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Futon Glossary

Table of Contents
A-Frame futon frames bend in two places, allowing the frame to take up considerably less wall space than a Bifold futon frame. This frame gets its name from the unique "A" shape it takes when in the chair position. A-Frame futons are typically much narrower and slightly deeper than traditional Bifold futon frames, but may require a more flexible futon mattress to operate correctly. If you choose to use a cascading futon mattress, it is recommended that a mattress no thicker than 6 inches be used with an A-Frame futon. A-Frame futon frames typically orient the futon mattress perpendicular from their anchor wall. See also: Trifold, Cascading Futon Mattress, Split Futon Mattress.
Futon Arms the primary visible component of a futon frame. Joined together by the front and back crossrails, futon arms define the style of your futon, and are the only part of the futon that touches the floor. The operating mechanism between the converting body of the futon is always attached to the inside of the futon arms. Futon arms can contain a wide range of special features, including hidden storage and magazine racks. See also: Parts Diagram.
Automatic Upright
Many futon frames are built with an auto upright mechanism. Put simply, a futon with an auto-upright mechanism converts from bed to sofa without having to lift the back deck. This is usually achieved by pivoting the seat deck slightly, and pushing it in until the back deck rotates into an upright position. Wall hugger and front operating futons are all considered auto upright futons. See also: Front Loading Operation, Wall Hugger Futons.
Back Deck
The Back Deck of your futon is the portion of the futon frame that sits upright when in the sofa position. The back deck is usually similar in size to the seat deck, and often has stress supports lining its slats to provide additional strength when laid down to the bed position. See also: Parts Diagram.
Barrel Nut
Barrel Nuts are threaded bolts that are designed to fit snugly inside specially cut holes in your futon frame's crossrails. Bolts fed through the futon arms and crossrails thread through the barrel nuts, pulling the arms and crossrails tightly together. If your futon sways from side to side, try tightening your futon bolts and barrel nuts. If you have to do this often to prevent sway from occurring, your hardware may be stripped and require replacement parts. See also: Parts Diagram.
The futon body includes the entire converting mechanism: the back deck, seat deck, and connecting hardware. See also: Parts Diagram.
Bifold futon frames are the most popular selection among American homeowners. Bifold futon frames orient the futon mattress parallel to the wall and fold it along its length. This "hot dog bun" fold maximizes seating area when the futon is in the sofa position, allowing three adults to sit comfortably on a full size futon. Bifold futon frames also sit much closer to the wall than Trifold or A-Frame futons, making them ideal for high traffic rooms like living rooms and dens. Bifold futon frames allow you to use a thicker and more comfortable futon mattress, and are generally easier to convert.
Box Construction
Box Construction is a special designation reserved for all-foam futon mattresses. Traditionally, a fiber-filled futon mattress that is 8 inches thick in the center is expected to taper down to about 5 inches thick at the corners and edges of the futon mattress. All foam mattresses can be cut to an exact thickness, creating a box shaped mattress that has a consistent 8" thickness. This translates to a thicker mattress with a larger sleeping area, and a more elegant look and feel. Most futon covers are not created with box construction in mind, and require customized extra loft to fit properly. See also: Foam Futon Mattress.
Bumpers are small plastic or rubber stoppers that are mounted to the underside of the seat deck. These bumpers secure the futon body in an upright position by catching on the front crossrail. These are vital to keep the futon frame in the sofa position, especially in non-front loading futons that slide into position. See also: Parts Diagram.
Cascading Futon Mattress
A cascading futon mattress folds over the back of the futon, allowing you to save space in your room when your futon is not being used as a bed. This configuration is usually unique to A-Frame and Trifold mattresses, and is the alternative to a Split Futon Mattress. The folded portion should be placed against the wall, which holds the unused portion of mattress in place and also protects your walls from being marred from improper placement of the frame. Some futon owners use a cascading futon mattress configuration for smaller Bifold frame sizes, including twin and loveseat sizes. See also: A-Frame, Split Futon Mattress, Trifold.
Cotton Futon Mattress
Cotton futon mattresses are modeled after the original design used by the Japanese. Cotton futon mattresses are less expensive than polyester, and substantially more dense. All cotton futon mattresses require more maintenance than other types of futon mattresses, including sunlight and kneading to prevent dense lumps from forming.
