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How To Build A Dorm Loft


This idea is mainly geared towards college kids building a loft for their dorm room so that they can better utilize limited space, but we hope it inspires you to do more.

Exploded loft.jpg


Dorm rooms are small. Most of the time, we don't take advantage of non-floor space. If you have high ceilings you can really do a lot here.


The great thing about building a loft, is that it is entirely customizable. Some friends of ours built an entire second floor in the dorm room (we had 10 foot ceilings) while we had an L-shape loft about 10 feet long, 4 feet wide at the skinny part of the L, and 8 feet wide at the fat part. It was about 7 feet in the air, perfect for climbing on from our beds, and the perfect height for a chin up bar. Stuck with a small double, my roommate and I used the loft mainly for storage, but it definitely made our room look sweet.

Total cost for the lumber for our loft was about $200. We did have a ton of lumber left over which we used to build other stuff, but it's always better to have too much to work with than to have to go back to the store right in the middle of working.

Before you go out and buy stuff, you need to measure and plan. This is actually the most important step of the whole process. I'm always ready to jump in and just start sawing and building but if Cape and I hadn't thought about this for an hour or two ahead of time, it probably would have taken us twice as long to build.

The general design to build a frame out of 2x4s, put plywood on top of the frame to make a platform and put the whole platform on top of 4x4's several feet in the air.

You will need to measure to find the area of the platform and the height of the platform. Do not simply buy enough 2x4 for the frame, you will need to brace the frame, and in the end we used 2x4 to keep the whole thing from toppling over.

What you'll need

A good circular saw

A good power drill/screwdriver

Tape measure

One or Two boxes of deck screws



3/4" plywood

Joint braces - We used Simpson Strong Ties from HomeDepot-Mode PF24 shown below

Drop clothes, a couple chairs or stools, and a place where you can get sawdust all over everywhere

A vaccuum for cleaning up sawdust

A friend or two to help lift stuff up is always nice

A Hammer

Some nails

A truck or SUV to haul all this stuff.

Simpson Strong Tie PF24


1. Once you have measure everything, I recommend sawing first. You should build the frame first and once assembled, hoist it into the air and put the 4x4's underneath. Use deck screws to assemble the perimeter of the frame. The outermost perimeter of the frame should be comprised of two 2X4's, while crossmembers need only be single 2X4's. We didn't do it that way, but looking back on it, we should have. Then use the joint braces to brace the longest section.


2. Next, you'll need to hoist the frame in the air. This is where friends come in handy.

3. After getting the frame in the air, you'll want to screw the 4x4's in to keep it up there. Here you can see the frame and a few of the 4x4s.

4. Once all the 4x4s are in place. You'll want to put the plywood on the top to make it a loft. It might be slightly unsturdy (we'll brace it in a little bit) but probably ok to climb on. It doesnt take too many screws to keep the plywood on. And you want these to be flat but don't strip them or it will be hard to get them out if you ever want to disassemble it. Simply screw a few through the pywood into the frame and the 4x4s.

5. Most likely, you'll have the loft in a corner, so a wall or two will prevent it from wobbling in one direction. To prevent wobbling in the other two, simply put braces from the 4x4s to the ground. Depending on how tall your loft it, you can change how the bracing is done. Basically cut a diagnol section of 2x4, push it against the fence post (4x4) and down towards the ground until you pretty much cant press harder, then screw it into the 4x4 with a few screws.

Now you can add things onto your loft. Here are some ideas:

-we put carpet on top of the whole thing, just whatever is cheapest at home depot - I think we just got an area rug and cut it with an exacto-knife. Made it ALOT nicer and people were more willing to climb up on it.

-Depening on the height, you can put a chin-up bar in (as shown above, bottom row, middle picture). They're not too hard to machine and weld if you're into that, if you want the plans for ours post it in the discussion and i'll write them up.

-A pretty easy thing to do is to put a nail in somewhere easily reachable and then you can hang belts there.

-Also pretty easy thing is to make shelves between fenceposts. This might require more plywood spanning two of the posts to serve as a back to the shelves.

-A hammock.


Sources and inspiration

We'd like to thank Mark Potkewitz and Doug Kastendieck.

Further Ideas

Because we moved out of our dorm room, we had to dissassemble the loft. We cut the bottom part of the "L" off, kept the platform made up by the frame and plywood, then unscrewed everything else. In our apartment this year, we don't have high ceilings but we do have a lack of storage space, so we hoisted a chair up 3 feet in the air by building a throne out of the small part of the L. We use the big long part as a beirut table.


Follow these ideas and plans at your own risk. That is to say, we are not professionals and our design may not be structurally up to code. Please seek the approval of safety personnel and land lords before construction. We the administrators of this site shall not be liable for any losses, damages or injuries sustained resulting from this project and based upon this project outline.