Uncle Bobs Tips

10 Ways to Purchase the Wrong Murphy Bed

10 Ways to Purchase the Wrong Murphy Bed

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Beds that fold up into a wall are called "Murphy beds." They were invented in California around 100 years ago by William L. Murphy as the space-saving solution for his one room apartment. The idea caught on. Large families bought several murphy beds as an alternative to multiple bunk beds. Murphy beds were even installed in tiny shops, folding out for the shopkeeper to sleep after a long business day.

Now murphy beds have a fresh new look and more practical and durable construction than ever before, making ever present space problems into something you can really live with.

But before you throw out that old sofa bed and head over to the showroom to buy a top of the line murphy bed, get an education about what's out there and the ten things to avoid when purchasing this space saving wonder.

Mistake #1. I'll Just Go To The Showroom And Pick One Out

Difficult awkward spaces are special problems that don't always have the same solution. Before you go to the showroom, develop a picture of what you have in mind and write it down. Measure your intended room including ceiling to floor. Some attic rooms or add-on rooms have odd slanted ceilings because they are often under the eaves. Note any dividing or supporting walls which jut out into the room, pillars, corners, and angles as well as the placement of all windows and doors, including closet doors.

Bring these measurements and sketches with you to the showroom. Some showrooms can make a virtual picture based on your room's dimensions. They will show you a choice of beds appropriate for that space so the finished result can be viewed opening and folding up in virtual reality.

Mistake #2. I'll Use Any Wall Available.

Sorry folks, all walls are not the same. These beds are heavy, and must be fixed to a supporting wall bolted into the wall studs. If the bed is installed in the wrong place or on the wrong type of wall they can be downright dangerous to use. Those bolts have to be secure and be able to withstand a lot of pressure and weight. One need not be concerned about either weight or stress on the floor because floor bolting is not used for these type of beds anymore.

Mistake #3.

I Can Get A Sofa Bed Instead.

Sofa beds and murphy beds are not the same. Sofa beds do not fold up into the wall. Rather, the bed folds neatly into the frame of a sofa. The space drawback of a sofa bed is that you have to have a big piece of furniture in the room. In addition, the kind of bed is drastically limited by the available style of furniture.

And in any case, sofa beds are usually not too comfortable to sleep on because the mattress lies along sharp parallel bars. Not a good choice for the pea-shy princess, or other guests, unless you put a large piece of plywood under the sofa bed's mattress. It ends up a little more comfortable than a mattress on the floor.

In contrast, a murphy bed is a real bed in a real frame which disappears completely into a wall. It can be either recessed or flush. It can be hidden simply behind cabinet doors or may have optional furniture units included as well. As for comfort, any standard mattress and box springs can be used with a murphy bed,

up to 11 inches thick.

Mistake #4.

A New Murphy Bed is Just Too Expensive, I'll Just Get a Used One.

(Like the one Myrtle is selling, that she used in her guest room for 50 years.)

Technology has improved over the last few decades and a murphy bed that is 25 or 30 years old is considered a dinosaur. Those older models may not be too attractive by current standards, even if they still work properly (which is unlikely, especially the process called "gas piston operation" used in the old models to lower and raise the bed.)

Besides, the cost of refurbishing a vintage model is expensive, taking into account the cost of a custom made wood cabinet, a must to hide the less attractive features of the older models.

Mistake #5. If I Install It Myself, I Can Take It Home Today.

Yes, that's true. And the store will tell you, and deftly show you with an in store model how installation is easy as pie. They will send you on your way with a video and a step by step instruction booklet where you are promised the expertise of a master once you do it. Don't fall for it. They are right, it is easy to install, once you have installed 100, unless you are already very good with drills and different drill bits, wall bolts and plasters, locating wall studs, determining supporting walls, etc.

If you can pay for their experts to deliver and install it properly, you can bet their expertise will beat your amateur's learning curve. In the end unless you've installed them before you will come out ahead.

Mistake #6. I Like The Ease Of A Gas Piston.

Gas pistons have a nice smooth operation with a slight hissing air sound; However they wear out and are extremely expensive to repair and replace. If the system fails and it always does eventually, most repairs mean throwing out the old bed and replacing it with a new unit.

