An Expert Review of Costco Murphy Beds
A deep dive of the pros and cons of the Murphy beds offered by the big box giant.
Who doesn’t love Costco? Walking through the aisles on a Saturday morning can make an adult feel like a kid going to Disneyland. Not only are there incredible deals as far as the eye can see and a food court that is an absolute delight; there are also wonderful people lining up to hand you free samples! Plus, Costco has somehow avoided one pitfall that almost all big-box and bargain stores stumble into–inferior quality. When somebody tells you that they purchased something from a big-box chain, often, the assumption is that the quality of that item is lacking. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Costco. They have somehow managed to keep their prices extremely reasonable while offering products that are reliably high-quality. That is, until you take a closer look at their Murphy bed offering.
Because of Costco’s notorious ability to keep the quality of their products high, you would be forgiven if you assumed that this trend applied to their Murphy beds. But, before you ‘add-to-cart’, allow our team of Murphy bed experts to give you a guided tour of our in-depth review of Costco’s Murphy beds. Overall, Costco has done a great job curating a line of Murphy beds that are stylish and inexpensive. However, after our evaluation, it is clear that they have made quality concessions to hit their price-point. Specifically, they have skimped on the materials, the construction techniques, the customization, and customer service. With that said, a Costco Murphy bed is not always the wrong choice. You simply need to weigh the pros and cons to decide what makes the most sense for your needs.
What We Like About Costco Murphy Beds
As previously mentioned, there are a couple of things Costco does well with their Murphy beds. They offer some very attractive styles and they have ridiculously reasonable pricing. So, if all you care about is aesthetics or cost, a Costco Murphy bed might be a good fit. If you don’t really care about longevity, quality, warranties, or customer service, Costco might be the perfect solution. If you do care about quality and those other factors, you are likely to be sorely disappointed.
What We Don’t Like About Costco Murphy Beds
Every one of Costco’s Murphy beds are built from particle board with a paper veneer. That’s right, paper veneer. Granted, this is not your printer paper, and it is much more durable than you’d think. Still, it is a far-cry from the real wood it is mimicking.
Murphy Beds are very big, very heavy pieces of furniture that utilize springs or pistons to help you lift and lower the bed. Without these lifting mechanisms, you would need at least two people to safely open or stow your bed. In order to help you lift your bed, these mechanisms must store enormous amounts of energy.
Think of a mouse trap; when you set the hammer of the trap, you can feel the stored energy that the spring produces. If you have ever had a finger get caught in a mousetrap, you can feel that same energy being released (ouch). A Murphy bed is similar, when you pull the bed down you are, more or less, ‘setting the hammer’. This action stretches a series of springs near the headboard that creates stored energy that will become very useful when it is time to lift the bed. The difference is that a mousetrap stores a relatively tiny amount of energy. In fact, after we blew a little dust off of our physics textbooks, we found that a mousetrap stores roughly 17 joules of energy in its spring whereas a Murphy bed stores roughly 700 joules of energy.
Now consider the quality of material that these springs are mounted to. Do you really want to trust some particle board to hold all of that stored energy? We have fielded enough calls from Costco Murphy bed customers with broken beds (more on that later) to tell you that you should not trust particleboard to do the job.
Not a lot of surprises here. If you picked up a shirt at Costco and took it to the register and requested custom tailoring, what do you think would happen? They just are not set up to offer any kind of customizations. This doesn’t mean there are no options, they are just severely limited. For example, Wilding Wallbeds offers several real wood species, with dozens of finishes and dozens of other design options on each Murphy bed. Costco offers a handful of designs each with a couple veneer color options. So, if you are looking for any amount of customization, Costco is not the route for you. Just like they won’t tailor a shirt for you, they won’t tailor a Murphy bed for you either.
I referenced this earlier, but it is worth repeating. At Wilding Wallbeds, we receive many calls from Costco customers who have a broken bed and need a repair. Typically, they are outside the (very brief) 2-year warranty period that is offered and Costco and their manufacturer will not help them repair their old bed. Unfortunately, we don’t even dabble in particle board, so we are usually of little help when it comes to repairs. However, it is not uncommon for a customer to give up on their Costco Murphy bed and simply purchase one of ours instead. After all, ours will last a lifetime (hence the lifetime warranty).
It is totally possible that the customer service within that 2-year period is excellent, but we’ve heard horror stories of customers whose beds broke just outside of that range and they are told that they are out of luck.
The last thing to mention in our research of their customer service experience is the availability of customer service representatives. In our digging, it quickly became apparent that they would rather you watch a video, read an article, or speak with a robot rather than speak with a living, breathing human. This has become pretty normal with big-box stores, so it probably won’t come as a surprise to you. When compared to other Murphy bed manufacturers, this is a stark reduction in customer care. Most in the Murphy bed industry are small-to-medium businesses that still have real people answering the phones.
The truth is that, unless you purchase from a local shop, every Murphy bed will require some assembly. And, since most local shops are selling Murphy beds at retail, you wind up paying double what you would pay buying directly from the manufacturer. So, if you are buying online or from the manufacturer, installation is a given. The best Murphy bed manufacturers out there have stellar instructions that make the set up a breeze. This specifically means that each bed should have written instructions and video instructions to help with the setup.
The Murphy beds at Costco appear to utilize some combination of videos and written instructions, but the videos serve more as a supplement rather than a full set of instructions. And, the videos are mainly digital renderings rather than somebody actually guiding you through the setup.
Finally, all of the side cabinets that accompany Costco’s Murphy beds are shipped knocked down, which means you will need to fully assemble them, similar to Ikea cabinetry.
While Costco has an undeniable knack for offering high-quality, inexpensive products, their foray into the world of Murphy beds is an exception to this pattern. Instead, they have managed to offer inexpensive, attractive Murphy beds that are actually fairly low-quality. The beds they carry are built from cheap particle board, have restrictive options, and a very cumbersome installation process. At Wilding Wallbeds, we have many options of attractive and high-quality Murphy beds that will last a lifetime. We recommend buying a high-quality option first, rather than buying cheap and replacing it a few years later.