Mattress for a bunk bed?

You’ll often see that a bunk bed manufacturer also wants to sell you a mattress. It’s not just upselling: They want you to get the right mattress for their bed — and size matters. Mattress height will impact your overhead space, and in a small space, the difference of a few inches can matter. Include the mattress height when making your calculations and consider a thinner mattress to maximize your space. The tops of the guardrails must be no less than 5 inches above the top of the mattress.

What are non-traditional bunk bed shapes?

“There are many size options when it comes to bunk beds,” says Allison Spampanato, SVP of Product Development for Pottery Barn Kids. “Twin-over-full or a full-over-full bunk are great options to grow with your child. Choosing a loft bed with open space below can also transition with your child. They can use the bottom as a play space when they are little and for a desk or additional bed when they are older.”


A good choice for rooms with low ceilings or for younger kids who might be intimidated by a taller bunk. The disadvantage is that getting into the lower bunk can be hard for adults. Gil points out two more advantages: You can kiss your child goodnight while standing on the floor and they are easier to make.


An L-shaped bunk offers a few advantages. They take up less floor space than two single beds, and in three-bunk models, you can fit in three kids without extra-high ceilings. However, you lose some of your space savings when you opt for an L over a traditional twin-over-twin.


A popular choice for a guest bedroom, this style has a single loft bed overhead running lengthwise along the wall. The lower bed (a regular bed) has its headboard against the wall and the footboard is the center of the room, creating a T-shape. 

Stacked Triple

This is a tricky setup that Gil only recommends when ceilings are very high but floor space is limited. Most stacked three-bunk beds stand about 92 inches tall. For a comfortable clearance on the top bunk you’ll need ceilings of about 10 feet tall or higher.

What extra features should I look for in a bunk bed?

“Storage is key for small spaces,” says Spampanato. “Look for a bunk with extra storage, either drawers under the bed or shelving down below.” It’s a smart strategy for kids’ toys or clothing. 

Many manufacturers are building flexibility into their designs with bottom bunks you can add or remove, stacked twins that can be separated later on, and more. One of these might be pricier than a fixed bunk, but it could save you money in the long run when you don’t need to buy additional beds later.

What should I look for when shopping for a bunk bed?

If it’s not possible to see a particular bunk bed in person, at least go look at some bunk beds and bring the kids too (you want to make sure they are comfortable!). Bring along the measurements of the bunk you are considering buying and a tape measure to see if you can get a better sense of the bunk you’re considering: Measuring things like the height of the top bunk to the floor and the top of the lower mattress to bunk overhead can help you visualize a bunk you can’t see. And if there is something you hate about the bunk you see in person, take note. Back at home use blue painter’s tape to mark out a bunk bed’s silhouette in a room. And don’t just mark its position on the floor — mark how high it will go on the wall. Pay attention to how close the bed comes to any fixed features like windows, closets, and doors and make sure you have plenty of clearance to walk around the bed.

There is no question that IKEA’s Mydal bunk bed is one of the best value bunk beds available on the market today. Unlike other low-cost bunks you may find on sites like Amazon and Wayfair, the Mydal are made from solid wood. For $30 more you can get it in a painted white finish. 

This low-slung bunk is a good choice for tight spots like a room with a sloping roof line. It is sturdy enough for a grown-up to climb into the top bunk for story time with the child.
Whether it is triples, quads, or L-shaped two-fers, MaxTrix Kids has ALL the unusual bunk bed options. Hope, a New Jersey mom of three boys who share a triple L-shaped bunk, says, “I feel like my kids will have these through their early teen years at least. It provides a tight-knit siblinghood.”

How do you choose the right bunk bed style?

First, think about how you will use the bed. For example, do you have two kids who will sleep there every night or one sibling who rotates between parents’ homes? This may influence what makes most sense. Some families will choose a twin-over-double for a shared children’s room so there is plenty of room for two siblings and a parent to read stories together. Gil also notes that if your kid is used to falling asleep with a parent lying in bed with them, your child may not be happy if that changes (and it’s pretty hard to sneak out of an upper bunk after your kids falls asleep). 

Think LONG and hard before buying a themed bed. Bunk beds are an investment. Here at Cubby, we’d recommend getting your princess or fireman theme out in the bedding or other low-ticket decor, not the bed itself.
This is a tricky setup that Gil only recommends when ceilings are very high but floor space is limited. Most stacked three-bunk beds stand about 92 inches tall. For a comfortable clearance on the top bunk you’ll need ceilings of about 10 feet tall or higher.

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