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Bunk Beds Guide

Bunk Beds Guide

Bunk beds are a great space-saving option when you're looking for beds for multiple children. However, shopping for bunk beds often comes with questions like "What age can a child go in a bunk bed?" or "How can I ensure safety?". After all, when it comes to children, safety should always be a priority - and that's just as important when they sleep!

Our bunk bed buying guide answers all your questions about these beds and their safety. From the types available to tips to make them safe, here is everything you need to know.

What types of bunk beds can I buy?

If you're wondering how to choose the right bunk beds for your kids, it depends on your home and the functions you need the most. You can choose:

  • Standard bunk beds: This is the 'classic' bunk bed design featuring one bed on top of another, with a ladder providing access to the top bunk.
  • Storage bunk beds: If you need more storage space, many bunk beds have built-in storage options, such as shelving, wardrobes or drawers.
  • L-shaped bunk beds: These vary from the classic design and are great if you have more floor space. Instead of one bed directly on top of the other, an L-shape bunk features the lower bed facing at a 90-degree angle. This type of bed works incredibly well in the corner of a bedroom.
  • Triple bunk beds: If you want to accommodate more children (or have kids who love sleepovers!), triple and quadruple beds offer the ultimate space-saving option. Triple beds are either available in a classic single style, with three beds on top of each other, or laid out with a double bed below and a single above.
  • Quadruple bunk beds: As the name suggests, a quadruple bunk bed can sleep up to four people at once. They look like normal bunk beds, but the difference is that they have two double-size bunks instead of two single bunk beds.
  • Combination bunk beds: We also offer combination beds that can be adapted into various styles. From toddler beds to bunk beds to single or guest beds, these beds can grow as your child does.

How do I decide which bunk bed to buy?

If you're unsure which type of bunk bed you should buy, think about what you need the bunk bed for.

  • Do you need to accommodate more than two people?
  • Is storage a priority?
  • How long do you need the bed?
  • How old are the people who will use this bed?
  • How much space do you have to work with?

These will all come into play when choosing the right bunk bed for you. Curious about whether or not a bunk bed will work for your needs? Check out our pros and cons of bunk beds guide!

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What sizes do bunk beds come in?

Bunk beds come in more sizes than a traditional single size – in fact, you might be surprised at just how versatile the world of bunk beds has become since childhood! The most popular bunk bed sizes are:

  • Single bunk beds: This traditional size is ideal for any bedroom that can accommodate a single bed. Standard size bunk beds are the most common type you'll find.
  • Small double bunk beds: Slightly wider and longer than a single, small double bunk beds offer more room to spread out.
  • Double bunk beds: Also called a quadruple bunk bed, double bunk beds feature two double-sized beds stacked on each other.
  • Mixed-size bunk beds: These bunk beds combine two different sizes, with some featuring a single on the top and a small double bed or double bed on the bottom.

What is the height of a bunk bed?

There is no standard height of a bunk bed, as it will vary from design to design, but you'll generally find that most bunk beds will be between 5 feet (152cm) and 6 feet (182cm) tall. If you're choosing a bunk bed with additional features such as storage, it may be taller, so always double-check the dimensions of your chosen model.

When considering the size of bunk beds for a bedroom, it's always important to consider how much space you have to work with vertically. Any bunk bed must have enough space above it to allow a child or adult to sit comfortably in bed to avoid any safety issues; you should consider how much additional space you'll need when your child sits in bed.

If you're considering putting a bunk bed into a room with a sloped ceiling, we recommend ensuring enough space to avoid injury or opting for a different type of bed altogether. No matter what, a bunk bed's dimensions are incredibly important and should be the first thing you consider when buying!

What's the difference between metal and wooden bunk beds?

You'll have to decide which material you prefer and the size of your bunk bed. Two of the most popular choices are metal and wood. The good news is that both are durable and long-lasting, so often, the choice will come down to personal preference.

Pros of wooden bunk beds

  • It offers a classic look that suits any room
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Easy to decorate
  • It can be repainted easily to update its look
  • Often include storage functionality

Cons of wooden bunk beds

  • Can be scratched or receive damage more easily than metal bunk beds
  • If built incorrectly, it can be less stable
  • It can have a lower weight capacity than metal bunks

Pros of metal bunk beds

  • Modern design adds a contemporary look
  • Very robust (there's a reason they're often found in hostels!)
  • Easy to maintain and keep clean
  • Affordable

Cons of metal bunk beds

  • It can look very cold and unwelcoming
  • Not as easy to customise as wooden beds
  • Don't often come with storage capabilities
  • It is at risk of rusting if it's not maintained
Separated white bunk beds

Can you take bunk beds apart?

