The Complete Guide to Buying and Maintaining Camp Mattresses & Institutional Furniture
As a direct-to-consumer manufacturer, we serve a wide variety of clients, including camps, disaster relief and emergency shelters, colleges, healthcare facilities, job corps and transitional housing centers, and military bases.
Whether you’re looking to order new bulk mattresses for your facility, upgrade your institution’s furniture, or maintain the equipment you already have, we’re here to help.
What to Look for In a Mattress
If you play any part in the purchasing process of your camp, college, or facility, you know there’s a lot that goes into the decision. What types of mattresses and covers are right for your residents? What sizes and features should you be looking for? Did your last order meet all your needs, or did they maybe not hold up so well? Maybe there are even new features available now that weren’t even thought of when you last purchased.
With the product descriptions, statistics, codes and regulations, and dozens of other nitty-gritty details, it can become overwhelming. You’re lost in a forest of information — but we can show you the way out!
Skip the stress and let us show you where to start — with these four things you should always look for in your facility mattresses.
First and foremost, let’s talk safety. Whether they be small campers or college students, you want the people that use your mattresses to be safe. ALWAYS make sure your mattresses comply with federal flammability standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If you use a mattress that doesn’t meet federal regulations you could not only be risking the safety of your users but also held liable for their injuries.
And speaking of small campers, keep in mind that guard rails are required by federal regulations for all camp bunk beds. You don’t want anyone rolling off the top bunk in the middle of a toss or turn! If you’re buying bunk bed frames to go along with those new mattresses, make sure they either already have guard rails or you have access to rails that can be retrofitted onto existing bunks, like those at American Bedding.
We know, you already knew this one. Humans spend a third of their lives sleeping — obviously, durability is important. But some facilities, a college dorm, for example, require stronger, longer-lasting beds. Unlike a summer camp that only accommodate sleepers for about 8 weeks a year, dorm mattresses have considerably larger students sleeping on them for nearly 9 months a year. Multiply each month by the number of years the school keeps the mattresses and it’s clear why durability matters.
When it comes to camp mattresses, durability is no less of a priority — just for a different reason. Between the many small sleepers your camp houses and the months spent in storage, camp mattresses need to sturdy, durable, and, most importantly, easy to clean. If your mattresses need extra protection, a waterproof mattress cover may just be the answer. With waterproof mattress covers, you don’t have to worry about ruining the materials with too much water during the cleaning process. Additionally, they keep fluids and dirt from penetrating into the core of the mattress.
While sleep may not be a top priority for campers and college students, that doesn’t make it any less important. Sleep is linked directly with the body’s functional abilities and physical health. Prolonged deficiency, such as that caused by tossing and turning on an inadequate mattress, can lead to an increased risk of serious medical problems.
Whether lights out comes at 9 pm or 4 am, you want your mattresses to provide comfort, because sleepers will definitely notice if they don’t. That’s why you want to make sure your residence halls, dormitories, camps, or conference centers have comfortable, high-quality wholesale mattresses that are made with the user in mind.
Never Buy Used
We get it, budgets are tight. It may seem like a dream that some facility upstate is giving away all their mattresses. Imagine how much sports equipment or tech upgrades you could get with all the money you saved! But consider the downside, because you’d better believe there is one — or more like several! Here are a few reasons you should never get your mattresses used:
- You don’t know how old they are.
- Whatever has been on them is now inside
- What you don’t know can hurt you — like surprise bed bugs.
Once you know what kind of mattress you are looking for the search will get that much easier. Use this list as a guide to make sure that you are getting exactly what you need — and, of course, the best bang for your buck.
Now that you know where to start, let’s dig into the details. Which features do you really need? It’s easy to get bogged down when every mattress looks the same, and every salesman is telling you something different. How can you ever find what you’re looking for when you aren’t sure what’s fib and what’s fact?
To begin, let’s shed some light on a few myths you may have heard while you’ve been shopping. Remember that not all mattresses are created equal, measurements are a big deal, and innerspring mattresses are durable and long-lasting—making them a great choice for colleges and rescue missions.
