How To Build A Ladder For A Loft Bed

  • When you buy a loft bed, it will usually come with a ladder. Yet, it can also happen that you get your cozy loft bed or a bunk bed first, and only then do you realize that you need a way to climb up to it. 
  • What to do then? Luckily, it’s pretty cheap and relatively easy to build a bunk or loft bed ladder. All you need is the right equipment and instructions.
  • Whether you’re working on conjuring up a bunk bed ladder or a ladder for loft beds in your room, check our guide to learn how to do it right. 

Why loft bed?

There is a reason kids love the bunk bed option—it entertains the hell of them! 

Funnily enough, this piece of furniture can make adults have some fun as well.

The only difference between how kids play and how we do it is the toys used. Fancy using some wood glue, a circular saw, and a sharp blade?

We know you want to try it!

Both loft beds and bunk beds are practical, modern alternatives to regular beds. 

It’s a delightful and simple way to boost the cozy feel of your interiors.

Tip: You’ll appreciate his space-saving option, especially in your kid’s room or if you have a smaller apartment to arrange. 

Since loft beds and bunk beds sometimes come without a ladder, it can appear challenging or even impossible to climb up to them!

We’re going through the bunk bed or loft bed installation process in this article. 

Make your DIY ladder at home with a few handy hacks we share below.

Important: Wear ear protection when using tools such as a hand saw, table saw, circular saw, power sander, or drill. 

Do your DIY project

Let’s get down to business and make the loft bed ladder concept a reality. 

Here’s what you need to do in a couple of simple steps.

Taking measurements

First, you need to determine how many wooden boards you’ll need for your project and how long they should be. To understand it, take the following measurements:  

  • Measure the height of the ladder side rails—starting from the upper rail of your loft bed and continuing to the floor, measure what length the two sides of your ladder should be,
  • Measure the number of rungs you’ll need—the number of ladder rungs will depend on the ladder’s height. It’s recommended to leave the 8-12 inches gap between rungs.
  • Measure the ladder rung length and width—think practically: how wide should the ladder be for you to feel comfortable climbing it up? How much space should there be left for your feet to feel stable when climbing up those stairs?

Tip: Is there’s an “entrance” to the top of the loft bed? If there is one, measure its width and cut equal width rungs for your upcoming ladder project. 

According to Your Nifty Home, the average width of a bunk bed ladder is about 16 to 18 inches. For a slanted ladder, it can get to around 20 inches. 

Kids’ loft beds are generally smaller and shorter than adult beds; hence the ladders are also smaller. However, these ladders have wider ladders, reaching 30 inches.

Important: The commercial bunk bed ladders are usually about 12 inches in width. If you’re tackling your DIY ladder project, you can create broader and more comfortable steps than if you have bought a ready product. 

When it comes to a degree angle, the most common and secure angle used to bunk and loft ladders is a 15-degree angle.

Creating a ladder

Here’s what you should do when you have all the measurements taken and are ready to make your ladder project see the light of day. 

1. Cut the bottom of the sides

This part is tricky—this step doesn’t pop up into barely anyone’s head when starting to make a ladder, while it’s a surprisingly essential stage. 

To get the ladder flush with the floor, use a sliding level. Place each side of the ladder to the upper bunk or top part of your loft bed. Take a sliding level, and start measuring from the backside of the foot. 

Then, draw a straight line marking where the foot of the side meets the floor and cut the unnecessary part. 

Take a hand saw and cut the part of the bottom of the sides following the straight line you have drawn.

Attach adjustable feet to the bottom parts of both sides to protect your floor from scratching and make the bed ladder stand more firmly.

2. Cut the tops of the sides

Now we jump to the opposite side of the same story.

To ensure the safety of your ladder, go to the top bunk or top parts of the sides of your loft bed, and

  • cut off the unnecessary parts, leaving about 3-4 inches above the upper rail. Then, cut out the remaining parts of the boards using the hand saw, table saw, or circular saw. Do it wearing eye protection!
  • round out the sharp edges—use a power sander to round out every edge of the side rails to the top bunk. The idea is that anyone climbing the ladder doesn’t get hurt or scratched. In other words, make these sharp edges nice and soft. 

Sander is a portable power tool used for smoothing (sand), polishing, and cleaning surfaces like wood, plastic, or metal.

3. Cut the rungs

Now you have two pieces (long pieces) that will serve you to construct the ladder. 

Side rails are ready, so it’s time to prepare ladder rungs. 

First, cut out the rungs. 

Use the measurements of the rungs you made earlier and cut out several equal pieces of wood. 

Important: Remember to wear eye protection and ear protection while you’re sawing. 

Get yourself some clamps or braces. 

Depending on the number of rungs you’ll need, get yourself clamps that would hold the stairs stable. 

For each rung, there should be two clamps attached to each side.

4. Attach the rungs

Measure about 8 inches from the floor and draw the lines on the inside of both ladder sides. You’ll need this sign later to know where to screw. 

Round out the rungs, just as before with the ladder sides. 

Ensure that the rungs are nice and soft so that your clothes don’t get caught by their edge when climbing your bunk bed ladder.

Move upwards, marking the same lines on both ladder sides every 8-10 inches up to the last rung (after you’ve decided how big a gap you leave between the rungs).

Tip: Don’t place the last rung higher than the top rail of the bunk.

5. Drill the holes

It’s time for some drilling! 

Follow the marked lines you made on each side rail. 

Using the power drill, drill two holes on each line from the inside out of each ladder side. 

After you mark where the hooks need to go, drill pilot holes into the wood and screw the flat hooks into the ladder.

6. Insert wood screws

Once you have drilled all the holes from the inside out, take two 3 1/2-inch wood screws and insert them into each hole. 

There should be two wood screws per side. If the screws are attached securely, the runs don’t move around.

Important: After you have inserted the wood screws well, use the clamps to affix each side of the rung to both sides of the ladder. Check every rung carefully. The point is to make sure it’s stable.

Once you have your ladder built, fill all the nail holes with a small amount of wood filler.

Let the wood filler dry completely. Then, use fine sandpaper to go over the entire ladder to make it smooth (especially the corners and the edge of the wood).

7. Paint your bunk bed ladder

Now that you have created your DIY ladder, it’s time to color it to make it perfect for the interior of your room.

Important: Before you grab a bucket of paint, ensure all the ladder parts are sanded, apply the primer and give it time to dry completely. 

Now, with the already dry, nice, and smooth ladder, choose the paint you like and put some color into action. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Like any other furniture, loft beds can be safe or not, depending on how you install and use them. If your loft bed is set high above the ground, ensure it has stairs or a ladder to climb up comfortably. Pay attention to the bed railings—they are essential for your safety while you sleep.
There are various types of ladders for loft beds and bunk beds. If the ladder comes together with the bed, instructions on installing it will be attached to your purchase. Otherwise, if you make a ladder by yourself, pick your way to attach it to the loft bed.
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