DIY Loft bed for boy’s room
Last Updated on April 18, 2021 by Tim Harman
This post shows how I built a DIY loft bed for my son’s room. It utilizes basic framing and structural pipe fittings for support.
We recently moved our son into his own room. It’s the smaller of our three bedrooms, so we decided a loft bed would be nice to maximize the space. Underneath the bed makes for the perfect desk location (you can check out the desk refinishing project HERE.) I really like the clean look of a suspended or floating loft bed, so I started my search for inspiration with that in mind. I thought of supporting the bed from the ceiling, but honestly didn’t want to mess with ceiling joists. I think if I’d done that, I would’ve distributed the load to several joists for added strength. That’d involve getting in the attic and tying a few joist together. Yeah, no thanks.
The only place that a loft bed would fit was the corner of the room in between the windows. I was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough room with where the windows are, but ended up having enough room for a standard twin bed.
Here’s the space before:
I knew I’d be securing two sides of the bed frame (2x6s) into the wall studs, so I just needed to figure out a support for the corner. I wanted a really clean look, so I thought the ladder could also serve as the structural support; that way I wouldn’t have a post and a ladder.
Here’s the frame in place being held up with temp 2x4s until the permanent support was added:
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I used these amazing structural screws made by GRK. (5/16″ x 4″) to attach the two 2×6 ledger boards into the wall studs. I will never go back to regular lag bolts. Man, I love these screws. They don’t really need to be pre-drilled, but I did anyways just in case I wasn’t exactly in the center of the wall stud.
You’ll also notice my magnetic stud finder on the wall there. My thoughtful sister-in-law got it for me and it’s the best stud finder I’ve ever used. No lights, no beeping. Forget all that. It’s just a really strong magnet that’ll latch onto your drywall screws. It’s perfect. It even has a little level with an arrow so you can visually find your line for the stud further up/down. Get one!
Once I had the two ledger boards in place, I added the front and end 2x6s to complete the frame. I used corner braces to create a really good joint between the 2×6. Next came the 2×4 support joists held in place with joist hangers.
Here are a few images showing the underside detail:
I used these Simpson Strong Tie wafer head screws to secure the joist hangers and corner braces.
I topped the frame with sturdy 1/2″ furniture-grade plywood. I also faced the outside with a nice stained trim piece, mitered at the joint.
I looked into structural pipe fittings called Kee Klamps for another potential project and was very impressed with the product’s versatility. However, I wasn’t impressed at all by how expensive it is! As I was researching, I discovered that Lowe’s sells the same fittings under the brand name SteelTek for way less than the real-deal Kee Klamps. Heck. Yes. Thus, my decision to use structural pipe fittings as both the support and ladder. These fittings are the best. It’s the perfect minimalist yet rugged look for a boy’s room. Super strong.
I used the same fittings and pipe for the bed rail. My wife wanted to leave some room towards the head of the bed to give more room when changing the sheets. Looking back, I think I should’ve made it longer, but I think it looks fine. It’d still be really difficult for him to roll off. He’d have to be rolled up in a ball near his pillow to roll and fall off. He’ll be aight.
I added some blocking to the backside of the 2x6s where the fittings were secured. That way the structural screws (same ones I used to secure the ledger boards) wouldn’t be sticking out the back. I could’ve got shorter ones, but I decided to use what I had on hand.
We got this great little wall lamp from IKEA to use as his reading light. The light this puts out is BRIGHT, so we cut the bottom of yogurt container (Chobani I think) off and shoved it up in there. Perfect diffuser! 🙂 I used some clips I had in my small parts collection to secure the wire to the window trim. I cut a small hole in the plywood to pass the wire through.
The book holder is actually an IKEA spice rack. Works great! My wife stained it to match the trim on the bed.
I love how this project turned out. And yes, it’s amazingly strong. I weigh in at about 215lbs and got up there with my son. Held with zero issues. This thing will take all the abuse a boy (and his sisters) can throw at it.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for stopping by!
I created a basic materials and measurements list. Check it out HERE.
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Great Work on the bed and the blog itself! Looking forward to the next post!
Loved the shout out to ur awesome sister in law ? you did a great job! It looks amazing!
I’m loving this idea for my son’s room and wondering if you have more detailed plans drawn up for sale? What is the estimated cost for the materials? Thanks!
Hey Amy! Thanks for stopping by and checking out the loft bed! Unfortunately, I don’t have plans drawn up. I built the bed before I really got the blog going and didn’t document the build like I should have. However, I’d be happy to email you some more info (measurements and materials) once I have a chance to think it through.
