Introduction: College Bed Loft (Twin XL)

Picture of College Bed Loft (Twin XL)

How to make a loft for a dorm, or any other tight space!
Dimensions given will accommodate an Extra-Long Twin mattress with 1' extra on every side.

We are making these lofts to take to Iowa State while living in a Dorm. We will be able to put a desk or sofa underneath. A loft is a great way to gain floor space; so much more room for activities!

    After a full school year of sleeping on this loft I have made many drastic improvements, mainly that it now accepts the frame provided by the school. This new version can be found here. Thanks all for your support!

Step 1: Materials

My roommate and I built both lofts at once, so keep that in mind in the pictures; also, he weighs in around 250 lbs, so we upgraded the "slats" on his from 2x4's to 2x6's.
These lofts are made entirely of dimensional lumber, bolts, and screws.

Miter Saw (power)
Cordless Drill with Screw bit
Corded Drill (opt.) with 3/8" drill bit

18 3/8" Carriage Bolts
18 3/8" Flat Washers
18 3/8" Lock Washers
18 3/8" Nuts
Small box of 2-1/2" Deck Screws (torx opt.)

8 - 2x4x6'
8 - 2x4x8'
3 - 2x6x8'

Step 2: Cut Your Wood!

Picture of Cut Your Wood!

8 @ 72" uprights (6')
1 @ 88" back bottom brace
2 @ 78" inside slat rest
4 @ 44" ladder/ side brace
6 @ 44" Slats (can replace with 2x6)

2 @ 88" main horizontal support
2 @ 44" top end braces

**** edit****
these dimensions are about 8 inches too long and 4 inches too wide
I would also recommend like a flat piece of plywood in the corners to stabilize

Step 3: Assemble Uprights

Picture of Assemble Uprights

Fasten two 2x4's at a right angle with deck screws.

Step 4: Assemble Main Beams

Picture of Assemble Main Beams

Fasten the slat rest to the "main horizontal support" using three bolts. Feel free to pin these two boards together with screws while drilling.

Step 5: Uprights + Main Horozantal Support

Picture of Uprights + Main Horozantal Support

Fasten the main horozantal support to the uprights (legs) using two bolts.

Step 6: Front + Back

Picture of Front + Back

join the front and the back using one bolt on the 2x6

Step 7: Add Bottom Bracing

Picture of Add Bottom Bracing

Move the legs to reach the boards, this will square up the legs.
Fasten with screws.

Step 8: Paint It?

Picture of Paint It?

Paint it IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY colors! Go Clones!

Step 9: After Thoughts

Picture of After Thoughts

We're all moved in but ran into some snags along the way; the main one being that the matteresses are much smaller than expected. For the dorm mattress i was provided, the loft is 8 inches too long and about 6 inches too wide. Luckily, we brought a hand saw because we had to cut 8" off to fit one on the wall with the door.

These lofts were very stable on their own, but we brought these braces anyway, so i put them to use

Another thing we did is get automotive cup holders from walmort, and they fit perfect; great for holding beverage, or put an empty cup in it and hold your cell phone, ipod, or keys.


JimmySway made it! (author)2016-09-22

I used your ideas to help make my 8 year old a loft bed, I even used the 2x6's for "slats" so she can keep it as long as she wants! In the pics you can see, I added some stain to make it "pretty" to her, what the pics do not show, is she now has curtains on the bottom to have a little hiding area. New mattress, hardware, lumber and stain all cost me around $200 to make and took all of maybe 8 hrs, even with the sanding, staining, pre-assembly, tear down and final assembly.

JenniferW21 (author)2015-07-07

How much did all the supplies cost and how long did it take to build?

jeffrey68 (author)2014-05-26

How long are the carriage bolts? I'm assuming 4 inches but wondering if you went shorter.

jonaha (author)2014-05-18

You may want to check out this web site. They can make a loft bed for you @ under $200.00 and you do not need to do anything but wait for UPS to delivery. Please check out this site.

goody17 (author)2010-08-22

perfect... mostly because ill be at isu next semester. thanks!

ajmontag (author)goody172010-08-24

Be sure to check out the final pictures I posted on the loft instructable!