If you are looking for mattresses specifically for your camp, remember that it’s not as daunting of a task as it first appears! Break it down and make it easier on yourself by knowing how many mattresses you need, clarifying your budget, comparing vendors, and examining available products. And don’t forget, you should never buy camp mattresses without telling the seller the following:
- That they are for a camp
- What age group they are for
- How many weeks the camp is open
- What size you need
No matter what kind of facility you are shopping for, it’s very important to remember that organizations are liable for the bedding they provide. If mattresses and bedding items are not compliant, the organization is at risk of fines, lawsuits, or even shut down.
And, last but not least, you get what you pay for. We know, you already knew that, but it’s important to remember — especially when it comes to mattresses! Sometimes budgets are tight and there are many more things you need to spend it on. But if you skimp on bedding you could be making a costly mistake for your camp, college, or rescue mission. Often, a lower price means lower quality and you should know exactly what you’re getting before you buy. Always check a mattress’s density, age, and durability to determine its quality.
Okay, now you know what not to get and what not to do, but which features do you need? The most commonly sought-after, and best, features to have in a mattress (especially one of many in a large facility) are for it to be waterproof, bed bug-proof, and made with the right materials.
More durable, easier to clean, better for storage (not to mention accident-prone campers) —what’s not to love about waterproof mattresses or mattress covers? Especially beneficial to a busy facility, a waterproof mattress or cover is stain-resistant, brings new life to old mattresses, and protects the inner workings from body fluids, mildew, mold, spills, cleaning supplies, or damp storage areas.
Bed bugs are the last thing you want to worry about in a facility full of beds. They live in the seams and crevices and if they get a foothold in even one building, they’re very difficult (and pricey) get rid of. Worst of all, an infestation can go unnoticed until after several weeks’ worth of campers has come and gone. Meaning they’ll already be well on their way to claiming a foothold with you left none the wiser. The best thing a mattress can be, especially in a high-traffic facility like a camp, is bed bug-proof.
Our Bed Bug Proof mattress is designed with inverted seams so bed bugs don’t have a place make a home or even hide. Without the crevices found in typical mattress seams, these pesky critters don’t stand a chance.
Whoever said “It’s not about what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside that matters” clearly was not talking about mattresses. With bedding, the inside obviously matters—but so does the outside. Different mattresses have various materials that serve unique purposes.
Vinyl and nylon are both great for the outside of the mattress, but they have differences that make them perfect for specific settings. Antibacterial vinyl, for example, is ideal for camps, while the more breathable nylon is better suited for conference facilities, rescue missions, colleges, and military housing. For more comparisons, check out our list of Fabric FAQs.
On the inside, mattress density is incredibly important in both the durability and lifespan of foam mattresses. The most common misunderstanding about density has to do with its relationship to hardness versus softness. People often assume that more dense mattresses are harder, and less dense mattresses are softer, but that’s not necessarily the case. Really, the denser a mattress is, the more durable it is, and, therefore, the longer lifespan it will have.
Lastly, you need to make sure the materials you choose meet federal regulations, like the 16 CFR 1633, the federal flammability standard for mattresses and mattress pads. As mentioned above, you’re responsible for making sure all of your products are up to code — and liable if they are not. To avoid fines or even a full shut down of your facility, make sure you’re using only approved materials.
Mattress purchases are a significant investment for any camp, college, rescue shelter, or government facility — so, obviously, you want to make sure they are well-maintained and last a long time.
In order to get the most out of your mattresses, it’s vital to clean and rotate them annually and always use a quality sleep surface to avoid warping and mold growth. Additionally, choosing the right fabric for your mattresses or replacement mattress covers is an important investment in order to make them easier to clean and also protect them from liquids, allergens, and even bed bugs.
Freshen Up Mattresses
Sometimes, even with the best cleaning routine, older or often-used mattresses just need a little extra love and freshening up. But don’t worry! That’s easy to do, and keeping them fresh also helps them to last longer just as keeping them clean does.
