Futon 101: What You Need to Know About Futons

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.

1. Parts Of A Futon

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.

2. Futon Sizes

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.

3. Futon Mattresses

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.

4. Why do I need a futon cover?

To protect the actual mattress from dirt, spills, and wear, as well as to give you the ability to “reupholster” your futon whenever you want to change things up. A new futon cover is anywhere from $49 - $199 (roughly) which is far less expensive than a new futon or upholstering a couch. It should be noted, though, that a futon cover is not meant to be a mattress protector. Some fabrics are more stain resistant than others, and some are washable, while others are dry clean only. But they are not sold as “mattress protectors.” You can buy a mattress protector that is like another cover that goes over the mattress first and then you put your futon cover over that. We highly recommend a mattress protector of some sort as you are protecting the investment in your futon and certain stains (especially animal produced) are virtually impossible to get out of a mattress.

That covers the basic information on what a futon is, what you should look for, and why buying quality matters. If you have any questions or want more information, we happen to be Futon Experts and love sharing our knowledge and expertise. Just send us an email or give us a call.

The King Of Futons
The King Of Futons