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  • Nov 3rd, 2011

    Saving Time and Money: DIY Guide to Building a Bunk Bed

    Children often clamor for bunk beds when they share a bedroom with another sibling and have grown tired of the limited play space available at floor level. After all, squeezing two beds into a single room leaves little extra space for free play, whereas two beds stacked one on top of the other provide just as much sleeping space but leave more available room on the floor. Unfortunately, not everyone has the option of purchasing a high quality, pre-built bunk set. So if you want to put bunks in your kids’ room but can’t afford to buy a set, you’ll just have to build the structure yourself.

    Since you’re trying to save money and have never built a bunkbed structure like this before, let’s start with a simple design. To build a twin-over-twin sized bunk structure that adequately and stably sleeps two children, you’ll first need to have the appropriate building material for the main frame. Wood is a good choice for first-time builders, as it is easily cut and manipulated, and won’t require welding or other more advanced processes that metal bunks would need. When choosing a wood, select something strong and durable. Most hardwoods work well, such as birch, oak, or cherry. If you’d like to save on expenses, you can choose pine as well. Pine is perfect for painting later so you don’t have to stick with the natural wood color if you don’t want to. If you do choose pine though, be sure to uses a southern yellow pine. White pine is quite soft, and wouldn’t be stable enough for bed building.

    Once you’ve picked out and purchased your building material, you’ll have to lay everything out to begin building. Start with the base of the lower bunk, as this will help to support the rest of the structure. When all else fails, always start from the bottom and work towards the top. Since this is your first bunk building project, measure the width of the base slightly larger than is typical, to provide extra foundational support. The base should extend several inches further than the size of the twin mattress being placed on it, and it should be completely flat. Use a level to ensure the base is flat in its entirety before moving on.

    Once the base has been constructed, you’ll have to assemble four beams that will support the top bunk. Use as few separate pieces as possible, as that will help to improve structural integrity. The beams should be evenly spread out, and you can use supplemental cross pieces to connect the beams for further support. You can use metal clamps and nails to secure the wood.

    After that section is finished, you’ll simply need to build the support section for the top bunk. This layer should be slightly smaller than the base, and considerably lighter (though still strong enough to support the full weight of a body). Line up the top section so that is sits directly over the base, and so that weight is distributed evenly between the four beams. If effectively installed, there should only be a little give on the support beams when a body moves around on the top bunk, and the base should be stable regardless. Once stable, you’ll be able to craft some bars for the top bunk to prevent rolling off, and you’ll also have to install a small ladder so your child can climb to the top bunk and access it easily.

    Paint and design is up to you or the taste of your children, as really, your concern should be on bed sturdiness and child safety. Though exact measurements will depend on the type of building material you use and the construct of the room you’re putting the bunk bed set in, so long as you test for sturdiness and strength along the way, the set should hold up well.

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