Bunk beds buying guide: How to pick the right one

Bunk beds buying guide: How to pick the right one

When presented with the choice of regular beds or bunk beds, kids will choose bunk beds every time. That’s because bunk beds make sharing a room with an annoying sibling fun - and then climbing up and down part probably has something to do with it, too. So if you’re ready to make your kid’s dreams come true, read on for everything you’ll need to know about buying a bunk bed and bunk bed safety.

Are bunk beds a good idea?

Sometimes, what kids want and what’s good for them don’t line up. A certain level of caution should be taken with bunk beds, given they’re not suitable for kids of all ages and temperaments. That considered, for most families, bunk beds are a perfectly safe and rewarding investment for everyone involved.

With a bunk bed, you’ll have more floor space for storage, and your kids will have more room for their hobbies and homework. Your kids will also appreciate the independent zones a bunk bed has when they need a little bit of time out from each other.

How to choose a bunk bed

If you’ve decided a bunk bed is a good idea for your family, the next step is choosing the right one. From trio bunks to slides, there are many options to consider, and it’s not always obvious what’s best for you. Here are eight steps to help you choose the perfect bunk bed for your little ones:

Consider the height of the top bunk to the ceiling

How far should a bunk bed be from the ceiling? Well, it depends on the height of your child, but to be safe, you should leave at least 60cm from the top bunk to the ceiling. So, for example, if the bunk bed is 180cm high, make sure your ceilings are at least 240cm high, to prevent your child from hitting their head.

Check to see if the bunk beds separate

If your kids will eventually have their own bedrooms, consider whether bunk beds that separate into two single beds would be a good option for you. With a little bit of forward-thinking, you’ll be able to save money on new beds in the future. As a bonus, two single beds are likely to sell for more than a bunk bed on second-hand marketplaces when your kids have outgrown them.

Decide between metal and wood bunk beds

Weigh up the pros and cons of metal versus wood. Wood is sturdy and long-lasting, but metal tends to come with a lower price tag. Another consideration is how these styles of bunk beds will fit in with the rest of your decor. If the rest of your kid's room furniture and decor accents are made of one material, it could be best to pick a bunk bed that will complement the other pieces.

Choose between stairs and ladders

Deciding between stairs and ladders is for the most part simply personal preference. Some may consider stairs safer for curious younger children who may attempt to climb the ladder when your back is turned. Stairs do, however, take up more space than a ladder, which could be a deal-breaker for those that have limited space.

Think about adding a trundle 

Many families who choose bunk beds do so to maximize floor space, and another way to do that is with a trundle. Trundles fit conveniently underneath the bottom bunk and accommodate either another mattress or can be used to store bedding, reading material, and pajamas.

Plan for the future

When it comes to choosing the most appropriately sized bunk bed for your kids, you’ll need to consider your future plans. If you know your kids will have their own bedrooms before they are teenagers, single bunk beds will probably be fine until then. However, if your kids will be sharing a room when they’re older, a trio bunk bed may be a better option.

Match your bunk beds to your decor

From black metal bunk beds to pink princess bunks, there’s certainly no lack of style options. Find a bunk bed that will complement the rest of your kid's room decor. If you’ve got a certain theme in your kid's room, keep things consistent with your choice of bunk beds,

Explore a few different options

Before you commit to one style of bunk bed, take a moment to consider a few other options. Whether that’s a kids bunk bed with a slide, a kids bunk bed with a desk, or a kids bunk bed with storage, you and your kids may be happier with something that wasn’t in the original plan.

Top 5 bunk bed safety tips

You may just see a bed, but to kids, bunk beds are essentially indoor playground equipment. And while it’s impossible to police their every move, certain measures can be taken to make sure your kids will be safe on their own. We’ve suggested five ways you can make sure your bunk bed is as safe as it can be.

1- Check the safety standards: The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has set standards for the design of bunk beds. Compliant bunk beds will have a label to indicate it has met these safety standards.

2- Assemble with care: Don’t assume you can assemble a bunk bed without instructions - make sure you’re properly putting your bed together, as poorly assembled beds can be dangerous.

3- Place the bed in a good position: Position your bed in the safest possible spot in the room. This means the bed will be away from any ceiling fans, windows, lights, air conditioners, or blinds.

4- Use guard rails: Bunk beds should not be used without guard rails installed on all sides of the top bunk. Make sure your bed has rails on all four sides.

5- Set clear boundaries: Reinforce that a bunk bed is exactly that - a bed, and not a place for playing. Let your kids know of the dangers of improper use to discourage them from hurting themselves.

Bunk bed safety FAQs

What is the recommended age for bunk beds?
Kids are naturally adventurous and will probably want up on the top bunk as soon as they can ask, but unfortunately, it’s probably not a good idea for the very little ones. It’s generally recommended that kids not be allowed up to the top bunk until late primary school, or around nine years old.

What is the weight limit on a top bunk bed?
A properly assembled bunk bed should easily support one child on the top bunk. It’s not advised that more than one child be up on the top bunk at any given time, so keep any sleepovers to the bottom bunk of a trio bed. 

What is the maximum height for a top bunk mattress?
The mattress on a top bunk bed should be relatively low profile in order to maximize the efficiency of the guard rails. For this reason, keep the mattress to a maximum depth of under 18cm.

Can adults sleep in bunk beds?
Aside from the fact that it would probably be quite uncomfortable to fit in any kids-sized bed, it’s not advised for adults to sleep in bunk beds made for kids. If your little one wants to sleep next to you, it’s a better idea for them to join you in your bed rather than the other way around.

How to build a safe bunk bed
Assembling a bunk bed safely shouldn’t be difficult. Make sure you’re carefully reading the instruction manual and firmly tightening each screw to ensure the sturdiest possible build.

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