Futon vs Sofa Bed: Which Furniture Option is Right For You?
June 20, 2023
Est. Reading Time: 9 Mins
When you picture your dream living room, what are the furniture pieces you see? Do you envision a foldable sofa bed or a contemporary futon bed full of room for activities?
Regardless of your preference, your living room serves as an ideal space to unwind and host your guests. However, what happens when your social gatherings extend beyond a single evening? In the absence of a dedicated guest bedroom, where will your visitors find a comfortable place to spend the night?
While you can expect some comfortable and stylish La-Z-Boy sleeper sofa these choices may not be ideal for everyone. This is why we look to similar products that are on the market to compare and see what they have to offer.
As you can tell from the title of this article, we will be comparing the similarities and differences between a futon versus a sofa bed, which will hopefully help you decide which one is right for you.
In this Article…
- Definition of a Futon vs a Sofa Bed
- Advantages of a Futon
- Disadvantages of a Futon
- Advantages of a Sofa Bed
- Disadvantages of a Sofa Bed
Definition of a Futon vs. a Sofa Bed
While you may have a general understanding of the various definitions, there can be some confusion surrounding certain terms. For instance, the terms "futon" and "sofa bed" are often used interchangeably, which can further blur their distinctions and create uncertainty.
What is a Futon?
So what is a futon and how does the term differ from a foldable sofa bed? According to Merriam-Webster, the term "futon" originates from Japanese and specifically refers to a type of bedding that typically consists of cotton and can be utilized on the floor or within a frame to serve as a bed, couch, or chair.
These types of furniture are closer to the ground and are known to easily convert to a bed by moving one side of the frame down to create a flat and soft appearance.
What is a Sofa Bed?
As for a sofa bed, Meriam Webster defines it as a sofa that turns into a bed by simply pulling out a concealed mattress or by unhinging the upholstered back downwards.
A pull out sofa bed is also more of a traditional furniture piece to add to a living room than a casual futon, since it appears more like a regular sofa than a futon does.
While both futon beds and pull out sofa beds excel in providing multifunctional furniture solutions, individual preferences often lead people to favour one over the other. So, what are the reasons behind choosing a futon or a sofa bed?
Pros of a Futon
Now that we have a clear distinction as to what is a sofa bed versus what is a futon, let’s figure out why someone would want to choose one over the other, starting with the pros and cons of a futon.
1. What Size is a Futon Mattress
One of the bigger differences between a futon versus a sofa bed is that a futon is much lighter in weight.
This is because futons are constructed using lighter materials, making them more appealing to individuals who prioritize both comfort and ease of mobility. This quality becomes especially advantageous for those who have a nomadic lifestyle or frequently relocate, as they can opt for furniture that is not overly burdensome to move, thereby avoiding strain on their backs and the backs of their helpful friends and family.
2. More Affordable Option
Taking another point from the construction, a futon sofa is more affordable than even a basic sofa bed due to the materials used to make the frame.
A sofa with a pull out bed is normally made with varying degrees of wood, which is used for structural integrity. When adding a pull-out mattress into the mix, it also has metal components to it, which brings the total to a higher price.
A Futon sofa, in comparison, often features ample padding instead of relying heavily on wooden materials, resulting in a more cost-effective option for those seeking budget-friendly furniture. Additionally, the majority of futon sofas come equipped with a convenient built-in metal frame, allowing for easy adjustment between 90 degrees and 180 degrees.
3. Better for Smaller Spaces
While the sizes of a small sofa bed versus a futon bed can be similar, futons actually can take up less space than their counterpart.
But you might be asking yourself, how is this the case if both furniture pieces can come in the same mattress sizes? Yes, it is true that you can find twins, doubles, queens and even king-sized furniture frames of both variations. But the reason why a futon bed takes less space is that it is closer to the ground.
What’s more, some futons don’t come with large armrests like a pull out sofa bed does, which also plays a huge factor, since the arms of a sofa are a defining piece to a furniture frame. Due to this reason, sofa futons are frequently favoured as furniture choices for apartments and college dormitories.
Cons of a Futon
After seeing these advantages, you might think a sofa futon is a great choice, right? Well, let’s see what the other side of the coin has to say…
While futon beds can be less expensive due to the construction of the frame, it might unfortunately hinder your comfortability level a little bit more than expected.
Because futons are normally made with just foam padding and metallic bars, you might feel harder areas where the bars are situated, making you feel uncomfortable no matter how thick the foam padding is.
2. Might Be Harder to Get Out Of
When sitting on a sofa, the ideal sitting position is, of course, up to you. However, to know if a sofa best compliments your body type, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle, with your thighs parallel to the floor.
This is the same scenario when sitting on a La-Z-Boy sleeper sofa. To learn more about How to Find Out if a Sofa is the Best Fit for You, take a look at this article.
When sitting on a sofa futon, however, because they are positioned closer to the ground, it means that your legs will not be able to reach that 90-degree angle. Instead, your knees would be closer to 45 degrees, with your thighs pointing upwards.
Because of this distinction, it might be harder for some users to get up from a futon versus a sofa bed if they have leg pain or chronic hip problems. In this case, it might be more beneficial to invest in a sofa instead of a futon.
