Sunday, December 05, 2010

getting on that top bunk

You know you're too heavy when, as you're climbing up a bunk bed's ladder, you begin to fear that the entire bed is going to tip over and pin you beneath it. After I'd assembled the bunk and prepped the two mattresses with all their accessories (memory foam pads, waterproof protectors, mattress covers, sheets, blankets, and pillows), I flopped onto the bottom bunk and lay there for a while, reading a novel and shifting positions. I was delighted to find that the experience was pretty dang comfortable. I wanted to try my luck with the top bunk as well, but the climb up the ladder proved embarrassing because of the bed-tipping problem, and also painful because of the narrowness of those rungs. To get up the ladder, I'd need to wear thick-soled sandals. That, or I'd need to buy a better ladder to put against the bunk. (More on this in a moment.) In the end, I never made it onto the top bunk.

My test run taught me a few things. First: the bunk is solidly built. Second: now that it's been assembled, it profoundly alters the character of the room. Third: there's still enough space in the room for exercise equipment. Fourth: the bunk needs some more accessories. Among them:

1. A thicker memory foam pad for each mattress. Although the bottom bunk's mattress was plenty comfortable, it could be even more comfortable with a thicker foam pad instead of the el-cheapo one that I'd bought. The two mattress covers (a waterproof, hypoallergenic protector and a black, fitted sheet) are both large enough to accommodate the extra thickness; if anything, they seem a bit too loose and wrinkly now.

2. Bedboards. Although the bottom bunk was able to support my great weight, I knew that each individual slat under the mattress was, by itself, rather weak. Since every body creates pressure points on a mattress, it follows that certain slats will receive more stress than others. Since the slats are metal, this means they'll experience fatigue. The solution is a more even distribution of my weight across the slats, which is where a bedboard comes into the picture. Many bedboards are flimsy, foldable affairs; I may end up asking a dude at the local hardware store to cut me some bedboards out of plywood or particle board, which I'll then have wrapped in burlap and a sheet of black fabric to prevent tiny wood chips from sifting onto the floor and onto the sleeper in the lower bunk. The cloth covering will also protect the black paint on the metal slats. Lastly, the bedboards will serve an aesthetic purpose: they'll hide the tucked-under regions of the blankets and sheets. Right now, the bottom-bunker will find himself staring up at a jumbled mass of cloth.

3. A better ladder to reach the top bunk. This, too, might end up being a custom job, since the bunk, as it is, already has its own ladder. But I somehow doubt that I'm the only person who'd experience pain while climbing a ladder with such thin rungs. Such a ladder might work well for kids, but once you cross the 200-pound threshold, your poor feeties will take a pounding. Of course, a cheaper solution might be those thick-soled sandals I'd mentioned earlier, but using sandals to get onto the top bunk seems a bit weird. What if you knock them off the bed while you're tossing and turning? How do you get back down pain-free? I suppose you could hang a cloth drawstring bag off the side of the bed, but that seems a bit weird, too. No-- a wide-runged (preferably flat-runged) stepladder is best.

Aside from those issues, the bunk seems great. The guest room is starting to look like a guest room.


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