How to Add a Finish to a Bunk Bed Ladder

What You'll Need
Tack cloth
Polyurethane finish
Steel wool

A bunk bed ladder is vital to give access to that top bunk. Having constructed the ladder, however, you need to finish it to avoid splinters in the hands and the feet when climbing up and down. It’s not a complex job, but it is one that takes time and effort. The work will be worthwhile as the ladder will look as good as the rest of the bunk bed.

Step 1 - Sanding

You can’t just sand the rungs and sides, you need to be sure that you sand every part, in all the corners. For the outside of the ladder you can use an orbital sander, as there’s a long flat stretch.

However, for the rungs and insides of the sides you’ll need to sand by hand. Make sure you wear safety goggles and a dust mask to keep the sawdust away from your face. After sanding all area, run your fingertips over all the surfaces of the bunk bed ladder to ensure everything is smooth. Complete the process by using a tack cloth to remove all the sawdust.

Step 2 - Staining

Whether you stain the wood or not is your choice, and will depend in part on the wood of the bunk bed and the wood you’ve used for the bunk bed ladder. If you’re going to use stain, apply a think coat with a paint brush.

The easiest way will be to stand the ladder up, leaning against a wall. It means you can’t stain the entire ladder at one time. Apply stain to the front and rings. Allow it to dry, flip the ladder over and cover more of the ladder. Once that has dried, place the ladder on its side in order to stain the ends. You should apply two thin coats of stain to the ladder.

Step 3 - Finishing

It’s important to put a finish on the bunk bed ladders. Polyurethane is ideal for this. To apply the first coat, lean the ladder against the wall as you would for staining. Apply the first coat of finish with a paintbrush in exactly the same manner as you would the stain, allowing ample time to dry and being sure to finish by applying the polyurethane to the ends of the ladder. Once completely dry, sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper and remove the sawdust with a tack cloth.

Step 4 - More Polyurethane

Apply a second coat of polyurethane to the bunk bed latter and allow it to dry. Once again, sand it lightly after it’s dried and remove the sawdust. You should use at least three coats of polyurethane on the bunk bed ladder. This will give a good, hard finish that will last for years. Pay special attention to the rungs as these will receive the greatest wear.

Wait a week and then use 0000 steel wool lightly on the ladder, followed by a tack cloth and complete with a thin coat of paste wax on the wood.