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How to Build a DIY Murphy Bed (Part 1)

This tutorial for how to build a full size DIY murphy bed shows what supplies you'll need, how to get the best plans for your space, and even talks about additional ideas for built in storage (some from Ikea). Get a cost breakdown of how to build a Create a Bed system!

This tutorial for how to build a full size DIY murphy bed shows what supplies you'll need, how to get the best plans for your space, and even talks about additional ideas for built in storage (some from Ikea). Get a cost breakdown of how to build a Create a Bed system!

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Last week, I shared a fun DIY storage piece we did for our new craft room. However, I was hiding a little bit of a secret on the other wall…

Ok, maybe a big secret. 🙂 Because we needed this space to double as a guest bedroom (but didn't want to sacrifice the floor space for a bed we rarely use), a murphy bed seemed like an absolute perfect solution. Noah and I have had it in the back of our heads to put a murphy bed in this space for quite awhile…so, this summer, we finally buckled down and built one!

We did we choose to build instead of buy premade, you ask? Money. Lots of money.

We priced out many different murphy bed options to put in this space. For what we were wanting, we easily would have paid $1500-2000 (not counting shipping). That was way out of our price range, so we started looking into options for building it ourselves.

If you've ever searched on Pinterest to find ways to build a DIY murphy bed (that might even be why you're here), you're going to find tons of ideas. Let me go on and get this out here – please don't believe these “build a DIY murphy bed for under $100” posts. No offense meant to those bloggers, but after completing this project, I just don't see how you could safely build a DIY murphy bed that's going to be usable and last. Yes, if you're building one from scratch, it's a little bit of an investment – but trust me, if you're putting all of this time and effort into building a bed, make sure it's going to be something that you're going to be able to use for a long time.

Noah and I did tons of research on the best way to cost-effectively build a DIY murphy bed. We finally decided on a bed we could build with this hardware set from Create a Bed. This is absolutely, totally the foundation of everything we did to create our DIY murphy bed. Not only do you get extremely high-quality hardware, but you're paying for very detailed step-by-step instructions for building your bed. You'll get supply lists, cut sheets, and step-by-step instructions. If you follow these instructions, it's fool-proof. (And no, this post isn't sponsored by Create a Bed – we're just huge fans of theirs after this experience!)

There are lots of tutorials and videos online for how to build with this set (just google Create a Bed to see them). However, I wanted to walk through the steps to show you how easy it can be, interjecting a few of my tips from our building process that I thought made it easier.

First off – let's talk about cost. I didn't find a lot of breakdowns of total cost online before we did this, which would have been really nice. It honestly did cost a bit more than we were expecting (but still way, way less expensive than buying a pre-made bed). Let's take a look at the supplies needed and how much they cost us.

Create a Bed DIY Murphy Bed Supplies and Cost

  • 1 Create a Bed Full-Size Vertical Hardware Kit – $249 (I bought ours through Amazon Warehouse deals for $50 less, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Check that out before paying full price! You can find those deals by clicking the link that says “New and Used from $___” right below the main listing.)
  • 4 sheets of 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood (we went with birch) – $224
  • 2 sheets of 1/4″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood – $67.18
  • 14 1×2″ furring strips – $15.26
  • 3 packs of natural melamine veneer edging (75 total feet) (also available here) – $20.94
  • 1 bottle Titebond wood glue – $4
  • 1-1/4″ finish nails (pneumatic) – $6.38
  • 1-1/4″ #8 coarse thread screws – $6.98
  • 1-1/2″ #8 coarse thread screws – $6.98
  • 2″ #8 coarse thread screws – $6.98
  • Cabinet handles/pulls – budget about $20 for this, depending on how intricate the front of your cabinet will be
  • 3/4″ poplar dowel (to attach your pivoting legs) – $4.50

So, all said and told, we spent a little over $600 for supplies (for just the bed part – I'll talk about the cabinets and desk next week). That's not including tools you'll need, like a drill, possibly a table saw, clamps, jigsaw, etc. I would budget about $100 for supplies you don't currently have – that makes the total about $700. You'll also need a mattress, but we just used the one that was already in our guest bedroom.

Trust me, this is still about half of what you're going to pay for a premade bed.

Next, let's take a look at the steps to make the actual bed. I'll be talking all about building the desk and side cabinets next week!

