| About Futon Furniture
Millions are discovering revolutionary futon
furniture, the modern alternative to conventional sleeper-sofas.Take
a tour through these pages and discover the versatility, functionality
and value of beautiful, modern futon furniture.
Be a Wise Consumer!
The more you know the better. By reading and
learning the basics you will be better prepared when you go shopping
for your new futon furniture.
The Futon Difference
Space-saving futon furniture makes any room
bigger. Sofa by day, bed by night - versatile and functional futon
sofa-sleepers are ideal in that extra room for overnight guests,
or as a primary sofa or bed anywhere in your home. Comfort, simplicity
and space-saving efficiency are qualities that appeal to young
and old alike.
The Futon Furniture Switch Is On
Millions of people who originally bought futon
furniture for a spare room or TV room sofa discovered just how
comfortable they are - and have switched from traditional mattresses
and waterbeds to futon mattresses for their primary sleeping surface.
Quality Unfolds With Real Value
Quality-made, durable futon furniture is an
excellent value - it's considerably less expensive than a traditional
convertible sofa bed, and is available in a range of styles to
fit any budget and decor, giving you a real value for your home
furnishing's dollar. To help you discover even more detailed information
about futon furniture and the futon furniture industry find a FAI
Member Retailer in your area.
About Futon Mattresses
In its most basic form the futon mattress
is a simple cotton mat that is flexible and therefore easily folded.
The word (futon) is the English spelling of the Japanese word which
describes their bedding system. This system includes the "shikibuton" (floor
cushion) on which a person sleeps and the "kakebuton" (duvet/comforter)
which covers the sleeping person. The floor mat (shikibuton) is
the part of the system which has been transformed into the American
futon mattress/sofa-bed concept.
In the early years of the American futon industry
(1968 to 1974) most futon mattresses were hand-made by cottage
industry entrepreneurs. Today the hand-made variety are still available
but most futon mattresses are made in manufacturing facilities
that are able to produce hundreds and even thousands of units per
day. By using various filling materials like cotton, wool, polyester,
foam, latex, and even innerspring units you can get levels of futon
mattress comfort that range from firm to plush. As with computers,
what's inside makes a difference, the least expensive product is
rarely the best value/
Comfort. Relaxation. Peace. The mattress you choose to share one-third of your life with should embody all the comforts you deserve to help you relax in peace. Mattresses have evolved over the years and manufactures have produced a wide variety of categories and comfort levels for you to choose from which include: innersprings; foam, water, air, and futons.
Value is also important. It is hard to place a value on an item that means so much for your body and for your life. The Waking Value is possibly the most important factor because if you awake well rested after a full rem sleep, your body is totally rejuvenated to experience the new day. After you consider all the options you have to choose from, envision yourself (and your partner) waking up on this mattress then ask yourself…”is this mattress the correct fit for me?”
Practical Advice…here are some ABZ’zzz in each category to help you with your evening relaxation decisions.
The futon specialty sleep category has grown substantially over the years, so we will start here. Historically, futons equated to a cotton mattress. The origin of the futon began in western civilizations in the Orient. Living quarters were compact and multi-function. During the daytime the main living room also served as the kitchen, but at night, this room would transform to a bedroom simply by rolling out a cotton mattress (a futon) that was placed on top of a rice-straw pad (a tatami.) This simplistic mattress system is all natural, effective and is still used today. Americanization hit the futon. Futons, the original cotton mattresses, became elevated and they were placed on wooden frames instead of tatami’s. These wooden platforms evolved into a dual purpose piece of furniture that was used for sleeping and for sitting. Platform beds were used for the bedroom and convertible platforms were used in the living rooms. Convertible platforms became popular for the futon in studio settings because of their dual purpose and space saving nature.
