Bunk beds and Loft beds have some common ground with having an upper bunk however; there are other things that make a loft bed slightly different so we will discuss them separately.
Bunk Bed – They come in hundreds of different looks and styles. Needless to say if you don’t see what you’re looking for in furniture stores then go online and see what else you can find. Often you will make your decision based on the picture rather seeing/touching the actual bed so you need to choose wisely because you can’t really give it the once over until it is set up in your home. Always be very certain if there is a return policy in case you do not like it or it is not strong enough and pay attention to any shipping charges you may have to incur for sending it back.
Wood and metal are the two most commonly used materials. Be very clear as to how much weight the manufacturer recommends for the bunks. You know that most children will hear you say, “Only one of you on the top bunk at a time”, however, when you leave the room things can change. You want to be 100% sure that the bed frame will support the load that your users will be adding to the bunks. The key element here is that the unit feels rigid with no wiggle to it. It will be holding up precious cargo so you cannot afford the unit to fail. Ever!
The beds are mostly built in a couple of ways. Two independent bunks that go on top of each other or two bunks with common posts to support and hold the bunks up. The bonus of the two bunk system is that down the road you can separate the bunks and create two independent beds that could be used in different rooms in the future. The support post beds do not have that option. You would have to saw/cut the posts and make some adjustments in the future if you wanted to create the two independent beds. Both methods work and both have appropriate hardware to create a safe and rigid bed.
Accessing the top bunk is usually done two ways. Most common is the ladder. The other is a end mounted staircase. Ladders work perfectly but all users need to be trained on how to use them safely in the home. Make sure that the ladder is strong and can easily support the weight of the users. Many ladders are light weight and don’t make you feel confident about going up and down the ladder every day. The staircases are great. Typically they come with a handrail so the user has something to hang on to when going up and down. They have the benefit of drawers under the stairs for extra storage. Younger children are far more confident using the stairs rather than the ladder. The only setback with this design is that it uses up about 16″ more floor space in the room.
The most common size for a bunkbed is a twin/single mattress running side to side. Also available are double over double running side to side. Another version is the twin over double side to side. After that there are many versions so you need to decide what layout is right for you. The twin top running side to side with the double bottom running front to back is also a very popular layout.
Most of the bunk beds have storage units available to go under the bottom bed. Some will be single high drawers and some will be double high drawers running side to side which are always a bonus to get the extra storage in any room. People that tend to have endless sleepovers at their homes will use the roll out trundle bed option so they get an extra bed in the room from day one. The trundles come in a standard roll out and in the pop up roll out which is nice because the trundle then is at the same height as the bottom bunk. Both methods work well.
One thing I have told people for years is to know how high the ceiling is in the room. Most homes are built with an 8’-0” ceiling so you want to be sure you can fit the bunk bed into the room without any problems. Even though you will tell children NOT to stand on the top bunk there is potential that this will happen. When you are at the store simply add the height of the potential user of the top bunk and see where you are for height. Most bunk beds will not allow for a child to stand on the top bunk of the bed without hitting their head on the ceiling. This does limit the amount of standing time they can get on the top bunk because it is a long drop if one should fall over the edge.
Loft Beds – Like the standard bunk beds they too come in countless styles. They are less common for a furniture store to have on the showroom floor for display so again you may have to look online to see what is available. Loft beds are like a bunk bed frame to support the upper bunk but the bottom of the unit is open at the front of the frame to allow for other uses. The most common uses for the open bottom section of loft beds are a desk area, sitting area, and storage area. The thing to keep in mind is that the upper bunk is still there to be used so the height underneath the bunk may be too low for some users to fit under. Some companies will customize their loft beds so that the upper bunk is high enough to walk under without hitting one’s head.
The accessibility to the upper bunk is most commonly a ladder but many manufacturers offer a staircase version. You would need to confirm all of your measurements to be sure of heights because you still need to be able to get onto the upper bunk without hitting your head on the ceiling. Several manufacturers have seating, desk, and storage solutions in the same design collection to match up with your loft bed.
As always, the most important part of a loft bed is the construction and the materials. It needs to be built well so there is no chance of the unit failing while in use. Make sure that all the connecting devices are strong with screws at every joint.