Futon vs. Convertible Sofa: What’s the Difference?


Futon vs. Convertible Sofa

Both a futon and a convertible sofa can be a great addition to your home. They are especially good for those who do not have that extra guest bedroom for surprise visitors. It is so much easier and nicer to pull the bed out from the convertible sofa or toss some blankets on a futon than making a pallet on the floor or using a blow-up mattress. 

The difference between futons and convertible sofas is that the mattress for a futon is used as the seat cushion and backrest, but the sofa’s mattress is hidden inside. Each of these pieces of furniture works for sleeping and sitting, but the choice has to do with: 

  • Comfort
  • Design
  • Price
  • Space

When you are thinking about whether to add a convertible sofa or a futon, you will need to consider where it will be located in your home, how much you want to spend, and how comfortable it will be to sleep and sit on. We are going to delve into those details to help you out. 

It Has to Be Comfortable

Years ago, sleeping on either one of these choices would be difficult for most people. The futon mattress was hard and uncomfortable, and the mattress on the convertible sofa was so thin you could feel the frame underneath. That is why futons were mostly found in college dorms, and small starter homes and convertible sofas almost became extinct

The Pros and Cons of Futon Comfort

Because the futon uses the same cushion to sit on as it does to sleep on, there may still be some serious discomfort in this piece of furniture. Even the higher-priced ones with the memory foam mattresses are not versatile enough to do both jobs equally.  

However, some futons are soft and comfy nowadays with fluffy padded cushions and can easily be covered by a nice memory foam or pillow top mattress cover. They even have upgraded models that do not have the added bar in the middle that digs into your back or puts the bed at a slant, so you roll off in the night. But you will pay a lot more for those.

Futon ConsFuton Pros
The material of the cushions can be uncomfortable or hotCan be comfortable if you get a high-quality one
The frame in the middle can be uncomfortable Some do not have the bars in the middle
You are sleeping on the same cushions people sit on all-dayThe “mattress” can be covered with a mattress pad

The Pros and Cons of Convertible Sofa Comfort

The comfort of a convertible sofa depends on whether you are sitting on it or sleeping on it. Also, it can depend on how much you want to spend and its aesthetics. When you put all this together and spend a ton of money, you can get a really comfy spot to both sleep and sit. 

But for your average convertible sofa, you are not going to get the best of both worlds. The mattress of a convertible sofa has to be pretty thin to fit inside a sofa, after all. The sofa’s cushions may be soft as a cloud to sit on, but open up that bed and try to go to sleep and you may find out how much you would rather just sleep on the couch itself

Convertible Sofa ConsConvertible Sofa Pros
The mattress is too thinYou can add a mattress pad 
The frame will most likely dig into your back The higher priced ones can be pretty comfortable
They are not as big as a bedThey come in larger sizes if you custom order them

It Also Has to Be Priced Reasonably

Nobody wants to spend a lot of money on any piece of furniture. However, it is worth it to have something that you can use for two purposes. If you were to buy a couch and a bed, it would cost you much more than if you were to buy a futon or convertible sofa.

The Pros and Cons of Futon Price

Between the two, futons are the least expensive option, no matter how you look at them. But that is because they are not as stylish and comfortable as a convertible sofa no matter what you do. However, with the newer, more expensive futons, you may be surprised at the comfort. 

For example, you can get a futon for an affordable price online. However, your guests may never come back after sleeping on it. The more advanced futon beds with memory foam that folds out into a queen-sized bed will run you more than a basic futon. The downside is that your guests will still be sleeping on the same material you sit on. 

Futon ConsFuton Pros
Futons just tend to look cheapYou can get a reasonable futon for a decent price.
You will have to spend a lot of money to get a comfortable one Even if you buy the most expensive futon, it is still going to be less expensive than a convertible sofa bed
You are sleeping on the same cushions people sit on all-dayThey sell mattress covers in all kinds of colors and sizes at reasonable prices

The Pros and Cons of Convertible Sofa Price

You cannot find a full-sized convertible sofa for under $$$$ unless you get a used one. Convertible sofas are higher priced because they take a lot more skill and time to put together. At its most basic, a futon is just a big cushion tossed onto a convertible frame. That does not take as much effort.

