Introduction: How to Build a Lofted College Bed

Do you have someone you know who that is moving into a dorm room at Iowa State? In this age of crowded space, it seems that there isn't enough room for everything! Lofts provide a convenient way to maximize the space in your room, lifting your bed off of the floor to create usable space for other furniture and accessories. This loft is tall enough to comfortably accommodate an average adult seated in a desk chair.
Lofts are permitted in all residence halls where a loft bed is not already provided as part of the standard furnishings. Currently, the halls at Iowa State University where a loft bed is provided are Barton, Birch, Buchanan, Eaton, Freeman, Linden, Lyon, Martin, Maple, Roberts, Wallace, Wilson and Welch.
For building purposes, bed frames are typically 80" long x 36" inches wide and will fit a twin XL mattress. This can be made for under $100 which is cheaper than renting!

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Step 1: Step 1: Gather Materials

You will need the following set of tools, hardware, and lumber before you begin building the loft.


Power Saw
Cordless Drill with Screw bit
Torx Wrench

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 optional)


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Step 2: Step 2: Measure and Cut the Wood

I suggest cutting all of the wood before you start building, it will make the building process more smooth. Use some logic with the wood, if there is a big crack, it should be cut off.
A good suggestion is to also cut off a half a centimeter before measuring so you have a nice good end on the finished product. Also, if you want a finished look to the loft and with smooth edges, see image below to chamfer the edges.

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

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Step 3: Step 3: Build the Uprights

Fasten two 2X6’s at a right angle with deck screws. Line them up as shown in the photo. Make  sure to make them as flush with eachother as possible. Drill a pilot hole in the end and drill in the screw. Then move about a quarter of the way up the board and line it up, making adjustments if needed. Drill and screw keeping the board lined up. Do this until the end of the leg and then do the same with the other boards. There should be a total of four pairs of 2X6s for each of the corners. Sounds simple right!

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Step 4: Step 4: Assemble Main Beams

Now once we have the upright corners assembled, we are going to start building the main beams, which is where you sleep on!  Fasten the slat rest to the “main horizontal support” using three bolts. Take your two 2X4X8s that are 88'' and connect them to the with the other 2X4X8s that are 44'' so that they create a square.
Make sure the boards are lined up like in the picture. Feel free to pin these two boards together with screws while drilling. If you want you can test the fit of the plywood in the top by just laying on top of the four supports.

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Step 5: Step 5: Uprights + Main Horizontal Support

Now you can fasten the main horizontal support to the uprights (legs) using two bolts at each corner.

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Step 6: Step 6: Front + Back

Join the front and back using one bolt on the 2X4X6s. Note: there are two bolts at each corner.

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Step 7: Step 7: Add Bottom Bracing

Next, you can move the legs to reach the boards; this will square up the legs. Then you will be able to fasten it with screws.

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Step 8: Step 8: Add the Ladder

To add a ladder, take your four 2X4X6s that are 44'' long and evenly space them so that you can comfortably climb into the loft. You may also repeat this step on the other side if needed.

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Step 9: Step 9: Add the Safety Bar/Shelf

Iowa State Univeristy has rules that a safety bar must be built into the loft. For this we take our two 78'' slats and connect them at a right angle again. We can then attach them between the uprights as shown. This should be no more than 1/2' above the topof the mattress.

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Step 10: Step 10: Personalize!! (optional)

Finally you can paint it colorful!!! Go Iowa State!!! :) 

If you choose to build this loft, the structure will follow these minimum standards:

Be 36 inches from the bed platform to the lowest part of the ceiling;
Be 24 inches from any smoke detector or sprinkler head;
Be freestanding;
Not be attached to any wall, ceiling, or furniture;
Have an installed ladder made of metal or wood construction (other furniture may not be used as a step stool);
Have an installed side rail designed to prevent you from rolling out of the bed. The top of the safety rail must be 5 inches above the top of the mattress;
Not be wider than the size of one student mattress;
Be constructed of metal or wood. Fabric cannot be suspended from or around the loft;
Not restrict exit from any portion of the room or be a safety hazard to persons walking around the room;
Allow the door to open perpendicular to the door opening, and at least 22 inches must be allowed for exiting from any interior room arrangement.


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