All About Bunk Beds

Bunk beds are great space savers, but while most kids love them, a lot of adults have their doubts. There are safety issues to consider as well as practicalities such as how to make the beds and what linen to choose. This practical guide will cover all these areas and more.

Check Your Space


Before you go shopping for your bunks, make sure that the bedroom has enough space for a bunk bed. These beds use vertical space well, but you will still need horizontal space for the stairs or ladder, drawers and place to walk around the foot of the bed. Take your measurements shopping with you so that you buy something that’s a suitable size.


Safety First


While we sometimes hear of accidents happening to kids in bunk beds, laying a few non-negotiable ground rules from the beginning will go a long way towards keeping your little tykes safe.




The top bunk should always have rails that extend about six inches above the mattress. Check that the child will not be able to slide under the rail when lying down. Most new bunks come with rails but be careful to check for them if buying a second-hand bed, and make sure that the rails attach to all sides of the top bed.


Don’t rely on the wall to stop a child from falling. Accidents have happened where a child falls between the bed and the wall. Also, make sure that the spaces between the rails are too narrow for the child’s head to fit through.


Climbing Up


Most bunks come with ladders that attach to the upper bed, and it’s always preferable if these have some form of handrail as well. If space is a concern, choose a bunk with a vertical ladder. These can usually be attached anywhere on the bed, such as the foot, head or side. Non-slip strips are available that can be glued onto the ladder rungs to make them extra safe.


Some sturdier bunk beds come with staircases. These make the bed longer, so they work best in long, narrow bedrooms. The staircase will usually offer extra storage in the form of drawers. Staircases are probably the best choice in terms of safety as they provide the biggest surface area to step onto. Also, because they’re joined to the end of the bed, your child is surrounded on both sides while climbing up.


Look for Gaps


Apart from where the child is going to exit the bed, there should be no spaces for a child to fit his head, body or limbs through on either the top or bottom bunk.


Mattress Considerations


The right mattress is crucial for safety, comfort, and ease of making the bed. The mattresses need to be firm, breathable, and the correct height. Check if the size is Twin over Twin, Twin over Full, Full over Full, or Full over Queen. This will be important when buying your linen as well as fitting the bed into the room.


Mattress height on a bunk bed is more important than on a platform bed. Normal beds can have a mattress of up to twenty inches high, but if you put one that high on a bunk the top person could hit their head on the ceiling! Also, the side rails become useless if the mattress sits above them. A rule of thumb is to look for mattresses no thicker than six inches. Check for affordability too, because you’re going to be buying two mattresses at once.


If your bunk doesn’t have enough slats to adequately support the mattresses, consider purchasing what is known as bunkie boards. These are thin wooden boards designed to fit under the mattresses for extra support.


Choose the Right Location


A corner of the room is a good spot for a bunk bed because there will be two walls flanking the bed. To prevent accidents, make sure there are no ceiling fans or windows nearby.


Assemble Correctly


It’s important to follow assembly instructions carefully. Check for any missing sections and contact the supplier immediately if there’s a problem. Alternatively, ask if the seller will deliver the bunk and assemble it for you at home. This can save you a lot of effort and time.


Set Age Limits and Other Boundaries


The top bunk is not safe for children under six years old. Show the child how to climb the ladder or staircase correctly. Make rules from the beginning and enforce them strictly. For instance, the stairs must be used for getting up and down, and there should be no jumping off the bed or swinging from it. Try to make the bed a place for sleep and provide another space for play activities such as a rug in the opposite corner. This way your children will get into the habit of using the bed only for quiet activities like reading or naps.


Making the Beds


One of the worst aspects of owning bunk beds can be making them. They’re more difficult to make up than standard beds, but with the correct linen and a few tricks, it shouldn't be a problem. Keep it simple by using fitted mattress protectors and fitted sheets for the bottom part. A simple flat top sheet and blanket on top will be easy for the kids to keep straight themselves. Alternatively, use fitted sheets on the bottom and washable cotton comforters on top, as opposed to fiddling with duvet inners and covers.


Set a day once or twice a week to change the bedding so that the kids get into a routine. Even if they’re too young to make up the beds with fresh linen, they’re never too young to strip the used linen off! Keep a sturdy stool or small set of steps on hand to make the top bunk easier to reach. When tucking in the top sheet, use a clipboard or something similar to help with tucking in the sheet around the bedframe edges.


Be Safe and Have Fun


We hope these pointers have been useful to you as you pick out a bunk bed for your kids’ room. And remember, the right bunk bed is meant to last until the children outgrow it.

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