badheadday (author)2009-07-21

Very nice! The one I built for my daughter earlier this year has a 2x4 ladder on each end so that we could rearrange her room easier. We were planning on moving soon and I wasn't quite sure how it would fit in the new place with the windows, doors and closet. I would have freaked if I'd built just one ladder side and it didn't work! Also I don't have the kick board on the front. Now she has a great little reading area with a bean bag, lamp and book shelves under it. I assembled it in 3 large solid pieces (ladder, ladder and mattress support) that bolt together, a support beam for the bottom on the 'wall' side and two for the long sides of the mattress so she doesn't roll out. Again, GREAT JOB!

do you have the plans for that bed you finished? if you do can you send it to thanks

InnovationLiving (author)2010-02-18

Another multi-functional item perfect for the college room is this Skater sofa bed from Innovation.

Is anyone out there making something like this in the instructable family ?  I'm very frugal and would rather make it than buy it.  I like the storage area on this futon.

jawoo (author)2010-02-21

Hey nice going! I go to ISU as well! GO CYCLONES! (Friley I presume?)

ajmontag (author)jawoo2010-02-22

HELSER!! lol

jawoo (author)ajmontag2010-03-07

Outch. I'm sorry to hear that!

Zipper963 (author)2009-07-20

WOW !! Nice Job ! I will give a try !!

Zipper963 (author)Zipper9632009-08-14

I finally did it ! I made some modification as you can see :) Thanks for you're good idea !

Zipper963 (author)Zipper9632010-01-23

Final Step ! I add a Neon to do my homework !

ajmontag (author)Zipper9632010-01-24

Yes, I also did that. On my roomies loft (the couch is underneath his) we have stapled up white christmas lights; these are functional (for reading) and also make nice accent lighting.

that head board is frickin sweet. my friend puts a plastic tub lid under her mattress so she has a side table.

that is a great idea, i have a bunk as well and need to remember that one

quesoman (author)Zipper9632009-08-16

I LUV the head board idea. GENIUS!!!!!

ajmontag (author)quesoman2009-08-16

When sleeping on a loft in college, my sister said she had her pillow fall off every night. i move in in three days, so we'll see how it goes.. i may end up adding on to mine :)

jujibelly (author)2009-09-13

How sturdy is it? ie. will I have to make a woman sign a disclaimer before agreeing to participate in "bedtime activities"?

jphphotography (author)jujibelly2009-12-15

I actually found your instructable after I designed my own ;) I guess great minds think alike because my design was very similar, its good to hear you confirm how sturdy the design is. I still haven't built mine yet but hopefully will get a chance during the xmas holidays.

I've attached a few renders of the design I made (done with sketchup then rendered in kerkythea, both are free)

AZsid (author)jujibelly2009-11-06

Well, I made one a few years ago (still in use) kind of like this. The differences are I used 4X4 for the posts, I used 2X6 for the bottom braces, the bottom braces are flush with the floor, I used two more posts, the slats are on edge, and I boxed in a waterbed mattress.

Yes, you read that right. I lofted a waterbed (1 ton with my body weight) with the basic design in this instructable. I have since added DVD shelves and a ladder that look like they add to the structural integrity but they really don't.

I'd have to say as long as you beef up the wood, add more brackets, and the woman doesn't weigh over 2000lb a waiver won't be needed.

majsupo (author)2009-08-25

Great update and great ideas. I was researching the sizes for twin mattresses and they are 39 x 75 inches. With that said, i'm planning on modifying your dimensions to 81 for the main horizontal support and back bottom braces and 42 for the slats and ladder. Should i add additional slats if i go with the 2 x 4 from 6 to 8 or stick with 6? what was the size of the guard rail, is that a 2 x4 or 1x 4 rail? looks great overall.

ajmontag (author)majsupo2009-08-25

im sleeping on 6 2x4 slats, and its great. the 1x4 is just the distance from end to end of the corner peices

withmyown2hands (author)2009-08-06

What is the spacing between the screws that join the uprights? Seems roughly a foot space between them.

ajmontag (author)withmyown2hands2009-08-07

Yeah, its about a foot, but i would actually go closer than that; try every 6" - 9"

bowser82 (author)2009-08-01

Nice build! But better cure any wobbles and squeeks, if you want to be able to get any action going on... ;-) Oh no, wait, your soul purpose in college is to study. No extracurrricular activities! heheh

majsupo (author)2009-07-20

how stable is this. do you need to do a cross beam like in the OP loft bed, or is the bottom and side brace sufficient enough. Great looking work by the way.

ajmontag (author)majsupo2009-07-20

We may end up adding small pieces at a 45 deg. angle in the front when we move in. The two screws that i will also add on the side with one bolt will also be essential. to answer your question, it is structurally sound; just a bit wobbly, but can be easily fixed.

