Design Inspo

Built-In Bunk Bed Plans and Layout Ideas

Bunk beds are getting the glow-up they deserve. Check out these built-in bunk bed plans for a bedroom everyone in the family will want to sleep in.

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Bunk beds are a brilliant solution for small rooms, and they stir up fond memories of childhood sleepovers and summer camp. However, you may want a more substantial design than the type of bed you slept in at summer camp. (No shame to our old summer camp arrangements.) Enter the abundance of built-in bunk bed plans.

With a bit of planning, it’s a snap to design a custom bunk bed solution for your home or vacation getaway that blends with your interior design style — scary stories optional.

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Simple Bunk Bed Plans for the Kids’ Room

Bunk beds are an obvious solution to making space for kids to sleep. You don’t have to boast expert woodworking skills to create the ultimate kids’ room. You can design a built-in bunk bed unit that grows and changes with the little people in your home. 

Choose Your Bed Configuration

The stacked twin bunk bed layout is a classic, but many opt for full-sized mattresses. Simply apply your measurements to this plan. Remember that you can alter this plan to create a simple loft with space for a freestanding bed beneath it.

Plan Your Build

Measure mattress length and width. Ensure the bed is the correct depth for the mattress and the bed slats, leaving a five feet allowance for safety. Account for the headroom needed above each bunk. Lastly, double-check that you have enough space to remove a freestanding bottom bunk to repurpose the space for a reading nook if you think this might be in your home’s future. 

You will need these:

  • (4) 8 ft. 4x4s
  • (6) 8 ft. 2x6 s
  • (16) joist hangers
  • (6) 8 ft. 2x2s
  • Pocket hole jig
  • Box of 1.5” pocket hole screws
  • Miter Saw
  • Drill
  • (12) 6” structural screws
  • Box of 2.5” Phillips head wood screws
  • Caulk
  • Wood glue
  • Two wood clamps
  • Primer and paint
  • Measuring tape
  • Set of two roll-out bed slat

Measure your mattress length and use the miter saw to cut your 4 2x6 sideboards and 4 2x2 support boards accordingly. (Pro-tip: If you don’t own a miter saw, you can rent one at Lowes or Home Depot.) Now measure the mattress width and cut your 4 2x6 head and footboards. If you plan on wrapping your boards with MDF, include the thickness of the fiberboards in your measurements.

A local home improvement store that may also cut your boards for you — a plus for those who aren’t master craftsmen … yet! Big emphasis on the yet.

How To Build a Bunk Bed

1. Plan

Materials matter — we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again! Bed frames can be made from softwood (like pine or cedar), but they won’t be as sturdy. Even if the bunk beds are for a second home or investment property, and it’s not likely you’ll have kiddos jumping on them, hardwoods are still your best bet.

Hardwood types, like maple, oak cherry, mahogany, and walnut, are far more durable. Plus, with a deep stain, these wood types offer the elegance that every home deserves. 

Decide how much headroom you want above each bunk and mark the placement of your sideboards, head, and footboards accordingly. Use a stud finder to mark the studs on the back wall of your built-in. 

2. Hammer in the Boards and Attach Joist Hangers

Tap the 4 4x4 boards into place, from floor to ceiling, with a hammer, making sure it is a snug fit between floor and ceiling to frame the corners of your bed. 

Attach the joist hangers for the first 2x6 sideboard of the top bunk, lining them up so that the bottom of the board is even with the mattress bottom. Set your board into the hangers and screw them to the 4x4s with wood screws, then into the wall studs with structural screws. (It is easier if you make a small pilot hole first before screwing structural screws.) Repeat the same process with the bottom bunk sideboard that screws into the wall.

Now set your joist hangers and sideboards for both front edges of each bunk. Insert your 2x6s and screw them in with wood screws. Repeat this process for the joist hangers and 2x6s running across each bunk's head and foot. You only need to use structural screws when securing a board to the wall.

3. Glue

Glue 2x2 boards cut to the size of your side boards to the bottom of the side boards of each bunk to create a little lip for your mattresses to rest on. Clamp these to the side boards while the glue dries, then screw them into place.

You can wrap the entire frame in MDF boards cut to size. This fills out your built-in and gives it a custom “always been there” look.

4. Add a Ladder

Make a ladder using 2 x 2 boards and the pocket hole jig to hide the screw holes. Cut the boards to fit between the top and bottom bunk footboards and make 20” rungs spaced evenly. You can also use your pocket hole jig and 2x2 boards to make a simple guardrail for the top bunk. Glue all of the joints for added support. 

5. Smooth the Walls

Fill any nail holes with wood putty and use sandpaper to smooth them. Adding caulk into the gaps between the built-in and the walls before priming and painting will give a professional finish. 

Variations on the Classic Bunk Bed

The excellent news is that any plan can be altered to fit your room layout and your family’s needs. 

Go for L-Shaped Bunks

One fun, flexible option for a bunk bed is an L-shaped bunk.

The L-shaped has a top bunk attached to the wall with a freestanding bottom bed underneath. 

The bottom “bunk” extends out from under the top bunk lengthwise. The lower bed can be a full or even queen-sized option, which is far more comfortable for older children or teens. 

Try Trundle Bed Storage

Build the stacked frame but add a trundle bed under the bottom-most mattress. If your kids have a sleepover, now you have a third bed to offer. The trundle space can also serve as storage drawers to keep things neat in a shared bedroom. 


Loft Bunk Bed Ideas for Growing Needs

Another advantage of a freestanding bottom bunk is the ability to remove the bed altogether when family life changes. 

Make It a Study Space

A regular bed underneath a loft bed allows flexibility for lifestyle changes. The area underneath can be a study space with a desk for doing homework. Decorate the wall around the desk with your child’s framed artwork for study inspiration. 

Curl Up in a Reading Nook

Adding bookshelves into the bunk bed side walls lets this space easily transition into a cozy reading nook once the bed is removed. Slide a plush bean bag couch or chaise lounge in your alcove, and you have a reader’s paradise. 

DIY Built-In Bunk Beds for a Vacation Getaway

Replace those walls of twin beds at your beach cabin rental with a custom shiplap bunk bed plan that can accommodate several sleepers of various ages. Consider two side-by-side L-shaped bunks, each with a full bunk bed on top and queen-sized beds underneath.

The size of these units would make a small staircase running between the two possible and practical, especially if adults will be sleeping on them. Use Spoak’s room visualization tool to play with measurements and what size beds will work in your space. 

Test your floor plan out with the family. If you’re planning these beds for adults (yes, they work for adults, too!), make sure they can easily maneuver in them and up the steps. Consider built-in shelves at the head of each bunk to hold a clock, phone, or charger. 

Create Your Own Version of a Built-In Bunk 

This DIY project can be modified endlessly to meet your growing family’s needs. Start by getting inspiration with our discovery feed. In one short weekend, you could have a built-in bunk bed that everyone will want to sleep in.

Photo Credit: (Left) Lianne Carey

Sources:

Summer Camp Memories to Cherish for Life | WSJ

8 Free DIYBunk Bed Plans | The Spruce Crafts

Hardwood vs. Softwood: How to Choose the Right Material for Your Project | Bob Vila

What Is MDF? - MDF 101 | Bob Vila

How to Install Joist Hangers (DIY) | Family Handyman

Whether you’re designing a perfect island getaway or the dream bunk bed of your childhood, join Spoak to bring your vision to life. 

Date Posted
April 30, 2023
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