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Murphy Bed VS Sofa Bed: What’s the Difference?

Updated October 9, 2019

People who live in a small house or a flat have learned to value the importance of free space. Some things are worth compromising to have free room to move around, but other things should never be compromised. The bed is one of them.

Murphy beds and sofa beds have a similar concept: they are both foldable products that can provide sleeping room for one or two people. However, their similarities end here, and one of them addresses a specific target market, while the other one aims to please another.

Murphy Bed VS Sofa Bed Comparison

A Closer Look

Murphy and sofa beds share one characteristic: when you’re not using them for sleep, they can be folded to save up plenty of space inside the room. That makes them great for small room, particularly for apartments where every square inch of space counts.

But, other than that, Murphy beds and sofa beds are very different from one another. One of them can be lifted to get it completely out of the way, while the other is folded to a comfortable seating place which can be used for anything from reading to board game nights with friends.

Murphy Bed

Design

A Murphy bed has a lot of different names: fold-down bed, pull-down bed, or wall bed. These beds are hinged at one of the edges so that they can be aligned vertically or horizontally against a wall when they are not in use.

Some Murphy beds can be conveniently hidden inside a cabinet, while others are concealed behind another big piece of furniture. On a general note, Murphy beds do not use a box spring mattress, particularly because they need to be easier to fold.

Most of these beds have an elastic strap that secures the mattress to the frame, to prevent it from sliding off when the bed is secured against the wall. Naturally, Murphy beds come in different variations.

Space

The Murphy bed is an ace at helping homeowners save space. Not only are you able to lean the bed against the wall and take advantage of all the room space that a normal bed typically blocks, but you can also conceal the bed with other pieces of furniture.

Some people opt for Murphy beds with cabinets, as they make exquisite furniture pieces. Nobody will ever figure out that there’s an actual bed hidden in there. However, this also means that you won’t benefit from extra space to sit down, and this is one reason why people sometimes prefer a sofa bed instead of a Murphy one.

Comfort

A Murphy bed will be as comfortable as the mattress it’s paired with. Some of these beds come with their own mattresses, but some of you may be wondering if you can use a Murphy bed with your own mattress.

Mattresses are designed to perform in a horizontal position. With a Murphy bed, the mattress will be in a vertical position, leaned against the wall for the most part of the day. This leads to what is known as slumping. This term described a bump on the lower edge of the mattress, thus ruining it over time.

To enjoy the most comfortable Murphy bed, you have to look out for three main characteristic in particular:

  • Since a Murphy bed doesn’t have a box spring, you need to make sure that your mattress has a very sturdy support layer at the bed. Box spring plays a huge role in making sure that sleepers get the best out of their mattresses.
  • A good quality Murphy bed needs to ensure that your mattress is supported when the bed is both folded and unfolded. Otherwise, the mattress will slump.
  • The thickness of the mattress is also important because it has to fit in the space of the folded bed. The rest is just mattress-buying knowledge.

Sofa Bed

Design

A sofa bed also goes by a lot of different names: sleeper sofa, bed couch, or hide-a-bed. A very simple definition of a sofa bed is a couch that turns into a bed, by expanding it. Sofa beds are extremely versatile due to their design and construction.

During the day, they provide plenty of seating space to watch TV, read a book, or take an afternoon nap. During the night, they can turn into comfortable sleep beds, provided that you opt for a high-quality sofa bed, with a good mattress.

The main difference between a sofa bed and a Murphy bed is that the latter is designed for sleeping, while a sofa’s main purpose is to provide seating space.

Space

Sofa beds are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and different colors, to best match your room decor. When purchasing a sofa bed, it’s important to measure the space you have available for placing it, and then look for a sofa that’s of the appropriate size.

If you want to buy a sofa bed, you will also have to take into account how much space the sofa occupies when unfolded. If you have to move furniture around to make room for the extended bed, maybe it’s not the best solution for your current needs (or maybe opting for a smaller sofa would help).

Comfort

When looking at the comfort of the sofa bed, you should expect more if you want to buy one that’s intended for regular sleep. If you’ll be pulling out the sofa for an overnight guest, you don’t have to invest a lot in comfort.

Sofas normally come with foam fillings, but that’s not always a rule (and not all foam is created equal, anyway). A quality sofa bed should use high-density memory foam, which ensures not only comfort but also durability.

A comfortable sofa bed has a mattress that will prevent you from feeling any of the bars or slats that are part of its construction. If the mattress has a coil system, you shouldn’t feel any of the coils either.

Conclusion

While these products may be similar in concept, they serve completely different purposes, so choosing between the two shouldn’t be all that complicated.

Murphy beds are destined for every night use. They can be paired with some really good mattresses, provided these are durable and compatible with the mechanism that a Murphy bed relies on. When leaned against the wall, a Murphy bed can become completely invisible, saving a lot of space that would normally be filled with a regular bed.

A sofa bed is mainly designed for sitting, and not that much for sleeping every night. It’s perfect if you have out of town guests, or sometimes want to indulge yourself in sleeping in front of the TV.