Most kids' bunk beds are designed not to be taken apart. Dismantling them and rebuilding may leave your beds less secure and with safety issues - not ideal! We'd only recommend separating bunk beds into individual beds if the bed explicitly says this is possible in the initial description and instructions, as this means that it will be designed with extra durability to cope with being taken apart again.

Alternatively, if you're considering a bunk bed but want to separate them at some point, then our Max Combination Bed is designed for just that. You can easily take it from bunk bed to single bed, and even to guest bed! So, you're not just getting a great, kid-friendly option but also sorted when guests stay over for years to come.

Do you need a specific mattress for a bunk bed?

Bunk beds don't require special mattresses in length and width - a regular single mattress will fit a single bunk bed. You need to check the depth of the mattress, as there is a limit to the height of the mattress on the top bunk for safety reasons. As such, always double-check the specifications of your mattress and bed to ensure it fits safely. Always check specifications rather than just adding the mattress height to the bed height, as mattresses will sit at different heights within different bed frames, with some more 'sunken' than others.

We always recommend that a bunk bed mattress size is no higher than 16cm, as this will provide enough comfort for sleep whilst allowing the safety rails to function efficiently. There will usually be a line along the inside of the top bunk's frame to indicate where the bunk bed mattress should go up to. You can find the best bunk bed for your mattress in our bunk bed mattress range, all carefully picked to suit bunk beds, and if you need more info, check out our kids mattress buying guide to ensure you get the right mattress for your child.

Do you need special bedding for a bunk bed?

No, you don't need special bedding for a bunk bed – regular bedding will be fine! A single bedding set will work in a bunk bed just as well as a traditional single bed. The only difference is that changing the bedding can be a little more awkward due to the high height of the top bunk!

Bunk bed mattress height

Are bunk beds safe?

Yes - if you've bought a high-quality bunk bed and followed the assembly instructions correctly. You should also follow specific safety rules and guidelines once the bed is built, such as ensuring your child is old enough for a bunk bed and that the height of the bed is suitable for the room you're placing it in.

How do I make a bunk bed safe?

Regarding your children, we know safety is paramount. While following the assembly instructions carefully and correctly will ensure your bed is secure, there are some extra steps you can take to make your bunk beds completely safe. Consider these 'The Bunk Bed Rules'!

1. Follow the instructions for assembly

When your bunk bed arrives, you must assemble the frame correctly. Carefully follow the instructions step-by-step to ensure that you build a safe and secure bunk bed. Once complete, you should not have any spare parts. Make sure not to use substitute parts when assembling your bunk bed – if you're missing anything, contact our customer service team!

2. Install bunk bed safety rails

Installing all guard rails is the best way to prevent falls. As discussed, ensure the top bunk mattress isn't too high to make the safety rails efficient. Make sure these safety rails are on all sides of the bed, even the side against the wall! The last thing you want is not to put railings on this side and have your child slip between the mattress and the wall.

3. Carpet the floor

Children's bedrooms should be carpeted or have rugs beneath the beds. This will help prevent serious injury from accidental slips or falls.

4. Regularly check fittings

You should ensure your bunk beds remain sturdy and that nothing loosens over time. Regularly check the fittings of your bunk beds to ensure that everything is safe and secure.

5. Use bunk beds only for their purpose

Although a bunk bed is a fun alternative to a regular bed, children should be discouraged from playing on the ladder and leaning from the top bunk. A bunk bed ladder guard can provide additional security to maximise safety. Children should also use the ladder whenever they want to come down from the top bunk.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), most bunk bed accidents occur when children play on them. So, it's fundamental that you teach your child to follow some basic steps to ensure that they stay safe at all times.

6. Allow only one child on the top bunk

While a bunk bed is a novelty for children, they must learn that only one person can be on the top bunk at any time. Getting children to stick to this rule might be challenging, but it's for their safety. Solve this problem by allowing children to take turns on the top bunk each night so they each get their turn.

Of course, this doesn't apply if you've specifically bought a double bunk bed!

7. Consider where you place the bunk bed

You should never place your bunk bed in a position that could pose a risk to your children. It's essential that you don't put a bunk bed near a window or within two metres of a light fitting or a ceiling fan.

8. Never use a bunk bed as a clothes horse

Never hang clothing off the bed or tie anything to the frame. Children can get tangled up in these, making them serious strangulation hazards.

9. Add a nightlight for extra safety

The most dangerous part of using a bunk bed is getting in and out of it, particularly for those on the top bunk who have to use the ladder. Make it easier for them to safely use the ladder by adding a night light in the bedroom so they can see where they're going, even in the middle of the night!

What should the height be for bunk bed rails?

As well as the ladder and rail spacing, it is essential to look at rail heights to ensure your child cannot roll out of bed. All bunk bed safety rails should be at least 16 cm taller than the mattress to prevent falls.

