If you’re searching for ways to save floor space, whether in your bedroom or a guest room, consider a trundle bed or a Murphy bed. These warring storage concepts both have their pros and cons. But what’s the difference?
Trundle Bed Vs. Murphy Bed
When putting the trundle bed vs. murphy bed debate side by side, the main similarity is that both are space-savers. Both hide bed space until it’s needed. Both provide innovative storage options, but how are they different?
A trundle bed is two beds in one. The top bed platform is always visible, giving the appearance of a single bed frame. A second bed platform underneath the first slides out. It can be used as a daybed for seating in common areas or as a traditional bed for your bedroom.
Usually, a trundle features a twin-sized frame. The frame is low to the ground and includes wheels for more effortless mobility. The mattress of the second bed is often thinner, allowing smoother movement when you need to pull it out. It is optional to have a mattress with the same thickness as the upper bed (or thicker) if you store the mattress separately.
A trundle can go anywhere. If you wanted, you could place a trundle in the middle of the room, and it would work just the same. A trundle saves floor space.
A Murphy bed uses vertical storage. A Murphy bed utilizes a hinge at one end. The hinge mechanism allows the frame to raise and store against a wall or tuck inside a closet or cabinet.
The lengthwise lift is the more common Murphy bed arrangement, but there are some widthwise designs. Mechanisms, such as piston lifts or torso springs, lower and raise the bed smoothly.
The Murphy bed started as a bedroom solution for smaller spaces, but it can also act as a bonus guest bed. Unlike trundles, larger mattress sizes are more readily available for Murphy beds.
Murphy beds need a wall or structure to function. There are a few exceptions, such as the free-standing Murphy bed desk. However, it may look strange to have a vertical mattress in the middle of a room.
We’ve shared the basics, but there’s more to the trundle bed vs. Murphy bed. You may know the Murphy bed from its early starring role in comedy sketches. Still, the modern Murphy has remained popular for its practicality. The trundle might not have Murphy’s star power, but it’s an equally popular option.
Read on for answers about comfort, styles, and storage configurations to help demystify the trundle bed vs. Murphy bed debate.
Trundle Bed: Sizes & Styles
Any bed type can become a trundle bed. For a bed to be considered a trundle bed, it needs a wheeled platform underneath that can hold a mattress. That’s it. You can DIY a trundle bed.
However, it would be best to have a bed frame high enough to allow the platform to slide in and out evenly. Professionally made trundle bed frame designs often include other mechanisms to ease movement.
We mentioned the daybed option earlier as it’s one of the most popular trundle bed types. Like the Murphy bed, you’ll likely want to arrange the trundle daybed against a wall. Daybed frames have three sides, resembling a couch (a back with two arms).
A sleigh bed, which has a headboard and footboard, has a high frame. With two sides open, you have more freedom to arrange as long as you leave enough room for the trundle to roll out.
The build of a captain bed includes shelves and other storage, but it can also house a trundle. The drawers underneath are attached to a platform that slides out to act as a bed frame.
The downside of this trundle option is that you often can’t store the mattress underneath. The upside of the captain bed is that you have more size options. Twin is still the most common but can find full or queen.
Bunk beds are already two beds in one, but why not add a third? If you have kids that love sleepovers, the trundle bunk bed is a fantastic option. However, adults might hesitate, as you won’t find sizes larger than full. More than likely, the trundle platform will only fit a twin.
Murphy Beds: Sizes & Styles
A Murphy bed has a few other names, including a wall bed, pull-down bed, or fold-down bed. Unfortunately, unlike a trundle, you can’t DIY your own Murphy bed.
Or rather, you shouldn’t attempt Murphy bed construction unless you have professional knowledge. There are no famous trundle injuries. But there are cases of improper Murphy bed construction or usage resulting in accidental death.
However, when following safety instructions, the Murphy bed is suitable for adults and children. Some Murphy beds have hydraulics with particular hinges that reduce the descent speed. If you don’t overbear the mattress weight limit, it’s unlikely that a Murphy bed will detach from the wall.
