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How to Build a Loft Bed for Adults (7 Steps)

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  • This article was written by Joshua Lewis – an academic writer and keen DIY enthusiast – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and unique content.

A loft bed is a single bed that’s raised up on supports with an open space underneath – some loft bed designs leverage this space to house cupboards, shelves, a sofa, a desk, or even another mattress (technically making it a bunk bed).

Loft beds are often great for children’s bedrooms, but they can also offer space-saving functions in adult bedrooms.

Due to their more complex design, most people should just buy a semi-built loft bed frame and assemble it according to the instructions because this is the safest option.

But what if you want to build your own adult loft bed as a DIY project?

To build a loft bed for adults: start by building the headboard and footboard; build the long and short suspended side rails; construct a support frame for the ladder; build and secure the ladder, and finish by adding a slat sheet.

The rest of this article expands on these points and shows you how to build an adult loft bed in 7 steps – plus there are 5 modified loft bed ideas in the second half of the article to give you some design ideas.

This is a large project and should be done over 2-3 days.

It requires lots of lumber but should not cost you any more than $300 (depending on the price of your lumber).

This project is suitable for intermediate and advanced DIY enthusiasts.

Need to save more space? Click here to see the best space-saving Murphy beds to buy now.

How to Build a Loft Bed for Adults in 7 Steps

Follow the 7 step DIY loft bed plan below to build an adult loft bed from scratch:

1: Gather the Equipment and Materials

 You will need the following equipment:

  • Drill/driver with a countersink drill bit.
  • Pocket jig.
  • Jigsaw and Mitre/Circular saw.
  • Safety equipment (goggles, earplugs, gloves, etc).
  • Wood glue, wood filler, and wood stain.
  • Spare cloth or rag for the stain.
  • Detail sander (200+ grit sandpaper) and orbital sander (120+ grit paper).
  • Ruler, pencil, spirit level, and protractor.

You will need the following materials:

  • Eight pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber each measuring 78” in length.
  • Eight pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 55” in length.
  • Two pieces of 2”x 8” plywood measuring 55” in length.
  • Four pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 71” in length.
  • One piece of 2”x 8” plywood measuring 71” in length.
  • Four pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 51” in length.
  • One piece of 2”x 8” plywood Measuring 51” in length.
  • Two pieces of 1”x 2” CLS timber each measuring 78” in length.
  • One piece of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 16” in length.
  • One piece of 2”x 8” plywood Measuring 16” in length.
  • Four pieces of 1”x 2” CLS timber measuring 14” in length.
  • Two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 60” in length.
  • One sheet of ¾” thick plywood measuring 71” in length and 59” in width.

You might have noticed this build uses only plywood and CLS, but this is because a suspended bed will hold lots of weight, so the structural strength of these materials is key for a robust product.

This project involves a lot of cutting but do not worry, there is more information below to help you out.

2: Build the Suspended Headboard and Footboard

Loft Bed Headboard and Footboard Frame
Loft Bed Headboard and Footboard Frame

As with any bed you need a headboard and footboard, but in this case, both are the same size, and both are suspended to the height of a loft bed via CLS.

To build the suspended headboard and footboard:

  • Cut two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 78” in length.
  • Cut four pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 55” in length.
  • Cut one piece of 2”x 8” measuring 55” in length.
  • Attach one piece of 2”x 2” to the 2”x 8” piece and lay flat on the 2”x 8” side.
  • With the remaining pieces make a rectangular shape as shown above.
  • Secure with wood glue and pocket holes on each longer piece.
  • Repeat so you have two structures that are the same.

More details below:

2.1: Cut the Pieces

Using your pencil and ruler, take the 2”x 2” CLS timber and measure two pieces which measure 78” in length – these are your long pieces.

Do this again but this time measure 55” in length and make enough marks for four pieces.

Finally, take some 2”x 8” and mark points for one piece to measure 55” in length also.

Once done, use a mitre saw to make a straight chop cut (0°) at these points, leaving a total of seven pieces.

Double-check these measurements with a ruler and sand down the ends with 160+ sandpaper.

