Shopping for a new bed can be challenging enough without deciphering all the terminology that comes with buying any new piece of furniture. In particular, bed sizes can be quite confusing, and it doesn’t help that some sizes go by multiple names, depending on where you’re from. Take twin beds versus double beds, for example. What’s the difference between them?
Twin beds, which measure 39” wide, are slightly smaller than double beds, which are 54” across. Both sizes are 75” long. Although the names imply that double beds are twice as wide as twin beds, there’s only a 15-inch difference between them.
Let’s take a look at the ideal uses for both double beds and twin beds and how to decide which one will work best for your home.
Difference Between Twin Beds and Double Beds
People often get twin beds and double beds confused, and when you factor in single and full-sized beds, it can be hopeless figuring out which size is which. We’ll settle the confusion once and for all in this section, breaking down the names and measurements for each size bed.
We’ll even get into the larger sizes for comparison, so you can be completely clear on which size bed will be best for you.
Twin beds, which are generally called single beds outside of the United States, are made for one person to sleep on. Their measurements are 39 x 75 inches.
Some people mistake twin beds for larger double beds since the term “twin” usually refers to two. However, the term “twin bed” points towards the beds’ original use, which is providing two small beds for one room, so two people could sleep together while having their own space. The “twin” part comes in because the beds were often sold in matching pairs, so the beds were “twins.”
These beds are the smallest standard size and are usually reserved for children or single person spare beds. Twin beds also come in XL sizes, which are 80 inches long.
Double beds are also called full-sized beds, which adds to the twin versus double confusion. Double beds are 54 inches across and 75 inches long.
Double beds were initially designed for two people to sleep in, but nowadays, most couples prefer to sleep on queen-sized or larger beds unless they’re trying to conserve space.
Two people can easily share a full-sized bed if:
- They’re relatively small
- They’re okay sleeping in close proximity
- It’s temporary, as in a guest room
Some parents opt for full-sized beds rather than twins for older children, intending to turn the child’s room into a guest room once the child grows up and moves out.
Other Bed Sizes
This article will focus on the differences between twin and double beds, but for clarity, it might make sense to include a brief description of the other standard bed sizes too.
- Queen – One of the most common sizes of bed is the queen, with almost half of all adults in the United States owning this size. Queen beds measure 60 x 80 inches. They’re not only wider than full-sized beds, but longer, too, making them a good choice for couples who prefer to spread out a bit while sleeping.
- King – King-sized beds are 76 x 80 inches, making them excellent statement pieces for larger bedrooms. They give sleepers plenty of room, perfect for couples who want to sleep together but also need their own space.
- California King – Many people assume that a California king is significantly wider than a regular king, but they’re actually slightly narrower. They’re longer, though, making them an excellent choice for taller sleepers. California kings are 72 x 84 inches.
How to Choose Between a Twin Bed and a Double Bed
Buying a bed, even a smaller sized one for a child or guest room, is a decent-sized investment. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the purchase from all angles before buying, so you’ll be happy with your choice for years to come.
The Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your mattress every 6-8 years, and many people stretch it out longer than that between purchases. That’s especially true of guest rooms, on which the beds are only slept on every so often. So the last thing you want to do is get a bed home and hate the size of it, only to be stuck with it for close to a decade.
It goes without saying that choosing between a twin bed and a double bed is ultimately a matter of preference. But there are a few things to consider when deciding that may help you make up your mind. Below, we’ve detailed the most important things to factor in when shopping for a twin or double bed and how to choose between them.
One of the biggest and perhaps most obvious factors to consider when deciding between a twin and double bed is the size of the room you’re planning on putting it in. Don’t just eyeball it—make sure to take measurements and mark out how much space both sizes will take up.
Naturally, twin beds are more versatile since they’re narrower than double beds. That makes it much easier to tuck them into small spaces and out of the way—a real bonus if two or more people share one room.
The room’s layout will affect your choice a bit as well since you won’t want the bed to cover entryways or closets. Placing the bed in front of a window can be a bold decorating choice, although you’ll want to reconsider the idea if you live in a loud neighborhood.
Another thing to consider is what type of room you’re buying for. Are you buying a bed for a dedicated bedroom or a shared office/bedroom space?
If you’re buying for a guest room, you might want to opt for a twin since you won’t want an unnecessarily large bed taking up space when it’s rarely even being used. On the other hand, if you often have long-term company, or couples staying with you, it might be a good idea to spring for the larger size.
Remember that if you use the guest room for other purposes when not hosting guests, you can always push the bed to one corner and rearrange it if people come to stay. That way, you can have the best of both worlds, playing good host, and utilizing your space effectively.
People living in studios often go for double beds since most adults prefer not to sleep on a twin bed every night. Double beds are large enough to sleep on regularly without taking up as much space as a queen or king.
Surprisingly, the size of the sleeper the bed is meant to accommodate is often overlooked when people choose between a twin or double bed. While the bed must fit the room, it’s more important that the person fits the bed.
Twin beds are large enough to accommodate most children and medium-sized adults, but larger or taller people may need a double bed to feel comfortable. Sleepers who toss and turn a lot might also benefit from a double to decrease the chances of falling out of bed in the middle of the night.
When taking sleeper size into account, remember that humans aren’t always the only ones sleeping in our beds these days—a whopping 71% of pet owners sleep with their pets. Make sure to take this into account, too, since many pets can be bed hogs that take up a lot of space, regardless of their size.
