About Futon Frames

History & Details

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
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.

Click Clacks
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.

Seat Deck:
The seat deck is the deck on which the user sits when a futon sofa-bed is in the sitting position.

Back Deck:
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.

Find a member retailer here.

futon.org recommends Annies Futons

futon.org recommends The Futons Store, Memphis, TN

futon.org recommends Futon Planet

Copyright 2008 futon.org