Best Bunk Beds

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
124 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best bunk beds

Last Updated September 2020

Did you know that the concept of bunk beds is believed to date back to the ancient Egyptians? The design has also been adapted for ships and submarines, and, of course, it’s embraced by sleepaway camps.  And, for your home, it’s a space-savvy solution for kids.

Some bedrooms are smaller than others and simply unsuited for two beds side by side. By essentially stacking the sleeping quarters, you’re able to free up space for kids to play, study, or enjoy other activities. There are even some bunk beds with integrated bookshelves, desks, or drawers that transform a basic bed into an essential, multifunctional piece of furniture. That’s something even the kids can rave about.

If you’re preparing the kids to share a bedroom, it’s time to start thinking about bunk beds. In this buying guide, we examine the different designs to help you choose the best one for your family and offer a few recommendations.

Bunk beds marked with ASTM and CPSC have undergone voluntary safety testing and comply with the high safety standards of these organizations.

Key considerations

Mattress size

More often than not, bunk beds are designed to accommodate twin or full mattresses. Identical bunks, in which beds are the same size, are most common. There are also bunk beds that have a larger bottom bunk, which have become more popular in recent years. These designs have a twin top bunk above a full or queen bottom bunk. 

Dimensions

Bunk beds take up considerable space in a room, so get ready to break out the tape measure before you embark on your search. While bunk beds save space when it comes to width, they might be too tall or long to fit comfortably in a bedroom. 

To determine how much space and ceiling clearance you’ll need, here are the average dimensions of bunk beds:

  • Length between 80 and 110 inches

  • Width between 40 and 65 inches

  • Height between 60 and 70 inches
     

Keep in mind that the dimensions include the bunk bed frame, not just the mattress size. If you invest in multifunctional bunk beds, especially with a bookcase or desk, the unit will be even larger than what’s listed above. Another consideration is the distance between the top bunk and the ceiling. There should be ample clearance for your child to climb safely in and out of the bed.

Clothes storage

As you examine your choices for bunk beds, be mindful of the bedroom as a whole, especially when it comes to dressers and closets. While multifunctional bunk beds with drawers are ideal for overflow items, they likely won’t be able to house all the clothing for two kids. If anything, make sure you can fit at least one dresser in the room. Alternatively, upgrading the closet with an advanced organizer system might be a better solution. 

Location

In addition to other furniture, you’ll also need to take other bedroom elements into consideration when choosing bunk beds. If you have a window or freestanding air conditioner, you might need to place the bunk beds against the opposite wall. Depending on the location of the door and/or closet, the opening may be obstructed by either the bunk beds or the ladder.

Bunkie boards

It’s not recommended that you use a box spring in bunk beds because it would raise the mattress higher than the guardrail. Instead, many parents buy bunkie boards, which provide adequate support with a lower-profile design. On average, you’ll find bunkie boards that are between 1 and 3 inches tall. These much thinner alternatives are preferred for bunk beds, as well as daybeds and trundle beds. 

Assembly

Bunk beds are relatively tall and long, so it comes as no surprise that yours will arrive at your home disassembled. If you're confident with tools, and even have your own power drill with attachments, you’ll probably be able to handle the assembly yourself. If not, you can pay a professional to do it, which might be well worth the cost considering the time you’ll save.

EXPERT TIP

If you own a rental property, it might be worth putting bunk beds in one of the bedrooms. This maximizes sleeping space for guests, especially those with young children.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Metal vs. wood

Metal: More often than not, metal bunk beds stick with simple designs as single-piece units. Their small footprint saves space and has a sleek, modern appearance. Metal bunk beds are also ideal if you’re on a budget, as some designs cost a fraction of what wood bunk beds cost.

Unfortunately, these bunk beds won’t offer much in the way of storage, unless you can utilize the space below the bottom bunk. Metal bunk beds are also known to creak, so you’ll have to make sure to tighten the components periodically.

Wood: Wooden bunk beds are popular for their enduring design and traditional appearance. They’re available with the widest assortment of features, which can include drawers, bookcases, or desks. The vast majority of convertible bunk beds are made of wood as well.

