How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

Struggling to support a mattress on your bunk bed? Here is a complete guide to help you.

Bunk beds are an exceptionally effective replacement for standard beds if you have less space in your room. Lower space requirement is also the reason why bunk beds are so common in dormitories. If you’re someone with less space and a big family, bunk beds are lifesavers. 

How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

But with pros come the cons too. The main problem with bunk beds is that they cannot support a mattress, especially on the upper half. 

In this article, I will discuss why a bunk bed cannot support a mattress on the bunk and what can be the solution to this problem. 

Why Is It Difficult To Support a Mattress On a Bunk Bed?

You landed on this article because you probably already have an issue in getting a mattress on your bunk bed right now. So before I jump on the solution, it will be a better idea to discuss the issue first.

Weak Frame

It is usually not a great idea to put the mattress directly on bunk bed frames as they are not always strong enough to support the mattress the right way. Now, I know you are thinking that you could have avoided this by doing a bit of research and buying a sturdier bed frame. But it is highly unlikely that you will find a bunk bed frame sturdy enough to support any mattress. On top of that, heavier and stronger bed frames usually mean more money!

How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

Guard Rails 

Typical bunk beds are between 54″ to 74″ inches tall. Because of their height, bunk beds have built-in guard rails on the upper bunk to protect you from falling. But guard rails can be a big problem when you add a mattress on top, and the mattress is taller than the guard rails. Now, you have nothing protecting you from falling!

Box Springs Do Not Work

When you can’t put a mattress directly on a bed frame, box springs save the day by providing a stable base. Even though box springs are great for any standard bed frame, it is not as effective in bunk beds—the main reason being the increased height. As I already mentioned, a mattress height may exceed guardrail height and cause disbalance; adding a box spring in the mix may take the sleeper to the ceiling!

#1 Buy The Right Mattress

One of the main problems is the height of the mattress exceeding the guardrail, which can cause falls and injuries. Below I have mentioned some of the things that will help you choose the right mattress.

Slim Mattress 

One thing that is a no-brainer is to buy a slimmer mattress that won’t exceed the height of your bunk bed’s guard rail. Most people buy bunk beds for their kids and young adults, so you don’t really need a 12-inch thick mattress anyways.


You are going to have to put the mattress on the top bunk, so you don’t want to buy a heavy mattress. In fact, the lighter, the better. You may need to spend some time and money on getting a decent lightweight mattress, but from my experience, it’s totally worth it.

How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

Memory Foam

I always recommend people to buy memory foam mattresses. They are just more comfortable and also durable. But for bunk beds, they almost become a necessity. 

Most kids love to jump around in the bunk beds, and well, it’s hard to resist the urge as a kid. Spring mattresses can cause the child to bounce up too high. So as a parent, you need to make sure you buy a mattress that is not overly soft or springy. 

Spring and foam mattresses are not only dangerous (because they can cause the child to fall), but you will end up having to replace them every six months because they cannot retain their shape as well as a memory foam mattress can. Buying a decent memory foam mattress, especially for the upper floor, will be the best decision.

#2 Alternative Of Box Springs: Bunkie Boards

Box springs have always been the go-to option as the base of a bed frame. But their height becomes a big problem in bunk beds. But don’t worry; there is an alternative to box springs that you can use for bunk beds. This alternative is called bunkie board

Bunkie boards are specially designed for bunk beds. They not only give an alternative to box springs but also provide a strong base for mattresses.

What is a Bunkie Board?

A bunkie board is a flat board made from plywood or particleboard. It fits in perfectly between a bunk bed and mattress to provide a solid base for the mattress. Bunkie boards are just 1 to 3 inches tall, unlike box springs, which are 7-9 inches tall

How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

Bunkie boards are cut to suit a particular mattress size. It is generally covered in fabric to protect the mattress from wear and tear.

Bunkie board works with most bed boards, including a box foundation, box spring, metal frame, slatted foundation, or solid platform bed. 

Working Principle: Bunkie Board 

  • A bunkie board will provide a thin yet strong base for the mattress while preventing them from sinking and resulting in a much longer life for your mattress.
  • Bunkie boards work best with foam mattresses like memory foam, polyfoam, hybrid mattresses, and latex foam. 
  • Bunkie boards usually do not last very long compared to your mattress and have a lifetime of only a few years. 
  • Their price range is between $50 to $150, so they are pretty affordable, and you can just keep buying a new one.

Bunkie Boards And Memory Foam Mattresses

Another reason for not using box springs is that most modern mattresses, like memory foam mattresses, do not need a box spring. Memory foam mattresses tend to sag if not placed on a solid and flat surface, unlike traditional innerspring mattresses that needed springy support.

If you don’t want your mattress to lose its shape, you need to put it on a solid surface, and bunkie beds precisely provide that.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can I make my bunk bed more comfortable?

There are many ways of making your bunk bed more comfortable, and they are not too different from any standard beds other than a few tweaks.

One of the main things is pretty obvious: buy a comfortable mattress for your bunk bed. As I mentioned in the guide, memory foam mattresses are the best option for any bunk bed as they are more durable and will retain shape. 

How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

You can spend some time making the stairs of the bunk bed more comfortable, which can include the following things:

  • Put a tread cover on the ladder.
  • Make a DIY pool noodle cover for the steps.
  • Put a padded anti-slip tape on the steps.
  • Cover the step covers with high friction rung covers.
  • Put ladder cushions on the sides of the steps.

What to put under a mattress for a bunk bed?

As we discussed throughout the article, box springs are not appropriate for bunk beds. Bunkie boards are the best option to put under your mattress in a bunk bed. The primary reason being the low height of the bunkie beds that prevent your head from hitting the ceiling while sleeping. 


Two simple things can make life easier when you think about bunk beds: buying a slim, lightweight, and memory foam mattress and then selecting a bunkie board according to your mattress; that’s it, it is all you need to support a mattress on a bunk bed.

How Do You Support A Mattress On A Bunk Bed

If you liked the guide on bunk beds, feel free to share it with anyone you think might find this helpful, and as always do leave us your comments.