The 10 Best Bunk Beds
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Bunk beds provide an easy way to free up space in your kids' room for a play area or a desk where they can draw or do their homework. However, it's important to ensure that they're properly assembled and that guardrails and ladders are securely attached in order to avoid injuries. Also note that children under the age of six should never be allowed to sleep on the top bunk. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 18, 2019:
While bunk beds help to save space, they can also be dangerous when not used properly. Children under the age of six should never be allowed to sleep on the top bunk, as they are often small enough to fall through the gaps between guardrails and lack the coordination required to climb up and down the ladder safely. It's also important to take your time when putting your child's bed together and test it to make sure it doesn't wobble or shift once assembled. Guardrails and ladders should be securely attached, and you should only use the mattress size the bed was designed for — going up or down in size increases the risk of rolling off or getting stuck between the mattress and the frame. Do not allow children to jump or play roughly on the top or bottom bunk, and avoid placing the bed near ceiling fans and light fixtures. You should also consider putting a nightlight in the room so they can see the ladder if they need to climb down at night.
That being said, bunk beds can be a fun solution for kids who share a room with siblings when used safely. The Storkcraft Caribou is a simple and attractive option that comes in four colors and has full-length guardrails on all four sides. It's made from rubberwood, which is dense and sturdy, and comes at an affordable price. The Bowery Hill Gray and American Furniture Classic both offer full-size bunks on the bottom, which are great for older kids, along with built-in drawers for underbed storage. The Dorel Living Sierra is great for those who are short on space, as it stands just 47-1/2 inches tall. The bottom bunk sits flat on the floor, so toddlers can get in and out of it without difficulty, and the low height makes it easier for parents if kids need help getting down off the top bunk.
The Powell Heavy Metal is one of few options available with full-size beds on both the top and bottom, and it's very strong and stable. The only issue is that the ladder has slender rungs that can dig into feet, so you may want to consider adding cushioning or rubber grips to make it more comfortable to climb. If your kids watch television or play video games in their room, the Home Accent Furnishings Twin-Over-Futon is a good choice, as the bottom bunk can be used as a sofa or a sleeping surface.
Imagine A Bed For More Than Sleeping
I did, however, have friends who weren't as fortunate as I was.
I'm going to go ahead and make a statement that, as far as I can tell, is pure conjecture: bunk beds are good for the imagination.
I didn't need a bunk bed growing up. One of the primary reasons that parents invest in bunk beds is that they have more children than they have spare rooms. Since bunk beds utilize the vertical cubic feet of a room to stack sleeping areas on top of one another, they're ideal for anyone trying to fit more humans into a tight space.
The house I grew up in had just enough rooms for my sister and I not to have to bunk together, which would have ended in violence, I'm sure. I did, however, have friends who weren't as fortunate as I was. They had more siblings and less space, but on the other hand, they also had bunk beds, which seemed like the coolest thing in the world to me.
There's also the occasional sleepover to take into account here. Even if you've got a single child, and he or she has a room bigger than yours, there's still a good chance (unless all this apparent wealth and isolation has rendered the child a pariah among his or her would-be friends) that you're going to host some sleepovers. Bunk beds make these affairs a lot easier, as you won't have to worry about blowing up tedious air mattresses or pulling that pesky bed out of the couch.
As for the imagination claim, well, I got my bunk bed around age eight, and it served me as a sleeping space, a space shuttle, an air plane, a sailboat, a submarine, a concert stage, a skyscraper, and a slew of other forms that fed my childish fancy. It was the size of it, the materials out of which it was made, and, most importantly, its climbability. That ladder and all those rungs and boards turned me into a little climbing monkey-person within the first few minutes of ownership.
Battle Of The Bunks
Supposing you have two people intending to share the bunk bed you buy, which is probably the norm, you're all but guaranteed to buck up against an impasse over the top bunk. On a bunk bed, the top bunk is prime real estate, the domain–most often–of the child with superior status. Often, parents will determine the bunk assignments by age, allowing the oldest to choose which bed he or she wants.
Among the other sets, your primary concern is liable to be aesthetic.
You may have a set of twins on your hands, however, and enforcing anything based on that difference of a few minutes between their arrivals is bound to leave psychological scars. When there isn't a clear path to resolution on the bunk levels, create a monthly schedule, where on the first of every month the kids switch.
If there's a big age gap between your kids, I'd take a good long look at either of the bunks on our list that offer a double bed size. One of them is full over full, meaning the beds on the top and the bottom fit full-size mattresses, while the other only has the full on the bottom. In the latter case, the older kid would likely grab the bigger bottom bunk, but if he or she is adamant about having a full bed and a top bunk, the former is your best option.
Among the other sets, your primary concern is liable to be aesthetic. Kids' rooms are usually pretty specifically decorated. I know mine certainly was when I was at that age, and the bright purple bunk bed my sister had in her bright pink room wouldn't quite have fit in with my sky blue fighter pilot scheme. Keep design in mind, and it'll guide you toward a smart choice.
Sometimes the etymology of a word creates two distinct and diverse meanings for it through the years. Cleave is one such word, as it simultaneously means to cling to and to cut into pieces. Bunk has a similar history.
While bunk beds as we know them have a history that's hard to pin down, we know that "to bunk," as in to sleep, was a term in common use since the middle of the 19th century. It was likely a term derived from the establishment of military bunkers.
Hopefully, as history roils forward, this negative designation will fade, and the glory of the bunk bed will remain.
Of course, methods of tiered sleeping show up in history all the way back to the 1400s, when servants often slept on the floor beneath their masters' beds. While these couldn't technically be considered bunk beds (the servants didn't have any bedding to speak of), it is an early example of the sleeping design.
Bunk's other meaning, which is confounding, especially considering my reverence for the bunk bed, is "nonsense."
The story goes that a North Carolina State Representative by the name of Felix Walker was slated to speak regarding the debates of Missouri's statehood in 1820, and that he intended to droll on at length to make sure some of his speech got into the papers. He wanted the people of his state to see that he wasn't just wasting time in the House, so he said that he wouldn't be speaking to Washington, but to Buncombe, his home county.
Since then, particularly in the American south, bunk, a shorthand for Buncombe, has been associated with nonsense. Hopefully, as history roils forward, this negative designation will fade, and the glory of the bunk bed will remain.