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Bunk Beds Buying Guide

Snug as a Bug in a Bunk Bed: a short buying guide

A bunk bed is a versatile way to decorate a child’s room, especially one that will be shared by two siblings. Before purchasing a bunk bed, here are some general guidelines to help you select one the will be safe, comfortable and stylish.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Bunk Bed

  • Bunk beds should be used by children six or older. If one of your children is under six, plan on assigning the bottom bunk to the younger one
  • The guardrails of the top bunk should be on all four sides
  • There should be five inches of space from the top of the mattress to the top of the guardrail (of the top bunk). If the mattress is too thick, the guardrail will not be able to protect your child from falling out of bed
  • Check the manufacturer’s product information for the weight capacity, especially of the top bunk
  • It should be well-made and constructed of strong and durable materials. It shouldn’t wobble or shake. If your home is prone to uneven floors, plan to use levelers. Many manufacturers include them; if not, they can be purchased at most hardware stores
  • Corners should be rounded
  • The ladder should be securely fastened and not easily removed by a child
  • Take into consideration the size and shape of the room you are purchasing the bunk bed for. Measure the available space and make sure that there will at least three feet of clearance between the ceiling and the top bunk
  • Especially if your child occupying the lower bunk likes to read in bed, ensure that there will be enough space between the bottom and top bunks, so that he or she will be able to sit up comfortably

Types of Bunk Beds

Most of us will immediately picture the standard style bunk bed, two twin beds, one above the other, made of wood. But today, bunk beds come in a variety of styles and types, with different features such as under-bed storage, a built-in student desk or a trundle bed. Many bunk bed models can be separated and used as two freestanding beds.

The twin over twin bunk bed, also known as a standard bunk bed, is two twin beds stacked one on top of the other. Most twin over twin bunk beds can be separated into individual, freestanding beds. Twin bunk beds can be made of wood or metal or a combination of wood and metal. They are great space-savers. Even if you’re decorating the room for one child, a twin bunk bed is an ideal way to be prepared for sleepovers or unexpected guests.

The twin over full bunk bed resembles the standard bunk bed, but is designed to accommodate two different mattress sizes, a twin on the top and a full or double mattress on the bottom. This is an ideal configuration if one child requires more room.

The full over full bunk bed is comprised of two full or double sized beds. This type of bunk bed is a real space-saver, doubling the room’s sleeping capacity. A full over full bunk bed would also be ideal for a guest room or when decorating a teen’s bedroom.

The loft bunk bed is available in a variety of combinations. Essentially, it is a top bunk with space underneath for any number of furniture groupings. A loft bunk bed can have a freestanding bed, nightstand and a bookcase or a student desk or futon. They can also be an inclusive unit with a sleeping area, work space and built-in or under-bed storage.

Futon bunk beds have a futon sofa as the bottom bunk with a regular twin bed as the top bunk. A futon bunk bed is not only a great way to decorate a child’s or teen’s room, but, it is also a good choice for decorating a multi-purpose room or adding sleeping/seating options to a small home office.

A triple bunk resembles a loft bed, but has two twin bunks on the top, usually in an “L” formation, with the third twin on the bottom. Many types of triple bunk beds are also available in X-long (five inches longer than a standard twin), which makes them a popular choice for a teen’s room or a dorm room.

Bunk Bed Features

Storage drawers are designed to fit underneath the bottom bunk. They can be on casters or be a part of the bunk bed’s structure and slide out, much like a dresser drawer.

The trundle bed fits underneath the unit, and usually accommodates a twin mattress. It can be one of two kinds: resembling a large drawer, it pulls out from under the bottom bunk or it can be a pop-up trundle, which is basically a folding frame designed to hold a twin mattress.

The bottom bunk can be a captain’s bed box, which provides a built-in storage system, usually consisting of drawers, below a sleeping area.

Typical Materials Used to Make Bunk Beds

Engineered woods are man-made and are produced from recycled wood materials. Panels of engineered wood are formed by using heat and pressure to bond the wood fibers together. These panels are then used to create home furnishings. One type of engineered wood is MDF or medium density fiberboard. It is a popular material for children’s furniture because it is strong, durable and easy to maintain.

Wood veneers are often used to finish a piece of furniture made of engineered woods to give it the look and feel of real wood, without the high cost. Thin slices of genuine wood, such as mahogany or oak, are glued to the surface of the piece of furniture. A poster bed or toy chest, to which the veneer has been applied, has the texture and appearance of genuine woods, while making it more affordable.

Genuine wood children’s bedroom furniture is made from timber, which is wood that has been prepared for commercial use. Since it is not made from recycled materials, it will be more expensive than a bunk bed made of MDF. Timber can be produced from wood of hardwood or softwood trees, and refers to whether or not the tree is deciduous (sheds its leaves) or coniferous (doesn’t shed its leaves/needles). It is not an indication of the strength of the wood.

Metals are ores that are mined from the earth and fall into three general categories: ferrous metals (consisting mostly or iron), non-ferrous metals (have no iron in them) and alloys (a combination of two or more ores and/or elements). Most bunk beds are made from some type of alloy. Metals are a popular material for children’s beds because they are strong and easy to care for.

Bunk Bed Style

You want their space to look just as good as the rest of your home. Style is important. But it can’t just look good; it also has to be practical and durable. Select a style of furniture that reflects their interests and who they are, and you will create an environment that will have a lasting appeal.

Inspired by historical periods and their social customs, traditional children’s bedroom furniture can be ornate, with lots of decorative details. Traditional elements include scalloped edges, turned legs and crown molding.

Transitional style uses many of the decorative details found in traditional furnishings, but these have been paired with contemporary design principles. This makes transitional pieces simpler and less ornate. Since it has both contemporary and traditional elements, transitional style is easily adaptable with a range of décors.

Country furniture has a relaxed, comfortable look and feel. It includes many whimsical decorative details such as stenciling, embossing, and beadboard. Country furniture is typically made of wood and a combination of wood and metal. It has a warm and homey feel that can make a child’s room instantly inviting.

Contemporary children’s furniture typically has simple lines and relaxed ornamentation. A contemporary bunk bed can be made of wood, metal or a combination of wood and metal. With its uncomplicated forms, this style is inviting, while being unpretentious.

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