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How to Build a Wooden Step Ladder: Easy DIY 2×4 Ladder

Quick & Easy DIY steps & video showing How to Build a Wooden Step Ladder from 2x4’s. Perfect for a playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or tiny house.

How To Build A Wooden Step Ladder

Hi guys! I’m back with another DIY project from that big Kids Playhouse Build I’ve been working on.

Last week, I shared that easy, cute, and colorful DIY Kids Climbing Rock Wall. Having a few different types of climbing elements on a playhouse is more interesting and fun, right?!

Image of a DIY Wooden Ladder made with 2x4 lumber. With steps to build a leaning ladder for playhouse, beds, loft, or tiny house.

Some links on this post are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. 

Today, I’m showing you how to build a wooden step ladder from 2x4’s that looks great and is super sturdy. 

This DIY 2x4 Ladder is perfect for your bunk bed, loft, backyard play set, fort, tiny house or playhouse.

What You’ll Need

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to make a leaning wooden Ladder.

  • Tools: Power Drill and Miter Saw or Circular Saw
  • For Exterior Ladders
    • Pressure-Treated 2x4’s
    • 3 1/2″ to 4″ Exterior Deck Screws
    • Exterior Deck Paint or Stain
  • For Interior Ladders
    • Untreated 2x4’s, framing studs
    • 3 1/2″ to 4″ Self-Tapping Wood Screws
    • Chalk Paint, Wood Stain, or Latex Paint would all work
Here's How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere. DIY Step Ladder - How to Make a DIY 2x4 Step Ladder
Don’t forget to Save this DIY on Pinterest.

DIY 2x4 Ladder Video Steps

I always think it’s easier to understand a project if I can see someone doing it. Here’s a quick step by step walk through of how I built this leaning 2x4 step ladder.

Watch this for more tips that will help you build your own. 🙂

How to Build a Step Ladder - Make an EASY DIY Ladder for a Playhouse, Loft, or Tiny House

How To Build A Ladder

Step One

Note: You can see exactly how I mark and cut these angles in the video above.

Start by leaning a 2x4 against the wall where you want to lean your wooden step ladder. I think that makes it easier to decide what angle will be most comfortable for that spot.

Once you have the lean right, put another 2x4 on it’s side, on the floor, against the leaning 2x4. Use a pencil to mark the angle you’ll need to cut on your miter saw.

Here's my quick and easy DIY steps for How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere.
You can find more videos from this Kids Playhouse build in this playlist on YouTube. Including the video for how I installed that Gable Vent to the right of that ladder. And, how I installed the ridge cap shingles on that shed roof. 🙂

After marking the angle, line up the cut on your Miter Saw so that the blade will cut along the pencil mark. Be sure to follow safe usage rules for your Miter Saw when making the cut.

If you don’t have a Miter Saw, you can build a small step ladder with a circular saw instead. You’ll have to use a Speed Square to mark your angles.

Step Two

Once the bottom of the ladder is cut, cut the length of that 2x4 so that it’s even with the top of whatever it’s leaning against.

Use another 2x4 laying across the top of the playhouse, loft, bed, or whatever it is to mark that angle cut. You want the top of the ladder even with the top of where it will be installed.

That top angle should be the same as the angle you cut on the bottom too. But, it’s always worth a double-check.

Holding a board flat against the side of the playhouse to mark where to cut the back of the ladder.

Now that the height is right on your DIY wooden ladder, you need to cut the back of the ladder to get more contact against the wall it leans on.

To do this, I hold a board flat against the spot, then use that board to draw a straight cut line on the side of the 2x4.

Now that you have the first side of your ladder cut and you’ve checked to make sure it’s perfect, you can use that as your template for your cuts to make the other side of the ladder.

Step Three

Use the same angle you used for the bottom of the ladder to mark the steps on your ladder. That will make your steps perfectly level with the floor or ground beneath the DIY ladder.

Mark the steps for your wooden step ladder with the same angle you cut the ends with to get steps that are even with the floor.

For a kids ladder keep the steps 9 to 12″ apart, depending on the age of the kids. To build a small step ladder for grown ups, I’d stick with 11 to 13″ spacing. 

You can see an explanation of how I picked the spacing for my ladder steps in the video above.

Basically, I measured the length of my sides and picked a spacing that didn’t leave me with an awkwardly short or long top step.

Step Four

Cut your ladder steps. Around 18″ is a comfortable width for climbing, but you can adjust that for your space. Then screw the steps into place using the marks you made as a guide to keep the steps level.

You can also use 2 scrap blocks cut with your angle to stop the steps from moving while you’re screwing them into place.

I clamped a small board to each side of the ladder that has the angle cut into the end. That will help you hold the step in place when screwing them in.

Step Five

Paint, stain or seal your ladder, then attach it to the playhouse, fort, loft, or bunk bed you built it for. To attach the ladder, you can carefully screw through the top, front of the ladder sides.

Be sure to pick a screw length that goes deep enough into the wood you are attaching the ladder to to make it secure and sturdy. I’d use 2 screws on each side for this

OR, you can do what I did, and attach a 2x4 between the 2 sides, then screw the sides into that 2x4. I thought that would provide the strongest connection for me. But, if done correctly, either way can work. 🙂

Here's my quick and easy DIY steps for How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere.
I love this little wooden step ladder and it was a low cost, pretty quick and easy build.

