What's the difference between a futon and a mattress?
The futon descends from the cotton-filled mattresses used by the Babylonians, Mesopotamians, and Egyptians. The word itself is derived from a Japanese word meaning bedding. Modern futons in the U.S. have largely replaced cotton with materials that maintain their spring, such as fluffy polyesters and high-density foam, and are placed on pliable wooden or metal frames.
Though Romans began sleeping on feather beds as far back as 200 B.C., steel coils used in modern mattresses were not patented until 1865. Most mattresses are placed on a platform or a box spring to be further from the ground.
What are futons used for?
The attraction of futons stems largely from their versatility. They are easily converted from sofas to beds and consequently useful in living rooms, home offices and college dorms. Most futon mattresses feature a removable and/or replaceable cover.
What are mattresses used for?
Traditional mattress frames typically weigh considerably more than futon frames and serve a single purpose. The mattress's upholstery layers offer cushioning and comfort. Steel coil springs of the mattress core support the sleeper's body. The gauge of the coils determines support and firmness, with lower-gauged coils feeling firmer.
How much does price vary?
Futons are usually cheaper than traditional beds. Futon prices, including frames, range from $150 to $600.
Steel-coil mattresses start at roughly $300 and can surpass $1000 for high-quality models. Bed frames are an additional expense, with price varying widely according to materials and quality.
What is the best option for me?
Although prices run the gamut, mattress comfort remains a personal decision. A steel coil mattress's internal engineering is more complicated than the simple futon, but size, firmness, and personal comfort diverge to such an extent that a "best" option simply does not exist.
To choose a mattress--either traditional or futon--decide what is personally comfortable, how much space is available, and what is an appropriate price for you.