If you wish to stain your loft bed, stain these pieces appropriately now.

2.2: Assemble the Pieces

Position your pieces in a rectangular shape as shown above.

You will notice one 2”x 2” piece is positioned on top of the 2”x 8” piece, and this is because it will act as a support for your slat sheet.

Once positioned, check everything is even using a spirit level, as this is important for the balancing of a high-up bed like this.

Where the ends of the short 2”x 2” pieces and the 2”x 8” piece meet the two long 2”x 2” pieces, make pocket holes on each side of each long piece.

For the 2”x 8” piece, make 3 pocket holes for each side.

Use wood glue to hold the structure together and secure with 2” woodscrews.

Repeat steps 2.1 and 2.2 so you end up with two structures that are the same – these are your suspended headboard and footboard.

3: Build the Long Suspended Side Rail

Long Side Rail For Loft Bed
Long Side Rail For Loft Bed

One side rail is longer than the other – the shorter rail will be attached to a ladder support frame.

To build the longer suspended side rail:

  • Cut two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 78” in length.
  • Cut four pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 71” in length.
  • Cut one piece of 2”x 8” measuring 71” in length.
  • Attach one piece of 2”x 2” to the 2”x 8” and lay flat.
  • With the remaining pieces make a rectangular shape.
  • Secure with wood glue and pocket holes on each longer piece.  
  • Sand the structure and stain if appropriate.

More details below:

3.1: Cut the Pieces

Take your pencil and ruler, and measure two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 78” in length.

Continuing with the 2”x 2”, mark points enough for four pieces that each measure 71” in length.

Finally, take another piece of 2”x 8” and measure 71” in length for the final piece.

Once done, use a mitre saw to make a straight chop cut (0°) at these points, leaving a total of seven pieces.

3.2: Assemble the Pieces

Position your pieces in a rectangular shape as shown above.

Once positioned, check everything is even using a spirit level, and secure with wood glue.

Where the ends of the short 2”x 2” pieces and the 2”x 8” piece meet the two long 2”x 2” pieces, make pocket holes on each side of each long piece.

For the 2”x 8” piece, make 4 pocket holes for each side (one more than step one to ensure extra structural strength).

Secure the structure with 2” woodscrews, but double-check the pieces align with a ruler first.

Sand with 160+ sandpaper and stain if appropriate.

4: Build the Shorter Suspended Side Rail

Loft Bed Short and Long Side Rails
Loft Bed Short and Long Side Rails

This shorter side rail follows the same design as the three pieces you have already built, but it has different dimensions to accommodate the ladder support frame (next step).

There’s also a couple of changes you could make for design purposes too.

To build your shorter suspended side rail:

  • Cut two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 78” in length.
  • Cut four pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 53” in length.
  • Cut one piece of 2”x 8” measuring 53” in length.
  • Attach one piece of 2”x 2” to the 2”x 8”.
  • Make another rectangular shape as shown above.
  • Secure with wood glue, make pocket holes and sand/stain the structure.
  • (Optional) Remove the bottom piece of 2”x 2” for additional space.
  • (Optional) Make the two vertical pieces shorter at the top for added aesthetic.

More below:

4.1: Cut the Pieces for the Smaller Side Rail

Once again, take your pencil and ruler, and measure two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS timber measuring 78” in length.

If you want to make things more aesthetic you can make them shorter, as this shows off your duvet a bit more and can make the bed feel less claustrophobic.

Continue using the 2”x 2” and measure four pieces that each measure 53” in length.

Take another piece of 2”x 8” and measure 53” in length for the final piece.

Once done, use a mitre saw to make a straight chop cut (0°) at these points.

4.2: Assemble the Smaller Side Rail

Position your pieces in a rectangular shape as shown above.

Once positioned, check everything is even and secure with wood glue.

Where the ends of the short 2”x 2” pieces and the 2”x 8” piece meet the two long 2”x 2” pieces, make pocket holes on each side of each long piece.

For the 2”x 8” piece, make 3 pocket holes on each side.

