How to Build a Murphy Bed

Need some extra space for visiting family members? This DIY Murphy bed is the answer. See how easily you can build one in just two days!

One of the easiest ways to create room in your home for guests is with a Murphy bed. This space-saving piece of furniture is installed against a wall and looks like a large cabinet when not in use. Then it pulls down to reveal a bed. Murphy beds are often found in basements but can be installed anywhere there is available wall and floor space, like a home office or hobby room. We purchased a Murphy bed hardware kit online, then built the frame with lumber from our local hardware store. Follow our instructions below to see how you can build a Murphy bed in just one weekend. 

See the rest of this weekend basement makeover here.

  • Working Time 6 Hours
  • Start to Finish 2 Days
  • Difficulty         Projects Hard
  • Involves Carpentry Skills, Cutting, Drilling

What you need

Tools

  • Table saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Cordless drill
  • Hand saw, optional
  • Stud finder
  • Nail gun
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Drop cloth
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Paintbrush

Materials

  • 1x2x94-inch poplar board (x12)
  • 3/4x48x96-inch plywood sheet (x4)
  • 1/4x48x96-inch plywood sheet (x2)
  • Murphy bed hardware kit
  • Wood glue
  • 2-inch screws
  • 1-1/2-inch screws
  • 1-1/4-inch screws
  • 1x2x96-inch trim (x2)
  • 1x3x96-inch trim (x4)
  • Brad nails
  • Wood putty
  • Paint
  • Cabinet handles (x2)

Cuts

  • Frame Sides (x2)
    3/4x1-1/2x80 inches
  • Frame Struts (x10)
    3/4x1-1/2x60-1/2 inches
  • Large Frame Sides (x2)
    3/4x5-7/8x81-1/2 inches
  • Footboard (x1)
    3/4x3x62 inches
  • Frame Headboard (x1)
    3/4x7-7/8x62 inches
  • Front-Facing Panels (x2)
    3/4x32x81-1/2 inches
  • Large Side Panels (x2)
    3/4x15-7/8x87-1/8 inches
  • Top Stretcher (x1)
    3/4x14-3/8x64-3/8 inches
  • Top Stretcher Rails (x2)
    3/4x2-3/4x64-3/8 inches
  • Headboard (x1)
    3/4x15-7/8x64-3/8 inches
  • Mattress Boards (x2)
    1/4x31x80 inches

How to do it

Step 1 Make Cuts

First, cut your lumber according to the cut list above. Because there are several pieces, it’s smart to label and group each board after the cut is made. You can cut the wood at home with a table saw or ask an associate at your local hardware store to make the cuts for you before you purchase the lumber.

Step 2 Attach Side Hardware

Once the boards are cut, open your Murphy bed hardware kit. We used this one from Create-A-Bed. Find the pieces that fit along the large standing side panels. Install that hardware per manufacturer's instructions, following measurements closely.

Step 3 Build Standing Frame

With the hardware installed, begin building the standing frame of the bed. This is the box you see when the bed is folded up against the wall. First, find the top stretcher and the top stretcher rails. Align the top stretcher rails along the long sides of the top stretcher. The 2-3/4-inch sides of the rails should be facing the stretcher. Line a bead of wood glue along the long edges of the stretcher and press the rails to the board. The stretcher should fall in the middle of the 2-3/4-inch sides. Once the glue has dried, use a drill to attach the rails to the stretcher with 2-inch screws.

Next, attach the stretcher to the large side panels. Place the stretcher between the panels and align the top of the stretcher rails with the top of the side panels. Make sure the hardware you installed earlier is facing inward. Once aligned, screw from the outside of the side panels into the top stretcher board. Be sure to drill into the stretcher board itself, not just the rails. Lift the entire unit up to the wall.

To give your Murphy bed a built-in look and make the boards flush against the wall, remove the baseboard where the bed will go with an oscillating trim saw.

Step 4 Build Bed Frame

Next, build the frame that will hold your mattress. This frame is made from five struts held together by frame sides. Make the struts by separating the 10 precut boards into five pairings. For each strut, flip one board on its long edge and the other on its short edge. When pushed together, the two should form a small L shape. Hold together with wood glue and secure with 1-1/2-inch screws. Repeat for the remaining four struts.

Lay the finished struts on the ground, stretching between the frame sides. Space the struts evenly apart, with the first and last struts aligned with the edges of the frame sides. The flat edge of the struts should be facing down. Secure the struts to the frame sides by screwing in from the outside of the frame. Be sure to place screws through both boards that make up the struts.

Step 5 Build Outer Bed Frame

With the main bed frame intact, build a larger frame around it. Drive screws through the large frame side boards and the footboard, directly into the built frame and at the corners. The headboard at the top of the bed should be several inches taller than the rest.

Step 6 Attach Hinge Hardware

Next, add the hinge hardware to the bed frame. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to learn where to correctly place the hinges. Precise placement of the hinges is key as this hardware acts as the mechanism that ensures the Murphy bed lowers and raises properly. Once the hinges are securely attached, attach the back stretcher board across the large side panels. It should sit about 3 feet above the bottom of the unit.

Add the fold-out legs to the outside bed frame using provided kit materials and following manufacturer's instructions.

Step 7 Attach Mattress Support

Once the hinge hardware is installed, attach the two remaining mattress boards on top of the struts. The boards should fit snugly on top of the inner bed frame. Secure into the struts with wood screws.

Step 8 Finish and Install

With a partner, lift the bed frame up to the wall (the fold-out legs will fold into the inside of the frame and will be at the edge closest to the ceiling when lifted up). The bed, if hinged correctly, will fold smoothly into the outer frame.

Once you feel confident that all pieces are in place, secure the frame to the wall by driving screws through the back stretcher rail into wall studs.

Step 9 Install Front-Facing Panels

Next, attach the front-facing panels to the bed. With the bed still folded up, hold the panels up to the struts and steady with a partner. Secure panels to the frame by attaching with 1-1/4-inch screws through the struts. It’s important to make the screws flush to the board so you don’t see the screws when the bed is folded up. We recommend attaching the panels along the perimeter and directly down the center where the trim (in the next step) will cover screw heads.

Step 10 Install Trim

Once the front-facing panels are securely installed, you'll install the trim pieces. The 2-7/8-inch trim should be placed around the perimeter edge of the frame, and the two 1-7/8-inch trim pieces should be placed together down the middle of the frame. Secure trim to front panels with a nail gun.

Step 11 Fill Holes and Paint

Finally, scan your bed frame for any holes or imperfections. Fill the holes with wood putty, and sand smooth once dry. Wipe with a tack cloth. Set down a drop cloth and begin painting your new bed. We painted the outside frame and headboard to match the walls for a cohesive look. The front panels and trim got a fresh coat of white paint.

Once the paint was dry, we installed two sturdy handles to the front-facing panel of the bed frame. Our handles were placed about one-third of the way down from the top and equal distance from the center to make opening and closing a breeze.

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