Introduction: Loft Bed

Picture of Loft Bed

build a sturdy loft bed from scrap lumber for less than 20 dollars.

Step 1: Acquire Lumber!

Picture of Acquire Lumber!

I needed a bed on the cheap, and since my rented room has no closet I needed a way to hang up my clothes. Solution: loft bed!

I found 2x4s for free at my dad's work. They were going to toss them. Glad I got there first!

I used somewhere in the range of 40 2x4s to create this monstrosity, but many of them were shorter than the standard 8ft. You may need less or more depending on how tall you intend to make your bed.

I also found/purchased some add-ons for my bed:

1 closet rod
1 closet rod hanging kit
11 bolts with associated nuts and washers (we cut the ends flush after bolting the big sides together so length can vary)
a box of 2.5 inch deck screws
a box of 1.5 inch brass look screws (these were all donated by my dad so I'm guessing as to type).
2 pack of hooks to hang stuff on.

Step 2: Design Your Bed

Picture of Design Your Bed

I looked at a ton of different beds online, picked the parts I liked best, and drew up my plans. Unfortunately I have no scanner, so you can't see my plans, but you can see some awful paint drawings i made to give you an idea of how I put the thing together!

(note: I have no CAD program, nor do I have much in the way of drawing skills so these are an artistic rendition. In other words, don't sue me if your bed falls apart.)

Step 3: Measure Once, Cut Twice!

Picture of Measure Once, Cut Twice!

Now is the time for measuring your bed and cutting the basic peices from your 2x4s.
(Did you know that 2x4s are nowhere NEAR 2 inches by 4 inches? More like 1.5x3.5 after they finish the lumber)

Decide what size bed you want.

I wanted a full, so I found out how long a full was and added an inch to allow for bedding.

My total length for the upper and lower long supports:

Total width needed to support my mattress:
55" (subtract 3 inches to allow for the ends of my long supports to meet my short supports as in the corner drawing)

The slats will be a full 55" so they overlap the top of the long supports.

My legs also needed to be 55" to allow 45" clearance for the dresser to fit under the bed. The biscuit joined supports use up another 7 inches and 3" stick up above the top to prevent the slats and mattress from sliding around too much.

you'll need to measure:
5 long boards (76")
4 short boards (52")
2 med short (53.5)
9 legs (one for the ladder) (55")
lots o' slats (I had 11) (55")
Steps: as many as you need to get to the top. I used 3 (23")

Step 4: Biscuit Joining

Picture of Biscuit Joining

If you buy lumber that is wider than 2x4 for the upper supports you can skip this step.

I'm cheap and didn't buy more lumber so I biscuit joined the 8 upper supports with #20 biscuits. I started 3 inches from the end and put in a biscuit every six inches.

I glued them in with wood glue and clamped them for about 45 minutes each.

(if you don't know what I mean by biscuits etc. you should probably just buy wider peices of lumber because the tools are a rather large investment)

Step 5: Drilling

Picture of Drilling

Now, depending on whether or not you have to maching your own angle brackets (try not to, that step took me veritable ages) you may or may not have to drill holes in various places. Basically, you'll need to drill holes in any board you plan to drill through to another board. This prevents cracking and splitting. You'll also need to drill holes for your 11 bolts to go through:
Lay your two big sides out flat and square them off. Put them in place and measure diagonally corner to corner from all corners. Not quite the same measurement? tap the longer corners towards the center with a rubber mallet until your 2 measurements are the same.

Then measure to the middle of each board and drill a hole that will accomodate your bolt.
2 bolts hold the top of each long side at either end (8 total)
1 bolt holds the long support at the bottom to the legs (2 total)
1 bolt holds the side of the ladder to the biscuit joined top support

You'll then need to drill partway back through one side of the bolt holes so that you can countersink the nuts and screw the angle brackets in OVER the bolts

You'll also want to drill holes in the ends of the slats at the distances indicated in the drawing: 0.75" from the end and 1.75" in from the side. Ditto that for the steps.

(this part of the instruction is awfully sketchy because I didn't pick out the drill bits to use, good ol' dad left them for me.)

