You’ve heard about these things called futons and maybe a family member or neighbor has one or you heard Ray Romano joking about them, and you like the general concept of having a piece of furniture that serves both as a sofa and a bed. But you’ve never bought one before and don’t really know what’s good, what’s bad, or the first thing about futons.
The first thing to know is quite simple, really, and is perhaps almost an overstatement. Quality matters. Just like any other piece of furniture, quality makes all the difference.
That means you should not be buying a “futon” from a Big Mart type store. Those awful wrought iron metal things are complete junk. They’re made from sub par materials with shoddy craftsmanship, the mattress pad thing is horrendous and thin and just gets thinner and thinner fast, they fall apart, they hurt you, they make noise, they break, and they just suck. They have single handedly tarnished the once good name of the futon.
But don’t fret, there are still plenty of high quality, comfortable, durable futons out there, though, sadly, not as many as there were even 10 years ago due to the economy and the just mentioned tarnishing of the name futon. People just got sick of it and told everyone “don’t get a futon, they suck” because those crappy futons DO suck.
At King Of Futons we have over 14 years of professional experience and expertise in the Wonderful World of Futons. We know what the hell we’re talking about and we only sell premium high quality items. You won’t find a single crappy black metal frame anywhere in our store because we refuse to sell them.
It should be said that if you’re really strapped for cash, and you just need something --anything-- to just get by for a few months and you don’t care about quality or comfort or sustainability and filling up our landfills with garbage, those metal nightmares in a box are what you should go and get.
But if you want a really nice, comfortable, useful futon, and you plan on having it for years and years, you’ve come to the right place.
But where to start? What do I need? What should I look for? Here are the rudiments of what you need to know about futons.
Editor’s note: from here on out we will stop mentioning the crap-tons in comparison to good futons and will only mean the good stuff when we use the word futon. Also, when we say “futon” we mean the whole thing and not just the mattress and yes, yes, yes, we know the history of the futon and that in Japan its technically just the mattress and straw and kapok and tatami and yadda-yadda. When we say futon we mean the whole thing.
All futons consist of (3) parts --a futon mattress (aka “futon”), a futon frame (which supports the mattress), and a futon cover (sewn fabric that zips on and off the actual mattress). There are many different types of mattresses, frames, and fabrics for covers to fit the needs and decor you have.
Futons are sized similarly to the standard bed sizes in America. A full size futon means that when it’s flat as a bed, the mattress is the same size as a full size bed mattress. The most standard size for a futon is full size, though there is no “standard futon size” officially. Futons that look like sofas and turn into beds come in full and queen size. We have never seen a king size futon sofa, and a twin size futon sofa would be so micro mini looking it would be laughed at.
There are other sizes in the world of futons and they are called Loveseats and/or Chairs. These normally consist of a chair and an ottoman (footstool) frame. They are wonderful for saving room space while still getting the benefits of a futon. The Loveseat sizes are twin, full, and queen. There is a size smaller than a twin that is called a Chair size (sometimes referred to as a “cot” size). You should totally read this other blog about Loveseats for more detailed information.
Not every futon is available in all sizes. Some manufacturers simply do not make a Chair size, for example. And some futons are only available as a sofa style.
Having a decent, well made futon frame is certainly an important part of your overall futon enjoyment, but the most important part is the mattress itself. Something to keep in mind about futons is that there is no industry wide set of rules or regulations or standards. If one place sells something called a 10-inch foam core futon, and another place sells something called the same or similar name, they are not necessarily the same thing. There is no standard “10-inch foam core” futon. It’s really deceiving and tough to figure out. It pays to ask questions, get a brand name, ask if the store is calling it something other than what the manufacturer calls it, ask for specifics. What kind of foam? What’s the spring count of your spring core mattress? Is that cotton or a blended cotton?
Futon mattresses come in 2 main families: futons with foam or futons with springs. Most spring core futons have some foam in them, but a “foam core” futon will have no springs.
Futon mattresses are differentiated primarily by firmness and softness, much like traditional bed mattresses. The level of firmness depends on what types of materials are used and your own personal preference. There are enough choices and variety to fit the needs of nearly everyone.
