Bunk Bed Restoration

When I was a kid I had a hand me down bunk bed that was my dad’s when he was a kid.  The bed is made of solid oak and can be configured as two  separate beds or as on bunk bed.  The bed also has a ladder that simply hangs over the edge of the bed rail. The bed has a simple light colored finish (semi-transparent).

I have had the bed in storage in my garage for the past few years and I knew I ultimately wanted to eventually restore the bed for my son.  Well, Tyler is definitely ready for a big-boy bed, so I started the process of restoring this bed two weeks ago. Something that I never noticed when the bed was mine as a kid, was how badly the bed was banged up.  One leg was completely loose and is going to need re-glued.  Some spots on the headboards and bed rails have huge chips and scratches.  When I started this project I was pretty optimistic about how it was going to look.


After and Before During Sanding

Headboards showing the sanding progress, original on the right

It took me about 12 hours to completely sand down the old finish.  I did remove the old mattress slat hangers/rails on each bed rail (they were glued and nailed), but I am going to replace them later.  I also removed some detailed molding on the foot boards.  I am not going to finish the detailed molding or replace it, I just don’t thinks it adds to the bed’s style.  You can see the molding in the following photo.

detailed molding

Bed footer showing detailed molding which I removed later.


One issue I ran into was the fact that the glue that was holding the legs of the head and foot boards was kinda dried out and one leg was completely loose and showing cracks near the holes where the dowels were inserted.  The photos below show these issues.  I had to glue the cracked wood first, then re-glue the post back to the foot board.

Badly cracked dowel hole
Badly cracked dowel hole

Dowel crack clear to surface
Dowel crack clear to surface

Staining attempted…

Well, I started staining the bed, but noticed an issue right away.  I first stained the side boards which looked great and then moved on to a headboard.  Oh no, the original finish was still showing deep in the grains of the oak wood and  it wasn’t holding the stain.  What do I do?  My options were to re-sand the entire bed or to paint the bed.  Since it I wanted to have the bed done before christmas, I decided to paint the bed.  Off to Sherwin Williams for some paint. I bought two paints; a grey latex primer and a dark navy enamel latex.


I painted the entire bed with a single coat of the primer and then 3 coats of the enamel latex over a two week period.  One think that I didn’t like about the finish was the paint.  This paint was recommended by the staff at Sherwin Williams as an extremely durable paint.  I have noticed that several days after painting the paint is still tacky and easily sticks to other surfaces that the bed touches.  I am going to have to stop back to the store and ask t hem why the paint is behaving like this.

I then cut, drilled, and mounted all new slat rails with screws every 5 inches compared to the originally nailed slat rails (nailed every 16″).    I then measured and cut all the new slats for the bed.


I purchased some nice mattresses from the Room Doctor Furniture Co. which is a locally owned company that specializes in lofts and bunk beds, but also sell other items like futons and mattresses.  Below is a photo of the finished bed.  Tyler loves it.

Bunk Bed Restoration: finished

Bunk Bed Restoration: finished


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