I'm really just giving the instructions you get with your Create a Bed kit a huge summary. They are much, much more detailed in the actual instructions, complete with diagrams, specific measurements, and super detailed step-by-step instructions. Like I said, if you follow the instructions to a T, you can't mess this up. If you're taking this project on, please don't only follow just my instructions to do it – the instructions you'll get with your hardware kit are much better and more detailed.  I just thought my notes might help a few of you who are taking on this project in your home, as well as give those of you who are on the fence a preview of what you're taking on.

Here we go!

Step 1: Make plywood cuts.

I'm going a little bit out of order with this one – the directions you receive with your murphy bed hardware kit show this as step 2, but I'd recommend getting this part over with first. It was the most tedious and difficult part for us – but it so doesn't have to be!

Here's a list of cuts you'll need to make (refer to the diagram above to see how to fit it into your plywood efficiently):

3/4″ plywood:

Part B (2): 5-7/8″ x 76-1/2″

Part C: 3″ x 56″

Part D: 7-7/8″ x 56″

Part E (2): 29″ x 76-3/4″

Part F: 15-7/8″ x 58-3/8″

Part G (2): 15-7/8″ x 82-1/8″

Part H-H: 14-3/8″ x 58-3/8″

Part H-F: 2-3/4″ x 58-3/8″

Part H-R: 2-3/4″ x 58-3/8″

Part I: 3/4″ x 54-1/4″

1/4″ plywood:

Part J (2): 28″ x 75″

Friends, don't be like us – it didn't even occur to us to get this done at Lowe's. For free. Seriously – no need to do the cuts yourself on a table saw (which is heavy, difficult, and takes forever). Lowe's can do this in a fraction of the time. Get it done there!

If you choose to do it yourself (or don't have access to a hardware store that cuts for you), I recommend using a chalk line to make your marks. Mark out 2-3 cuts at a time (not the whole thing, just in case you make mistakes). The hardware kit has great diagrams that show you exactly what cuts to make on each piece of plywood (see it above) – follow that, it works!

Whether you have your hardware store make these cuts or you do it yourself, one huge recommendation is to label the corresponding letters for your plywood cuts as the cuts are made. This will help so much later on during assembly.

Once your cuts are made, give the edge of your plywood cuts a good sand to get any jagged edges off.

Step 2: Construct the bed frame.

This part is going to seem SO EASY compared to step 1. You can have the base of your bed done in maybe an hour.

You'll need to make the following cuts to 1×2″ lumber:

Struts (10): 54.5″

Sides (2): 75″

(You'll also need to make two 14-3/8″ cuts to your 1×2″ lumber for mounting the header later – might as well go on and make those cuts.)

Glue your strut pieces together to form an “L” shape. You'll have 5 of these total, using all 10 strut pieces.

Clamp these…

…then nail together. Make sure the ends are flush when nailing.

Then, using the spacing outlined in your guide, attach the frame sides to each side of the struts.

Step 3: Cut rounded corners and put hardware in your side rails.

This is another slightly tedious part – the key here is following directions. It's not difficult, but it does require you to make a lot of measurements.

First, take your parts B and, using the template in your instructions, trace out the rounded edge you'll need to cut with a jigsaw. You can also go on and mark your leg pivot placement at this point.

Use your jigsaw to cut the edge and a 5/8″ forstner bit to drill almost all the way through the leg pivot hole.

Repeat with the other template on the opposite side.

Now, you'll simply follow the instructions to make your 1″ pivot plate hole and attach the lower ball stud plates at the indicated placements on pieces B. It's super important that these measurements are exact, or your hardware kit will not line up.

Step 4: Attach the side, head, and foot rails.

This is the part where it starts actually looking like a bed!

Lay sides B on either side of your strut assembly from Step 2. Part C goes at the foot and Part D goes at the head of the struts.

Clamp the pieces together and attach C and D using five 1-1/14″ screws from the inside of the bed out. These screws shouldn't go all the way through to the front of C and D.

Similarly, attach the sides B with clamps and use two 1-1/4″ screws in between each strut to attach the sides.

Now, lay your E boards out below the strut pieces. Make sure the front of the E boards is flush with the foot of your bed frame (the other sides will have a slight overhang). Use a pencil to mark where your struts are on these pieces.

Use wood glue under where your struts will lie to reinforce the attachment.

