Common futon frames materials

Futon frames are made generally from either metal, wood or a combination thereof.  We take a look at the different futon frame materials here so that you will have a head start when you get out there and begin shopping.  What do metal frames offer?  Are all wood futon frames the same?  How about a metal/wood combination?  Let’s take a look at what you will find available.  For a more in depth look at futon frames, check out our Futon Frame Materials page.

Metal– Metal futon frames range from classic to modern/contemporary in design.  Metal futon frames are fairly durable, if not too thin.  You find them pretty easy to assemble, and are light enough to be easy to move around.  Often times metal futon frames are less expensive than many of the wooden frames.  The nature of a round metal bar as the cross support can impact the comfort of a futon laying upon it if the futon is too thin.

Metal and Wood frames– Using wood for some of the futon frame components can add different styling and comfort opportunities.  Flat wooden slats as the mattress support are more comfortable than the thin metal bars, and using wood for the end arms allows for a ‘warmer’ feel from the piece.  At a certain point though, you may just decide to go for our third type of futon frame- all wood.

Wood– The most popular type of futon frame is the wood frame. Two types of wood are used in furniture: hardwood and softwood.  The terms describe the characteristics of the trees, not specifically the firmness of the wood.  There is a lot of overlap in the groups of hard and soft wood.  Though, hardwoods tend to be harder, and soft softer.

  • Hardwoods– Grow in temperate/mild climates, have a more dense wood, leaves are broad and fall off in winter.  Examples are: Mahogany, Oak, Beech, Maple, and Cherry.  Hardwoods have greater strength and stability.
  • Softwoods– Tend to grow in cooler/cold climates, cone bearing, needle leaves like: Pine, Aspen, spruce and Fir.  Softwoods are good for intricate carvings, they are more susceptible to marks and dings.
  • The 5 most common woods used for furniture: Mahogany, Oak, Maple, Beech and Pine.

A high quality wood futon frame should be made from superior wood for good durability.  Dense wood like beech, maple, oak and southern yellow pine are good examples.  Mahogany is a more expensive wood that you will find in higher end furniture.  The best woods for staining- a favorite of the ‘do it yourself-er’ are pine, maple and oak.

As with most pieces of furniture, futon frames offer you a lot of options and choices.  The futon frame you ultimately end up purchasing will depend on what you look for in style, durability, size and price.

Futon Mattress Types- an overview

Today we will look at the types of Futon Mattresses available on the market.  The decision of what type of futon mattress to get can be as important. probably more so, than the frame.  Here is a brief rundown of what you have available to you, for a more detailed look at futon mattresses visit our Futon Mattress page.

Cotton Mattresses– The traditional futon mattress, a basic cotton or cotton-polyester fill.  Cotton only futon mattresses are very firm and very heavy.  A Twin size can weigh between 38 and 45 pounds, with a Queen size tipping the scales as high as 75 pounds.  Cotton mattresses are flexible and easier to fold so they work well when you need to use them as a sofa or love seat.  Cotton tends to clump so you should be prepared to flip and rotate your mattress every month.  If you are looking for a traditional style very firm mattress, the cotton mattress may be the one for you.

Cotton and Foam– The most popular futon mattresses on the market today are the cotton and foam variety.  Cotton and foam mattresses tend to hold their form better than the all cotton variety, yet are still very affordable.  Due to the cotton, you will need to care for these in a similar way as you would an all cotton mattress- rotating and flipping monthly.  The core of the mattress is made of foam layers which are surrounded by a cotton batting.  The more foam layers, the softer the mattress will be.

Foam and Polyester– Foam and Polyester have greatly improved the life of the average futon mattress.  Polyester provides the support one wants in a mattress.  There is a foam core with a layer of cotton around the core to provide softness.  These futon mattresses are resilient and hold their shape for a long time.  The mattresses are light weight and made for everyday use.  Foam and polyester mattresses should be flipped about every three months.

Wool– Wool futon mattresses are not very common because many people have wool allergies.  Additionally, they need good care as they tend to absorb moisture and odors- much like cotton.  Care of wool mattresses is similar to that of cotton.  Wool is a natural insulator, which makes these mattresses eco-friendly, and better in cooler climates.

Innerspring– Innerspring futon mattresses most closely emulate the feel of a traditional coil bed.  Giving you the closest experience to the type of sleep most consumers get on a traditional bed.  Innerspring futon mattresses tend to be more expensive than the cotton and foam varieties, but are more comfortable to sleep on.  The typical coil futon mattress has added spring and cushion, when you roll over at night, the springs will absorb the pressure of your body more quickly.  A well made coil spring futon mattress has polyester batting for the outer layers, thick foam barriers for comfort and springs that individually wrapped in cotton.  These types of mattresses don’t fold so are used n futons that are for sleeping only.  They should be flipped every six months.

Visco(Memory) Foam– With the popularity of the ‘memory’ foam mattress, this type of foam mattress is worth touching upon.  Visco foam conforms to the individual body shape of the sleeper, and even gets softer from the heat of the sleepers body.  Visco futon mattresses include a layer of the visco foam to create an additional level of comfort.  The visco/memory foam mattresses are more expensive but require less care than traditional models.  Visco foam has characteristics that include: better breathability, better airflow, better recovery time, lower odor retention and they are hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant.

Best of luck in your search for the best futon for you, the team at We Know Futons wants to provide as much information for you as possible.

Futon Frames- a quick study

Of the futon frames you may come across in your search, there are three that are by far the most popular: Bi-Fold, Chair/Love-seat and Ottoman, and the Tri-Fold or A-Frame styles.  Each is more or less associated with either a particular size of futon mattress or, philosophy behind the construction.

