How To Build A Murphy Bed

If you’re limited on space, or perhaps want your office to double as a guest bedroom, learning how to build a Murphy bed can help you save both space and money. The process isn’t as hard as you might think. There are Murphy Bed mechanism kits available at hardware and home improvement stores, as well as online. Once you purchase a mechanism kit (which basically contains the hardware you’ll need such as the springs and bolts to attach the bed to the wall) all that remains is cutting the wood, assembling it and adding the finishing touches like paint or stain.

Warning: This how-to is intended as a general guide to give you an idea of the work involved and the general tools needed. The instructions included with your Murphy bed mechanism should give detailed, systematic instructions including proper measurements and hardware placement for your particular mechanism.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Murphy Bed mechanism kit
  • Cabinetry to incorporate into the bed when folded
  • Plywood
  • MDF board
  • Saws (circular and reciprocating)
  • Misc. screws, ails and wood glue (See instructions included in mechanism kit for additional fasteners you might need that are not provided as part of the kit.)
  • Stud finder
  • Corded Power Drill
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Mattress
  • Paint or Stain
  1. Read the instructions included with your Murphy Bed mechanism kit. Each manufacturer includes different hinges and assorted hardware intended for different construction methods. These instructions will be your project-specific guide.
  2. Determine the wall to which you intend to affix the bed. You’ll need a wall wide enough to accommodate the bed and the cabinetry on either side of the bed.
  3. Measure the wall for the bed box and cabinetry. Mark on the wall where cabinetry should be mounted and where the bed box will mount. Cut away baseboards in that area with a reciprocating saw.
  4. Mount the cabinetry selected to the wall on either side of where the bed will be attached. Be sure to select or build cabinetry/shelving that is as tall as and slightly deeper than the bed to ensure a smooth, folded look. When folded up, the Murphy Bed should integrate seamlessly with the side cabinetry.
  5. Measure and cut plywood for bed box frame. The instructions included with your mechanism kit should list helpful measurement guidelines. However, measuring based on the mattress size will ensure the best fit. Nail securely to wall studs to ensure a solid hold.
  6. Measure and cut MDF for the ledger board. This is where the bed box will mount to the frame. Use wood glue and screws at either corner to secure the ledger board to the frame. Use lag bolts to secure the ledger board to wall studs. Use the hinges provided in your kit to attach appropriate pieces that will allow the bed to fold up and down.
  7. Attach casters to the bottom of the bed frame. These casters move in or out to form the legs of the bed when unfolded.
  8. Drill holes through the side cabinets and into the bed frame. Install slide bolts included in your kit to hold the bed upright when folded. Without these slide bolts, the bed could fall forward and unfold onto unsuspecting people in the room.
  9. Set the mattress into the bed to test for fit. Keep in mind that you will need enough room to fit sheets on the bed when unfolded. Otherwise, fit should be snug.
  10. Remove mattress and finish bare wood with paint or stain as desired. Allow to dry according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once dry, return mattress to the frame and make your new bed with the linens and bedding of your choice.
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