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Bunk beds double the fun of traditional beds, and they help you conserve valuable floorspace while doing so. Modern bunk beds look nothing like the drab units used to outfit yesterday’s dorms or barracks. They come in numerous styles, finishes, and versatile configurations, and they integrate so many surprising space-saving features like drawers, cubbies, and shelves—even desks!
Beyond the utilitarian, bunk beds can be used to activate a space. Melissa Barling, the interior stylist behind the children’s design studio Winter Daisy, suggests using the bottom bunk to cultivate coziness—“a calm space for bedtime” or “an intimate reading nook”—and embracing the “treehouse feel” of the top bunk, which can function as a “great place for play.”
The traditional bunk bed comprises a twin-over-twin setup. Still, you can find many alternative (and roomier) configurations out there, including units that can accommodate full and queen-sized mattresses. There are also L-shaped and loft units that can suit different needs. For example, if you have a young child, you can utilize negative space to create a play fort or reading nook. If you have a teen on your hands, you can incorporate a desk and study station. Many bunks can also be deconstructed and utilized as individual beds as children grow and their needs change.
Read on to see the possibilities and determine if one of these options is right for you.
Best Overall: Harper and Bright Designs Twin Over Twin Bunk Bed with Stairway, Trundle, and Storage Drawers
Stairs for safety and storage
Easy pull-out trundle
Includes safety rails and handrails
Four color options
Dimensions: 94.4 x 42.4 x 61.4 inches | Weight Capacity: 175 pounds for top bunk and twin trundle bed, 275 pounds for bottom bunk | Material: Solid pine wood, plywood, MDF board
This trundle setup from Harper & Bright Designs checks all the boxes: It’s economical, safe, sturdy, and stylish, and it’s got great storage capability to boot. The trundle model lets you sleep three with the footprint of a single bed, and this unit suits children of all ages. The easy pull-out trundle and the stairs are safer for younger kids who may struggle climbing a ladder, but the unit is durable enough to support teenagers. The integrated stairs also maximize storage capability with three drawers for storing children’s clutter or guests’ belongings.
Users will also appreciate how the stairs are attached to the end of the frame, so climbers will not interfere with sleepers on the bottom bunk. This bunk bed measures 61.4 inches tall and has weight limits of 175 pounds for the top bunk and 275 pounds for the bottom bunk.
Best Budget: Walker Edison Solid Wood Twin Bunk Bed
Many color options
Dimensions: 42 x 80 x 65 inches | Weight Capacity: 200 pounds per bed | Material: Solid wood
This sturdy twin-over-twin setup with multiple color and configuration options (including trundle) comes with a surprisingly affordable price tag. Though it may lack the bells and whistles of other units, it comprises a durable, solid pine frame, secure ladder, and a timeless, polished finish. Each twin bed has a weight capacity of 200 pounds—slightly higher than comparable units.
"We appreciated how well the ladder was attached to the bunk beds. Because we were putting this bunk bed in our son's room, we wanted to be sure that the ladder would stay firmly in place even when he was an acrobatic climber."—Katie Begley, Product Tester
Best with Desk: Pottery Barn Teen Sleep & Study Loft Bed
Novel office/study features
Roomy, full-size bunk
Greenguard Gold Certified (low chemical emissions)
Many color options
Dimensions: 71 x 80.5 x 74 inches | Weight Capacity: 500 pounds | Material: Solid wood, MDF
You can snooze and study in this lofty (pun intended) setup from Pottery Barn Teen. Though many L-shaped configurations can accommodate a desk space, few include as many functional and fun features as this package offers. This setup affords users twice as much desk space as conventional options. It incorporates other critical components such as easy-access cubbies, shelves, corkboard, and pencil drawer for all of your supplies, books, and notes. Not to mention, this bunk bed features a roomy full-size bunk, six finishes to choose from, and a generous weight capacity of 500 pounds.
Best L-Shaped: Harriet Bee Otha L-shaped Bunk Bed with Built-in Desk and Shelves
Plenty of storage
Dimensions: 42 x 79 x 66 inches | Weight Capacity: 165 pounds for top bunk and ladder; 200 pounds for bottom bed | Material: Solid wood
Perpendicularly stacked, L-shaped bunk beds provide a surprising number of versatile, space-saving innovations. This particular model includes space for drawers, shelves, and a desk, so you can sleep, study, and store your possessions in one contained area. The central space below could host the second bed, a cozy reading nook, or a play fort. L-shaped bunks also allow users to capitalize on underutilized corner space and free up central areas of the room for play.
This L-shaped bunk bed has a less obvious super-power, too: because it doesn’t utilize the same frame as the lower bunk, top-bunk climbers can more easily come and go without disturbing the sleeper on the bottom bunk. The top bunk and ladder for this set-up have a weight capacity of 165 pounds, while the bottom bed can support up to 200 pounds.
Best Triple Bunk: Dorel Living Sierra Triple Bunk Bed
Optimizes vertical space
Can separate beds
Large gaps between slats
Dimensions: 79.25 x 43.5 x 77.13 inches | Weight Capacity: 225 pounds per bed | Material: Solid wood
If you’ve got the ceiling clearance for it, there’s no better way to optimize space than to opt for a triple bunk bed. The Dorel Living Phoenix Triple Bunk Bed stacks three twin-sized beds into a single tower, though you can also separate the beds into freestanding elements. This function allows the product to serve you longer: as freestanding elements, the beds can host children too young to utilize a ladder. You can then combine them as children mature or even separated later as children grow into their private bedrooms. This unit boasts a solid wood frame and a 225-pound weight limit per bed, both of which are conducive to long-term utility.
