Stack ’em higher

Since we have 11 people in a smallish house, we are forced to think outside the box.  We’ve often toyed with the idea of stacking bunk beds higher than the standard 2 high.

OK, that gives some people the heebie-jeebies.  But what about a triple bunk?  I think it would be tremendously practical, especially since we have a vaulted ceiling over the children’s bedrooms.  This one is sweet, though I’m not sure how many real children would fit.

Here’s a life-size option:


Nice, but still pretty pricey.  For a very modest price you can buy plans and/or hardware to build this yourself:

I think we could save even more space if we skipped the twin mattresses (after all, it’s called twin because you can easily put 2 people in it, though my children don’t believe me) and just went for a single size.  And a thin foam mattress would be much easier to handle than a heavy spring-y one.

I’m really in love with this design:

It’s clean, simple, and sensible.  If we could figure out how and where to get the foam mattresses, it would probably be very cheap.  And it looks strong.  Even with girls, that’s important.  Judging by the sounds when our sweet young ladies crawl into bed at night, I’m pretty sure they’re practicing their vaulting skills.


  1. Hi there. Love this post!
    We have tossed this very idea around. We even talked about using an Ikea loft for the top bunk and then building the lower two bunks. But, that is as far as it got.
    Thanks for the pics.

  2. We wrapped the canvas about three times around a 2×2 and screwed it in with some long screws (several) to the main frame. We got this idea from a family with 4 boys who used this style of bed all through their teenage years and they all liked them, so I’m assuming their comfortable? 🙂 My kids all like them.


  3. We are toying with this idea for my 4 brothers. I love that last design. You can get 5″ thick foam from Joann’s. It’s pretty pricey, but you can wait till it goes on sale, and use a coupon. Then you could sew covers, or just use twin sheets tucked in really well.

  4. We’re looking at a full over full with a trundle bed :). We only have five so far (4 girls one boy) but we have a somewhat smaller house and we are preparing for more blessings in the future, Lord willing :). Here’s a link to a picture:

  5. We have two sets of tripples my husband built two summers ago. We LOVE them! Here is a link to some pics.

    You can find thick foam at Joanns Fabrics, for your mattresses. Cover them with a plastic, zipp up plasic mattress cover them use your sheet. I think it would work fine.

    The one thing I asked for and didnt get with these beds was that they were solid at the floor so nothing could roll under them, boy I wish that would have happened, so that would be my one suggestion for sure! They hold up well considering they belong to 6 boys!

  6. Shannon Mallory says:

    I forgot to say that we are going to use twin sized beds, without bunkie boards. My dad is going to do the support a little different than pictured.

  7. Shannon Mallory says:

    I was so excited to see this post! I really, really like the light yellow triple bunk you showed. We are also looking for triple bunk ideas… I found one that uses very little wood, so it wouldn’t be so expensive! My dad is going to help us build them soon. Our girls are so excited. Anyway I wanted to show you. I just searched for a little while one day, and I found this site. You can scroll through and see where they are putting them together. Pretty cute!


  8. I think triple bunks are very cool! We have two sets of bunk beds, currently, even though we only have three littles, so far.

  9. I’m beginning to understand why my parents just decided to stick the kids on the floor in sleeping bags…LOL! Not only was there no furniture crowding the room, but the beds could be removed during the day. 😀

    IKEA is an amazing store…and too much fun!

    The triple bunk bed is actually an awesome idea. At some point in my life I figured out that if I don’t roll out of bed when it’s just a normal bed, I won’t roll out of the top bunk either — this was right before I ended up on the top (rail-less) bunk in a college dorm! But rails are a very nice precaution, especially with kids. Foam mattresses might or might not work, depending on the mattress and the kid. My mother slept on a futon mattress for three months and was comfortable. Then again, my parents also just slept on the floor for a while because they thought it was comfortable….

    I also learned, after sleeping on the bottom bunk and not being able to sit up straight because of the way the beds were bunked, that you don’t need to be able to sit up straight either. I kind of liked the “cave” made by my roommate’s blankets hanging down…

  10. Hi Kim,

    We live in a smaller house than you, with more people, and all the children, except the three youngest have custom-made bunks (by my husband). Some are double bunks, some are triple, but all are narrower than twin size. We’ve purchased dense foam in bulk at Joann Fabrics to fit the length of the bunk. The foam comes in a variety of thicknesses (1″ to at least 5″ or more). It is expensive, but we’ve either had a 50% off coupon or gotten it when it’s been on sale for half off. While not quite as comfy as a real mattress, the kids sleep just fine on it, and are free to snatch up any old quilts or blankets that we’re either given or pick up at Goodwill to put under the foam to give more padding. We cover the foam with sheets, etc., just like a regular mattress. With a few, I’ve even had the gumption to sew a correctly-sized sheet to fit the foam.


