The main bed cabinets for Murphy Beds tend to come in 2 basic styles, named after the type of door found on the facing of the cabinet. Panel Beds open with the front of the cabinet as a one-piece “panel” which is integrated with the frame and mattress mechanism. The entire unit is pulled down while hand rotating a fold-over leg, or a less expensive flap, for bed support (see photos above). Bi-Fold Beds work like closet doors, with bi-fold doors that are not part of the bed frame mechanism. The doors are opened first by pulling and swinging outward, then the bed unit is brought down, with the support leg being activated automatically during bed opening. There is no difference in the comfort of the two styles of bed, but they require totally different internal mechanisms and there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each. These differences are discussed below.
The Mechanisms: One hundred years ago the old style Murphy Beds were mostly all Panel-type Beds. Many didn’t even have face panels, they were just “naked” frames stuck in a closet or recessed in the wall. They were heavy, cumbersome units. Most Bi-Fold Murphy Beds currently being manufactured consist of a floor-mounted all-steel frame with counter-balanced springs.
The Pros and Cons:
- As you can see from the Panel Bed pictured above, the primary advantage of this type of mechanism is the ability to access the side cabinets when the bed is open without having to move the bed doors out of the way. Generally this is not an over-riding concern, but If this is an important feature for you then the disadvantages of Panel Bed Systems may be an acceptable trade-off.
- Because there are no doors to swing out beyond the width of the cabinet, Panel Beds often are the better option in very narrow space situations.
- Because the cabinet doors are coupled with the Murphy frame and mattress into one unit, Panel Beds must carry heavier loads to operate.
- Because of the extra weight involved, properly designed Panel Beds require a heavier and more complicated mechanism than Bi-Fold Beds. As a result, Panel Beds are generally more expensive and can be a bit more challenging to install.
- Since the entire door facing goes up and down with a Panel Bed, extra care must be taken in the design and assembly process, and some materials which can be used on Bi-Fold doors (such as mirrored glass) can not be used on Panel systems. There is generally a wider range of finishes and materials available for Bi-Fold Bed cabinets.