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mattress guides

The Right Mattress For A Bunk Bed: A Top-10 List And A Full Guide

The Right Mattress For A Bunk Bed
Oct 28, 2020

Bunk beds are a good choice for people who want to save room space and who like unique design solutions, although choosing the proper mattress for this bed type may be troublesome due to its construction. In this article, we will discuss bunk beds, the right mattress for it, and will provide you with the list of the best mattresses in the Koala’s opinion.

What is a bunk bed mattress?

If one bed is stacked over another one, it’s called a "bunk bed". Such beds are perfect for children's rooms and for smaller rooms because they provide private space in a shared room (a bunk bed is actually two separate beds) and because they are very functional. However, it doesn't mean that these beds are only for children — adults can use them as well (as long as the bed is strong enough).

The bunk beds come in different sizes, and what's more, the top and the bottom bunks are oftentimes of the different sizes. The bottom bed is usually a twin or a full size while the top bed is often a twin size or even smaller (e.g. narrow twin).

What is a bunk bed mattress size?

The most popular type of the bunk bed is 75 inches (length) and 39 inches (width) — such beds are called "standard" or "twin" and twin mattresses work for them perfectly. There are some bunk bed sizes that are quite rare to see — they are made by only a few companies in the United States. They include:

  • Full (75x54 inches) which are also called double beds
  • Queen (80x60)
  • King (80x76 inches)

Choose the mattresses that match these dimensions.

Bunk bed types

  • Twin over full bunk beds — a bed that consists of two beds: the top one is smaller (twin bed) while the lower bed is a full double bed (75x54 inches). Such beds are very safe and stable because of their construction, and they are a perfect option if there are more than 2 kids. Twin over full beds work great for large rooms.
  • Twin over twin beds — the typical small bunk bed option where one twin bed is atop another one. Often, the beds can be used separately. Twin over twin bunk beds work great for long and narrow bedrooms and this is actually one of the most common types of bunk beds.
  • Full over full beds — consist of two full-sized beds one over another. They are perfect for adults and they offer all the comfort of a full-size bed but at the same time, they save space.
  • Triple bunk beds — just like the twin over full beds, these beds offer sleeping space for three people. The main difference is that triple beds typically offer a double sleeping area on the top bunk. There are also three-tier bunk beds that work best for a child's bedroom.

Bunk bed mattress vs. twin mattress: which one to choose?

Most bunk beds are standard beds which means they accept typical twin size mattresses (there are also full, queen, and king bunk beds, but they are not as common). That’s why it’s quite hard to understand the difference between twin and bunk bed mattresses and that’s why comparing twin and bunk mattresses might sound a bit crazy. However, everything is simple — a twin mattress is not the same thing as a bunk bed mattress, and not every twin-sized mattress will work great for a bunk bed, even if it’s a twin-sized bed. Let’s talk about the differences between these two mattress types and about their pros and cons.

Bunk bed mattresses

  1. Bunk bed mattresses are typically not too thick — the absolute majority of them are 6-8 inches. The mattresses with such height are not as comfortable as 10 or 12-inch mattresses that consist of a lot of comfort and memory foam layers. The thing is, the mattresses that are thicker than 8 inches are not the best options for bunk beds because of safety reasons.
  2. Bunk bed mattresses are not as heavy as other mattresses. The thing is, every bunk bed has a weight capacity (it's usually somewhere between 200-250 lbs, but there are also beds that support up to 400 lbs), so you can't just buy a traditional mattress of a high density with steel coils and a lot of extra layers that would weigh 150 lbs for a bunk bed. Bunk bed mattresses don't feel as expensive and substantial as heavy twin mattresses, but they are much safer when it comes to this bed type.
  3. The bunk bed mattresses are not that expensive — while a top-notch twin 10 or 12-inch mattress might cost up to $500 or even higher, most bunk bed mattresses cost about $150-$300.

Twin mattresses

  1. Twin mattresses are more expensive, but this is the only problem with them.
  2. They are often more comfortable because you are not limited to 6-8 inches of height when you’re searching for a twin mattress for your one-floor bed.
  3. They are heavier than thin bunk bed mattresses which means they feel more substantial and move less on the base. But at the same time, it’s their strong sides that make them not the best options for a bunk bed — a heavy and thick mattress will definitely not work for two-level beds.

Choose the features you value the most and pick the mattress type based on your preferences.

