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Different Types of Bunk Beds

January 19, 2017
Different Types of Bunk Beds

Bunk beds are universal and while they can adapt easily to both large or small sized bedrooms, they can also be a great space saving solution.

One big advantage of a bunk bed is that it offers design flexibility; it can transform from a child's play area into a teenagers study space seamlessly and effortlessly with their changing needs. There are many options to choose from and some important safety aspects to be aware of, so knowing what to look for will best help to your to determine which bunk bed is right for your son or daughter.

Some styles such as a ‘Loft’ bunk can provide additional storage space, while a double bunk offers an extra bed for when little friends come to stay. Larger bed sizes are also available to accommodate those with fast growing limbs, while some even come with a slide!

Our guide below covers everything you need to consider before buying a bunk bed:

The Importance of Sleep

Sleeping well is important for anyone no matter what their age. When it comes to children and teenagers however, ensuring that they get a good nights rest and enough hours of sleep is vital.

Kids, tweens and teens have a great deal of energy but also expend a lot of it. Whether it be at school learning, in the playground or during after-school sports or activities, you can bet they have worn themselves well and truly out by their bed-time.

If children don’t get the right amount of sleep each day it can greatly impact on their mental and physical development. Creating a bedroom environment that is functional and also encourages relaxation is essential and will make a big difference to their sleep.

This all starts with a comfy, good quality bed that the kids can grow into. It should be fun to look at, conducive to play and help to foster their imagination and creativity. If you are looking for a bed solution that can provide all of this and more – a bunk bed is the answer!

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Wooden Bunk Beds

Bunk Bed Materials

Typically bunks bed frames are made from two different types of materials. One type is timber, the other is metal. Both materials have their merits. When deciding on which material is right for you, the quality of the product rather than what it’s made from should always be your top priority.

Wooden Bunk Beds

Timber is timeless and brings a sense of warmth. It is a popular choice as it is durable and so versatile in terms of the style and colours available. Wood/MDF/Composite has the strength and visual appeal which many of us look for, however it can be heavy (especially if moving upstairs). However, most wooden bunk bed models can be split into two separate beds which makes them more versatile than a metal bunk which can't be separated. Also a wooden bunk bed that’s tired (pardon the pun) can be restored to look lovely and new again.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Standard Bunk

Metal Bunk Beds

Metal is lightweight, strong and available in a range of colours. Although the designs may not be to everyone's taste, they do appear visually lighter and less heavy looking than timber. Metal is a less expensive option, and can be moved from room to room more easily than a timber one. However they can tend to show signs of ageing more quickly depending on the quality of the metal.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Metal Bunk Beds

Types of Bunk Beds

All bunks have their advantages, however, the design and style of your bunk bed will greatly impact on how it fits into the space and how the room will function. For example; a bunk with a double bed is incredibly useful but it does take up a fair amount of floor space, a low-line bunk bed is ideal for younger, smaller children, and a bunk with a ladder will take up less floor space than one with a staircase.

Standard Double Bunk Beds

A standard bunk bed (also known as a double bunk bed) comprises of one bed above the other and comes with a ladder to the top bunk. The ladder can either sit flush to the bed or at an angle. A standard option can usually separated to create 2 single beds and is a great solution for small holiday homes which needs to accommodate other family members or guests.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Tripple Bunk Bed

Trio Bunk Beds

It may sound obvious, yes a triple bunk does provide sleeping space for three, however there are also three types of configurations. The most popular type usually comes with one single bunk bed at the top, with one at the bottom that also has a trundle style bed below that can be pulled out from the bottom bunk.

There is an L’ shaped option which consists of a single bed at the bottom and an L shaped configuration of 2 beds at the top.

