The Futon Mattress: Versatility at its Best
A Japanese design, the futon mattress is lightweight and easy to stow away during the day. It was originally unfolded onto the floor for sleeping, and then it was folded and stowed in the closet during the day or hung outside to air.
In the west, the space-saving futon mattress usually includes a frame, which allows the futon to function as either a couch or bed. Futon mattresses are ideal for those tight on space and are favored by college students and single apartment dwellers.
The Futon Mattress Advantage
The dual function of futons allows them to be placed in any room. In a living room, they can function as a couch until an extra bed is needed. In a studio apartment, they function both as a sofa and a bed, allowing optimal use of the small space available. Parents often buy futons for children, because they are ideal in a combination playroom-bedroom.
Not only do futons excel at space saving, they are also much easier to transport than a regular mattress. Futons are significantly thinner than an average mattress, and they don’t have box springs. For those who don’t live in one place long, the futon is an indispensable accessory.
Finding the Perfect Futon Mattress to Buy
When selecting a futon it is important to consider the various mattress options. The futon is generally thinner so that it can fold easily. It isn’t usually an innerspring design, but instead consists of materials like cotton or a combination of cotton and foam.
Although traditional futons were fairly firm, today it’s easy to find a softer futon. Generally the more foam in the mattress, the softer it is. Look for high density foams, because they will last much longer. In addition, the cotton should be precompressed. If the cotton isn’t precompressed, then the life of the futon will be shorter, and it will quickly form depressions and lumps.
A Look at the Futon Frame
Futon frames should be considered carefully. Do you plan on using the futon as a daily bed, a daily sofa, or both? If it is going to be used as a daily bed, then it is important to make sure the frame provides adequate support. Since futon mattresses don’t contain box springs, they will sag if not properly supported. To maximize support, find a frame with support slats that are close together.
For those planning to convert the futon mattress from bed to sofa each day, it is essential that the conversion be quick and easy. Some frames are cheap and poorly designed. These tend to break easily with daily use, and converting the bed can seem a tedious chore. When shopping, make sure to convert several models from bed to sofa and back again until you find a design that works. Stick to metal or wood frames; plastic tends to break with regular use.
Final Words about Futons, and some Warnings
Futons are often inexpensive. Unfortunately, the vast majority of low priced models either lack a quality futon mattress or they have a poorly designed frame. Either of these factors can reduce a potentially versatile sleeping solution into a shoddy excuse for a bed. If you plan on sleeping on your futon regularly, then it is worth spending a little extra money on a quality futon mattress with a well designed frame.
I owned several futons in the 1990s, and was mostly pleased. I do remember one particularly cheap futon mattress that was too thin though. It was uncomfortable to sleep on, and I was happy to just throw it out when I moved away, rather than move it with me.
Do you own a futon? Do you use it just as a bed, or as a bed and a couch? Do you like it? How much did you pay, and where did you buy it? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.