Futon vs Air Mattress: Which Should You Sleep On?

Ah, I remember the days of sleeping on a futon, it was my main bed as a teenager. I loved how convenient it was to flip it down and up from couch to bed. Do you have a spare room that is used to accommodate guests but are unsure of what kind of bed to put in it? If this room is shared by an office or it’s a room that is used in multiple ways, it may be impossible to fit a regular bed in there. The million dollar battle here a futon vs air mattress. Which one will be more convenient when it comes time for a guest to sleep over?


The futon is originally a Japanese solution for a low-profile bed frame. Today, it comes in many forms and can consist of different firmnesses, making it easier for the consumer to choose which one would be best for their home. Why is it that these are so popular? Here are a few reasons.

The Pros and Cons – Futon


  • Can be folded up and down into a bed or couch
  • Many different options available in terms of size and frame
  • Lasts a rather long time if well maintained


  • Costs more than an air mattress
  • The mattress itself it heavy
  • Requires assembly


It’s a no brainer that these are more affordable than traditional beds. However, they may not be more affordable than an air mattress. When you walk into a store, you can expect to pay at least $100 or more for a futon, whereas an air mattress starts at a mere $10 for a twin. If it weren’t for the comfort factor, I think everybody would choose an air mattress over a futon, but these are definitely more comfortable, making up for the extra cost.

Generally, they are made from 100% cotton, which is easy to clean. If you spill something on the cover, all you have to do is unzip it and toss it in the washing machine. Unfortunately, if you have a mattress that doesn’t unzip, you can’t throw it in the washer. It would be best to spot clean it and ensure that it’s dry before using it. In some cases, it may be easier to clean an air mattress because they are usually made to wick away moisture and prevent spills from seeping through, allowing for easy cleaning.


Another benefit of these mattresses is that they come in different firmnesses. You can choose one that’s soft, medium, firm or even extra firm. It all depends on what kind of sleeper you are. If you are a back sleeper, you’ll want something that can support your spine properly. Air mattresses tend to not be accommodating to back pain unless you’re lucky enough to get that perfect firmness when inflating.


Futons are extremely versatile. If you don’t want to use it as a bed, fold it up into a couch and watch some television or read a book. If you become tire, fold it out into a bed and take a nap, which are extremely beneficial to your health. You can also take them off of the frame and put them right on the floor if the bars become bothersome. They have also been made to be portable, but they can’t get as small as an air mattress can.


One of my favorite things about futons is that they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and patterns. If you have a beautiful guest room and don’t want to make it look bad by putting in one of those black metal frames, you have the option of wood or even a futon that looks exactly like a couch. They are very easy to incorporate into any bedroom, you just might have to pay extra for that look that you are trying to achieve. You can also choose different color mattresses and even ones that have patterns on them.

Air Mattress

Alright, you think that this would be the second place contender against a futon, but before you set yourself on your decision, take a look at everything an air mattress has to offer you.

The Pros and Cons – Air Mattress


  • Can be stored away and deflated
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t cost much


  • May not last long
  • Can be easily popped
  • Might not be as comfortable as a futon


Okay, so an air mattress is definitely more affordable than a futon. You can walk into a Walmart and spend $50 on a king size mattress that has its own built-in pump. However, just because it’s more affordable, it doesn’t make it better. If price is an issue and you have the mindset that “you get what you pay for” then consider an air mattress that comes with a frame, such as the Coleman QueenCot. This bed may cost a little more than a traditional air mattress, but it gives you the feel of a conventional bed.

Ease Of Cleaning

Air mattresses are generally easy to clean no matter what material they are made from. Most of them are flock topped which helps keep moisture and spills out of the mattress. The spill will usually stay right on top of the bed, allowing for easy cleaning with just a paper towel or a rag. Futons may be more difficult to maintain because they can soak up the spill rather than keep it on top.


Unlike a futon, air mattresses do not come in firmnesses. However, they can be altered when they are being blown up. The more you blow it up, the more firm it’s going to get. This is perfect for those who are suffering from back pain. A firm mattress means the spine stays aligned and if you feel it’s losing it’s level of firmness, add more air to it until it’s the way you like it. This may be an issue for some though. The reason being that in the middle of the night, you aren’t going to want to keep blowing up your mattress and making all kinds of noise.


Air mattresses can be taken anywhere. All you have to do is deflate it, pack it up and inflate it wherever you go. Not to mention, if you know you’re going to be camping or staying at somebody’s house with limited space, you can purchase one that will fit in that space. You can get these in twin, full, queen and king sizes. Just like a futon, the larger the size, the more you’ll pay. The only issue I see with an air mattress is that you need a pump or at least an outlet for a pump. If you don’t have one, you better have a good set of lungs.


Let’s face it, there’s no fancy air mattresses out there unless you get one with a frame. These types of beds generally come in plain colors with a tan or blue flock top. You can fancy it up with a nice set of sheets and a comforter, but it’s just going to be a bed on the floor. This is perfect if you plan to only break it out when guests arrive, but if it’s your main bed and you want it to fit in, you may have an issue with that.

Futon vs Air Mattress Comparison Table

Futons Air Mattresses
Not easy to clean Easy to clean
Cost more Affordable
Has different frames available Does not offer frames
Does not require power or a noisy pump Has to be blown up
May be difficult to move Easy to transport


I can’t honestly pick a clear winner here because I don’t know your exact situation, but here is what I think is best for certain scenarios.

If you are looking for something that is going to be long term, such as a bed for a spare room or a bed that can be easily accessed in a jiffy, then I highly suggest a futon. The fact that these can be used as a couch and a bed make it easier to use in a room that is used often. If you are only having a guest over once in awhile and you need to make a bed in the living room or in a small space, then I would go with the air mattress. It’s not something that I would use as my main bed, but definitely something that I would use on certain occasions. My personal choice is a futon, but it depends on what you are using it for. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them with us.