Murphy Bed or Wall Bed, Which One is Better?

I’ve heard the term Murphy Bed and I’ve also heard the term Wall Bed. What are the differences and which one is better for me?

By Dan Wilding

The Takeaway

  • We’ve come a long way from the original Murphy Beds, but understanding the roots of Murphy Beds can be insightful.
  • Finding which option is better is not cut and dry, and will depend on your circumstances.
  • Multi-function rooms can require additional consideration.

The First Murphy Bed

Early Murphy Bed
Early Murphy Bed

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention, and that is certainly the case with the development of the Murphy Bed, which was invented by William Lawrence Murphy in the late 1800’s. At the time of his invention, Mr. Murphy was single and he owned a studio apartment in the San Francisco area. He was dating an opera singer and the moral code of the day suggested that it was inappropriate for a single woman enter a man’s bedroom. This situation made it very difficult for him to entertain his sweetheart in his apartment. Being both motivated and resourceful, Murphy used door hinges and a closet door jamb that enabled the bed to be hidden inside his closet. He knew other men who were in the same circumstance as he was, and he felt that the Murphy Bed could be successfully marketed so he patented the concept. The Murphy Bed was born and soon become a brand name.

The first Murphy Bed was little more than a metal frame with a set of drapes for cover. Over time competition came to his Murphy Bed market. Between the 1920’s and the 1970’s, it turns out that space savings was the major benefit as it applied to dating convenience.

Which one is better for me?

This question gets asked by nearly everyone looking for a Murphy Bed or a Wall Bed solution. The answer to that question actually depends on your situation. What is the entrance like to the room that you plan to use your Murphy Bed? Do you live in a walk up, or do you have a freight elevator? What are the measurements of your room and on which wall do you plan to use the bed? To understand which options best meet your needs please consider the following:

Package size and ease of installation

Boxed Murphy BedShipping Pallet

A Murphy Bed arrives to your home or apartment in several smaller pieces. This makes it easy to get into a tight area or to be carried up a flight of stairs, but it also takes more time to assemble once you get it to your room. A Wall Bed arrives to your home more fully assembled so navigating it into a tight space takes a bit more effort but assembling it is much quicker. Learn More

Lifting mechanisms

Spring Lift Mechanism

Springs (Murphy Bed)
Murphy Bed uses a set of springs which are attached to the sides of the Murphy Bed. These springs are under tension once the bed is installed. These springs help generate the power to help you lift and lower the bed. The idea of using springs to power the lifting and lowering of the bed comes from the very first patent in the late 1800’s.

Piston Lift Mechanism

Gas Pistons (Wall Bed)
Wall Bed uses a set of gas pressurized pistons to help lift and lower the bed. The idea of using gas pistons for the Wall Bed came about in the 1970’s. The whole idea of a Murphy Bed or a Wall Bed is space savings. The Piston mechanism allows the surrounding cabinetry of a Wall Bed to be a smaller by comparison to a Murphy Bed. The other benefit of the Piston lifting mechanism is that as the bed deploys, it actually projects into the room 6″ less than the spring lifting mechanism of the Murphy Bed. A Wall Bed saves more space than a Murphy Bed.

3. Function and safety

Static Pressures (Murphy Bed)
The spring mechanism of a Murphy Bed is designed to hold the bed closed in its upright position.

Locking Legs (Wall Bed)
A Wall Bed utilizes a set of locking legs to secure the bed into the upright position. This gives added security in the home.

Multi-Function Rooms

Most of us have a guest room which is permanently set up for guests. It seems that the Wall Bed and Murphy Bed are more commonly used in the second guest room. In fact it’s only a guest room when you have an overabundance of guests. This second guest room is most frequently used as an everyday home office or a craft room or exercise room. The benefit of the Wall Bed and Murphy Bed is that it allows you to use the room the way that you want for everyday use, but it converts to a comfortable guest room in just seconds.


woman reading a book in a wall bed

The comfort of a Murphy Bed and a Wall Bed are identical. Both cases you can use any quality mattress up to 12″ thick. The comfort of these beds are wonderful, as compared to a sleeper sofa or a futon. Having slept on both Wall Beds and Murphy Beds on many occasions myself, I have to admit that I am a big fan. The comfort of these beds are just like as my bed at home.


People choosing a custom color

Because the everyday function of the room where the Wall Bed or Murphy Bed is used can be different you’ll find a multiple of options available with both types of beds. One such item designed specifically for the guests’ experience is lighting. The lighting is integrated into the bridgeboard of the bed and looks beautiful. It gives your guests a set of lights which are activated by touch. The touch system gives the guest three levels of lighting and in the high position provide ample light for reading.

Side Cabinets

Murphy bed side cabinet options

You’ll also find a wide selection of cabinets to you get the function out of the room that you want and also provide clothing storage for your guests.

Slide Out Night Trays

Slide out night trays are designed to give the guest a night stand during the night that slides back into the face of the cabinet for space savings during the day.

Storage Headboard

This great option gives you a large storage area inside the headboard itself. You’ll find plenty of space for pillows and extra blankets and bedding. This Storage Headboard option also comes standard with a grommet hole, through which cords may pass for an alarm clock or phone charger.

To sum it up quickly, the answer to the question “Murphy Bed or Wall Bed, which is better?”, ultimately needs to be answered by you. The quick facts are that the Murphy Bed arrives at your home in smaller pieces and is more easily navigated into your difficult rooms, but a Wall Bed is much quicker to install. A Wall Bed has the benefit of the locking leg mechanism and a Wall Bed takes less space in the room. Lastly, when you get to the durability question, a Wall Bed will hold twice as much weight (4000 lbs) than a Murphy Bed (2000lbs) will, but they both come with a life time guaranty. My guess is that your guests will never even begin to test the weight capacity of either.


Dan Wilding Co-Owner

Dan Wilding

Co-Owner & Head of Sales and Marketing

Dan is a co-owner and head of sales and marketing. This means he oversees every customer-facing aspect of the business including advertising, sales training, product development …