Loft Bed Makes Most of Limited Space

By James Dulley

July 29, 2009 4 min read

Dear Pat: My son is getting older and wants his own bedroom away from his brother. We can remodel the laundry and utility rooms to get some space. How can I build a simple loft bed for this small bedroom? — Teri H.

Dear Teri: It is surprising how little space you need for a boy's bedroom. Your loft-bed idea is excellent, and you could even build a small closet into a corner or at the end of the bed, if there is room.

For fire safety, building codes will likely require a window of a specified minimum size for egress in case of a fire. Although inspectors will never visit your home, I would not build a bedroom without one. Also, install a smoke alarm on the ceiling.

Because you will be tearing down some of the laundry and utility room walls and building new ones to make the bedroom, use soundproofing materials and wall-construction methods. Children tend to sleep late on weekend, and the sound of a running clothes washer and dryer would probably wake them if standard walls were used.

In order to save space, use resilient channels between the drywall and the wall studs. Fill the wall cavities with insulation. You might consider using sound-deadening wallboard instead of standard drywall.

Headroom over the loft bed is a consideration. Make the mattress platform as high as possible from the floor to provide room for more drawers beneath it. However, if it is too high, your son could bump his head on the ceiling if he sits up too quickly. Three feet of clearance above the mattress should be adequate.

You can save 6 inches or so by placing the mattress directly on the plywood frame and eliminating the box springs. Have your son try sleeping on the mattress on the floor for several nights to see if it is comfortable without box springs.

If you want to build the simplest bed frame, use two-by-six or four-by-four posts to support the bed from floor to the ceiling on the outside of a plywood bed frame. The inside of the bed frame will be attached to a two-by-six ledger, which will be nailed to the studs inside the wall.

A standard twin mattress is 76 inches long by 38 inches wide, so make the frame just slightly larger. If it is too much larger, though, he will bump his shins on it when getting in and out of bed.

If you are handy with woodworking tools, make a recessed bed frame. It looks nicer with the mattress recessed several inches into the frame and it will better hold the mattress and sheets in place. Don't recess it too much, or it will be difficult to tuck the sheets under the mattress.

For adequate rigidity, use two-by-six lumber instead of two-by-four studs for the perimeter bed frame. Use screws instead of nails to assemble the frame. Cover the frame with 3/4-inch thick plywood. Nail the plywood top to the frame at about one nail every foot. Nail the frame between the posts and the ledger board. Staple protective rubber molding along the outside plywood edge.


— Hammer

— Tape measure

— Screwdriver

— Wrench

— Assorted saws

— Lumber

— Nails

— Screws

— Rubber molding

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about Pat Logan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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