Many parents buy their child a twin-sized bed without even thinking about it, but if your child is going away to college soon, you might want to buy a double bed instead. That way, you’ll be ready to convert the bedroom into a room for guests without having to buy a new bed. Your youngster will also appreciate having a double bed to lounge in when they come back to visit after long semesters spent in a dorm.
It’s equally true that if you’re buying a bed for your young child, a twin bed might be more appropriate than a double since a larger bed can be intimidating for children making the transition from crib to bed. Besides, kids usually prefer more floor space for playing than having a large bed.
It’s worth pointing out that many adults prefer full-size beds rather than twins simply because a twin size bed feels like a step down, even if they don’t need the extra bed space. That’s just one example of how personal bed choice is to every person. If you want to play it safe, it’s worth asking the person you’re buying the bed for which size they prefer if you’re not buying it for yourself.
Cost of Bed
One more thing we’ll talk about is the cost of double versus twin beds, which is something worth considering, even if budget isn’t a huge issue for you. After all, there’s no sense in spending more than you have to, right? The more you save on your bed, the more you have to spend on other fun decor projects.
Naturally, a double frame generally costs a bit more than a twin, although sometimes you can find deals on both. The price difference is usually negligible, and many bed frames are actually adjustable.
Make sure to shop around to find styles you like and compare the prices of both sizes. The most common materials for twin and double beds are:
The bed styles available are practically limitless. Some of the styles best suited to twin and double beds are:
- Bunk beds: Beds stacked on top of each other to accommodate multiple sleepers in one room. Traditionally done with single beds, but occasionally available in full as well
- Loft beds: A raised bed with open space or a desk underneath, ideal for small spaces and studio apartments
- Sleigh beds: Elegant sleigh-like head and footboard design that can add a touch of class to a smaller bed
- Canopy beds: Can make a romantic or whimsical statement, using netting, curtains, or fairy lights hung from the canopy
- Trundle beds: A guest bed tucked beneath another bed when not in use, usually on wheels. A space-saving option for guest bedrooms
- Platform beds: Instead of a box spring, the mattress sits on a stable platform, often with storage drawers underneath
Regardless of what bed size you decide to go with, make sure that the style suits your decor and preferences.
Just like bed frames, smaller mattresses tend to be less expensive than larger ones, making twin mattresses the cheaper option. Although the price difference usually isn’t huge, it’s worth considering.
Mattresses for twin and double beds come in many varieties:
- Traditional innerspring
- Pillow top
- Memory foam
A mattress is definitely something you don’t want to skimp on since it will affect the quality of sleep and neck, back, and joint alignment while sleeping. Whether you choose a twin or double, make sure to buy the best mattress you’re able to.
Something a lot of people fail to consider when deciding between two bed sizes is bedding costs. The cost of bedding for twin and double beds can vary dramatically, especially when you take into account:
- Fitted sheets
- Flat sheets
- Comforter or duvet
If you’re the type of person to overhaul your decor regularly, the higher prices of double bedding will add up quickly, so you might consider buying the smaller bed.
On the other hand, since twin beds are mostly geared towards children, it can be hard to find as much of a selection for twin beds. This can be gotten around easily enough by:
- Shopping online
- Making your own bedding
- Ordering custom bedding
- Buying neutral bedding and accenting with colorful pillows or blankets
Making or ordering custom bedding will more than offset the cost of just buying a double bed and giving yourself more options to begin with, though. Still, it’s something to think about.
If you own your home or otherwise plan on staying put where you are for a while, then moving might not factor into your bed buying decisions too much. But if you tend to move regularly, buying a smaller and more easily movable bed might be worth considering.
You might think that a few extra inches won’t make that much difference if you’re packing a truck full of furniture anyway, but as any family that moves a lot will tell you, those few extra inches and pounds can sometimes make all the difference in the world, especially on multiple moves.
If you don’t move more than every few years, it might not be worth sizing down. Only you can decide whether your lifestyle is better suited to a twin or double bed.
Twin Bed vs. Double Bed: Which is Better?
You should have a pretty good idea by now whether you want a twin or double bed. But just in case, let’s take a final look at the pros and cons of both and in which situations each size will be best.
- Pro: Small size takes up less space and is more versatile
- Con: Less space for sleepers to spread out
- Pro: Bedding, mattress, and frame are less expensive
- Con: Fewer options when it comes to bedding and frames
If space is important to you, then the clear winner is a twin bed since they take up less space than a double. Twin beds are narrow enough to fit into just about any space in the home, making them more versatile than larger double beds are. They can even double as day beds, giving you a cozy spot to read or watch TV.
Additionally, although twin beds may have fewer style options than double beds, they’re cheaper overall when you take the frame, mattress, and bedding into account.
- Pro: Less of a cramped sleeping space
- Con: Takes up more room than a twin
- Pro: Wider selection of bedding and frames
- Con: Bedding, mattress, and frame are more expensive
Double beds offer 15 inches of extra sleeping space compared to a twin, making them better for adults and couples. They’re also ideal for older kids, as they can then be used for guests once the child moves out and lives on their own.
Double beds have a full 15 inches of width on the smaller twin beds, which can make all the difference in the world to the amount of space you have in a room and the amount of space a sleeper has to spread out.
Hopefully, the information above will help you make an informed decision when you decide which one will work best for your needs.