How to choose the best bunk bed mattress: a short guide

When you’re choosing a bunk mattress, you have to consider a lot of factors. Here they are.

Size

Most bunk beds are compatible with twin and twin XL mattresses, but it doesn't mean that your bed will necessarily be compatible with these sizes, too. The good news is that the absolute majority of bunk beds are compatible with the classic mattress sizes (twin, full, queen, king, etc). Check the specs of a certain bed carefully before you buy the mattress.

Firmness

It's up to your preference, of course, but the majority of bunk bed mattresses are considered medium in terms of firmness. Searching for a plush mattress or for an extra firm one? Well, then you'll have to spend a lot of time to find the right product.

Weight

This is extremely important, especially if you are gonna use the mattress on the top bed — due to safety reasons, the mattress on the top bunk must be lightweight. It's very important to add the weight of the mattress to the weight of the sleepers and check if the weight load is not too much for the bed to hold.

Type

Memory foam, innerspring, latex, or hybrid? It’s up to you to choose. Memory foam mattresses is the most common option when it comes to bunk bed mattresses, but you can also find an innerspring mattress if you need more support or a latex mattress if you want it to be hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites.

Noise

A mattress shouldn't be noisy, period. Pay attention to memory foam mattresses if you want to find a super quiet mattress.

Cooling and ventilation

If the person who’ll use the mattress is a hot sleeper, you should pay attention to the gel-infused mattresses and to the well-ventilated mattresses that will not cause night sweats.

Durability

This is certainly not the most important factor to consider because most bunk bed sleepers outgrow these beds in 5 years or less. However, you should still be careful when it comes to durability: say, if the mattress dips and sags in one or two years, it's a waste of money and time. Innerspring mattresses are most likely to develop sagging with time, while the latex mattresses rank among the best in durability.

The best mattress for a bunk bed: Koala’s recommendations

NameTypePriceDescriptionKoala’s award
Lucid 8-inch Gel Memory Foam MattressMemory foamTwin: $150This is one of the best hybrid mattresses in this price range. This Lucid mattress consists of 6 inches of base foam and 2 inches of memory foam with gel (the gel makes this mattress more conforming and provides some cooling effect). It's not too firm (medium firmness), so it's a good choice for side and back sleepers. It's a good idea for the bunk bed because it's a low-profile mattress and because it’s very lightweight (only 23.4 lbs).Best memory foam bunk mattress
Olee Sleep 6-inch Ventilated MattressMemory foamTwin: $117A brand new mattress that works great for bunk beds for only $116 - with this Olee Sleep mattress, it's possible. It's closer to firm (medium-to-firm probably), but it's still quite comfortable. However, you shouldn't expect a 6-inch mattress to be very plush or extremely supportive - it's a good choice for a bunk bed, especially if you want to buy it for kids, but it's not the best choice for an adult, not to mention plus-size sleepers.Best value for money
RV Premier Cool Gel Memory Foam Bunk MattressMemory foamTwin: $585This mattress is extremely popular among the RV community because it's really good - it contains cooling gel memory foam, it reduces motion quite well, and it offers a good balance of comfort and pressure relief. It's not only for RV owners - the mattress comes in lots of sizes. Twin (75x38), full (75x53), and queen (80x60) sizes are available so this mattress will work for twin, full, and queen-sized bunk beds well. It’s a great choice for those who are looking for a soft — even plush — bunk mattress.The softest option
Kiwi Green Organic MattressHybrid (latex+coil spring system)$599Meet the best latex mattress for a bunk bed - Kiwi Green Organic mattress by MyGreenMattress. It's an organic product that is perfect for allergy sufferers and for those who prefer environmentally friendly products. However, it's not the most lightweight mattress on this list (55 lbs). It has no odor, it's perfect for children and adults (excluding plus-size sleepers, of course), it's very comfortable, and its quality is just great. This Kiwi Green Organic mattress is very close to top-notch products that cost up to $1,000-2,000.The best latex mattress
Linenspa 6-inch mattressInnerspringTwin: $80Kids' room, RV, guest room - this innerspring mattress will work for every case. The steel coils system provides more support than memory foam and makes this 6-inch Linenspa mattress a good choice for those who need relief. Thanks to the support provided by the coil innerspring, this mattress works great for children and teens (because children grow whilst asleep and this mattress supports the sleepers properly). However, it's definitely not the softest option on the list - it's much closer to the firmer side.The best innerspring mattress
Inofia 8 Inch Memory Foam MattressMemory foamTwin: $199Thanks to 4 layers (memory foam, ergonomic support foam, smart comfort foam, breathable cover), this mattress is eco-friendly, healthy, and extremely comfortable at the same time. The base foam adds support and provides pressure relief, and the first layer of foam adds softness. Just don't confuse "comfortable" with "too soft". This mattress is not plush at all, it's somewhere between medium and medium-to-firm. It's a great and a very comfortable product for bunk beds because of the weight (only 28 lbs for twin-sized mattress), the price (it's not that expensive), and the height.The most comfortable option
Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam MattressMemory foamTwin: $151It's a ventilated, cooling, and very comfortable mattress from one of the most popular brands that sell affordable mattresses. It's a medium-firm mattress that doesn't feel too hard - it's just the right firmness that works great for most users. It's a good choice for hot sleepers because it has good ventilation and a cooling pad. The only problem is that some users say that it's too wide for some bunk beds, so you should measure the width of your bed before you buy it.

