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How to Support Bunk Beds Better

Suzanne S. Wiley

Bunk beds let you condense sleeping quarters for multiple people into the same amount of floor space as one regular bed. Bunks also have rather tall profiles, spawning fears of the top bunk toppling over, or giving the impression that the top is rather flimsy. Worse, sometimes the top bunk has only ledges to support the mattress instead of a solid base. If you find the bunk you've gotten doesn't offer the steadiness you need, you can make some adjustments to better support it and its occupant.

  1. Install permanent slats across the bases of the bed areas on the bunk. Some bunks don't have any solid support in the middle of the mattress base, using only ledges to hold the mattress. Aside from the obvious problem of a sagging mattress, BabyShopMagazine.com warns the slats can come loose if either occupant kicks them. This leads to not only a fall risk for the top occupant, but also suffocation and injuries for the bottom occupant. Slats fill in this gap and connect the ledges. Check the lower bunk as well; publicity focuses on top bunks because of the height, but bottom bunks are just as worthy of a nonsagging mattress. Make sure you buy a slat kit, which will have all the hardware and installation instructions specific to that kit and is built to support weight. Installing random pieces of wood to imitate slats may result in less support than you'd like.

  2. Add a Bunkie board underneath the mattress. Bunkie boards, which are mattress-sized pads that serve as a base for the main mattress, can fill in the middle gap themselves, but BabyShopMagazine.com recommends installing slats under any foundation.

  3. Move the bunk so the long side is against a wall. Find at least two studs, if not more, in that wall with a studfinder and mark with a pencil. Hold L brackets up to the wall and to the top and sides of the bunk frame along the studs and mark the screw holes with a pencil on both the wall and frame. Drill pilot holes first, and then install the L brackets in the wall and frame. Use earthquake tethers or similar if the frame is metal.