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Bunk Bed Buyers' Guide

Posted by Elizabeth Sopher on

Thinking of getting a bunk bed? The choices and details can be overwhelming. Read our quick and easy 5-point primer before you buy, and enjoy your new bed! 

  1. Space: Measure twice, buy once! The first step is to measure floor space, ceiling height and be aware of any sloping ceilings, ceiling fans or hanging lights that might get in your way. Most bunk beds are twin, twinXL or full, and mattress sizes are below (actual bed sizes will vary).
  • Twin |75"X39"
  • TwinXL | 80"X39"
  • Full | 75"X54"

Height considerations: There should be clearance for a person to sit up straight in the top bunk – a minimum of 30 inches is recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission(and, we tested that number, and I am 5’ 5” and would bang my head unless the clearance was 35”, or so). In a room with an 8-foot ceiling (96 inches), the top of the mattress should be approximately 66 inches from the floor.

  1. Bed Configurations: Bunks come in so many shapes, sizes and designs, and there are equally as many options in loft beds. Think about who will sleep in the bed (young kids, older kids, guests?), how often it will be slept in, size and other features like incorporated tents, desks and futons before you shop. Some available configurations include:
  • Standard bunks in twin, twinxl or full (with parallel or perpendicular beds)
  • Twin over full
  • Workstation bunks with desks
  • Futon bunks provide leisure and sleeping spots
  • Lofts (these fall into bunk bed category and regulation if the mattress foundation is more than 30 inches above the floor)
  1. Mattress: Some bunks come with mattresses, but they are generally standard sizes so you can choose whatever mattress you prefer as long as it is the correct size (twin, etc). A summary of the benefits of popular mattress types is below – water beds and air mattresses are not recommended). Remember to check the height (thickness) and make sure the rail will be at least 5 inches above the top of the mattress on the top bunk (For most beds the mattress and foundation should be 8 inches thick or less). Also, depending on the number and quality of slats beneath the mattress you may need a “bunkie board”, which is similar to a box spring to support the mattress. Be aware that some mattresses, called ‘”Bunkie mattresses” have the support built in (a solid layer in the bottom). These incorporated supports are great in some ways but makes the mattress inflexible so it could be more difficult to get on the bed and when changing sheets (see bedding section below!).
  •  Polystyrene foam mattresses - offer firm to mid-firm comfort, and are available in a range of thicknesses. They are less durable than many mattresses and the foam can crumble.
  • Innerspring mattresses – Interlaced innerspring is the most widely used support type. Generally comfortable and durable.
  • Innerspring mattress with individually wrapped coils – (AKA Marshal or Pocketed coils). These are individually wrapped and not interlaced so they conform better to the body and separate motion between partners.
  • Memory Foam mattresses –Polyurethane foam conforms to the body and provides increased support.
  • Latex mattresses– Latex is from the rubber tree, and is generally used as a comfort layer in the mattress, known for its durability.
  • Gel mattresses– The newest thing on the market, offering comfort, pressure relief and heat regulation.
  1. Bedding -Beware! Sheet changing on the top bunk can be hazardous to your health. We have two recommendations:
  • Go simple! The easiest option is the no-tuck solution: a quilt and duvet cover.
  • Use QuickZip! – the only sheet designed for bunk beds.  Make changing easy so that you can have a beautiful and comfortable bed – even 66 inches off the ground!
  1. Safety-In general – make sure that your bunk and the mattress foundation or slats are sturdy and well-constructed, with railings on both sides of the top bunk and a safe ladder or stairs firmly attached. Bunks are regulated by the US Government (CPSC.gov and ASTM.org Standard F-1427) and tested for compliance by manufacturers. Requirements include:
  • Bed must have continuous guardrails on both sides of the top bunk. The gaps in the guardrails should be 3.5 inches or smaller to prevent strangulation.
  • Guardrails need to extend at least 5 inches above the mattress top to prevent falls (in most cases, mattress plus the foundation should be less than 8 inches thick
  • End structures must be 5 inches above top of mattress for at least half the distance
  • Check that the mattress foundation is strong and that the right mattress size is used.
  • Keep the top bunk away from ceiling fans or lights.
  • Do not attach belts, scarves or ropes to the bunk bed. This can lead to strangulation.
  • Do not allow children under age 6 on the top bunk, and limit horseplay

     

(Images courtesy of Houzz.com)


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