The next transformation of the futon happened in the late 1980’s when manufacturers infused the cotton futon with combinations of foam and even innersprings. This transformation is still evolving today to improve the comfort and durability of the futon. The original cotton futon was firm in nature, but is extremely flexible and molds well to any platform, especially if it is convertible. Cotton futons are available in any size (cot to king) and any thickness, but standard thickness are 4”, 6”, and 8”.
*It is important to note here that the actual thickness is hard to depict in futons unless they have a tailored border. To gain insight on a futons thickness without a border, measure the edge of the mattress and measure the center of the mattress, then take the average of both measurements. This becomes important when you dress your futon and purchase a cover for it. If your futon mattress has a border, that will match the size cover you should purchase.
Futons adapt further into its American roots when manufacturers add innerspring coils to the cotton mix. This addition adds more comfort and energy to the futon. This innerspring futon has the appeal of a traditional mattress when it is placed on a platform bed, but has a flexible bonus when placed on a convertible frame because it folds up for the sofa look and down for the platform bed look. Quality of the innerspring coil does affect the comfort of the futon mattress. (Please refer to the innerspring section for more details.) Generally innerspring futon mattresses are 6” or 8” in thickness, but again can be made any size.
Foaming at the mouth for foam futons was another craze for futons. Foam will add a whole new life and dimension to the original cotton futon mattress. Literally, there are thousands of grades of foam. Foam is made from chemicals, air, and water. Depending on the mix of those ingredients will tell you how soft or firm the foam will be and how long it will last. In general, the higher density the foam is, the better the performance and durability will be. (Please refer to the foam section for more details.) The range of combinations of foam and cotton are widespread. In general, the more foam in a futon mattress, the longer the mattress will keep its shape and its original comfort. Also, the more visco-elastic foam that is used, the more body molding comfort you will achieve!
Keeping it natural with latex and wool!
Latex is a rubber product (not really a foam because latex comes from the sap of a rubber tree.) The foam industry has made some foams comparable to latex, but only 100% pure latex is natural. Latex will add a definite lively buoyant comfort to the futon mattress. In general, the more latex that is added to the futon, the more durable and comfortable the futon will be.
Wool is another one of nature’s gift of padding. Wool is generally used as a wrap around the cotton, foam and/or innersprings to add comfort and protection. This also tends to keep your mattress somewhat cooler in temperature.
Futon mattresses have come a long way. They are not the flat and extremely firm pads that they once were. Some say, their futon gives them a better sleep than their $2,000 bed! Not many products can boast that! Enjoy one yourself.
About Futon Frames
History & Details
The American version of the futon mattress started out on the floor.
As time passed many futon makers began to see the potential of
the futon frame as a new design alternative to the conventional,
dual-purpose sofa-bed. Although a multitude of frames now exist,
in the futon industry's early days it was the team of Irv Wieder
(of Arise) and William Brouwer who developed the first convertible
futon frames. Brouwer won the 1983 Daphne Award (sponsored by
the Hardwood Institute) for his Brouwer Bed as the best new design
in the Bedroom/Retail Category.
The word "futon" is the English spelling of the Japanese word which describes their bedding system. This system includes the "shikibuton" (floor cushion) on which a person sleeps and the "kakebuton" (duvet/comforter) which covers the sleeping person. The floor mat (shikibuton) is the part of the system which has been transformed into the American futon mattress/sofa-bed concept.
The American version of the futon mattress started out on the floor. As time passed many futon makers began to see the potential of the futon frame as a new design alternative to the conventional, dual-purpose sofa-bed. Although a multitude of futon frames now exist, in the futon industry's early days it was the team of Irv Wieder (of Arise) and William Brouwer who developed the first convertible futon frames. Brouwer won the 1983 Daphne Award (sponsored by the Hardwood Institute) for his Brouwer Bed as the best new design in the Bedroom/Retail Category. Two frames were introduced to work with the futon mattress; the bi-fold and tri-fold futon frames.
