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Build a Loft Bed

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 188 Projects

If you had—or wanted—a loft bed back in college or in your first apartment, then this is a project you’re going to like. But your kids will probably like it more because it’s cool, fun, and their friends probably won’t have one.

This loft bed is designed to open up floor space usually consumed by a bed. It also provides a location underneath it for a kid or kids to play, do activities or set up a desk. And, because it ties in with the wall, it can work for kids of all ages. Because you attach it to the wall, this loft bed probably has a little more oomph than the one you might have built with your old roommate. A built-in safety rail adds an extra layer of protection for younger kids. While you can make the bed to your own specifications following the techniques below, the bed design here is based on a twin-sized mattress, which is 39” × 75”.

The outside dimensions of the bed frame are 49½” × 81½”, which allows room up top for books, a drink, and a little extra room for the bedding to drape when the bed is made. Your little princess or prince will love climbing the ladder to get into bed.


loft bed diagram

Loft Bed Cutting List

Safety Note: Never attach hooks or handles to the loft bed and do not hang items from it, including rope and belts. Children can catch themselves on these items when playing or in the event that an accidental fall occurs.

How to Build a Loft Bed

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    Once you’ve determined the height you want the mattress to be, strike a level line indicating the bottom of the mattress support box.

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    Cut stock using a circular saw and straightedge guide, and stack it neatly. Label each piece (magic marker on blue painter’s tape works) to make identifying it later easier.

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    Join the corners of the mattress box with glue and a few nails or with glue and clamps, and then reinforce each joint with three #8 × 2 1/2" brass wood screws. Space the screws evenly. We added decorative grommet-style brass washers instead of counterboring and plugging the screw holes.

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    Attach the cleats that support the mattress box bottom to the two sides of the box that face the room.

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    Attach the plywood mattress box bottom by driving screws through the plywood and into the two cleats mounted inside the box. Also drive screws through the box bottom and into the back and right end edges of the box.

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    Lay out the locations for the railing posts on the mating rail and box caps so you’ll be sure they’re aligned perfectly.

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    After screwing the railing posts to the box caps, attach the assemblies to the front and left sides of the mattress box using counterbored trim-head wood screws.

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    Shape the bullnose profiles into the top edges of your 1 × 2 rung stock before cutting the rungs to length.

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    The ladder is a 3-ply assembly. The short leg is the first layer. Next come the ladder blocks that run parallel to the leg. After you install a ladder block, you install a rung perpendicular to it, working your way down the ladder—block, rung, block, rung, etc. Make sure the blocks are flush to the edges of the leg and that the rungs are held tight to the blocks. Use glue and screws (or pneumatic nails).

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    Attach the long outer legs to the blocks, rungs, and short legs, ensuring that the bottoms and sides are flush. Glue and screw securely with flathead brass wood screws and decorative grommet-type washers.

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    Preassemble the wall cleats into an L-shape and fasten them to the wall studs with lag screws and adhesive.

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    Check with a 4 ft. level across the corner of the box near the ladder location to make sure the box is level on both sides.

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    Position the ladder at the corner of the front and left side edges. The rung layer and short leg layer should fit snugly underneath the box, since the ladder will serve as a corner support post. Attach the ladder to the mattress box.

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    Secure the bottom of the ladder/corner post by attaching a cleat to the floor behind the ladder legs.

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