If you think about it, you are getting two pieces of furniture with a convertible sofa. The cost of buying a full-sized or queen bed with a mattress is at least $$$$ in total. And a sofa will cost you around $$$$ for a cheap bottom-of-the-line brand. So, you are getting an amazing deal if you get a convertible sofa for less than $$$.

Convertible Sofa ConsConvertible Sofa Pros
The cheaper convertible sofas are not comfortable for sitting or sleepingYou can get them more comfortable if you spend more money
The cost of a convertible sofa is about three times the price of a top-of-the-line futon A cheap convertible sofa bed can be much more comfortable with a mattress pad
Buying one that looks and feels good can be expensiveBuying a basic bed and sofa of the same value would cost more

Space May Also Be an Issue

If you are looking for something small, a futon is almost certainly the best choice for you. Because even the smallest convertible sofa will not fit into a dorm room or small space once it is opened, and even if it did fit, you would not be able to get out of bed because there would be no room to walk. 

The Pros and Cons of Futon Size 

Futons do not take up much room. This was one of the main benefits advertised when futons first hit the market. They were boasted to be perfect for dorm rooms lacking space for seating and bedding. Laying out the futon hardly takes up any more space than when it is closed. 

Even the newer and larger futons barely take up more room than when they are folded into a couch position. The convertible sofa pulls out into a full bed with the sofa behind it, more or less. So, it is like having a full-sized bed in front of a sofa. That is how much room it takes.

Futon ConsFuton Pros
In a large room, a futon would not look rightThey are perfect for small spaces
No matter what, the futon is still not as comfortable as a bed Some are not so bad
You are still sleeping on the same cushions people sit on all-dayThe cushion can be covered with a mattress cover

The Pros and Cons of Convertible Sofa Size

A convertible sofa takes up a lot of space no matter how you make it. There is just no way for a queen- or king-sized bed to pull out of a couch without taking up the same amount of room as a queen- or king-sized bed. Add that to the couch, and you need a lot of room

Some of the newer models are better at how they fit the mattress into the couch. However, no matter what you do, you will need enough room to hold a big bed with a couch as well. If you have a tiny space, this may not be an option. 

Convertible Sofa ConsConvertible Sofa Pros
They take up more room than a futonSome newer ones may be smaller
You cannot fit them in a small space like a dorm room You cannot fit a bed and couch in a small space like a dorm room either
They are heavy and difficult to moveThey last much longer and are more durable than futons

Design Means More to Some Than Others

Even if you are not one of those people who want their home to look like it could be on the cover of a magazine, you still do not want your home to look like a dorm room. Of course, if you are buying for a dorm room, you can do just as well with a futon because you will not care if you cannot find a loveseat and chair to match. 

The Pros and Cons of Futon Style

Futons typically do not match with the rest of the furniture. Although you can probably get a set that looks good together, they still will not look as stylish as a convertible sofa set no matter what you do. In fact, futons are actually quite attractive, but they just do not look “permanent.”

Futon ConsFuton Pros
You cannot expect to find a loveseat and chair to matchIf you have a dorm room or tiny space, you do not want other furniture anyway
The futon just does not look like it belongs in a full-sized room It would work great in a guest bedroom, kids’ bedroom, or basement room
The styles are typically the sameThey make futon covers that can help them fit in

The Pros and Cons of Convertible Sofa Style

You can find convertible sofas in thousands of designs as well as shapes and styles. The color range is infinite, and you can get a loveseat and chair to match. You can even get a sectional that converts into a queen- or king-sized bed. 

When they are closed, convertible sofas look like a regular couch because that is what they are. But you can get them to fit into any décor or setting. They are versatile and last a lot longer than any futon you can buy. A king sleeper can fit a small family who visits from out of town, but nobody could even tell that it is a convertible sofa bed. 

Convertible Sofa ConsConvertible Sofa Pros
They are expensiveThey can be matched with your other furniture
They take up a lot of space They do not take up much space until bedtime when you don’t need as much space anyway
They are heavier and take more time to turn into a bedThe comfort factor makes up for the extra time and work

What Sizes and Styles do They Come In?

