Buying a Murphy Bed? Here’s What You Need To Know

Buying a Murphy bed can be a good decision especially if you have limited space.


It is a space-saving bed that is foldable when not in use; and it allows you to create space for other functions.

buying a murphy bed for your small space
CC image courtesy of Bolt of Blue on Flickr

The Murphy bed works well if you have adequate vertical space because you’ll be folding the bed to a wall or cabinet.

Now, I have been fascinated by this bed and the doubts and questions I had led to this post.

I carried out some research and came up with answers to questions that would-be-buyers or anyone interested in the bed would have.


What are the origins of the Murphy bed?

The name Murphy belongs to a William Murphy who borrowed money for a foldaway bed business.

Foldable beds had already existed in the 19th century before Murphy made them more popular.

He wanted to impress a woman, and it wasn’t easy back then while living in a one-room apartment. So, he got help from a blacksmith and designed a bed that folded into the closet.

He later on designed and patented a better option that featured a pivot and hinge. The new bed mounted on the closet door, and that is how the name Murphy-In-A-Dor originated.

The beds were then manufactured and sold by Simmons Company before Murphy started his factories.

With more people moving into cities and apartments sizes shrinking with the rise of population, the beds became amongst the best options for dwellers.


Are these beds comfortable?

Murphy beds just like other beds can be comfortable. Comfort, here, depends on many factors and these include:

  • The design of the bed
  • Your mattress
  • Your weight and medical issues
  • And your comfort level

If you choose a good bed and place a quality mattress, then you will get that comfortable experience.

It all boils down to what you deem comfortable and what you look for to fulfill that need.

What are the different types of Murphy beds?

There are vertical and horizontal murphy beds. What this means is the beds can be folded vertically or horizontally.

The two can be further divided into:

Built-in Murphy beds– These beds are fixed on walls and large furniture that aren’t movable. You will find most vertical murphy beds here.

Freestanding Murphy beds– These one don’t require mounting on the walls. They come mostly in the form of cabinets that are movable. For these reasons, they are ideal for renters.

Do they come in different sizes?

Yes, they do. You can get from twin size to a king size bed. And you can also get hardware kits for your DIY bed project in different sizes.

You can buy the murphy beds in online stores or brick and mortar stores that sell bedroom furniture.

How much does this space-saving bed cost?

The bed’s price is usually on the higher side. You can get one for slightly less than a $1000 to over $2000.

What? Yes, some Murphy beds come with many things.

Most beds come complete with mattresses, the folding mechanisms, and others even cabinets. And in most cases, the beds usually feature quality materials that can support your weight and the structures.

buying a murphy bed for your needs
CC image courtesy of rademacherdan on Flickr

But you can do a DIY if you find their prices too high for comfort. If you’re good at woodwork, then, by all means, go ahead.

You can buy bed plans from online stores and make your bed. The good thing is these plans are affordable (around $20).

And you can also get hardware kits that most e-commerce stores sell. These DIY kits also include DVDs and instruction booklets that you have to follow carefully for the best results.

The kits prices can range from $100 to over $300 depending on their contents.

Now, you can save funds and buy one later or opt for another bed frame.

You can check out these affordable Zinus beds post for alternatives.

Can you use your mattress on this bed?                                                                              

Well, yes you can if you aren’t buying the complete Murphy bed. But you’ll have to make sure your mattress fits the bed.

And also find out from the seller if the bed you want to buy supports your mattress and other accessories such as pads and toppers.

For example, some beds mechanisms won’t work well with foam mattresses because they tend to be heavier, unlike their innerspring counterparts.

The best thing would be to have the mattress with you when you install the bed.   

Have a look at these mattresses in case your Murphy bed works with foa.

Are Murphy beds easy to raise and lower?

Most beds have easy to use mechanisms. So, yes, well-assembled beds are easy to operate.


How do these beds work?

The beds usually use these two common mechanisms.

consider space when buying a murphy bed
CC image courtesy of whiteknuckled on Flickr

And they are:                   

  1. The spring lift mechanism and
  2. Piston lift mechanism

The spring lift mechanism features spring sets fixed on each side of the sideboards.

This spring mechanism also features arms that attach to the bed using mostly bolts (on the front side).

It is cheaper than the piston mechanism, but the springs tend to wear after some years of use.

So, they may require replacements.

The good thing is some sellers include extra springs for replacements, and the springs aren’t expensive. And you also get some super springs in some cases for extra support.

Some manufacturers also include locks that secure the bed at the sides when closed.

The piston lift mechanism on the other hand features two pistons. One piston is mounted on the left side and other on the right side of the bed’s sideboards using pivot plates fixed strategically near the face.

The pistons create a smooth opening and closing process; they make it easy for most individuals to use the bed. And they also make a properly installed bed stay in place.

Some sellers include lifetime guarantees for beds with these mechanisms in case the pistons get defective. Piston mechanisms are more expensive than their spring counterparts.

Do all murphy beds use mechanisms                 

No, some cheap, DIY, and cabinet beds don’t use mechanisms, but they work just fine.

These beds require a bit more effort when opening and closing. And they are usually closer to the ground when opened than the other versions. The beds also feature latches and locks that secure them when not in use.

How would you use the bed?

Here is an example of how to use a well-assembled cabinet bed:

  1. You first pull out / separate a drawer or panel (if any) away from the cabinet.
  2. If the bed has an extension, then pull it all the way to the required position.
  3. Unlock the locks or release the latches that secure the bed.
  4. Use the knobs / handles to open the bed and pull it face down (mechanisms will help here).
  5. You’ll have to put more effort in case there is no mechanism in your bed.
  6. Make sure the face sits on the best position or onto the extension, and then unfold the legs (if any) for extra support.
  7. Fit the mattress properly on the frame and then pull the drawer back if it has a spot.
  8. Cover your bed so that it’s ready for use.

Now,How do you keep the bedding in place with this bed?

Well, most manufacturers/sellers use Velcro strap systems that keep your bedding in place especially when not in use. The straps tend to cross from one end of the bed to the other; they stretch over your bedding.

Are Murphy beds dangerous?

As I mentioned earlier, Murphy beds aren’t dangerous although there have been incidents where the use of these beds has been fatal.

consider mechanism when buying a murphy bed
CC image courtesy of Arthaey on Flickr

And this is because the beds in question were defective.

Check out this New York Post for more information.

For your peace of mind get professional assistance for assembling in case of doubts. And make sure the bed comes will all the required hardware.

If you have to assemble it, then follow the instructions to the tee. It would be better if you have some extra hands for help.

Another key point would be to make sure the bed stays locked/ folded when not in use.


You should consider buying a Murphy bed for your small apartment especially if you use the room for other functions.

Right now you have understood how this bed works, and the amount you may have to spend if you want to get one. You can use the bed for your guests in case you move into a bigger space.

CC featured image courtesy of Ph0enixInFlight on Flickr

Author: Brenda

Brenda Nadi is a proud mama, entrepreneur, and sleep blogger. She creates guides, tips, and reviews of sleep products that make comfortable environments for new buyers.

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