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Junior Loft Bed

Build a loft bed for your little ones and paint it in their favorite colors to make a sweet dream zone!

Kids’ loft bed with stairs

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1-2 weeks

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Circular saw with straightedge
  • Framing square
  • Jigsaw
  • Cordless drill and driver bits
  • 1/4-in and 3/8-in drill bits
  • #8 screw countersink pilot bit
  • Random-orbit sander and 120-grit discs
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Putty knife
  • Tape measure
  • Wood filler
  • Wood glue
  • Painter’s tape
  • Combination square
  • Medium- and fine-grit sanding sponges
  • Clamps


  • See Cutting Diagram for lumber
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in flathead sheet-metal screws
  • 16-1/4-in antique bronze connector nut, #148248
  • 16-1/4-in x 50mm antique bronze connecting bolt, #148284
  • Valspar paint: Gentle Wave (#5007-7C), Nectarine (#PN3040), Bistro White (#7006-4)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources


Cut from panel stock and pine boards, this loft bed is designed for children 7 and up. Then decorate the room with a set of animal art you can print and frame yourself.

Cut the Bed Parts

Step 1

Using a circular saw and a straightedge, cut two sheets of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to size for the headboard (A) and footboard (B) (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram). Lay out the cutouts in the parts (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Step 2

Cut the opening using a trammel to guide the saw

For the round cutout, drill a 3/8-inch starter hole on the waste side -- the inside -- of the circle just touching the edge. Slip the blade of a jigsaw though the hole and cut out the 30-inch-diameter hole.

Good to Know

To make the hole cutout more accurate, make a trammel to guide your jigsaw. Near one end of a scrap board at least 36 inches long, drive a nail though the scrap and about 1/4 inch into the center point of the circle. Measure 15 inches from the nail and use carpet tape to secure the jigsaw to the scrap. Slide the blade though the clearance hole, start the saw, and push the saw forward. Work slowly and allow the trammel to guide the saw for a clean cut.

Step 3

Use the first leg as a pattern to trace the shape on the remaining parts.

Cut the legs (C), footboard cap (D), headboard cap (E), and sides (F) to size and shape. Layout and cut the shape of one of the legs (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). To speed the layout for multiple legs, trace the shape of one leg onto the remaining leg blanks and cut each separately with a jigsaw

Step 4

Sand the cutouts smooth with a sander

Drill the hardware holes for the sides (F) (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) and then sand all of the panels with 120-grit sandpaper to prepare for assembly.

Good to Know

There are a few tricks to sand all of the panels effectively. For the 30-inch circle, a random-orbit sander and 120-grit paper will ease the edges and create a flowing curve. Keep the sander moving back and forth to cut through any high spots. For the outside curves, the sander again works well. For radii too small for the sander, wrap sandpaper around a 1-1/2-inch dowel to sand the inside shapes. Then sand the flat surfaces and square edges of the panels.

Assemble the Bed

Step 1

Using a countersink bit to drill pilot holes and glue to create strong joints, assemble the headboard end and footboard end assemblies (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Use clamps to assist with the assembly.

Step 2

Add the headboard cap to the loft bed

Fit the footboard cap (D) and the headboard cap (E) into the end assemblies using glue and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). The parts are raised 5 inches above the top edge of the end assemblies.

Step 3

Cut 2 x 2 pine boards to length for the cleats (G) and 1 x 4s for the slats (H) (Project Diagrams, Cutting List). Using glue and 2-inch screws, secure the cleats to the sides (F) so that the cleat is positioned on the inside face and is even with the bottom edge of the side panels (Project Diagram, Drawing 5).

Step 4

Assemble the loft bed with two people and some clamps

With the help of a friend, position the sides (F) between the end assemblies and clamp the parts in position (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Do not glue these connections.

Step 5

Screw side assemblies to the top

Drill 3/8-inch holes though the sides (F) and the legs (C) for the connector hardware (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Install the connector nuts and bolts (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). When the bed is complete it can be disassembled for easy transport using this hardware.

Step 6

Add the slats (H) so they rest on the cleats (G) (Project Diagram, Drawing 5). Drill pilot holes and drive the screws -- these parts will be removed when you transport the bed, so no glue is needed here.

Make the Stairs

Step 1

Build the stairs as you built the bed: Cut the parts from a large sheet, trim them to size, cut shapes with a jigsaw, sand, and assemble. Begin by cutting the stringers (I) and the rail (J) to shape (Project Diagram, Drawing 6).

Good to Know

Saw cut marks on the stringers will be concealed when the stairs are built. Take your time, but don’t fret about making them perfect. For the arch of the rail panel, you can use the trammel much like you did for the circle cutout in the headboard end (A) to cut an even radius.

Step 2

Cut the stairs (K), platform (L), and stair back (M) from MDF panels (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Sand all of the stair parts prior to assembly.

Step 3

Install the stair parts, add the vertical parts first

Glue and screw the vertical stairs (K) to the stringers (I) (Project Diagram, Drawing 7).

Step 4

Add the platform to the top of the stairs.

Glue and screw the top platform (L) to the stairs (Project Diagram, Drawing 7).

Step 5

from the bottom of the stairs, reinforce the stairs with screws

To reinforce the stair structure, lay the assembly on its side and drive screws though the vertical stair parts (K) into the horizontal stair treads (Project Diagram, Drawing 7).

Step 6

Add the stair back (M) and the stair rail (J) (Project Diagram, Drawing 7). Glue and screw the back to the stairs. For the railing, use screws only so the panel can be removed to make painting the stairs easier. After the stairs parts are painted in a later step, use glue and screws to make the installation permanent.

Complete the Bed

Step 1

Position the stair assembly against the loft bed

Slide the completed stair assembly into position (Project Diagram, Drawing 8). Add no glue at this time, the stair assembly will be moved as a separate component when transporting the bed. Drive screws through the footboard into the stair stringer to secure the stairs.

Step 2

Remove the stair assembly, the slats (H), and the sides (F) to disassemble the bed. Smooth all of the sharp edges of the parts with 100-grit sandpaper.

Step 3

Apply a primer and paint of your choice, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Sand the parts after priming and after the first coat of paint using medium and fine-grit sanding sponges. Sanding should remove any dust nibs and rough spots, especially along the edges, and produce a smooth finish after applying additional coats of paint.

Step 4

Move the bed to its destination. With the help of a friend, reinstall the sides (F) between the headboard and footboard assemblies using the connector bolt hardware.

Step 5

Add the slats (H) and secure with screws.  Complete the bed setup by sliding the stair assembly in position and securing to the footboard using the screws removed earlier (Project Diagram, Drawing 8).

Step 6

Add a twin mattress, sheet set, and kids.