Types Of Bunk Beds

Bunk beds are a great option if you have two or more children and don’t have the luxury of a third or fourth bedroom. They take up less space than two singles beds, and kids love them! In this article, let’s delve into all the different types of bunk beds and what you should consider when buying one.

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What is a bunk bed?

A bunk bed is basically a piece of furniture that contains two beds, one on top of the other and they form one complete unit.

Why is it called a bunk bed?

The word ‘bunk’ has different meanings, but with regard to sleeping, it actually refers to a sleeping berth aboard a ship or train. Bunk beds first became popular with soldiers in the military so more people could sleep in a room. After this, they gradually made their way into peoples’ homes. If you think back to some films and TV shows in the 80s and 90s, how often did you see kids who had a bunk bed? It was a cool and fun option for children back then, and it remains the same today.

What material is used to make bunk beds?

The vast majority of bunk beds are made from wood or metal. Here’s a look at the differences between both materials.


Wood is the most popular choice for bunk beds as they provide a warm and cosy feel to a child’s room. They are usually more expensive, but with that cost you get more longevity and a higher quality product. With wood, it’s also easier to create a unique look for your bunk bed, with additional features such as desks and drawers.


Metal bunk beds are becoming more popular and provide a more modern look. This can be a good choice if your baby’s nursery has a contemporary feel and design. Another perk of metal bunk beds is the price. They tend to be cheaper than wood, which is great if you are on a budget. However, you don’t get as much choice of what to buy and they don’t come with many additional features. Also, metal bunk beds won’t last as long as wooden ones.

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10 types of bunk beds

Here are ten different types of bunk beds you can buy for your child’s room.


This is the most common choice when you’re buying a bunk bed, and it’s the look most people associate with this type of product. A standard bunk bed features two beds, one on top of the other.

Loft bed

A loft bed is also a popular choice if you don’t have plans to have two children in the same room, but you want to maximise the existing space. This design basically features a bed higher up with a ladder to one side and space underneath for a desk, storage or play area. This can be a good option when your child starts school and you don’t have space for a desk for them to work on.

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Triple bunk bed

Want to use even more space in a room? You can purchase a triple bunk bed which will allow three people to sleep on it. The design of this product is usually a double bed at the bottom with a single on top. However, you can get triple decker bunk beds which have three beds on top of each other. Just ensure you have sufficient ceiling height for this. Of course one advantage of this second design is that it will take up less floor space.

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A triple bunk bed can be a great option if you have two children sharing it and they have the occasional friend coming for a sleepover. Or maybe you have triplets who could share their own room? It may be tricky to decide who gets the top bunk!

Triple loft bed

Another option is to combine the functionality of a regular loft bed, but have three beds instead. A triple loft bed looks like a standard bunk bed with a loft bed attached at a right angle (L-shape configuration). This can work really well in the corner of a room, but it will take up a bit of space.

Futon bunk bed

This configuration is less popular but it’s still a sleek looking design. A futon bunk bed will have the appearance of a loft bed, but with a futon underneath. So you can have one person sleeping on top, and two people sleeping on the futon at night when you unfold it. One great function of this design is that when you fold up the futon, you can chill out and watch some TV!

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A trundle bunk bed is a very popular choice with families. It has the appearance of a standard bunk bed with one on top of the other, but at the bottom there is a third pull out bed which you can use when you need. This is great when one of your children has a friend coming round for a sleepover. The one drawback is that you don’t have any storage underneath.


This novel design can work well if you have the space. Essentially you have one bed at a lower height, and a second one at a higher level but at a right angle. Although it takes up more floor space than other bunk bed designs, you have more space for storage.

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Is your child getting ready for school? If your son or daughter doesn’t have space for a desk, you can purchase a bunk bed which also functions as a study. It looks a bit like a loft bed, but it features a proper built in desk underneath with drawers and shelving for storage.      

Built in bunk bed

Of course if you need a bunk bed and your child’s room is simply too small, you can always purchase a built in bunk bed. This doesn’t come cheap but by inserting it into the wall space, you can save a lot of room and create a cosy sleeping area for your children.