You can buy a Murphy bed to fit any mattress size. From twin to king, you can choose for your comfort. While trundle beds require a thin mattress to tuck away, Murphy beds can hold any mattress type.
But, the capabilities of your Murphy bed might have restrictions. Check measurements and other specifics included in the user manual. For example, if you have an extra thick mattress, it might interfere with closing.
There are three types of Murphy beds:
Vertical Murphy beds are the original. When you imagine a Murphy bed, this is what comes to mind. A common add-on is double columns of shelving with the mattress centered. Murphy beds attached to larger furniture layouts, especially cabinetry, are typically the vertical type.
The revolving wall Murphy bed is a unique example of the vertical type. Like a hidden room behind a bookcase, the wall spins to reveal the raised bed. It’s a fun party trick and practical storage.
If your room has a low ceiling, the horizontal Murphy bed is the solution. Some free-standing frames, such as the Murphy bed desk, rise horizontally. The lower height makes it easier to fit the bed under sloped ceilings or in attic spaces.
Folding Murphy beds are similar to fold-out couches. The frame can be folded or rolled into a storage position. Tiny Revolution created an accordion-style roll-out bed for tight spaces. Unlike the other more common types we described above, you’ll need to remove the mattress before you store it.
If you use memory foam or a thin mattress, some folding beds can accommodate the width. However, the folding Murphy bed can waste space if you don’t have room to store a mattress separately.
Are Trundle Beds Comfortable for Adults?
Trundle beds are functional for any age, but there are some disadvantages when considering comfort.
The first significant comfort consideration is size. Trundles are commonly twin or single beds, with few exceptions.
Depending on the type of bed frame, the trundle might offer less length than most twin mattresses. A daybed or bed frame with a headboard and footboard will restrict how far you can stretch out.
Your sleeping position might also factor here. For example, if you sleep with curled limbs or the fetal position, you likely don’t need much length or width. On the other hand, if you stretch out or lay flat, you may need a larger mattress.
You can find XL twin mattresses that add more length, but that won’t address sleepers who spread out widthwise. Keep in mind that the trundle platform needs to fit underneath. The inches added by an XL twin mattress might prevent the trundle from sliding smoothly or block it altogether.
The upper bed or parent bed typically has a weight limit of 400 lbs. The trundle platform tends to have a weight limit of 250 lbs. Most mattresses that will fit the trundle bed will weigh less than 50 lbs, safely leaving 200 lbs for the sleeper.
If you’re considering the trundle as a spare bed for guests, think about who you would expect to stay overnight. It’s also helpful to remember that more weight on a thin mattress likely means the sleeper will feel the platform underneath.
Trundle beds don’t have box springs. Instead, the platform is usually made with wood slats or mesh wiring. Most trundle beds require a thinner mattress, often 6 to 10 inches thick. Some sleepers feel sagging. More sensitive sleepers might feel the wood or platform underneath.
If you want a mattress that will slide smoothly underneath, you need to buy a specific trundle mattress. Unfortunately, you can’t use any old twin mattress. The average thickness for a twin mattress is about 8 to 13 inches.
Suppose you’re like the titular character in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea. What’s underneath your mattress makes a big difference. The trundle isn’t for you.
However, suppose you have a firm mattress or typically sleep well with any bed frame. In that case, it’s unlikely you’ll notice a difference.
If you don’t want to hunt down a mattress that’s thin enough to fit, or you want something more comfortable, you can substitute it with memory foam. While it won’t be perfect for every sensitive sleeper, it can provide more comfort and flexibility.
The trundle bed’s height can sometimes cause usage problems.
The top frame or parent bed is usually higher than traditional beds. The average adult height in the US is 5 foot 4 for women and 5 foot 9 for men, but for those under that average, high furniture can be a hindrance.
If you can easily climb onto a bed that’s 2 feet off the ground, then most trundle beds will be fine for you. However, before you buy a trundle bed frame, remember to calculate the height with the mattress height.
Where the height tends to cause more significant issues is the much shorter trundle platform. It can be more challenging to get out of bed with the low trundle frame.
