How to build a custom, floating desk for your office or bedroom.
I love floating furniture. I just like how it looks, very modern and clean. But I also like that it keeps the floor space complete open and free which makes cleaning under the furniture simple. In fact, I love this stuff so much that it's one of my biggest Roomba Tips For A Cleaner Home. If you'd like to make a floating desk here's what you'll need to do.
PlanYou can plan simply with a pad of paper and pencil or get as complicated as a computer aided design (CAD) program on your computer. Either way, you need some sort of a plan before you build anything. Measure your space and draw a top view plan on a piece of paper, listing each measurement.
Go over this well as it will avoid mistakes later on. Based on your drawing make up the exact materials you'll needed to buy.
For my desk, I wanted an L shaped desk that fit in the corner of my space. I prefer this setup as it gives a "corner" area to setup a monitor and keyboard. For my plan, I made this inner corner have a 45 degree angle and the width of a keyboard. This design is also very strong as I can run a 2x4 along the front of this corner that stretches from one wall to the opposite (perpendicular) wall.
You'll want to make special note of where your wall studs are. You'll be hanging a ledger board along with two wall anchor pipes and these all need to attach to studs.
MaterialsThe exact materials depend on exactly how you design your desk. In general, you'll need:
- 2x4 Lumber
- 1/2" Plywood
- Flat Metal Brackets
- L Metal Brackets
- Deck Screws (3" and 1.5")
- Lag Screws (4" Self Tap SPAX Brand)
- 2" PVC Pipe
- 4x 45 Degree PVC Connectors (2")
- 4x Threaded PVC Connectors (2")
- 4x Metal Flanges (Threaded, 2")
- Spray Paint (For PVC Pipe)
- Latex Paint That Matches Wall Color (Or Counter Top Color)
- Jigsaw Or Miter Saw
- Drill With Bits
- Counter Top (Tiles Or Custom Made)
- Liquid Nails
- Silicone Caulk
- Tape Measure
- Stud Finder
- Safety Goggles (You're An Adult, Use As Needed)
Measure Twice, Cut OnceI cut two lengths of 2x4 to be my ledger board, which is a board that will attach to my walls with the 4" side flat against the wall. For my L shaped corner desk, I wanted around 21" of desktop depth so I built my 2x4 frame to hang 18" out from each wall. So my short 2x4 cuts are all 14.5" long (18" - the 3.5" 2x4 they butt into).
Get your PVC bits all figured out at this point. You'll basically be making a 45 degree support that attaches to your wall stud and to the bottom of each desk corner. Because you can't attach a PVC pipe at 45 degrees you need 45 degree connectors on each end. Then you add a connecter with threads on it which will thread into the metal flanges. The flanges then attach to the wall studs and desk corners.
Measure these and dry fit so you get the sizes right for you particular setup. Once you do, glue them together, and paint them so they can dry completely.
Before installing the ledger board to your wall, you'll want to cut some relief notches in the top. These notches will hold the 2x4 pieces that come out (away from the wall). Notching is a great way to get strength rather than just relying on screws and brackets. Each notch will be cut 1.5" deep and 3.5" wide (the true measurements of a 2x4).
Anywhere you have a short piece coming straight out of the wall, make a notch in the ledger board. I also have one long 2x4 that spans from one wall to the other at a 45 degree angle (under where my keyboard is). I notched the ledger to accept this board as well since that board carries the bulk of the desk weight. I have a second, shorter 2x4 on that same 45 degree angle further back (where the monitor goes) and notched for that as well.
You'll now attach the ledger board to your 2 walls, screwing it into the studs with the 4" SPAX lag screws. Make sure you've leveled this board perfectly or your entire desk will be off! Also, make sure you screw into each stud you can.
Next, install your 2x4 pieces that run at 45 degree angles in the notches and screw them down using 3" deck screws (pre-drill as needed). You'll still use metal L brackets here for added strength. A little liquid nails is a good idea as well.
You're about to run into a problem since you're building something floating and it's going to want to fall down. So it's time to install those two PVC support you made earlier. Attach a short 2x4 piece (18" in my design) to the each end of the ledger, use some liquid nails, and screw it down.
It will be wobbly under its own weight. Using a level and make it perfectly level while hold a PVC support under it. Once you get it in the right area mark the wall so you know where to screw the flange to the wall at. Screw in the flange to the wall stud, then to the bottom of the 18" long 2x4. Repeat on the other corner.
You now have your desk ends in place that can take some vertical weight but will still wobble in a lateral direction. You'll now add in a horizontal 2x4 to connect the 18" piece to the long 45 degree 2x4 using the 3" deck screws, butt joints, and some liquid nails. For added support, install flat metal plates under every connection you can.
Connect all other 2x4 pieces to further strengthen the structure. I space mine so that no gap was longer than 20" without a supporting 2x4.
Now that your desk structure is completely built and solidly attached to the wall, the support legs, and itself you need to sheath (or cover) it. In most cases, 1/2" plywood is the best bet. If you're tiling you may want to use plywood and then cover that with a hardi-board type product.
The plywood will tie the entire desk structure together and make it very solid and gives the countertop material something to attach to. If you're having your countertop professionally installed they'll take care of the plywood step for you.
If you're doing it yourself then cut the plywood to the same dimensions as your 2x4 frame. Liquid nail and screw it down using 1.5" deck screws. Let it dry and it should be very solid now.
Top It Off
The final top of the desk can be any material you want. I opted for a nice solid surface material that a kitchen counter top company created (based on my plans) and installed. These can be costly on a large desk ($500+) so cheaper options include tile or even painted MDF.
If you're flexible on your desk size and shape, try shopping at a counter top store and look for their remnants section. These will be pieces that were custom made for a customer who never used it, or small sections that were leftover from a job, or just pieces with defects. They're usually a fraction of the cost of a custom made / cut piece.
If you paint MDF, the best option is to spray paint several coats onto well cleaned MDF. Then cover it with a durable clearcoat. It won't last forever but I've gotten several years out of these with only minor wear. When it goes bad just repaint it as needed. The key is attaching it with short screws from the bottom side so that you can easily remove it and fix/replace as needed. Don't glue it down!
Tiling is another good option but choosing something like granite tiles with either no grout joint or the smallest possible grout joint will be best since you want a smooth surface. Most ceramic tiles don't make the best desktop surface to work on since they have rounded edges that make for a bumpy surface.
Regardless of the material you use, be sure to cut a hole or two (1" diameter or so) that will allow you to run cables through everything.
So there you go, a completely custom made desk that can be very cheap depending on the desktop material you choose. You can also learn how to Make A Remote Power Switch that can turn all of your electronics on and off with a single switch (no more vampire energy draining).
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