Futons have been part of our furniture culture for some time now, and are often viewed as a cheap answer to the problem of where to put an overnight guest, or for fitting both sleeping and sitting functionality into a small apartment.
They can serve either of these purposes admirably, but you should not be swayed too much by the desire to save money when shopping for futon beds. Remember, someone is going to be sleeping and sitting on that piece of furniture, so selecting one that will be comfortable and functional while still fitting in your budget is the way to go.
As you may already be aware, futon mattresses are generally sold separately from the frames. Between these two, the mattress is far and away the most critical component. As long as you purchase a frame that feels sturdy under your weight and generally fits with your décor, you can safely turn your focus to the mattress.
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Above all else, the thickness of the futon is of paramount importance. For the most part, the thicker the mattress, the more comfortable it will be. When considering your choices, you will likely discover that bi-fold mattresses are invariably thicker than tri-fold ones, so you should probably concentrate on search on the former type.
There is a point at which you need to balance thickness with other factors, however. Futon beds that will be used on a daily basis will be much more cumbersome to fold if the mattress is extremely thick, and may be less comfortable to sit on when serving as a couch. On the other hand, if this piece will only be used for a bed occasionally for guests, then its “fold-ability” becomes less important.
Another area that requires some balancing is the amount of “give” to the mattress. For sleeping, a somewhat software filling with more foam may be preferable, but when folded up for seating, may cause you and your visitors to sink in too much. On the flipside, a mattress that is too firm will be great for sitting, but may be like sleeping on plywood when folded out. Once again, you need to consider how often the futon bed will be used for slumber.
When you start shopping for futon beds, the internet can be a great help. You can save both time and gas by checking out the different styles and prices available online. Even then, however, you may prefer to go visit a brick-and-mortar store to try out your new piece before you buy. There is no real substitute for taking a futon for a “test drive”.
With these things in mind, you should be able to find a futon that balances your needs for comfort, functionality and savings.