Murphy Beds and Mattresses – Do They Ruin Them?


Murphy Beds and Mattresses

If you’re not sure what a Murphy bed is, don’t worry. It’s the official name for wall beds that fold up when you’re not using them and come back down when you are. They’re common in tight spaces like studio apartments and rooms that double as an office and a place for guests to sleep. 

Selecting the right mattress for a Murphy bed is similar to any other bed, with a few caveats. While a Murphy bed won’t ruin a mattress outright, these types of beds can lead to additional wear and tear. That’s because the bed frame and mattress are being moved up and down from the wall.  

Of course, the less you use the bed, the less chance there is for wear and tear on the mattress. Still, there are some guidelines to keep in mind when you’re choosing and caring for a Murphy bed mattress. Learn more about these tips and recommendations below.

Do Murphy Beds Ruin Mattresses?

The short answer is no; they don’t. You can generally buy the same type of mattresses for a Murphy bed as you would for a regular bed. While there are manufacturers that make mattresses specifically for Murphy beds, if you take proper measurements, a standard box spring, memory foam, or foam mattress will do. 

Mattresses made for Murphy beds have extra support on the edges and are built to withstand motion more than regular mattresses. Some Murphy bed mattresses also feature additional coils, so they weigh more. However, when a question was asked about which mattresses to buy for a Murphy bed in a forum, many came back with answers that included regular memory foam mattresses. 

Some people recommended purchasing 12-inch memory foam mattresses from online retailers for a queen-size Murphy bed. Others pointed to memory foam mattresses from retailers specializing in wall beds. Based on these responses, it seems there are a variety of opinions from experts and users of Murphy beds about whether regular mattresses can hold up. 

General Requirements

Before selecting a mattress, you’ll want to measure the bed frame’s length, width, and depth. Also, keep in mind that most Murphy beds come with straps that fit around the width of the mattress to keep it in place. Mattresses for Murphy beds do not fold in the same way that those for sofa beds or futons do. They stay in place, and you can keep the bedding on them while the mattress is upright against the wall. 

Making sure the mattress fits when placed on the floor and back in the wall is vital to avoid damage or excessive wear and tear. You should also be aware that Murphy bed mattresses need to weigh at least 55 pounds and not be more than 12 inches thick. Murphy bed mattresses also don’t require a box spring, which is typical with standard bed frames.

Mattresses for Murphy beds need to weigh at least 55 pounds because this is the optimal weight for making sure the bed can remain on the floor and go back up. The mattress needs to have enough weight to stay down but also be light enough so you can lift it. 

Typically, Murphy beds are strong enough to support up to 2,500 pounds. You’ll need to keep this in mind when thinking about who will be using the bed, the weight of the mattress, and the weight of other items like bedding.    

Maintenance Tips

To properly maintain a mattress for a Murphy bed, you’ll want to follow the same basic guidelines as you would for a regular mattress. You’ll want to use a mattress cover to provide the first line of defense against staining, spills, hair, skin, and sweat. A cover can help extend the life of your mattress by protecting it against damage and debris build-up. 

Another thing you’ll want to do is rotate or flip your mattress every so often. The interval will depend on how often you or your guests use the bed. If it gets heavy or frequent use, you’ll probably want to flip the mattress over every two to three months. With light or infrequent use, you can get away with rotating your mattress every six months. 

You’ll also want to air your mattress out periodically, especially if you live in a humid climate or the bed is in a basement. A room in your basement usually contains more moisture in the air than a room on the main or top floor. The same rule applies if you live in a basement or garden-level apartment. Airing out your mattress every three to six months can prevent nuisances like dust mites. 

How to Notice Signs of Wear and Tear  

Realistically speaking, most mattresses have a lifespan of eight to ten years. You may have to replace a Murphy bed mattress sooner if it sustains excessive wear and tear. On the flip side, you may be able to stretch the life of your mattress if it doesn’t get much use and you take good care of it.

However, you may notice that a Murphy bed mattress loses its support more quickly because the bed is constantly being lifted up and down. Over time, all of this movement can lead to lumps in the mattress, sagging, and coils that just don’t hold up anymore. 

Some of the telltale signs that your mattress is ready to be replaced include being unable to sleep in a comfortable position or waking up with strained and sore muscles. You may also wake up tired despite getting the right amount of sleep for your body. 

If you have allergies, you may notice that your symptoms worsen when you’re trying to sleep or after waking up. This indicates that dust mites might be building up, and preventative methods aren’t able to keep them at bay.

When you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to replace the mattress for your Murphy bed, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind. Ultimately, as long as the fit is good, the choice of what type of mattress to use is up to you. But, let’s go over the different types of mattresses you can use and the pros and cons of each. 

What Type of Mattress Is Best For a Murphy Bed? 

The type of mattress you end up getting for your Murphy Bed will usually come down to three factors: will it fit, will it give me the level of support I want, and is it something I can see myself using for the long run? Another way to think about this is whether the mattress is durable enough to withstand the level of use it’s going to get. 

That being said, there are three types of regular mattresses you can use with a Murphy bed. They include memory foam, foam, and box spring varieties.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are popular because they learn the shape of your body over time and can mold to that shape. These mattresses provide support where you need it and are soft and comfortable. If you have conditions like arthritis or lower back pain, memory foam mattresses can be the best option. 

Memory foam mattresses tend to last around 10 years or even longer if you maintain them properly. They’re typically made of foam and filling that customizes your sleep experience. Memory foam mattresses also come in different depths and sizes, so you’re likely to find one that will fit your Murphy bed. 