Sparky42 (author)ajmontag2009-07-30

One thing that will make it less wobbly is to screw a piece of cheap OSB on the back. This will make it much more rigid, and will give you a place to post things in your under-bunk study area. I'd suggest putting the same thing on one of the ends, too, but put that on the side that will be towards the wall as well, so that you don't block the view of the rest of the room.

eblisster (author)2009-07-30

No finished photo with paint, mattress, etc?

ajmontag (author)eblisster2009-07-30

i'm not going to paint it, just sand it smooth, and that is to come after i move to college ;)

3frog (author)2009-07-30

How long are your 3/8" bolts?

ajmontag (author)3frog2009-07-30

3 1/2"

patron_zero (author)2009-07-30

That's a nice design, I built a lot of loft-bunk beds back in my university days so if I may pass one suggestion along to be considered. I had made use of carriage bolts and wide (Fender style) washers rather than wood-deck screws for joining the sections, this made assembly-disassembly go much faster and allowed the 'novice' dorm dweller a simpler task concerning such actions. Mind use some care selecting bolt length and thickness, as well as placing washers anywhere the head of a carriage bolt or a hex nut makes contact with the wooden frame.

sapien-red (author)2009-07-30

would you please post a DXF file , it looks great.

shahean2010 (author)2009-07-29

very good job thanks

manifold (author)2009-07-27

go hawks. lol

fillheart (author)2009-07-23

Nice job...keeping lofts simple and safe is key. Most loft builders over design or under design. Check out gridbeam as a design idea. it makes parts interchangeable and easily dismantled

jpettit (author)2009-07-21

Nice job, just looks like the tuffest job will be getting it through the doors.

ajmontag (author)jpettit2009-07-21

Actually, it was designed to come all the way apart, but it think we'll just take off the sides (ladder) and move it that way.

jpettit (author)ajmontag2009-07-21


l8nite (author)2009-07-20

A 2-3' high piece of plywood above the back 2x4 would add a lot of stability, covering the entire back with a piece of 1/4" ply would add stabilty AND give you a wall to hang pasters and what not, add some hooks or eyebolts to the underside of the mattress support slats for hanging lights and stuff.. really nice instruc.. have fun in school

dchall8 (author)2009-07-20

That is nice. I'd cure the wobble with a triangular piece of 1/2-inch plywood at each of the four rear corners. As a starting point I would make them 1-foot on the rectangular sides. Glue and screw the corner pieces to the frame everywhere they touch. That will stiffen it a lot. If you want still less wobble, use the plywood at every corner joint. At my school the beds were metal framed with four legs and plastic feet that popped off. In order to make a loft, you put four, 5- or 6-foot long pieces of 1-inch plumbing pipe inside the legs where the feet used to be. Total cost was about $5 and total time took about 3 minutes if you took your time. We stood on our desks to get into the bed. These beds were wobbly, too. Some of the guys stuffed wads of paper into the gap between the outer part of the pipe and inner part of the leg.

bruno13069 (author)2009-07-20

I built one of these when I was living with my parents. I used 4x4's for the corners, 2x6's for the crown and base rims, and 2x4's for the angled braces on the back and the ends. The base rim along the front had the middle 2' cut from it. I joined the end to the crown rim with 2x4's and made one of the sections into a ladder with 2x4 rungs. The bolts that I used had a flat washer on either side of the wood, a lock washer and a nut. Expensive, but it didn't move an inch when I flopped on it. After I moved in with a friend, my girlfriend moved in with us. We cut the 4' corner posts in half and re-drilled the bolt holes giving the mattress 8 support posts and a nice under-bed storage area.

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