College Dorm Loft (accepts Twin XL Frame) *updated*




This is a loft to get your bed up off the ground to increase functional room space.  This loft accepts a given frame (the dimensions used on this loft are for the frames provided by Iowa State University, but may be the same as others).  This is very similar to--but much more sturdy than--the kits available from Lowes.  Note that this is an improvement to my last (years) loft plans, available here

Step 1: Materials, Tools, and Cutting

- Compound Miter (Chop) Saw
- (Cordless) Drill
- Wrench / Socket
- Tape Measure
- Triangle or Carpenters' Square

- 2 1/2" Deck Screws
- 3 1/2" Carriage Bolts, with nuts, washers, and lock washers
- 2x4's 
- 1x4
- 1x10 (optional)

Cutting Lengths:
  Part                Board        Length                  Quantity
- Ladder...............2x4...........36 1/2"....................x6
- Uprights............2x4...........60"...........................x8
- Beam, outer.....2x4...........73" ..........................x3
- Beam, inner.....2x2...........63" ..........................x2
- Guard rail.........1x4...........32" & 20"................x1

Step 2: Uprights

The uprights consist of two 2x4's screwed together. These are the primary pieces of the loft.  For the frames provided by ISU, note the outside piece is shorter on top to accommodate an odd brace in the frame.

The uprights are attached to the beams using carriage bolts, and are firmed up with screws to alleviate wiggle/wobble.

Step 3: Beams

The beams hold the uprights the correct distance apart, and keep them plumb, level, and square.  They consist of a 2x4 and a 2x2 (ripped 2x4).  Notice the top of the uprights lines up with the top of the inside of the beam (the 2x2 piece). 

Step 4: Ladder

The ladder is not only used for getting into and out of your bed, but also for keeping the uprights firm in the right place.  Placement is up to you, but I placed my steps like so:

18" from floor to top of bottom step
18" from top of bottom step to top of middle step
18" from top of middle step to top of top step

For transport, I leave the side (step) units whole, meaning the 2 uprights and 3 steps stay attached. 

Step 5: Assembly Tips

- Use a triangle/ carpenters' square to make sure everything is square, this is very important to keep the loft sturdy and wiggle free.
- Make braces for the from side from scrap 2x4's, as seen in first photo
- The beds at ISU are about 10" thick, with a 2" tall frame underneath, adjust your roll-off guard according to your preference.
- When assembling, assemble the "ends", or "ladder" pieces first, then add the beams, then the other supports.
- Don't forget the brace across the back bottom!

Make a bookshelf from a 2x8 or 2x10, and mount it across the back, be creative!

Step 6: Final Pictures

Here are some pictures of the completed setup. if you have any questions please comment and I will try to help you out!



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    17 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    How long would it take for a average to above average skilled person to put this together? Just now found these wonderful plans after searching for the last month. Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The first time (cutting and assembly) would probably be about 4 hours. Then when you take it apart to travel, it would be about 30 min to assemble it again.


    I will let you know when I move into my dorm in 4 days! I did base the design on my last years model (as i notice you have seen) and combined my idea there with the kits available at Lowes. This design appears much more rigid than what Lowes sells in a kit, so I'm sure it will be sufficient.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, it was very sturdy. The angled supports with the lags in the front worked out very well, they really held it firm.

    The only down side to this loft was that it was a tad narrow, so the bed and frame overhung about 5 inches on each side. With using the side as a ladder, it was a bit of a hassle to get in and out.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 6

    Yes, there are a few different styles of bed frames, and they should all fit.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    How did you put the existing bed ontop and keep it steady and supported? My son will have a metal bed frame at the school he is going to. So I am thinking it would be built for the legs to drop down in some sort of box to keep them supported.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    (Typically) the ends--meaning legs--of the frame are removable, check back within a few days for finished pictures, I just get moved in!