Bunk Bed Buying Guide
A bunk bed is a clever space-saving solution for your child's bedroom. Great for siblings who share a room or as an extra bed for sleepovers, they're perfect for smaller rooms too.
If you've never bought a bunk bed before, it may feel daunting trying to work out what's best for your home, child and lifestyle. So, take a few minutes to read about bunk bed safety, and discover the best bunk bed and bunk mattress for you in our handy, all-in-one guide!
How to choose the right bunk bed
There are a few key things to consider when choosing a bunk bed. Follow these links to find out what you need to know:
- Think about safety
- Choose the right bunk bed size and height
- Decide whether you need storage
- Choose the type of bunk bed you need
- Choose your bunk bed finish
- Buy a bunk mattress
Bunk bed safety is crucial. Your bunk bed should be high quality and solidly built. All bunk beds sold in the UK must adhere to the British Safety Standard BS EN 747-1:2012+A1:2015.
It's very important to discuss safety with your child. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) explains that "most accidents involving bunk beds occur when children are playing on them."
You should explain to your child that:
- they must be sensible and shouldn't play on it, use it as a climbing frame or lean over the top bunk
- only one child can use the top bunk at a time
- they should always use the ladder - teach them how to use it if necessary
Here are some bunk bed FAQs that you may find helpful.
How do I assemble a bunk bed?
Your bunk bed should come complete with the manufacturer's assembly instructions. Follow these instructions carefully to ensure you build a safe and secure bunk bed. If any part is missing, don't use the bunk bed. Instead, get in touch and we can help.
Test the bunk bed yourself before letting your child sleep in it. The bed should feel solid and sturdy once built - it shouldn't wobble or feel rickety. It should have no sharp or protruding edges.
Check the bunk bed periodically, paying particular attention to the ladder and safety barriers. Ensure everything remains tightly fastened and in good condition.
Can I buy a second-hand bunk bed?
No, we don't recommend buying second-hand bunk beds. This is because they will be older and may not conform to the most recent safety standards.
What age is a bunk bed suitable for?
An upper bunk bed is only suitable for children over 6 years old. Whilst there is no specific age restriction for the bottom bunk, babies, toddlers and younger children shouldn't sleep here - they should sleep in their own bed instead.
Where should I position the bunk bed?
Many parents position their bunk bed against one wall, as this provides more space in the middle of the bedroom. However, you must always fit all safety barriers, as there will still be a small gap between the bed and the wall. Don't place the bunk bed near to light fittings, ceiling fans or windows.
How high should the safety barrier be?
Whilst they can vary in height, there are two main criteria that safety barriers must comply with, according to BS EN 747-1:2012+A1:2015.
The top of the safety barrier must be at least:
- 26cm above the top bunk bed base
- 16cm above the top of the mattress
Additionally, the safety barrier must run all around the top bunk (with one opening for the ladder only), to prevent your child from falling out.
What is the maximum thickness of a bunk bed mattress?
The top of the mattress must sit at least 16cm below the top of the safety barrier. You will find a permanent mark or sticker on the bunk bed displaying the maximum mattress thickness. If you can't locate this, get in touch and we can help.
What about gaps?
The BS EN 747-1:2012+A1:2015 safety regulation explains that there should be no holes or gaps anywhere between 0.7cm and 1.2cm.
However, there can be gaps of:
- 1.5cm - 2.5cm
- 6cm - 7.5cm
- 20cm or more
What do I need to know about the ladder?
The ladder should be fixed securely to the bed. An opening for the ladder should be located along one of the longer sides - not the shorter sides.
BS EN 747-1:2012+A1:2015 explains that the top bunk access for the ladder should be between 30-40cm wide. Additionally, the ladder treads must be at least 9cm deep.
Can bunk beds be separated?
Depending on their design, some bunk beds can be split in two. This is useful for when your children are older, as you won't have to buy two more single beds for their own rooms. However, check the specific manufacturer details to be sure it can be separated before attempting to split it apart.
Are there any other safety issues to consider?
You should keep the area around the bunk bed tidy, to ensure clear access to the ladder. Never hang anything from the bunk bed.
Additionally, provide a night light for your child or position the bunk bed near a light switch so that they can get in and out of bed safely.
Think about size
Bunk beds are great for smaller rooms. Of course, you'll need to make sure that there's enough bedroom space to accommodate a bunk bed.
Here's what you need to do:
- Measure the total bedroom floor area
- Check the floor-to-ceiling height
- Cross-reference this with the bunk bed dimensions, which you'll find on each individual product page on our website
1. Measure the floor space
Make sure you have enough floor space for your bunk bed and opening any underbed drawers.
- Measure the total room area, factoring in any skirting boards
- Check the total width and length of the bunk bed frame
- Subtract this from the total space available
2. Check the ceiling height
Make sure there's plenty of room for your child to sit up in bed safely.