  11. Ok, I got on here to say IKEA! I noticed Hayesmom didn’t like it… Either way, I posted the link to the mattresses for you. We have always had a good experience with Ikea and they deliver!

  12. We bought triple bunk beds for our boys a few years ago. Ordered them off the internet. Our bunks are a unique design — the top two bunks are traditional with the bottom bunk coming out perpendicular to the top two. I think this design keeps it from being as tall. We have SIX boys in one bedroom, so triple bunks are essential! Foam mattresses might be fine for light, little kids. We have BIG, TALL guys!!!!!! I;m talking BIG fellas! 🙂 4 of them teenagers! I’d recommend getting thick, good quality mattresses, since there won’t be box springs underneath, and buying the extra long ones too, if you are likely to have boys that are over 6 ft. tall!~ We still use memory foam on top of some of the mattresses for additional comfort. I agree with whoever said that it is important to provide comfortable mattresses for sleeping and to protect growing backs. However, I know that we all have to do the best we can with what we have! Triple bunks are a good solution. And yes, we do have some nightmare stories of what happens when a stomach virus strikes in the middle of the night . . . . . . .

  13. That should link to a photo of ours, let me know if it doesn’t work.

    Umm, features…. as I said, the storage space.
    *We looked at the right angle type triple bunks, but neither of our bedrooms have wall space where that would work (either windows or wardrobes in the way). *Some of the ones we looked at had so many rails they looked really boxed in, I wanted effective rails that were not too claustrophobic.
    *For the ladder we went with rungs up the foot end of the bed (easier to make beds with no side interference).
    *There is a big gap between the first three rungs to disuade the then two year old from climbing high (I’m sure that wouldn’t have stopped our oldest at that age though!), now she is three she knows she is not allowed past the middle bed.
    *Our ‘middle bunk’ child already had a bed rail so we utilised that.
    *If he were able to get in and out of bed on his own we would have made a wooden rail the same length as the store bought one, and probably added a small ladder where the youngest is sitting in the photo. The girls quite happily get on and off his bed without the ladder though so I don’t know if we will ever add it now. The older just climbs up the side, and the younger climbs the ladder then goes between the two rungs.
    *They can all sit up in bed without banging their heads, they just can’t JUMP – that took the two year old a few days to learn, the now seven year old still sometimes forgets (after 15 months) but she hasn’t broken the ceiling or her head, yet. Full grown people can’t sit upright, but beds are for lounging in, there is enough height for a comfortable semi-reclined sit leaning against the wall for reading etc.
    * They are SOLID. The pieces are all fitted together, so the weight of each bed base is resting on the posts with bolts to secure it, rather than having all the weight on the bolts.
    That’s all I can think of, feel free to ask if you have any questions.

    They are slat bases with foam mattresses (I slept on foam mattresses until I was married), the kids are young but at the moment they are fine with the mattresses. We bought them from the local ‘plastics’ store.

    Oh, and the cousins all think our kids have the coolest bed ever. 🙂

  14. We have a very small house with 6 children and only 3 small bedrooms. What we have done is a full bed on the bottom and a twin size bed on top. Then under the bed is a trundle. The trundle is nice because in the morning it can be put away. In the girls room they don’t use the trundle as much. Two girls can easily sleep on the bottom full bed.

  15. Meredith_in_Aus says:

    Hi Kim

    That navy photo cracks me up. I had my dh look at it – he’s ex-navy – brought back memories…

    In one of our rental houses we had a walk-in linen cupboard (closet, I think you’d call it) with nice long shelves. We kinda considered stacking the boys in there .

    Our three youngest kids (excluding baby boy) have foam mattresses on bottom bunks. The oldest three have inner springs. The foam ones just don’t seem to cut it for the heavier kids (and mine aren’t that heavy).

    Look forward to hearing (seeing?) what you decide on.

    In Him


  16. In my girls’ room we have a bunk bed with 1 trundle pull out (on wheels) with drawers under the trundle that hold shoes and other things. In my boys’ room we have a very high bunk bed with 2 trundle beds and narrow set of drawers attached to the bunk bed, above the trundle beds. If someone is sick, the sleeping arrangements get turned around. We have foam mattresses, although my 16 year old complained of discomfort and we rescued a spring mattress for her. I prefer the bunk bed with trundle beds idea to the triple bunk idea because a child can comfortably sit up and read or write in bed. We also have bookshelves on the walls above the bunk beds to hold books and other knick-knacks. This way the child feels like he/she has a little bit of his/her own space – something which is it at quite a premium in a smallish house with 8 kids (I’m sure you can relate).

  17. Hmm, don’t they use those thin mattresses in RV bunks? Wonder who supplies those? I know in the military we had those really thin mattresses as well. I love that idea of the triple bunk with the middle one being turned the other way! Too cool!

