Can You Use a Futon Mattress on a Regular Bed Frame?

Judi Light Hopson

A futon mattress can be used on a regular bed frame. But, it looks better if the futon mattress is close to the size of a standard mattress the frame is designed for. To support the mattress, you will need to install wooden slats very close together on the frame.

Futons work great for college students.

Or you can install a solid layer of half-inch plywood on a metal bed frame to hold a futon.

Futons Need a Support Base

A regular bed frame is typically just metal railing. You must create an almost solid base for the futon mattress to rest upon. A standard box spring can be placed on just three or four boards placed across the bed frame. But, a futon is more flexible. A solid plywood base placed over a few wooden slats works best. The plywood can be painted or stained, so exposed areas have a finished look around the edges. If a standard bed frame has a box spring, you can simply place a futon mattress on top of the box spring.

All Sizes are Available

The thickness and overall size of futon mattresses vary widely. Futons should be at least 5 inches thick. Eight-inch thick futons are often used on children’s bunk beds. You can buy these mattresses in full, queen and king bed sizes. Thicker mattresses can’t be rolled up, but they do give more support than thinner ones. Purchase a futon for a bunk bed to fit the exact depth of a box-type “cavity.” A higher futon mattress may allow the child to slide off the bunk over the railing.

Transporting Is a Big Plus

College students or families with frequent overnight guests often buy futon mattresses. They are easy to maneuver if your family moves a lot. Futons are ideal if you live in an apartment high-rise or dorm room where hallway space is tight. The flexibility of the futon mattress is one of its best features. Thin, lightweight futons can be rolled up. For best results, only mattresses at least 8 inches thick should be used for permanent sleeping arrangements.

Futons Hold Up Well

The lifespan of a good futon mattress is identical to a standard mattress. They typically last seven years. Futon mattresses are usually 100 percent cotton, so they are environmentally friendly and allergy friendly. They do come in other materials, including cotton with foam layers and 100 percent wool. Their outer covering comes in leather, heavy fabrics and vinyl coverings made to look like leather.

Additional Base Support

If more than one person sleeps on a futon bed, you can add support from the floor. Place heavy plastic or wooden cubes on the floor under the plywood sheeting. Blocks of wood can raise the cubes to the right height to support the plywood.