If you want a firmer level of support, a memory foam mattress may not be your best option. Also, if you want something sturdier or like the feel of traditional box spring mattresses, you may want to stay clear of memory foam mattresses. You might also want to consider a hybrid mattress, one that uses a combination of memory foam and inner springs. 

One thing you’ll want to watch out for is the depth of your Murphy bed’s frame. As long as it’s deep enough for the mattress to fit securely without getting snagged or pinched when you move it, you can feel confident in your choice. 

Foam

So you’ve determined your Murphy bed doesn’t have the depth for a memory foam mattress, but you still want to sleep on a soft surface. Before you get too disappointed and resign to buy a traditional box spring mattress, take a look at foam options. 

Foam mattresses aren’t as large or bulky as their memory foam cousins. Although you don’t need to roll up a mattress you put on a Murphy bed, one of the advantages of foam varieties is that you can roll them up for easier storage. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a mattress on your Murphy bed when it’s up against the wall, you might keep the roll-up feature in mind.

You can roll up your foam mattress and place it in a nearby linen closet or storage space. Take it out and unroll it when you need to use your Murphy bed. This approach will obviously be more practical for individuals who don’t rely on nightly or frequent use of their beds. Otherwise, you’ll want to keep your mattress strapped to the frame. Even if you place a foam mattress in storage, you’ll still want to place protection over it and air it out from time to time. 

Foam mattresses can still be comfortable and soft to sleep on, although they are not as firm as a box spring mattress. If you want a lot of firm support, foam mattresses won’t cut it. But they can be more than sufficient as long as you or your guests don’t need a firm surface to sleep on.

Box Spring

Box springs are also known as “traditional” mattresses. They contain cotton and springs that provide support. The springs also provide the “bounce” that kids love to experience when they jump on beds! If you need extra support, especially for your back, box spring mattresses will be the best choice for your Murphy bed. 

The drawback of box spring mattresses is that they weigh more. This can pose a problem since Murphy beds can only support up to a particular weight load. Plus, with a heavier mattress, you may find it more challenging to move it back up into the wall. 

You’ll also have to keep a closer eye on a box spring mattress. As it gets older, you’ll notice the springs will start to sag and offer less support. And as those springs sag, the mattress will start making noises. You’ll want to flip box spring mattresses over every three months or even sooner if the bed gets a lot of use. 

Box spring mattresses are usually about six inches deep, so you’ll need to double-check the depth of your Murphy bed’s frame. Make sure you have enough room to fit the mattress and push it back up against the wall. If you get a mattress that’s too deep, you’ll find that you won’t be able to securely fasten the bed back up without it falling down or sticking out. 

Despite these drawbacks, box spring mattresses are the easiest to find because they’re so common. People like what’s familiar to them, and box spring mattresses are no exception!

What’s Most Important When Choosing a Mattress?

When choosing a mattress for a Murphy bed, you’ll want to ensure that it can remain flat when the bed is down on the floor and when it’s positioned upright. While straps are designed to keep the mattress in place, not all Murphy beds come with these. Make sure that the mattress won’t roll up or slide as you move the bed. 

Beyond this, you’ll want to evaluate weight, comfort, and thickness. Although these factors have been briefly mentioned in previous sections, it’s good to examine each of these considerations in more detail. 

Weight

Since each Murphy bed can have different characteristics, they can also have various weight ranges and recommendations. Check with the manufacturer if you know which company made the bed in your home or apartment. If you’re unsure who the manufacturer is, you can check with your landlord or a bedding specialist. 

It’s essential to get a mattress within the proper weight range because it can impact how the bed lifts up and down. Murphy beds usually have a spring or piston that allows the bed to go up and down. If the mattress is too heavy or doesn’t weigh enough, your bed may come down or go up too quickly. Or you may have trouble getting it to extend down from the wall or secure back in. 

You’ll also want to consider your upper arm strength. If you don’t have a lot or find lifting difficult, you’ll probably want to stay on the lower side of the recommended weight range for mattresses. Don’t think that you’ll be able to start lifting weights or bulk up to compensate! While strength training exercises can improve your muscle tone and abilities, remember that some of this is genetic, and it takes a lot of discipline and time to achieve results. 

Comfort

This is a big one. Either you or someone you care about will be sleeping on the mattress. And it needs to match your or your guests’ comfort level expectations. Think about cost but also consider the support your body needs. You don’t want to waste money on a mattress that will make you toss and turn. Or one that’s going to lose its support and comfort levels quickly.

The only way to really know if a mattress will be comfortable enough for you is to go to a store and try out different options. While you can ask a sales rep for advice and check online reviews or forums, these opinions aren’t coming from you. As the famous saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.” 

If you’re buying the mattress for guests, judging the “right” level of comfort and support gets trickier. If you usually host the same person in your guest room, it’s easier, right? Ask them about what types of mattresses they like or take them along on your shopping trip. But when the guest room is set up for different people, choosing something that covers the middle ground is typically best. 

Thickness

Thickness is also important because if you get a mattress that’s too high, you won’t be able to close up your Murphy bed against the wall. As mentioned in the previous sections, be sure to measure the depth of your bed frame. 

However, you won’t want to get a mattress that fills up this entire depth. Keep some wiggle room for pillows and bedding, as well as some open space. You don’t want to have to smush your mattress against the wall and possibly damage it. 

Remember, with proper thought and planning, a Murphy bed won’t ruin your mattress!

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