Monday, July 19

Triple Bunk Bed Plans

Guys, it's time for bunk bed plans!

You probably already got a look at the bunks during the room tour (if not, you can check out the full tour here) and today I've got plans ready for your to build your own. We'll start with the triple bunk today, and I'll try to get the double plans posted later this week. 

We built the bunks as two separate units so if we ever change course later and decided to split them up, we can! They also disassemble into a few large pieces for easy moving. We painted them all a muted green ("Retreat" from Lowe's) which feels perfect for a boys room without being over-powering. And I love the contrast that came with leaving the ladders and railings natural wood.


These plans are based on Ana White's modern bunk beds, but I modified them to fit our needs and space a little better. Besides creating a triple bunk version, I also changed the overall height of the bed and moved the bottom bunk all the way to the floor (with slats underneath for air flow) to create as much head room as possible. I put a lot of thought into the bunk layout and decided to set the double bed at different heights than the triple to give as much headroom as possible to those bunks (especially so I can sit up on the bottom bunk for bedtime reading). 


Here are the overall dimensions if you want to do  a corner set-up like we have (When we started building we added an extra foot of height to the triple bunk headboard so we could attach a sconce, so plan an extra foot if you want it just like the photos!):


And here are dimensions for just the triple bunk we'll be building today (When we started building we added an extra foot of height to the triple bunk headboard so we could attach a sconce, so plan an extra foot if you want it just like the photos):


Also take note - if you're planning to use the triple on it's own without the double beside it, you'll want to pick up some extra 2x2s to make railings that reach all the way across (see photo below). The shopping list only accounts for railings going only halfway across (see photo above) since the double bunk blocks the other half of the beds.

Triple Bunk Shopping List:

6 - 2x2  @  10' long  (side supports and side rails) 

3 - 2x2 @ 8' long (cut ladder sides from these first!)

1 - 2x2  @ 4' long (this will minimize waste, but I usually go ahead and get a fourth 8' long board instead in case I make a mistake and need to re-cut anything)

6 - 2x6  @  10' long (cut one side board and one end board from each) 

3 - 1x6  @  6' long  (this and the next board are both for the headboard)

1 - 1x6  @  4'  (again, this will minimize waste, but I usually go ahead and get a fourth 6' long board instead in case I make a mistake)

7 - 2x4 @ 8' long ("stud length" 2x4 is long enough and sometimes a bit cheaper)

14 - 1x4  @  10' long (mattress slats) 

2 1/2" screws (we used decking screws)

Kreg Jig with 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" pocket hole screws

1 1/4" wood screws

Sanding and finishing supplies (we painted our bunks "Retreat" from Lowe's)

Triple Bunk Cut List

(A)  4  -  2x4  @  74" long  (legs - I cut the two legs at the headboard end 86" instead so it would be high enough to attach a sconce to the headboard)

(B)  4  -  2x4  @  8 1/2" long  (leg support #1)

(C)  8  -  2x4  @  24 1/2" long (leg support #2)

(D)  6  -  2x6  @  36" long  (end boards)

(E)  7   -  1x6  @  36" long (headboard - you can use 2x6s instead to match the depth of the end boards, but it will cost a bit more.)

(F)  6  -  2x6  @  82" long  (side boards)

(G)  2  -  2x2  @  74" long  (ladder sides)

(H)  4  -  2x2  @  15" long  (ladder rungs)

(I)  5  -  2x2  @  11" long  (rail sides)

(J)  3  -  2x2  @  16 1/2" long  (end rails)

(K)  6  -  2x2  @  36 1/2" long  (side rails)  NOTE: If you are making this triple bunk without the double bunk beside it, you'll want to cut these 77" long instead!

(L)  6  -  2x2  @  75" long  (slat supports)

(M)  42  -  1x4  @  39"  (slats)  Note: you can use plywood instead if you prefer.

Building Plans

Start by building four legs. Take one leg board (A) and attach the first leg support (B) flush with the top of the leg. Drill through the support board into the leg with 2 1/2" deck screws (pre-drill your holes to prevent splitting your boards!). 

Now install two of the longer leg support boards (C). Leave a gap of 5 1/2" below the first support board and attach one of the second support boards by drilling through the support into the leg with 2 1/2" deck screws. We used 6 screws per board. Leave another 5 1/2" gap below that and attach the final support board (C, again) in the same way. This should leave a 5 1/2" gap at the bottom of the leg board. Repeat to build three more legs.


The side boards that will rest in the gaps will be made of 2x6 boards, so I cut a scrap of a 2x6 and used it as a spacer as I attached the support boards. It made it super easy to leave the right amount of gap!

Now use the end boards (D) to connect two of the legs together. The legs should be turned so the gaps face the outside, and the end boards should sit even with the gap openings (you'll use three end boards for each pair of legs). Drill three pocket holes in each end of the boards and attach them with 2 1/2" pocket hole screws. Repeat with the other pair of legs. If you cut a pair longer like I did, make sure you pair them up here!

