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Murphy Bed vs. Sofa Bed: A Detailed Comparison

August 6, 2021

Are you looking for living room furniture that acts as sofa but can turn into a pull out bed?


A few options are available when you have limited space in your home and require extra beds for your guests. For example, consider space-saving beds such as a wall bed or sofa bed.


You might be wondering, though, “What’s the difference between a Murphy bed and a sofa bed, and which one is better?”


La-Z-Boy carries sofa beds not Murphy beds; however, we want our Ottawa & Kingston clients to be as informed as possible when purchasing the most suitable furniture for their homes. Murphy beds and sofa beds offer similar tucked-away sleep options, but that’s where the similarity ends.


Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself when weighing sofa and murphy bed pros and cons:


What size guest bed do you need? How much space do you have in your guest room, study or family room? How many people do you need to sleep? Do you require seating in the room? Do you have small children or pets? 


One of the most important things to consider is the amount of space you have. If you don’t have room for a sofa, then a Murphy bed may be the best choice. However, if you require extra seating in the room when the bed’s not in use, a sofa bed might be the appropriate choice.


This article will answer your most pressing questions about each sleep option and how each of them functions in the space so that when it comes time to buy your new guest bed, you have all the information you need. 


What is a Murphy Bed?


The Murphy bed was invented in the early 1900s by William Lawrence Murphy. His invention “allowed him to stow a bed in his closet transforming his one-room apartment from a bedroom to a parlor.”


‘Out of sight out of mind’: The Murphy bed or wall bed is essentially a vertically stored bed that looks like a wall cabinet when not in use. It provides extra sleep space when needed, and when not in use, it frees up valuable real estate in the room. When the extra bed is required, you can pull it down on hinges using cabinet handles, and it converts your available floor space into a bed. 


If extra storage cabinets are needed for sheets or personal items they can be added to the top or side of the bed at an extra cost.


Simple instructions:


  • Pull the bed down using the handles
  • Flip bottom bed legs over the end of the mattress so that they are resting firmly on the ground.
Murphy Bed
Murphy Bed


Do Murphy Beds have to be Attached to the Wall?


The short answer is YES, a Murphy bed needs to be attached to the wall! The only way to properly use a wall bed is to make sure it’s securely attached using wall anchors. If it’s not secured to the wall, then it’s simply unsafe to use. 


Most Murphy bed retailers will deliver and install the furniture for a fee. Paying for this service is the most recommended method to ensure the bed is anchored correctly to the wall.


Note: If you are renting your home or moving in the next few years, you will be responsible for patching up the holes from the Murphybed before you leave. Then you will need to re-attach it to the wall in your new home.

Do Murphy Beds Need Special Mattresses? 


An advantage of a Murphy bed is that you can use a regular mattress. Of course, the more you splurge on a customized mattress, the more comfortable it will be. 


You can purchase a mattress with features like:


  • Springs and coils to provide back support
  • Mattress padding
  • A memory foam mattress


Just like when purchasing a regular bed, the choice will depend on your personal comfort preferences.

What Sizes are Available for a Murphy Bed? 


A Murphy bed is available in a twin, double and queen size bed. There are even Murphy beds with a sofa that you can purchase, if you’re interested in having a combination of both. A Murphy wall bed with a sofa is almost the same as a regular Murphy bed, except the frame in front is disguised as a regular sofa that turns into a bed.

Do Murphy Beds Come in King Size?


Although it might be possible to find a king-sized wall bed online, you would be hard pressed to find one in Ontario. Most Murphy bed stores in Ottawa prefer not to sell king Murphy beds as they can overload the wall anchors and the hinged bars have been known to bend. Ultimately, they can be unsafe.


A good example of a Murphy bed store in Ottawa is The Guest Room, which only has queen size Murphy beds or smaller.

Are Murphy Beds Safe?


When appropriately installed, Murphy beds are not dangerous. It will not fall on top of you or spring up spontaneously once folded down. According to a representative at the Guest room in Ottawa, a Murphy bed can hold up to 500 lbs. This weight capacity means it will hold up to two adult-sized people easily.


