How To Build a Loft for Your Kids.

A Great Project

If you have a small bedroom and want to maximize your space, building a loft in your child's room can be a great project. They are surprisingly easy to do and can be completed in a weekend. You will be amazed at the ton of room that you gain by not having a bed on the floor plan. Didn't have one in college? Then the key to building one is planning. I am not talking about a glorified bunkbed, I am talking about a room defining space that will change your child's bedroom. This article will walk you through the process.

Preperation

The key to preparation is looking at your room and figuring out what you have to work with. Do you have high ceilings? Is your closet internal or external?

High Ceilings

Obviously, the higher your ceilings are the better your loft possibilities are. Standard 8 foot ceiling rooms are not conducive to building lofts. However in today's building market 10' and 12' ceilings are becoming more and more common.

Closets A room with a bumped out or external closet looks like this. It creates a natural ledge on the top of it and has some room from the ceiling. An internal closet is just that, it fits inside the internal dimensions of the room. The closet is a great point to use for stabilizing your loft, we will discuss that later. The example shown here is with an external closet, in my opinion it is just as easy to build one for both examples.

In the last part of the preparation phase you want to note the closet style so that you can plan your posts. In this example two of the main posts actually attach to the wall next to the closet. Internal closets loft styles are free standing.

Posts

The first step in building the loft is building the posts. Posts are easy to build and can be very simple in construction. If you have experience in woodworking, it will be even easier. All four posts can be built from two pieces of plywood. You will want to rip the plywood into four even strips of wood to build a hollow box. The diameter is up to you, but the bigger the posts the more stable the loft will be. I kept my posts fairly big around 8 inches square. Do yourself a favor and buy the cabinet grade plywood at Home Depot or Lowes. This grade costs about $40 per sheet but it is worth it when you go to finish the project. You will use simple butt joints and you can screw them together. Make sure you countersink the holes and then fill in the screws with either a plug or with wood filler. Take your time here, and sand them up real nice and clean. These posts are multifunctional, they will hold the electrical work that you run inside for the lights that shine up on the ceiling. When you are done with the posts paint them to your desired finish.

Place Them

Bring the posts into the bedroom and put them in the approximate spots the will go to. You will then need to cut the two long support beams that connect to the posts. You can use any time of wood you like. If you are going for a rustic look, you can use 2"x6" lumber. Make sure you do not get the pressure treated variety. When you have the supports cut, sand them, and then finish them with paint. Bring the supports into the room and get ready to install them to the posts.

Attach to the Posts

This is really the trickiest part of the assembly since you will need some help holding the support up against the post. Use carriage bolts to bolt the support to the post. You may have to reach down into the post with your arm to attach the nut to the bolt. Once you have the main two supports bolted on, repeat the process with the two cross supports. You are basically building a big box, or something similar to a deck that would be outside your house.

Move Into Place

While the unit is still movable move the loft into the desired position. If you are going to attach it to the wall through a closet you would do that next. For mine I went and bought 14" carriage bolts and ran them through the loft post, through the wall and through a homemade washer. (A piece of wood)

Add the rest of the crossbar supports. As you add the supports the unit will get more stable. (and heavier) If your loft is free standing, use this time in the framing stage to access its stability. The bigger the posts are the more stable the loft. If it is not stable, add whatever bracing you need. (keep in mind the floor will add a lot of stability) The loft I made was 8 feet by 8 feet, so it was very stable because of the materials and the size of the unit.

Floor

Adding the floor to the loft is next. Simple sheets of plywood attach to the top of the supports. You can substitute MDF for the plywood. It is a much smoother surface and costs less than the ply. You won't have to do any sanding on MDF either. When you add the floor, make sure you countersink the screws so that they do not stick up. The floor will add considerable strength and stability to the unit.

Ladder

Next build a custom ladder that you can paint to match the loft. Again the type of wood is your choice. We made ours out of 2 x 4's and custom cut it to fit the space we had. The strength of the ladder can easily hold an adult if you build it right.

Loft Railing

Railings

Don't let any kids go up until you build the railing. The railing is very important and your wife won't probably let you build this project without one. Other parents will appreciate the railing too since their kids are going to be in the loft as well. These lofts are kid magnets, so make them safe. I made my railing a bit fancier since I had access to a router table. I ran the flat spindles on the router table with a roundover bit to make them round. This softens up the unit and makes it look more furniture like.

Top View

Finishing Touches

We put carpet up on the loft floor; it was quick and easy and cost about $25. Next we hoisted up the mattress. There is no need for a box spring, since the wood gives more than adequate support. If you have an external closet, you will have a natural ledge in which you can install a bookshelf or even a TV set. Ours had a TV and Xbox for our son and all his friends were in the loft.

Loft Bottom

The bottom of the floor is the perfect opportunity to finish off with some plywood to make a mini ceiling. In the ceiling you can recess some lights. This makes if more functional for the room and less dark.