Step 6: Assemble Sides

Picture of Assemble Sides

Now that you have 2 sides assembled with holes for bolts drilled through them (did you remember to drill a bolt hole for the side of the ladder?) you'll have to add the bolts and tighten them. Use a ratchet (you'll probably need the extender to fit into the countersunk spots) to tighten them until they won't move.

Now, see the ends of the bolts sticking up past the side of the 2x4s?

We're going to have to amputate.

Get out your hacksaw (or a handheld power saw if you've got one Mr. tool guy) and slice off the ends of those bolts flush with the side of the 2x4. Now you can put the pictured angle bracket flush over the ends of the bolts and the nut/washer assembly.

Step 7: Put the Thing Together

Picture of Put the Thing Together

Get out all your screws and a drill (or screwdriver).

This is the part where you add things like a closet rod supports if you want. You might also want to screw in your steps to the ladder at an appropriate interval (depends on how high your bed is and how big your feet are!)

Now lets really go 3D

Put the angle brackets on the short sides and have someone hold them in place while you screw them into the top and bottom corners on each of the 2 big sides you've assembled with the bolts already.

The sides are pretty heavy but I managed this the first time with only one person holding stuff for me.

Now you have a big box with no sides and a ladder attatched.

the slats are straightforward: lay them out from one end to another at regular intervals. Take those 2.5" long decking screws and use them to attatch the slats.

that's just about it!

Step 8: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

I used an electric sander to sand the important parts (like the rungs of the ladder).
I also added some hooks around the outside to hang things like belts on.

The bed is quite strong and can easily support the heavy mattress and several people. It also doesn't sway when you climb up or roll over in the middle of the night. This is a fine thing when you're sleeping almost 5 feet off the ground with no railings.

These are only approximate instructions so that you can build/design your own bed in any size, not precise instructions to make a copy of mine, because that would take all the fun out of it!

I will certainly update these as I find out what makes little or no sense to anyone but me!



jphphotography (author)2009-12-14

Thanks for the great instructable, you are a wizard in paint I must say. I like your overall design, I've been scouring the nets trying to find a decent plan and I think I'll use yours as my starting point. I'm going to make mine a little higher so I can put a computer desk underneath it though ;)

If you do lots of design stuff like this you should try Google Sketchup, its a very simple and easy program to use and I find its great for illustrating instructables too.


Palegun (author)jphphotography2016-12-30

Thanks for your kind reply. Js.

Here is what my design looks like, I whipped it up in Google Sketchup last night and made a few renders with a free program called Kerkythea. Hopefully I'll get this built over the holidays.

sallydaw (author)jphphotography2015-06-30

Looks really professional.

chaz_2171 (author)jphphotography2012-06-12

I made this bed today for my 8 year old. I added a few things, i.e. railings. But overall it is very sturdy and was easy to put together. Thanks for the Idea!

do you have the instructions o how to make this bed? if you do can you send it to thanks

I never ended up making the one I designed so I don't have full instructions for it. If you follow the instructible on this page (the one made by Robyntheslug) you can tweak it to your needs. Hope this helps.

i may try and build this design (if you do not mind), and if i do I will document the entire process to go along with your drawings. This would be an excellent space exercise for me as an art/design student, though obviously I may end up tweaking a few things to fit my needs as I build it..
please let me know if this is ok - I don't want to use a design without permission. Thanks!

Robyntheslug (author)DrMadhatta2010-10-19

If you're talking about the original designs, please go ahead!

If they come out as you'd like them, I will happily post them as an addendum with credit. Maybe others can use your drawings too =)

If you're talking about my design feel free, just ask that you give credit where it's due either to myself (for the pics etc) and/or to Robyntheslug for the original concept ;)

I never ended up making one, still might but I've got renos to do first that haven't even been started lol.


