Sofa Bed vs. Futon: What’s Best?

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Sofa beds and futons are convertible pieces of space-saving furniture. Find out what sets them apart and which one is more convenient for your needs.

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Comparison of a sofa bed and a futon.

Sofa beds and futons are both convenient space-saving pieces of furniture. Their dual nature means they can be converted as extra beds so you don’t need to have an extra room or a guest room. They’re also stylish and come in various types and styles.

While both the sofa bed and futon share major similarities, they’re still set apart by their distinct traits. Their differences, more than their similarities, will shed light and hopefully make it easier to choose between the two.

Sofa Bed

This is an incredibly versatile piece of furniture with the added benefit of looking like a sofa most of the time but has a hidden mattress inside that makes it easy for people to house overnight guests when they don’t have an extra bed in the home. The pillows of the sofa are removed, and then a bed frame can be pulled out of the sofa, stretched out, and turned into a bed. They are extremely comfortable to sit on but aren’t always as comfortable for sleeping due to the metal bars running through them.

Sofa beds are preferable for a living room that looks more grown-up. If you want a piece of furniture that is very comfortable to sit on while still offering a place to sleep from time to time, then a sofa bed is the right choice. They are common in homes that don’t have a guest room or do not get enough overnight guests to warrant an additional dedicated sleeping space for company. They’re also the better choice if you don’t want guests or visitors to the home to know that there is an additional bed in your house.

Fabric sofa bed in a decent cream shade.

Pros

  • Sofa beds tend to be much more comfortable to use than futons. Since they are a little higher off of the ground, they are also easier to get in and out of without much hassle or difficulty.
  • These pieces of furniture blend seamlessly into your home, which means that it is not at all obvious that you have a hidden bed in the middle of your living room.
  • The mattress of a sofa bed is much more comfortable than sleeping on a futon and tends to offer more support, especially when the piece of furniture is new.
  • There are many different styles and types of sofa beds available, making it easy to find one that perfectly matches the décor and appearance of the rest of your home. This means that it won’t stick out as an obvious sofa bed and most guests will just assume that they are regular sofas.
  • Because they look like regular sofas, you can shake the appearance of a futon and the generalization that they belong in college. Many people graduate and want to buy more “grown-up” furniture. In that regard, a sofa bed appears to be more adult than a futon does.

Cons

  • No matter what brand or style of sofa bed you buy, they are going to be a lot more expensive than a futon is. You don’t want to try to buy a budget sofa bed, as they tend to be much more uncomfortable than higher-end versions.
  • Even with the metal or wood frame inside of the sofa, the cushions will tend to sag and deform after a while. This happens over years of use, but will result in people not being comfortable when sitting on the sofa.
  • There are very few mattress choices for this furniture piece. While you can buy thicker mattresses for a futon if you want something a little higher quality, you can’t change out a sofa bed’s mattress for a new one if you tire of it over time.
  • Unless you have a lot of empty room directly in front of the sofa bed, there won’t be any way to pull out the mattress without having to rearrange furniture.
  • It can be very difficult to make sure that your sofa bed is always clean, especially if it has been recently used; a person sleeping on it will cause moisture to get trapped into the mattress, which may cause mildew issues.
  • Changing the sheets on a sofa bed is a difficult process because of how tightly and firmly attached the mattresses are.
  • Because of their bulk and heaviness, they are best used in larger rooms or homes, unlike futons which can easily slip into small spaces. This may limit the places where an owner can place the sofa bed.
  • Due to their construction, these sofa beds are incredibly heavy and difficult to move. This makes it very hard to rearrange your room or move to a new home. They are heavy enough that you need to take precautions when moving them on a hard surface, as you want to avoid accidentally scratching the floor.
  • Reupholstering a sofa bed is expensive.
  • There is not any storage space under the sofa bed, making it important to have additional space in your home to store all blankets and sheets that you may use.

Futon

Futons are low wooden or metal framed sofas that are easy to unfold when you need a place to sleep. The mattress that goes on these pieces of furniture can vary widely in thickness and quality, which means that the quality of mattress will play a huge role in how comfortable you are when you sleep. They can easily be converted between a place to sit and a place to sleep, but the comfort of the user will depend highly on the quality of the mattress on the futon.

Futons are ideal for people who are on a tight budget, want to be able to move their furniture around their home or room by themselves, and who will be using the piece of furniture for sleeping a lot of the time. Since it clearly looks like a futon, it will work best for people who do not care if others are aware that they have additional sleeping space or for homes that are more contemporary in appearance.

Black futon with wooden legs and arms.

Pros

  • While you want to invest in a quality frame, which can cost a little more money than you would anticipate, the mattresses themselves are fairly inexpensive. This means that you can easily buy new ones if you want to update the appearance of your room or accidentally spill something on your mattress and can’t get the stain out.
  • Quality futons are very different from the pieces of furniture that you slept on in college. Since there are so many different frame options, you can buy a very nice futon with a solid frame for a fraction of the cost of a sofa bed.
  • If you don’t want to buy a whole new mattress, but still want to update the look of your futon, you can easily buy a new cover and slip the entire mattress into it for a new appearance.
  • It’s easy to remove the mattress and clean out the frame to avoid any problems with moisture or trapped smells. This means that you probably won’t ever have any problems with mold when you have a futon.
  • Due to the way that they are designed, it’s usually very easy to convert a futon from a bed to a sofa or vice versa. This makes it easy for people who are weaker or elderly and don’t have the strength to pull out a sofa bed.
  • Because you can easily open up a futon into a bed, they are ideal if you often have unexpected guests or want to be able to quickly convert a living space into a sleeping area.
  • They are very inexpensive when compared to sofa beds, allowing even college students and recent graduates to be able to afford them. And since they take the place of two major pieces of furniture, they will help people who have tight budgets furnish their homes.
  • Because they are so light and easy to move, it’s simple to disassemble the futon and take it with you, whether that means you’re moving down the hall to a new dorm or across town.
  • Futons are relatively small and don’t take up a lot of space in a room. Even so, there is generally enough space under the futon for owners to store some items, as long as they are relatively flat.

Cons

  • If you have problems sleeping on soft surfaces and need a lot of support to get a great night’s rest, then a futon is not for you. Most people can sleep well enough on a futon for one or two nights, but the metal frame and thinner mattresses soon make getting a good night’s rest incredibly difficult.
  • Futons appear very casual and will look out of place in a formal living room or home.
  • While they are a sofa and bed hybrid, futons are not nearly as comfortable as either one. Sofas are much more enjoyable to sit on, and a real bed is much more comfortable for sleeping.
  • If you are not handy or have problems assembling furniture, then you will likely get very frustrated that you have to assemble your futon yourself.
  • In general, futons are not very visually attractive and remind many people of college. This can make it difficult to decorate with a futon when you are an adult and trying to shake the image and memories of being much younger.
  • Even thicker and firmer mattresses tend to be lumpier than a regular bed or a sofa bed; due to how low the furniture is to the ground, it can be very difficult to get off of a futon.





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