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Trundle Beds vs. Bunk Beds﹘Choosing the Right One for Your Room

Trundle beds and bunk beds are both great options for saving some space in your bedroom. Both these types of beds provide sleeping space for multiple guests and are great options for when you need to accommodate more than one person with limited space. Both of these bed types are single units with two beds stacked on top of each other, but the similarities end there. Bunk beds are two beds directly stacked on top of each other and require high ceilings, whereas trundle beds are low to the ground and store an extra bed underneath that can be pulled out when needed. However, each bed type has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Below, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of trundle beds vs. bunk beds to help you choose the right one for your room.

Trundle beds save lots of space, allow for easy movement in the room, and only take up the space of one bed when the trundle portion is put away. However, trundle beds may wear out quickly and the lower bed can be difficult to get in and out of. Bunk beds, on the other hand, maximize space if you have high ceilings, and are very fun for kids. However, the top bunk can be difficult to get out of and bunk beds are uncomfortable for taller people or for people with mobility problems.

Before choosing between a trundle bed vs. a bunk bed, you should take into account the amount of floor space needed for each bed, how frequently the bed will be used, and who will be using it. Read on to learn more about the differences between trundle beds and bunk beds and what each bed type entails.  

What Is a Trundle Bed?

Comparing a trundle bed vs. a bunk bed - A trundle bed is an extra bed that can be stored under a regular bed.Trundle beds can be a great option for providing extra sleeping space. Image from Pinterest

A trundle bed is an extra bed that is attached to and stored underneath a regular bed. The trundle can be rolled in and out via casters, which allows it to be out of sight when not in use and easily rolled out when it’s time to sleep.

Trundle beds provide an additional sleeping area in a bedroom and can also serve as an under-bed storage space when the trundle isn’t in use. Since trundle beds only take up the space of the parent bed when the trundle is hidden away, these beds save lots of space. They are also available in a variety of sizes and designs; while some models pull out and stay low to the ground, others pop up to reach the same level as the parent bed.

You may also be interested in hiding that trundle bed when it’s not in use. Take a look at our 10 bed skirt alternatives & their pros and cons to learn more. Additionally, you will find loads of ideas in our comprehensive guide to bed skirt uses, tips, and tricks.

What Is a Bunk Bed?

Difference between a trundle bed vs. a bunk bed - Bunk beds are two beds stacked on top of each other.Bunk beds are a very popular option for kids’ rooms. Image from Amazon

A bunk bed is a single bed unit that has two separate beds stacked on top of each other. The bunks can be stacked either in a parallel or perpendicular configuration, depending on the type of bunk bed you choose.

Bunk beds are ideal for rooms with high ceilings because they are much taller than regular beds. While the upper bunk is usually a twin size bed, the lower bunk can vary in size depending on the bed design. Some models come with in-built storage options like shelves and drawers, and some even come with a trundle underneath to provide extra sleeping space. 

Bunk beds are very popular with kids and are a great option for kids’ rooms. However, adults can also use bunk beds as long as there’s enough space for an adult to sit up in bed and get in and out of bed comfortably.

Trundle Beds vs. Bunk Beds 

A trundle bunk bed maximizes the use of floor space.You can even get trundle bunk beds to maximize the sleeping space in a single room. Image from Amazon

As we mentioned above, both trundle beds and bunk beds save floor space in small rooms. However, before you purchase one of these options, you should consider the pros and cons of trundle beds vs. bunk beds.

When comparing trundle beds vs. bunk beds, trundle beds are very versatile and take up the space of only one bed when the trundle portion is put away. However, trundle beds may wear out quickly and the lower bed can be difficult to get in and out of. Bunk beds are more affordable than buying two separate beds, they save lots of floor space, and they maximize space if you have high ceilings. However, bunk beds can be difficult to get out of (especially from the top bunk) and they can be uncomfortable for taller people or people with mobility problems.

Trundle beds are versatile because they come in different sizes and styles. While trundle beds usually come in twin or full-size options, they can fit regular beds, daybeds, and even bunk beds. For example, here’s a trundle bunk bed from Amazon. The parent bed and the trundle take up the space of only one bed when the trundle is tucked underneath the parent bed, and the trundle rolls in and out easily, saving you time and energy. Additionally, the trundle can be removed and placed in another room for extra sleeping space. The trundle space can also be used for storage when the mattress is removed. 

