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Loft Beds and Platform Beds - What You Need to Know

Updated on September 16, 2009

Are you in the market for a loft bed, or maybe just wondering what loft beds actually are? If this describes you, you're in luck. This article will give you a good overview of what loft beds are, why they're popular, and what you should look for if you decide to get one for yourself, your child, or your college student. You'll understand why they're so popular, where you might go to find one, or build one, and what kind of things to look for when purchasing loft beds.

So what exactly is a loft bed? When you think of loft beds you can pretty much think of bunk beds. However, the difference is that bunk beds involve two beds, one on top of the other. Loft beds don't necessarily have a second bed on the bottom level. Instead, it's simply a single bed raised up above the floor on stilts or some kind of support structure. Usually loft bed stood about 5 feet high, but they may go as high as 8 to 9 feet depending on the situation.

Loft Beds Create Much More Living/Working Space

flickr image  by fortysix_vie
flickr image by fortysix_vie

Loft beds are of great space saving concepts that is often used in children's rooms to allow for more space on the ground level, whether that be for storage or simply more play area. The other area where loft beds are extremely popular in college dorms. As you can imagine, in a college dorm personal space is at a premium. Often times the room is shared and when you consider all the clothes, computers, personal items, textbooks etc... it's no wonder college students can feel cramped in their dorms. Loft beds allow for the tremendous increase in floor space. For example, you could place a couch beneath it so that you can kick back and relax without needing to be sitting on your actual bed. Of course one of the most important things to include in a dorm room is a study/computer desk. By raising the bed off the floor onto a loft, you have a whole lot more room for studying.

If you decide that a loft bed is a good idea but you don't want to go down the path of buying a brand-new bed for just a year or two that you spend in the dorm, you have other options. For example, because loft beds are so popular on college campuses, it's very likely that you can find a good selection of used lofts to choose from. One place you may want to look for them is on websites such as Craigslist. On the other hand, you could also undertake building one yourself. Plans are readily available on the Internet, either for free or for a small charge. If you're not adept at building things or aren't very mechanically inclined, it is strongly recommended that you find someone to help you who is. The last thing you want is to have your loft bed collapse on you while you're sleeping, or worse yet, collapse on someone who's sitting beneath it.

flickr image by blmurch
flickr image by blmurch

If you decide that building isn't the way you want to go and you would rather buy something, here are a few things you'll want to consider when you shop for loft beds. The first thing you want to do is to sit on the platform. Obviously you want it to be very sturdy and to be able to support your weight easily. While you're up there, really shake the better around. You want to make sure it's stable. You'll also want to make sure there's a good quality, sturdy ladder to help you get up and down from the loft. If you're buying this loft bed for a child, you'll also want to make sure there are safety rails available for it, and that they are high enough to secure a child in the bed.

Also, make sure there aren't any sharp corners or pieces of hardware jutting out. Again, we're talking about tight spaces, so you don't want to be banging your head or anything else against nasty protrusions. Finally, if you're buying a brand-new loft bed, it would be wise to ask the vendor if their platform beds meet the American Society of Testing Standards safety standards. If it does, you can rest assured that you have a solid, safe bed.

One more piece of this you might want to consider, especially where talking about college dormitories, is the mattress. Since the school usually supplies the mattresses, it's a pretty safe bet that is not going to be the most comfortable thing you've ever slept on. Because it's a known fact that college students are on a budget, and expenses for college are already extraordinary, buying something like a visco elastic foam mattress is probably out of the question. However, you do have other options to make that school-issued mattress a lot more comfortable. You could use something like a memory foam mattress topper to really improve the quality of your sleep. Memory foam mattress toppers, also sometimes referred to as a memory foam mattress pad if you're doing some research, are essentially the exact same thing as the visco elastic foam mattress. The big differences that it's only a few inches thick. This will cut down substantially on the cost, but not affect the additional sleep quality very much at all.

There you have it. Loft beds are really quite basic. Basic but very functional and very much appreciated by the people for whom they create a lot of additional living space, whether for a child to play on the floor, or the college student to entertain guests or (the outside possibility) of getting some studying done in the dorm room. Now you just need to decide for yourself whether loft beds are the solution you're looking for. If so, now you'll know what you're looking for.


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    • boblind77 profile image

      boblind77 8 years ago

      The problem I had with mine (in college) was that it was so close to the ceiling it could be somewhat claustrophobic... especially with company.

    • jazzuboo profile image

      jazzuboo 8 years ago from Queensland, Australia

      I slept in a loft bed for two years (well... not straight, but you know what I mean). It's a unique way to sleep, and a great space saver...