Futons started out in Japan as simple mattresses for the floor that could be rolled up and stored away during the day, but today the term "futon" often refers to wood or metal frames that support mattresses or futon pads. Futons are also available in a variety of sizes and, because of their flexibility, many can be used interchangeably for sitting or sleeping, converting from a couch to a bed. They often serve as sofa beds in apartments or dorms. Before buying a futon, consider how you will use it, what size you need, and the best type of mattress for the intended use and your personal preferences.
How Will You Use Your Futon?
How you plan to use a futon will largely determine which kind you eventually buy. Determine its primary function first. Will it be used mostly for sitting and lounging, for sleeping, or both? If both, will you want to switch back and forth between the two functions on a daily basis, or will you use it as a bed only occasionally?
How you put your futon to use will not only determine the kind of frame you use but also the quality of the mattress. Be aware that if you are going to use it primarily for sleeping, a wood frame can provide a very firm surface. If that is something you don't enjoy, consider a thicker, better-quality futon pad, or maybe even a mattress pad on top to make it softer.
If you want to switch back and forth between a sleeping surface and a seat, narrow your options to frames that are easy to operate. Some futon frames can be difficult to adjust, especially for one person.
Choosing the Right Size Futon
Measuring your space is one of the most important steps before you buy furniture of any kind, and this goes double for convertible pieces like futon sleepers. Futons are commonly available in twin, full, and queen sizes. King-size futons are also available but can be harder to find.
If you don't have room for a futon sleeper sofa, consider a futon chair that can open up to the size of a twin bed. If you're just looking for a traditional futon mattress that you roll up, measure the closet space where you will store it. In any case, keep in mind that other furniture in the room should be easy to move if you need to make space for a futon bed, especially if you have to do it frequently.
Choosing the Right Mattress Type
Traditional futon mattresses are filled with textile batting, while more modern versions may contain foam, cotton, springs, or a combination of these materials. Choose a type of mattress based on the desired feel and firmness of the mattress as well as it's suitability for your intended use. For example, mattresses with springs may feel more like a conventional bed but can be more difficult to fold or bend into a seat shape than other mattress types. Cotton mattresses tend to be the easiest to roll up and move. Foam mattresses may be best for minimizing pressure points and don't need a mattress topper for softness (some others do).