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Bunk Bed Battle: Built-In vs Free-Standing Bunk Beds?

Custom built bunk bed vs regular free-standing bunk bed

Bunk beds are win/win if you have kids.  They’re a win/win/win if you have kids and rent your home out for short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

I have two youngish kids and when they see that an Airbnb we rent has bunk beds, they love.  They get particularly excited when they see cool built-in bunk beds.

This article assumes you want bunk beds. 

The question is should you invest in built-in bunk beds or buy (or build) free-standing bunks?

As with anything, especially when there’s a significant price difference, there are pros and cons to both.

Reasons to splurge on built-in bunk beds

Airbnb rental magnet

If you’re renting your home for short-term rentals, and it’s a three or four bedroom home (or larger), chances are prospective renters are families with kids.  I can tell you from personal experience, built-in bunk beds are a kid magnet. While not having them wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me, they’re a nice added bonus because I know my sons will like them.  

Mercedes Brennan at wrote “built-in bunk beds are magnets for families! They activate children’s’ storybook fantasies of hidden hideaways, so featuring them in the first few listing photos is a great way to boost bookings.

As a parent and regular short-term renter, I agree 100% with Mercedes.

What if you’re not renting your home… are there other good reasons for built-in bunk beds?

Sure there are. Consider the following additional benefits of built-in bunk beds:

Customize it and make them awesome: Built-in bunk beds can be tailored to your specific needs and preferences, including design, materials, colors, and features, ensuring a perfect fit for your space and aesthetic.

Sturdier build: Built-in bunk beds tend to be more stable and secure than regular bunk beds, as they are integrated into the structure of the room, reducing the risk of tipping or wobbling.  When built well, they can last longer too which is helpful if planning on keeping them for years.

Looks better: Built-in bunk beds can seamlessly blend with the room’s design, creating a cohesive and visually appealing environment that adds value to your home.

Long-lasting: Custom built-in bunk beds are typically constructed from high-quality materials and craftsmanship, ensuring durability and longevity.

Cool design (wow factor): Built-in bunk beds allow for creative and one-of-a-kind designs that can set your space apart from standard bedroom layouts.

Can include clever storage: Built-in bunk beds often come with integrated storage options, such as drawers, shelves, or cabinets, which help to declutter and organize the room.

Not just for kids

Another consideration when choosing a bunk bed system is that they don’t necessarily need to be restricted for kids.  In a vacation or guest scenario, bunk beds can be fine for adults.  

What this means is whether you go the built-in route or free-standing, consider getting large beds that can also accommodate adults.

Sold on built-in bunk beds?

Maybe you are. Maybe you’re not. 

Here are the benefits of the free-standing variety compared to built-ins.  

Not permanent: If you’re only buying bunk beds for your kids and expect to not need them in the long run, free-standing is a better option of course. You can give or sell them. The used furniture market is alive and well.

Easier on the wallet: Regular bunk beds are typically more affordable than custom-built bunk beds.

Move them around: Regular bunk beds can be easily disassembled, moved, and reassembled in a different room or home.

Plenty of options and sizes: Standard bunk beds come in various designs, materials, and colors, which provide a wide range of options to choose from. Additionally, they often can be converted into two separate beds if needed.

Easy and fast to buy and assemble: Regular bunk beds are readily available in furniture stores and online retailers, making them easy to purchase and assemble.