When the old beds broke there was some basis for that old slapstick cliche of the poor unsuspecting soul taking down his bed and laying down for a much needed rest when he is suddenly sucked into the wall and trapped between his bed and a hard place.

Of course new gas pistons are safe, but once those gas pistons go the bed becomes dangerous to operate. Given high repair cost, and wear and tear over the years being inevitable, gas piston operation is just not worth it.

Choose a bi-fold spring operation. They are not quite as smooth, but repairs are very cheap, and system failure is not dangerous.

Mistake #7.

The Dealer Uses Only 100% Solid Wood For Their Murphy Beds.

It's not that they're trying to deceive the customer when they tell you the frame of your bed and the storage cabinet it folds up into are made of 100% real wood. The furniture industry, and most labeling laws, consider that visible parts define the materials used in the construction.

Because of this an informed customer will press a little harder and find out about those parts they can't see, such as the slats underneath the frame or runners against the springs, or nice looking veneers over an inferior grade of wood, or any other "invisible" part where cheaper materials can be hidden or disguised.

Get the answers to those questions in writing before you buy anything. Materials to avoid in murphy bed construction are cheap industrial plywoods, which split easily, (furniture grade plywood is okay), plastics or melamine,(melamine is not a wood product at all but a hard type of plastic which chips easily), or any type of foil wrapped veneer which carries the additional problem of peeling. It goes without saying that environmentally toxic glue board, particle board, conglomerate plank or any other similar pressed wood product should never be used in high quality furniture at all. Metal parts should be made of rustproof steel or industrial strength aluminum.

Mistake #8.

There Is No Need To Customize My King Size Murphy.

If the room allows a king size murphy bed, perhaps that room is a multifunction space. Perhaps your accounting office is here as well as your husband's podiatry practice. However, a tiny room with such an enormous sized bed, needs to allow adequate space for walking about. Also important is the space allocated for the opening and closing of closet doors and the storage panel cabinet for the bed itself. Access to the windows is also essential when the bed is down.

Most beds of this size will need some customizing to individual space but don't let the word customize scare you. Custom murphy beds do not necessarily mean a huge difference in expense. Customizing with modular multi-function furniture is the cheapest custom job of any improvement to your home. Don't guess, get an

actual quote. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Mistake #9.

I Don't Need The Extra Expense Of a Cabinet For That Murphy Bed.

The underside of the bed springs and mattress and untidy bed linen popping out amongst the mattress is not only as unsightly as they were 50 years ago but now completely unnecessary due to the clever addition of a cabinet. Provided you choose a simple model, the cabinet is no more expensive with the bed than it is without.

Furthermore the containment of the bed within the cabinet contributes to the safe operation of the entire mechanism. Many cabinet models are one-touch operation and therefore have no handles or heavy loads to pull down.

Mistake #10.

A Murphy Bed Does Not Belong In The Dining Room.

Murphy beds can be squeezed into the most unlikely of places. Consider this: you have a tiny Sears Catalogue bungalow built in1939 in a major metropolitan area. There are only two tiny bedrooms upstairs and they're taken by you and the children. Your brother is coming home from college to work in the city for the summer. He wants to save money on rent. Of course he can stay with you. "But where?" you think to yourself, as anxiety stars to creep in. Are you going to pitch a tent out back?

A murphy bed is very practical in a space not normally considered a bedroom. If the dining room is the biggest room in the house, why not? It's hidden behind the doors of the cabinet. You could even extend the drapery over those patio doors off the dining room to hide the cabinet as well. Or recess it so the cabinet doors are flush with the walls. Furthermore, if it disturbs you that it's still there after he leaves, then, you can have the installer reinstall it in the children's room. They'll need it later when their friends come to visit. Murphy beds are as movable as a large bookcase or a free standing closet.

After more than a hundred years in use, murphy beds are still the best deal in flexible, multifunction spare sleeping space. At 2000 dollars to 10,000 dollars or more, they are an investment that pays off over many years, based on how much you need the bed, and how much you use the extra space when you don't.

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