Secure the structure with 2” woodscrews, but double-check the pieces align with a ruler first.

Sand with 160+ sandpaper and stain if necessary.

If you want to use the space underneath your loft bed, perhaps for storage or for furniture, do not add the bottom piece of 2”x 2”.

This will allow you to enter the space underneath, giving you plenty of opportunity to spice up your loft bed build.

5: Build the Ladder Support Frame

Loft Bed Ladder Support Frame
Loft Bed Ladder Support Frame

Next up is the ladder support frame, which is going to be attached to your shorter side rail and will hold the ladder in place once you have built it.

This is a basic step but it’s important to get it right, as it needs to line up with the rest of the pieces, so it does not make your loft bed look uneven or become structurally unsafe.

To build the ladder support frame:

  • Cut two pieces of 1”x 2” CLS that measure 78” in length.
  • Cut one piece of 2”x 8” that measures 16” in length.  
  • Cut one piece of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 16” in length.
  • Attach the 2”x 2” piece onto the 2”x 8” piece as in previous steps.
  • Cut two small sections in the 2”x 8” piece that are 1” from the ends and that measure 2”x 2”.
  • Secure the structure together as shown with wood glue and woodscrews and attach to the shorter side rail piece.

More details below:

5.1: Cut the Support Frame Pieces

Using your mitre saw as done previously, cut two pieces that measure 78” again, but this time only using 1”x 2”, as the additional weight of the 2”x 2” is not needed for this smaller piece.

Cut one piece of 2”x 8” and one piece of 2”x 2” that both measure 16” in length.

Using a jigsaw (or multitool/small cutter if you have one) cut two small sections, both measuring 2”x 2”, into the 2”x 8” piece that is 1” from the ends.

Once done, attach the 2”x 2” piece onto the 2”x 8” piece as shown previously.

5.2: Secure the Structure and Add it to the Side Rail

Now the pieces are cut, use wood glue to secure the middle panel (2”x 8” with attached 2”x 2”) onto the two longer pieces.

Ensure you do this so that the piece is attached onto the 2” face of the longer pieces and not the 1” face.

Make sure the distance of the 2”x 8” piece from the top of the longer pieces is the same as for the rest of the steps.

Secure with 2” woodscrews by making pilot holes on the outside of the longer pieces going into the 2”x 8” piece.

Once done, use pilot holes on both the support frame and the shorter side rail at different intervals to connect them both.

6: Build and Secure the Ladder

Loft Bed Ladder
Loft Bed Ladder

Now you have your ladder support frame, its time to build your ladder.

This is straightforward but needs to be accurate, as you are going to make two right-angled cuts into the ladder so that it fits onto the frame.

To make the ladder:

  • Cut two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS measuring 60” in length.
  • Cut four pieces of 1”x 2” CLS measuring 14” in length.
  • Equally spread out the four pieces and make a ladder as shown above.
  • Use wood glue to hold the structure and secure with 2” woodscrews.
  • At the top of each 60” piece, make a 1”x 1” 135° cut.
  • Position the ladder onto the frame with these two cuts lining up with the cut-out sections on the frame.
  • Secure with wood glue.

More details below:

6.1:  Make the Ladder

Using your mitre saw, cut two pieces of 2”x 2” CLS that measure 60” in length.

Take some 1”x 4” and proceed to cut four pieces that measure 14” in length, making sure they are all the same size – sand them down if not.

Once sanded and checked, make a ladder shape with each of the four small pieces equally spread out, but without any being right at the top of the two long pieces.

Once the ladder looks the same as the image above, ensure the 2” side of the long pieces are facing inwards, use wood glue to hold it together.

Make pilot holes on the outside of the long pieces and secure the structure with 2” woodscrews.

6.2: Secure the Ladder

At the top of your ladder, use a protractor and pencil to mark a 135° section that is 1” wide ready for cutting.

Do this on both sides and then use a jigsaw to cut the pieces out.

You should now have two cuts, on the back half of the top of your long pieces, that have a vertical angle of 135°.

Line these up and make sure they are equal, sanding them down appropriately if not.