Crossrails connect each futon arm in the front and back of the futon. Crossrails are the primary support platform for the futon frame when in the bed position. In addition, the crossrails also hold the barrel nuts in place, which are vital for the rigidity of the futon frame. Purchasing a futon frame with metal or solid wood crossrails is best; some futon frame manufacturers use finger-jointed wood, which is ill prepared to resist stress fractures. See also: Parts Diagram, Finger Joint.
Futon Drawers generally operate on glides and sit directly on the floor. Futon drawers offer you a distinct advantage over general purpose storage containers: the perfectly matched height, wood construction, and finish allows the drawers to seamlessly integrate with your futon frame. Because the Futon drawers are not mounted to the futon frame itself, the inclusion of drawers does not impede moving or operating your futon frame in any way.
Drink Holder
Futon frames with drink holders are quite popular, as the inclusion of special cup-sized recesses allows you to hold your drink without the use of a side table. This is important for small rooms and tight budgets that really benefit from the built in utility. Please see our futons with cup holders for more examples.
Extra Loft
Loft is the measurement of a mattresses corner, usually expressed in inches. While mattress thickness can vary, loft generally tapers down to 5". Extra loft is a special futon cover designation for mattresses with above-average corner thickness. This is vital for any box construction mattress, as well as futon mattresses 10 inches and thicker. See also: Box Construction, All Foam Futon Mattress.
Finger Joint
Finger Joints are specialized wood connections that allow smaller wood timbers to be fused into one continuous piece. This disruption in the woodgrain creates a weak point and a subtle abnormality in the wood that resembles interlocked fingers. Many futon manufacturers use finger-jointed timbers in their crossrails and longer body pieces.
Finished Back
Futon frames with a finished back are specially designed to be floated in the center of the room. Special care has been taken to create a futon frame that looks appealing from all angles. Most futon frames leave their operating mechanisms exposed in the back. Futon frames with a finished back are enclosed with a wood panel. Because of this finished wood-panel, all futon frames with a finished back are also wall-huggers. See also: Wall Hugger Futons.
Foam Futon Mattress
Foam Futon Mattresses usually use a mixture of different densities of foam and fiber fill, usually polyester or cotton. Foam futon mattresses last longer than all other types of futon mattresses, and they also offer extensive levels of support without being too firm. Many futon owners find that foam futon mattresses are the most comfortable futon mattresses available in the medium price range.
Front Loading Operation
A futon frame with a front loading operation can be converted from bed to sofa and back from the front. This operation is advantageous, as lifting a futon from the side or back can be awkward depending on the placement of furniture in your room. Because of the operation mechanism in question, all Front Loading Futon Frames are also Auto Upright Futon Frames. See also: Automatic Upright, Snapper™, Shoe Fittings™.
Futon Cover
Futon covers completely cover a futon mattress on all 6 sides. Modern futon covers are typically made with a zipper closure, though some older futon covers use Velcro closures. Futon covers allow you to change the look of your room in minutes, and offer extra protection for your futon mattress. Most futon covers are not waterproof, so consider a mattress protector if permanent staining is a large concern. Futon covers are available in a wide range of styles and materials. While cotton and cotton blend covers are durable and machine washable, the highest quality futon covers are typically dry-clean only. This is still much more convenient than traditional upholstered furniture. See also: Mattress Protector.
Futon Frame
Futon Frames are a specialized pieces of furniture that elevate your futon mattress and allow it to be configured into different orientations. Futon frames give support to your futon mattress and allow it to function as a bed and sofa. Upright and reclined sofa positions are common futon frame features, some having multiple levels of recline. Unlike sleeper sofas, futon frames use a removable mattress that is designed to meet or exceed the comfort you would experience in a full-time bed. Your selection in futon frame has a large impact on the style and utility of your futon package. See also: Bifold, Trifold, A-Frame, Sleeper Sofa, Finished Back, Front Loading Operation, Automatic Upright.
Futon Glide
Wood futon frames generally operate on futon glides. Futon glides are plastic inserts that guide the futons operation by slipping through specially carved channels hidden in the futon frame's arm. There are a few variations on the design of futon glides. Generally futon glides are circular or ovular in shape, and are generally purpose-built to absorb the weight and impact related damage. Without this design consideration, the wood cross rail of the the futon would crack or split when subjected to unreasonable stress, which is often time non-replaceable. See also: Parts Diagram
Futon Mattress
Futon Mattresses originate from Japan, where it is often used as a primary bedding solution. Unlike traditional mattresses, futon mattresses are typically fiber filled with cotton or polyester. This makes futon mattresses lighter and more flexible than spring-filled mattresses. Futon mattresses tend to be more dense in feel, which imparts a firmer feel on most all-cotton mattresses. Foam, polyester, and even pocketed coil springs found their way into futon mattresses, affording consumers a wide selection of futon mattress choices. Futon mattresses offer the same level of comfort found in traditional mattresses, but have inherited a reputation for being uncomfortable due to the prevalence of cheap, poor quality mattresses available in big box retail chains. See also: Cotton Futon Mattress, Foam Futon Mattress, Polyester Futon Mattress, Memory Foam Futon Mattress.