- Measure your floor-to-ceiling height
- Subtract the total height of your bunk bed
You should be left with at least 2 feet (61cm) between the top of the bunk bed and the ceiling. However, the more space, the better!
Bunk beds aren't just great for saving on space. They can include plenty of underbed storage, too! Ideal for storing bedding, toys and more, drawers make it easier to keep your child's room clean and tidy.
Alternatively, you can choose bunk beds with shelving or simply additional space underneath. This is great if you already have toy boxes that you'd like to store underneath the bed, or items that won't neatly fit into a drawer.
Choose the right type of bunk bed
There is a wide variety of bunk bed types available! You can choose from:
- Single bunk beds
- Trundle beds
- L-shaped bunk beds
- Loft sleepers
Single bunk beds
This traditional bunk format is simply two single beds stacked on top of one another and securely fixed for stability. The most popular and familiar bunk bed design, it's perfect for two children.
The Casper Wooden Bunk Bed is a great standard bunk bed for two children. Made from sturdy pine it's the perfect addition to any child's bedroom. This bunk bed can also be converted into two single beds, too!
Three-sleeper (triple-sleeper) bunks
A great space-saving idea, the three-sleeper bunk consists of a double bed on the bottom and single bed on top. These bunks are ideal if you have three children or if your kids like having friends over to stay.
The States Wooden Three Sleeper Bunk Bed is built from durable pine. It comes complete with two spacious drawers underneath to help keep your child's bedroom tidy.
Trundle guest beds
A trundle bed is a great alternative to a bunk bed. Designed for one sleeper and for occasional use by two, they're perfect for sleepovers and when guests come to stay.
The Lena Pine Guest Bed features an extra pull-out bed underneath, which is stowed away when not in use. A great space-saver, it takes up less room than a traditional bunk bed.
L-shaped and corner bunks
A contemporary take on the traditional bunk bed, an L-shaped or corner bunk has space underneath for a bookcase or play area. Since the bottom bunk is at a 90 degree angle to the top bunk, you can create a multi-functional, flexible space underneath, for a variety of uses.
As the name suggests, a loft-sleeper (or high-sleeper) is a 'high-up' bed on a platform accessed via a ladder. It leaves plenty of space underneath for a desk, bookcase or chest of drawers. Alternatively, you could create a cosy area underneath with bean bags and soft furnishings.
Choose your bunk bed finish
There are two main types of materials used in bunk beds - wooden and metal.
- Wooden bunk beds
Classic and sturdy, they're often made from hard-wearing pine or rubberwood. A more eco-friendly choice, many modern wooden bunks are made from sustainable sources. They can be sprayed with non-toxic lacquer or paint in a range of colour options and to ensure a longer lifespan.
- Metal bunk beds
Great for a minimalist, modern look, they're easy to clean too. Usually produced using steel tubes, metal bunks are powder-coated for durability and to enhance their visual appeal. Often less expensive than wooden bunks, they're a great low-cost alternative.
Finish off with a bunk mattress
Once you've chosen the right bunk bed, it's time to choose a mattress! Read on to find out what size you need and discover the best bunk bed mattresses.
What mattress should I buy for a bunk bed?
You can choose any type of mattress for a bunk bed, so long as it fits the bed and sits 16cm below the top of the safety barrier. However, we recommend buying a bunk mattress - they're thinner than regular mattresses, which helps the safety barriers do their job effectively.
Here are some of our favourite mattresses, specially designed for bunk beds:
- Cool and fresh Eco Comfort Fibres™
- Evaporates moisture for a healthy sleep
- 15cm deep
- Springless, 100% foam mattress
- Innovative Miratex foam for extra comfort
- 14cm deep
What size mattress should I get?
To choose the correct size mattress, check the size of your bunk bed first. The mattress should fit securely within the frame, with no gaps.
All of our bunk bed mattresses come in standard UK sizes:
- Most bunk beds will fit a single or small single mattress
- If you purchase a three-sleeper, you'll need a small double or double mattress for the bottom bunk
Here's a quick overview of standard UK bunk bed mattress sizes:
|UK bunk mattress size||Best for||Metric dimensions||Imperial dimensions|
|Small single||Most standard bunk beds||75cm x 190cm||2'6" x 6'3"|
|Single||Most standard bunk beds||90cm x 190cm||3' x 6'3"|
|Small double||Three-sleeper (bottom bunk)||120cm x 190cm||4' x 6'3"|
|Double||Three-sleeper (bottom bunk)||135cm x 190cm||4'6" x 6'3"|
Some mattresses you can buy elsewhere may be European sizes - always check the dimensions carefully prior to purchasing.
We hope this guide has helped you to choose the right bunk bed and mattress for your child. If you have any questions, why not give us a call? Our friendly team of experts are on-hand to help you choose the ideal bunk bed. You can also read our complete guide on buying a mattress for children and find out how you can give your little ones a cosy night's sleep.