Put wood glue on these angled cuts and place them into the two pre-cut holes on the ladder frame you built in step 5.

Because of the 135° going sideways onto the 90° angle, they should line up nicely.

Wood glue is fine for this but if you want added security or strength, make pilot holes into the frame and secure with 2” woodscrews.

7: Secure the Bed and Add the Slat Sheet

Loft Bed Slat Sheet
Loft Bed Slat Sheet

Now you have got all the pieces you need, and you have the ladder/side rail structure, it’s time to put them together.

On top of this, you need a basic slat sheet, so you can put your mattress on it (click here to see the best mattresses to buy).

To secure the structure and finish off with some slats:

  • On the long pieces of your two head/footboard structures, make 8-10 pocket holes.
  • Ensuring that the head/footboard pieces are on the outside, align the long and short side rails to make a rectangular shape to look like a bed.
  • Firstly, secure with plenty of wood glue and then secure via the pocket holes.
  • In-between the spaces of your current pocket holes, make 6-10 more on each side rail long piece and secure.
  • Cut a sheet of ¾ plywood measuring 59”x 71”.
  • Place this sheet onto the 2”x 2” pieces that are attached to the 2”x 8” pieces.
  • Secure with wood glue and 1 ½ woodscrews.

More details below:

7.1: Secure the Bed

Align the headboard, footboard, and side-rail structures into a bed structure (rectangular shape), ensuring the side rails are on the inside.

Use clamps and wood glue to hold this structure in place.

Using the pocket jig and drill, make 8-10 equidistant pocket holes along the length of the long pieces of both the headboard and footboard.

Ensure the pocket holes go outwards of the structure and into the side rails.

Secure the structure with 2”-2½” woodscrews.

For additional structural integrity, make 6-10 more pocket holes but this time on the side rails going into the headboard and footboard, securing them in the same way.

This is your new loft bed!

7.2: Add the Slat Sheet

Before you can sleep on the loft bed you need to add some slats – in the form of a sheet of ¾ plywood measuring 71” by 59”.

Cut the sheet using a jigsaw and sand down the surface and the sides using 200+ grit paper.

Make pilot holes along the edges and secure to the 2”x 2” pieces that are attached to the 2”x 8” pieces with wood glue and 1½” woodscrews.

5 Adult Loft Bed Design Ideas

Here are 5 loft bed ideas for adults that you can get some inspiration from:

1: Double Loft Bed

Double Loft Bed
Double Loft Bed (#1 Getty Images)

You can convert your loft bed into a bunk bed that sleeps an extra person by adding another mattress below.

Sometimes you don’t need the space, and even if you don’t have another person that needs the bed in your home, it’s a handy feature to have for guests or relatives who are staying over.

If you’re a couple who may struggle to sleep next to each other due to health reasons, a double loft bed is ideal for you.

To do this, all you need to do is swap the 2”x 2” pieces at the bottom of each structure that makes up the loft bed with 2”x 8”.

From there, add some 2”x 2” as you did in the other steps, then add an extra slat sheet (of the same size) and secure it in the same way.

Once the mattress on, you’ve only used up some extra material, yet you’ve managed to make an entirely separate sleeping space for another person.

If you’re worried about height too, then just make sure that the long pieces of each structure built in this article have an added 5-10 inches.

2: Slanted Loft Bed

Slanted Loft Bed
Slanted Loft Bed (#2 Getty Images)

This is similar to the double loft bed as you’re accommodating another person with another bed.

By making the bottom of the bed suitable for a double mattress but the top suitable for a single mattress, you get the slanted effect.

This brings an entirely new aesthetic to the room and although quite simple, can make it look like you’re skilled at joinery.

It shows off the duvet and the bed itself a bit more, so if you’re using expensive wood, this would be suitable for you.

It’s a great feature and whilst not particularly useful, it’s the most aesthetic option.

To do this, you’re just going to need to make a few changes.

Firstly, change the width of this build to suit that of a single bed (or ¾ if suitable for you) and modify the dimensions accordingly.