However, trundle beds tend to wear out quickly due to continuously rolling the trundle in and out, and they require a certain amount of floor space to be pulled out. The person sleeping on the parent bed might also mistakenly step on the person sleeping on the trundle when getting in or out of bed. Additionally, they are not very practical for older people and individuals suffering from back problems as they may have a hard time getting in and out of the lower part of the bed (for more information on why older adults may have a hard time getting up from a low bed, see this study).

One of the main advantages of bunk beds is that they provide additional sleeping space for people sharing a room while also saving floor space. They also provide two defined private areas for kids or guests sharing the same room. Bunk beds are also quite affordable because buying a bunk bed is cheaper than buying two separate beds; some models can even be detached into two separate beds, and some come with built-in drawers under the bottom bunk. Here’s an example of an affordable bunk bed from Amazon with great ratings.

However, the upper bunk can be dangerous for kids, as they can roll off and get injured (for more information about the risk of injury due to falling from a bunk bed, see this study). The upper bunk may also be uncomfortable for tall people, as they can bump their head against the ceiling. Additionally, navigating the ladder up and down can be dangerous for kids and the elderly, especially in the middle of the night.

For a summary of the pros and cons of trundle beds and bunk beds, see the table below.

Characteristic Trundle Beds Bunk Beds
Space Required Trundle beds don’t take up much space because the trundle takes up the same amount of floor space as a regular bed when put away. However, you will need a decent amount of floor space to pull out the trundle (approx. 44 inches for a twin-sized trundle). We discuss floor space for trundle beds in detail here. The amount of floor space a bunk bed takes up depends on the configuration and size of the bunks. For example, a twin size bunk over a full-size bunk will take up the space of a full-size bed. This article fully summarizes the size of bunk beds
Ceilings Trundle beds are low to the ground. Therefore, the height of the ceiling does not matter. Bunk beds typically require high ceilings. You’ll need to make sure there is enough space between the top bunk and the ceiling to let you sit up comfortably (approx. 40 inches from the ceiling to the top mattress).
Cost Some trundle beds can be found for less than $500. Here’s a twin daybed with trundle from Amazon for ~$200. Bunk beds are affordable and can suit all budgets depending on their size, configuration, and additional features. For example, this bunk bed is only ~$210.
Movement They are very easy to move as the trundle uses casters to roll in and out. Trundle beds work on carpet as well! They feature a ladder or stairs to climb up to or down from the top bunk. 
Safety Trundle beds are safe for kids as they are low to the ground. However, they might be uncomfortable for older people and those with back issues. The ladder or stairs might be dangerous for young kids and for the elderly as they have a higher risk of injury. We’ve discussed bunk bed safety and age limits here.
Practicality The trundle portion is hidden when not in use which makes the bed very practical. However, the person sleeping on the parent bed might mistakenly step on the person sleeping on the trundle when getting in or out. Bunk beds are practical due to the amount of space they save. However, using the ladder regularly might not be practical, and it can be difficult to make the top bunk bed every day.

Make sure to also take a look at our related articles, what is a slide-away bed and slide-away bed measurements for more detailed information. Similarly, we’ve done a little research and found the seven most popular slide-away bed designs to help you choose the right one. Be sure to take a look at that as well.

Do Trundle Beds Make Good Permanent Beds or Are Bunk Beds Better?

Trundle beds don’t make good permanent beds because they wear out easily. Bunk beds are a better choice for permanent beds because they are more durable and don’t require any special mechanism to open or close them like trundle beds do.

Because of having to continually pull the trundle out or push it in, trundle beds wear out more quickly than regular beds. This means that trundle beds are a better option for guest rooms where they won’t be used as frequently as regular beds. However, you can still use the trundle space for storage if you decide to remove the trundle portion of the bed.

Bunk beds don’t wear out as quickly, so they are a better choice for permanent beds. Additionally, some bunk beds models can be detached into two separate beds when kids outgrow them and can then be put in different rooms. Here’s an example of a triple bunk bed that can separate when your kids grow. 

Can You Add a Trundle Bed to an Existing Bed?

