Dorm life can be difficult. It involves somehow fitting all of what once fit in multiple rooms into a space no bigger than a shoe box. To make matters worse, you have to share that shoe box with another person. So how do you make the most of a small space and still have room for all of your belongings? The answer is a loft bed. This article will review common mistakes and provide valuable information on how to construct your own loft bed.
Creating a Plan
Before you begin building, it is best to have a plan. Your plan can be fairly basic, but there are a few items to pay attention to. You should consider things such as mattress size, ascending and descending the bed, railings, and any other residence hall requirements that may exist. Some popular residence hall requirements include: clearance between bed and ceiling, leg size, and cross-bracing requirements. It is also important to remember that lumber comes in nominal dimensions. This means that the dimensions of lumber are not their actual dimensions. So for instance, a 2x4 is really 1 ½”x3 ½” in size. To view actual dimensions for a variety of different lumber sizes, see this lumber dimension chart.
Designing wood is a fairly difficult task. Instead of going through the rigorous process of design, some general rules of thumb can be used for your design. The first rule to remember is that even the softest of woods (e.g. Southern Pine) can carry a fairly substantial load. It is often unneccesary to design the loft out of anything than a wood such as Southern Pine. Most of your members that make up the bed can be constructed from 2x6 dimension lumber. This includes legs and stringers. Minor members that make up the loft such as ladder rungs can be 2x4’s or smaller.
Once all of your wood members are cut, you will have to decide how to connect them. The very best connection is made by a combination of a mechanical fastener (such as a bolt or screw) and glue. It is important to use wood glue and not the white stuff you use for gluing paper together. Wood glue can be bought at any home improvement store. It is also important to use bolts to hold together the members where connections are crucial. The most crucial connection is where the bed frame meets the legs. At these connections use a ¼” carriage bolt at a minimum, but preferably a 3/8” bolt should be used. Most other connections can be made with wood screws. The great thing about using screws and bolts is that the whole bed can be dismantled when the school year ends.
Purchasing a Loft Bed or Loft Bed Plans
Confused on where to begin or think the whole construction bit is over your head? There are a variety of vendors online who sell prefabricated loft bed kits and loft bed plans. These vendors have quite a bit of expertise and offer pretty good solutions if you are confused on where to begin.