Of the three we are looking at here, the most popular by far is the Bi-Fold frame, which are most often found with futon mattresses of the Full or Queen sizes.

Full size futons and frames (the most popular of these two) will generally measure 75 inches ‘between the arms’, basically the length of the mattress.  To figure the full length of the futon along the wall you will need to add in the width of the arms, generally between 2 and 6 inches, depending on the style.  Queen size futons will measure 80 inches between the arms, again, you will need to add the width of both arms to figure the total ‘wall’ length.  When in the open position (as a bed), the Full size futon will extend 54 inches from the wall, and the Queen size will extend 60 inches from the wall to the front edge of the mattress.  When the futon frames are in the closed position (as a couch or sofa), they will extend from 36 to 42 inches from the wall to the front edge.

The second most popular type of frame is the Futon Chairs and Ottoman and the Love-seat and ottoman.  The Futon Chairs and ottomans come in two styles, those with a built in sliding ottoman and those with a separate ottoman.  These two styles come in two sizes, and when laid flat they measure either 28 inches by 54 inches (Jr. Twin) or 39 inches by 54 inches (Twin).  The 28 and 39 inch measurements are the between the arms figures.  When the ottoman is added and the second mattress piece in place, the distance extended from the wall is 75 inches.  When the futon is in it’s position as a chair, the extension from the wall is between 36 and 42 inches.

The Love-seat measures 54 inches between the arms and when laid out is a 54 by 54 inch square.  Adding the ottoman and second mattress piece brings the futon size to 54 by 75 inches, the same as the Bi-fold full size mattress, but the length and width orientation are reversed.  Occasionally the Love-seat futon will use a thinner 1 piece mattress that will drape over the back of the frame when in the closed or upright position.

Finally we have the A-Frame, or Tri-Fold frame style (also called a 3 way frame).  These will come in sizes to match their mattress sizes- the most common of which are Twin, Full and Queen.  Twins will measure 39 inches wide by 75 inches between the arms, Full size futons will be 54 inches wide by 75 inches between the arms, and the Queen will be 60 inches wide by 80 inches between the arms.  The 3 way frame can also be used for a King size futon but that is a much less common size.  Some of these styles of frames do not have arms that extend above the frame, these are Low Arm frames.  Those that do have arms extending above the frame that you can rest your arms on are called High Arm frames.  The mattresses used on these frames are generally thinner and more flexible as they will either be folded under the front part of the ‘sofa’, or draped over the back.

Framing material will typically be either metal or wooden.  The metal frames are often less expensive but do not hold up as well as the more expensive but more durable wooden frames.

Futons- a brief history

What we refer to as the ‘futon’ originally evolved from designs based on the traditional Japanese bedding consisting of two parts, the shikibuton (mattress) and the kakebuton (quilt cover).  The traditional Japanese futon was placed upon a tatmi mat of floor for sleeping, and was then rolled up and stored in a closet during the day- allowing the sleeping room to be used for other purposes.  The Japanese futons need to be cleaned and aired out regularly, and have much thinner mattresses than their western counterparts.

The western futon is almost always placed on some type of framework that can be converted in to another type of useable furniture such as a chair or sofa.  The frames range from a simple light wood bi-fold that flattens out from a bend in the middle, to much more elaborate and stylish designs based on the furniture classics.   The modern western futon design is credited to William Brouwer, a Boston area furniture designer who wanted to devise a better  space saving solution for his small apartment.  Till he began working on the problem, the most common bed and furniture convertible was the good old ‘hide-a-way’ bed, a heavy, difficult to move and uncomfortable solution.  Brouwer developed a ‘tri-fold’ design frame which could be slid together or apart to become either a bed or couch.  The styling was well well crafted using fine woods for the frame and wooden slats to support the mattress, it received notional recognition.  The futon mattresses made in the Boston area were much about twice as thick as their Japanese counterparts as they were made from cotton that was curlier (providing greater ‘loft’) than that used in Japan.

Soon futons were being designed and made throughout the United States and the rest of the world using the basic Brouwer bed design as well as the ‘bi-fold’ design, that looked more like conventional couches.  Over time it has become apparent there are few limits to the variety of designs and styles that can be developed.

The futons of today may seem much more sophisticated and comfortable than those of the past, but they retain the basic principles of simplicity and versatility that has been a futon hallmark.  Futons offer the simple convenience of sitting and sleeping without taking up a lot of space.

Day 1- We Know Futons: and so it begins-

Today we launch our “We Know” site number 2, “We Know Futons”, and once again, our goal is to be the premier site you go to when it’s time to learn about Futons and what to look for when you are ready to purchase one.  We Know Futons is an independent site designed to bring you the information you need to make an informed buying decision.  We Know Futons does not sell futons or related products and we are not affiliated with any manufacturer, supplier, or retailer of futons.  We are not beholden to any interest and will not try to steer you in any particular direction.  Our goal is to provide unbiased information so that you can make your own personal buying decision based on your particular needs.

We Know Futons understands that there are a lot of options available when you look for a new Futon: Size, kind of furniture it will be: chair, couch, love-seat, style, mattress type, etc.  How do you go about compiling all that information?  We Know Futons will gather it and present it here for you to review.

The team at We Know Futons looks forward to growing with you over the years and being more effective as our information and knowledge base expands.  Information is like a living thing, it grows and changes all the time as new technologies are developed, existing technologies refined and improved and channels to receive these products and technologies strengthen and move on new directions.

Come back and visit us often, and tell your friends about us.  We will be adding to our content consistently and highlighting specials and announcements as they occur.

Best Regards and Sweet Dreams!

The “We Know Futons” team