More Pics from this Build

Some more finished pictures the DIY wooden step ladder I made for our playhouse.

Here's my quick and easy DIY steps for How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere.
This little ladder leads to a tree house level deck on top of this playhouse.
Here's my quick and easy DIY steps for How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere.
So, now that you know how to build a small step ladder, get out there and make your own. Have fun!
Here's How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere. DIY Step Ladder - How to Make a DIY 2x4 Step Ladder
Don’t forget to Save this DIY on Pinterest.

Build A Small Step Ladder, from 2x4's

Here's my quick and easy DIY steps for How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere.
Here's How to Build a Small Step Ladder from 2x4's for your playhouse, loft, bunk bed, or anywhere.

Tools

Instructions

  1. If possible, lean the 2×4 against the spot where you need to build a small step ladder. I think that makes it easier to decide what angle will be most comfortable for that spot. Then, you can use a triangle calculator to find the angle for your miter saw. Use the height you need the ladder for one length. The distance across the floor or ground you picked for your incline. AND, lastly, 90 degrees as the angle between those 2 lengths. Then the triangle calculator will tell you what the angle of your cuts will be. Yay, for online calculators!!!
  2. Use a Miter Saw to carefully cut the bottom angle. Then you can put that board back in the spot you’re building it for to mark the spot to make the top cut with the same angle. If you don’t have a Miter Saw, you can build a small step ladder with a circular saw instead. You’ll have to use a Speed Square to mark your angles. The next step I use to build a small step ladder is cutting the back of the ladder so that it leans against the spot I’m building it for. To do this, I hold a board flat against the spot, then use that board to draw a straight cut line on the ladder side. You can make that cut with a Miter Saw or Circular Saw. Once you have the first side of your ladder cut and you’ve checked to make sure it’s perfect, you can use that as your template for your cuts on the other side of the ladder.
  3. Use the same angle you used for the cuts to mark the steps on your ladder. That will make your steps perfectly level with the floor or ground beneath the ladder. For a kids ladder keep the steps 9 to 12″ apart, depending on the age of the kids. To build a small step ladder for grown ups, I’d stick with 11 to 13″ spacing. You can see an explanation of how I picked the spacing for my ladder steps in the video above. Basically, I measured the length of my sides and picked a spacing that didn’t leave me with an awkwardly short or long top step.
  4. Cut your ladder steps. Around 18″ is a comfortable width for climbing, but you can adjust that for your space. Then screw the steps into place using the marks you made as a guide to keep the steps level. You can also use 2 scrap blocks cut with your angle to stop the steps from moving while you’re screwing them into place.
  5. Paint, stain or seal your ladder, then attach it to the playhouse, fort, loft, or bunk bed you built it for. To attach the ladder, you can carefully screw through the top, front of the ladder sides. Be sure to pick a screw length that goes deep enough into the wood you are attaching the ladder to to make it secure and sturdy. I’d use 2 screws on each side for this. OR, you can do what I did, and attach a 2×4 between the 2 sides, then screw the sides into that 2×4. I thought that would provide the strongest connection for me. But, if done correctly, either way can work.

Notes

I always think it’s easier to understand a project if I can see someone doing it. Here’s a quick step by step walk through of how I built this small step ladder from 2×4’s that I think will help you build your own.

That’s it for how to build a wooden step ladder from 2x4’s. You can find more of the DIY Kids Wooden Playhouse videos on my YouTube Channel.

More DIY Projects For You

You might also like this easy tutorial for how to make a kids climbing wall.

Easy to follow steps and video to make a kids climbing ramp, or rock climbing wall, for that backyard playhouse, fort, or play set. Fun design, right?! DIY Kids Rock Climbing Wall or Ramp.

Or this step by step DIY Kids Play Kitchen tutorial with printable build plans.

Yay! This Kids Play Kitchen DIY Woodworking Plan is an easy woodworking build with lots of fun additions that little kids will love! I have the tutorial, printable plans, and a video to help you get this built. #AbbottsAtHome #KidsKitchen #PlayKitchen #KidsKitchen #KidsFurniture #woodworking

You might also like this Simple DIY Coffered Ceiling Design makeover.

Try this Simple DIY Coffered Ceiling Design I used to give my Dining Room ceiling a beautiful new look. Includes lots of pictures and a how to video. DIY Ceiling Design Ideas. DIY Ceiling Makeover Ideas.

Or this beautiful DIY Board and Batten Wall tutorial.

This beautiful DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting has completely updated this bedroom with a new high end designer look. And it was pretty easy. See the full tutorial and DIY tips here. #AbbottsAtHome #Wainscoting #DIYProjects #HomeRemodeling

Check out How to Removed Glued Wood Flooring on Concrete.

DIY tips and video showing How to Remove Glued Wood Flooring or Engineered Wood Flooring and Flooring Adhesive on Concrete.

That’s it for how to make a wooden step ladder from 2x4’s. Let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

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