Bunk Beds and Mattresses – Buying Guide

Bunk Beds with Mattresses

Did you have a bunk bed when you were a child? If you did, wasn’t it exciting! Okay, maybe there were one or two arguments at the start about who would sleep on the top bunk, but all in all, it was a bit of an adventure, right? Meanwhile, it solved a few problems for your parents about the family sleeping arrangements and how they would fit everyone in each room.

Bunk Beds and Mattresses.
Bright airy room with bunk beds, create more space in the room for playtime.

If your kids have to share a room and you think a set of children’s bunk beds could be the solution, but you don’t know where to start, this guide is for you. You may have seen a range of opinions on the internet about bunk beds, so we start by asking the first major question:

Are bunk beds a good idea?

Safety is the main concern about bunk beds, but you can take steps to address this and assure yourself the peace of mind that your children are going to sleep soundly and safely. Accessibility can sometimes be an issue, but with sound planning and an awareness of the amount of space you actually have in the children’s bedroom, you can overcome these issues.

What makes them a good idea? The big advantage is that they can save you a lot of space, making them ideal for small bedrooms. Not only that, despite sharing a room and depending on the design of the bed, the kids can still have some privacy. Bunk beds are a cool option, too, if your child(ren) has reached an age at which they like to have their friends stay over in the evenings.

What age can children go in bunk beds?

No child under the age of 6 years old should sleep on the top bunk. Some sources go even further in their caution and suggest not letting children under the age of 9 years sleep on the top bunk.

The other common recommendation is that if you’re going to buy bunk beds for your children, you should fit two guard rails on the top bunk. This is imperative. Just like adults, children move about when they sleep and could fall.


How much height do you need for bunk beds?

You can’t just rush straight out and buy a bunk bed. If only life was that simple! When sizing up your bunk bed, you should make sure there are at least 30 inches (2.5 feet) of space between the top bunk and the ceiling. You don’t want your child to bang their head on the ceiling. Regarding the height of bunk beds, the average height is 5.5 to 6 feet tall.  

Do you need a special mattress for bunk beds?

Although it’s possible to buy bunk bed mattresses, you can use a regular mattress for your children’s bunk beds. The mattress size should match the bed size. You do need to be very careful of the depth of the mattress for the top bunk bed. For the child’s safety, this mattress should not be any deeper than 7 inches in depth. If it is, the child could roll over the guard rail and have a serious accident. 

Is there a weight limit for bunk beds?

Bunk beds are fairly sturdy and can handle a reasonable amount of weight. Ideally, no one weighing more than 175 lbs (79 kilos) should sleep on the top bunk, whereas anyone over 200 lbs (90 kilos) should avoid using the bottom one. Although these upper limits are weights resembling more closely that of adults, they’re worth considering if you’re buying the bunk beds for teenagers. If you’re not sure if there’s a weight limit on the beds, contact the retailer before you order.

Different types of bunk beds

Variety is the spice of life, and bunk beds are no different. It all depends on what you want from them. Here are some of the different types of children’s bunk beds we offer and why you might wish to choose them:

Bunk beds close to the ground

Bunk beds that are lower to the ground are more suitable for younger children. Although height is less of an issue for children when it comes to getting in and out of bed, small children will find these easier to climb into. In any case, if you have a low ceiling, a lower bunk bed is more appropriate. You can enjoy the bonus of not having to climb the ladder to kiss them goodnight!

Flair Flick Wooden Bunk Bed
Children’s bunk beds with hand shelving.

Bunk beds with ladders

You’ll see that some of our bunk beds have a type of side latter, which fits onto the bed itself and doesn’t take up any floor space. Others stand at more of an angle. Space and how much the ladder will take up when you hook it onto the bed will be a factor you’ll need to consider when choosing your children’s bunk bed. Depending on the bed, it’s possible to remove the angled ladders, but you should check the product description first.

Sweet Dreams Kipling Bunk Bed
Children’s bunk bed with angled removable ladder.

Bunk beds with play features or themes

Bunk beds don’t all have to be serious! Younger children might appreciate bunk beds that have some play feature or theme about them. This type of bed can work well with the decor if it has themed wallpaper. They won’t be able to wait to climb into bed, which will come in handy for their bedtime routine.

Julian Bowen London Bus Bunk Bed
Themed Children’s bunk bed of a London Bus, all aboard!

Bunk beds with storage

As mentioned, one of a bunk bed’s main advantages is the space it can save you, especially if it comes with storage facilities, which some bunk beds do. Some feature drawers, some come with shelves, and some even have cupboards. Failing that, in the case of most beds, you can store stuff in the space under the bed if they don’t offer storage space.

