How to Build a Lightweight Copper Bunk Ladder
When we had our daughter’s bunk custom built, we needed to come up with a solution for the ladder. We looked at stainless ladders, wood ladders and foldable bunk ladders, but we could not find something that would be non-intrusive, easy to stow and sturdy enough for a growing teen within our price range. Enter creativity and a blowtorch…
Designing and Building a Custom DIY Ladder from Copper Pipe
This custom built DIY bunkbed ladder is constructed of standard 3/4″ copper pipe and fittings that we purchased at the local Lowe’s and welded together using a simple kit also from our local big box store. We used rubber feet for the stand-offs and copper end caps for the secure connection to the bunk as well as for the feet of the ladder. T-fittings and a combination of elbows and 90° angles along with straight pipe create the handles and ladder rungs.
The first step was taking very careful measurements. We figured out the distance from the floor to the edge of the bunk where we wanted the stand-offs to contact and determined where we wanted the top rung to land based on a good footing position to overtake the side of the bunk when climbing in. We added about 1/2″ overall to account for compression of the carpet and padding once the ladder is stood upon. At each step, we once again dry-fitted the ladder inside the rig to ensure that our measurements were correct and the final project would meet our needs.
The ladder rungs were placed at 13 1/2″ apart which, with our specific measurements, meant that there would be four rungs, the first placed at 11 1/2″ off the floor which is a comfortable distance for our 13yo daughter. Each rung was welded in place and allowed to cool. We used our Ove Gloves to handle the ladder in between weldings!
How to Secure a DIY Ladder to a Bunk
After assembling the basic ladder and rungs, we fitted the standoffs which were simply two T-fittings at the top of the ladder sides attached facing toward the bunk, with two rubber feet slipped on the ends to prevent rubbing. This allows the ladder to be angled just slightly away from the bunk so that it’s easier to climb.
The ladder is attached to the bunk by means of 3/4″ copper caps fitted into countersunk 1″ holes into which the 3/4″ pipe ends socket securely. The entire unit is extremely rigid and secure once in place, but can be easily removed and stowed inside the bunk when folded.
The ladder is positioned such that the flip-down cabinet door that allows access at the floor level to the catbox hidden in the desk below is not obstructed. When the jackknife sofa is opened, there is still plenty of room to pass through.
This ladder has met and exceeded our criteria and expectations. It is lightweight, it easily stows inside the closed bunk when necessary and it does not obstruct the view through the rig. It’s easy for our daughter to use, and attractive as well! Win-win, we think! What do you think?