2. Not as Versatile in Style
This last point may not be considered a con for some people, but is worth pointing out for those looking for stylish options.
As mentioned before, futon beds are more associated with apartments and college dorms, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, younger generations looking for furniture may not care as much about how a furniture piece may look in a room and care more about how expensive something is.
While a futon bed can look stylish in an apartment, it might not work well in other settings like a more traditional-looking living room. If you’re looking for more elegance and higher quality in a room, a futon bed, unfortunately, may not be able to compete with an affordable sofa bed.
Pros of a Sofa Bed
Now that we’ve considered the pros and cons of a futon, let’s see how a sofa bed may compare to today’s rival.
1. Looks More Like a Regular Sofa
While the advantages of a pull out sofa bed can be subjective, one notable advantage is that it closely resembles a regular sofa in appearance.
When a foldable sofa bed is in its closed state, it closely resembles a regular sofa. In fact, with high-quality construction, it can be challenging to distinguish between a sofa and a basic sofa bed. This feature allows for the seamless integration of both seating and sleeping functionalities without compromising on the aesthetic appeal of a traditional sofa.
As for a futon bed, it isn’t afraid to look like an interchangeable furniture piece, making it appear more casual and less formal. While this aspect of a pull out sofa bed may be appealing to some, it may not align with the desire to create a traditional-looking living room with a regular sofa.
2. Sofa Beds Can Last Longer
As mentioned before, the level of construction plays a huge factor when deciding between these two pieces of furniture.
In the case of a basic sofa bed, they typically incorporate a greater proportion of wooden materials in their construction, which often results in higher overall quality compared to futons that primarily rely on metal and foam padding for their structure.
The quality of materials also plays a factor. Depending on the store you buy your furniture from, there are varying degrees of materials used within the construction of a piece. In La-Z-Boy’s case, for example, our queen sofa beds are made with Premiere Construction, using some of the highest quality materials to make our products.
By offering furniture products that have the potential to outlast many others in the market, we provide an opportunity for customers to make a long-term investment. This means that you can enjoy your furniture for a lifetime, cherishing its durability and longevity. The prospect of having furniture that stands the test of time adds value and ensures that you can continue to appreciate your chosen pieces for years to come.
3. More Customizations Available
More specific to our selection, La-Z-Boy’s sleeper sofas can come with multiple customization options than sofa futons do.
While futon beds offer some customization options such as upholstery and potentially different metal legs, pull out sofa beds take customization a step further. In addition to these features, basic sofa beds provide the flexibility of customizing the firmness of the mattress to suit individual preferences for comfort and a wide range of styles.
At La-Z-Boy, for example, our large sofa bed mattresses can be upgraded from the regular innerspring ComfortCore mattress to a SlumberAir mattress or a firmer sofa bed option for more support.
To learn more, check out our Review of the Sofa Bed Mattress Selection at La-Z-Boy.
Cons of a Sofa Bed
While sofa beds may sound great, there are also some disadvantages to them as well…
1. More Expensive
As previously mentioned, futon beds typically have a lower price tag due to their construction requiring fewer materials and, in some cases, lacking armrests.
However, affordable sofa beds are more expensive not just from futons, but also from regular sofas. This is because of the inner mattress built-in with the construction of the sofa. Moreover, this also doesn’t put into consideration the customizations and upgrades that may add a higher price tag to your basic sofa bed.
2. Heavier Than a Futon
If you’re looking for a small sofa bed while living on the higher floor of an apartment, you may want to rethink your options.
Not only is a basic sofa bed heavier than a futon sofa, but it is also much heavier than a regular sofa, due to the added weight of the mattress inside of the frame.
This is where a futon sofa may come in handy, since these options take up less space, and are much lighter than their counterparts. It can also make things considerably harder for anyone moving a large sofa bed out of an apartment, especially when taking it out of an apartment that’s higher up.
3. Can Take Up More Space
Lastly, a basic sofa bed is known to take up more space than sofa futons.
Not only is it because of the arms of the frame, nor because it is higher off the ground, but also because some sofa beds have a pull-out feature for the mattress.
If you live in a smaller space, it might be harder to position a foldable sofa bed the right way so that it has enough space to use the mattress. As for a futon bed, these pieces normally use what’s called a ‘click-clack’ method.
Because the sofa futon is already used for sleeping, all you need to do is lower the back of the frame, and that’s it. The sound is usually a click followed by a clack when the mechanisms are put in the right place.
Futon vs. Sofa Bed: Pros and Cons Breakdown
Now that these pros and cons have been broken down for you, here is a summary of all the points in this article for easier access.
Everyone's tastes in furniture are different. Even if you might feel like you’re the minority in a furniture decision, don’t let that stop you from creating the living room you desire!
At La-Z-Boy Ottawa and Kingston, we can help you come up with a stylish living space, that grabs the attention of your guests, and speaks to who you are as an individual.
A design consultant or an interior designer will be able to help you out with any questions or concerns regarding your living room. Our designers are always eager to lend a helping hand, especially when helping you choose the furniture style and seating for your living room.
If you’re interested in learning more about our La-Z-Boy products, check out some of these articles:
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