Choosing a Futon
May 13, 2004 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Futon advice needed.

I'm looking for a good futon mattress, preferably king-size, to use as an every day bed. Price is a factor, but I'm looking for something that will remain comfortable and thick for years of peaceful snoozing. Google gives lots of options, ranging from crappy looking $400 mattresses to $2000+ ‘organic’ mattresses that seem like overkill to me.

Any pointers on what to look for or what to avoid? Are there specific brands that people have had good (or bad) experiences with?
posted by nixxon to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Best answer: Sigh. You're going to make me remember my five years of retail, aren't you? Bastard. Anyway, I worked in a futon shop for the hellish duration.

First off: why king size? Those things are goddamn huge, man; 78" x 80", and you frequently have to wait for them to be custom-made, as they're not terribly common. Also, the linen costs for king size mattresses are commensurately depressing and huge. I'd strongly recommend considering a queen size futon (60" x 80").

"Organic" basically means jack shit in the bedding world. A lot of futon places tout their "all-cotton" or "cotton/wool" futons as being "organic" (YAY!), as if "carbon-based" equals "good." The truth is, federal regulations require all of that stuff to be doused in boric acid for fire retardance. And never mind that all-cotton or cotton/wool futons are horrifyingly heavy and unwieldy as shit and, oh, yeah, don't last at all.

I'd recommend a foam-core futon. That is, a futon with high-density foam in the center with layers of cotton batting on either side. Look for plenty of tufting (those are the nylon/cotton ties that dimple the mattress surface) to keep things in place. There are all kinds of these, with all kinds of configurations, so lie down on a bunch of them until you find one you like.

Do not--I repeat, DO NOT--purchase a futon stuffed with synthetic fibers, often called "polyfill." These are cheap-ass garbage futons crammed willy-nilly with nylon fiber. Ever buy a cheap $10 pillow only to have it turn into a granite slab within a few months? That's what those futons are. They are very inexpensive, but unless you enjoy resting on a bed of gravel, avoid at all costs, no matter what the salesdrone says.
posted by Skot at 9:41 AM on May 13, 2004

AskMe advice needed.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:52 AM on May 13, 2004

I have a King-sized mattress from IKEA which is on a platform bed with no boxspring (as designed.) It was only 300 bucks. I've had it for a few months now and I believe I am noticing some sag already. So far, I am pretty happy with it although it doesn't have the support of an expensive sealy-type bed.

posted by callmejay at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, Skot, and sorry for triggering any post-retail stress disorder. As far as size goes, I basically want a really big bed so that I can occasionally extend weekend sleeping by letting the kids hop in for a while, but a queen size would be fine if it's all that is available. Glad to hear the 'organic' designation was the B.S. I'd assumed it was, and I'll definitely look for a foam core.

And DevilsAdvocate - I think the title of my post was perfectly adequate. People with information about or an interest in futons can click to read the details of my question (which basically amounts to 'what is a good futon'), while uninterested people can skip onto another post (or, I suppose, snarkily post links to metatalk if they’re into that sort of thing).
posted by nixxon at 10:36 AM on May 13, 2004

My response here.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2004

I had a foam-core, cotton-batting futon as Skot described for years before my ex decided she wanted a real bed. Well, we got one of those expensive sets and yes, it was comfortable, blah blah blah, but as soon as she was out the door, I headed straight back to the store and got another futon. I do like to place a fairly rigid box spring under it though.
posted by mischief at 12:12 PM on May 13, 2004

If you have to carry the futon up any stairs, consider the size. Futons are HEAVY and they are hard to carry since they do not have the structure of a mattress. So make sure you have some help if you need to get a king size futon up a flight of stairs.
posted by archimago at 12:55 PM on May 13, 2004

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