Get a really nice mattress because they last longer, keep their shape better over time, and will provide you with years of dependable use.
The good people here at King Of Futons have created a very special deal for all you Cyber Week shoppers. When you buy a futon frame, mattress and cover combination, we'll give you an extra solid color twill futon cover FOR FREE. Plus, you get FREE SHIPPING. You can read all the details by clicking here.
This Cyber Week don't settle on buying cheap crap.
Large heavier items like futon frames, tables, dressers, bed frames, and various furniture items have a higher likelihood to show up with some minor aesthetic damage than do smaller items and containers. In the world of online purchasing of these larger, heavier items, it is the responsibility of the customer to touch up, smooth out and fix this aesthetic damage.
In other words, you should be willing to accept and expect that you may need to do a little hands-on cleaning up of your futon frame when ordering online.
There, I said it. Other web stores do not mention this fact or they bury it in small print in the terms and conditions or will wait for “the angry phone call” to suddenly back up behind a policy that they were too afraid to admit. I think that’s poor business practice. I believe that the customer deserves to know as much as possible, up front and in plain language prior to clicking the “Place My Order” button.
But that’s just another reason why the King Of Futons is different. We’re not trying to shine you over with tricky sales moves or play a sort of “But Game” where we hide our stipulations and wait for the moment to say “yes, But…it’s in the small print we know you didn’t read anyway, and yadda yadda blabbity blah blah.”
Buying online is different than buying from a brick and mortar retail store and the sooner that you understand that difference, the sooner everyone will be wiser and happier.
Retail furniture stores are (supposed to be, anyways) great at providing one-on-one in-person “white glove” type of treatment when it comes to delivery of their services and products. And you pay for that in terms of higher prices, delivery fees, setup fees, etc. You generally have to wait longer for your order to be delivered because many retail stores need to accumulate a large enough order before their distributors will ship it out to you. Depending on when you buy and where they are in their ordering cycle, you could be waiting 3, 4, even 6 weeks. There’s a give and take. You pay more, but you have access to a different type of services available.
Online stores offer their products and services at reduced pricing, reduced overhead, and normally free delivery that is 10-20 times faster than the retail stores. You can still get great one-on-one customer service in helping decide what you want to buy (or at least you should be getting great one-on-one customer service!), but shopping online also has a give and take. You pay less, get your stuff a lot quicker, but the types of services available are different.
Aesthetic damage can and does happen throughout the Wild World of Futons and furniture items in general. In today’s modern international market place, your futon frame may have started its journey across a big old ocean, taking months to slowly chug along in a humongous freight ship. It’s packed in boxes which are strategically packed into shipping containers fitting as much as mathematically possible into each container. When they arrive to port, they will sit and wait for clearance of various paperwork and tariffs, fees, etc. to be paid before they are unloaded. Then they are normally put onto freight trains which will take them all over this Great Land of Ours to various sub-stations and terminals where they are then unloaded and eventually put onto trucks which take them to warehouses and other storage locations. Finally, once they are purchased, they are loaded onto more trucks which drive them through various networks of shipping and distribution, eventually arriving to your door step.
Phew! That’s a whole lotta travelling and moving around and handling before it even makes it inside your house. You should be able to understand how and why a little ding or scratch here and there is almost bound to happen.
Don’t get me wrong: the manufacturer’s I know all have put a great deal of strategic thinking and planning into the packaging and transportation of their products to make sure that they can withstand the long journey. But you need to cut them a little slack.
Another aspect of retail vs. online you should be aware of is what happens when your larger, heavier items arrive to your home.
Retail stores can offer various delivery services for various fees which could have a worker or workers bring the item(s) into your home. Pay a little more and they’ll bring it into the actual room you want it in. Pay a little more and they’ll put the thing together for you and they might fix those aesthetic issues on the spot for you. Several retailers I know charge you for the delivery and setup but still require customers to fix those little dings and scratches. Pay a little more and they’ll remove the garbage and packaging. Pay a little more and they might take away an old mattress for you. Most retail stores will offer “free” this or “free” that with a little asterisk that is attached to some financial condition like “when you spend over $500.” Several retail stores I know of offer free delivery* and when you read the tiny hidden fine print of the asterisk it says *free delivery to your door step, or something.