Loft Options

I choose to use the hollow post design for running two light fixtures near the top of the loft to shine upwards onto the ceiling. Use the newer "green" Eco friendly light bulbs and you will not have to worry about excess heat from ordinary standard bulbs. You can run regular extension cord up from the bottom of the post by drilling a hole at the bottom and pulling the wire through.

Hiding Spots

I like to take the other two posts and put caps on them with a hinge on the inside. If you put a shelf in the inside while assembling the posts, it makes a great hiding place for kid things. From the outside it looks like an ordinary cap, kids love it.

Have Fun

You will find different customizations for your loft. All of them are super fun for the kids and a real accent to your home. If you use good quality materials you are really making furniture. Take your time and you will be glad you did. Young boys will think you are the best parent in the world for taking this project on!

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Comments 28 comments

archturn profile image

archturn 8 years ago

Neat article, makes me wish my kids were small again...no not really - but nicely done with nice illustrations.


Steve Austin 8 years ago

How long did it take to make this project? Figuring in the planning factor plus finishing the project, I was thinking two weekends. Right?

Steve


BobLaGatta 8 years ago

Do you have a set of detailed plans for sale? This looks like a fun project but I am not that good with the details. A material list and things like that.

Bob


Channel Thomas 8 years ago

Do you know how to build a reading loft for classrooms?


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 8 years ago Author

I think so, I can't imagine it being much different.


dniemi14 profile image

dniemi14 8 years ago

Your directions seem pretty simple and easy to understand. It looks like the potential for customization is great.


Paul 8 years ago

Hi,

I have a 10' wide bedroom with 12' ceiling. I would like to build a 9' long loft using the brick walls for suppert. Any ideas?

thanks,

Paul


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 7 years ago Author

Brick could be a problem, but you can make do with tapcons for joining the loft to the wall, Since the unit is free standing, it should be stable. Connecting it to the brick via the tapcons keeps it from moving at all. I think that should do the trick.


Tricia Santini 7 years ago

I am looking for specific plans to give to a parent in my classrom so he can make this for our room. Do you have any that I could get?


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 7 years ago Author

I dont have any specific plans since each room characteristics are different. Its basically a box between four posts, you will have to draw it up to fit in your room specifically


rebecca g 7 years ago

Very cool, I build my son one of these and now we can not get him to come down. It is a great idea if you never want to see your kids again, lol!


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 7 years ago Author

Yeah we started out by having the x box up there, and we never saw the boy or his merry band of gamers.


propertyauction profile image

propertyauction 7 years ago from UK

Optimising space this way sure is creative. The small space in the bedroom can definitely be made more useful. But this got me thinking, why not start thinking of getting a bigger house with more room? The kids won't stay in their kiddie size for long. Eventually they will need more room. Just a thought there.


Morris Streak profile image

Morris Streak 7 years ago from UK

The detail with which you went through this project is admirable. I'm a do-it-yourself perspective myself. I'm sure this kind of home customisation is something dads nifty with their hands with love to undertake. I'm into home improvement myself, particularly about windows, which is why I found your hub.


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 7 years ago Author

property auction, this was new house, its amazing how many home designers would think to make a house with one bedroom that is small. Kind of stupid if you asked me, but the wife loved the kitchen


down pillow 7 years ago

I absolutely LOVE this idea. Thanks for the directions and posting!


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 7 years ago Author

Your welcome!


Ella D'Zur profile image

Ella D'Zur 6 years ago

Great idea. My children would love to have a loft! Thanks for the direction.


Erica 6 years ago

We have an 8' ceiling and just wanted to make the point you can do a low loft in this type of situation. Thanks for the directions and ideas.


person 6 years ago

i need to build a 3 ft tall loft for my bedroom, i want my double bed to fit onto it easy and i want to be able to sit on the actual loft,not my bed with my friends. any ideas?


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 6 years ago Author

I would just take and make a "mini" version of this one. It will be as stable as you want and you can modify it to the size you need.


alyssa 6 years ago

hi im alyssa i have a very small room and i was wondering if i could do this to my room to make it bigger thanks


Emily 6 years ago

Hi,

Hi my name is Emily. I have an 8' foot room. That I want to move in to. I was wondering if I could put a loft in it. And I was wondering if one of the poles to support it would be like a slide out closet. It would be about 1.5'. And the rack would slide out. Is it a good idea?


Router Maniac profile image

Router Maniac 6 years ago Author

I have found that 8' ceilings are somewhat limited. It makes the usuable space underneath a little lower. You could do it, but it would be like a glorified bunkbed.


Angelia 6 years ago

How much did this project cost and how many square feet is this particular loft?


ed77burns 5 years ago

Its a great hub with safe ideas to built loft for kids.


memememe 4 years ago

i only have an 8 ft ceiling . can i still do this project


MEKENWENJIMUNMOLARIE 4 years ago

I HAVE 8 FT CEILING AND IT DID ACTUALLY WORK !!~~!!1!!

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