Creating a loft bed can open up a room, save space and allow your adolescent or teen to personalize their living quarters. While many bed brands offer loft bed conversion kits, in some cases you may wish to convert an old twin bed or half of a bunk bed into a loft bed on your own. In such cases, extreme caution should be used to help ensure your new loft bed is structurally sound and safe for use.
A loft bed can be dangerous if not built, anchored and supported correctly. If a loft bed will not hold a fully grown adult without shaking or creaking, it should not be used for a child. Loft beds should always have sturdy ladders for access, and the ladder should be either built into the frame or anchored to the frame for safety. The mattress support should be completely solid, with no sagging in the center. Children should be carefully tutored on safe use of their loft bed, to avoid potential injury or death.
Converting a Branded Bed into a Loft Bed
Many brands (such as Ikea, Maxtrix and Flexa) sell loft bed extension or conversion kits to safely raise their standard twin or full beds up into loft beds. Purchasing the appropriate kit and following the installation and assembly instructions to the letter is the safest way to create a loft bed.
Turning a Standard Twin Bed into a Loft Bed
A standard twin bed should only be converted into a loft bed if it is structurally sound and has legs that are at least as thick as a two by four. Simply extending the legs by nailing or screwing extra boards to them is not adequate. Seek out a guide created by professionals that details how to safely create leg extenders that will fit your existing bed, and use additional supports as needed to stabilize the bed. You may need to add extra stabilizers to the underside of the mattress support as well.
Turning a Full Bed into a Loft Bed
A full bed can be converted into a loft bed in much the same way as a twin bed but may require extra support in the center or a revamping of the mattress frame for additional stability. Adding additional legs at the midpoint of each side can increase the safety of the bed and allow natural points for creating a desk, shelving or storage.
Turning a Bunk Bed into a Loft Bed
The top half of a bunk bed may be converted into a loft bed. Be aware that simply removing the mattress supports and side rails and using the bottom frame legs as supports is not sufficient. The back bed rail should be left in place and anchored to the wall, and the legs farthest from the wall will require some sort of anchoring as well. This may take the form of braces run from the feet to the underside of the loft, or the creation of larger, block-shaped supports around each leg to increase its footing and stability.
Leg Support for Loft Beds
Materials used as leg supports for loft beds should be selected based both on strength of the material and resistance against breaking or bending under both normal pressure and sudden impact (such as a child bouncing or jumping on the bed, or a pet running into the leg support). As a general rule of thumb, no wood supports with dimensions smaller than 1.5 inches in width should be used. Metal tubing should be avoided. Welded steel frames may be constructed by a knowledgeable and experienced DIYer. Alternately, bookcases and ladders can be constructed that double as an adequate support for the loft bed.
Wall and Ceiling Support for Loft Beds
Anchoring the loft portion of the bed to the wall studs or ceiling joists can provide additional support. Ensure you are anchoring into the center of studs and joists and that there is sufficient load-bearing strength both in the choice of support line and in the hardware used. Wrapped wire with a tensile strength equal to double the weight of the bed plus the user's weight should be sufficient.
When in doubt, ask for a professional's help in turning a bed into a loft bed. Safety is the first concern, and proper anchoring should be a priority for any loft-bed conversion.