How to Build a Murphy Bed -
The DIY Guide
A wall-mounted murphy bed is an excellent way to add an extra bed without taking up too much room. If you do it right, you can have a gorgeous new set of cabinets as well.
You might be inclined to pay someone to complete this job for you, but that isn’t necessary. Most people with a bit of carpentry experience can complete a DIY murphy bed project without much of a problem.
In this guide, we’ll give you the details on what you need to purchase to complete a murphy bed in your home, along with a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the process.
Cost and Skill Level
This job isn’t inexpensive - mostly because of the cost of the mattress. You’ll end up spending a few hundred dollars on supplies for this one. Again, though, the bulk of this cost is going to come in the mattress. You can shop around to find the best deal for the most comfortable mattress beforehand to save you some time.
Although this is a relatively pricey DIY job, it doesn’t come close to the price of paying someone to build and install a murphy bed. Wall beds are comfortable, luxurious, and nice looking, which means they’re also very expensive if you’re paying a professional.
Instead of paying for a mattress with some additional tools, you’ll pay for labor time along with a markup for materials. Not to mention you’ll have strangers moving through your house for about a day.
Companies that install murphy beds usually include a mattress as well, which means you’ll have less of a selection of which mattress you choose. This can sometimes be a high-end mattress or a low-end mattress with a markup. Either one of these options could be too costly, especially if your Murphy bed is only a guest bed.
The skill level of a DIY murphy bed job is intermediate. You should have a bit of experience with DIY builds before attempting to tackle this one, though it’s probably possible to nail it as your first project. It’s not too advanced, so you’ll probably understand the basics, but it’s a good idea to have a trained eye on hand to make sure everything is going according to plan.
What You'll Need
Completing a DIY murphy bed project doesn’t require too many materials and tools. If you regularly complete DIY jobs, then you probably already have all of the tools you’re going to need. After that, all you have to do is go to the store and pick up some of the materials.
DIY Murphy Bed Guide
In this section, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to cut, build, and assemble your murphy bed. The job will take about a day to complete, or two if you don’t have a block of hours to dedicate to cutting and building.
Purchasing a kit is usually a good idea here since the instructions will give you an outline of what type of wood to buy along with the size of cuts you’ll need. These specifications will vary depending on the size of bed you’re aiming for.
The murphy bed kit will also include the tools you need to make your build a true wall bed. The springs and arms of the bed are nearly impossible to create on your own, so it’s a much better idea to purchase these at the store. This will be an insignificant price compared to the cost of paying someone to install a custom murphy bed.
Step 1: Measurements and Frame
First, you want to make sure you have enough room for the bed to extend on the floor and lay flush against the wall. Measure this multiple times before starting your build, because inaccurate measurements can cause you to waste a lot of time.
Once you’re sure you have the right spacial measurements, it’s time to start building the murphy bed. Start with the five struts by gluing your smaller pieces of wood into an L shape.
After you glue them and hold them in place, use your drill to create pilot holes for your screws. These should be around 8 inches away from one another. Add the screws to hold the pieces in place and move on to creating the frame.
When you’ve finished with the struts, assemble them with the frame sides and drill pilot holes for the screws. You can use wood glue again here, but it shouldn’t be necessary. Add the screws and move on to the next step.
Step 2: Rails
Now that the sub-frame is almost complete, you can start fixing and attaching the rails of the bed. Drill some pilot holes in the wood you plan on using for the head and foot rails. Depending on the size of your build, you should drill three to five holes for stability. Do the same with the frame, then use screws to hold the top and bottom rails in place.
For the side rails, use your jigsaw to round one corner on each side rail. Drill this rounded edge on the side that will face the ceiling at the bottom of your bed.
Drill pilot holes according to where your murphy bed kit tells you to place the hardware when you’re finished. This will save you a bit of time later on.
Once you’ve finished with the specifications of the side rails, you can begin to line them up with the sub-frame and start drilling pilot holes. Make sure that the rounded end faces the bottom, and that the hardware for the side rails is on the exterior of the bed.
Drill holes in the sub-frame and the side rails and attach them with screws. The side rail should fit snugly next to the top and bottom rail. Drill two holes in each side and attach all the corners of the bed with screws.
Step 3: Panels
Lay your panels face-down on the ground next to each other, and put your frame on top. The panels should be a bit longer than your frame on each side but come flush against the bottom rail. The headrail should stop slightly short of where the panels do.
You’re going to glue the sub-frame to these panels, so take the time to fasten the frame in place and trace the lines. This will give you a better idea of where you need to apply the glue. There is some room for error with the glue, but once you’ve started drilling pilot holes, you’re locked into the position of the frame.
When you’re sure that you’ve applied the right amount of glue, add the sub-frame and allow it to dry in place. Make sure it fits neatly inside the lines you’ve already traced before you start adding screws.
Start at the foot of the bed, then move to the middle. After that, you can add screws to the head of the bead and move downward, spacing them about six inches apart.
Step 4: Cabinet
Drill pilot holes and attach the mounting cleats you got from your wall bed kit to the header board. After that, you can attach the header rail to the header board with screws. About an inch of the header rail should be extending past the header board.
Add the second header rail to the top of the board and secure it with glue. Once the glue dries, use your nailer to finish the attachment with nails instead of screws.
Once you’ve finished assembling the header, it’s time to complete the rest of the cabinet. Attach the header with the vertical rails with pilot holes and screws. You may need to make cutting adjustments with the jigsaw to make sure the cabinet fits against any molding you might have on the floor of your house.
Use your stud finder to find the studs in your wall and mount the back of the cabinet to your desired wall.
All you have to do after that is add any handles and accessories you want for the outside of the cabinet. Choose your paint or finish and any design you might want before connecting the hardware and mounting the bottom of the bed to the wall.
Step 5: Hardware
Use your murphy bed kit to find out where you need to put the hardware on your bed. Lay everything out to make sure it’s all in the right spot before screwing the hardware into place. You might want to complete this layout step before adding paint or finish but wait until after to add the hardware finally.
Install the leg and mattress support depending on how your kit tells you to. Your kit should also include elastic bands which will hold your mattress in place. Screw these in near the end of your build.