DIY Floating Desk

DIY Floating Desk

We recently made over the playroom and I kept functionality as one of the top priorities for the space. One of the first things I knew wanted to incorporate was a floating desk running along one of the walls. I wanted it long enough and deep enough for it to be used for crafting, school work, playing with legos, etc. and without it taking up too much room. And the best part? We built it for under $40!

What’s unique about this floating desk is that the ends are not butting up against adjacent walls. It is truly a floating desk. An update that we will be making to the desk are two wooden braces on the left and right side. But first, we wanted to see how it would do without them. It’s sturdy but the braces will make it even sturdier. If you’re ready to incorporate one of these fun desks in your home, if for you or your kids, here’s the full tutorial with how you can!

Materials Needed
  • 1/4″ birch plywood
  • 2 x 3s (You’ll need to calculate how many you need based off of the size you’re making the floating desk)
  • Miter saw
  • Jigsaw / circular saw / table saw – whichever you prefer to cut down the sheet of plywood
  • Drill
  • Stud finder
  • 3″ Wood construction screws
  • 2″ Wood construction screws
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Level
Building the Frame

The first thing you’ll want to do is determine the width and depth of your floating desk. One thing we took into consideration is how much of the wall we wanted the floating desk to stretch across. And the other how far we wanted it to stick out without. One of the things we were working around is this large window on the adjacent wall to the right. I personally didn’t want the desk sticking so far out, it awkwardly blocked part of the window.

With all that said, we decided to make our floating desk 68 1/2 inches wide and 15 inches deep. Knowing those measurements, we could get started on the frame built out of 2x3s. Side note: we went with 2 x 3s versus 2 x 4s because we didn’t want the floating desk too thick/wide.

The 2 x 3 that runs along the back of the frame will be cut to your desired width for the floating desk. In our case, it our back piece was cut to 68 1/2 inches. This will be the board that’s attached to the wall.

You’ll then want to add the sides and interior support for the floating desk. You’ll do this by cutting a few more 2 x 3 pieces that are your desired depth. BUT keep in mind, you need to subtract the width of the back and front 2 x 3 piece fo factor in how long you’re cutting the support and side pieces.

Attach two 2 x 3s flushed on both ends and then a few more in the middle evenly spaced out. Apply wood glue on the end of the smaller 2 x4 and secure it by using a 2 inch wood construction screw by drilling in from the backside of the long 2 x 3. Then attach the front 2 x 3 piece by screwing into the interior pieces. that’s the length of your desk. Your frame is now ready for the wall!

Attaching the Frame to the Wall

When attaching the frame to the wall, you’ll need an extra set of hands! First locate the studs in the wall with a stud finder and mark with a pencil where they are. Determine the height you want your floating desk. For us, we wanted a height that was perfect for our toddler when sitting and when standing. The top of our desk sits at 24 inches.

Placing the back of the frame against the wall at your desired height, place a level on top to make sure it is level before screwing it into place. This is when you’ll need an extra set of hands! Once it is level, drill two 3″ wood contraction screws through the 2 x 3 into each stud. It is SO important to drill into the studs to confidently secure it to the wall and for stability.

Attaching the Desk Surfaces (Front, Sides, Top, Bottom)

The goal for our floating desk was to make it look like a thick board. For the surface of the desk we went with 1/4″ inch birch plywood. It wasn’t necessary to go with a thick piece and it helps to prevent adding to much weight to the floating desk. I also decided to go with birch because it’s a beautiful looking piece of plywood. Knowing that we weren’t going to stain or paint our floating desk, birch still allows it to look very pretty and finished.

To cut the pieces that will attach and cover the frame, you’ll want to start by measuring the surface area of the top of the frame. You’ll want to add the thickness of the plywood, in our case 1/4″, to the right/left side and the front piece of the plywood to your overall measurement. You’ll do this so when attaching all the sides together, they’ll fit nicely together while hiding the frame. Otherwise, you’ll create a gap between the boards.

Apply wood glue on top section of the 2x4s. Place the piece of plywood on top and make sure it’s centered and flush with the wall. To make sure there’s even pressure along the top as the glue is drying, place a 2 x 3 along the tenth of the front and back. Then clamp them down for the needed pressure. Once it’s dry (usually about 30 minutes), move on to the next section.

Tip: You can use a brad nailer to attach the pieces of plywood. I opted not to since we aren’t staining or painting the desk. I didn’t want nail holes filled in with wood putty that would be visible. And don’t worry, wood glue along is powerful enough to hold everything in place.

Next will be the front piece. Take your measurements add the thickness of plywood to the left/right side and the bottom side. Apply wood glue along the front of the 2 x 3s, put the front piece of plywood in place, and secure it with the clamps.

Now for the side pieces. When taking the measurement for the side pieces, you’ll a only have to add the thickness of the plywood to your overall measure for along the bottom. Attach these pieces the same way as you did the others with the wood glue and clamps.

When attaching the bottom piece, take the exact measurement. You won’t have to add anything additional. We attached the bottom section a little different than all the others and here’s why. If you remember, we installed this floating desk that works for our toddler currently. As he grows, we want this desk to grow with him. Therefore, we want to be able to easily adjust the height for the desk down the road.

To ensure that we can do this, we did not use any wood glue for the bottom side. We then attached the piece of plywood using construction screws by drilling into the 2 x 3 pieces. We placed a screw at each corner and 2 evenly spread out along the front and 2 along the back.

The floating desk is done! We choose to keep our floating desk the natural color so we applied two coats of polycrylic in matte to seal it. We’re planning to revisit the floating desk if we need to when it comes to adding additional braces along the bottom for support. But as of right now, it’s doing great!

You can see the full playroom reveal here and keep checking back for additional DIY projects in this space. There were a lot of amazing ones we completed to make this space possible.

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