Then, replace the frame in the same place on the E boards and screw the bed frame to Parts E with 1-1/4″ screws. We had 5-6 screws in each strut.

Step 5: Attach hardware to frame sides and construct header.

This is another somewhat tedious (but not really difficult) part – you're attaching the other half of your hardware that will allow the bed to pivot up and down. Simply follow the instructions in your hardware kit to make three attachments; your male pivot plate, the upper ball stud plate, and the bed stop. You'll need to do this on both “G” pieces (the ones that will stand on the sides of the bed).

This is kind of a minor step, but we also constructed the bed header (that goes above the bed) at this point using all of the H pieces.

Step 6: Paint, caulk, and tape.

You won't find this in your instructions, but this is a good point to add any paint and caulk before your final assembly step.

I painted the front of our bed frame, the outside of the frame sides (G pieces), and the front of the constructed header. The birch plywood I used soaked up paint like crazy – definitely use a primer if you have one on hand!

I also added caulk to kind of seal the gap between the two E pieces on the front of the bed. Just run a bead in the middle and use your finger to push it into the gap; use a wet paper towel to get rid of the excess. You might have to do this twice to get a good, flat caulk line.

You can see the before and after of sealing that line above – it makes a difference! I also used a little bit of caulk to patch the screw holes on the header board.

I didn't take pictures of this step, but you'll also attach veneer tape to the exposed pieces of your bed. You simply do this by ironing it on – super easy. I put this on the outside of the “B” sides, all around the E edges, on the front faces of the side G pieces, and on the top of the back headboard that will be attached to the wall – basically anything that showed when the bed was open.

Step 7: Attach and assemble.

You're finally ready to build this thing! Believe it or not, this part isn't difficult at all.

We took our baseboard completely off of the wall before starting this step. There's an option in your instructions to cut out a notch for baseboards in your instructions, but since our finished piece would be taking up the majority of the wall, we chose to do it this way and reattach after everything was installed (I'll show more of that in the next post).

Definitely follow your instructions for this part. Attach the 1/4″ plywood as directed under where the mattress will go, putting your mattress straps in on top. (Make sure to add any hardware to the front of your cabinet before doing this.) Next, attach your cabinet verticals to the sides of the bed using the hardware instructions.

(I don't think I mentioned this before, but we used a 1″ dowel, cut to size, to go between our pivot legs.)

Screw in the back headboard to hold the two verticals together…

..and raise it up! Follow the instructions included with the hardware to put the header on top, securing to the studs in the wall.

The most important part of this is to attach the header as directed to the studs. There is a pretty good chance your bed will come out of the wall if not attached to studs – it's really heavy.

And just like that, you have a DIY murphy bed! However, you can see in the picture above it looks pretty plain at this point.

But, believe me…there are a million different ways to spice it up. Next week, I'll be talking about adding the desk to the front, installing cabinets on either side (and making them actually look like one big cabinet piece), and adding moulding to make this look like a built-in part of the wall.

Updated: you can now find the second post here! You can check out the rest of my craft room posts here or my other DIY posts here.

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8 Comments

  1. Love the idea of a Murphy bed but do you have instructions hot a horizontal twin size ?

    1. There is a Create a Bed version available in a twin size with a horizontal orientation! If you’ll go to the site I linked above for the murphy bed kit, you should see the option for the Twin – Horizontal version.

  2. Hi,
    I would like to build a Murphy bed but am wondering if u do have a tutorial video illustrating how its built.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Abdallah, I currently don’t have a video for this. Check for Create a Bed tutorials on Youtube – there are several!

  3. Haylie Jeter says:

    What are the measurements of the whole finished unit all closed up? Im looking for a plan to fit into a 56″ wide space

    1. We have the full-sized vertical bed, and it measures 60″ across (without the shelves on the side). Look into the twin size – that might work for your space!

  4. Thank you Leslie for sharing your experience on this project.
    I have the following question, is the width of the bed very precise or can one slightly add to it to accommodate for example IKEA PAX mirror doors ? For example 4x 50 cm doors would cover a king size bed but would be 20 cm wider… I realise one should not have too much with overhang as it would overhang the actual mattress too much. It is that overhang I am trying to figure out.
    Best
    Nader.

    1. The main issue with modifying these plans would be complying with the Create-A-Bed instructions. Modifying (I believe) voids any warranty and could make your kit not work as well.