I drew the plans up thinking I would center these boards with 1" in front and behind, but instead ended up using a scrap 1x6 as a support underneath the end board while I installed it which made the process so much easier and was totally close enough to centered:

Now install the headboard boards (E) along one end of the headboard. If you cut one set longer, be sure to attach them to that set. You might want to add an extra 1x6 or two to fill in that extra height, or just put the slat you have at the top for the sconce and leave the rest open. :) Leave a 2" gap between the slats (the top board should be flush with top of the legs, and the gap below it will be a smidge larger but you won't really see it once the mattress is on). Drill three pocket holes in the end of each headboard board and attach them with 1 1/4" pocket hole screws. 

Again, I used scrap 1x2 boards as supports while I attached these boards. It keeps them level and evenly spaced off the ground so you don't need to measure for each board! I also cut a scrap of a 2x6 board 2" long and used it as a spacer between the slats so I didn't need to measure that spacing either. Love a good shortcut! If you look closely at the first photo, we actually ended up leaving out a few headboard boards to let more light in from the window. Do what works for you! Isn't DIY great??

Now you should have two big end sections completed that just need to be attached together using the side boards (F). If you ever need to take the bunk bed apart for some reason, just remove these side boards and leave the end sections in tact for easy moving! The side boards should fit into the gaps you left between the leg supports like this:


Attach each side board by drilling through into the leg with 2 1/2" deck screws. We used four screws per joint. This was a much easier job with an extra set of hands (or two)!

 

Your bunk bed frame is done! 

If you're doing a two-tone finish like we did, go ahead and paint this part before you attach the ladders and railings so you don't have to paint around them.

Now let's work on the ladder and railings. 

Start by attaching the two ladder sides (G) together using the ladder rungs (H). Install the first rung 1' off the ground, then leave a 1' gap between each remaining rung. Install them by drilling two pocket holes in each end of the rungs and attaching them with 2 1/2' pocket hole screws (make sure the pocket holes are turned toward the back or bottom if you don't plan to fill them later.


Now build the railing for the end. Drill pocket holes in both ends of the three end rail boards (J) and attach them to one of the railing end pieces (I) using 2 1/2" pocket hole screws. There should be a rail flush with the top and bottom of the end board, with the third rail centered in between with a 3 1/4" gap on either side. Then attach that whole rail unit to the left side of the ladder (flush with the top) using the pocket holes on the other ends of the rail boards:

You can switch the railing to the right side of the ladder if that works better for your space!

Attach this entire unit to the end of the bunk bed (it should fit snuggly between the legs). Get as many points of contact as you can by drilling into both of the legs and all three end boards to attach it. Remember to pre-drill you holes to avoid splitting these boards, and install it using the 2 1/2" deck screws. We actually drilled out through the end boards into the back of the ladder and railing boards so the screw heads wouldn't be visible from the front. 

Now make the side railing. Just attach three of the side rails (K) between two of the remaining railing end pieces (I). Use pocket holes just like you did for the ladder and end railing. Repeat to build second railing if you want one for the middle bunk (we ended up leaving that one off).


Remember: this railing only reaches halfway across the bed. If you won't have a second bunk blocking the rest of the opening, you'll want to cut your side rail boards (K) 77" long instead!
 

Install the railing pieces the same way you installed the ladder and end railing. 

Here it is with the longer rails:

You're almost done! Now you need to install the slat supports (L). Attach one support on each side board, flush with the bottom edge. Drill through the support into the side board with 2 1/2" deck screws. Repeat for the remaining five supports.

Install the slats (M) on top of the slat supports. You'll have 14 slats per bed, and there should be about a 2" gap between each slat. 

You can attach each slat individually to the supports with 1 1/4" wood screws, or try this shortcut:

I laid out all my slats, ran two piece of twine across them (one near each side), and stapled the twine to each slat. Then I only needed to attach the end slats to the support boards because the rest are held in place by the twine and can't slide around. This will make it super easy if you ever need to take the bunk beds apart (or sweep under the bottom bunk!) because you only need to remove a couple screws and the slats roll up into a handy bundle. 

Finishing

Here's my normal finishing advice:

"Fill any visible holes with wood filler then sand everything down really well. This is the most important step for a professional finish! Start with a rough sand paper, then go over everything with a medium paper, then again with a fine paper. Once it's super smooth, finish it with whatever paint or stain and sealer you like."

And that would look amazing if you do it! Just make sure you don't fill the holes attaching the side boards to the legs in case you need to take it apart later. 

But... here's what I did for the bunk beds:

Got tired of working on it and just wanted to be DONE. Sanded it well enough to get rid of any splinters. Didn't make it to the fine sandpaper. Didn't fill any holes. Painted it and called it a day. And you know what? It turned out totally fine and probably saved a couple hours of filling and sanding! Remember, guys: It doesn't have to be perfect to be good.

Now get a pile of mattresses, pillows, and bedding, and load those beds up! You can find all our bedding details in this post

 That's it! Let me know if you give it a try!





And if you want the full set, keep an eye out for the double bunk plans coming soon!


Happy Building!

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