Next, take the short side rail with the attached ladder frame, and instead of having it straight, add length to it which is the same additional length of the larger mattress underneath.

Put this on a slant so that the ladder still hangs over the bottom bed.

3: Loft Bed With Storage Cupboards

Loft Bed With Storage
Loft Bed With Storage (#3 Getty Images)

If you’re someone who has plenty of items and needs some space in your room for them, then this loft bed with storage cupboards option is for you.

It requires little/no modification to the bed itself and just needs some storage units put in.

Cupboards or drawers work perfectly, as they take up a good amount of space and you can fit large or small drawers – or even both.

They also fill up the room a bit more but don’t become too much, so it brings an aesthetic feel to your room too.

You don’t need to modify the bed, but a couple of things might be useful.

If you have spare material, you can make some DIY cabinets or drawers to fit under the bed.

It’s definitely easier to buy though, so if you do, add a small sheet of ¾ plywood onto the back of the bed with wood glue and screws.

Position this so that when you put your drawers in, they can be easily secured onto the bed via this sheet.

It helps with strength and keeps it in one place.

If you want a quick way though, just measure the available space and put some appropriately sized drawers underneath.

Small shelves could work too if you have any.

4: Loft Bed With Sofa

Loft Bed With Sofa
Loft Bed With Sofa (#4 Getty Images)

If you don’t need storage or another bed, but you still want to fill the room up, then you should decorate the space underneath with some furniture.

Measure the space you have available and if big enough, place a small sofa underneath and if you can, a couple of footrests or nightstands.

This creates a more relaxed, chilled-out feel and can also look aesthetic if done right.

It helps with space too if you want a TV in your room, as you can place the sofa and other furniture underneath the bed and just put the TV opposite.

This won’t require any modification to the bed itself and will just mean some rearranging of the furniture.

If you do this and it turns out not to be big enough, simply use this guide but increase the dimensions of the bed to make it wider or longer, whichever is good for you.

If you still don’t have room, then perhaps just a small desk or small chair is suitable.

The point of this is that no matter what space is available, there is still some furniture that can fit under there no matter what.

5: Loft Bed With Steps

Loft Bed With Steps
Loft Bed With Steps (#5 Getty Images)

Another great way to increase the aesthetic of your loft bed is to replace the ladders with steps, which can either be made into drawers or just standalone steps.

These are typically on the side of the bed as you can see, so it takes up more space and requires some additional building, but once done you just need to connect it to the main bed itself.

We would definitely suggest making these steps into drawers for maximum utility, but if you feel it doesn’t fit the aesthetic of your house, you just need wooden steps with an accommodating frame.

For this guide, simply create two long rails that are the same instead of the short rail/ladder support frame structure.

This just makes a very basic, rectangular loft bed with no ladder, but it saves a lot of material that can be used to make the stairs instead.

Once you’ve attached your steps, just use a saw to cut out a gap for an entrance at the top of the steps.

Make sure this gap, as well as the steps themselves, are sanded down appropriately for safety reasons.

Wax may not be ideal for this as it can make it a little too smooth, which increases the chance of slipping.  


Image Attribution and Licencing

Loft bed graphics custom made and used with permission.

All other images used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

Individual attribution is as follows:

Main image: ‘Loft Bed and Blue Sofa Interior’ by Ismagilov (Getty Images).

Image #1: ‘3D Rendered Image of a Mountain Bedroom With Bunk Bed’ by Avdic (Getty Images).

Image #2: ‘Bunk Wooden Beds in a Hostel Wooden Room’ by Vitali Pechkurou (Getty Images).

Image #3: ‘Child’s Bedroom With Bunk Beds in a High-Rise Residence’ by Undefined Undefined (Getty Images).

Image #4: ‘Minimalist Studio Apartment With Loft Bunk Double Bed’ by ArchiViz (Getty Images).

Image #5: ‘Bunk Bed Isolated’ by Denyshutter (Getty Images).

Safety Disclaimer

DIY projects carry the risk of injury – please be careful, especially when using power tools. This article is for informational purposes only – consider enlisting the help of a qualified professional to avoid the risk of injury.

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