You've come to the right place! Instructables is basically a site full of instructions! If you read through each of the steps you'll find the instructions (and illustrations) to make your own similar loft bed. There are also other loft bed instructables up now that might be able to help you more. Good luck with your project!

sweeety (author)jphphotography2010-09-24

Wow it's beautiful! What I love about this design is that it's in essence a loft bed and yet it looks sturdy enough for me! And being a very heavy person that's saying a lot. Only a few things I would change, like the colour probably. And I'd make the steps bigger cause I know from experience those lil rods you're supposed to walk on kill your legs, especially in the middle of the night when you just wanna get a glass of water and you're not wearing slippers or socks or anything. I also wouldn't put a desk there cause I'm afraid I'm so fat I'd fall through the bed and squash my precious precious computer. But the closet idea is excellent. Cause even if I landed on a pile of clothes, I wouldn't really break them y'know?

please write up that instructable its very good looking i would move the p.c over a bit in case u kick it getting up into bed

Holy cow!  That looks great!

When I built this I don't think google sketchup was around yet.  Definitely a good tool if you know how to use it =)

On another note, be sure to measure your ceiling.  The height of the bed was limited for me by my ability to still be able to get in and out of the bed safely and not hit my head too much. 

Good luck!

ciwright (author)2015-09-20

I really like the design and want to make one myself, except for a queen. However, I don't have any experience with carpentry and this would be my first DIY project. Do you have any advice on where I can learn some of the basics to make this happen?

TeeshaT (author)ciwright2016-09-04

Yeah... Elementary school math class.

MikeL240 (author)2016-08-27

On step 3, shouldn't the heading really be how the saying goes "Measure twice, cut once" and not "Measure once, cut twice"? I don't know if you were trying to be funny or just messed up the wording. No one wants to cut the same board twice because they messed up on the measurements . Especially since this is suppose to save them money.

d1yguy (author)2016-08-18

i plan on making one of these higher up, without the bed and on top of a desk for a nook or for sleepovers

Koolest GlamawEvF (author)2015-09-22

oooo thank you!!!we've been searching for this bed, and price wise we couldn't afford it. I appreciate your help! !

AnnieU (author)2015-05-22

Congratulations! Great job! My suggestion is to go to Goodwill and find maybe a bedskirt or curtain that you put under the mattress to hang down over your clothes. You could use tie backs to attach to the posts when you need to get to the clothes. Just a thought!

sallydaw (author)AnnieU2015-06-30

That's actually a great idea! I don't know, though, personally I like the sight of all my clothes - the colours and design. uplifts me somehow. That's what got me looking at your loft bed. Pretty neat :)

irene512 (author)2013-11-04

Hi there, this bed is awesome. i am trying to build one for my 8 year old, with the addition of closing off the sides and partially the front adding an opening ( a door ) and making it a little clubhouse beneath, can u please post or email me the exact measurements and lumber measurement for each part of your project so i can use as a base for my project.. example: legs - (4) 2x4x12... slats - (8) 2x2x10....please, this is my first attempt ever and i want to make this a Christmas gift for my princess. thanks.

flyry (author)2013-07-28

I love this design. I'm going to try to build a similar one in my apartment, but make it a bit taller.

The only part where i'm confused is where you drill the bolts in. Are you making the rectangle bed "pallet" first by screwing in the angle brackets, then attaching the outside legs, by drilling until you hit the bracket, and screwing the bolts into place until they hit the bracket?

Any assistance in regards to the bolts would help, because I've never built anything but think I could build this bed with a little help.

MaryAnn S (author)2008-07-03

Great looking, I am planning on making one for my daughter, but in a queen size (wish me luck) I love woodworking and built my daughter a tree house last year that has a slide, trap door with ladder, 5 windows that open, three that are just fixed (heavy plexi-glass). She loves it! I love to tell everyone about my had ratty floors and we had no money for new wood, so I looked underneath and the wood looked great so I pulled up all the boards (yes they were nailed!) flipped them over, sealed them with kilz and painted them a light grey (oil-based) to match the house. So hopefully we will get a few more years out of them. I did have to replace the top hand rails and of course used decking screws. Almost forgot, the lumber for the tree house was, except for the treated lumber base, obtained from construction sites scrap pile (with permission).

