What to Consider Before Buying a Bunk Bed

Twin bunkbed with blue railings across royal blue dresser and colorful patterned rug in middle

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Choosing the right bunk bed for your child might be a little more complicated than buying other furniture for your home. When selecting a bunk bed, there are more safety concerns, and you want to please your child in addition to being happy yourself. As in any furniture purchase, you should start out by determining your needs. Our guide can help you in the journey as we discuss construction, different types, styles, and space considerations.

Before You Buy a Bunk Bed

A bunk bed is a great way to make the most of the living space available in your child's bedroom, or if you have a larger family and a bedroom needs to be shared, you can group two of your children together without taking up additional floor space. It also makes it easier for your child to have another child over for sleepovers. As you start to go searching for one, make sure you are prepared to find the right one that will not only fit properly in the room but is well constructed and last for years.

Buying Considerations for a Bunk Bed


Bunk beds are a natural fit for smaller spaces but can have plenty of benefits for larger rooms, too.

Start by measuring your space.

Along with floor space, determine ceiling height, too. Leave at least two feet of space between the bunk bed and the ceiling to prevent bumps. While bunk bed heights vary, the average bunk is usually between 5 1/2 and 6 feet tall.

As for floor space, keep in mind that while a twin bunk bed might not need more than a standard twin bed, some of its special features, such as pull-outs like drawers or trundle beds will require more room, as might an L-shaped bunk bed.

Determine the Type of Bunk Bed You Need

There are many types of bunk beds ranging from the basic twin-over-twin to elaborate combinations that cater to different needs.

Depending on what you may need, most bunk beds fall into two broad categories, basic and lofted, with many subcategories under each one. For instance, basic bunk beds are available as twin-over-twin, twin-over-full, etc., while lofted beds could come with a lofted bed over a futon or a lofted bed over a study center. There are also configurations that offer triple sleeping surfaces. These can be handy for sleepovers or when three children share a room.


You have a choice of materials that you can select, such as all-wood, all-metal, or a combination of the two.

All-wood: Wood bunk beds are popular for their durability and versatility in both color and style. If buying a bunk bed that is all-wood, ensure you know the type of wood that was used to build it as you want it to last for years and be strong enough to bear weight, especially on the top bunk. Hardwoods are the better option and include such woods as oak, maple, and cherry. These types of woods are sturdy and are not apt to crack. While softwoods, such as pine or cedar, and materials like particleboard, should be avoided.

All metal: An all-metal constructed bunk bed will be lighter in weight than an all-wood one, making them easier to move around if you decide to change up the layout of the furniture in the room. They are not as sturdy as an all-wood bunk bed and can tend to become wobbly. Periodic checking of the nuts and bolts and the welding areas that hold the bed together will be needed. There have been a number of recalls on all metal bunk beds due to collapsing and serious injury.

Wood and Metal Combination: There are also bunk beds that are made with both wood and metal. Typically the frame of the bed is made from metal, and wood can be the accent trim or decoration.


Special features, such as study areas, storage, or play features, such as slides or tents, are available, depending on the age and needs of your child.

For children who like to have friends spend the night, bunk beds with futons or pull-out beds are good options. You can pick out bunk beds that come with the features you desire or buy them as add-ons. It is always worth it to get your child's opinion and consult him about his needs, as you might be overlooking something.


Since bunk beds come in an array of styles, you have plenty to choose from.

You can also find bunk beds in all different styles. You can select from traditional styles in darker woods with detailing, or go with a style that is more modern with sleek lines. Should you prefer a cottage or country style, you have plenty of options. If your child prefers a themed or novelty look, you can still find plenty to choose from.


Bunk bed safety is important. Make sure that your bunk bed has all the safety features such as guardrails, headboards and footboards. It is also important to explain to your child that it is essential to observe all safety rules when using a bunk bed.

It is a good idea to keep a nightlight on in the room so the child sleeping on the top bunk can see to climb down if they need to in the middle of the night.

Types of Bunk Beds

Standard or Basic Bunk Bed

The standard or basic bunk bed has two beds, usually twin-sized beds, and one sits on top of the other bed. These types of models can usually be separated and used on their own. Sometimes you will see this bed with a full sized bed underneath and a twin size bed on top. They can even sport drawers underneath the bottom bunk for more storage.

Loft Bed

A loft bed can vary from having a top bunk with a mattress and a storage area below that can have a desk and a dresser built-in, or a futon in the bottom section that can be used as sitting space or fold out into a bed for guests staying overnight. 

Triple Bunk Bed

When space is at a premium and you have a large family, a triple bunk bed can come in handy. Just like the name implies, there is a bottom bed with two other beds on top.

Trundle Bunk Bed

The trundle bunk bed is a good option that offers the convenience of bunk beds but has a third bed that pulls out from underneath the bottom bunk. These are nice when an additional person is staying over as the third bed is stored away when not in use and doesn't take up space until it's needed.


Bunk beds vary in price, running anywhere from $100 to over $4,000. All metal bunk beds or wood and metal combination bunk beds are less expensive than an all-wood bunk bed. An all-wood bed can range from $500 up to $4,000 or more. The cost of an all-wood one depends on the wood used, the style, how it is constructed, and the type of bunk bed.

You can find sales of bunk beds and other furniture around the holidays, including Memorial Day, Labor Day, Presidents Day, and other popular sales events such as Black Friday. Time your purchases around one of these to catch them on sale if you can.

How to Choose a Bunk Bed

There are numerous options in styles and types of bunk beds, and it all comes down to personal preference. Find a bunk bed that suits the taste of both you and your child and falls within your budget. The beds should also fit in the space allotted in the bedroom and fills the functions it needs to.

How Will The Bunk Bed Be Used?

Decide the type of usage that your bunk bed purchase is going to have and what type of features your child might need or want. Will both the top and the bottom beds be used all the time, or will one of them only be used occassionally? Will your child need the space underneath for a desk to do school work or storage space to put their clothes?

Who Will Be Using It Most?

Will it be a small child using it, a teenager, or an adult? What is the height and weight of the person that will be using the bed? This needs to be taken into account when buying a bunk bed as you need to check the weight limits allowed on the bed and also the length of it before purchasing.

Where to Shop

Selecting the right bunk bed has many parameters, from the style and color to the construction and safety. Bunk beds can be purchased from furniture stores, supercenters, and online retailers. When looking for one, some people like to be able to see it in person, so they can check how it is constructed and how it looks and also be able to ask a salesperson some questions. You also might find the same bed online that you find in the stores. Don't hesitate to look in multiple places before deciding on one. This purchase is an important choice. Make sure it fits your needs and your budget. Take the time to compare prices, both in stores and online, to ensure that you are getting the best deal. Also, know what the delivery and return options are and if there is a warranty on the bed.

  • How long does a bunk bed last?

    The average lifespan of a bunk bed is around 10 to 15 years. How it is taken care of and the usage it receives will also affect the length of time.

  • What is the weight limit on bunk beds?

    The weight limit varies on bunk beds and you should always check to see what the one you're interested in allows before purchasing.

  • Do bunk beds come in different sizes?

    While the standard was twin sized beds, you can now find bunk beds that have full and queen size beds for the bottom bunk.

Article Sources
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  1. Bunk beds sold by Walmart, Amazon and others recalled after collapsing, causing injuries. The Miami Herald.