How to Build a Loft Bed

DIY Loft Bed

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When bedroom space is tight, it makes sense to build a loft bed. Similar to a bunk bed, a loft bed elevates the mattress to create extra room below. Unlike a bunk bed, a loft bed leaves the lower area open for a desk, chair, or play area.

The design of this loft bed is spare and elegant, and it gains strength by using high-quality hardwood instead of regular softwood framing lumber. Additionally, it borrows support from studs in your home's framing. The upper level accommodates a 60-inch-wide futon or mattress for the bed. The lower level is left free for seating. Total assembled measurements: 67 inches high, 64 inches wide, 96 inches long, and with a bottom clearance of 52 inches.

Safety Considerations

Stay safe during building by having an assistant help you and by using a sturdy ladder to access high points. Keep the loft bed user safe by making sure that the bed's side rails are solidly attached and that lag screws on the wall sides are sunk into studs.

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 10 hours
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Materials Cost: $500 to $600

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

Instructions

Cut the Lumber to Size

  • Cut six of the one-by-fours to 64 inches each
  • Cut four of the one-by-fours to 67 inches each
  • Cut two of the one-by-fours to 76 inches each
  • Cut the 20 pine boards to 62 1/2 inches each
  • With waste pieces, cut two one-by-fours to 15 inches each

Three of the 8-foot long one-by-fours will not be cut.

Stain or Paint the Wood

In a well-ventilated area such as an open garage, stain or paint all of the wood on a drop cloth before assembling the bed. Wait until the wood is fully dry before assembly. Generally, you will need to wait for one to two hours between coats of paint. Lacquers and polyurethane coatings may take a day or two to fully cure.

Attach Support Posts on the Long Side

Attach two of the 67-inch one-by-fours vertically to the long side wall: one at 96 inches away from the corner and another at the corner. You may need to remove or cut into a baseboard because the one-by-fours must be flat against the wall. Use the laser level or a plumb to make sure that the posts are perfectly vertical. With the tape measure, ensure that the farthest post is exactly 96 inches away from the adjacent wall.

Build the Upper Loft Base

Lay two of the 96-inch one-by-four boards 64 inches apart and parallel. Place two of the 64-inch boards at each end to form a rectangle. Secure the boards with two screws at each end.

Mount the Upper Loft Base: Long Side

With the laser level, strike a horizontal line across the two adjacent walls at 52 inches above the ground. With an assistant, lift the loft base so that its bottom hits this line, and screw the base to the two vertical support posts. Have the assistant hold the base steady.

Mount the Upper Loft Base: Short Side

On the adjacent wall, mount the third support post vertically 60 inches from the corner. Screw the corner of the short side (the width side) of the bed onto the support post.

Tip

For greater strength, attach the loft base to additional vertical wall studs with lag screws and matching washers. Cut off small pieces of one-by-fours to block between the wall and the loft base to prevent bowing out the loft base. Wall studs tend to run every 16 inches.

Attach the Fourth Vertical Post

The fourth corner of the bed base should be hanging free, held only by your assistant. Screw the fourth 67-inch one-by-four vertically at this corner.

Attach the Lower Stringers

Move the laser level down so that it casts a line 20 inches above the floor. Attach one 96-inch one-by-four along this line on the wall side of the bed. Horizontally attach a 64-inch board along this line at the foot of the bed and another 64-inch board along the head of the bed.

Attach the Side Rail: Short Side (Foot)

Two adjacent sides of the loft bed do not need side rails since these sides meet walls. The other two sides need a long rail with a cut-out for a ladder and a short rail at the foot of the bed.

At the foot, attach one 64-inch boards running from the top of one support post to the top of the next support post. Attach a second 64-inch board in the middle. Since the gap is 15 inches, the middle should be 7 1/2 inches.

Attach the Side Rail: Long Side

Attach two 15-inch one-by-fours vertically on the side of the bed. One should be placed 20 inches horizontally from the foot of the bed (or at another spot, depending on the width of your ladder) and another board should be 60 inches from the foot. Run two 76-inch one-by-fours horizontally in the same fashion as the foot rails.

Attach the Bed Slats

On the inside of the bed, attach the two two-by-twos down the length of the bed. The bed slats will rest on these boards. Place the 62 1/2-inch pine boards on top of these rails, spacing them equally. Screw down each side of pine board with two screws.