How to build bunk beds

Updated February 21, 2017

Bunk beds are a great space-saver for a small bedroom. If two children must share the room and twin beds are not an option, consider bunk beds. With the right tools and plans, you can even consider building your own bunk beds. Then let the kids flip a coin to see who gets to sleep on the top bunk!

Determine the size of the mattresses you will be using. (Standard twin size is best.) Make a "box" from 2-by-6's 78 inches long and 41.5 inches wide. Plug screw holes with wood plugs.

Assemble mattress supports inside the box using four 2-by-4's cut 41.5 inches in length. Place a support 3 inches from the foot and one 3 inches from the head of the bed frame. Then place another support 25 inches from the foot of the frame and the last support 48 inches from the foot of the bed. Fasten with screws on both ends and plug holes with wood plugs.

Attach four corner posts to "boxes" with carriage bolts. Attach the lower bunk not less than 12 inches from the floor and the top bunk 48 inches from the floor. Use #10 finishing nails to attach frames to posts, then check for square before attaching with carriage bolts.

Construct guard rails from 2-by-4's by making them as a "box" like in the first step. Place guard rails inside each bed frame. Do not plug holes for easy disassembly.

Make mattress supports by cutting two plywood sheets 38.25 inches by 74.75 inches. Place them inside each frame. For easy disassembly, do not screw or nail these.

Cut two 2-by-4's 57.75 inches in length. Cut an angle at top of each board for placement against the side of the upper bed frame and the bottoms of the boards so the ladder leans toward the bunk bed.

Insert rungs by installing five 2-by-4's cut 14.5 inches in length. Place rungs 12 inches apart.

Install hooks at the top of each side board with lag bolts so the ladder can be hooked over the side of the upper guardrail.

Add some padding to avoid scratching the guardrails. You may want to use some nonslip padding on the bottom of the ladder, if the bedroom has hardwood floors.

Sand and finish entire set. Plug any nail holes. Accent with some wood stain.


Assemble the bed inside the bedroom where bunk beds will be placed. This avoids having to disassemble it and reassemble it later. Cut 2-by-4's and attach to corner posts to make the posts appear to be 4-by-4's. (This is optional.)

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-4's
  • 2-by-6's
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Miter saw
  • Carriage bolts
  • One sheet of 4-by-8 foot plywood
  • Screws
  • #10 finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
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