Make your kiddo’s dream come true with a kids room loft! Use this step-by-step tutorial to learn how to build a loft in a closet.
We are IN LOVE with our closet loft and want to help you make a special spot for your kiddos! Seriously, take some of this tutorial or all of it and customize to build a closet loft in your house. I know you won’t regret it.
*Updated post 10/30/2019 (with picture above and a few details below) to reflect the current look of the kids’ loft space. Over time, the original ladder bit the dust so we installed a hanging ladder.
How To Build A Closet Loft
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Supplies Needed For The Loft Bed With Closet
- 84″ 2×4 (6) – 2.48 each
- 92″ 2×4 (1) – 2.92
- Screws – 7.98
- Nails – Owned
- 3″ Foam pad – $25 (check out my post all about affordable foam!)
- 8′ Piece of finish hardwood – $10
- Plywood – Owned
- Fence Brackets (2) – .67 each
- 3″ Angle Bracket (2) – 1.23 each [optional]
Tools Needed To Make The DIY Kids Loft Bed
- Air compressor (This one is the one that we have and love – it’s portable!)
- Nail gun
- Miter saw (Our exact one and the one we LOVE)
- Stapler/Brad Nailer
DIY Kids Loft Bed : BEFORE
Before we started building the loft, we knew we needed to take out the clothes bar and the bottom shelf in the closet. We patched the areas where those had been. We also filled in the hinge hole areas (that the door hinges left behind). You can find our tutorial for doing that here.
Our closet has trim finished on the inside of the door jam, so we knew we would need to address that so that the loft would sit level against the door jam. For us, it worked best to take the trim off, install the loft, and then re-cut and re-install the trim.
Once you get to a blank slate in your closet, you can get to building.
How to Build a Loft
- Measure and Decide on Height
- Our back wall measured 77 1/4 inches. We cut a 2×4 on the miter saw at that measurement.
- Our side wall measured 22.5″ each. We cut 2 2×4’s to just a tick under 22.5″.
- Find the Studs and Attach the 2×4’s
- Attach the back 2×4 (77 1/4 inches long) on the wall where you want the base of your loft to be. Ours started about 50 inches from the floor. Make sure you are using your level and then screw two (LONG) screws (we used deck screws) in on every stud on the back wall.
- Take your two 2×4 side pieces (22.5″ each) and attach them on the wall. Even though you have measured out your box, make sure each piece is level with each other as you add on. For one of the sides, we could only find one stud (on one end). This is where we used the angle brackets. They allowed us to fasten the 2x4s to each other to add extra support on the end without a stud.
- For the front piece, we waited to measure until the back and sides were on. With the trim taken off where you need your front 2×4 to go (or notched out) measure how long you need your front board to be. Ours measured 74.3″. Cut your board. Attach your board to the side 2×4’s. Drill into the door jams for extra support.
- Add Cross Supports
- Measure inside the box from the front 2×4 to the back 2×4. Ours measured 20 3/4″. We decided to have two cross supports spaced evenly. We cut two 2x4s to a hair under 20 3/4″ so that we could get our boards in. This is where your fence brackets come in. Use fence brackets to attach to the back 2×4’s. On the front, you will be able to drill through from the front 2×4 to the cross beams.
- Cut the Plywood Top
- Measure the “box” where your plywood will sit. We had leftover scrap plywood that we cut and screwed in to the supports.
- Trim the Loft Out
- The front of the loft needed something a little bit nicer than a 2×4. We picked up a white oak board to have it be the face of the loft. We primed and painted it. Then, using a finish nailer, we attached it to the front of the 2×4.
- Build the Ladder (or buy a hanging ladder)
- We started by using a tape measure to estimate the length of the ladder. It also helped us get a feel for what angle we wanted (or how steep the ladder should be).
- We started with a 30 degree angle and made a sharp corner at the top end of the ladder. Once we took it upstairs to test it out, we decided that it took up too much room and that the ladder needed to be more steep. Since we cut before we knew what we were doing, we had some spare wood that we used to fine-tune the angle. I recommend grabbing some scrap 2x4s to start with. Start with a 30 degree angle, hold it up to the loft, and see how it looks. If that sticks out to far, take another 10 degrees off of the angle (20 degrees) and try it out again. For us, about 15 degrees ended up being right.
- Once we had the top angle fine-tuned, we needed to trim off the excess on top. The notches on bottom aren’t necessary, but they look nice and make it easier to cut a 15 degree angle on a small miter saw.
- For the step-width, we just put the two side rails in place and eye-balled the width and height between the steps. Just make sure you think about where the top step is going to lie and leave enough room up there. Once we know how many steps we needed and where they should go, we marked lines on the side rails, cut our wood, and then installed them with wood glue and 3″ finish nails (the finish nails weren’t quite strong enough and are why our ladder broke eventually).
- Sand and Paint
- The ladder and the front facing loft board all needed to be sanded really well. I used a pretty heavy sanding pad at first and then switched to a finer one.
- Install Foam and Fabric
- Cut your foam to the size of the loft. We didn’t have enough foam to be a perfect fit, so we just slipped a few extra strips in on the side to make it work.
- Cover the foam with fabric (kinda like you would a headboard) and staple the fabric into the plywood. If we were doing this again, I would probably make a fitted slipcover for the foam instead. Luke had that idea after the fact and I think it’s great. That way, you could take if off and wash it easily.
- Attach the Ladder and Patch
We put the clothing bar up earlier in the loft build, but you could easily leave that until last. On the right side of the loft, we have shelving. That shelving was original to the house, but you could easily add that. More pictures of the finished loft can be found in the loft reveal post!
Like I mentioned, up above, we’ve used and LOVED this loft for quite a few years. All the kids that come over love hanging out up there and jumping from it. It definitely gets some use, but that’s the great thing about it. So, since we originally wrote this post, we’ve changed the flooring, upholstery and the ladder. The main part of the DIY loft though, hasn’t changed and is still working great for us.
p.s. If you love kid projects, we have a bunch of them. We painted a magnetic map wall, installed a car light switch, made a firetruck lamp and even installed a bucket and pulley on our play set. And, I recently saw another style of reading nook made out of a closet. If you didn’t want a high loft, that might be a good option for you.