Robyntheslug (author)MaryAnn S2008-07-06

Awesome! I'm sure your daughter will love it. This bed has served me well for more than 3 years now (probably helps that I had a consulting engineer)! Isn't recycled lumber awesome? Also, it's really easy to get 2x4s like this from construction sites as used framing lumber and such. I think if I did it again, I would add some more bolt holes to make it adjustable. Good luck! -Robyn

gavinator90 (author)Robyntheslug2012-01-17

not too sure if i trust lumber that professional contractors throw out... just sayin'

Robyntheslug (author)gavinator902012-01-18

Heh, you'd be shocked by what a professional contractor will throw out. It costs more in labor to pull nails and reuse lumber than it does to buy all new, so anything used gets chucked for the most part.

The only thing 'wrong' with framing lumber is a few nail holes and the fact that it's pretty ugly.

agrodolce (author)2011-10-28

Still working on finishing a few add-ons to mine but I finished my bed! I made it a bit bigger (not on purpose, I just don't measure well but it will fit a queen-size mattress now, so yay), and it's made for 2 people. I have a few suggestions though: if you can figure out a way to make an angled ladder instead of 90 degrees it will be easier to clamber onto the bed. We're almost 40 and it's kind of difficult to get on and off; I actually use a folding stepladder that I put away during the day to get on, and I just slide off the side onto my stomach until my feet hit the bottom rail to get off. I also wanted to save a few bucks so I used furring strips as bed slats (1x2, but I may switch to 2x2 or something when my husband comes home from deployment), for ladder rungs, and for the clothes-hanging rod. Additions to come are to the headboard shelf; I'm going to make speaker boxes on each end under the shelf facing the pillows, with a 4" sub attached underneath the mattress between the clothes bars. I'm also going to do a built-on light on each end on the top of the shelf, using an Ikea hack (if you go to it's the one using Rationell Variera). I'm also going to run all the wires on the back side of the shelf supports instead of having them hanging willy-nilly. I may also switch the big fluorescent light underneath out with an LED strip, but I was trying to save money when I bought it.
The headboard shelf is just deep enough to hold stuff but I've only knocked my head into it once when I was trying to find my phone charger. There is a ceiling fan over the foot but the ceiling is high enough that I can sit straight up without hitting it, even when getting on and off the bed.

bde la noche (author)2011-08-13

I'm building a loft bed right now (room full of wood just finished cutting to size kind of right now) thanks so much for the idea of what to do with the space I never would have thought of a closet seriously I have a few hanging racks but that would be so much better and I could put them under the bed and use the other space for my TV and book case.

PushTheOtherButton (author)2011-07-15

This is great - and you're lucky to have gotten all that wood for free! I built a loft bed too - almost out of necessity as most major manufacturer's don't make them in queen size. Check it out here:

moogil (author)2011-02-01

Nice! Could be more descriptive, but overall easy and pleasurable to follow.


naim (author)2010-12-12

Thanks, great idea. I came to Instructables looking for a closet, found this. Right now I'm sleeping in sleeping bag on the floor, but building a closet is more important. the place is a mess right now. So this perfect for us: bed/closet combination! Actually, that's all i need. Maybe a couch also.
Any tips how to make this less permanent? I will probably move out some day, and renting apartments without furniture is much cheaper.
Again, great thanks for the write-up.

lady tradey (author)2010-11-11

alrighty, I'm gonna try looks nifty and I'm feeling brave and yours seems to have worked out brilliantly..

you've done a great job! it's a lovely compact design.

also, love the easy to read plans and instructions.

thanks for the ideas.

here goes!

Dr.Bill (author)2010-06-01

I found OP Loft Beds have free plans and a design that can be modified with ease. In fact I have built one and will be adding it here.

díka (author)2009-06-20

I'm a bit confused about the medium short boards that (53.5") I simply can't visualize where they were placed in the finished bed? Thanks for the great instructable!

footballgirl004 (author)2008-04-13

I'm going to make one but I'm going to have my brother help me because he is a carpenter.

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-03-23

Would love to see you add this to my new group.
Hope to see you there.
Home Repair, Refurbishment, and New Projects

alvincredible (author)2008-01-26

whoa. that's COOL! i want a loft bed now, my normal bed has gotten boring :-)

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-13

AWESOME JOB! :-) I wish I had this in my room... then I could put so much stuff under my bed. Maybe even some work space. :-)

jimmi (author)2007-12-02

Love the loft bed! Don't you ever wonder how people live w/out them? I built one last year, but yours is more functional. Love how you hang your clothes under it.

rocknrollskwurl (author)2007-08-24

i am planning on building one for while am at my moms small apartment! this is awsome! i will probly build a desk under it tho

I have an external desk, so I use the space below for storage. plus, unless your desk is short, there isn't much height under there. If you build it too tall, you'll hit your head on the ceiling!