The third triple bunk bed option stacks three beds on top of each other. This can be risky due the height and danger of falling. This option also requires the room to have a generous ceiling height to allow for adequate head room.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide L Shaped Bed

L Shaped Bunk Beds

An L shaped Bunk bed positions the bottom bed at a right angle to the top one and in doing so takes up quite a bit of floor space, especially if they come with built-in storage, however, some designs can fit neatly in a corner of the room.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Loft Bunk Bed

Loft Beds

A loft bunk bed is not a bunk. It is a raised bed with just a top bunk for sleeping. The big advantage for this is that it opens up the space below to create an area for either a desk, storage drawers, a cupboard or allows space for a play area in small bedrooms. A Loft bed can cost more due to the built storage or additional joinery.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Study Bunk Bed

Study Bunk Beds

There’s nothing more practical or useful than a study bunk bed design. In a similar fashion to the loft bed, it has a similar configuration, however rather than having a bottom bunk, it comes with a built-in study desk or work station in it’s place.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Low Bunk

Low Bunk Beds

Also known as a Cabin bed, the bottom bunk sits at floor level so the total height of the bunk beds is lower than that of a standard bunk. If you love the idea of a bunk bed but your child is under 9 years old, a low line bunk will be a good solution. Low line bunks are ideal for younger children as the top mattress starts 800mm or less from the ground. The ACCC’s standard for being only suitable for 9 years of age and above rule doesn’t apply in this instance because a bed of this height is not considered to be a bunk bed.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Futon Bunk Bed  2

Futon Bunk Beds

A futon bunk bed is convertible and combines a single bed at the upper level with a fold-out futon at the lower level. It can either be arranged in an upright seating position to create a sofa seat, or it can be laid out flat to create a double bed. This is a great option for a tween or teen bedroom where they may watch T.V or spend time with friends.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Double Single Combo Bunk

Family Bunk Beds

Much like a Futon, a family bunk bed comes with a double and single bed combo which can sleep a family in one room. Its configuration provides a singe bed at the top bunk and a double bed at the bottom bunk. The difference with this type is that the double bed sits fixed in place and cannot be converted into a sofa. A double / single style bunk bed is a popular option as people like the versatility of being able to put a visiting couple on the bottom bunk if necessary.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Tripple Trundle Bed

Trundle Bunk Beds

A trundle bed is the ultimate space-saving solution! It tucks neatly away under the bottom bunk bed and can be easily rolled out when required. It usually comes on castors which allows it to glide away effortlessly when not in use. This option is best suited for guest use only and not as an everyday bed.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Bunk with Slide

Novelty Bunk Beds

The most fun style of bunk bed on the market, a novelty bunk bed can be a colourful playground or whimsical wonderand! They can come in the form of a bed that looks like a princess castle or a race car – there are many types, some even come with a slide and generally higher price tag to match.

Still undecided? We have reviewed the pros and cons of some popular bunk bed options below to further help you to choose the right option for your family.

Bunk Beds vs. a Trundle Bed

If you have 2 children who are sleeping in the same room on a permanent or semi-permanent basis then a bunk bed is a better option. A trundle bed is good as an extra spare bed, but usually cannot fit as good a mattress on them and therefore is not practical as a permanent bed. A bunk also takes up less floor space than a trundle.

Bunk Beds with Stairs vs. Bunk Beds with Ladders

Bunk bed are in most part all about space saving. A ladder takes up the least amount of space, however, a staircase can be easier to climb. Below are the pros and cons of each option.

Bunk Beds with Straight Ladders (also known as 'Flush' ladders)

Pros Cons
• Straight ladders are the most affordable option
• Straight ladders take up the least amount of floor space, making them a better option for those who are space conscious
• A ladder isn’t quite as comfortable to climb as a staircase
• A straight ladder is the least safest option

Bunk Beds with Angled Ladders

Pros Cons
• An angled ladder is safer than a straight one
• It should come with a built on hand rail
• If your floor space is too limited for a staircase, but you would like a safer option than a straight ladder, an angled ladder is a good compromise
• An angled ladder will protrude further into a room

Bunk Beds with Staircases

Pros Cons
• A staircase is the safest option as it has wider steps to help avoid slipping
• A staircase offers more storage space which is built into the side of the stairs
• A staircase is more comfortable to climb
• A staircase is an easier option for aduts to climb to make the bed
• A staircase will take up more floor space
• It might be worth considering that if your child requires a staircase they are may not ready for a bunk

Bunk Bed Safety

There are Australian Safety standards in place for Bunk Beds. A bunk bed cannot be sold in Australia without meeting these standards. The ACCC checks any complaints and regularly checks imported bunks to make sure they meet the safety standard. Anyone can get the Australian regulations from the ACCC at any time.