Best Modern: South Shore Furniture Bebble - Modern Bunk Beds
Generous weight capacity
Pricier than traditional models
Limited color options
Dimensions: 63.75 x 80.5 x 64.4 inches | Weight Capacity: 250 pounds per bed | Material: Solid wood
If you favor modern styling, defy the idea that bunk beds are merely utilitarian and check out the South Shore Bebble Modern Bunk Bed. This sleek, two-toned bunk achieves a modernist, mid-century aesthetic and understated sophistication. Though pricier than more traditional models, the price tag of this sturdy and stylish unit comes in at about half the price of comparable pieces. Moreover, each bed boasts a weight capacity of 250 pounds, and you can convert the unit into two separate twin pieces. This setup has style and sturdiness that your child can grow into.
Best Small: Harper and Bright Designs Twin over Twin Bunk Bed
Lower height than other models
Ladder is flush with the bed
Limited color options
Dimensions: 81.7 x 43.2 x 47.2 inches | Weight Capacity: 200 pounds per bed | Material: Solid pine wood
In some smaller rooms, it’s necessary to economize on both horizontal and vertical space, which can be a difficult task with some of the towering bunks and lofts out there. (Most bunks require a ceiling clearance of at least 8 feet: this doesn’t simply ensure the bed fits, it ensures your child can clamber into it without hitting the ceiling). If your room has a low ceiling clearance, you’ll want to select a low bunk bed like this model from Harper and Bright Designs. This small bunk measures only 47 inches high—just under four feet. Despite its small stature, the combined unit boasts a 400-pound weight capacity.
Keep in mind that a ladder might not be the safest option for younger children; however, the lower bunk is mere inches from the ground, an ideal setup for youngsters transitioning to their first bed.
The style and storage capabilities of the Harper and Bright Designs Twin Bunk Bed (view at Amazon) make it our all-around best bet. Available in four different finishes, it has a versatile look that will complement a variety of different room styles. If you’re looking to conserve both horizontal and vertical space, we recommend an L-shaped configuration that allows you to integrate sleep, study, and play space into one unit, like the Harriet Bee Otha L-shaped Bunk Bed (view at Wayfair).
What to Look for in a Bunk Bed
Number and Size of Beds
When most people think of bunk beds, they picture two twin beds stacked on top of each other, but there are plenty of alternative configurations out there. For instance, some bunk beds have one bed lofted over a desk or open area, and other models have a third pull-out trundle bed underneath. For this reason, consider how many beds you need as you shop. If shopping for older teens or visiting houseguests, you may also want to consider roomier configurations that incorporate full or queen-sized beds.
Some bunk beds come as one unit that must remain stacked. If you value versatility, you may want to look into bunk beds that separate into two (or three) standard beds. This option can be beneficial if your children may eventually get their own rooms.
Finally, you'll want to consider integrated features such as shelves, drawers, desks, and cubbies that can help you further conserve space and money you'd otherwise spend on extra furniture. Depending on your child's age, you may also want to consider play features (or possible add-ons) like slides or tents.
What kind of mattress goes with bunk beds?
Most bunk bed manufacturers recommend a mattress height of 8 inches (or fewer) to ensure that the top sleeper is not elevated above the side railings. Following this safety recommendation decreases the risk of the top sleeper rolling out of bed. If you’re adding a bunkie board below the mattress or a mattress topper above it, you’ll want to select a mattress that can accommodate the extra inches without exceeding the recommended 8. (Consult the manual supplied with your purchase for guidelines tailored to your specific bunk bed.)
How tall are bunk beds?
The average bunk bed rises to about 5.5 to 6 feet in height, though there are shorter units (about 4 feet) and taller, triple bed units (about 7 feet). For safety reasons, you should aim to keep at least 2 feet of clearance between the top bunk and the ceiling. Be sure to measure before making your selection.
Are bunk beds safe?
By and large, bunk beds are safe, but accidents do happen. Statistics show that an average of 36,000 bunk bed-related injuries occur each year. It’s important to note that over half of these injuries occur to children under five, so a prime way to mitigate the risk of injury is to use bunk beds for children six and up.
When shopping, you should prioritize recommended safety features like side rails with openings of no more than 15 inches at either end and no more than 3.5 inches between gaps (to prevent strangulation). Opting for a bunk with integrated stairs and a handrail (rather than a ladder) can also increase safety, especially for young children. Finally, always follow the guidelines supplied in the product manual regarding recommended mattress height.
Why Trust The Spruce?
For this roundup, Jessica Joblin evaluated dozens of popular bunk beds, considering criteria such as safety, durability, versatility, and affordability. She also reviewed integrated features for storage, play, or study, along with the latest safety recommendations outlined by the Nationwide Children's Hospital.
In addition to reports from our product testers and outside customer reviews, Jessica consulted with Melissa Barling, a lifestyle blogger and the interior decorator behind design studio Winter Daisy. Finally, she selected a range of bunk beds to suit potential buyers' differing needs and space constraints.