Over the last decade or so we have seen what you might call a blast from the past - the comeback of a futon. The reason behind the trend, most likely, the shrinking of the living space in big cities where the price of renting ( let alone buying) an apartment are skyrocketing even in the "post-crisis" era.
Higher prices - smaller paces
After a short lapse following the burst of the economic bubble in 2007, the market began a steady recovery boosted by the extended lines of credits for new homeowners.
To put it simply - people are buying again, and that spurs the increase in the average rent cost. As it naturally goes, the higher the prices, the smaller the apartments people can afford. According to a study by Accelerate Homes (UK), you need anywhere around 3 months to sell a home, depending on location of course.
Just for reference, the average cost of rentals in Manhattan has reached $3,500 (average for 2010s) which is close to the all-time high prices we saw in the years leading to the meltdown of 2006 & 2008
Enter the Futon
It's this environment that woke up the dormant futon industry to the new opportunities in the market. Futons are a practical solution to the problem of the increasingly small living spaces since the best of them can easily play both the role of a sofa a mattress.
In the guide below, we have outlined a 3-step process any smart buyer should go through when buying a new futon.
Step 1: Your Space
The obvious place to start is the size of your space vs. the size of the futon you'll be getting. It's smart to re-think the space as a whole since just moving a few things around can make all the difference.
The two dimensions you should look at are that of the upright position (sofa) and fully reclined (bed). When looking at the dimensions, look at the further-most points and add an extra few inches so that the backside of the futon doesn't rub against the wall. This will increase the lifespan of the original upholstery, especially if it's cotton-based.
Step 2: The Frame
The first sub-step here is choosing the type of frame that will work your space - wood, metal or a combo of the two.
If you're going for a contemporary look, a metal frame might work well. In this scenario, choosing a specific model gets easier since the differences between metal frames are not significant and the prices don't vary as much as those of wooden frames.
The one detail to pay special attention to is how the futon is assembled. If the legs are screwed in, make sure that inner frame is also metal or features metal plates. In the long run, this makes all the difference in terms of the lifespan because the last thing you want is screws loosening (which tends to happen when metal is screwed directly into wood).
If you're going with wood, the choice gets a bit more complicated because the types of wood used for futons frame varies - both in appearance and durability (learn about mdf vs solid wood here)
Our advice here would be to go with hardwood like oak, cherry or southern pine. These will give you the best bang for your buck and are much less susceptible to wear and tear than softwoods (like aspen or white pine).
Lastly, there's the option of the going with a frame that's a combination of wood and metal. These are not as common as all-wood or all-metal frames and are typically made with wooden sides and a metal foundation. You can read more specific tips on Overstock here.
Step 3: The Mattress
This is a critical step. For most people, factors like durability, longevity and cleaning the topper, will be secondary, and even if you do end up getting a futon that doesn't last a decade but you get a few years of comfortable sleep, you'll likely feel that you spent your money wisely.
Read the “Best Comforter For Hot Sleepers Review” here.
The range of options you have is broad and probably deserve a guide on its own, but we'll try to make a few key points as concisely as possible.
Futons with all-cotton filling will be comfortable but cotton is prone to developing indentations with prolonged use and, in the long run, you might end up with a lumpy sleep surface.
Memory foam is the most widely used material for the filling and some of the comfiest futons on the market rely on memory foam alone. The downside is that the foam used for futons is not top-tier. It's not as dense and durable as mattress-grade foam. This means that it's more likely to "break" making the surface uneven.
Hybrid core (combo between innerspring and foam) is probably the best value for money. The springs will maintain the structural stability and the foam will make compensate for the sturdiness of the springs. You can see some specific recommendations in this guide on most comfortable futons for everyday sleep on TheSleepStudies.
It goes without saying that the final choice will depend on your unique set of circumstances.
We do, however, feel that the information we presented above are a good place to start and cut through the clutter of confusing (and often conflicting) advice available online.
The research does not end here nor did we aim so high in this guide. We crafted it to give you an idea of what to look for and what to avoid.