lined on the interior with rope lights It turned out beautiful, but don't know how to post pictures. Thank you Ana for the preliminary design.

Laurie keller (not verified)

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 13:52

Do you by chance have blueprints or plans for this bed in a full size mattress? We want to make our daughter this bed when we move into our new house this May!!

Laurie keller (not verified)

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 13:53

Do you by chance have blueprints or plans for this bed in a full size mattress? We want to make our daughter this bed when we move into our new house this May!!

Randi Morrison (not verified)

Sat, 07/21/2012 - 15:32

Is there any reason we couldn't use this storage stair plan with a full-size loft or bunk bed? It would just be narrower at the bottom, right?