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Futon Mattress Guide: Benefits, Drawbacks & More

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Zach Gentry
Helix Customer Experience Manager / Mattress Guru
Updated: January 17, 2020

A futon mattress sits on a futon frame. The frame can fold down into a bed or up into a sofa. Some futons have a mattress and additional cushions that you use when in the sofa position.


Early futon mattresses from Japan had fillings such as reeds, hay, or even animal hair. Today, most futon mattress products have a foam filling, innersprings, or a combination of foam and coils.


These mattresses are quite thin compared to standard bed-only mattresses, but they are functional. Some buyers may use a futon as their primary bed, but often, this type of furniture functions as a sofa that you can turn into an additional guest bed when needed. They can also function as a budget bed option in a small home or studio apartment, but most futons are not comfortable enough for nightly, long-term use.


Interestingly, when it was first popular in Japan, the futon was not an economical piece of furniture. Only wealthy members of the elite ruling class had this type of sofa-bed. However, futons were popular with a more-practical-minded demographic when they became popular in the U.S., starting in the 1980s.


They remain practical today since they can serve as both beds and sofas, but they are usually cheaper than both beds and sofas.

What is a Futon Mattress Made of?

Mattresses for futon frames usually consist of cotton or polyester covering. The filing needs to be flexible enough to fold up into a sofa position, or it has to have sections that allow for easy bed-to-sofa conversions.


Some futon mattresses have a foam filling, while others use small innersprings or a coil design. The frames of the futon, meanwhile, are either wood or metal or a composite that can bear weight.


Some futon mattresses use foam to provide cushioning, while others rely on memory foam. You can find some products that have a regular foam or coil mattress and a thinner top layer that consists of memory foam. You can also find futons that offer a hybrid that includes foam and innersprings or coils.

How Long Does a Futon Mattress Last?

The lifespan of a futon mattress will depend on the quality and the way that you use it. Futon mattresses typically last between five and 10 years. They will last longer if you only use them occasionally.


For example, if you only use the futon as a guest bed, then it may last for 10 years or more. However, if you use it as a regular bed or the main sofa in your home, then the mattress may wear out in five years or so.

Price Range for Futons

Futons are usually cheaper than sofas or beds. You can purchase an entire futon set with both frame and mattress, or you can buy a futon mattress and frame separately. Budget mattresses with standard foam filling and cotton or polyester cover can cost as little as $100. Memory foam mattresses for futons are usually slightly more expensive. They can range from $100 to $300 depending on the size and quality. Some premium memory foam models can approach $400.


Coil mattresses are also in the $100 - $400 range. In general, coil mattresses tend to be at the high end of the futon mattress price range. Some premium models can reach as much as $600, and bigger mattresses are usually more expensive than smaller ones. Futons have the same size options as beds, with double and queen-size mattresses bring the most common options.

Futon Mattresses vs. Hybrid Mattresses

It can be challenging to compare futon mattresses with hybrid mattresses because hybrid mattresses are only for beds, and futons need to be able to serve as both sleeping space and sofa cushion. You can get a memory foam futon mattress or a coil futon mattress, but a hybrid mattress combines both these components into one bed, which offers both comfort and support.


A premium futon frame and mattress can provide a level of support and comfort, but it will not match the combination of firmness and softness that you get with even a mid-range hybrid mattress.

How Firm is a Futon Mattress?

Futon mattresses are usually firmer than bed-only mattresses. These mattresses need to be thin to serve as both a sofa and a bed. However, the overall firmness depends on the mattress, and also the type of frame that you have.


Regular foam futon mattresses are the firmest option, followed by memory foam products, which do a better job of conforming to your body. Coil futon mattresses can be soft or firm depending on the tension of the coils.


Some futons have firm cushions, but the mattress gets covered by additional pillows when it is in the sofa position. These can make the futon seem soft when you sit on it, but since you won’t use the sofa-specific padding when the futon is in the sleeping position, it will be more firm.

Take The Sleep Quiz To Find Your Match

There’s a lot that goes into finding the best mattress—so much so that it can feel a little overwhelming. Luckily, you can try the Helix Sleep Quiz today to get started on your journey for the perfect mattress according to your body size, sleep style, and unique preferences.