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Bunk Beds

Bunk beds have been solving space problems for a long time and are more in demand today than ever before. Their increased popularity is a result of a large population of children per family and the consequent need for more living space. The obvious benefit of the bunk bed is that it offers a family the option of putting two children into one room. Today, manufacturers have risen to the challenge by creating variations of the bunk, such as L-shaped beds that incorporate two beds, dressers and/or desk into one unit. Another option is a twin over a full bunk, which is perfect to use for visiting adults. Most manufacturers have added the option of either a drawer unit, which adds extra dresser space, or a trundle for a third sleeping area. Trundles are often designed to do double duty as either a storage drawer or a bed. Some manufacturers have added enclosures to tap into the children's imagination such as changing the bunk into a fort or playhouse. Most bunk beds also convert into twin beds. Whether the need is for extra space or to have room for a sleep-over, the bunk bed is the solution.

As the bunk bed has evolved, so has the attention to safety. The American Furniture Manufacturers Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission joined forces to establish voluntary safety guidelines. These guidelines have been established to ensure that beds are manufactured to withstand the use of children safely. In January, 1979, the first guidelines were established and have been revised several times since. In October, 1992, the ASTM (independent standards and testing organization) published the Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bunk Beds, ASTM F1427-92. Ongoing revisions continue to improve the standard. When purchasing a bunk bed, ask if the manufacturer is compliant with these guidelines. One way to be sure is to check to see if the bed carries a warning label. The label states the following:

To help prevent serious or fatal injuries from entrapment or falls:

  • Never allow a child under 6 years of age on the upper bunk.
  • Use only a mattress which is specified by the manufacturer (should have specific measurements) ____ inches long and ____ inches wide.
  • Ensure thickness of mattress and foundation combined does not exceed (manufacturer specification) ______" and mattress is at least 5" below upper edge of guardrails.
  • Use guardrails on both sides of upper bunk.
  • Prohibit horseplay on or under bed(s).
  • Prohibit more than one person on upper bunk.
  • Use ladder for entering and leaving upper bunk.


The latest standard was published in September, 1996. It addresses specifications on the lower bed and warning labels on cartons with the manufacturer's name and address. You may request the latest standards by contacting ASTM at 1-610-832-9500. Request the Bunk Bed Standard ASTM F1427-96.

You may wish to choose a comforter with a capped corner, which allows for the top bunk to be easily made. Also, with active sleeping children the capped corner comforter is less likely to be kicked off than a conventional comforter. Another feature on taller bunk beds is the extra space designed for an adult, allowing them to sit up on the lower bed. This is a nice feature that encourages adults to use the bed, perhaps when reading to their child. Consider the different options in bunks — do the bunk beds break down into matching twins, convert to L-shape beds or provide under-bed storage, for example.

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