Bunk Bed vs. Trundle Bed: Which is Better?

A bunk bed and a trundle bed are popular for space-saving and for families with more than one child. Find out which of the two suits your home best.
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A bunk and a trundle bed in a family room.

Both the bunk bed and the trundle bed are great for space-saving, accommodating extra guests and for instant sleepovers. They also have their own set of advantages and disadvantages so it’s important to know in advance what these are.

Before deciding on either of these types of beds, you need to consider just how much available space you have in your bedroom. Think about who’s going to be using them and just how much extra bed space you’ll need.

Bunk Bed

Furniture that has two beds stacked on top of each other is known as a bunk bed and is loved by a lot of people because they are a great way to allow more than one person to sleep in a room without taking up a lot of floor space with an additional bed. They don’t usually need a box spring since there is a solid piece of wood on the frame that the mattress can rest on and this ensures that the top bed will not be too close to the ceiling. If the person sleeping in the top bunk is young or tends to move around a lot during the night, then it is very normal to put railings along the edge of the bed so that he or she doesn’t accidentally fall out and get injured. There are four vertical poles on a bunk bed that lift up the top bed and usually a ladder that is built into the furniture or leans up against the top bunk for easy access when climbing up and down. It’s easiest to find twin bunk beds where both of the mattresses are twin size but it’s more and more common to buy ones that have a larger bed on the bottom with a twin on top. If you have more floor space in the room, it’s possible to buy bunk beds where the top one is turned at a right angle from the bottom, creating space below the bed for a dresser or a desk.

If you have a smaller room and want to be able to give everyone a bed, then bunk beds are a great idea as they make it easy to put a number of people into one room without everyone being cramped or uncomfortable. It’s normal to see bunk beds in college dorms, military housing, or camps due to their space-saving benefits. Even families that either have a larger number of children or just not enough room can benefit from bunk beds and will enjoy not having to have all of the floor space occupied by multiple beds.

White bunk bed with metal frame.

Source: Hayneedle

Pros

  • If you are on a budget, you can usually find bunk beds that are much less expensive than having to buy two separate twin beds.
  • Bunk beds are ideal for smaller rooms where you don’t want to use up all of the floor space but still need to have more than one person sleeping in the room. Instead of taking up all of the available room for children to play on the floor, when you choose bunk beds, they will still be able to spread out and play when they are awake.
  • Certain bunk beds have drawers that are built in under the bottom bunk, making this piece of furniture even more ideal if you need to save space and don’t have room for lots of pieces of furniture. Clothes and sheets can be stored under the bed to keep them handy and out of the way.
  • Some bunk beds come with a trundle bed option under the bottom bunk. While this will greatly increase the overall cost of the bed, it’s ideal if you need to get as much sleeping space in one room as possible.
  • Because bunk beds come with an optional larger lower bed, they’re not just for children and can easily be used by adults or teenagers.
  • If you get more space, you can take the bunk beds apart into two separate beds, making them a very versatile piece of furniture.
  • Kids love having their own defined space and bunk beds provide them their own areas in a shared room.

Cons

  • The child on the bottom bunk may become frustrated because it often becomes the default place for guests in the room to sit, which takes away some of his or her autonomy and personal space.
  • Younger children may try to follow their older siblings up the ladder and become injured because they are not able to safely navigate climbing this high.
  • Bunk beds are notoriously difficult to make in the morning or after changing sheets. The top bunk can be so difficult for a child to make that the adults will have to do it for him or her if they want the bed to be made each day.
  • Navigating the ladder in the middle of the night for a drink of water isn’t just scary; it can be very dangerous and a fall will result in injuries for the child.
  • Because the top bunk is often so high and close to the ceiling, any horseplay or suddenly sitting up can result in accidentally bumping the person’s head.
  • Any time that a child is sick during the night, it is very difficult to get to him or her and to care for him or her without waking the other child or having trouble assisting him or her to the bathroom.

Trundle Bed

Trundle beds are similar to bunk beds in that they save space in a bedroom but that’s where the similarity ends. While bunk beds rely on height to create two separate sleeping spaces, trundle beds are low to the ground, appear to be normal beds, and keep the second bed hidden out of view when it is not in use. The second bed is on casters or wheels and actually rolls out from under the main bed, sliding back under when nobody needs to sleep. The lower bed doesn’t have a box spring, which makes it small enough to easily fit into this smaller space without any problems. While trundle beds provide two spaces to sleep, they don’t take up a lot of room in the bedroom when they are not in use.

It’s preferable to use a trundle bed when the person sleeping on it is healthy and doesn’t have any back problems as the lack of a box spring can make it difficult for someone elderly or who has been injured to get a good night’s rest. Additionally, they are a great idea if you need extra sleeping space in a room some of the time but not every night as it can be a pain to have to roll the bottom bed out and push it back in every morning. Because they are low to the ground, they are more difficult to get off of in the morning and are best used by overnight guests, teens, and children.

Trundle bed with metal tube construction.

Source: Hayneedle

Pros

  • Trundle beds offer a second sleeping space in your home without having to have a spare bedroom that is dedicated to overnight guests. This is ideal in smaller homes or ones where the owners prefer to use the spare bedroom as an office or playroom.
  • Newer, high-quality trundle beds will easily slide out and under the top bed without being noisy or too difficult to operate.
  • These beds come in many sizes and designs, making it easy to find one that will sleep more than one person if necessary.
  • When used in a child’s room, they offer the perfect place for sleepover guests to spend the night.
  • While the bottom mattress can be removed if you want to have more storage space under the bed, you will then have to find a place in your home to store this extra mattress.
  • An unmade trundle bed can be shoved under the main bed to quickly clean up the room and improve its appearance.
  • When you outgrow the trundle or decide to upgrade to a separate bed, you can keep the main bed and sell the trundle.
  • They come in many styles and are covered with lots of different material choices, making them ideal for a child’s room or for a classier guest room.

Cons

  • The bottom bed will not hold up to years of daily use and will begin to fall apart and wear out well before the top bed will.
  • Using the trundle bed means that you will have to have a large space in the floor cleared. This means that any games or activities that children are working on in the room will have to be picked up before the trundle can be pulled out.
  • Children who sleep on a trundle bed regularly may be frustrated that they don’t have their own space during the day as it gets pushed back under their sibling’s bed.
  • Because the trundle bed is under the main bed, it eliminates any storage space that you would otherwise be able to take advantage of.
  • Young children won’t have to try to navigate ladders to get into a bunk bed or even climb up into a regular bed when they are close to the floor. This gives parents peace of mind about their safety.
  • Sleeping on a trundle bed regularly can cause anyone to have back pain.
  • The child sleeping on the top bed has to be careful when getting down during the night or he or she will easily step on the person on the trundle and wake him or her up.
  • Getting into the regular bed when someone is asleep in the trundle bed is very difficult and usually results in the person having to climb over the head or the foot of the bed.




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