Can You Put a Normal Mattress on a Futon? Tips and Tricks to Make a Futon More Comfortable
The word ‘futon’ commonly refers to a type of furniture that can convert between a bed and a sofa. Before making a purchase, be sure to check out our guide to futon frame, mattress, and sheet sizes for more detailed information. When you buy a futon, you usually receive both a frame and a mattress specifically designed to be able to convert. But mattresses are expensive. What if you’ve decided to switch to a futon, but don’t want to toss your mattress? You might be wondering, can you put a normal mattress on a futon?
You can put a normal mattress on a futon but it will not easily convert between a sofa frame and a bed frame anymore. A futon works because it utilizes a special type of futon mattress that is designed to bend at certain places to accommodate the corresponding bend on the futon frame when it is in the sofa configuration.
With this said, you CANNOT use a normal mattress on a futon because the normal mattress does not have a special point of articulation that allows it to conform to the shape of the futon frame in its couch configuration. However, you CAN use a normal mattress on a futon because the futon frame will act perfectly well as a bed frame, but you are in effect choosing to only use the futon as a bed. With a normal mattress on a futon, it goes without saying that you would no longer be able to use the futon as a sofa.
In this guide, we’re going to cover which mattresses you can use with your futon frame, how to stabilize your futon frame for use with a normal mattress, as well as some tips for making your futon more comfortable.
Tips to Use a Normal Mattress on Your Futon Frame
A futon, in the Western sense of the word, is a piece of furniture made of a frame and a special mattress that can be configured to function either as a couch or a bed. Think of it as a sofa bed where your buddies can crash if they decide to stay over. The beauty of using a futon lies with its ability to function as two pieces of furniture while only occupying space for one. This is a great choice for those who have limited bedroom space – especially those who are living in the city where the rent is sometimes appallingly high.
To use a normal mattress on a futon frame, keep your frame in the bed configuration and lay your mattress on top. Make sure your futon slats are at most 2 inches apart. Do not use your futon frame in the sofa configuration. Normal mattresses may develop creases if you keep folding and unfolding them. You may also lose your mattress warranty if you keep bending your mattress.
NOTE: The Futon bed lifestyle is no longer just for college kids. It’s actually a wise use of space for a more modern living.
Tip 1. Keep your futon frame in a bed configuration
With regard to using a normal mattress on a futon as a bed, the short answer is--YES, you can use normal mattresses on your futon frame. There are a few caveats to this though. First, if you do decide to install a normal mattress on a futon frame, you’re choosing to use the frame only as a bed--it will no longer be able to convert to a sofa.
Tip 2. Check to see if your mattress warranty will be voided if you keep bending it
Normal mattresses are designed to be laid flat and not bent. They are therefore incompatible with the sofa aspect of the futon since the natural flatness of the normal mattress will resist being bent. Even if you were able to successfully keep a regular mattress bent using some force, it’s going to inevitably sustain irreversible damage. This is most especially true for latex or hybrid mattresses that utilize different materials in their construction. A permanent crease or furrow is going to develop that will make the bed less comfortable – not to mention, you’re probably going to lose your mattress warranty by constantly folding it since typical mattresses are not designed to undergo constant stress of this sort.
Tip 3. Add a permanent mattress foundation if the slat spacing on your futon cannot support your mattress
Next, you should also inspect the slat design on the futon frame. Many futons are designed so well that they can be converted into a permanent bed base without any addition or modification. Futons that work well as permanent beds are the ones that have sturdy slat construction with narrow spaces in between slats – typically not exceeding two inches. The inter-slat space is important since a wider space would result in some sagging of the mattress underneath.
NOTE: If the space between the slats on your futon frame exceeds two inches, you can still use it as a permanent bed, you just need to get an additional foundation for your mattress. Scroll down to learn how! Hint: A bunkie board like this one from Amazon, is a cheap and effective mattress foundation. You can also use a simple low-profile “smart” box spring.
A stylish futon frame in bed position. Available on Amazon.com. ALT: Futon mattresses can bend to be in the sofa or bed shapes
What Foundation Should You Use for a Regular Mattress on a Futon?
When you’re using a futon frame with a regular mattress as your bed, then you have to consider the futon frame as your bed base or foundation. This means that before you invest in a mattress, you should first check the construction of the futon frame. Futon frames typically come in either wood or metal. Both work perfectly fine but there are solid wooden futon frames that are constructed to be much sturdier.
To determine how stury your futon frame is, check the distance between the slats. If the slats are close together (around two inches apart), you don’t need any additional support for your mattress. If the slats are further apart, you’ll need to add extra support to keep your mattress from sagging and wearing out faster. Here’s the pros and cons of the options available, so you can make the best decision:
Putting Regular Mattresses Directly on Futon Frames
You need to check the stability of the futon frame once it’s locked in the bed position as well as the spacing of the slats. Generally, slats have to be closer together in order to provide the right support for regular mattresses. This is important because inter-slat spaces that are too wide will let mattress foam material sink and sag. Another reason why slat space should be narrow is because of the warranty of the mattress. When you lay your mattress down on a foundation without the right amount of support, it may void any warranty you have on the mattress. With this said, many futons are made well enough to provide enough support for a regular mattress without modification or the addition of any type of mattress support. You just need to set your futon frame flat and lay your regular mattress on top of it and--voila!--you have a permanent bed.
Bunkie-Board Mattress Foundation for Futons
However, if you feel you want to make use of additional mattress supports, then the best ones to get are low profile ones such as Bunkie-boards.
