Your futon in college might have been the worst thing ever, but futons have come a long way since then. In fact, now that you’ve got a bigger budget than your couch-change, you can invest in a futon mattress that’s comfortable and supportive.

If you don’t have a guest room or that room has a dual function, a futon might be the best way to offer guests a proper sleep space without taking up all the room. They’re highly versatile, but you do need to consider a few things before you buy one.

We’ve put together a list of our top picks for futon mattresses, plus a few tips for how to choose one. Let’s take a look.

How Is A Futon Mattress Different?

A futon mattress is the base seat of your futon couch. Cheap futon mattresses accomplish this by using thin fabrics with barely any padding. Sure they were easy to fold up and down, but they weren’t comfortable to sit or sleep on.

Futon mattresses now use flexible inner cores that can move along with the futon itself. Some of these are fibers such as cotton and wool, while some styles actually have flexible internal springs.

What Should I Consider?

You should ask yourself a few questions before settling on your futon.

How Often Will I Use It?

If you only have occasional guests, the most critical factor will be how it feels to sit. In the event that your futon will be furnishing your dorm room and accommodating college friends sleep might be more important. Either way, try out the mattress before you buy it so that you know how it feels to sit for longer periods of time. Make sure there are no rigid sections where the cushion doesn’t protect you from the frame and that the cushion doesn’t constantly slide out from under you.

If the futon is used for sleeping every night, then it’s more important how it sleeps. You should consider your sleep position just like you would a regular mattress and choose a softer or firmer cushion based on that criteria.

Side sleepers will need a slightly thicker, softer futon mattress. Again, make sure it completely protects you from the frame of the futon. Back and stomach sleepers will need a firmer surface for proper support.

What Materials Do I Need?

Occasional use futons can get away with more delicate materials. Lighter colors and delicate fabrics look trendy, but often can’t take the wear and tear of daily use. Darker fabrics can take daily wear and tear without looking older. Also, fabrics you can wipe down or a zipper cover that’s machine washable can help with cleanliness.

The interior materials matter too. Typical futon materials are cotton batting, which is densely packed and provides a firm sleeping surface. Poly-cotton blends are lighter and fluffier. If you prefer a softer sleeping area, this option might be better. Temperature regulation materials such as wool are also great additions to the interior of the mattress.

If you sleep on the mattress every night, you might consider one with innerspring. It’s heavier, but it definitely stands up to daily use as a sleeping surface. It might also take longer to break in but the long run, it will be much more durable than the typical cotton batting.

Memory foam and latex are also great interior materials if you plan to use the mattress every day. They may take longer to break in as well but will provide a supportive sleep surface. Some types of memory foam will never entirely break in and might be difficult to change every day. If you frequently leave the futon in the sleeping position, such as those of you with studio apartments, this might not bother you as much.

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How Thick (And Heavy) Does My Mattress Need To Be?

More durable mattresses intended for frequent or nightly sleeping come with a cost. They’re often a lot heavier than what you remember from a traditional memory foam mattress. This tradeoff might be worth it for a more supportive sleep surface.

However, as lovely as it might be to offer occasional guests a genuinely thick futon mattress, it’s going to outweigh the hassle of setting it up. You’d be better off choosing a mattress with a lighter weight and investing in an occasional use mattress pad.

You also need to think about your style of a futon, or if you’re using the futon frame at all. If the mattress is a standalone one that’s rolled out for occasional guests, it’ll need to be roll-able and storable. If your futon requires two fold points for some futon frame models, you’ll also need materials that will fold like this.

If you have the standard futon frame, you can get away with a slightly thicker mattress.

How Much Do You (Or Your Guests) Weigh?

Weight can have a significant effect on the comfort and supportiveness of your futon mattress. If you are heavier than average, you may need a thicker, more firm mattress to feel fully supported.

If you’re significantly heavier than average, a futon with innerspring is a good idea so that you don’t lose the support of inner filling over time. Cotton batting may be supportive in the short term, but as you compress those fibers, you’re going to shorten the life of your mattress over time. Most likely, thicker is better.

How Much Does It Cost?

A futon mattress might be a lower cost investment than a traditional mattress, but that’s only if you already have the frame and you genuinely need the space. If you’ve got a dedicated guest room, some twin mattresses might be a comparable price to a futon frame and mattress set.

Quality futon mattresses are going to cost a little more than the off-brand set you bought in college. If you’ve inherited the futon mattress, it’s also time to give it an upgrade. Price shouldn’t prevent you from getting a durable and supportive futon mattress, but in many cases, you’ll get what you pay for.

A Word For Side Sleepers And Heavier People

If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need a mattress with more give around your natural pressure points such as your shoulders. A six-inch futon mattress may not offer the kind of contouring you need. You’re likely to wake up with pain in your shoulders and hips from nightly compression.

You’re better off with at least an eight-inch mattress, but we’d recommend a ten inch to give your shoulders maximum give. Another thought would be to forgo the futon entirely and opt for a small bed.

If you’re heavier than average, you’ll run into the same issue. Futons typically are made with smaller people in mind so you might have trouble getting enough cushion against the frame of the mattress or the floor if that’s where the mattress is. You’ll also do better with at least an eight-inch mattress but preferably ten inches.

Right now, there are no futon mattresses on the market specifically for heavier people, but we’ll update if someone finally takes your unique needs into consideration.

Best Futon Mattresses

Here are our top picks for durable and supportive futon mattresses.

Serta Cyprus – Best Overall

Serta is a giant in the bedding industry, and their futon mattresses are no different. The Cyprus is an eight-inch futon mattress with a polyester and cotton blend materials. The inner support system is coils sandwiched between layers of foam to reduce motion transfer and fully insulate your body against the futon frame.

