Your Guide to Buying a Comfortable Bunk Bed Mattress

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Your Guide to Buying a Comfortable Bunk Bed Mattress

Bunk beds come in a variety of sizes, usually to suit children but also to accommodate full sized adults. Many new bunk beds come with mattresses supplied, but often these need to be purchased separately or replaced. Knowing the size of the bunk bed the mattress needs to fit is the first thing to be determined. A particular caution with bunk bed mattresses is safety, particularly on the top bunk. If a mattress is too high, it becomes a safety hazard. The guard rail should protrude at least four to five inches from the top of the mattress. A mattress that is too thin can also be a safety risk with some bunks as small children can fall between the mattress and the guard rail. This is of particular concern when toppers are added.

Bunk Bed Mattresses

Bunk beds have traditionally been used as a cheap and space-saving alternative to standard bedding. As a result, they have often come with cheap mattresses too. Quality mattresses are available to fit any bunk bed. Purchasing a bunk bed already equipped with a comfortable mattress can save money in the long run. Sleeping well is as important for children as it is for adults, and good sleep goes hand in hand with a comfortable mattress. Adults and children alike have different preferences and needs when it comes to sleeping comfort. All types of mattresses are suitable for bunk beds providing they fit the measured space of the bed and remain within safety limits. Very heavy mattresses may be difficult to move from a top bunk. Allergies may also be a consideration when choosing a mattress. The general core of the mattress, firmness, and outer covering are all considerations to be taken into account.

Bunk Mattress Types

There are many different types of mattresses to choose from. The most common types are given below.

Polystyrene Foam Mattresses

Polystyrene foam mattresses are often supplied as a standard mattress for budget children's bunk beds. Foam mattresses are also often used for camp ground bunks or guest bedding. Most plain foam mattresses offer firm to mid-firm comfort, and are available in a range of thicknesses. Basic foam bed mattresses are easy to clean and dry quickly. They are unlikely to last for more than a few years and can become crumbly as they age.

Polystyrene Foam 6” Thickness Available in 2’6 – small child bunk 3’ – Standard single bunk 4’6 – Standard double

Comprised of a single slab of foam. High-density foam at this thickness may offer some support but is generally not suitable for long term sleeping. Topping can be added for extra comfort. Easy to clean, airn and turn. Suitable for short-term use.

Polystyrene Foam 8” thick Available in 2’6 3’ 4’6

Some bunk sets may offer this mattress as an extra. Useful for overnight guests and camp grounds. Suitable for top bunks with a standard safety railing.

Polystyrene Foam 10” thick Available in 2’6” – small child bunk 3’ standard single bunk 4’6- standard double bunk

Provides adequate thickness and support for slat base bunk beds. May be too high for some bunks. Adding a topper may also result in the mattress being too high for safety on a top bunk.

Memory Foam Bunk Bed Mattresses

Memory foam (visco elastic) mattresses come in variety of softness ratings and recovery times. Body heat warms the foam which then moulds to the body shape. While it is recommended for children to have a reasonably soft mattress, concerns have been raised about suffocation risks for babies and toddlers if the memory foam is too soft. Softness is determined by the foam density and ranges from super soft to orthopaedic firmness. A medium to medium firm density is recommended for children. Recovery time is determined by how long it takes the foam to spring back once weight is removed. Memory foam allows for even distribution of weight and enhances blood circulation. Memory foam is often included as filler in sprung mattresses. These mattresses are readily available new or second hand on eBay, or can be purchased online or in stores.

Memory Foam Mattress – 3’ 6” depth

Hypo allergenic. Can be rolled up for easy storage. Suitable for bunk beds that have a full safety rail. If rail has a gap at the bottom, a deeper mattress is safer.

8” depth

Suitable for most bunk beds. Dust mite resistant and comfortable.

10” thickness

Suitable for bunk beds that have a high railing. Railings should be 4-5” above the mattress.

Latex Bunk Bed Mattresses

Latex is said to have a natural feel and bounce. Latex mattresses are made of a series of holes. While they are generally considered hypoallergenic, they are not suitable for anyone who is allergic to latex. The production of latex leaves a smaller carbon footprint than standard foam or memory foam. Latex is mostly used as a padding or topping on sprung beds, but a few are available with latex bonded onto foam, or in combination with memory foam.

Coil Sprung Bunk Bed Mattresses

The bonnell (cage) sprung mattress is a common choice for bunk beds. The gauge of the springs forms the essential firmness of the mattress. The strongest gauge is 12.5 and is usually used in orthopaedic mattresses. A 13.5 gauge wire results in a softer bed with more bounce, and is usually a better choice for children. A 13.5 gauge mattress should last around 10 years, while a 12.5 gauge will last even longer. A variety of materials are used as wadding around the coils. Cotton, wool, foam, polyester fibre, and coconut fibre are commonly used. Memory foam or latex toppers are sometimes added for extra comfort, and to adjust the firmness of the mattress. Covers may be quilted, cotton, polyester, or tufted.

Standard sprung mattress with polyester cover All sizes available to suit bunk beds

These reasonably priced mattresses sometimes come as part of the cost of a bunk bed set. Standard mattresses offer medium firmness.

Cotton wadding sprung mattress

Natural cotton absorbs sweat well. A suitable choice for people with allergies.

Inner sprung with memory foam, stitched cover

Available in depths to suit standard and small sized bunk beds.

Deep quilted

Soft to medium support. Quality fillings usually used along with strong stitch bond coverings.

Coil sprung with latex topping

Usually more highly priced than memory foam.

Pocket Sprung Bunk Mattresses

Pocket sprung mattresses are generally considered to be the best quality. One of their advantages is the prevention of ‘roll together’. This is not a consideration for single bunk beds, but may be a factor in bunk sets that have a double bed on the base. Pocket springs are individual springs that stand alone, as they are not contained in a cage as coil springs are. Like coil spring mattresses a variety of fillings are used to obtain desired comfort levels.

2’6 hypoallergenic

Good choice for small beds and safe for top bunks. Recommended softness for growing children.

Pocket sprung with memory foam topping

Various depths of foam available for desired firmness.

Pocket sprung with organic fillings and coverings

Combinations of lambswool and silk fillings. Damask covering. Suitable for those wanting natural materials combined with comfort.

Pocket sprung with latex topping

High quality. Usually available in sizes to suit most bunk beds.

Bunk Bed Mattress Covers and Protectors

Covers for mattresses are available in a range of materials. Removable plastic covers can be convenient for camp grounds where bunk mattresses are frequently used by different people. Plastic makes the mattresses easy to clean and disinfect. Some bunk bed covers, particularly for foam mattresses, are made from polyester or cotton and have a zip for easy removal. Quilted, tufted, and stitched covers can be used alone or with a mattress protector to extend their lifespan.

How to Find a Bunk Bed Mattress on eBay

Mattresses can be found in the Bedroom Furniture category of eBay. From here, narrow the search for new or used mattresses and types of mattresses using the search feature at the top of the page. When checking listings, keep an eye out for reduced-cost local shipping and additional information on each mattress listing.


Bunk beds are a sensible option for many households, and one does not need to be uncomfortable. Many bunk sets will accommodate a standard sized mattress, although the depth of mattress must always be a safety consideration. From a conventional foam slab mattress to the luxury of memory foam and pocket springs, eBay has something to suit every bed and budget.

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