Stompa White Bunk Bed
Children’s bunk bed with handy storage facilities for all those toys.

Bunk beds with desks

When you’re looking to save some space, a children’s bunk bed with a desk can come to the rescue, too. This is particularly handy for older children, who may need a space to do homework or work on school projects. 

Bunk beds with desks could be a touch more expensive at first glance, but compare the overall cost of buying a bed plus other furniture, such as the desk and wardrobe for your children’s bedroom, and there’s potential to save some money.

Triple sleepers

If you have three children or more and space is especially tight, have no fear: triple sleepers are here. These feature a double bed on the bottom bunk but a smaller top bunk. Triple sleepers also work well for parents who share a room with their children.

Artisan Oak 3 Sleeper
Wooden bunk bed with drawer storage. This can be painted should you change the colour scheme of the room at a later date.

Trundle beds

There’s no reason for your kids to stop having their friends over when they’re already sharing a room. The solution? A trundle bed. You can pull these beds out conveniently, from under the bottom bunk, and once the children’s guest has left, you can slide the bed back into its original spot.

Stompa White Bunk Bed With Trundle
Trundle bunk bed with pull out sleep area.

How do I choose a bunk bed?

It would be wonderful if we could all go online or into a shop, pick out a bunk bed in a few minutes and ask the retailer to deliver it within the next few days. That’s possible, of course, but it’s not the best idea! There are steps you should take first:

Check the size of the room

It’s no use buying a really awesome bed and then finding out it doesn’t fit the space, so you need to measure the room’s size. In particular, you should measure the distance from the floor to the ceiling and compare it with the height of the bed you’re buying. You should leave at least 30 inches (2.5 feet) between the top bunk and the ceiling to protect the child from bashing their head when they sit up.

It would be best if you also thought about ladders. If the ladder stands at a slant to the bed, you’ll have to account for this. Note that it’s possible to remove the ladder from the bed.

Make sure the bunk bed will be age appropriate

This one is about planning, especially if you weigh up different costs. If you’re opting for a themed bed, you should make sure it’s appropriate for them. Two young boys wouldn’t want a My Little Pony-themed bed, for instance. Not only that, children don’t remain children forever. As they get older, a themed bed may feel childish to them, and you may have to buy a new bed for them further down the line.

Safety comes into play here, too. A bed with ladders may be unsuitable for the children. If they’re younger children, a bed with stairs could be a more suitable option. Depending on their age, a standard children’s bed may even be better.

How do you know if a child is ready for the top bunk?

There are several different criteria that indicate whether a child is ready for the top bunk:

  • The child is older than 6 years.
  • The child can climb the ladder comfortably.
  • The child is potty trained – a child that isn’t potty trained shouldn’t be sleeping on the top bunk.
  • The child understands clearly the safety requirements for using the top bunk.

If the child meets the above criteria and if you need the space, you can proceed with buying a children’s bunk bed with a ladder. If the child is young and/or uncomfortable with using a ladder, you should choose another option. Safety comes first.

Choose the right type and style

Before you place the order, you should know how the bunk bed will fit into the room rather than just order and hope. Bunk beds come in different varieties, so you have to think about things such as the room’s size and configuration, especially if you’re planning to buy a high sleeper, an L-shaped bunk bed, or a triple bunk bed.

That goes for the style of the bunk bed, too. Will it go with the rest of the room? There are several different styles you might wish to consider:

  • The traditional style has an elegant, timeless look, showing off fine and functional carving without being too edgy. 
  • Country – The country look is delicate, rural, and evokes memories of older fashioned furniture. It works well in mountain-dwelling places and cottages.
  • Modern – The modern style is all about functionality and purpose. The shapes are clean and efficient. They blend practicality with visual elegance, bringing both together in one piece of furniture.
  • Contemporary – Contemporary style can combine varied styles, textures, and themes. It’s all about looking fresh and original.
  • Industrial – Industrial style features a blend of wood and metal. The look suggests purpose, and the materials work together to produce a sturdy bed.

Determine which features are important 

Naturally, you have to figure out why you want a bunk bed in the first place and then decide your priorities when it comes to buying one for the kids. This will help you decide which features are important. 

  • Is storage an issue – in which case, do you want a bed with shelves or drawers? 
  • Are you planning to share the room with your kids at night? You might then consider a triple bunk bed.
  • Is cost an issue? In that case, you might prefer a metal bed instead of a wooden one. 
  • Perhaps design is more important to you? If so, you might favour a traditional design with no desk or storage features rather than a modern one that has them. 

These are all examples of aspects that could influence your decision. Thinking carefully about them will enable you to choose the right bed for your young ones.