Bunk bed make safe

What are the bunk bed safety regulations?

If you still have any concerns over the safety of bunk beds, you can rest assured, as British Standards of Safety cover them. Here are the regulations bunk beds must follow:

  • Bunk beds sold in the UK must conform to the current safety regulations (British Safety Standard number BS EN 747:2012 + A1 2015). They should be solid in construction and have no sharp edges or corners that may cause harm.
  • It's essential that the mattress must fit the bed securely and the slats underneath are no less than 7.5 cm apart. The upper bunk should have guard rails on both sides, with a gap of 300 mm to allow access. Although some come with a bunk bed rail extension, these guidelines are generally accepted for optimum safety.
  • The regulations on bunk bed rail height are strict about gaps in the construction to ensure that a child can't get stuck or slip between the rail and the mattress. The access ladder should be firmly fixed to the bed, and the treads should be at least 3 cm wide and 20 cm apart.

How to put bunk beds together safely

  • Do not use the bunk bed if any part is damaged or missing
  • Take care when assembling the bunk bed, and follow every instruction thoroughly
  • Perform a stability check on all safety guards, rails and ladders to check they are installed correctly
  • Address the relevant instruction manual for age restrictions before use
  • Assess the structure and size of your room before purchase to ensure safe access
  • Conduct regular checks of the fittings and safety barriers when in use
  • Plan to place your bunk bed away from doors, light fixtures and fittings

Can bunk beds collapse?

It's a scary thought for any parent, but yes, bunk beds can collapse - but only if they're not assembled correctly! You should follow your assembly instructions carefully and make sure no pieces are missing when you're done. Check all the screws are tightened. Does the bed feel sturdy? You should push the bed from all sides once assembled to double-check sturdiness.

Once your bunk bed is assembled, you should make sure you're always following the safety guidelines (which are detailed below) and regularly check the bed to make sure it's secure. With correct assembly, a high-quality bed, and safety guidelines followed, your new bunk bed poses no risk.

Bunk bed age infographic

What age can a child go in a bunk bed?

We recommend that children only use the top bunk when they're over six, and children under three shouldn't be sleeping on a bunk bed at all. For young children, we recommend a toddler bed, a small single bed or even a single bed that can be modified with safety rails.

If you're wondering why we're suggesting these specific age ranges, it's because we often get asked, "Can toddlers go in bunk beds?" or "What age is a bunk bed safe to use?" and our main concern is making sure your child is safe when sleeping in a bunk bed!

Can adults use bunk beds?

Yes, adults can use bunk beds as long as they have been designed to accommodate an adult's weight. Whilst an adult is likely to be able to sleep on most lower bunks, you will need to double-check the weight capacity of the top bunk to ensure that it is safe to use. Given their popularity with children, a bunk bed might only be designed for a child to use.

The material used to construct the bunk bed can also affect this – it's more likely that a metal bunk bed is suitable for an adult to use, as metal bunk beds are often sturdier than their wooden counterparts regarding weight. We'd recommend double-checking the bunk bed you're considering purchasing if you want to use it for adults.

Is there a weight limit for bunk beds?

Yes, bunk beds have a weight limit, but the exact weight will vary depending on which bed you decide to buy. The top bunk, in particular, will usually have a specific weight to ensure that the frame isn't at risk of collapsing. If you're looking for a bunk bed with a higher weight limit, we'd recommend a metal bunk bed with metal slats instead of wooden, as these are stronger than wood bunk beds.

Should I buy a second-hand bunk bed?

We wouldn't recommend buying second-hand bunk beds, as many factors can make them unsuitable. You may not be told how old the bunks really are, so they might not correspond to the latest safety regulations, and you won't know what type of use they've undergone over the years. In addition, taking them apart and reassembling them could damage them further, making them a safety risk to your child. As such, we really wouldn't recommend purchasing a bunk bed second-hand.

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Really good customer service from Chantal. She was very professional and dealt with my query very efficiently and quickly.
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First class service throughout from Happy Beds. Thank you very much. Mattress delivered earlier than expected. Delivery guys very friendly and professional. They found the marina very easy. I went to them after phone call, to say they had arrived. Helped me load mattress on a trolley, waved bye. Mattress looks great and fits perfect. Highly recommend Happy Beds.
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Quick delivery, good quality items. Customer service is great, we were speaking to a lady called Aimee as one of the parts for the bed was faulty. Dealt with it quickly and replacement sent a couple days after the initial enquiry. Thank you
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Great prices and even better customer service. really impressed with this company. bunk beds are great and the problem I had was resolved by Caroline and Sophie with no hassle. Would definitely buy from them again