Furniture Store Vs. Commercial Metal Bunk Bed Sets: How They're Made & the Difference in Quality
So you’re interested in purchasing bunk beds and trying to make sense of the price variations, styles and stated weight limits? Bunk beds, like all furniture, can be manufactured using a variety of methods and materials. Commercial beds are much different from residential and have different variations from manufacturers. Metal bunk bed sets come in two variations. The first variation is as a bunk bed non de-bunckable, meaning they are made to use only as top over bottom. The second way is as a 'Bunk bed Set' and/or 'Debunk able', meaning they can be split apart into two individual beds or used stacked as a bunk. The advantage of a non de-bunkable is that they are very solid, do not shake, and hold the same weight on top as on the bottom. Bunk bed sets that are de-bunkable can be stored easily when not in-use and you have flexible use as an individual bed if you ever need it.
Just because metal bunk beds are military or commercial grade does not mean you can't use it at home. Many of the commercial manufacturers make bunk beds meant for home use and private hunting lodges, etc. However, these beds are simply made more durable in order to withstand much heavier use and meet commercial requirements for load and stability. Commercial metal bunk beds must also adhere to both federal and OSHA safety requirements. These include side rails being sold with non de-bunkable beds. Federal specifications regulate that all bunk beds have specific spacing for slats and rail bars along with other safety manufacturing requirements to help prevent potential hazards to children. If you are planning to use bunk beds for children or rental guest areas make sure to ask what bunk beds or sets meet or exceed those requirements and always purchase rails if they do not come with them.
Bunk Bed Materials
Materials make a big difference as in all things manufactured. Our beds, for instance, are all made of steel and we prefer them over wood for several reasons. However, you may want the look or warmth of wood for a kids' bunk bed sets at home. In the home they are fine to use providing that it is made of very solid wood. Bunk beds need to be sturdy and will take a lot of abuse even in-home environments; think kids jumping on the bed or an adult flopping down to get in. If you are using them for a camp, shelter, college or commercial environment we don't prefer wood bunk beds for several reasons. First, wood is prone to bed bugs, rot, water damage and generally wears faster. It can also be carved into or written on regardless if it is stained or painted.
Metal bunk beds have a wide variety of quality so you should ask what type of metal they are made of and select one for your specific use. Furniture stores tend to sell lighter gauge rolled metal so they can be shipped easily. Most stores do not say what type of metal is used so check the weight of the bunk bed set as an indicator. For comparison, our metal commercial grade bunk bed sets are made of square or round 16-gauge, 2” steel and weigh more than 150 LB's per set. For example, we have seen a lot of bunk bed sets as little as 100 LB's and in our experience they would not be suitable for heavy use.
Assembly of Bunk Beds
Some bunk bed sets are made for assembly in order to ship them in flat packs. This saves freight cost and overall bunk bed cost since the customer has to do the assembly. This is common in residential bunk beds, however, keep in mind that each bolt is a weak point. We also recommend that the screws and bolts are inspected frequently and tightened for safety. Welded bunk beds ship in usually only a few parts, two end pieces and two decks. Since they are welded frames, decks and slats, there is little to put together and they connect using welded button hooks that lock the sleeping decks into place. The downside is that for this reason and the overall weight is more for shipping and welded bunk bed sets cannot be flat packed and must be shipped freight truck.
Bunk Bed Weight limits & How Are They Rated
Weight limits on bunkbed sets metal or wood are not what they may seem. There is no way to actually test the weight limit! There is no regulated lab or testing standard. Weight limits are determined by the manufacturer based on engineering and their best estimate. A very important thing to also know is that some manufacturers determine weight as dead weight, and some take into account for an actual person hopping on a bunkbed frame and tossing during the night. For instance, we may put 1200 LB's on our steel bunkbeds of dead weight. We know however that a 350 LB. person hopping on the bed will create more than their own 350 pounds of force and rocking around during normal sleep will cause more stress than a 350 weight gently placed on a bunk bed frame. I have read many furniture store bunk beds specs showing a weight limit at 400 pounds or more while using do it yourself assembly of bed slats with plastic joiners. Having this information is so that you can read bunk bed specs with a grain of knowledge and not take them for all their worth. Beds manufactured in China for instance have less obligation to follow any guidelines.
When choosing a twin bunk bed set, loft, metal or wood bunk bed having all the facts as in any product is key. Read the specs, understand how and why they cost what they do, and above all choose what you feel fits your needs regardless of which one it is. Each bunkbed has a place to fill a need, just consider yours so you do not under buy or overdo it.
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