You should be careful not to get your hands/fingers caught in the bars or mechanism when folding or closing the wall bed.  It’s also advisable to be mindful of small children and pets when opening and closing the bed. Do not allow young children to play on the bed unattended.

How Much Do Murphy Wall Beds Cost & Where to Buy?


Like most customizable furniture, the cost of a Murphy bed depends on several factors.  Size, materials and customizations are among the most important considerations.


According to a representative at the Murphy bed store in Ottawa, a short Murphy bed will range somewhere between $1,800 to $2,500. A queen costs somewhere between $2,200 to $2,700 depending on the finish and materials used. Add to this, the cost of the mattress. 


If adding cabinets or shelves to your Murphy bed, the cost will go up by several hundred dollars.


Eastern Ontario area retailers that sell Murphy beds:


  • The Guest room & The Murphy Wall Bed Store in Ottawa 
  • Oakwood Closets in Kingston
Murphy bed vs Sofa bed

What is a Sofa Bed?


A sofa bed, sometimes referred to as a pull-out couch or a sleeper sofa is essentially a sofa that turns into a bedThe bed is stored inside the couch and can normally be pulled-out by tugging on a handle that’s hidden underneath the seat cushions. 


This type of sofa is useful for maximizing your seating space while simultaneously making extra room for overnight guests when required. It’s the perfect living room furniture to get multifunctional use. From sofa to bed, this option is easy and practical.


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What Sizes are Available for Sofa Beds?


Sofa beds are widely available in twin, double/full and queen.  Although it’s possible to find a king-sized sofa bed they are difficult to find a king-sized sofa bed in Ottawa. A king-sized sofa bed could be ordered online from the US or out west.

Murphy Bed vs Sofa Bed
Murphy bed vs Sofa bed

How to Convert a Sofa Into a Bed?


Converting a sofa into a pull out bed is straightforward operation:

  • Remove all loose cushions
  • Grasp the handle located in the centre of the deck
  • Lift in an upward direction and then out
  • Step backwards and pull the sleeper mechanism out to the first extended position
  • When it reaches this position the centre support legs will be placed on the ground
  • Reach over and grasp the centre of the one-piece front leg
  • Pull up and lower the leg to the floor
Murphy bed vs Sofa Bed
Murphy bed vs sofa bed

Are Sofa Beds Comfortable?


Unlike a Murphy bed, a sofa bed comes with a mattress built right into it. Different sofa bed options are available, some more comfortable than others. 


Affordable sofa beds are known for their thin mattresses and a bar underneath that can be uncomfortable on the back. 


If you are searching for a more luxurious sleep sofa for your guest’s extended stay, look for features like:

  • A mattress with an innerspring coil system
  • An air mattress that inflates with an air pump
  • Memory foam mattress that conforms and supports your body

How Much Does a Sofa Bed Cost and Where to Buy?


You can purchase a sofa bed in almost any furniture store in the Ottawa and Kingston area.


Basic sofa beds, (not to be confused with futons that can be considerably cheaper) start at around $599 and increase in price up to $5,000 or more depending on the make and options you choose.


If you’re looking at La-Z-Boy furniture, our sofa beds will start at around $3,000 and go upwards of that depending on the frame, upholstery and size mattress you choose.

What's Next? 


Whether you choose a Murphy bed or a sofa bed, you now have all the information needed to make an informed choice.


If you’ve decided to go with a sofa bed, why not consider La-Z-Boy Ottawa or La-Z-Boy Kingston? La-Z-Boy is the top-selling sofa-bed manufacturer in North America!  


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Our sleeper sofas come in a wide variety of sofa styles. We offer three sofa bed sizes including twin, full, or queen and they all come standard with a luxurious innerspring coil mattress. You can also upgrade to our SlumberAir® or Memory Foam mattresses for an even more restful night’s sleep.


Once you have chosen your sofa bed’s preferred size & style, it is time to start narrowing the search even further by finding a sofa that fits you and your family members best.


Getting fitted for your sofa is arguably the most crucial part of the process.


Visit us at one of our local furniture stores in Ottawa or Kingston or plan in advance by scheduling a visit. One of our design consultants will be happy to help answer any questions you have and get you fitted to the sofa bed of your choice. 


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