6 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Bunk Bed Ladder

White bunk beds with a ladder.
What You'll Need
2x4 lumber of choice
Skill Saw
Wrenches as needed
Eye protection
Dust mask

Building a bunk bed ladder isn’t difficult. It’s important, however, that it’s done properly. Like any other ladder, it can be dangerous if not made and affixed correctly to the bed. Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what you should do when building a bunk bed ladder.

Using the Wrong Wood

The wood you use in the rungs needs to be strong enough to support a person’s weight. That point might seem self-evident, but it’s something people do forget. Ideally, you should use wood that’s 2X4 inches; this will support most people without a problem as it will help to distribute the pressure. Don’t go smaller than this when building your own bunk bed ladder.

Avoid buying cheap wood as it might warp over time. It’s better to spend a little more. Be sure you inspect every piece of wood to be certain it’s straight and level.

Not Measuring Carefully

Don’t be casual in measuring the wood. This is possibly the most vital stage of all. The sides both need to be exactly the same size. All the rungs need to be the same size as well. When cutting the rungs, make sure the edges are square. If they’re not, they won’t fit exactly against the sides.

Bunk beds in a kid's room.

Not Securing the Bolts

Securing the rungs to the sides is important. Don’t make the mistake of just using screws to attach them as these will not hold the weight of a person safely. Over time they will gradually bend and could eventually give way.

It’s important to use lag bolts of the correct size. They should be ¼ inch wide and 4 inches long. This will provide adequate support and strength. They also need to be countersunk into the sides so that the edges remain smooth and the heads can’t injure someone in the event of an accident.

Not Arching the Top

The end of a piece of wood is square. In most cases that’s fine, it’s what you need. For the top of a bunk bed ladder, however, you don’t want square. Don’t leave them that way as you finish the ladder. Make an arc and then cut and sand so you round the top. That way there are no sharp edges that can cause injury. This is especially important when children will be using the ladder.

Not Finishing the Wood

Don’t just sand down the wood on the bunk bed ladder and leave it. No matter how smooth you make it there can still be splinters over time and it will feel rough to the touch. The wood needs to be properly finished with several thin coats of polyurethane. When you do it, be certain to allow ample time for each coat to dry before applying the next coat.

Bunk beds in a kid's room.

Don’t space the rungs too close together or too far apart. Ideally, the rungs of a bunk bed ladder should be between 10 inches and 12 inches apart. With children keep them at the 10-inch end of the spectrum to make climbing easier. With ladders for adults, make sure they’re 12 inches apart.