  18. I only skimmed the comments so someone may have mentioned this. There’s a store in our town that does upholstery (like redoing furniture and such). We had them make a crib mattress for my daughter out of foam. There are different densities so you could get them as soft or firm as you want.

  19. Ikea has mattresses that are for their toddler beds, but are longer than a typical toddler bed mattress.

    Essentially, they’re slimmer than a twin mattress, but just as long.

    We just moved my son out of his because the bedframe itself was starting to fall apart, but the mattress was still in great shape. I think we paid like 20 dollars for the mattress.

  20. We have double bunks for our kids and have found foam mattresses to be a waste of money. As our children have reached their teens the foam hasn’t been enough support and very uncomfortable to sleep on. So we have pitched all the foam for mattresses with more support. Everyone sleeps better!

  21. Meant to add, neither of my loft beds had rails. However on the really tall one, my roommate got an attachment from the store that just is made to put on the side of the bed for toddlers, so they don’t roll out. I never fell off the 9 foot high bed, but she was afraid she would. I kind of liked sleeping that high. Sleeping at regular height isn’t near as fun.

  22. In college I slept in a loft bed for several years. It is basically a bed frame that is higher off of the ground. We used the metal springs and mattress from the dorm provided beds to place ontop of the ‘frame’. The first was about 6 feet off the ground, and the second was 9 or 10 … it was very high but we had high ceilings. Could you just build a loft to put over your current bunkbed? You could make it wider so it fits two twins or singles with some space between them. That is what both of the ones I had were. That way you have even more space but don’t take up floor room. They are easy and cheap to build and there are lots of designs online.

  23. We just got done building triple bunks for our three girls who share a room! They are 15, 11, and 10, and they love their new beds. We designed them to go into the corner, with the middle bunk opposite the bottom and top. This gives everyone enough head room – only their feet are close together. I would send you a picture if i knew how to do it. We took lots of digital pictures during the whole process!

  24. faith marandola says:

    Kim, we have a bad bad mattress story….and a solution…we bought an ikea memory foam mattress this year for our new king size bed. Oh my…..the sleepless nights…..i actually slept better on the floor with just a blanket and hubby put the blow up camping mattress on top of it…LOL!! So, I was in search of a practical way to correct the problem. (we needed comfortable cheap squish) I found the 2 in deep memory foam mattress toppers at Stuff Mart for $27 (king). We put two of those down. Not soft enough for us. So, I got on overstock and found a baffle box goose down feather mattress and put that on top of the memory foam toppers ($54 King)…. Woah! The feather mattress was the deal breaker. Wow! we are so happy now, we ended up with one of the memory foam toppers and the goose down mattress. We put the other on another bed in the house! So, I figure you can get two smaller size foam toppers out of the king size for your bunk beds, and if you keep your eyes peeled….the online sites have bedding sales frequently, and feather beds are part of that category!

  25. Kacie,
    We did that with regular bunk beds back when we had 6 small children in one bedroom: 2 on each twin size bed, plus a third mattress to slide out at night. It worked beautifully, and kept them from packing shoes, laundry, trash, and unwanted toys in the space under the bed.

  26. maryjo,
    Easy, girl.
    Part of the goal is to find out if there’s a comfortable substitute for a spring mattress.
    I’ve had some pretty bad mattresses in my day, and the new ones we bought for the kids several years ago were the worst ever!
    Hubby and I slept on a foam fold-out sofa for a year, and it was one of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever had.
    And you’ll be relieved to hear that the kids think canvas hammocks would be incredibly fun and comfortable.
    The idea here is to upgrade their accomodations and give them a better night’s sleep, not a worse one.

  27. I am sorry but all I can think as I read this is would you like to sleep on foam or canvas. I know I wouldn’t and I wouldn’t expect my kids too either. Everyone deserves a good nights sleep and I cannot imagine getting that on a lousy peice of foam. Again sorry I am not meaning to offend anyone but thats my opinion.

  28. While ours is only a double bunk, I’d like to second the trundle. We used ours for sleepover guests, and when we ran out of extra mattresses, for out of season storage. I put winter clothes and blankets in them in the summer, summer clothes in the winter!

  29. I know that thick foam is very expensive, even at half off at JoAnn Fabrics.

    Are there any camps/retreats near you? You could ask where they get their mattresses… most camps have a foam-like mattress they use on their bunks that sounds like what you’re looking for.

  30. You could do a triple bunk and have a trundle under the bottom one to have space for a 4th!

    Also, have you considered a murphy bed? That woudl leave a lot of floor space during the day.

