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The Futon Bed Buying Guide

Need a space-saving guest bed that's stylish & practical? A futon could be the perfect choice.

Futons are a multi-functional, versatile space-saving style of bed. They're perfect for student dorms or accommodating overnight guests, and since they can be turned into a sofa, they're a stylish way to keep a spare bed tucked away. Futons are usually available in sofa bed, day bed and chair styles so you can easily add a bed to any sized room. Find out the most common questions about futon mattresses in our handy buying guide.

Unfolded dark green sofa bed.
Birlea Aurora Emerald Green Velvet Sofa Bed

What is a futon mattress?

Futon mattresses originated from Japan and were the norm for a bed frame. Futon beds in the U.K., however, tend to be a space-saving solution or an easy-to-store away bed for guests. Typically, in Japan, futon mattresses are used on the floor and do not require a frame. Because of this, the mattress itself tends to be thinner but feels firm due to being placed on the floor.

Here, however, a futon bed can include any type of fold out bed, including the ever popular sofa bed. They're excellent for guests and are a game-changer when it comes to saving space in your home. If you're looking for the best bed for your spare room, read our Guest Bed And Guest Mattresses Buying Guide.

What are futon mattresses made of?

Similarly to standard mattresses, futons and sofa beds are available in a few different styles. While firmness isn't always available to change, you can usually choose from a few different materials. The most common mattress styles for a futon are:

  • Memory foam: foam is excellent for holding its shape over time. It's also a great choice if you intend to use your futon for guests. Because foam responds to the amount of weight placed on it, it will be different to everyone and provide custom support
  • Coil mattresses: coil or spring mattresses are a more traditional style. While they are comfortable, spring mattresses tend to lose their shape faster than foam so you may need to replace it more often
  • Latex mattress: latex foam is a very durable material when used in mattresses. It tends to be more expensive than other futon mattresses but with proper care, it can last a very long time, being better value for money in the long run

Benefits of futon mattresses

  • Easily folded and stored
  • Saves space
  • Great for guests
  • Can be turned into a sofa so great for muti-functional rooms
  • Supportive for a good night’s sleep

Are futon mattresses good for your back?

A firm-feeling mattress can be beneficial for existing back pain. However, futon mattresses in the UK can be quite thick and are designed to be used on top of a frame. You can find futon mattresses that are suitable for daily use. However, they tend to be designed for light use and are not usually suitable for people with chronic back pain. If you do suffer from back pain, it's probably best to choose a more durable mattress, potentially one with orthopaedic support. You can read our guide to The Best Mattresses For Back Pain for more help.

Futon mattress thickness

An average futon mattress thickness ranges anywhere between three and nine inches. For perspective, a standard traditional mattress thickness ranges between eight and twelve inches. A futon mattress needs to be thinner so it can be easily folded and stored away. If you feel that your mattress is on the thin side, you can always add a removable foam mattress topper

This will allow you to have extra depth when sleeping whilst still being able to pack it away easily. If you plan to use your futon or sofa bed regularly, consider a thicker depth for extra support. Sleeping on a thinner mattress over time can lead to stiff joints and uncomfortable back pain.

Close up image of grey tufted sofa bed with a blue blanket and light blue and white cushion.
Birlea Aurora Grey Velvet Sofa Bed

Futon mattress sizes:

Futons in the UK are usually available in single or double. Typically, futon beds are either a sofa or chair style and the mattress size will reflect that. A king-size futon is not usually an option since it would be difficult to pack away a mattress of that size. When replacing a mattress for your futon, it's important to measure before ordering. Some manufacturer's mattress sizes vary, particularly if they are based outside of the U.K.

  • Futon double mattress size: (width) 138 x (length) 190 x (depth) 11cm
  • Futon single mattress size: (width) 75 x (length) 189 x (depth) 11cm
  • Custom sizing: some companies also offer an option for a custom-sized futon

For help figuring out which size guest bed you need, take a look at our Ultimate UK Bed & Mattress Size Guide.

What futon mattress is best?

When shopping for a mattress for your futon. It's important to consider how often you will use it as a sofa. If you intend to use it often, a memory foam mattress is a great option. Most sofa cushions are made using memory foam because of its durability and soft yet supportive feel. It's also incredibly supportive when used as a bed, ensuring your guests get a good night's sleep.

Choosing a futon or sofa bed that suits your home's style is important, too. Luckily, we stock a huge range of sofa beds in a variety of colours, sizes and styles, so you can find one that perfectly matches your preferred aesthetic.

Looking for more guest bed options?

If you'd like to explore what other guest bed options are available, check out our helpful Guest Bed Buying Guide. Guests arriving in a hurry? We have a huge range of beds and mattresses that are available for next-day delivery. Shop our full range, across our website, and don't forget to check our sale page for our cheapest futons and sofa beds!

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