Bunk beds are great for saving space in bedrooms. How strong a bunk bed is built will determine its durability and safety. What type of wood should a woodworker use to make a bunk bed? This article looks at the different types of wood popular for building bunk beds.
Hardwoods like Maple, Poplar, Walnut, Oak, Mahogany, Chestnut, Ash, Elm, Birch, Cherry, Teak, Alder, Rubberwood, Cedar, Hickory, Beech, Cottonwood, and kiln-dried woods are the most durable wood to use when building a bunk bed to provide weight stability and strength for years to come.
It is often said, “sleep is the best meditation.” Your bunk bed must be built well to have a good night’s sleep. The stronger the wood, the more stress and weight it will carry. We compiled this guide of the best hardwoods to help you choose the best wood for your bunk bed design. Let’s find out what they are.
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What Type of Wood is Good for Building a Bunk Bed?
The most popular reason people build a loft or bunk bed is cost. Building a bunk bed can be achieved for far less than the price of a generally cheap bunk bed. A sturdy, safe bunk bed can last for years. Plus, building a bunk bed can be a great DIY project. Here is the best wood to use when building your bunk bed to withstand the weight and stress without cracking.
Rating the Hardness of Wood For Bunk Beds
You could always refer to the Janka Rating System when unsure what kind of hardwood to select for your bunk bed, flooring, furniture, or cabinetry. It measures the relative hardness of wood.
The Janka test is done to measure the strength and durability of wood typically. A steel ball is pressed into a block of wood, then calculates the force required for the ball to be embedded halfway into the wood. The Janka hardness rating is then displayed on a particular type of wood. The result is then calculated as pounds of force followed by the word “Janka.”
Sugar or hard Maple is the strongest Maple species with a Janka value of 1,450. This makes Maple one of the most durable woods to build a bunk bed.
Maple wood looks great, stains perfectly, and is extremely hard. Woodworkers like to work with Maple because of its light color, gentle grain pattern, and impressive strength.
There are multiple species of Maple trees, but the species most preferred by American woodworkers is Hard Maple. In Vermont and throughout the Northern United States, Sugar or Hard Maple trees grow abundantly.
Hard Maple wood is popular for beds, flooring, and kitchen cabinets. The durability and strength of Maple wood make it a favorite for bowling pins and bowling alley flooring and beds.
Hard Maple wood was also used for baseball bats before being replaced by Ashwood. Ashwood is just as strong as Maple wood but more lightweight.
The light color, extra strength, and smooth grain of Maple wood make it a favorite choice for woodworkers. The durability of Maple wood makes it perfect for building a bunk bed, and it is also not as expensive as other hardwoods. Maple wood can easily be stained to provide different color shades for interior home designs.
Poplar wood is great for furniture manufacturing because it is inexpensive and easily takes screws, glue, and nails. Poplar is also used for industrial purposes, such as for the core layer in finer plywood.
Poplar is easy to work with a saw, lathe, and router. Before using Poplar wood to make your bunk bed, ensure your cutting tools are sharp. Poplar woods are known to tear if the cutting edges on a tool are not sharp.
When drilling or boring Poplar wood, do it at slower RPM speeds than other hardwoods to prevent tearing.
Poplar takes paint well for woodworking projects that need to be painted. Poplar wood is resistant to decay, and when sanded, primed, and painted, it will last for many years.
Poplar wood is not too porous, yet it offers enough texture for the paint to adhere to the wood, making it a favorite choice for furniture manufacturing. Poplar wood is a good medium-density hardwood rated 2400 N on the Janka scale that is a well-rounded wood suited for bunk beds.
Walnut is a strong and stable hardwood valued for its color, grain, and strength, typically used for flooring, cabinets, wood veneers, and furniture. It is slightly softer than other hardwoods like Maple and Oak. On the Janka scale, Walnut rates at 1010, making it a moderate hardwood.
Walnut wood is famous for its beautiful color and textured grain. This strong hardwood is perfect for furniture and bunk beds. Walnut wood is usually chocolate brown, but warmer and lighter shades of brown are also available.
Walnut is rated as extremely durable and decay-resistant; however, they can be susceptible to insect attack.
Walnut wood is easy to work with, provided the grain is regular and straight. It finishes well, and stains and glues adhere well.
Walnut is a favorite among woodworkers in the United States. Walnut wood offers great shock resistance, dimensional stability, and durability for any bunk bed project. The cooperative working characteristics and the beautiful brown color put the Walnut in a class by itself.
The properties of Oak make it a favorite type of wood to work with for many reasons. Oak is hard, strong, dense, and heavy with a tight grain, perfect for a bunk bed. Due to Oak’s high tannin, it is resistant to fungal and insect invasions.
Oak hardwood is typically used for furniture manufacturing, flooring, joinery, paneling, veneers, and decking. The strength and attractive appearance of Oak makes it perfect for furniture manufacturing.
Oak is a long-lasting, attractive, durable wood with great water resistance that polishes and stains well. It is also less likely to distort and warp in direct sunlight.
This hardwood’s dense, non-porous texture resists water stains and absorption perfectly. Oak is resistant to shrinkage, making it ideal for window and door frames as it will not easily warp or distort. That is why Oak barrels are still being used today for aging alcohol.