Given their often large size, wooden bunk beds might not fit in every bedroom, especially smaller ones. They’re also expensive, sometimes costing more than adult bedroom furniture, making them less than ideal if you’re on a budget.

Single-piece vs. convertible

Bunk beds are available in two basic designs: single-piece and convertible. 

Single-piece: These bunk beds often have a smaller footprint and can be significantly less expensive than their counterparts. 

Convertible: These bunk beds can be separated into a pair of freestanding beds. Convertible designs are popular if you’d like bunk beds that “grow” with your kids, who may wish to have separate bedrooms one day. You’ll be able to save money by repurposing the bunk beds because you won’t need to pay more to replace them.

Components

Ladder: To ascend to the top bunk, you need to climb a ladder. The ladders vary in design between bunk beds, though for the most part they either jut out at an angle or are flush with one side of the bed frame. It’s recommended that you inspect the ladder on a regular basis to make sure that it’s secure.

Guardrail: There are guardrails on bunk beds to keep the sleeper from rolling out of bed, but their designs vary considerably between models. The top bunk always has a guardrail, while few bottom bunks do. More often than not, bunk beds with a larger bottom bunk don’t have guardrails.

If you’re torn as to whether you should invest in bunk beds with a bottom guardrail, you have a few options. One is to choose a bed with removable guardrails, which can be taken off when your children are comfortable sleeping without them. Another option is to simply attach your own guardrail to the bottom bunk. 

EXPERT TIP

Depending on the clearance under the bottom bunk, you might be able to put plastic tubs or drawers beneath it for additional storage.


Staff  | BestReviews

Bunk bed prices

Bunk beds cost between $150 and $1,500, mostly depending on their construction. 

Inexpensive: If you’re on a budget, opt for metal bunk beds, usually priced between $150 and $250. While you’ll find these bunk beds in fairly basic designs, there are quite a few color options.

Mid-range: These bunk beds cost between $250 and $500. In this range, you’ll find better-quality metal bunk beds, as well as low-profile wooden bunk bunk beds. 

Expensive: The most expensive bunk beds cost between $500 and $1,500 and are almost always made of wood. Many of these are handcrafted or have integrated features like bookcases or drawers. 

EXPERT TIP

To keep wooden bunk beds in the best shape, regularly treat them with appropriate wood furniture products. Many of these contain chemicals, so only apply them when the bedding is removed to prevent staining the fabric.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Schedule the delivery of your bunk beds. Because bunk beds are usually delivered in multiple boxes, you’ll need to schedule delivery with the retailer. This can sometimes be within the same week, or it can take as long as a month.

  • Check for all the necessary components. Before beginning assembly, make sure you have all the necessary components. If any are missing, contact the manufacturer for replacement or head over to the hardware store.

  • Let your kids choose their bedding. While they don’t have their own bedrooms, kids can personalize their sleeping space by selecting their own bedding

Match bunk beds to furniture you intend to keep in the bedroom, like dressers or desks. If you’re upgrading all the furniture, look for bunk beds that are part of a larger collection so you can choose coordinating pieces.

FAQ

Q. My kids are the same age, so how should I decide who gets which bunk?
A. If both kids want the same bunk, alternating beds is an option. Taking turns means they’ll both be able to sleep where they want to some extent. On the other hand, if you want to keep things simple, just flip a coin. 
 

Q. Can I use regular mattresses with bunk beds?
A. Yes, though you might choose ones with a lower loft so they’re not too high for the guardrails. There are also special mattresses made for bunk beds, which can often be purchased in pairs for big savings. 
 

Q. Do kids ever outgrow their bunk beds?
A. Bunk beds utilize the same mattresses adults sleep on, so, technically, kids can sleep on them through their teen years. In terms of weight limits, you’ll need to defer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for a definitive answer because it varies between designs. With that said, some kids may reach an age when they want a single bed of their own instead of sharing with their sibling.

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The team that worked on this review
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    Peter McPherson
    Writer
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