P.S. Do not unzip the mattress cover, especially within your home — some users had serious problems with fiberglass shards after removing the cover.

The best cooling mattress for bunk beds
LUCID 5-inch Gel Memory Foam MattressMemory foamTwin: $100This mattress is perfectly sized for kids, it's well-ventilated, and it has a low-profile design that makes it a perfect choice for almost any bunk or trundle bed. It's typically used for toddlers and kids, but it can also be used by adults (just don't use it as a primary mattress if you're an adult). The mattress comes with a washable zipped case which protects the mattress from dirt (but it's not waterproof, unfortunately).The best option for children
Fortnight Bedding 6-inch Foam MattressMemory foam

Narrow twin: $130

Twin: $159

Narrow twin size is not that common, but if you need to find a good narrow twin mattress, consider it done - this mattress by Fortnight Bedding (74x30) is really the best option you could find. It's very lightweight, supportive, and works great even for adult side sleepers (but not for plus-size sleepers, of course).The best narrow twin mattress

Conclusion

To choose the right mattress for your bunk bed, you'll need to consider a few factors, such as the measurements of your bunk bed (for most beds, twin size works perfectly) and the weight of the mattress (especially if we're talking about the top bunk). Most lightweight twin mattresses that would work for a bunk bed are medium-firm memory foam mattresses, but it's also possible to find a plush mattress or the product with an innerspring system. Most bunk bed mattresses cost about $100-$300, but there are also some premium products that will cost you about $500 or even more.

FAQ

Do bunk beds need special mattresses?

No. As long as your bunk bed accommodates the regular-sized mattress, be it a twin, queen, or a king size, you can buy almost any mattress of this size. Just make sure it's not too heavy and not too thick - the mattresses for bunk beds shouldn't be thicker than 6-8 inches

What is the difference between a loft bed and a bunk bed?

Both loft and bunk beds are double-level beds, but the bunk beds have two mattresses, while the loft beds only have one mattress on top. The bottom bunk of a loft bed is typically used as an area for study or as a workstation.

What is the best mattress for a bunk bed?

There is no such thing as one mattress that fits everyone — one person may like plush mattresses while another person may hate them, you may prefer mattresses that provide a cooling effect while it’s not that important for another user, etc. According to the reviews and to the characteristics, we believe that Lucid 8-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress is the product that will work great for the majority of the bunk bed users.

Do bunk beds have twin beds?

Yes. There are lots of bunk beds types and sizes (you can even find a king-sized bunk bed), but most of them have twin top beds and twin or full beds on the lower level.

Are there any bunk bed safety rules?

The bunk beds can be dangerous for children. To ensure your children sleep safely in a bunk bed, follow these simple steps.

  1. Place the bed in the corner (in such case, there will be walls on 2 sides of the bed).
  2. Install the guardrails (they must rise 5 inches above the mattress).
  3. If you want to prevent the top mattress from falling, install extra slats.
  4. Make sure the ladder doesn't slip.
  5. Don't forget to install the night light.

How tall is a bunk bed?

Most bunk beds are between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet. It's important to choose the bed of the right height - thus, there must be at least 33-37 inches of space between the ceiling and the top of the mattress.

Is a bunk bed too small for a toddler?

No, there are lots of small (crib) bunk beds for toddlers. Just make sure it’s 100% safe and don’t forget that children younger than 6 should NOT sleep in the top bunk because it can be dangerous for them.