Other than the physical advantages of Oak, it features a naturally pleasing golden color that dries to a pleasant silvery tone over time that most woodworkers and homeowners prefer.
When Oak is traditionally air-dried or kiln-dried, it becomes an extremely hardwearing wood that is perfect for any furniture project. White Oak is rated at 1,360 N on the Janka scale, with Red Oak at 1,290 N.
Genuine Mahogany Wood
Mahogany is an extremely strong hardwood perfect for building a bunk bed. It features a high compressive strength than most other hardwoods. Mahogany is durable and popular for furniture manufacturing, boat and yacht building, doors, flooring, and musical instruments.
Mahogany wood features a fine, straight, even grain, free of pockets and voids. Mahogany is reddish-brown that can darken over time. It provides a reddish sheen when polished.
Mahogany is harder than Oak. Mahogany is dark wood, and the unique grain makes Mahogany truly special.
Mahogany is easy to work with, durable, and strong perfect for any furniture project like a bunk bed. When freshly cut, it can vary from reddish to yellowish or pinkish. It will mature into a deep brown or rich red with age.
When exposed to sunlight, it can fade. Mahogany’s hardness rates 3600 N on the Janka scale, and its weight is rated as moderate, with a high density.
Chestnut is a popular wood for furniture manufacturing, cabinetry, railroad ties, musical instruments, shingles, telephone poles, fences, boats, and piers.
Chestnut wood is a rich medium brown color that darkens when exposed to moisture and sunlight. The heartwood is light to medium brown that turns a reddish hue as it ages. The sapwood is also light brown or pale white.
The Chestnut is a fast-growing hardwood tree almost as strong as an Oak but more lightweight. Chestnut is easy to work with and accepts nails and glue well.
It is naturally rot-resistant, offers a strong, durable straight grain, and is great for decking, cladding, groundwork, and fencing.
In the old days, pioneers used Chestnut wood for everything, like barns, homes, and flooring. Many of today’s reclaimed Chestnut wood comes from these purposes and is perfect for vintage-looking woodworking projects. Chestnut wood rates 2400 N on the Janka hardness scale, which is perfect for a bunk bed.
Cherry wood is arguably the most popular furniture hardwood in the United States. Cherry wood is a reddish-brown, smooth-grained hardwood from the American Black Cherry fruit tree.
This hardwood is a favorite among woodworkers for its beautiful color. Cherry wood starts at a light pink and darkens to a rich reddish shade with a warm patina over time as the wood is exposed to light through the years.
The darkening or aging occurs within the first six months of the wood being exposed to sunlight; darkening may continue for several years before reaching a glorious, reddish-brown shade that cherry wood is famous for. The process can be accelerated by exposing the wood to as much natural sunlight as possible.
A Cherry wood board can display a few contrasting grain patterns on one board, adding unique characteristics. When choosing the boards for your bunk bed, choose the darker heartwood for that lustrous dark red color finish.
Cherry wood rates 4200 N on the Janka hardness scale, a perfect hardwood for a sturdy, durable bunk bed.
Teak is a dense hardwood with a warm golden color, smooth texture, and grain and is considered one of the most durable woods. Teak is naturally high in rubber and oils, making it a durable, strong wood, resistant to rotting and extreme weather conditions, even if the wood is untreated.
Teak is famous for its strength, weathering, and resistance to splitting, cracking, fungus, and termites. It is widely considered the ‘king of woods.’ Teak’s water resistance, beauty, and durability make it perfect for any DIY project. Teak’s long lifespan is due to extraordinary durability and strength that ages beautifully. Teaks will withstand extreme weather conditions even without preservatives or treatments.
If you choose Teak wood for your bunk bed project, you can expect the bed to last forever, as Teak furniture can easily last up to 70 years with proper care.
Teak wood rates 5140 N on the Janka hardness scale, making it ideal for a bunk bed that will last for years.
Hickory wood is dense, extremely hard, and shock-resistant. Hickory is ideal for cabinetry, flooring, furniture, and tool handles for picks, axes, and hammers and is known for being resistant to breakage. Hickory was often used for carriage wheels and spokes, ladders, and home building in years gone by.
Hickory is considered the hardest of all local hardwoods and is light to medium brown, with a reddish shade; the sapwood is often a pale yellowish-brown.
Hickory is an extremely durable hardwood that can withstand nearly anything and is 40 % harder than traditional Red Oak wood. Hickory trees have a slow growth rate, take centuries to grow, and take up to 200 years to mature.
Because of the hardness of Hickory wood, it can be difficult to machine; it often blunts power-cutting tools and tends to split because of its dryness. Woodworkers should seal the ends of the wood to avoid this. Hickory accepts stains and glues easily and finishes with a warm deep shine.
Drying hickory in the open air is difficult because it tends to crack and warp when exposed.
Hickory wood rates 8100 N on the Janka hardness scale, making it an extremely hardwood perfect for a durable bunk bed.
The best wood to use when building a bunk bed is hardwood. They provide durability and stability and are weather- and shock-resistant, all perfect for building a bunk bed. The many different types of hardwood we listed in this article should give you several options to choose from that are typically used in furniture manufacturing.