Bunk beds have been and continue to be widely used for both private homes, dormitory residences, military barracks, and other settings. They are cost-efficient and utilize a minimal amount of space, making them desirable for many people. However, like any object that is constantly used, a bunk bed has a limited life span.
Bunk beds also have the unique situation of being subjected to constant weight from multiple sides, even if only one bed is slept in for a length of time. So, there will come a time when you can tell that the bed needs to be replaced or at least in need of a major overhaul. Read on to know when your bunk bed may have reached the end of its life cycle.
Bunk Bed’s Frame Has Loosened
When the frame of the bunk bed feels at all wobbly or loose, consider it a warning sign. This is an indicator that they have become worn and are in danger of losing their structural integrity. It can present an immediate safety hazard and should be promptly addressed.
If your bunk bed is made of metal, check all of the fasteners to make sure the wobbliness isn’t just a loose bolt or screw. Double-check that the connection isn’t stripped. If you have a wooden bed and you determine the shaky frame is due to a cracked board or support piece, the repair or replacement needs to happen immediately.
Slats are Bent, Cracked or Damaged
The slats are the mattress support of a bunk bed. It’s usually 5 to 10 wooden slats on each bunk. When these supports gets bent or cracked, it needs to be replaced.
This type of damage can happen for a variety of reasons, including the bed having to hold a massive amount of weight, excessive wear and tear from being climbed and jumped on, water damage, or other misuse or harm. Any of these will result in the slats needing to be replaced.
Metal Bunk Bed Frame Is Rusted or Bent
Most high-quality metal bunk beds will have a powdered coating that keeps the frame from rusting. However, some bunk beds may get rusty. If it’s a solid metal frame and you’re just seeing surface rust, you can take care of that with a little WD-40 or another rust remover that is safe for use inside the home.
However, if the rust is substantial and impacts the integrity of the bed’s structure, no amount of rust remover or paint should be used to cover the damage. Likewise, with a significant dent in the frame. Any damage at all to a bunk bed frame should be assessed for its severity and its bearing on safety. When in doubt, get a new bed.
Wooden Bed Frame is Cracked or Damaged
Similar to the message above, if you see damage to your wooden bunk bed frame that isn’t simply cosmetic, you need to seriously consider the impact it has on the safety of the bunk bed. Small chips in the wood aren’t going to cause the bed to collapse, but a cracked board just might. If you are handy enough to replace a board and retain the integrity of the structure, go for it. If not, replace the bed.
Note: Small chips and splinters should still be addressed, so they don’t scratch or cut anyone. Sand them down as needed to ensure a sound night’s sleep for everyone!
New Squeaks or Other Strange Noises
Many people expect that a bed frame will make funny noises on occasion, but you should not assume that these are not a sign of a potentially serious problem. In fact, they can be a sign that the frame has come loose.
If you are hearing odd sounds, take the time to investigate and do a thorough examination of the structural integrity of the bunk bed’s frame and fasteners.
Age and Misuse of the Bunk Bed
If bunk beds have been in a dormitory situation or have been passed down from family to family, odds are the beds are just getting old and worn down. If kids are jumping on the mattress, if the bed frame has been in storage for a long time, or if you buy a used bed and just aren’t certain about its history and overall condition, you need to observe it for any and all of the signs above.
Safe Use of Bunk Beds
In addition to looking for signs of wear and tear, it is critical that you or whoever is sleeping on the bunk beds understand the safe and proper way to use them. In regards to bunk bed safety, you should familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations as set forth by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
And if you have small children, you are responsible for carefully explaining to them what the dos and don’ts of sleeping are. We will discuss these issues in further detail later in the article.
The Lifespan of a Bunk Bed
If you take care of your bunk bed, there is no question that it can be usable for many years. That said, even the sturdiest of bunk beds will have a natural life span.
Depending upon the composition of your bunk bed, how often it has been slept in, and other factors, your bed could be looking at a lifespan of 15+ years if it has a metal frame and a potentially longer lifespan for a wooden bed.
How Bunk Bed Frames Loosen and How to Make Them Safer
It is not unlikely that if you have slept on a bed for any length of time, your bed frame has become loose. This can be the result of multiple reasons, including strong and/or constant tension between different angles of the bed, screws not having been tightened properly in the first place, and other factors such as a disproportion of weight between separate parts of the bed.
Tension Between Different Areas of the Bed
If your bed has been subjected to a lot of lifting and moving around the house, and there has been a lack of proper care in doing this, it is quite possible that certain bed frames have become bent, especially if they are made of metal.
Are The Metal Pieces Clearly Bent?
While this may seem easy to visually detect, you will need to check ALL pieces of the frame, as fractures can be hard to spot if they are concealed by other objects.
Depending on where the metal is bent and how damaged it is, the bed frame will at least need to have at least some or all of it replaced. We will discuss different popular bunk bed frames below.
Have Screws Become Loosened?
A loose screw can be the difference between a bed frame safely put together and one that could cave in at any moment. In the case of a bunk bed, even one screw can become an immediate hazard for the occupants of both the top and bottom bunks.