Futon Hinge
Futon Hinges are associated with metal-bodied futon frames. These hinges, also called futon transmissions, are the metal futon frame's operating method. These spring loaded hinges typically allow for a front-loading, auto-upright futon operation. Futon hinges are generally the weakest part of an otherwise rock-solid metal futon frame. If you are replacing a worn out hinge, be sure to replace both hinges at once to prevent premature wear. See also: Metal Futon Frame, Hybrid Futon Frame.
Hybrid Futon Frame
Hybrid Futon Frames use wood futon arms and a metal futon body, allowing you to enjoy the style of a wood futon frame at the savings of a metal futon frame. While hybrid futon frames do use a metal body, only a slight amount is visible under the mattress itself. Many of these frames are direct imports from Indonesia, and don't carry long term warranties like all-wood futon frames often do.
Lounger futons are oriented in the tri-fold position and possess an elevated chaise section allows your to put your feet up and relax. Many lounger futons can be converted to a standard loveseat with a cascading mattress. Most Trifold futon frames that are not of the A-Frame design are Lounger futons. See also: Trifold, Pull-out Extension.
Magazine Rack
Magazine racks are a popular additions to wood futon frames. These specially designed slots are designed to hold magazines in a decorative fashion that reduces the clutter on your occasional tables. Some magazine racks are mounted to hinges, allowing them to tuck into the arms of your futon frame. View futon frames with magazine racks to see some examples of this feature.
Memory Foam Futon Mattress
Memory foam futon mattresses are built with some of the most high tech materials in the specialty sleep market. Memory foam is an open-cell foam that offers a comprehensive level of support to where you need it. This is similar to the high end materials offered in Temperpedic brand mattresses. Unlike high-density foam, memory foam becomes more elastic when exposed to pressure and heat. This results in increased support for lower back and neck, and a plush feeling for your hips and shoulders.
Metal Futon Frame
Metal Futon Frames are generally the least expensive futon frames available. Generally imported from Indonesia, metal futon frames are a common sight in big box retail chains and warehouse style stores. Metal futon frames are a good choice when your budget is tight. Please remember that many times the difference between a metal futon frame and a high quality unfinished wood futon frame is just a few dollars. Look for complete welds and thick support bars when selecting a metal futon frame, as these features are indicative of the overall quality.
A Futon Ottoman is very similar to a traditional ottoman, but it is designed to accept a small removable mattress. The futon ottoman is generally used to create a bed length sleeping accommodations for chair and twin sized futons. Many modern futons have a built in pull-out extension that eliminates the need for a futon ottoman. See also: Pull-out Extension, Split Mattress.
Parts Diagram
The most common futon parts are pictured in the diagrams below. Some manufacturers use additional pieces to add rigidity to their futon frames.
Piping is a special futon cover customization that created a welted bead that conceals every seam. Similar to fringe, piping creates an upholstery appearance that adds a great look and unique accent. Piping can be done in matching or contrasting colors, and should be considered when working with a finely decorated room. Piping is also available on coordinating pillows. See also: Futon Cover.
Polyester Futon Mattress
Polyester futon mattresses are much lighter and soften than their cotton equivalents. This makes them an excellent solution for children's rooms, where the reduced weight makes the futon easier to convert for little hands. Polyester wicks moisture better than cotton, and is much more consistent and less likely to redistribute and become lumpy. Polyester futon mattress are slightly less supportive than foam futon mattresses, and of a similar price. Because of this, polyester futon mattresses are less prevalent in the futon mattress market. Polyester futon mattresses are a great pick for those who prefer a softer sitting and sleeping experience.
Pull-out Extension
Futon frames with pull-out extensions are designed to save space by concealing part of the mattress support system while in the sofa position. Built into the higher-end loveseat, chair, and twin sized futon frames, pull-out extensions expand a standard seating size into a full size sleeping arrangement. This allows you to have a comfortable sleeping solution in any room with a minimal footprint. Pull-out extensions usually take advantage of cascading mattress configurations as well as split mattresses. See also: Trifold, Split Futon Mattress, Cascading Futon Mattress.