Online shopping will get your item delivered to your residence normally for free, much faster, but with admittedly less service options available. Depending on the freight company, most futon frames will arrive in a truck and the driver is responsible to get the item to the “curbside” only. That means that they’ll unload the item(s) at street level next to the curb next to your residence and off they go. Some drivers might be nice enough to help bring the item(s) up to your door, but that is totally up to the individual driver. I have heard that a nice gratuity can do wonders, say a $20 bill….
In essence, larger, heavier items may arrive with aesthetic issues that you will have to fix. You can get some extra fine grain sand paper and a furniture or woodwork touch up stain marker at most hardware or home repair stores. The delivery guy is usually only required to get the item(s) safely to the curbside and then it’s up to you to haul it inside. You can always open the boxes at the curb and carry the components separately inside to make it easier. I used to do that when I managed a retail store and would have to go on deliveries all by myself and knew there was no way I was going to lift a large box up a 4 floor no-elevator top apartment with twisting turning staircases and strange angled walls.
Understand that aesthetic damage is almost par for the course nowadays in all areas of furniture, bedding, and home furnishings whether it’s through online or brick and mortar retail stores. Industry wide the new “normal” is that these sort of aesthetic issues are the responsibility of the customer to fix.
If you know that you’re the type of customer who wants or needs “white glove” type service, or if you’re reading this blog and thinking “there’s no way I can deal with that” than I sincerely encourage you to visit a local retail store that can offer you more paid services. Really, there’s no hard feelings. I just want to be up front with you, my beloved customer, about the advantages and limitations of online shopping so that we both have a wonderful experience.
“You get what you pay for” is not just an old, overly repeated mantra of the retail world. It is a very accurate assertion in the world of furniture and of futons in particular. If the average price for a good, reliable new car, for example, is $15,000 and some store is advertising a “good reliable new car” for $4,999 you should be feeling every single BS flag light up all over the place. The same is true of futons.
Hold on to your brain cells, because this might just destroy your ideas of how to buy a futon:
A futon that sells for around $100 is going to be 1,000 times crappier than a futon that sells for $500. The exponential relationship is like nuclear physics in that as the price gets lower, the crap factor increases so substantially it can almost not be quantified.
I know, I know, I know. It sounds like such a great deal and the salesperson swears its good and it’s just the same as any other futon and blabbity blarb blub. It’s not. I’m telling you from over a decade of selling futons –and delivering and installing them—that a $100 futon is a complete waste of money.
They are normally made of some cheap thin metal alloy with fast, crappy soldering and the cheapest of the cheap hardware –the nuts and bolts that you are supposed to rely on to keep the thing from falling apart and smushing your poor kitty cat underneath, god forbid. The average lifespan for these futon frames is 6-12 months. And don’t worry about the warranty because there is none. The owner of the store I managed insisted we sell these things for "Back To School" sales (despite my objections) and we would as a courtesy put a 30 day "store warranty" on these because we cared about our customers, but the manufacturer seldom had any type of coverage offered outside of "we'll replace it if it's found damaged or missing when you open the box." I have personally known of only 3 of these monsters to make it to the 8 year mark. Do yourself a favor and drive around a college campus at the turn of the month and see how many of these things are being tossed to the curb or thrown in the dumpster, destroyed, mangled and useless.
This is disposable furniture. Landfill futons. About the only useful purpose these can possibly serve is to line the backs of the scrap collectors broke down pickup trucks as they drive through the alleys in search of more crappy metal futon frames.
Did you get to try out that hunk of crap before you bought it or did you just see a poorly shot picture on a website or in the “Back To School” aisles of the Big Mart store? Because if you can honestly tell me that before you bought it you tried out the futon --you touched it, sat on it, laid down on it, opened it up and gave it a good once over—and you still felt good about going ahead and buying it, then I’d like to interest you in my latest bicycle made from a bamboo rod and a couple old lawnmower wheels. It’s great for long rides, it’s the “same” as any other bike and it’s only $49!!!