Sleeping child

Make sure the bunk beds are strong

Kids aren’t always as gentle as adults are with furniture, so you’ve got to make sure the bunk beds can withstand the harsh treatment they could come in for from the little ones. The furniture in the room must be durable. If you can give the bunk bed in the store a shake, do so and then see what happens (other than provoke an angry stare from the shop assistant, potentially).

Check the accessibility

You’ve got to think, too, about how the children are going to climb in and out of bed. Can they do so comfortably? Do they need stairs or ladders? Will the ladders get in the way? You don’t want your children to trip up on them or have an accident. 

What about the guard rails? Are they obstructing the children as they get into bed? Please don’t remove them without speaking to the retailer first for advice. 

Consider safety

Safety is paramount. The bunk bed should have guard rails, headboards, and footboards. Check that your children understand the rules around using the bunk bed correctly. Test, too, that they’ll be comfortable using the bunk bed ladder. If they’re not, you should either choose a bed with stairs instead or opt for a standard children’s bed.

Smily girl with paint on hands

What should the bunk bed be made of?

You can get bunk beds made of wood or of metal. Which one is right for you? Well, each has its advantages.

Metal bunk beds 

If budget is a factor, metal beds are a more viable option. They’re sturdy, last a long time, and are a little bit cheaper than wooden beds. You can move from house to house, and they’ll resist all the scrapes and bumps. They’re easy to clean, too.

If there’s one minor drawback of metal beds, it’s that they’re cold to the touch. This might not be so bad in summer, but in winter, it could be less convenient. Of course, some nice warm bedding could help to resolve the issue.

Note that we offer financing options on some of our beds, so if you fancy a wooden bed, but it’s out of your initial price range, don’t rule it out. Contact our team and discuss the different payment options with them. You might not have to miss out on that cosy bed for your kids, after all.

Birlea Corfu Metal Bunk Bed

Wooden bunk beds

Like metal beds, wooden beds are relatively strong, but they’re a little more expensive than metal beds (although not hideously so). 

The great advantage to wooden beds is their versatility in fitting in with the rest of the room’s design. You can stain and paint the wood to suit the rest of the decor. As your children grow older, you might wish to repaint it to bring the bed’s appearance more into line with their tastes. Refinishing the wood would involve disassembling the bunk bed and treating each part separately to get the best results, so be sure you want to do this!

Their versatility isn’t their only outstanding attribute. The wood can make a room feel pleasant and cosy, which gives it a warmer atmosphere. Want to make the room that little bit more inviting? Wood is the material for the job. 

Artisan Wooden Bunk Bed

How to look after your kids’ bunk beds

Naturally, you want the children’s bunk beds to last for as long as possible. There are different ways you can take care of them. Here are a few tips to keep them ship-shape and get more out of the furniture:

Conduct regular checks

You should check the beds’ structure every two or three months and that everything is in order once or more. Look for loose nuts and bolts or any other connecting parts that might have started to un-tighten themselves. If you’ve bought wooden bunk beds for your children, inspect the wood and keep your eye out for any changes in it. If the bed is metal, watch out for any missing screws and replace them immediately. Be on the lookout, too, for any sharp edges.

Ensure the kids use the bunk beds properly

It’ll be pretty hard, not to mention unsafe, for a child to jump up and down on a bunk bed – but even so, you should make sure they don’t try to. You never know when they might give in to temptation and have a go! It would help if you also were careful not to overload the top bunk with too much weight. If you find yourself needing to sleep in the children’s bunk beds for any reason, check whether with the supplier whether there are any weight limits on the bed.

Be careful when moving the bed

Trying to move the whole bed at once could damage it. The best thing to do if you have to move the bed – let’s suppose you’re moving, for instance – is to dismantle it, and then when you get to the new destination or storage space of the bed, reassemble it. When you put the bed back together, be sure you’ve not missed any parts and have assembled the bed correctly. Not doing so could affect the sturdiness of the bed.

Look after any storage drawers

Oil any drawers in the bunk bed so that the kids can pull and push them in or out smoothly. Ensure that the handles are firmly attached and that the drawers can move in and out without anything obstructing them. 

Clean the bed

This should go without saying, but you’ve got to keep the bed clean. Polishing a wooden bed will protect the finish of the wood and keep the bed clean and elegant-looking. Not only this, but it will provide you with the opportunity to spot any problems with the bed or the wood and address them. 

Kids love bunk beds. There’s a sense of adventure about slipping into one. You can allow kids that adventure, but you should always choose the right bed for your children. Be a party pooper if you have to and put the practicalities, especially safety, before the niceties, so you make the right decision. Then the children can have much more adventure for much longer with their bunk bed.

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