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I built the below kit bunk bed for my kids and interested in reinforcing the posts to deal with some horizontal sway. It is constructed out of pine and connected with screws, barrel nuts and dowels. The posts are 2” x 2”. I planned to add additional slats but had some concerns on swaying when I would try and shake the bed. Considering adding some metal corner braces directly underneath the top bunk.

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  • Hi, welcome to StackExchange. Corner bracing, long as it's strong enough, will definitely help here. Diagonal bracing of some kind is the classic way to reinforce to lessen or prevent racking (the technical term for the sway you're noticing). Could you link to the metal braces you were thinking of adding?
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 22:05
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    I would re-check that you have really tighten all the barrel bolts The ones that lock the post and prevent the racking are the bottom headboards and the 4 top safety rails. The bottom foot would help hold the two front posts from racking to the side. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 1:21
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    I should have mentioned that the first thing to try was making sure all existing fasteners were tight! Another thing in this regard that seems to be rarely mentioned (but believe it or not Ikea instructions do sometimes specify) is to re-tighten everything after a certain amount of time. You might be surprised at just how much some screws or bolts can be tightened after about a month in service, an eighth of a turn extra on one or two of them wouldn't be unusual.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 8:10
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    @Graphus most bunk beds I've seen have vertically sectioned bed posts like that. The ones I had as a kid and the one my kids slept in were like that. Never had any noticeable issues with racking of any sort. With my oldest, if it would have rocked, he'd have rocked it! I agree with you that the hardware isn't tightened enough. Neither of the bunks I've had had any sort of diagonal bracing, either.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 17:57
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    If you found this bunk bed at a furniture store, I'd suggest you go back to the store and see if they one they have in the showroom shows any signs of racking or any additional bracing at the joints. I'm more than willing to bet that the answer is "no" to both questions. It's very highly likely that things just aren't tight enough.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 17:59

3 Answers 3

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I would re-check that you have really tightened all the barrel bolts The ones that lock the post and prevent the racking are the bottom headboards and the 4 top safety rails. Tightening the bottom foot post would help hold the two front posts from racking to the side.

OP –

After tightening, there is still a little rocking side to side in the front of the bunk bed when I give it a shake holding the top of the front posts. When grabbing the front two posts from the middle, that is when they will rock the most.

After looking at your bunkbed on the web, I believe these are the potential areas that are causing the problem on the front posts. The right side is the most problematic as there are not adequate side pieces attached to the post. See the picture below:

Insert picture.

On the top of the post under the upper bunk, you could add a L-bracket as shown below to provide additional bracing. At the bottom of the post, where a bracket is most needed, there is no bracing provided in the design of the bunkbed. It would be difficult to add a bracket at the bottom location without some modification to the bed frame.

enter image description here

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  • For the corners directly underneath the top bunk, will try to find triangle brackets or get some made. The 3/4" width limits options, but the L brackets seem easy enough to find at that width. For the lower posts you identified, any straight forward structural solutions I could do? I can easily add the mending plates to the middle joint that @Graphus mentioned, but sounded like that is better than nothing but probably not going to fully alleviate the issue. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 22:03
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The pine 2X2 corner uprights are skimpy ( have low modulus). I think it will require significant diagonal bracing in most corners to stiffen it. I used 1X4 oak boards connected in a "L" for the uprights : that stayed stiff for 45 years and two pairs of boys.

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Let me suggest a simpler, but more radical approach.

Drive several long screws through the bed rail which is against the wall, and into 2x4s in the wall. You'll need to locate the studs, of course, but that's not hard. When it comes time to move the bed, you'll need to patch the holes, but they shouldn't be a real problem.

If the bed frame currently does not butt against the wall, make a shim with some scrap wood to fill the gap in the areas the screws penetrate.

This is the standard approach when making large bookcases, and I don't see why it won't work in this case.

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