It’s important to be aware that injuries can occur if the bunk bed isn’t well-made or if it is used incorrectly. Falls are the most common source of injury so to help reduce the likeliness of this occurring check that the bunk bed meets ACCC regulations.

Safety Checklist:

  • When putting a bunk bed together make sure the guardrails are securely installed on all four sides of the bed or top bunk and with the correct spacing for openings.
  • Check the connection points regularly to ensure they are securely in place and won’t collapse. The bunk bed should be able to hold the weight of both a child or an adult.
  • Gaps between 95mm and 230mm are not permited anywhere on the bunk.
  • No opening (i.e ladder) should be over 400mm.
  • It’s important that a minimum of 160mm of guardrail is showing over the top mattress.
  • Look for a low profile mattresses height. There should be an identifiable mark on the bed rail to indicate the maximum mattress height allowed to ensure the safety barrier is maintained to prevent children from falling.
  • The safest type of bunk bed is one which is in a safe room – no ceiling fans, curtain or blind cords nearby, no furniture which could be used to climb up and onto the bunk (always use a ladder).

Buying a Bunk Bed Mattress

Choosing the right type of mattress for your growing child is essential. When buying a mattress for a bunk you must consider the height of the mattress for the top bunk. The mattress should be low enough so that the guard rail above it is still effective.

Always read the mattress specifications before buying one and check that the mattress height meets the ACCC height requirements. This means no pillow top and should be constructed with high quality foam and fabrics with a solid inner spring.

In terms of support and comfort, that comes down to the individual. Weight, height and sleeping position should all be considered when buying a mattress. It's worth taking your child or teenager to try some out to better gauge which are most comfortable for them.

Bunk Bed Bedding

The icing on the cake, beautiful bed linen for your bunk bed will create a comfy, fun place to play and rest. House of Home have a gorgeous range of children's bedding will keep them warm and cosy.

Tips for Buying Bunk Beds Online

  • Measure Your Space - Start by measuring the amount of floor space that you have in the room, along with the height of the ceiling. This will help you to determine which bunk bed configuration will best fit the space. Record the ceiling height of the room, remembering that the person on the top bunk needs to be able to sit up.
  • Consider Your Needs - Decide what type, material and style of bunk bed best suits your needs. Do you require additional play space, or storage, or a desk of your child? These questions will help you to decide which bunk bed option will work best for your requirements. Also when picking a style take into account the age of the child and their temperament.
  • Be aware that the bed frame may come disassembled and factor in the time it will take to assemble it or the cost to pay someone else to do it.
  • Check if the price includes a mattress and check the height of the mattress complies with ACCC standards (as mentioned earlier in the article).
  • Ensure that as a parent you feel confident and comfortable with the product – if you doubt it’s safety it’s not the right product for you.
  • Choose a style, height and colour that works for your décor and you personally – remember you will need to be able to make it and change the bedding etc.
  • Only allow fully toilet trained children to sleep on a bunk, the ACCC recommend children over the age of 9 on a bunk but parents choose what works for them. Having a night time accident is tricky to clean on a top bunk and not ideal for anyone sleeping underneath.

Most Popular Bunk Bed

We love that bunk beds are an incredibly versatile and cheap way to furnish a child’s room or a spare bedroom. Below is a selection of House of Home's favourite designs and styles.

House of Home would like to thank our highly knowledgeable retailers Emma from Out of the Cot and Troy Harrison from Thriftway Furniture Megastore for explaining to us everything there is to know about bunk beds.

For more inspiration on how to decorate your child's room visit our article Create the Ultimate Kids Bedroom.

Bunk Bed Buying Guide Kids Bedrooms

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