When my son became enamored with bunk beds in 2019, I never dreamed it would lead to me writing an entire book about bunk beds, yet here we are: “The Bunk Bed Book” was published last month, and I am now considered a bunk bed expert. While researching and publishing a book about bunk and loft beds, I realized how diverse the bunks are: short ones, super-tall ones, triple bunks, trundle bunks, and bunks that looked like full-fledged forts — not to mention all the loft beds!
Choosing bunk beds or designing them from scratch is a daunting task. These selections are considerably more difficult because they frequently involve significant expenditure.
I can’t advise you what to buy or build because it will depend on your space, but I can give you these nine tips to help you make the proper choice, listed below.
Don’t just pick the cheapest option.
Dozens of low-cost bunk beds are available on discount or mass-market websites. Still, based on what I’ve heard from homeowners and interior designers, these are rarely a good choice because the materials and structure do not hold up to daily usage.
The particle board is out.
Pay attention to the materials of the bunk you buy in the same way that you don’t skimp on pricing. If particle board or MDF is mentioned in the material description, keep looking for something constructed of solid wood. It also does not have to be expensive: The iconic MYDAL from IKEA is made of solid pine, which, while not as sturdy as hardwood, is far more likely to last than manufactured wood.
Ignore the themed bed.
To avoid today’s bunk becoming tomorrow’s rubbish, consider open-ended designs such as a simple house shape or a bunk with a slide if you’re looking for something fun.
Be cautious of super-low bunks.
A low-slung bunk bed can be an excellent choice for a small or low-ceilinged room where bunk beds are the only way to accommodate two children. However, I avoid lower-style bunks in the long run. They’re more difficult for adults to enter and exit, and as your child grows taller, the lower bunk will become less enticing.
Consider upgrading your bed size.
Look for extra-long twin, twin-over-full (like this one in a room by designer Erin Gates above), and even full-over-full-size versions if you’re looking for an older child or want your bunks to survive into the teen years. The extra few inches of length will make the bunks much more comfortable for anyone taller than 6 feet. These plus-sized bunks are also an excellent alternative for adult-only guest rooms.
Consider the benefits and drawbacks of stairs.
Bunks with stairs are the most convenient and safer than ladders, but they take up a lot of space. If storage is built into the steps, it may eliminate the need for a dresser, which justifies the additional expense and space for a staircase. Just keep in mind that bunk beds with stairs are also the most expensive option on the market.
Think about your ladder alternatives.
Most people do not give ladders much thought, although there are numerous sorts, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages:
Integrated straight ladders: The most frequent type of bunk ladder, these go up and down straight and are attached to one side of the bed. This style of ladder takes up no extra floor space, and many bunk beds may be bought or installed to be on either side. This is also the most cost-effective solution.
End ladders: Bunks with the ladder on the short end leave the entire lower bunk open, which is incredibly convenient for adults and produces a more minimalist appearance.
Angled ladders are less prevalent than straight ladders since they protrude into the room. You want one with a 30-degree or less angle. It should ideally have a safety rail. These take up more space than straight ladders yet are easier to ascend.
Choose a brand that offers white glove delivery.
Bunk beds might be the only piece of furniture that requires professional assembly. White glove delivery can be expensive, depending on the vendor. Still, delivery personnel can build a bunk in minutes versus the average individual and a friend’s half-day of work for assembly. Furthermore, when you invest, you want to know that your piece is made to last and is safe for anyone.
Look for adaptable ideas.
Many manufacturers include flexibility in their designs, such as bottom bunks that can be added or removed (as shown here in blogger Erin Boyle’s home), stacked twins that can be separated later, and more. One of these may be more expensive than a fixed bunk, but it may save you money in the long run by eliminating the need to purchase more beds later.