Laurieb2851 (author)2007-08-20

Hi, I'm a newby. My name is Laurie. I really love the plan of this loft bed. We are custodial grandparents of a five year old and she sleeps in the smallest bedroom and we have a small house. We had a loft bed for our son in that same room (pre-made and cheaply made too - as in quality) and it was perfect for that small room. I find myself wanting to do the same for my granddaughter. If I were a kid I would LOVE something like this in my room. I'll definitely study the plan and instructions and hope to build it soon. Thanks for the great idea! Oh! I'll post pictures if that's possible here when I'm done with it. It might take a while. Laurie

Robyntheslug (author)Laurieb28512007-08-20

I'm glad you like it! You could easily build railings into the design so that she didn't tumble off. I would use a different ladder too, for a smaller person. It's really, really sturdy and I love all of the storage space! Good luck, -Robyn

Laurieb2851 (author)Robyntheslug2007-08-20

Robyn, I have always viewed these loft beds in awe. I don't think the idea for them has been around for that long. When I was a kid we all shared bedrooms and there was very little space to do anything more then sleep and get dressed. With the costs of apartments being what they are, a person has to downsize the amount of space they live in to be able to afford it and even then it's expensive. The same with a house. We've got a large enough home for just the hubby and I, but when you're adding a child to the mix - they need more room for their toys, etc. In recent years I've even seen some plans for loft beds that divide a room into two separate areas if a child is sharing space with another. Huh, I just had to get after the granddaughter about jumping on my couch. (It's a recliner in front of a window - dangerous.) I've got to get busy and build this bed before she destroys my whole house. She needs a place in her own room. The small bedroom I'll build this for is also without a closet because we did an addition that kind of lost the closet that was in the room. So! That closet space under the bed is perfect also. The bed our son had there was a closet that was the depth of the bed from side to side and had a door and the door of it faced outward to the side of the bed. The other side of the bed underneath was just open space, but there's lots you can do with that (a desk, book case, toy box). Yep! I love your loft bed. Just think how big a room would have to be to acomodate all that! Laurie

LittleMonkeyMojo (author)2007-05-04

If you have a matress and a box-spring you can cut down on the amount of wood. Recess the box-spring into the frame, the box spring you can hold in place by screwing 1x1s all the way around your frame. The box-spring then sits its edge directly on the 1x1 border you've created. It'll cut down on weight as well as materials required.

The only issue here is that the box spring takes up space. You wouldn't have enough room to sit at a desk underneath the bed, or alternately, you wouldn't be able to sit upright on top of the bed... I don't quite have enough room with just the mattress... If you had nice tall ceilings that might work really well though!

l8ntpianist (author)2007-02-26

my ex boss his son, son's roommate and i built 2 beds similar to this, only made from metal. lightweight and you could pull out the bols to move em around. the backside was x braced. the ladder was incorporated in the endpiece. they were made to make use of a college dormroom. you could even put a sofa under it, or computer desk. i thought that was a way cool idea, didnt know it was called a loftbed.neither did they far as i know. story is they got the idea from cinder blocks propping up the beds to make more room.

Telemachus (author)2006-02-15

This is a good design, essentially what I have in my room right now. It might also help if your loft wobbles. To put a 2X4 or whatever else you have around diagonally across the back, or whatever side you are going to have against the wall.

Robyntheslug (author)Telemachus2006-11-03

It was initially the plan to use a cross brace, but it turned out to be superfluous! The connected corners seem to create a lot of stability.

About This Instructable




Bio: A caterer and adventurer looking for things to do! I like to crochet, cook, build stuff with wood, garden, do art projects etc. I also ... More »
More by Robyntheslug:How to Thrive Without DairyHalf Hour Harry HatMake Ramen (relatively) Healthy!
Add instructable to: