Bunk Beds and Mattresses – Buying Guide

Childs Bunk Bed.
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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 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 rooms 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 begin by asking the first significant question:

Are bunk beds a good idea?

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

What makes them a good idea? The significant 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 an excellent 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 six years old should sleep on the top bunk. Some sources even further caution and suggest not letting children under nine years sleep on the top bunk.

The other standard recommendation is that if you 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 your bunk bed, ensure 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 roof. Regarding the height of bunk beds, the average size is 5.5 to 6 feet tall.  

Do you need a particular mattress for bunk beds?

Although buying bunk bed mattresses is possible, you can use a regular mattress for your children’s bunk beds. The mattress size should match the bed size. It would be best if you were very careful of the depth of the mattress for the top bunk bed. This mattress should not be any deeper than 7 inches for the child’s safety. If it is, the child could roll over the guard rail and have a severe accident. 

Is there a weight limit for bunk beds?

Bunk beds are relatively 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 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 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 side ladder, which attaches to 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. Removing the angled ladders is possible depending on the bed, 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 with some play features or themes. This bed type can work well with decor with themed wallpaper. They won’t be able to climb into bed, which will be 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, a bunk bed’s main advantage 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 beds with accessible 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 incredibly tight, have no fear: triple sleepers are here. These feature a double bed on the bottom 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 room’s color scheme at a later date.

Trundle beds

There’s no reason for your kids 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 fabulous 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 ensure 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. A bed with stairs could be a more suitable option if they’re younger children. Depending on their age, a standard children’s bed may be better.

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

Several different criteria indicate whether a child is ready for the top bunk:

  • The child is older than six years.
  • The child can climb the ladder comfortably.
  • The child is potty trained – a child that isn’t 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 needs the space, you can buy a children’s bunk bed with a ladder. If the child is young and uncomfortable 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 consider 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 delicate and functional carving without being too edgy. 
  • Country – The country look is delicate and 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 must figure out why you want a bunk bed first and decide your priorities when buying one for the kids. This will help you determine 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 with 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 get from the little ones. The furniture in the room must be durable. If you can give the bunk bed in the store a shake, then see what happens (other than provoke an angry stare from the shop assistant, potentially).

Check the accessibility

You’ve got to think about how the children will 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 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 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, long-lasting, and 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 it could be less convenient in winter. Of course, some nice warm bedding could help to resolve the issue.

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.

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 of 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 make the bed’s appearance more aligned 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 ensure everything is in order once or more. Look for loose nuts and bolts or other connecting parts that might have started to loosen themselves. If you’ve bought wooden bunk beds for your children, inspect the wood and keep your eye out for any changes. 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 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 were careful not to overload the top bunk with too much weight. If you need to sleep in the children’s bunk beds, check with the supplier whether the bed has any weight limits.

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 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 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 allow you to spot any problems with the bed or the timber 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 be much more adventurous with their bunk bed.

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