Thanks for being willing to do that! My 12year old son, Kai & I want to take on the job of building it together in June when school is our. Estimate of cost we should budget for?
Hey Amy, I finally got around to creating a materials list and getting some basic measurements. You can check it out here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1acs_TemgSSgBNubMo_le37RfMIhAN_qpzzjBYFHwdcI/edit?usp=sharing
Hi Tim, the bed looks great! I would be interested in getting the building info Amy requested as well…looking for solutions to free up space in my sons shared bedroom and I really like the look of what you’ve done. Thanks!
Hey Mike, thanks for stopping by! Here is a materials list and some measurements. Hope it helps! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1acs_TemgSSgBNubMo_le37RfMIhAN_qpzzjBYFHwdcI/edit?usp=sharing
Can you do this for a queen size bed too? What materials would change if so? I’m not sure if that’s too much. How do you know if wall studs can handle the pressure of that much weight if you make it bigger?
Also, it seems like the metal pipe ladder is structural and therefore can’t be switched out to a wooden step ladder?
You can certainly do this same basic concept with a queen sized bed. Your wall studs should be just fine carrying that load provided you use proper hardware and secure into every stud. However, I wouldn’t suggest using the same pipe support as I have. You’d probably want to use a 4×4 post on that corner.
I would love any additional info regarding your measurements/materials if you could please email me! Thanks so much!
Hey Mike! Thanks for stopping by. I have that info at the very bottom of the post. There’s a link to a Google doc that I put together.
Tim, I’d love to have a copy of that info too, if it’s handy. I’m actually interested in adapting it to make a 5-foot wide loft that goes across a room. I haven’t measured the room yet, but it’s somewhere between 10.5 and 12 feet wide. I want to make the bottom of it about 6 feet 6 inches off the floor so most tall people can walk under it without bumping their heads. I know that’s about 2 inches lower than building codes specify for protrusions, but I’m not sure it’s going to be an issue. My six-foot-tall son and I are moving into a tiny efficiency apartment to get the location and rental rate we want in a very expensive area. Since we’ve lived in a room house, this is going to be an adjustment, but we do have some tiny house and Airbnb experience for long trips, so we’ll be fine with the space so long as we can customize to make it meet our needs.
So, I’ll need to figure out what adaptations I need to make to make it structurally sound. I’d also like to have a bookshelf along one side showing to the room below and cubbies along the other side for him to store things in, both about 9 inches deep, leaving just enough width for the x-long twin he’ll use. He’ll use the extra length of about 4 or so feet for a small storage shelf area or drawers or maybe I’ll let him keep my guitar up there and play it for me as I love that. I’ll also on that end make a mid-air desk area where he can sit with his feet hanging off the edge with a foot rest hanging down for that and a desk for his laptop protruding over the side, with some kind of rails or raised side so he doesn’t ever accidentally push his laptop off. Of course, we’ll need to have some lighting at both the desk end and the bed end. We no longer have tools with us, and we’re not super experienced other than him helping to make big party structures at Caltech and me making bookshelves. So, we’ll figure out what we can do ourselves and what we’re going to need someone with tools and instant knowledge and skill needs to do. The main things I’m concerned about are making it strong, doing it so nobody in the apartment complex raises an alarm, and putting the ladder and any necessary support poles in the least obstructive places while they still work. It’s a super small space and it’s super awkward, with a window, a door, a heater, a u-shaped kitchen, and a walking path all ruling out some of the options we considered. We can make a loft bed and call it a day, but it would be hugely advantageous if we had him higher up with his things, a desk space, some things to chill with, and the sense of privacy despite no walls. We could easily put up curtains for him to pull, but I doubt he’ll demand that. This would be directly above where my bed and desk area would be, just past where the door clearance is, and so on. I wanted to put it over the door and window, but he needs more headroom than that would allow. So, I have to put it about a foot lower and maybe hang tiny ducks from it to make super tall people “duck?” My son weighs about 160 at the very most, but books, laptop, other items, and the wood required for all that would weigh a bunch more. It would be marvelous to be able to make this in two sections so that if we move, we’d at least have the bed-length part we could put back together somewhere else, but that might be optimizing a little too much. We’d probably have to have someone cut it strategically at that time. Maybe I should nix the bookshelf idea or think of the lightest possible way to do it it. We do have earthquakes here.