The so-called mattresses that come with these crap bombs are thin, uncomfortable, stuffed with who the hell knows what, and are limited to red, blue, black or tan. In less than a week these futons go from crappy and uncomfortable to horrible and even more uncomfortable. The interiors are usually made of “reconstituted fabric” or “blended cotton fibers” which translates into “the leftover scraps of industrial fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away.” This is not how real futons are made. Feel those bars right under you as if there was nothing between your butt cheeks and the metal frame. And when you stand up and turn around, look right there! There’s the impression of your hinder right there! You’ll be able to see your own butt print every day because the sub-par stuffing isn’t resilient and has no substance to it. Imagine filling a pillow sham with popcorn and sitting on that day after day. It would flatten out in no time at all. That is what these cheap $100 futons are like.
OOPS! Your idiot friend just spilled a beer on the futon. OH NO! Well, now you have a big pile of butt cheek imprinted, painfully uncomfortable, beer soaked, stanky futon to enjoy. I’m sure that’s really going to impress the ladies. If you had a nice futon you’d be able to remove the outer cover and wash away that spill before it set in and seeped through your mattress. You’d even be able to put a mattress protector in between the mattress and the cover to prevent such spills from ruining your futon.
Now, I don’t blame you for being focused on price, price, price. As a parent myself I totally understand the importance of budgets and not having a whole lot of money to just dole out on things that may otherwise seem less than essential to buy. You should be aware that these Big Mart stores specialize in getting you to do just that: to focus on price first, second, and usually third, too. They are experts at making you infer that something labeled “product X” (or whatever) that is priced at $99 is the same as something else labeled the exact same “product X” and it looks pretty much the same but the price on that one is $499 and your brain can be temporarily fooled to think “why would I pay $499 for the same thing that this other store is selling for $99?” And that is, on paper, a very valid question of basic economics.
But the trick is that they are not at all the same. With a little knowledge and expert advice, I’ll have you able to recognize the differences and encourage you to abandon the “price first and second” philosophy of consumerism.
Even if you spelled junk with big, bold all capital letters it still couldn’t possibly convey the abhorrent quality of these things. You’d be better off investing $100 into a CD or savings account even at the paltry low interest rates currently offered as you’d still come out ahead in a year.
Figure it this way: Let’s say you’re buying one of these crap monsters for your child who’s going to college and living in a dorm or apartment or whatever. On a more than likely average, you’re buying one per year and just throwing them away at the end of the semester. And let’s say little Tommy or Tammy or whoever is one of the focused kids who gets done with their undergrad in 4-5 years. That’s $400-$500 right there. And then you’re still left with nothing at the end. Plus you get to carry the kharma –if you believe in that sort of thing—of contributing to the environmental degradation of your child’s future planet and their children’s planet and so on.
If you had just made the investment –and that’s really how you should frame your selection and purchase-- of a nice $500-$600 futon from the get go you’d have a really nice piece of furniture that’s well made, comfortable, useful, and at the day after graduation, your kid would still have something to use in their first “big boy/girl” apartment. Buying a quality piece of furniture or futon is really an investment that will continue to be realized for years and years.
Do not be fooled by appearance and price based factors when buying a futon. Again, these Mega Stores and quickie spreadsheet based online shops are good at creating the illusion that what they are offering is the same as a real, good quality futon. They get you to infer that you are being duped by the quality futon companies through smoke and mirror type games.
Another caste of the crappy futon are the frames that have wooden looking side arms with a metal body and supports. These are just as worthless as the all metal ones but cost more. These are really trying to get you to believe that they are just the same as an actual real, good futon. Some of these have real wood, some have partial/blended wood, others veneered with particle board (Mmmm…yummy chemicals!). All of these are junk.
I cannot tell you how many times at the retail store I ran someone would come in and say, “I need a new futon. Mine is all broke,” and I’d ask them to describe what kind they had and if there was tubular metal involved, which almost always there was. They might look around the store or page through a catalog and say “there, I had that one” or I might show them a few floor models and they’d say “that’s the one I had. There’s no way I’m going to buy another one of those” and then they’d make some rude and shocked comment about the price.