It’s important to flip your mattresses seasonally, especially the ones that are used a lot, so that they wear evenly. Not only does flipping them help air them out, it is also a great time to check them for mold, stains, or bed bugs.
Remember to air them out regularly, and never submerge them in water. We recommend spraying your mattresses lightly with a non-bleach solution spray and wipe the surfaces with a damp cloth. Then set them out to dry completely before storing them.
You don’t always have to throw out mattresses that are ripped, stained, faded. It’s common for mattress covers to wear out before the mattress needs to be replaced. Many mattresses with stained or faded covers still have many years of life left in their cores. You can save those older mattresses and extend their lives with replacement mattress covers.
With our covers, you get the same great benefits, like bed bug-proof technology, waterproof fabrics, and durability, you’d get from one of our new mattresses.
Better yet, our replacement mattress covers not only upgrade your existing mattress to being bed bug-proof but they can also actually contain bed bugs if an infestation is already present. If the bed bugs are already living in the mattress, they will be completely contained and suffocated by the Bed Bug Proof Replacement Mattress Cover.
Even with the best care, mattresses eventually do wear out or become damaged, and that’s when you’ll need to replace them. You will know when it’s time to reevaluate or replace your mattresses, but even if the signs of wear are not obvious, it’s always good to review old purchase orders and remember how old your mattresses are. The more often they are used, the more likely they are too have worn down.
Of course, now that you know you need a new mattress, you’re left with another problem: what to do with the old ones? We don’t often consider what happens to the old furniture we leave by the curb, but more often than not, those old mattresses are destined to take up space at a landfill.
Unless you recycle them, that is! You take care of the environment when you recycle or repurpose and we take care of you. Our professional installers can take care of recycling and disposal during the install process if you choose to go that route.
Furniture makes a lasting difference in the comfort and experience your campers, residents, and college students feel. The furniture you have is what makes your facility the best that it can be for your clients.
But exactly what kind of furniture is it that you need? What best fits your client’s needs? Do you need something comforting and warm, like wood? Or something sturdy, something that can take a beating from even the moodiest campers and keep on standing strong, like metal? Or maybe you need to focus more on flexibility and portability, like single beds and demountable bunks offer?
Metal Bunks – It’s no secret that furniture and beds take a beating in summer camps, rehab facilities, and institutions. That’s why metal bunks are a perfect option for these tough environments. They seamlessly combine tasteful design with rugged durability that is long-lasting and bed bug-resistant. We also have several different collections to choose from and many, like the Model 4500 Series are demountable so they can be converted into single beds to easily adapt to the needs of your facility.
Wooden Bunks – Some facilities, like camps and conference centers, prefer to focus on the warm, residential look that comes from wood. If you want cozy without sacrificing strength, the Hampton Collection is the perfect choice. These bunks offer a solid wood construction that provides users with a residential style and look while providing commercial durability and performance.
Best of Both Worlds – For those who crave the warm look of wood, but know they need the durability of metal, we have the perfect solution: the Platinum Furniture Collection. These beds are more comforting and welcoming, but are still made from all-steel construction that keeps them durable and sturdy for longer. Best of all, they are demountable and can convert into single beds and come in multiple sizes with an easily-adjustable spring base.
Bunk Bed Accessories – All rails and ladders are sold separately. This gives you the benefit of creating a space that meets your needs. Remember to always check your local ordinances to determine which safety accessories you’ll need for your facility. If you need accessories for new or current beds, all of our rails and ladders are easy to install and work with any of our metal furniture.
Single metal beds are gaining increasing popularity among rescue missions, homeless shelters, and transitional housing facilities because of the privacy, safety, and versatility they offer. If you are more focused on providing a residential feel with privacy and storage solutions, single beds might be the best option. Since all of our metal bunk bed collections easily demount to single beds, the only question left to decide is whether you need the affordable Heavy-Duty Single Metal Bed or the warmer, softer Platinum Single Bed.