  31. We actually bought the Bunk Bed Unlimited plans and built the top bunk + trundle minus one side rail and called it a “daybed” We have no kids yet, but when we do, we can finish off the bunk bed. We’re halfway (or a third of the way) there!

  32. Laura,
    I would love to hear how you hung your canvas. The girls have been suggesting that as well. They think it might be very comfy.

    Mrs. C,
    I wondered if we could make our own foam mattresses that way. Any idea where to get foam like that? Hobby Lobby, maybe?

    A futon mattress is certainly new to me! Now I need to make a few calls and see how the price would work out…

    We had bunkie boards in the past. They weren’t terribly comfortable but they were cheap and practical. We would certainly consider them if they came in a single size. I really want to go a bit smaller than twin.

    Why do you hate IKEA? I’ve never been in one. Don’t worry – we’re a good 3 hours from the closest store. 🙂

    Good to hear that it works. Do you have pictures or plans of your bed? Care to share what features you did and didn’t choose?
    I like the idea of underbed storage. That’s where our kids keep their “treasure boxes” and I don’t want to lose the space.

    I’m hoping we won’t have to sacrifice comfort. I’d love to find a good quality foam that would keep some padding between the kids and the board, but would still be light enough for them to make the bed with ease.

    I love the floating boy! That almost makes me want to stick with a twin size.
    I feel your pain about stuff under the bed, but we just can’t lose the storage space.

  33. Kim and company,

    I love the triple bunk idea! HOWEVER, you need to be careful to buy one that meets the legal codes. When I last shopped for bunks, I was told that bunks MUST have guards on the sides, So, the simple design of the yellow bunk, though stream-lined and nice, may now be illegal. You may want to look it up for yourself.


  34. Erik built the boys a triple bunk…we are so happy with it. Sally’s right – whoever’s sick, sleeps on the floor! 🙂 It fits all four of our older boys (ages 5-13), and our 13 year old is 6 feet tall! The five year old “floats” from bunk to bunk, sharing with whichever brother has been nicest to him that day, in his opinion (not that any of them are fighting for the “privilege”!). 😀

    We built ours flat to the floor, though, with no space below. With it being in the boys’ room, the thought of all kinds of things getting pushed under there was just too much for us. It works much better this way.

    Go for it. And tell us what you end up doing!

  35. We have triple bunks with regular mattresses. I wouldn’t sacrifice the comfort of a regular mattress for a foam one.

  36. Our kids LOVE the triple bunk, and it frees up a lot of floor space in the bedroom.

    My husband made ours. After getting ideas of thing we did and didn’t like from pictures on the ‘net he came up with a design, measured the oldests sitting height, and went from there. Oh, and he measured our under bed storage containers too so there is just enough space for them to still slide under.

    And when the child in the top bunk is sick her mattress gets pulled down to the floor for the night, exactly the same as if it was a two layer bunk. 😉

  37. I HATE to recommend this (because I hate beyond hate this store) but I do know that IKEA has pretty much exactly what you’re looking for (for cheap). Despite just giving you this recommendation, I am kind of hoping there isn’t even an IKEA near your neck of the woods… 😉 Besides, you guys are so handy, I’m sure you can whip up something way better than what IKEA would provide anyways. 🙂

  38. Kim,
    You could use bunkie boards. They are a foam mattress on a board. Alot of discount furniture stores sell them for bunk beds. They are very thin. We bought two for the bunk bed in my daughters room. I think we paid $20 each for them.

    I like the one on the bottom too, btw.

  39. I like the idea a lot. My brothers sometimes pushed this idea when four slept in regular bunk beds and the other three shared a double bed.

    Instead of foam, why not make (or have made) futon mattresses to fit? Futon mattresses are far cheaper than one would expect; basically canvas, string and lots of cotton or wool for stuffing. You could even sew your own covers to the size desired and have a futon store blow stuffing into them for you. When I was in Russia, I slept on narrow homemade beds like that and they were great- eventually the mattress gets a little body-shaped hollow and you turn & fluff it; though I like the body hollow; it’s cozy 🙂

  40. Um, ok. I keep thinking about what would happen if the person in the top bunk were really sick, though.


    The bottom yellow one looks awesome and you could probably cut your foam to fit and sew covers the right size? Cute idea!

  41. We’ve seriously considered triple bunks, haven’t done them yet but probably will in the future. Right now we went with hammock style bunks as the canvas was way cheaper than mattresses (like $30 for two sets of bunks)

    You can see pics here:

    They are sturdy enough for an adult too if you get the heavy canvas. I could even explain how we made them (FREE) 😉 If you’d be interested, it’d be easy to make this a triple bed instead of double.



  1. […] were wondering how to fit our kids more comfortably into their 2 smallish rooms?  We talked about stacking them higher, or building a loft over the bedrooms.  We kicked around the idea of triple or even quadruple […]

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