Novelty bunk bed

Where’s the fun in just having a standard bunk bed when you can be creative? You can purchase bunk beds which have the appearance of a tree house, play area or a castle to create a really interesting and fun design for your children. However, you need to consider the age of your kids as it might be fun for young children, but I doubt teenagers would take kindly to sleeping in a castle-themed bunk bed!

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If you’re still unsure about which type of bunk bed to get, here are some alternatives to consider.

What to consider when choosing a bunk bed?

Here are some things to consider when you’re choosing a bunk bed:

Separate beds?

Do you want two (or more) separate beds or would you like to combine two of them to form a double bed? It’s more common to have separate beds but you may prefer the option of a double (which a futon bunk bed or some triple bunk beds can provide).

Consider the height

Make sure you leave plenty of room at the top of the bunk bed so no one can hit their head on the ceiling. If you have a high ceiling, you shouldn’t have any issues, and you may even be able to fit a triple decker bunk bed too.

Consider floor space

Most standard bunk beds don’t take up much space, but you have to consider the design of your child’s room carefully. If you’re planning a complete makeover, use an online room planner so you know everything will fit properly. If you think even with a bunk bed it will be a bit cramped in the room, you might want to consider a built in bunk bed. Have plenty of space in one corner? Then maybe an L-shaped bunk bed is the way to go.

Pre-assembled or not

Due to their size, you’re going to have to assemble the bunk bed yourself. It’s best to do this with your partner as it will likely take a couple of hours at least. However, if you really don’t fancy doing it yourself, you can usually pay someone to do it for you.

Stairs or ladders?

You want to consider which option you want with a bunk bed. Stairs or a staircase look more elegant, but they will take up space. However, depending on the design, you may gain more storage with a set of stairs as they can function as storage drawers. Stairs are also a bit safer and more comfortable for climbing up to the top bunk than a ladder.

However, the main advantage of a ladder is that is attached to the bed frame and takes up the least  amount of space. Ladders are also cheaper and more popular than stairs and staircases.

What is the standard size for a bunk bed?

Although there a wide array of bunk bed designs to choose from, standard ones are fairly typical in size. Most are around 40” wide (100cm) and 77” long (195m).

What size mattress should you use?

A standard UK single mattress is 35” (90cm) x  75” (190cm) so this fits a standard bunk bed quite comfortably. Just ensure there are no spaces around the edges. In the US, it’s 38” x 75”.

When can children use bunk beds?

The advice in many countries is not to use the top bunk of a bunk bed before the age of 6. However, for the lower bunk, children as young as 4 should be able to use it absolutely fine.

What is the maximum age for bunk beds?

For most bunk beds, they are only really suitable up until the age of 16. However, adults can use them too, but it depends on the maximum weight limit of the product. Ensure you do your research carefully if you’re thinking of buying one for adults.

types of bunk beds


Can adults use bunk beds?

Yes, but only certain models. Check the weight specifications carefully and contact the manufacturer if you are unsure.

Can a bunk bed collapse?

This should only happen if the bunk bed it not assembled properly, or if the maximum weight limit is breached on the top bunk. Also, children jumping up and down on the mattress can also weaken the structure and cause it to collapse. Make sure all the pieces are put together properly, all the fittings are sufficiently tightened and the bunk bed is used in the right way.

How far should it be from the ceiling?

You want at least 2 feet of distance from the ceiling to the safety rail on the top bunk. This minimizes the risk of a child bumping their head when they get up.

How long do bunk beds last?

Providing you look after a bunk bed, it should last many years. However, it’s more likely that your children may outgrow it first, but that depends on your child. Some children grow tired of using a bunk bed when they are around 12, where as some are still happy using one when they are 16.

How many injuries occur from bunk beds each year?

Unfortunately there are many bunk bed related injuries every year (36,000 on average in the US each year!). Boys tend to have more incidents than girls. Make sure you explain to your children how to use the bunk bed safely.

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