Bunk/loft bed hardware

Lowespro2

Nick
Senior User
Building both a twin loft bed and a full-size loft bed, looking for recommendations on hardware. The mattress rails are 1.5in x 8in and the safety rails and a brace rail are 1.5in x 4in, all are centered on the 3.5in x 3.5in posts. I’ve been looking at using through bolts with cross dowels like these:


I’m hoping by putting one bolt on each end of the safety rail and two on the mattress rail ends (along with one on each brace rail on the bottom backside) it will prevent the loft from wracking when kids are climbing on it.

Does anyone have any recommendations or tips on hardware to use?
 

Mrfixit71

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Rich
Staff member
Corporate Member
I work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHPBeds.org), a not-for-profit that provides bunk beds free to kids that don't have beds. The beds are a mix of 2x4, 2x6, and 1x4 from Big Box stores. Mattress rails, as you call them, are 2x6 with 2 bolts in each end. Safety rails have 1 bolt in each end. We use 5/16"x5" lag bolts.

The Durham chapter (one of over 200 chapters using this design) has put over 400 of these in home over the last 3 years and haven't heard of any problems. There are 10,000s nation wide.
 

Lowespro2

Nick
Senior User
I work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHPBeds.org), a not-for-profit that provides bunk beds free to kids that don't have beds. The beds are a mix of 2x4, 2x6, and 1x4 from Big Box stores. Mattress rails, as you call them, are 2x6 with 2 bolts in each end. Safety rails have 1 bolt in each end. We use 5/16"x5" lag bolts.

The Durham chapter (one of over 200 chapters using this design) has put over 400 of these in home over the last 3 years and haven't heard of any problems. There are 10,000s nation wide.
Rich,

I have considered using lag bolts as well, I think the old school this-end-up brand bunk beds used lag bolts. In some of the research I’ve done I saw people using lag bolts with a hardwood dowel inserted perpendicular to the lag bolt hole near the last two inches of thread to prevent the end grain from stripping out the lag holes. Were you using any methods like that or just predrilled holes the diameter of the lag shaft (not including threads)?
Thanks,
Nick
 

Mrfixit71

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Rich
Staff member
Corporate Member
Rich,

I have considered using lag bolts as well, I think the old school this-end-up brand bunk beds used lag bolts. In some of the research I’ve done I saw people using lag bolts with a hardwood dowel inserted perpendicular to the lag bolt hole near the last two inches of thread to prevent the end grain from stripping out the lag holes. Were you using any methods like that or just predrilled holes the diameter of the lag shaft (not including threads)?
Thanks,
Nick
Old school. Pre-drill ends of boards at the root diameter of the lag screw. If I were building for myself/family I would probably go with cross dowel that you referenced. It depends on who is using it and budget. When you are building as many as 50 beds a day out of construction grade lumber, many of which are given as single beds, this method has worked well.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I built a bunk bed with a trundle under the lower bunk for my grand kids last year. I used the same bed rail fasteners I use for other beds, just had to use two sets. I use the kind where the hooks are on a plate mortised into the end of the rails and the plate they hook into is mortised into the posts. I find them very easy to install after you make a simple jig to router the mortise for the plates. They are very strong and the bed can be disassembled as many times as necessary.

It was a little harder to get two mattress platforms both to go into the tall legs on each end but I managed to do it by myself.

I've used at least most of the other methods to build beds but I don't use the others any more. None are as strong nor do they look as good (i.e are completely hidden) in the final product. I've had no failures. Just make sure to use long screws in the end grain of the rails. I like 3 inch.
 

Lowespro2

Nick
Senior User
I built a bunk bed with a trundle under the lower bunk for my grand kids last year. I used the same bed rail fasteners I use for other beds, just had to use two sets. I use the kind where the hooks are on a plate mortised into the end of the rails and the plate they hook into is mortised into the posts. I find them very easy to install after you make a simple jig to router the mortise for the plates. They are very strong and the bed can be disassembled as many times as necessary.

It was a little harder to get two mattress platforms both to go into the tall legs on each end but I managed to do it by myself.

I've used at least most of the other methods to build beds but I don't use the others any more. None are as strong nor do they look as good (i.e are completely hidden) in the final product. I've had no failures. Just make sure to use long screws in the end grain of the rails. I like 3 inch.
Jim,
Did you use something like this?
I was worried the kids could lift the mattress up and break it free from the posts with that type of connection. Have you had any issues with that?

thanks,

nick
 

mquan01

Mike
Corporate Member
Jim,
Did you use something like this?
I was worried the kids could lift the mattress up and break it free from the posts with that type of connection. Have you had any issues with that?

thanks,

nick
Kids will find a way to break everything :) we used these and I mad it tjt you had to pound in with a rubber mallet so that they couldnt easily lift them apart.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
Nick,

Those are what I’ve used for a bunk bed, a queen and a twin bed. I’ve experienced zero issues. I also but the mortise for the female part a little deeper in the post so that the rail has to be hit with a mallet pulling the rails and posts in very well.

Jim,
Did you use something like this?
I was worried the kids could lift the mattress up and break it free from the posts with that type of connection. Have you had any issues with that?

thanks,

nick
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Nick that is what I used. I did not take any special measures against my grandkids kicking it up and out. They would have to move both the bottom and top platform up for the legs to be able to move laterally and disengage. I can't see how that would happen. Just pushing the platform up won't disengage anything with the leg still restrained by the other platform. I also put the upper platform high enough I can sit under it. The ceiling height is good in that room. So my kids are unlikely to ever have legs long enough to push it up - they do not for sure now.

I also agree with the other comments that if you set it up right, the fasteners wedge in and are not easy to separate. But I don't think you need to be sure that happens, I think it is plenty safe regardless.
 

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