One challenge that you won’t face with a Murphy bed is sorting out sleeping arrangements. The trundle is two beds in one, but if the bed frame is against a wall or has three raised sides, one sleeper is fenced inside. Suppose the top sleeper needs to pee in the middle of the night. In that case, it can be a bit of a circus routine trying to get out of a trundle day bed without disturbing the other person.
If you’re offering the trundle as an option for a couple, you might want an arrangement for them to sleep together. While you can try to use the roll-out section as an extension of the parent bed, the trundle is often too low.
Adding a mattress pad or memory foam can increase the height. However, the side-by-side beds won’t match evenly.
If a single friend or family member is staying over, the slight separation can be an asset.
Which Is Safer: Trundle Bed Vs. Murphy Bed
If you type Murphy bed into a search engine, the top related searches often ask, “Is a Murphy bed safe?” or “Can a Murphy bed kill you?”
Although there are some rare incidents, the Murphy bed hasn’t earned its murderous reputation. You’re more likely to pinch your finger in a hinge than have the bed frame fall on you. So many models include safety locks that secure the structure upright.
If used properly and installed correctly, there’s no reason to fear the Murphy bed. The bed won’t lift if there’s too much weight, which means you’re unlikely to be tucked away along with the mattress. The mattress also needs to be flush to shut entirely. The frame can’t close if you’re in the way.
However, if you bring kids into the equation, the question becomes, “Can I expect kids to use a Murphy bed safely?”
If children are going to be the primary users of the Murphy bed, you’ll have to judge for yourself. Children shouldn’t raise or lower a Murphy bed without adult supervision. Higher-quality Murphy beds have locks and mechanisms that prevent accidental injury. Still, some children have a knack for finding hazards.
Trundle beds are safe for all ages. However, younger kids won’t be able to pull or push the trundle bed with the weight of the mattress. You can consider this a safety feature, but it also means parents will need to help out younger kids setting up the trundle for a sleepover.
Trundle Bed Vs. Murphy Bed Costs
New furniture is an investment. So before deciding on a budget, it helps to know what price points you can expect.
The average trundle bed vs. Murphy bed will have a similar price point, but things change when you add a few bells and whistles. You can customize murphy beds for a variety of storage solutions. Trundle bed customizations are limited, which limits the price.
That isn’t to say all trundle beds are cheap. Suppose you’re considering mass produced rather than custom. If you’re looking for a twin-sized daybed, you can expect price points between $500-$1,000. Of course, you’ll pay more for trundles with additional features, such as extra storage space or attached shelving.
A ready-made Murphy bed will be slightly more, hovering between $1,000 to $3,000. However, if you want a Murphy bed with extensive built-in features, expect a $10,000 or higher price point.
The needs of your space will dictate how much customization you want. For example, you could add built-in shelves, or you could add an entire home office. Some designs slide shelves over the bed frame when stored. You can also buy a Murphy bed and shelving storage separately, allowing you greater control over the cost.
The benefit of customizing a Murphy bed configuring, besides adding storage, is that it creates a more cohesive appearance. If that isn’t a priority or you don’t mind painting some cabinetry to match, you don’t need to budget for a Murphy with more bells & whistles.
Murphy beds require know-how to install. We already mentioned that a DIY Murphy bed is much riskier than a DIY trundle bed. A professional installation is the most secure option, but you can purchase Murphy bed assembly kits. Labor costs and kit costs will vary.
You’ll spend less on a trundle bed, but your comfort and mattress size are limited. A Murphy bed has fewer limitations on size and more mattress choices.
There’s no exact answer in the trundle bed vs. Murphy bed question of which costs more. Both have value options and luxury options.
When choosing the best fit, the best tip we can give is this: measure first. Measure your room and measure your mattress. If you need a mattress larger than a twin or full-sized, you’re better off choosing a Murphy. If you only need a bed for the odd single person, a trundle will do.
If you’re on the fence over trundle bed vs. Murphy bed, we hope we’ve answered all your burning questions. There are many similarities with a few significant differences. Both have their ups and downs, if not literally.