Bi-Fold and Tri-Fold:
The Sofa-beds of The New Millennium
There are two major differences between the bi-fold and tri-fold frame types. The first difference is the number of times the futon mattress must fold when converting from the sitting to sleeping position. The tri-fold requires the futon mattress to be folded twice while the bi-fold requires that the mattress fold only once. The second major difference between the two frame designs is that the tri-fold utilizes the shorter "width" of the mattress for seating while the bi-fold utilizes the longer "length". This gives the inherent advantage to the bi-fold because it looks much more like a conventional sofa-bed than does the tri-fold. It also provides a larger seating area for the consumer.
The bi-fold is now the industry standard and the more popular of the two basic styles. The frames are made of wood, metal or a combination of both. The wood choices available include oak, ash, pine, teak, rubber wood and various others. There are numerous finishes available from natural to cherry to antique finishes. If there is furniture finish you are trying to match there is a futon frame for you. Some frames can even be upholstered in your choice of fabric.
The arm designs have the looks and design characteristics found in traditional furniture. Today it is hard to distinguish between the looks of a conventional sofa and a futon. The futon also has a great advantage over its counter part the sofa bed in that the mattress is much more comfortable to sit and sleep on. Futon frames are unfolded from the front or the back. It takes only seconds to convert from a sofa to a bed.
Futon Frames come in a wide variety of sizes. The most popular size is the full size frame. This frame is designed to use a full size mattress (75” by 54”). Other sizes include queen, loveseat, cot and chair.
Other types of futon
As futon frames have become more and more a part of traditional furniture, new innovations have been introduced to the market. Two exciting innovations are the platform bed and the Click Clack frame.
The Platform Bed
Platform beds are not convertible like most futon furniture – they are always a bed. A hardwood frame supports the mattress on a series of wood slats. Due to the comfort and composition of futon mattresses there is no need for a box spring. The bed comes in many different styles and finished like the futon frames. It also may have drawers or space underneath the bed for storage. The advantage of the platform bed is an extremely comfortable, great looking everyday sleeping choice at a lesser cost.
The name describes these futon frames. These are metal frames with an upholstered mattress attached to the frame. They move into many different positions using a metal hinge system. You can position them as a bed, sofa, lounger or something in between.
Futon frames are easily delivered into the smallest of rooms. Detailed instructions allow quick assembly. It also allows for ease of moving. Instead of moving a heavy sofa sleeper you can quickly disassemble the frame and move to another room or home and reassemble.
An FAI retailer is a specialist in the futon business, find one in your area and give them a call to find out more. Below you can find industry terminology that may be helpful as you shop for your furniture.
Futon Frame Terminology
The following definitions are the commonly accepted terminology associated with the futon furniture and sofa-bed industry.
Decks are the platforms on which the futon rests for both convertible futon sofa-bed frames and stationary platform beds.
The seat deck is the deck on which the user sits when a futon sofa-bed is in the sitting position.
The back deck is the deck which the user leans back on when a futon sofa-bed is in the sitting position.
A convertible futon sofa-bed frame that utilizes three decks. The futon mattress can hang over the back of the frame, be folded under itself on the seat deck, or lay flat as a chaise lounge style seat. The tri-fold allows the futon mattress to fold twice along its usually shorter width.
A convertible futon sofa-bed frame that utilizes two decks. The bi-fold allows the futon mattress to fold once along its length.
The kicker is usually a small piece of wood or plastic that wedges itself between the seat deck and the back deck so the frame can be returned from a sleeper to a sofa in a simple, fluid motion. Several industry patents have been granted for the kicker.
A wall-hugger is a frame that can open to a sofa-bed without moving the base of the frame away from the wall. We categorize wall-huggers by their tolerance. A zero tolerance wall-hugger can be placed directly against the wall and still not touch the wall when converting. Other wall-huggers must be placed a short distance from the wall. These are called two, three, four etc. inch tolerance wall-huggers. Be sure to ask your manufacturer about the tolerance of their wall-hugger.