What Is A Murphy Bed? Are They Safe?


What is a murphy bed? Chances are you've seen one, but never knew what they were called! Until now!

A Murphy bed is a genius, fold-away bed design perfect for studio apartments, small bedrooms and other space-constrained areas. It vanishes into the wall by day becoming a bookshelf, poster board, and more. However, these beds can eat you if you’re not careful … or can they?

Murphy Beds: Sizes, Types and Hype

The concept of a Murphy bed isn’t difficult to get across and understandably, there’s a lot of hype around them. But what people may not know is that they come in many shapes and sizes, which can add further enhancement and practicality to your living space.

Murphy beds can double as:

  • Foldaway desks, on the opposite side to the desk.
  • Regular shelves, on the back of the bed or once it’s pulled down.
  • And more.

The type of Murphy bed doesn’t play a role in these functionalities, only in the bed’s installation and ease of use.

Murphy Bed Types

There are two types of Murphy bed mechanisms. The mechanisms determine how you install your Murphy bed, and how you lock it, too.

Both mechanisms have their upsides and no downsides—it’s really a matter of preference. What really determines the quality of your Murphy bed is the company or individuals installing it, now with that said, let’s see how these mechanisms work.


Some Murphy beds function with adjustable tension springs that can take a lot of weight and are easy to repair. If anything goes wrong with the Murphy bed it’s simple to replace a spring, even by yourself.

These beds pull down and you pull out the legs at the same time, effectively getting the whole bed down to the floor in one fluid motion.

Spring Murphy beds attach straight to the wall and are easily moved as their brackets aren’t too tricky to deal with. That said, it takes about three hours, maybe two if you’re more skilled, to get these installed.


Piston Murphy beds are the easier of the two to open, and the installation is basically the same as the spring mechanism. A few screws into the wall and you’re done. They take half the time to get up on the wall though.

These beds use the pressure of gas or air to keep your bed in place during the day, rather than springs. Although, the piston system is often visible when the bed is shut, so if you wanted a smooth or secret look then you should go with spring.

Piston beds have one feature better than spring mechanisms though, and that’s their ability to lock the bed when it’s open or closed. This is a safety bonus you may wish to enact if you’re nervous about the bed closing in the night, or crashing open when you don’t expect it to.

Murphy Bed Sizes

Murphy beds are available in your typical sizes, so there’s nothing special to talk about here. Most of them are single, double or king-size but you may also find small singles and smalls doubles, it depends on the company.

What’s really interesting is that Murphy beds are available as bunk beds, too.

Most Murphy bunk beds are single over single, some with extra long options in case of tall guests. The reason they come as singles is so the beds can sit on top of each other neatly in the wall space, then when you fold them out one flattens out where the other spins to become the top bunk.

If there’s a double bed involved in the Murphy bunk bed setup, it’ll most likely be a half Murphy bed setup. The top bunk, a single, will stay out at all times where the double folds against the wall underneath it. It may not save as much space as a traditional Murphy bed setup, but the space under the single is great for storage or hanging out.

Can Murphy Beds Be Dangerous?

We jested that your Murphy bed can eat you, but that’s not strictly true. While it’s a possibility, it’s a rare one that comes up with poorly-maintained Murphy bed setups.

Spring mechanism Murphy beds can take a lot of weight before they snap back up, and the more weight they take the more they’ll stay down. The locking mechanisms on piston Murphy beds make these extremely safe too.

If a Murphy bed is the cause of death, it’s more than likely going to be from the bed falling on you rather than it snapping up while you’re in it. Injury or death during installation is also possible. This 2015 news story contains stories of both instances.

So, if there’s anything to learn from that it’s:

  • Always replace springs if the bed starts to sag, and check the condition of your locking mechanisms regularly.
  • Consider installing brackets on either side of the Murphy bed so you can stretch a strap across it to keep the bed up.
  • Always ensure you’re careful and know what you’re doing when installing a Murphy bed, and if you’re unsure then hire a professional.

What Is a Murphy Bed Mattress Like?

One common question people have regarding Murphy beds is whether or not they require a special mattress—other forms of retractable bed, like trundle beds, do. However, Murphy beds are usually compatible with all mattress types and thicknesses.

Check if there are any special requirements when you buy your Murphy bed to be in with the best chance of success.

Also, keep in mind that various mattress experts claim that a Murphy bed can place extra strain on your mattress. This is because you’re opening and closing it and putting pressure on your mattress in different ways all the time. It won’t make your mattress wear out too quickly but it will be faster than normal.

Since you’ll have to replace your mattress more often, consider using a memory foam mattress with a Murphy bed, as they’re cheaper and therefore less of an investment.

Final Thoughts

Murphy beds get a bad reputation for eating people, crushing people and being difficult to pull out of the wall. In reality, they’re nothing but a harmless space-saver, when treated right. If you took away anything from this, it should be:

  • Always make sure your Murphy bed’s springs and locks are in good condition.
  • Murphy beds should be installed by professionals or DIY experts.
  • Neither Murphy bed mechanism is better, but the piston’s locks bring peace of mind.

If you have any concerns, comments or questions you can leave them below.

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