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How to Build a Simple Bunk Bed Ladder!

Today we’re walking through the steps to build a strong ladder for our daughter’s floating loft bed. It’s easier than you might think!

The completed loft with ladder attached! via // yellowbrickhome
sconces | duvet | glow-in-the-dark star sheets | unicorn sheets | faux fur

Lucy’s floating loft bed is complete! In last week’s post, we also promised a full tutorial of the simple DIY ladder we built, so here we are! This simple and fun project served a very specific function for us, but this lightweight and portable ladder would also be a great solution for a workshop, garage or even an outdoor playhouse if sealed properly. We took a bit of inspiration from this video tutorial, but tweaked the project to better suit our needs. This is how we got it done.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Step 1 | Measure + Cut 2″ x 4″ Rails to Length

This step is as variable as you like! 2″ x 4″ boards can be purchased in 6 foot, 8 foot or 10 foot lengths, so plan accordingly for the least amount of waste. Our ladder is just over 6 feet tall, so we purchased the straightest 8 foot boards we could find.

Optional: We used our table saw to rip 1/4″ off of each side of the boards to square up the corners. This is completely optional, but provides a more crisp look that we feel is worth the effort.

The squared edge of our cut-to-length 2 x 4. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 2 | Trace + Cut Rounded Rail Ends

This step is also completely optional! We chose to round off the ends of the ladder to mirror the rounded top cap shapes of the loft railing. We were 100% unscientific in the tracing of the round shape (we used an appropriately sized coffee mug) since we knew we’d be sanding the heck out of this thing later. Once we were happy with the placement, we traced the line and used a jigsaw to cut the profile.

We traced a coffee mug to get the shape we wanted, then cut it out with a jigsaw. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 3 | Cut the Rungs to Length

The rungs will be cut to the same overall width as the ladder, which is also subject to preference. We built the access opening in the loft railing to around 21″, so we built the ladder at 18″. This allows for a bit of wiggle room on each side. It feels comfortable for us, but any narrower likely wouldn’t be great for adult use.

The 5 wooden dowel rungs cut to length. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 4 | Measure and Drill

We spaced our five rungs 12″ apart, which seems to be the comfortable common standard. We also left 12″ at above the top rung and 12″ below the bottom rung. We used a 1 1/4″ forstner bit for clean through-cuts, but a hole saw will also work. Keep in mind that most hole saws can usually only cut to 1″ depths, so you’ll need to flip each board and drill from both sides.

We used a 1 1/4" Forstner bit on our drill to cut perfectly sized holes for the rungs. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 5 | Glue and Insert Rungs

We gave each hole a quick sand around the edges to eliminate any splinters, then applied a liberal amount of wood glue to the outer 1 1/2″ of each rung. We then used a mallet to tap the rungs into their corresponding holes until they were flush with the outer edge of the first vertical support. We then glued up the other end of each rung and hammered the opposite vertical support into place.

We tapped the rungs into place with a rubber mallet until they were flush with the 2x4 supports. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 6 | Sand, Sand, Sand (and Fill)

Next, we used our favorite orbital sander to smooth everything out as much as possible. We started with 80 grit, then moved to 120, then did one final pass with 220. Is there anything more satisfying than the final sand on a simple project? We don’t think so!

Optional: We used a bit of wood filler to seal up some of the larger blemishes prior to sanding, but certainly weren’t seeking perfection.

We sanded the finished product with our orbital sander using 80, 120 and 220 grit sandpaper. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 7 | Paint!

We used our favorite Graco paint sprayer to finish the job since we were already using it to spray the loft. If loading up a sprayer for a project this small seems like a hassle, it would be just as simple to stain or paint with a brush and roller. As we mentioned earlier, this project is adaptable!

We used our favorite paint sprayer to give the ladder two even coats. via // yellowbrickhome

Step 8 | Install (or Don’t!)

After allowing the paint to cure overnight, we fastened the ladder to the loft structure using a pair of simple strap hinges. We went back and forth for a week trying to determine the simplest and sturdiest way to attach it to the loft, but this was a great solution for us. The hinges nearly disappeared once painted! We’ll probably use the function of the hinges sparingly, but it’ll allow for easy cleaning underneath without having to disconnect anything.

A pair of strap hinges affixes the ladder to the loft frame. via // yellowbrickhome
The finished product! Catfish approved! via // yellowbrickhome
duvet | faux fur

It’s just that simple! The whole project took us a couple of hours from start to finish. We hope it gives you a bit of inspiration for your own projects!

PS: We love sharing how-to posts in a simple, straightforward way! Here’s how to add a rotary dimmer to a sconce, how to remove a kitchen splash guard, how to paint anything, and how to get a perfect caulk line, among many others!

Lucy’s Room Sources:

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  • Is3.23.22 - 7:49 AM

    I love your how to posts! ReplyCancel

  • Julie3.24.22 - 1:51 PM

    I also love your tutorial posts! Your steps are always clear and simple, pictures are spot on for the instructions, and encompass everything I need to know and more. You are a true ride or DIY space on the internet, keep it up!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.25.22 - 8:43 AM

      Julie, thank you SO much for being a wonderful part of this community!ReplyCancel

  • Jessi3.25.22 - 3:58 AM

    A cool ladder and an understandable way of making it. Thanks!ReplyCancel

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