So, the minimum I’m trying to accomplish is to span the room, give him a way to have his bed up there and sit up straight in bed or at least sit up straight on the platform where the bed isn’t, with some kind of a legless chair or a cushion and a protruding laptop desk and footrest. If we need to, we can nix the storage and bookshelf ideas and just have him, the bed, his laptop, and the desk part up there. I don’t think we can attach to the floor even though it’s shabby old vinyl and should be replaced. I intend to cover it with rugs, but if we have to put some kind of padding like a piece of wood underneath the metal support, we can do that. I wonder if we can use chains to support one side of this to a higher spot on the wall 3 feet away on one side in order to limit the need for a floor support to one spot, perhaps with a double ladder, meaning a ladder directly under the edge of the bed and one a couple of inches in front like you had we could put little wooden slats for more comfortable rungs for a grown man and also have the pipe going directly down in the back ladder for better support. I do want to put rails too because even though he’s a grown man, 6 feet and 6 inches is a dangerous drop. I met someone who fell 7 feet onto a concrete floor and ended up a quadriplegic. So, I’m thinking this through.
So, is this just way beyond what that kind of design could evolve into? If we made it only bed width with no storage or bookshelf edge, it would be much lighter. I’m just empathizing with my grown son who is quite a trooper but who loves having his own little private spot. Since we work together teaching via video chat, it’s good to give him a spot to retreat to. I’ll go to my little garden out back, go for a long hill hike, or head out on an errand, but he is more likely to stay home except when I send him on errands or he has a specific event. So, I want him to have some feeling of privacy. He had a loftbed in his childhood and another in college and when we talked about building a tiny home or designing one and having it built, he was pretty stoked about having a loft.
What do you think?
Hey Andrea, thanks for stopping by! Sounds like you’ve got quite a project in the making! Have you ever used SketchUp before? If not, I’d highly recommend it. It’ll help tremendously thinking through all of your ideas. What info specifically were you referencing that you needed? Happy to help if I can.
How do those pipes feel on the feet when climbing up?
My eight year old says it’s fine and doesn’t hurt. You could probably add flat boards to each rung with these fittings to make it more comfortable to climb. https://www.lowes.com/pd/SteelTek-3-4-in-Silver-Galvanized-Steel-Structural-Pipe-Fitting-Swivel-Socket/999931118
Really lovely build!
Do you have any idea if an adult could do this for an adult size loft? How did you figure out the weight maximum? I know the ladder is supportive but not sure if it could work on a larger scale.
Hey Blake, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I think it could work for an adult-sized bed. You’d of course need more wall space for the ledger boards than I did with mine. I’d suggest using larger ledger boards (2x8s) and use 2x6s for the support joists. Also, you may consider going to the larger size pipe/fittings that SteelTek makes. Not sure of the aesthetics on the larger size, but I feel confident it’d provide the support you’d need on the corner. Maybe if you had higher than 8ft ceilings and could place the bed higher then the larger pipe size would look right in proportion to the bed frame. Let me know how it turns out if you end up building it!
And I didn’t do any calculations to figure the weight max, although that’s always a wise choice to do so. 🙂 I felt confident that given the size of the bed and the number of studs I had to secure into, I’d be more than good. I got up on the bed with my son and it’d didn’t budge. It’s very solid. I’m sure there some online calculator for outdoor decks that you could use to give you a rough idea. This design is much like a deck just on a much smaller scale.
We did iI! Three days. More work than I imagined but not impossible like I feared. I had never used a hand saw before (though I’m incredible intelligent 🙂 so if I and my 12 year old son can do this 80% on our own then it truly is a DIY project. Our retired neighbor Bill did a fair amount of consulting, tool lending and did the mitre cut for the outer boards and my husband cut the pipes with a hacksaw….other than that we did it! So grateful we tried it. A few notes…
Steel Tek makes the pipes in black now so we went with that and my son wanted it to be black underneath so those two things were an added expense and time…total about $400 for the materials the project used. I’ll email you some pics of our creation! Next up in July is the same design but for my teenage daughter’s room. This design has helped us truly make the most of every square foot of small bedrooms in a 70’s home. Great job Tim! P.S. Your buying/supplies list was spot on. Thanks for that extra work!
So great! Love it. I’ve been wanting to do a project with the newer black fitting from SteelTek. And thanks so much for emailing me those photos! Looks fantastic!