But they did not have the ones that were in the store or in the catalogs. We sold high quality 100% solid wood (all wood, no veneers or blends) futon frames with comfortable mattresses made of quality, resilient materials. The smoke and mirrors was so effective that it was a laborious task to walk these people through step by step in showing and explaining that they did not have the same futon that we sold. Sometimes it worked, sometimes they walked out thinking we were scamming them.
There is a whole bunch of consumer misconceptions caused by companies intentionally misleading customers just to make the sale, and it has damaged the general perception of what a “futon” is. I hope that you will help fight against this disposable furniture mentality and reconsider your purchase power and use it for good. You really can get what you pay for, and you can benefit from that for years and years.
In the years I ran a brick & mortar retail futon store it always surprised me when a customer would say "Loveseat futons? Really? The guy at the Other Store told me those don't exist." That's pure nonsense and goes to show that it pays to buy futons from someone who knows what the heck they're talking about. Like the King Of Futons.
The loveseat size has been available in the World of Futons for years, but most stores don't even know how they work, let alone how to present them, and they just choose to pretend they don't exist and spread lies and misinformation to you, our beloved customer. Loveseats are a great way to compliment your futon sofa setup or to fit in a sleepable futon in a room or area that is, shall we say, spatially challenged.
The way loveseats work is essentially like this: imagine a full size futon sofa. Now, pick up the mattress (in your mind), turn it 90 degrees, plop it down, shorten the futon frame, and add an ottoman/footstool in front of the frame. Then, make a slice in your mattress (again, in your mind), taper it off, and voila you've got a loveseat and ottoman futon! Nice job!
Futon loveseats allow you to get the same sleeping surface as their sofa counterparts in a different, more compact configuration. You have a chair portion and an ottoman/footstool portion. Some people choose to leave the ottoman out all the time, some people choose to stow it away somewhere, only to be used when guests are sleeping over. Futon loveseats are 2-seaters when they're upright as a couch, and when they're flat as a bed, you sleep with the arms of the frame (assuming you have arms on your frame, most futons do) to your sides versus at your head and feet on a sofa style futon. This is particularly awesome for taller folks who might otherwise feel confined or boxed in by the arms of a sofa style.
"What?!" you say. "How is that possible?" Take a look at the following 2 sketches. The sketch on the left shows a Full size futon sofa open as a bed. The vantage point is from the top. The sketch on the right shows a Full size Loveseat & Ottoman futon open as a bed, same vantage point.
The combined dimensions of the Full size Loveseat & Ottoman are the exact same dimensions as the Full size sofa. It's just math: 54 + 21 = 75. Now you should be saying, "Oh....I get it. Cool." That's right. It is cool.
Almost every futon frame we carry is available in a Loveseat & Ottoman size. In fact, there are technically 3 different Loveseat & Ottoman sizes: Queen, Full and Twin, and they all correspond to the same sizes in sofas or beds (Queen: 80" x 60", Full: 75" x 54", Twin: 75" x 39"). Strata Furniture offers Queen, Full, and Twin Loveseats while Night & Day Furniture offers just the Full and Twin Loveseats. Not all frames are available in all sizes, make sure to check the product page of the frame you want to buy for full details.
Another major difference between Strata and Night & Day are how their loveseats look and operate. It is important to know the differences and way the pros and cons you may have about those in choosing the right Loveseat for you.