A bunkie board like this one from Amazon, is a cheap and effective mattress foundation.
Bunkie boards are typically used in bunk beds but they will work just as well with futons since the general layout of the futon slats are similar to those of bunk beds. Bunkie boards come in several variants and each one offers different pros and cons.
Box Spring Bed Foundation for Futons
If you prefer to raise the height of the bed, then you can go for a box spring. Check the height of the futon first before purchasing a box spring since it may already be quite high. If you are adamant with using a box spring even when the futon frame is already adequately high, then you could probably settle for low profile ones which may only have a profile between 4 and 5 inches. Here’s a highly rated low-profile “smart” box spring from Amazon.
NOTE: No matter the type of mattress support you get, remember to always check the size of your futon frame and mattress to avoid getting the wrong mattress foundation size.
Can You Use a Memory Foam Mattress on a Futon?
A memory foam mattress is an awesome choice for those who want to feel their mattresses conform to the shape of their body while lying in bed. The great thing about a memory foam mattress is that you will feel less pressure where your body comes in contact with your mattress. Memory foam mattresses come in a range of different thickness and softness. If you prefer to have more sturdy support, you can choose the firmer ones, but if you like to be cradled as if you were lying on a soft cloud, then go with a softer memory foam mattress.
You can use a memory foam mattress on a futon if you only intend to use the futon as a bed and not as a couch since memory foam mattresses are not designed to bend into a sofa shape like futon mattresses are.
Thinner memory foam mattresses like this one will bend a lot more easily than thicker memory foam mattresses however, the above statement still applies. Do NOT bend your memory foam mattress. Linenspa, for example, does not cover ‘misuse or improper maintenance’ in their limited warranty.
Can You Use a Casper Mattress on a Futon?
Casper is a premium mattress specialist brand that came into prominence with their Casper Original, a mattress that utilizes varying foam materials to help accommodate the various support levels needed by specific areas of the body when sleeping.
You can use a casper mattress on a futon if you keep the futon in a bed configuration. You may void the warranty if you ‘abuse’ the mattress by bending it to fit the sofa shape as defined in the Casper warranty and terms.
We know that Casper mattresses provide amazing ergonomic support and comfort :) However, be careful what mattress you buy and bend to conform to the shape of the futon (in the sofa configuration)!
Can You Use a Mattress Topper on a Futon?
We understand why you might want to use a mattress topper on a futon. Memory foam mattress toppers that enhance the way your futon accommodates and cradles your body. Mattress toppers made of latex also adds a soft cushioning layer. Down or feather filled mattress toppers are incredibly fluffy. You can also use a woolen mattress topper for temperature regulation.
You can use a mattress topper on a futon however it is unclear whether mattress toppers can be bent into the shape of the sofa along with the futon mattress. So, you may need to remove them when changing from a bed to a sofa configuration.
For example, users who bought this mattress topper on amazon said it worked really well with their futon mattress.
How to Make a Futon More Comfortable
Your experience of comfort is the most important thing when it comes to getting a great night’s sleep. If you find that your mattress is sagging, take a look at how to fix a sagging futon mattress. To make your futon more comfortable follow these tips:
Tip 1. Add slats to support your mattress better and provide the right amount of firmness
If the futon frame that you’re using has wide gaps in between slats, then it may be time to take out your tools from your toolbox. You can add slats in the wide gaps between the existing slats to add more support for your futon mattress. Without these added slats, you might experience some sagging which could ultimately make your futon bed experience less comfortable. These slats have a 1.6 inch separation.
Tip 2. Use a bunkie board as an alternative to slats
Similar to Tip 1, adding a Bunkie board will improve the support under your futon mattress thus making the mattress that much more comfortable since this addition will eliminate unevenness and sagging.
Tip 3. Use mattress toppers on top of your futon mattress for extra comfort.
A mattress topper is a thick, usually fluffy, cushioned pad that can be made out of a few materials such as memory foam, latex, wool or down feather. With the addition of a mattress topper, you will enhance the level of comfort and relaxation you get from your futon bed. We’ve covered how to choose the right mattress topper and use it properly in our other article.
Tip 4. Sleep on top of a thick comforter on top of your futon mattress
Similar to Tip 3, you can alternatively use a comforter as a topper on your futon bed. It’s not nearly as effective as a mattress topper but it’s a simple, low-budget, alternative.
Tip 5. Use the right type of bed sheet
Adding silk or satin bed sheets can enhance your comfort as well. If you want to lie on something smooth, then you can go with silk or satin beddings. If you want a fresh and soft feeling, then go with cotton. If you want to feel extra warm with an added layer of mild cushioning then go with wool. You can even choose a quilt for that rustic aesthetic and feel.
Will a Futon Wedge Make a Futon More Comfortable?
The term “futon wedge” can refer to two things: the lock and catch mechanism that allows the futon to slide and lock the futon in the reclining position and the pillow wedge that’s used as a versatile piece of cushion.
Using a futon pillow wedge can make a futon more comfortable by raising your back or your legs.
A futon wedge is often used as a back bolster that can provide support for when you want to adjust the height at which you’re lying in bed. You can also make use of the futon wedge as a leg support to help elevate your feet.
Here’s a highly rated gel wedge that can raise your back and cool you as well (using gel foam).
There are a few futon wedge shapes available. Each one of them is ergonomically designed to be effective in a specific use. So, choose the one that best fits your own futon bed needs.