Hey Tim, this project is super cool! Considering building it in my 6 year old’s room. One question, especially now that you’ve lived with it for a while. Those pipe fittings that make up the rungs of the ladder, do they ever slip? Is it just friction from those set screws that holds them in place? If I, a 200 lb dad, climb that ladder, are they likely to slip down? Many thanks!
Hey Mark! Thanks for stopping by! You’ll be just fine. The set screws really bite into the pipe. I just recently used the ladder and it held great! I’m about 215lbs. The SteelTek fittings are very strong.
I’d love to see pictures of your build! Let me know if you have any questions along the way.
I was trying to count how many of each fitting was needed, but did not see that in the list. I don’t live by a Lowe’s, it’s an hour and a half away. Is there any way you could tell me how many of each item? Thank you
Hi Kaitlyn. Thanks for stopping by! I have a link to a google doc at the end of the post that has that info. Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help!
Hi! Thanks for posting these plans! I am going to try do the same thing in my tiny apartment, but as a full size bed. I have a couple inquiries: I noticed you used screws instead of nails for the joist hangers. As a novice, I have been trying to research as much a possible to make sure I don’t mess up my apartment, and I have only seen nails being suggested for the joist hangers so far. Is there a reason for that?
Also, I believe I will be drilling into brick for the wall. Do the GRK structural screws require an anchor in masonry? Thanks for your help!
Hi Janice! Thanks for checking out the loft bed. You can use nails, no problem. I just prefer screws. If you’re going into masonry it’s a completely different ball game. You’ll need to research the appropriate masonry anchors to use. You may even want to consult a structural engineer on the proper anchoring method.
I’m not sure if you went ahead and built the bed or not. Just so you know, the reason people use nails with joist hangers is because nails generally have a higher shear value than screws. Meaning that they will withstand more weight before breaking. There are screws that are available with higher shear values than nails, but they are close to $30 for a small box vs a few dollars worth of nails grabbed in a bin.
I’m planning on building a loft bed for our kiddo and will be using nails for the joist hangers as I’m sure there will be plenty of jumping around, although it may be overkill.
Great plan and thanks for sharing measurements and materials list!
Thanks for stopping by Syd! And yes, you are correct about general shear values of nails vs. screws. Thanks for sharing that info with our other readers! I’d love to see your finished loft bed when you’re done!
I don’t see that you’ve posted the measurements for the ladder and side rail. If you have those, I’d appreciate them, this exact model is this weekends task at hand. Thanks!
Hey Eddie! Thanks for stopping by! The measurements for the ladder/railing are as follows: The ladder rungs are ~14″ each giving a total width of ~17″. The total height of the ladder is ~57″ from the floor. The small section of pipe on the ladder which connects the fittings from the ladder to the bed (the turn) is ~3″. The pipe for the vertical part of the railing is ~18″ and the horizontal sections are ~42.5″. Looking back I think I might have made the railing longer. Maybe 50″ for just a bit more added protection. I’ve added these measurements to the materials list and cost Google Doc that I have linked in the post.
I’d love to see pictures of your finished product!
Looks great. We are about to make this but I am worried about my son’s ceiling fan. Did you have to take yours down?
Hey Meagan! Tim here. No, I didn’t have to take it down. It is close-ish to his bed, but there’s clearance for sure. I did have to have the conversation with him not to be reaching out and messing with the fan. 🙂
Hi, could you make a similar bed for a full-sized mattress?
Hey Mandy! I’m sure it could work. However, I’d suggest using larger lumber for the main structure. Maybe 2x8s. And maybe 2x6s for the support joists. I feel like the structural steel pipe I used would be just fine, but that also you may want to bump up to the next size they make. Not sure if it’d look too bulky though. Let me know if you have any other questions! Happy to help if I can.
Hey Tim, this is pretty sweet! Thanks for sharing. I’ve got a few questions:
Is the ladder load bearing? It seems like the corner that isn’t attached to the wall would have some give…but from previous comments it is apparent that this isn’t the case.
Also, what are the dimensions of the trim you used and how did you attach it to hide the screws?
Hey Zack. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the loft bed build. Yes, the ladder is load bearing. The framing is all tied in together really well, so the load is carried just fine with the ladder being where it is. For the trim I used 1×8 and attached it with a brad nailer. Using a 1×8 and having it even with the bottom of the framing will create about a 1-1/4″ lip provided you use the same thickness of plywood that I did. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. I’d love to see images of your completed loft bed if you end up building it!
Great article! I also like the desk, guessing it’s a older one maybe you rehab it.?
