How to Make a Retractable Bunk Bed Ladder

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Adding extra features to a bunk bed fosters the imagination of your children. Instead of climbing in and out of bed, they are suddenly climbing a mighty oak tree or scaling a massive castle. Retractable ladders are one type that works with beds because your kids can pull the ladder up once they reach the top bunk and drop the ladder before climbing down. You can make your own retractable ladder from rope and a few pieces of wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 1-by-6-by-18 inches wood boards (6)
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Foam paintbrush
  • Paint
  • Washers (12)
  • Rope
  • Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the bunk bed and add 24 inches to that length. This gives you the length of rope needed and also factors in the rope you'll use when tying the ladder to the bunk bed.

  • Sand six 1-by-6-by-18 inch wood boards with fine-grit sandpaper rubbed across the natural grain of the wood. Keep sanding until the wood feels smooth and all blemishes are removed. Apply a coat of primer to the wood with a foam paintbrush and let it dry. Rinse out the paintbrush then apply paint in a color that matches the room.

  • Drill two holes in one of the wood boards, one placed 2 inches from the end of one side and another 2 inches from the other end. Repeat this for each of the wood boards to make the steps of the ladder.

  • Set a metal washer on top of one of the holes. The rope will go through the washer, which keeps the rope from touching the rough wood inside the hole.

  • Push a piece of rope through the hole in the wood board then through the washer. Push the washer down so that it sits flush on top of the wood. Make a loop at the bottom of the rope and pull the end through then tie the rope into a knot. Make a second loop at the top of the hole and push the knot down so that it sits flush on the wood.

  • Measure 10 to 12 inches up from the first knot. Tie another knot and slide a board onto the rope. Place a washer on top and push the rope through the hole. Secure the board to the rope with another knot. Repeat this step to attach the other boards to one length of rope. Use a second piece of rope on the opposite end of the boards.

  • Set the rope ladder on top of the bunk bed. Twist the ropes over the top of the bunk bed and secure them with double knots. Your kids can raise or drop the ladder as needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • The typical bunk bed measures 6 feet in height, but you might need more or less rope depending on the height of yours.

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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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