May 12, 2008
Times are tight nowadays, and if you’re at all handy with tools, you may have considered building some furniture for your family. If you’re thinking of choosing bunk beds as one of those plans, please make sure you take extra time to research the many different specifications and safety features needed in a bunk bed. You may think it’s cheaper to build it yourself; it may not necessarily be so.
Of course, there are many skilled people out there who could accomplish this rather daunting task with no problem. There are others, who, perhaps after viewing one too many home-repair shows, now feel themselves fully qualified to do any type of construction involving assorted power tools. Bunk beds are different. There is nothing more important than the safety and security of your family, and bunk beds present multiple opportunities for catastrophic failure.
A good way to learn about bunk bed construction before you attempt it on your own is to help a friend put his bunk beds together. Usually, if you think about it, pre-packaged bunk beds come with the “plans” to build them. They outline the tools that you will need, the nuts and bolts that you’re supposed to have, and give step-by-step instructions for helping you do it yourself.
The plans included with these beds begin by telling you to construct each bed separately, and then, in a reverse Siamese-twin kind of operation, how to put them back together. The bunk beds, when stacked, should be as solid as the single bed unit by itself. This is usually easier said than done. Next comes supporting the mattresses.
When it comes to the wood required for the job, plywood will work, but why not use back springs to make sure your child’s bed is durable. They will be sturdier, but also provide a much more comfortable slumber for your kids.
This cannot be said enough. The safety of your children should be your primary concern when constructing your bunk beds. Various national groups have been set up to monitor and test the safety of bunk beds. If you’re interested in a particular brand, ask if it meets the voluntary safety guidelines of the American Standards of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the minimum safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Both of these groups have been around for a long time, and their approval indicates a quality, tested product. Make sure your mattress fits properly. A space greater than three inches should not be tolerated.
Anyway, before you begin building your bunk bed, with your new plans that you have, build it in the actual room that the bunk beds will go in. Believe it or not, many people start projects without accurately measuring the room into which their project will go. You will need more things than I can tell you in this short article. The plans will tell you the right drill bits, nuts and bolts to use. It will also be your choice so far as which wood to use, but oak is always a good choice. Go with your preference, and what you’re used to working with.
Another word about safety, as you finish up your bunk bed: the distance in-between your bed frame and your mattress must not gap by more than three inches, or your children will be in danger of strangulation. PLEASE make sure you measure this accurately, and that your bed and mattress fit snugly.
And even before your children start clamoring over who gets to sleep in the top bunk, take a few minutes and go over the safety features of your new bunk beds. We recommend not allowing children under the age of six to sleep in the upper bunk. The access to the upper bunk is also important. Please take a moment to teach your kids how to safely use the ladder of the bed. Also, consider using a children’s night light. The extra light provides additional security, both for the child, and for you.
Lastly, as you know, the Internet can be a great resource for all the extras that you might need for your bunk beds, such as curtains and other accessories. I wish you luck in your efforts, and remember, Safety First!
Don VanPelt is a writer for Bunk Beds Central who has published many articles about various types of bunk beds. Read his comments and recommendations for the best places to buy bunkbeds