Hey Ryen! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I did refinish the desk. You can check out that project HERE.
How much space did you have between each joist?
I’ll take your advice an use 2×8’s for the ledger and 2×6’s for the joists. I’m 200lbs and can’t let me som have all the fun😉
Hey George! Sorry for my late reply. I just ended up spacing mine somewhat evenly across and also to avoid where the heads of the structural screws were. I think mine are spaced roughly 18″ apart. You’ll be more than good with the 2x6s! Would love to see your build when you’re done! Email me some pictures!
I am going to do this for my son and wondered if I used the circular pipe end that you used for the ladder to hold the bed corner, how much would that add to the width of the bed? Does that question make sense?
Essentially, how far out from the end of the bed does the ladder piping stick out? I need to make sure if I add that to the side of the bed that the ceiling fan still has clearance.
Hey Brian! Thanks for your question. I think I’m understanding you correctly. The ladder sticks out approximately 5″ and the guard rail about 1.5″. Hope those measurements help!
Another question. I am planning on supporting the corner of the bed by suspending it from the ceiling. Will these SteelTek fitting work or do I need to buy and use threaded pipe? It looks as if Allen bolts hold the fittings. Not sure if that is strong enough to hold the weight of the corner
Yes, I wouldn’t suggest using what I used in the reverse of hanging it from the ceiling. In my scenario the load isn’t really dependent on the set screws of the fittings. The load is really on the pipe itself. The ladder rungs however are being held in place with the set screws. The Steeltek fittings/connections are extremely strong, but I wouldn’t suggest them in a hanging application like you’re thinking. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help.
I love the bed and the plans. me and my son are doing this right now for hos birthday present. Do you remember the color of stain you used for the bed. My son loves the color and want to use it for his bed. Thanks
Hey Justin! Thanks for reading! I believe we used Minwax Dark Walnut.
Did you secure the pipe to the floor?
Hey Jeremy! Thanks for stopping by. I did not secure it to the floor. It holds in place just fine with the weight of the bed. Putting a few screws in would be great though. I felt mine was secure enough and I didn’t want to drill into my wood floor. I suppose if someone really kicked it hard it may move but probably not much.
Hey there this bed is amazing because it’s screwed to the wall would you say it would hold adult weight I really want one for my studio apartment but scared it would break
Hey Emma! If built just like I did mine, then it’ll definitely hold an adult.
I see from the google doc that the bottom edge of the 2x6s is 52.5″ above the floor – may I ask how high your ceiling is, i.e., how much space above the platform? We’re not sure of how to allocate space for under vs over the bed platform. Any advice appreciated! Has your son given you any feedback on height clearance under vs over? Thanks!
Hey Kelly! I have 8′ ceilings in that room. There is 37″ from the top of the plywood base (what the mattress sits on) to the ceiling. I determined the height of the bed by sitting in a chair where the bed would go. I wanted to make sure my son would always be able to sit at a desk under the bed even if he grows as tall as me (I’m 6’1″). To me, the height underneath the bed is more important than the bed to ceiling height.
Hi, I want to try this but I am NOT handy in the least. How difficult would you say this is? If I take your list to lowe’s will I have do do anything special like cut the wood to size? I don’t have any cutting tools so I want to make sure I get them to do it. Are there any special tools required outside of the drill and stud finder? I’ll admit I’m nervous but just as excited to try. My 8 year old would absolutely love this. And to think mom made it…. That would be epic!!!
Also, can this be done in the middle of the room/wall and not in a corner? He has a good size room with an awkward layout as far as the windows and closet placement.
This design must be done in a corner for the structural support needed. The bed I built just barely fit because of where the window was in my son’s room. Not every room will be able to accommodate this design.
Hey Aljaleke, thanks for checking out the loft bed build! Yes, you will need to make custom cuts. You could certainly do that yourself with a basic hand saw if you didn’t want to invest in a miter or circular saw. Or just get your measurements ahead of time and have the lumber cut at Lowe’s or Home Depot. You’ll also need to make custom cuts of the metal. I used an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel attachment, but you could do the same cuts by hand with a hacksaw. This is a DIY project, but having prior experience or having a friend with that experience come help would be a huge benefit.
Oh my gosh I am so in love with this. I am moving to a studio in Chicago and I would love to do this with a queen bed. I am able to drill into the ceilings if need be although they are concrete. I am worried in terms of stability since it is just me putting this together, but I will do more research! I hope I can make this work!!