Futons are a versatile and cost-effective piece of furniture that makes perfect sense in today’s economy. Purchasing a futon is like getting two pieces of furniture for the price of one. As a couch, it’s both comfortable and stylish, and as a bed it’s able to give you a restful night’s sleep.
One of the biggest advantages of a futon is its ability to save space. As a great alternative to a metal fold away bed or air bed, it can be used as a spare bed for overnight guests or as the main bed in a small room or dorm. Higher quality mattress can actually be used as a primary sleeping surface and are a fraction of the cost of a normal bed.
A traditional Japanese futon consists of a mat that is laid on the bedroom floor. When introduced into America in the early 1970s, they were originally made by hand and slowly morphed into their current form of bed and couch to meet the expectations of Western culture.
They have been gaining in popularity ever since and have improved in quality and comfort year after year. Perhaps the single most important feature of the futon is the mattress you select. Before making a decision, consider how the futon will be used. Do you want it to function primarily as a sofa with an occasional use as a bed? Or will your futon mainly serve as a space-saving bed like a twin futon mattress?
Futon Mattress Sizes
Futons that sleep couples can be between 5 and 7 feet wide. Generally speaking, twins sleep a single person, and full and queen sized beds sleep most couples.
Twin futon mattress: are 39 inches wide and 75 inches long. They are considered ‘single beds’ designed for one person and is best for people who are under 5 feet 5 inches tall. A twin mattress is best for teenagers and younger children.
Full size futon mattress: are 54 inches wide and 75 inches long. These types of mattresses are also called ‘double beds’. The length is the same as a twin and is too short for some people, especially those who are taller than most. They are best for a spare bed for average guests or a cheap alternative to a queen sized bed.
Queen futon mattress: are 60 inches by 80 inches. This sized mattress is the ideal to sleep on for a couple or those singles who like to sprawl out when they sleep. The extra size of a queen can make a big difference in the quality of sleep. However, they are also more expensive and can be much larger than the other sizes which can defeat the aim if you are wanting a space saving futon.
Materials and Firmness
The materials that make up the futon mattress can be cotton, foam, wool, polyester, foam latex or an innerspring system surrounded by either cotton or foam. The filling of the mattress determines its firmness from firm to soft as well as the longevity factor.
In the category of firmness, futon mattresses offer the same choices as traditional mattresses and can be soft, medium or firm. The firmness directly depends on the material used in the mattress and doesn’t always reflect the quality of the mattress. Firmness is usually a personal consideration.
Although cotton is the most economical choice, it’s prone to sagging and is more absorbent than the other materials. Typically, cotton is found in a discount futon mattress. You will need to regularly air a cotton mattress and its thickness and shape can shrink or sag after long-term use.
Polyester and Foam
For regular use, sturdy polyester and high density foam is a good choice as it is more durable than cotton, less absorbent and will be less likely to lose its shape after heavy use. Pure foam mattresses are a little more expensive but they are great for sleeping because this material can conform to the body and provide added support. Mattresses made of foam, or a combination of foam and cotton, tend to last much longer than a pure cotton mattress.
The innerspring system is a popular choice because it gives the necessary support of a more traditional mattress but is thinner. This is important because a futon mattress will be folded a lot. If your futon will be both a couch and a bed on a daily basis, the mattress needs to be flexible enough to fold but comfortable enough for sleeping.
Another consideration is the weight of the futon mattress. When the futon is folded up from a bed to a couch, the weight of the mattress will determine how easy this procedure will be. This is even more important if you are buying a large version like a queen futon mattress. Mattresses should have a rigidity rating displayed that can help you compare and choose the best one for your needs.
If the futon will function mostly as a bed, it’s best to buy a thicker mattress, preferably one with a quality innerspring system and a cotton and foam filling. Generally, a mattress that is about 9 inches thick is recommended if the futon will be regularly functioning as a bed. For a spare or guest bed, 6 inches is typically sufficient.
There are a large range of manufacturers that produce futon mattresses: Simmons, Beautyrest, Sealy, Homelegance, Walker Edison, Ameriwood, Serta, Jacquard, Big Sleep, Premier, Gold Bond, Ikea and Elite.
Futons are usually cheaper than most traditional beds making them ideal for students, those on a low income or as a guest bed. A cheap futon mattress can start as little as $40 and perhaps even cheaper if you buy second-hand. More comfortable and expensive mattress can reach over $500. It is possible to find a discount futon mattress online if you are willing to do a little internet shopping.
Once again, the price depends on the material from which it is made and whether it is a full size futon mattress. If the futon will double as a bed and a couch, it may be best to buy a higher quality mattress that will last longer and be more comfortable.
Where to Buy
A futon mattress for sale may be found in department stores like Target, K-Mart or WalMart or in a store that specializes in futons and their accessories. The price of can range anywhere from $40 for a cheap futon mattress to several hundred dollars.
It is also possible to shop for futon mattresses online at specialty websites or larger ones like Amazon and eBay. You will be able to browse through the product specifications, look at futon mattress reviews and buy without the pressure of a sales person.
Often a buyer will obtain a cheap mattress or brand for much less than a brick and mortar department store. Some bedding retailers will make your mattress to order and this enables you to pick and choose the shape, size, thickness and comfort to your personal taste. These types of mattress will cost more than a ready made one.
- If you want a futon that will be used as a sofa and sleeper regularly then a high quality innerspring or firm foam mattress of about 9 inches would be a good choice.
- The recommended choice for a futon used on a smaller number of occasions is an 8 inch futon mattress of high quality.
- For the occasional use as a bed and sofa a cheaper 6 inch cotton mattress would be both ideal and cheap.
The actual size you choose – futon mattress full sized, queen sized or twin sized – will depend on the size of the room and the height of the people who will be using the futon.