You can add a trundle bed to an existing bed to save money.You may want to consider adding a trundle bed to an existing bed. Image from Yellow Brick Home

You can add a trundle bed to an existing bed if your bed is tall enough and has enough clearance from the floor. Ensure that you buy a mattress that isn’t too tall for your trundle bed. 

Trundles can be sold separately rather than as part of a trundle bed set, but this isn’t common because people tend to match their regular bed with the trundle bed. If you have a trundle that you’d like to add to an existing bed, just be sure that there’s enough space between the bottom of the bed and the floor to fit the trundle. For this reason, you should consider getting a thin mattress so that there aren’t any issues with the trundle fitting under the bed.

Some examples of trundle beds you can add to an existing bed include the following:

Product Name and Link to Amazon Height of Trundle Bed Price
Twin Roll-Out Trundle Bed Frame 4 inches  ~$150
Zinus Eden Trundle Bed Frame 4.2 inches ~$300
Benjara Contemporary Metal Twin Trundle 4 inches ~$245

What’s the Best Bed for Kids’ Rooms: Trundle Beds vs. Bunk Beds?

Trundle beds are great for kids: they are safe and sit low to the ground, and they offer an extra sleeping space for friends during sleepovers. They are easily rollable, and can be tucked away for kids to use the floor as a playground. However, when it’s bedtime, the floor will need to be cleared of toys and clutter before pulling out the trundle and using it as a bed.

Bunk beds are the best bed for kids’ rooms because kids love climbing and bunk beds provide both a sleeping area and a playground all-in-one. Kids need a defined space and bunk beds offer some privacy in a shared room.

Adding some bunk bed accessories like the ones in our article can make the bed even more fun for kids. For instance, curtains can convert the bed into a safe, enclosed play area. A slide can also be a fun addition to a bunk bed, bringing some outdoor fun inside the house. 

Some examples of fun kids’ bunk beds include the following:

Product Name and Link to Amazon What Makes This Great for Kids Price
Dorel Living Phoenix  This bunk bed grows with your child. It converts into two separate freestanding beds to adapt as your child outgrows the top bunk.    ~$300
Max & Lily Twin Low Bunk Bed with Slide This bunk bed features a cool removable slide. The slide is a fun extra for kids and brings the playground inside the house. ~$400
Donco Kids Deer Blind Bunk Bed The design of this bunk bed is cute and whimsical. It works as a kid’s very own fort or dream house, and the curtains provide a private playing area for kids.    ~$565

What Bed Is Best for Adults and Guest Rooms﹘Trundle Beds or Bunk Beds? 

Adults can use bunk beds, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The top bunk has a limited weight capacity and can’t hold heavy individuals, and climbing a ladder or stairs up and down is not as practical and safe as getting in and out of a regular bed that is lower to the ground. There also may not be enough clearance space for an adult between the ceiling and the top mattress, which can lead to injuries and discomfort. 

Trundle beds are the best bed for adults and guest rooms because they are regular beds that also save lots of space. Trundle beds are low to the ground, can be easily hidden away under the parent bed, come in many different sizes and styles, and don’t require a ladder or stairs. 

Another way that trundle beds are better than bunk beds for adults is that they let you sleep close to your child if they are sick and need assistance during the night. With a trundle bed, you can keep an eye on your kid without the hassle of climbing up and down a ladder or stairs.

Trundle beds are also ideal for guest rooms: you can even select one that pops up to create a larger bed for a couple. However, the mattress of a trundle bed is usually thin and not as comfortable as a regular bed. As a result, they may not be a practical bed for people with back pain or limited mobility. For more information about how thin mattresses and other types of mattresses may affect comfort, see this study

Some examples of trundle beds that make great guest beds include the following:

Product Name and Link to Amazon What Makes This Great for Adults Price
DHP Manila Metal Framed Daybed with Trundle This bed is ideal for a living room or a guest room. It is a multifunctional piece of furniture that serves as both a couch and a bed.  ~$200
Atlantic Furniture Newport and Urban Trundle The trundle can be placed on the left-hand or right-hand side of the bed. It provides a sleeping area for guests or kids and has extra storage within the bed’s headboard.  ~$650
Dream Solutions Dark Metal Daybed Frame (Trundle Included) This trundle daybed is versatile. The trundle can stay low to the ground or be lifted to the same level as the daybed if your guests would feel more comfortable on top of a full mattress. ~$360