If you are buying a futon and want to get the best value for your money then the frame of the futon is something you should pay close attention to, particularly if you are choosing a futon with a wooden frame. The quality of the frame is directly related to how much use you will get out of it before it needs to be replaced. A poorly constructed wooden futon frame will also affect the comfort you experience when using the futon. So what do you need to look out for when examining the frames of any futons you are considering buying? Here’s a few tips to help you out.
The first thing to consider when buying wooden futon frames is whether you want a pinewood or hardwood frame.
Pinewood frames are cheap and lightweight but tend to wear faster and break more easily. Hardwood frames will usually be more expensive, but will also last longer and take more abuse. The extra weight of a hardwood frame can be an advantage if the futon is not moved around much, as the weight makes the futon hold its position better. A lighter frame will be more inclined to move around when bumped and jostled in everyday use, but will be easier to carry if the futon is normally stowed away and is only occasionally brought out for use by guests. Consider your budget and the use you will be putting the futon to when deciding between pinewood and hardwood.
The next thing to consider is the quality of the frame. Frames with better construction and greater reinforcement will last longer and take more abuse, but will also cost more. Generally you will find that spending money on a better constructed frame is always money well spent.
There are six main parts to the average futon frame. These are the left and right arm assemblies, the back deck and seat deck, and the two stretcher rails that join the arm assemblies together. The stretcher rails are the simplest component and are usually just straight beams of wood with some holes and attachments that are used to join them to the arm assemblies. The arm assemblies are a bit more complex and more robust, as they include the legs that will support the main weight of the futon and user and the grooved rail that the rollers on the back deck will roll along. The decks are the most complex part as they have the most surface area in order to accommodate the mattress and anyone sitting or lying on it. The decks are also hinged together and include the rollers that allow the futon to convert from a bed into a sofa.
You should ensure that the frame of the futon you choose has joints that are well reinforced and designed to move at the join as little as possible. Glued joints should also have screws or bolts holding the join together. In addition to adding extra reinforcement the screws or bolts will apply pressure when the glue is hardening that will act as a vice and result in the glue being more effective in holding the join together. Look for angle brackets that further reinforce the joins and stop them from moving. Generally these brackets will be made of metal, so wooden brackets may be a sign of poor quality.
Where the frame has parts that move against each other a good manufacturer will often include rubbing plates to prevent wood from rubbing against wood and wearing the frame down faster as a result. Look for these in the construction of the frame, as they give the frame a longer lifespan and are an indicator that the manufacturer has put thought into the quality of the frame. These rubbing plates are usually just flat plates of metal or plastic that are attached to the frame. Metal plates will usually last longer but plates of dissimilar materials (metal on plastic or brass on steel) may be better as similar materials rubbing together will tend to weld together slightly as they move against each other and cause more wear as a result.
When choosing a futon frame you should consider both how the futon will be used and for how long the futon will be used. If you are a student on a tight budget and you only need the futon for a few years of university or college then you may decide to go for a cheaper frame with a less robust design. If you have more money to spend and plan on using the futon daily for a longer period then a more durable and expensive futon will be the better choice. In both cases you should ensure that the futon is well made, as a shoddily constructed futon won’t give you value for your money. A bit of care and consideration now will ensure that your choice of futon will not be something you regret in the future.