Strata Furniture sells their Loveseats with a separate stand alone ottoman/footstool which can be moved around and the legs fold under for easier storage if you want to hide it away when you're not using it. Or, a lot of people (including the King Of Futons) will use that separate ottoman as a sort of sitting bench somewhere in your home. It's a really nice feature and function if you have the space to use it. Basically, with Strata Loveseats, there is a chair frame and a separate ottoman frame. Therefore, Strata Loveseats almost exclusively have to utilize a 2-piece mattress set (which also means you'll need a 2-piece cover set). Here's a picture of a Strata Loveseat & Ottoman:
Night & Day Furniture has what they call Loveseat Loungers. The Lounger has an ottoman extension piece that nestles into the seat deck frame work of the chair portion. It is not a separate stand alone ottoman and cannot be used as such. The extension piece has 2 support legs that fold out when you pull out the ottoman for use. When not in use, you'll have to find somewhere to store the ottoman mattress piece. Sometimes you can fit it right behind the frame as there's usually just enough angled space back there for an ottoman, but be aware that certain environments and conditions can cause that area to become a dust and fur magnet, and you don't want to have to vacuum your ottoman every time you want to use it. Some customers have used a 1-piece futon mattress on Night & Day's Loungers but you really need to have the right setting for that otherwise, aesthetically, you're left with a kind of frumpy, saggy looking thing in your room because the mattress is always dangling there. In sun rooms this 1-piece configuration is great as it almost becomes a giant lounge chair, but for most rooms it is awkward looking and difficult to maneuver. Plus you're basically climbing on to the Loveseat to get seated which wears out the cover and mattress more. The King Of Futons professionally recommends using a 2-piece mattress set up with any Loveseat regardless of size or manufacturer. Here's a few pictures of a Night & Day Loveseat Lounger:
And here's a picture of the Night & Day Lounger with the 1-piece mattress situation in which you can see the floppy saggy effect we're talking about:
Whenever customers are considering purchasing a Loveseat size futon, the #1 all time question that comes up is "How do you keep that footstool piece from sliding around? Won't it get kicked off when you're sleeping?" and I kid you not, I have never, never, ever, ever got that complaint from someone who bought a Loveseat ever. I'm serious, I know it may seem like "how is that possible?" but in the over 12 years of selling futons, I've never once got that feedback. It really comes down to physics and biology. Our good friend gravity is working on our side to help keep that mattress in place, and the spot at which the bend in our knees has evolved to is just about the spot where the 2 mattress pieces meet. It's almost engineered to be at the most logical place.
There are a few things you can do in addition to combat the possibility of the flying futon. 1. Use a fitted sheet when sleeping to encapsulate both pieces, and 2. Use some nifty rubber futon gripper. You can buy that here at King Of Futons if you want.
Another misconception some people have is the pricing of Loveseats. They think, "How come it costs more even though it's smaller?" Good question. First of all, it is not smaller, it is configured differently. Remember, a Full size Loveseat & Ottoman has the exact same sleeping dimensions as its Full size sofa counterpart. Second, there are more pieces involved, more wood, more screws, more materials, etc., which means more labor, which (thankfully, still) means more cost. Third, because you are using a 2-piece mattress, that means you'll need a 2-piece cover set, which, as I just explained, means more materials, more labor, etc., which affect the final cost. But it's not that cost prohibitive, and when you compare futons to traditional sofas and sofa-sleepers and those sorts of things, the price to quality ratio is definitely in favor of the futon, oh yea!
A few final thoughts on loving your Loveseats. The King Of Futons likes Strata's Loveseats a little more than Night & Day's because from our experience, Strata's Loveseats are easier to operate and convert because of their design and because you can move that ottoman out of the way. We feel that Strata's Loveseats, particularly the stand alone ottoman feature, hold up better over time, especially with frequent usage. Plus, you get that cool extra sitting bench to go with it. Not that Night & Day's Loungers are bad --remember, at the King Of Futons we sell No Junk, Just Quality-- it's just based on our years of experience that they can be a little more cumbersome to use, and you have to do more routine maintenance especially tightening the bolts that connect the ottoman extension swing down support legs. You'll want to keep your allen wrench handy for that as you may need to tighten it every other time you use it.
Some mattresses are unavailable in Loveseat sizes, particularly the Queen Loveseat & Ottoman offered by Strata. Most futon cover companies are going to consider the Queen and the Twin Loveseat & Ottoman size a "custom" size and, therefore, charge more money for those sizes.
But all in all, the futon Loveseat is a vital size that offers an alternative to the large couch styles and can really complete the decor and functionality of your living space. If anyone ever tells you "there's no such thing as a futon loveseat" turn and walk or run away as fast as you can. You can trust the King Of Futons and it's always best to buy from someone who knows what the heck they're talking about.
Please oh please oh please contact us if you have any questions before ordering your lovely Loveseat.