We started with this basic closet. We took down the clothing bar and shelf. Then we patched and painted.
After that we gathered our supplies. Our supply list was:
84 24 (6) - 2.48 each
92 24 (1) - 2.92
Screws - 7.98
Nails - Owned
3 Foam pad - $25 (found at Home Depot)
8 Piece of finish hardwood - $10
Plywood - Owned
Fence Brackets (2) - .67 each
3 Angle Bracket (2) - 1.23 each [optional]
Tools Used: Hammer, Level, Drill, Air compressor, nail gun, miter saw and staple gun
Our back wall measured 77 1/4 inches. We cut a 24 on the miter saw at that measurement.
Our side wall measured 22.5 each. We cut 2 24s to just a tick under 22.5.
Attach the back 24 (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 in on every stud on the back wall. We had some deck screw sitting around that we used for this.
Take your two 24 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 24 to go, or notched off, measure how long you need your front board to be. Our's measured 74.3. Cut your board. Attach your board to the side 24s. Drill into the door jams for extra support.
Now, you have a box of 24s on the wall and you need to have cross supports. Measure inside the box from the front 24 to the back 24. 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 24s. On the front, you will be able to drill through from the front 24 to the cross beams.
Measure the "box" where your plywood floor will sit. We had leftover scrap plywood. We used two pieces (making sure the seam fell on a cross support) and screwed them in.
The front of the loft needed something a little bit nicer than a 24. We picked up a white oak (I believe) 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 24.
There are lots of bunkbed ladder tutorials floating around online. We read through a bunch and then ended up doing our own thing. It worked well for us because we had some spare 2x4s. 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). Based off a tutorial, 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.
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.
After we attached the ladder and the front board, they both needed to have wood filler over the nails and then be sanded again. I put about two coats of paint over the whole thing after sanding and filling it.
We put the clothing bar up earlier in the loft build, but you could easily leave that to do last. On the right side of the loft, we have shelving. That shelving was original to the house, but again you could easily add that.