Guidelines for Building Hanging Beds

A tropical hanging bed via Selkie30 in Flickr.The idea of a hanging bed is two fold; the first is to provide space below, whether this is a tall space that allows for seating, or not so tall for some simple storage. The second idea of a hanging bed is to provide some motion. The latter reason is gaining popularity in many homes, especially those that house little ones. A hanging bed is not quite like a hammock, but still allows some motion.

From a builder’s perspective, a swinging bed may use fewer materials, especially if you can tap into the room’s framing. A simple frame that supports the mattress can be hung from sturdy chain or cables and provide a unique sleeping experience. You could also design a hanging bed from a fixed frame. If you go this swinging route keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Use strong chain or cable: I’m not talking about chains that can necessarily pull trucks out of deep mud holes, but you will need something way more robust than chain that is designed to hang lamps. A chain with welded links, like those found on a school yard swing set, or cables with heavy compression fittings should do the trick. Keep in mind that most chains designed for lifting have a 5:1 safety margin…to lift 100 pounds a 500 pound rated chain is used….how heavy or big you build will dictate the strength you need.


  • Eye bolts are safer than J bolts. To keep the chain from slipping off its support, an eye bolt should be used. The chain ends should use a link that opens with a screw gate. Bolt strength should match chain strength.


  • Use long bolt threads secured into framing.  At least 2” of thread should engage the framing squarely.  Remember… drywall is NOT for support.


  • Swing clearance + protection.  We used to have a hanging “sky-chair” in our living room. It was stylish and fun to sit in.  It also had a big swing arc -- big enough to hit the wall if young children and sugar were involved. Make sure the swing arc of your bed will not damage windows, walls or expensive artwork.


  • How to get in? Don’t make the bed too high without some sturdy means to get in and out.  Low hanging beds will have easy access, but a bigger swing arc. If the bed is closer to the ceiling it will swing less, but need some ladder type rig to allow access...though more sugar in your kids’ diet and small trampoline might work.



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