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The foam is surrounded by a cotton style batting that provides a pillow top style layer that conforms to your body’s curves and eases your body to the dense support layer. The foam layer is CertiPur-US certified, and none of ht interior materials use ozone depleters or unnatural flame retardants. It uses no phthalates or formaldehyde either.

The cotton blend consistently outlasts regular cotton batting, so the entire mattress retains its support for longer. This is a good one if you plan to sleep on the futon more than occasionally because it will entirely push back against your body to keep your spine aligned.

It comes in a variety of neutral colors and ships in compressed in a box. You don’t have to be home for delivery. Unpack the box and gently tear the plastic away from the mattress so that it fully inflates again. It should be ready to sit or sleep on in just a few hours.

The trial period and return policy will depend on where you purchase your mattress. Serta does offer a limited manufacturer’s warranty against mattress defects that you can access using the code on your mattress tag. Be sure that your mattress is appropriately supported and that you aren’t using it for anything crazy so that you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

DHP 8 Inch Coil Mattress – Runner-Up

DHP’s coil mattress uses 15-gauge springs to create a supportive and comfortable mattress base. The polyester microfiber cover materials are easy to wipe clean and maintain. It uses foam and polyester layering to cushion your body against the coils and provide a bit of contouring for your broad parts.

Eight inches is almost the depth of a standard mattress. While this one is a little heavier than the Serta above, it does provide dense support if you’re slightly heavier than average or if you plan to sleep on the futon exclusively.

We appreciate the pocketed coil method because it helps reduce motion transfer and reinforce the edges of the mattress. Futon mattresses don’t have a lot of support towards the edge, but this one has about average support at the sides.

It’s made with CertiPur-US foam, meaning there’s no toxic chemicals, phthalates, formaldehyde and few VOCs. It doesn’t produce harmful off-gassing when you receive the mattress, and it should be ready to sleep on within hours.

It comes compressed in a box, and there’s no need to schedule delivery times to receive it. When you get it, just unpack it and gently tear the plastic away from the mattress so that it can inflate. After a few hours, it should be ready to go.

It’s slightly less firm than the above model, so if you’re a side sleeper, it should provide the contouring you’re looking for. It protects you from the frame of the mattress and is a durable option.

DHP does offer a manufacturer’s warranty so make sure your mattress is adequately supported and that you don’t use the mattress for something outside of it’s intended purpose. You can check the warranty through the code on your mattress tag.

Milliard – Best Tri-Fold

If you need a tri-fold style futon mattress, this one is for you. Milliard’s bed is a trifold futon mattress made from six-inch memory foam. It has a removable cover and a no-slip bottom. It uses open cell memory foam for better breathability and better temperature regulation.

It’s a six-inch mattress with a contouring layer of foam over a dense support layer. It allows some contouring of your broader points but keeps your spine aligned with the support layer. The foam is certified as eco-friendly by CertiPur-US, and there’s no harmful off-gassing.

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It folds up well for storage and easily maintains its shape while in use. The jacquard cover is removable and washable, so you can clean it after each use. This is a nice feature if you plan to use the mattress directly on the floor or with a series of guests.

It maintains temperature well, and the soft surface bounces back moderately well. It’s very light so you won’t’ have much trouble moving it around. The three-pound memory foam layer is awesome for support, and it’s definitely not something you find in all futon mattresses of this style.

Tri-fold mattresses are excellent as temporary sleeping quarters, so if you don’t have space for any houseguests or you’ve got more houseguests than guest beds, the Milliard will be a welcome change from the couch or (shudder) the floor. It’s also suitable for some camping purposes or possibly RV life.

It ships compressed, so when you receive the box, unpack it and carefully tear away the plastic. After a few hours, the mattress should be ready to use. There might be a slight plastic smell from the bag itself, but this should dissipate by the time the mattress has inflated.

The manufacturer does offer a warranty, and you can check it on the mattress tag. It covers defects so make sure that you use your mattress for its intended purpose so that you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

Mozaic – Best Gel Infused Foam Futon Mattress

If you sleep hot or just get hot in general, Mozaic’s gel infused mattress can help keep your temperature regulated. It’s actually dual sided so that you can have a softer seated feeling and a firmer sleeping feeling.

The inside is gel infused memory foam that helps conduct heat away from the body and return the mattress to ambient room temperature. The gel also offers more contouring so that your pressure points can decompress.

The cover material is durable cotton twill, which is breathable and lasts for a long time. It’s easy to wipe clean or spot clean without ruining the fabric. The interior foam is a polyurethane based foam that’s hand tufted into the cover materials. It meets all requirements for flame retardants and safety.

The contouring layer is a one-inch viscoelastic foam that bounces back quickly under your weight. The rest is three pieces of polyurethane support foam (one inch per layer) for a dense support layer. The entire thing is wrapped in mixed cotton batting for a pillow top style mattress that’s durable and retains its shape.

It ships compressed in a box, and you don’t have to be home to receive the delivery. Gently tear the plastic away from the mattress (don’t cut it), and it will inflate in a few hours. It comes in a variety of colors for your decor. It can be a bit heavy so make sure you have someone around to help you position it if you aren’t able to lift on your own.

Our Final Thoughts

Futon mattresses may not offer the full support that a regular mattress will. If you have any overarching sleep issues, choosing a futon mattress might make the problem a lot worse. If you’re a side sleeper, these issues might be even more pressing.

For occasional use and guests, we can’t argue with the versatility and convenience of the futon. As long as you’re willing to upgrade from the garage sale futon you had when you were in college, it should come in handy when you need to accommodate sleepers in a small space, or if you need a temporary sleeping arrangement until you find something better.

What kind of futon did you have in college? Was it the classic futon that slid off the frame and offered no support? What made you decide to revisit this college classic? Let us know in the comments below.

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