Futons and sofa beds offer needed seating while also providing an extra bed for guests. These dual purposes allow for flexibility, particularly in situations where space is limited. Rather than dedicating one room as a space for guests, the futon or sofa bed allows homeowners to use the room as an office, hobby, play or living room while also providing overnight hospitality for guests. But which piece of furniture is better, the futon or the sofa bed?

Futon Benefits

Futons consist of a wood or metal frame and mattress that transitions from a sofa-like construction to a bed. A good quality futon mattress will usually offer more sleeping comfort than a standard sofa bed. Futon mattresses come in soft, medium and firm as well as in twin, queen and full sizes. Such a variety of features is an important selling point for the futon. Sofa beds do not generally offer mattress firmness or, in some cases, size choices. The average futon is a relatively light weight. Futon fans like the portability and good night's sleep that these couches provide.

Sofa Bed Benefits

Unlike a futon, a sofa bed does not broadcast the fact that it also functions as a bed. Most sofa beds look like ordinary couches until the bed is pulled out. The sofa bed transforms into a bed by removing the sofa cushions and pulling out a tri-folding metal frame and mattress. The mattress folds away into the sofa when not in use. Sofa beds tend to offer more comfortable seating than the typical futon. Since the sofa bed looks just like an ordinary sofa, finding a sofa bed that complements the other furniture in the room is usually pretty easy, regardless of decorating preferences or furniture styles.

Futon Disadvantages

Sitting on a futon is not always a comfortable experience compared with the sofa bed. While many futon styles are available, there is no confusing this piece of furniture with a traditional sofa. The appearance of the piece usually screams futon. If a customer cuts too many corners and purchases a thin mattress, the futon will also lose its sleeping comfort advantage.

Sofa Bed Disadvantages

Sofa beds are known for their excessive weight. Moving the sofa bed or taking it up a staircase is much more difficult than moving a futon. This extra size and weight can also make it difficult to get a sofa bed through narrow doorways, which is not a problem for the lightweight and portable futon. Often, sleeping on a sofa bed will feel comfortable at first, but the bed can loose comfort over time because of the thinner mattress and the metal bars that span the bed frame.

Formalality

Even the most deluxe futon is still considered a casual piece of furniture. Sofa beds are available in either formal or informal styles. But the same futon that stands out unattractively in a formally decorated room might add just the right touch of casual comfort to a more relaxed decor.

Cleaning

Cleaning a futon is a simple as removing and washing the fabric cover. Even a slip covered sofa bed presents more of a cleaning challenge. It requires a good deal of time and effort to remove, wash, iron and replace a slipcover on the average sofa bed. If there is no slipcover, cleaning the upholstery presents even more of a challenge. When a futon cover becomes worn out, replacing it is much less expensive than having a sofa bed reupholstered.

Price

The futon is considerably less expensive than the average sofa bed.