Given the importance of this, you should ensure that every screw is properly tightened using a screwdriver. If you are unsure what size screws to use or how to screw them, you can either look online at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on popular home improvement websites, or by visiting a home improvement retail store such as Lowe’s or The Home Depot.
Disproportion or Imbalance of Weight
A lot of us might be able to recall a time when we happily jumped up and down on our beds, despite our parents telling us not to. The truth is that any sudden amount of weight inflicted upon the frame can result in bending or breaking it.
And before you think the only risk of this happening is if a kid jumps on it, remember that an adult falling onto the bed (who doesn’t enjoy that once in a while?) or laying heavy objects on the bed can result in the springs and/or frame being cracked.
Consequently, you should ensure that only light objects are ever placed on a bed.
Important Safety Tips
Having already referred to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guide for bunk bed manufacturers, let’s now take a look at how you as the consumer can practice safety in using the bunk bed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, thousands of children are injured every year from accidents involving bunk beds, and many of these cases involve head and neck injuries.
Consequently, they have established a list of guidelines for bunk bed safety, among which are:
- Guardrail. Bunk beds need guardrails on both sides of the top bunk, which are at least five inches above the mattress
- Ladder security. Ensuring that the ladder to the top bunk is secure and that children only use it and no other means to climb.
- Proper placement. Having bunk beds in the corner of a room and away from a window as the child could fall out of it.
- Clear area. Removing any string, belt, scarf, or another object from the bed could present a choking hazard.
- Not a playground. Prohibit the children from climbing and playing on the bunk bed like a jungle gym. It is simply not worth the risk.
- Illumination. Have a night light or other light source that can help the bunk bed occupants, especially if they have to get up in the middle of the night
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital has included a reminder to parents that bunk beds at schools and summer camps often don’t follow federal safety regulations and that it would be in the parent’s best interest to request a correctly sized guardrail (5 inches minimum) if none is present.
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital also advises visiting recalls.gov in order to learn of any potential safety hazards in particular bunk bed models
My Bunk Bed Is Not Fixable and Must Be Replaced: What Now?
If you have either determined that your bunk bed has been damaged beyond repair, or you simply do not have the time or energy to fool with trying to fix it yourself, you can look into purchasing a new bed frame.
Finding the Right Bunk Bed
If you find yourself in the market for a new bunk bed, there are several things you will need to consider. First and foremost, you should understand that the right bunk bed for you will depend upon the occupants of the bed.
For example, younger children will not require a bigger bed, at least initially, but will if you plan on them sleeping in it for the foreseeable future.
Determining the Material of the Bunk Bed
Next, it is important to consider the positive and negative attributes of both metal and wooden bed frames. See the below table for a guide to each
|Metal Frame Bunk Bed||• Metal frames are easier to maintain because of the lack of damage that happens to wood.|
• Metal bed frames can often be found at lower prices than their wooden counterparts.
• You have the ability to select and customize various designs for a metal frame with a greater degree of leeway than a wooden frame typically provides for.
|• Metal frames are susceptible to rust, and thus they must be cared for consistently. |
• Metal-framed beds are more likely to make creaky noises, especially as they age. As previously mentioned, these can eventually become a sign that the frame is worn down and needs to be replaced.
|Wooden Frame Bunk Bed||• Wooden bed frames have a uniquely historic, fashionable style that dates back several thousand years. They also tend to provide a feeling of comfort for their occupants.|
• Since wood is usually heavier than metal, it can provide an extra amount of sturdiness to the bed frame.
• Wooden frames are much easier to recycle than metal ones.
|• Wooden frames are strongly susceptible to damage from termites and other pests.|
• Wooden bed frames can also become easily damaged by water. Thus, it is essential that measures are taken to mitigate the possibility of spills.
• A wooden frame can release splinters if it chips away, thus presenting an injury hazard for its occupant (especially if they are a small child).
It is clear that both the metal frame and the wooden one have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to a bunk bed. Consequently, you will need to evaluate each and decide which is the right choice for you. Some examples of highly-rated beds follow below.
Some Top-Rated Bunk Beds
If you decide to go with a bunk bed that has either a wooden or a metal frame, you will likely want to know more about the major brands that other people are buying. Here are a few:
- Bedz King Stairway Bunk Beds: this series of beds have wooden frames and come with a very safe and convenient set of stairs leading to the top bunk. These “steps” also double as storage.
- Storkcraft Long Horn Solid Hardwood Twin Bunk Bed: Rated the highest “solid wood bunk bed” according to New York Magazine
- Max & Lily Solid Wood Twin Bunk Bed With Slide: If you are looking to add some fun to your child’s sleeping experience, this model might be worth looking into!
These are just a few of the many bunk beds that are available today. You can shop online or visit your local furniture store to learn more.
By carefully observing certain signs, you’ll know when your bunk bed needs to be replaced or at least requires a major overhaul.
The signs we discussed above are important to know because, without them, you run the risk of encountering potentially safety hazards and other complications as your bed is subjected to excessive wear and tear.
There are also steps you can take to make a bunk bed safer and keep it in good shape. All of this is important for safety and a restful night’s sleep.