The Seahorse&trade is one of the patented mechanisms used by Night and Day furniture in their innovative Shoe Fittings™ futon operating system. The Seahorse allows you to easily assemble and convert your futon from the front. See also: Shoe Fittings™.
Seat Deck
The Seat Deck is the portion of the futon body that is horizontal in both the bed and sofa position. Depending on the design of your futon, the seat deck may be the primary point of interface when converting your futon from bed to sofa and back. See also: Parts Diagram.
Shoe Fittings™
Shoe Fittings is a patented futon hardware system from Night & Day Furniture™. Using a few unique mechanisms, the Shoe Fittings system offers a smooth, front loading operation and easy assembly. The shoe-fittings system is created with high quality rubber. This allows impact shock to be dissipated much better than a standard futon operating system. See also: Seahorse™, Snapper™, Thumbnut™.
Sleeper Sofa
Sleeper sofas are essentially couches that unfold to become a full size bed. Because of this unfolding process, sleeper sofas are limited to a thinner cushion that barely masks the metal support system underneath. Before futons became popular in America, sleeper sofas were bought for their utility and ease of conversion, but the lack of comfort makes them a temporary sleep solution at best. Manufacturers are developing sleeper sofa variants that may bring more comfortable solutions to market.
The Snapper™ is part of Night and Days patented futon operating system. This mechanism joins the back deck and seat deck with a shock absorbing component that smoothly pivots when in operation and locks in place when correctly positioned. See also: Shoe Fittings™.
Split Futon Mattress
Split Futon Mattresses are standard size futon mattresses separated into separate cushions for ease of use and seating convenience. A split futon mattress allows you to have a standard chair or loveseat with an additional ottoman size cushion. When combined, these cushions equal a standard mattress size, creating a comfortable sleeping solution for guests. If your space does not have room for an ottoman, folding the ottoman into a closet or behind the futon itself is a simple solution to conserve space when the futon is only being used as a seat. See also: Trifold, Cascading Futon Mattress.
Springwood™ is a construction method pioneered by Night & Day Furniture™ that virtually eliminates the possibility of shipping damage and greatly simplifies assembly. Pre-tensioned wood slats are used as a support system instead of built-in hardwood rails, which makes a lighter and easier to manage without sacrificing durability.
Stress Support
Stress supports attach to the back of the seat deck and rest directly on the cross rails when in the bed position. Stress supports increase the points of contact between the body and the cross rails to help distribute pressure evenly and prevent breakage. See also: Parts Diagram.
Stretcher Rail
See Crossrail.
The Thumbnut™ by Night & Day Furniture ™ is a variant of the futon barrel nut that can be threaded without the use of a screwdriver. Night & Day Thumbnuts are also considerably deeper and thicker than standard barrel nuts. See also: Shoe Fittings™, Barrel Nut.
Tray Arm
Tray Arm Futon Frames have built-in storage compartments in each arm. When the lid of these compartments is folded up, the exposed space allows you to store drinks, remote controls, and writing utensils in a single, concealed storage unit. This is a popular feature for living rooms with very little occasional furniture, as the compartments store the items that would otherwise be strewn about haphazardly.
Trifold futon frames bend in two places to allow a more compact futon package. When used as a chair, Trifold futon frames store the extra leaf underneath the middle "seat" leaf or behind the back deck (see A-Frame). Trifold futon frames are much narrower and slightly deeper than Bifold futon frames. A split futon mattress or cascading futon mattress is appropriate when selecting a cushion to pair with your Trifold futon frame. Most Trifold futon frames have a lounger position that allows you to put your feet up when used as a chair. See also: Lounger, A-Frame, Cascading Futon Mattress, Split Futon Mattress.
Unfinished Wood Futon Frame
Unfinished wood futon frames are a ready-to-finish solution for your futon needs. Generally made of hardwood poplar or pine, unfinished futon frames are available at a reduced cost and are easy to customize to your taste in design. It is not necessary to apply any finish to an unfinished futon frame; it's ready to enjoy right out of the box.
Wall Hugger
Wall Hugger futons change from sofa to couch without pulling it away from the wall. This is due to a specialized operating mechanism that adjusts the futon forward automatically. The front loading operation is assisted by a handy conversion strap that helps you overcome the additional weight of a thick luxury mattress. These are most famously made by an American company called Strata Furniture.