I’ve promised the boys bunk beds for about 2 years now. Then the promise got switched to “When we move to FL”. Well the time had come and I figured I’d best get on with it! Poor Thing #2 has only had a mattress on the floor for the last two years since switching to a “big boy” bed.
I know there are cheaper ways to build a set of bunk beds out of 2x4s but I really wanted the flexibility of having bunk-able twin beds. We still have at least one more move ahead of us and it’s nice to have options. Also, the boys probably won’t want to share a room until college.
If you like to make things yourself and you haven’t heard of Ana White – you best take yourself to her website right now and see all the great plans she’s come up with. She shares them for free!!!
I have always loved her plans for the twin farmhouse beds and decided to make 2 of these and make them bunk beds. It’s fairly easy to turn any bed set into bunks if you can remove the bed rails. The headboards are joined with rails together to make the bottom bunk and the smaller footboards are joined with rails for the top bunk. Drill 3/8″ holes into the bottoms of the footboards and into the top of the headboards and attach them with 3/8″ steel rods. I actually like the look of the beds better as singles than as bunks but I think they make a fairly nice bunk bed too. Either way, they should last us a long while!
Panels for the headboard
I am quite happy with this little detail. No, I didn’t do it myself. I had a very hard time finding 4×4 posts that weren’t bright green and full of defects. As I wandered through the hardware store in despair, I happened by the decking aisle with a selection of deck posts. This style of post was still pressure-treated but much less so than the regular 4×4’s. Plus it had a neat little design that adds to the overall aesthetic of the headboards.
Next, I attached the posts to the headboard panel. This was very difficult for me to get everything centered and clean looking. Suffice it to say, there won’t be any close-ups here.
I realized I forgot to get a picture of the finished headboard after the 2×4 and 2×6 headers were attached. I glued and screwed/nailed those into place.
Here’s one of my footboards. The exact same except much shorter panel and no design on the posts.
I made 8 pieces total. Two headboards, two footboards and 4 rails. Okay, so the rails are just a 1×8 with not much carpentry involved but there’s still a lot of sanding!
I was a little hesitant to stain pine. It’s usually a wood that you paint but I’m embracing the rustic-ness! I just couldn’t bear to paint over the wood after all that sanding. I went with a cherry stain and did two coats. The above picture is of the second coat going on after the first.
After every piece was stained, I finished them with 3-4 coats of polyurethane. This seemed to be the longest step. It rained a lot this past week and it took FOREVER for each coat to dry in this hot and humid climate. At first, I was concerned with the stain color of the wood. It almost looked purplish to me (like a red hair dye gone wrong). The slight yellowish tint to the poly was exactly what it needed to warm the color up and gave the wood a beautiful richness and shine. I’m very happy with the color and so glad I went with the stain over paint!
Now – the terrifying part. I had these beautiful bed pieces done and finished and was scared about drilling the holes for the bunk posts to go through. The bottoms of the footboards were no problem but it took some bravery to take a drill to the top of my headboards! Although I did a lot of measuring to make certain, I also enlisted Fly Guy to help me lift the footboards up and mark the hole sites. Here’s how . . . lipstick.
One of my favorite tools is a bright red lip liner. It’s not permanent on finished wood so you can easily wipe it off if you need to recalculate. (I also use this little trick when hanging those hard-to-hang pictures.) Above shows the steel rod already plugged into the bottom of one of the footboards and then I rouged it up some. When we lifted it into place, the lipstick transferred easily to the headboard.
Lastly, I screwed wood cleats into place on the inside of each bed rail and then screwed in the bed rail hardware onto the ends. You can find the hardware here.
After screwing in the reciprocating rail hardware onto each post, I was excited to finally get to put the beds together.
This bunk is rock solid. I went ahead and screwed the supports in instead of just laying them in place across the cleats. They should easily unscrew when it comes time to move again.
Heidi wasn’t too pleased with both beds now being off the floor. Her senior self doesn’t like jumping up anymore.
But she is quite happy with her new “hiding” place.
You’ll note the lack of a ladder or a safety rail. I’m still getting layers of polyurethane on them but don’t worry – we put the safety rail on at night when Thing #1 is up there and we’ve jimmy-rigged a stepstool from a chair and a box. Because that’s how we roll. I’ll get a picture up when everything is finished!