Futon vs Sofa Bed

Imagine this scenario – it’s holiday time and you have several family members flying in to celebrate at your house. You have a few extra air mattresses, but can’t decide how else to make your home comfortable for everyone. How can you utilize more sleeping space without clutter?

A futon or a sofa bed could definitely help in this situation, but which is better? A futon does fold out to a larger sleeping space, but a sofa bed can easily be folded away during the day. Each of these pieces of furniture have specifications that could fit your need, but how do you really decide?

No need to worry – we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons on each of these pieces of furniture to hopefully help you decide just in time for hosting.

What is a Futon?

A futon is a basically a mattress that can fold into a couch-like piece of furniture. Like a mattress, they come in different thicknesses: soft, medium and firm. The also come in standard mattress sizes, so you could easily choose a futon size that is right for you.

The futon is pretty basic and looks like a covered mattress even when in the sitting position. Futons are commonly used in smaller spaces such as small apartments or studios. They can easily be used as a couch for an office or den, and since they fold out, can transition into a sleep space easily.

Benefits of a Futon

Futons are great when you need to open up a quick sleep space in a smaller room. The fold easily, so there is no need for pulling anything out or adjusting a frame. The essentially look like a larger, flatter pillow during the day in sitting position, but sit on an adjustable frame to go into laying position.

Since these are essentially adjustable mattresses, you can find all shapes and sizes of futons to fit your needs. This also means potentially greater comfort for your guests since you can also adjust thickness levels. You can also typically sleep two people on a futon quite comfortably.

Futons are also more lightweight, so they can easily be moved around a space and make moving apartments or houses a breeze. That’s one less piece of heavy furniture to worry about. Futons are also incredibly budget friendly for those smart shoppers. Here’s an informational video on how to setup a futon.

Downsides to a Futon

One of the biggest downsides to a futon is that while in the sitting position, it may not be as comfortable as a couch. Instead of cushions, futons have mattresses that can typically become lumpy (especially after being used for a while). These can also sink in a bit and be harder to get out of – which could present some problems for the elderly or small children.

Since a futon is essentially a bendable mattress, this could make your space “look cheap” since futons are typically associated with a tighter budget. A futon is simply a futon, so you can’t hide the fact a futon inside a couch like a sofa bed. You’d also need a thicker mattress in order for a futon to be comfortable – whether or not you’re sitting in it or sleeping on it.

What is a Sofa Bed?

A sofa bed is a bed that is actually inside a sofa. The sofa pillows are pulled up and the steel or metal framed bed is pulled out of the couch to reveal a bed. Since this is all built to fit inside a couch, the mattress included with these frames have to be a thinner width.

Sofa beds are commonly used in hotels or houses that need to accommodate for more sleep space without adding more rooms. Most of the time you can’t even tell that a couch is an actual sofa bed since you don’t see any evidence of the bed until you pull up the cushions.

Benefits of a Sofa Bed

Sofa beds are great when you want to disguise the fact you have a sofa bed. These really just look like regular couches and a guest wouldn’t know if was a sofa bed until the cushions were lifted off of it to reveal the hidden mattress.

Sofa beds are also great because you can pretty much find any size, style and design you want in order to match your room’s theme. Like a regular couch, sofa beds can be as fancy as you’d like depending on what you’re need in your space.

Sofa beds will blend in easily with the rest of your furniture and you can get as stylish as you wish with one of these. Check out this video for more information on sofa beds.

Downsides to a Sofa Bed

Although you can conceal a mattress within a sofa bed, sofa beds can be pretty heavy and nearly impossible to move on your own. Sofa beds are even heavier than normal couches since they have all that extra metal framework and mattress inside of them.

Sofa beds are also quite expensive. Since these pieces of furniture double as a couch and a bed, you can expect a higher price tag than just a plain couch or bed. This would not be the ideal situation for someone shopping on a budget.

Sofa bed mattresses are also notorious for being uncomfortable. Due to the foldable mattress frame, the mattress must be supported by bars. Over time, the sofa bed will become flimsy since the material is thin and sleepers will more than likely feel the metal bars beneath them.

Futon vs Sofa Bed Comparison Table

Futon Sofa Bed
Perfect for budget shopping More expensive
Easily movable Can match décor perfectly
Can be more comfortable Can be a stylish as you need
Can look cheap Very heavy


Although each of these different types of furniture have their pros and cons, it really all boils down to what you need in the space you have available. If you’re working with a super small space, a futon may be your best bet. If you have a larger house that could use a little extra sleeping room, a couch would work for you.

Overall, the decision is yours. If I had to choose, I’d pick the sofa bed since you can easily adjust a couch to your décor where you couldn’t necessarily do that with a futon. I also like the idea of hiding the bed away when it’s not in use.

Which would you choose? Do you have a preference? If you have any comments on your experiences with these pieces of furniture let us know! Hopefully this article has helped steer you on your way and you find a choice that’s perfect for your living style.