We had two old bunk beds that were passed onto us from family which have served us well, but with limited space in the bedroom and three kids wanting their own space, and now willing to stay in their own beds thankfully, it was time to consider a triple-decker bunk bed.
As with so many other household things you might try to make, there are plenty of designs and plans available online for putting together your own triple bunk. In our favour, the bedroom has a high ceiling and so height was not a concern in our case as it may be in other cases when stacking three beds as this is naturally quite a tall piece of furniture.
For making this we bought the following:
4 sheets of 8’x4’ birch plywood (18mm thick): This is beautiful material to work with and looks great, hence it is often used in furniture making. This timber is not cheap however but can be sourced at about 60 euros/sheet.
4 x 16 ft lengths of 4”x2” prepared timber – to be used for the structure.
Some screws and bolts.
1 can of varnish.
Total materials cost: 300euros.
Also for the mattress bases (x2 only as the lower bunk mattress rests on the floor), we used the metal bases from our existing bunk beds and so didn’t need to build mattress bases. They are however easy to make and would just require some additional 2”x1” prepared timber lengths for cross pieces.
The difficult part of this job is finalising the design and adding enough aesthetic appeal so that it doesn’t just look like a very large box. We following some designs based on an enclosed look with cutouts for the ladders. Making all the cutouts was time-consuming and required lots of careful jigsaw use to navigate all the curves.
It’s also worth noting that you need two ladders realistically to allow easy access to both middle and top bunks – i.e. trying to make one ladder work can be unsafe for the child. The top bunk will be high, to allow sufficient headspace in each layer. In our case, we went with 1meter space between the floor and first bunk base and between first and second bunk bases – plenty of room for older kids to sit up in there. This means the top mattress is at 2.2m from the floor, quite a height and requiring an agile older child to use the top bunk – both our 4 and 7-year-old can manage this fine and even our 2.5yr old likes to go up there but hasn’t managed to get down himself yet.
A few other items of note. The ladder steps are at 12-inch spacing which works well for children and adults. Because the 18mm plywood is not so thick, I added a second strip inside each ladder rung to ensure a comfortable 36mm wide space for feet when climbing.
The kids are delighted with how cosy the bunks are – the middle one being the most sought after due to its enclosed feel but then the top space is high up which has its own allure.
Altogether, materials for this project cost 300 euros, including a can of varnish to finish the timber and make it somewhat resistant to the kind of stains only a child can come up with.
Interestingly, I couldn’t actually find a stacked triple bunk bed for sale to compare price and quality. All versions we saw comprised of a single bed on top of a double bed to form a “triple bunk bed”. Perhaps this is because of safety concerns with the height of a three stack configuration? or maybe just because most ceiling heights don’t allow enough clearance. We are however happy enough to watch our kids develop their climbing skills in their bedroom.