In crowded facilities, optimizing the space you have available is imperative. That’s why we offer several storage solutions, all perfectly adaptable to your space’s limitations and needs. Additionally, our storage solutions offer the added benefit of lockable drawers for added privacy and security. With the exception of our nightstands, all storage solutions have padlocking systems that can easily be cut and replaced in the event of lost keys.
Under Bed Chest – Under Bed Chests are perfect for facilities with limited space due to their ability to fit underneath the bunk beds.
Chest or Night Stand – These are ideal for housing facilities as they create a welcoming environment and provide storage options for your guests.
Wardrobes – Wardrobes provide similar storage solutions, but in a larger capacity. These are perfect for longer-stay facilities.
Desks – These are essential for housing facilities looking for a residential feel. They provide residents and workers a place to sit and work or write while also offering additional storage options.
There are a seemingly infinite number of choices when it comes to outfitting your facility with heavy-duty furniture. It can seem overwhelming — that’s why we’re breaking down your options. Our products were specifically developed for use in facilities just like yours. While our furniture is already a durable, high-performance choice for your camp, college, or rescue mission, these features take it to the next level, ensuring comfort and quality through the years of use.
Solid Steel Construction
Metal bunks, as mentioned above, are a wonderful option for many facilities because of their durability and longevity. The Model 4500 Series and the Platinum Furniture Collection are both made of 16-gauge, cold-rolled sheet metal and covered with a top-quality matte powder coating that won’t rust and cannot be flaked off.
Another benefit of the metal beds and furniture is that they are bed bug-resistant. Each piece of metal is powder coated, making it inhospitable for bed bugs. When metal beds are combined with the bed bug-proof mattresses, the chance of an infestation is significantly decreased.
Depending on how often the beds at your facility are in use versus being stored, a spring base or solid panel base will be a better fit. Spring bases are more comfortable and weigh less (making them easier to move), but they require more maintenance because they are more susceptible to tampering. On the other hand, solid panel bases provide more security and stability, but are harder and could be less comfortable for your guests.
When space is limited, bunk beds are ideal, but it’s hard to maintain privacy. Bunk bed partitions are easy to assemble and attach, affordable, and flexible and offer your guests their own private space to rest.
For many facilities, especially rescue missions and shelters, being adaptable is the most important skill to have. Whether you need to set up for several families that want to remain close together or individual adults that would prefer their space, demountable bunks are an option that offers even more flexibility. These bunks can be configured in a variety of ways so that they grow and change as your facility does.
If a tragedy strikes, having additional disaster relief supplies, like folding cots, are imperative. And when shopping for a product that’s portable and lightweight, you must be careful not to end up with something flimsy. Some other things to consider for disaster relief supplies are whether they have:
- Adjustable fabric tension
- A high weight rating
- A large sleep surface
- An easy open step-down lock
- High-quality materials
FAQs and Misconceptions
When it comes to buying bedding and furniture, there are always questions and misconceptions — no matter how many times you’ve done it! There are just too many products, features, and scenarios to consider.
For example, when your furniture is being installed, what do you need to communicate with the installation team beforehand? Plenty! But most importantly, always let them know:
- The layout of your facility
- Where the loading and unloading access is
- Your exact expectations
- Where they can put trash
- Who the contact person is
Additionally, it’s incredibly important to prepare for your delivery in detail. Know exactly what time the load is expected, and allot yourself enough time to inspect the shipment. We know, that’s a lot of equipment to sort through and verify, but if you catch a missing or damaged item immediately, you’ll spare yourself quite a bit of hassle later on.
Now for the most common question: Do I need to hire an installation crew? You may be tempted to think an installation crew is unnecessary, but when the delivery truck arrives and leaves stacks of mattresses, piles of mattress covers, and pallets of bed frames at your warehouse, you’ll wish you had a plan. With an installation crew, you get to focus on your real job, minimize any risk, and have the peace of mind of knowing that the job is getting done by experts.
For more information and common questions, visit our FAQ page!