As previously mentioned, convertible sofas come in thousands of sizes and styles. You can get a small loveseat that turns into a twin bed or even a huge sectional that can have as much space as a king-sized bed. They can be matched with a loveseat and chair as well as end tables and a coffee table. 

Most sofa beds are heavy, weighing between 200 and 400 pounds depending on the style and size. The choices are lengthy, depending on what you want. Some of the most common fabrics include: 

  • Chenille
  • Denim
  • Leather 
  • Microfiber 
  • Plush
  • Polyester
  • Tweed
  • Velvet

However, you should also consider the usage your furniture is going to get. For example, if you have kids or pets, a velvet or chenille fabric is probably not a great idea. Microfiber and polyester are good for kids and dogs. But no couch can stand up to a cat’s claws, so you may want to just make sure your feline fur baby has other things to use as a scratching post. 

Mattress Sizes

It is probably best to know the sizes of the mattress sizes and styles first. For example:

TypeSizeLength Dimensions
Chair Twin bed49 to 65 inches
LoveseatTwin bed50 to 68 inches
Sofa Full bed67 to 83 inches
SofaQueen bed75 to 96 inches
SofaKing bed84 to 92 inches
Sectional SofaKing bed113 to 125 inches

The mattresses are also different widths, depending on the type and size, which include:

TypeSizeWidth Dimensions
Chair Twin bed30 to 34 inches
LoveseatTwin bed36 to 39 inches
Sofa Full bed52 to 55 inches
SofaQueen bed58 to 65 inches
SofaKing bed74 to 76 inches
Sectional SofaQueen or king bed58 to 76 inches

Here Are Some Good Examples

If you want a good deal on a convertible sofa, Amazon has some great prices. From recliners that turn into twin beds to sectionals that open up to be king beds. We did some research and found the following options.

Benjara Leatherette Nailhead Trim Queen Sofa Sleeper

This is a nice-looking couch that would fit into any décor, although it only comes in brown. It even comes with two accent pillows. The fabric is actually microfiber, so it is great for kids and pets, but it looks like distressed leather. 

The dimensions are 89 inches long and 39 inches tall. The memory foam mattress inside is 65 inches wide but only four inches thick. The metal frame is not comfortable to sleep on, so you should plan to spend more on a thicker mattress pad for comfort. Unless you just do not want your guests to come back.

American Furniture Classics Sedona Sleeper Sofa

If you are into leather, this faux leather microfiber convertible sofa bed is an awesome choice. You can get a stylish brown lodge-type couch that pulls out into a queen-sized bed. The legs are solid wood and styled beautifully, and the nail head accents are a nice touch. 

However, like most convertible sofas, the mattress is thin and will not provide much comfort. You will need to add a mattress pad to keep your guests comfortable. The dimensions are 88 inches long, 36 inches tall, and 64 inches wide. 

Rustic Brown Fabric Sofa Bed

If you want sleeping comfort as well as comfy seating, you will have to spend a bit more. This 86 x 40 x 68-inch couch and has a nice thick mattress inside with a memory foam pillow top. With a buckskin fabric and solid wood frame, the couch itself is gorgeous and durable. The rounded, solid wood legs are stained walnut. 

The bed frame is made of forged steel and has a patented recessed cross member and crosswire spring support system for amazing comfort. The mattress is five inches thick and covered in a pillow top memory foam. For comfort as well as style, this is a wonderful choice. And it comes with accent pillows as well.

The Main Differences Between a Futon and a Convertible Sofa

Although there may be a lot of confusion over the differences between a convertible sofa and a futon, it is actually pretty easy to understand. The futon is more of a bed that folds up into a couch, while a convertible sofa is a couch that also has a bed inside

With the futon, the entire mattress you sleep on is the seating and backrest of your sofa when you close it up. The convertible sofa is a fully functional couch that can be turned into a bed. With the futon, you just unfold it. However, with the convertible sofa, you have to remove all of the cushions and pull the frame from underneath the couch to make the bed. 

One Last Note

Whichever convertible sofa you choose, be sure to measure your doorways first so you know you can get it inside. Most sites will tell you how big the doorway has to be to get your couch through. The ones above stated that the doorway had to be at least 32 inches wide. You want to make sure to check your door dimensions before having one delivered that you cannot get through the door. 

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