Futon vs. Air Mattress — Which One Is Better?

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If you’re reading this, you’re likely confused about deciding between a futon and an air mattress. But before that, let us figure out why you’re in this dilemma, to begin with. Maybe you’ve got a spare room in your home, and some guests are visiting your place for a few days, but you don’t want to spend on a typical fully-fledged bed.  You want an economical, budget-friendly solution.

In this circumstance, you’re left with two sensible alternatives: a futon and an air mattress. Both are inexpensive and practical. Said that it’s a challenge to conclude which one is better. There are no clear winners here—they both have their pros and cons, and which one will have the place in your room depends on your situation and personal preferences.

Overview: Air Mattress vs. Futon

Typically a futon is more expensive than an inflatable mattress. But, if you get a premium air mattress, you’ll get a pillow top, a comfortable surface, a built-in electric pump, and a carrying bag. That said, they both share the same characteristic that has made them popular and ideal for homes with limited space.

A futon can be folded and doubled as a couch, whereas a blowup mattress can be deflated or moved around. Furthermore, both are lightweight, making them easy to move around, but an air mattress scores an extra point because you can carry it with you while going camping.

Now that we gave a short overview of a futon and an air mattress let’s get into the details.

What Is A Futon?

Foldable Futon Tatami Mattress Soft Thick Japanese Student Dormitory Mattress

Futons were originally in Japan in the 1700s and the original Japanese futons had simple designs and were thinly padded that unrolled onto the floor. Today’s futons have evolved tremendously to low-profile couches with intricate frames and multiple sizes. There are also multi-functional futons that can be used both as a bed and a sofa.

If you’re in the market for some of the best futons you can get your hands on without spending too much, we have some cool futons here. Check it out!

1. Cleaning & Maintenance

Owners have always complained about futons being difficult and expensive to keep clean. See, most futons don’t have removable covers as if including one with a new unit has been so expensive for the manufacturers. If your futons have spills or need cleaning, you need to wash the whole thing. If these things had removable covers, the process would have been more manageable and less time-consuming. Manufacturers claim that putting removable covers on futons will make them less attractive. Therefore, it becomes evident that you’ve to sacrifice convenience for style if you want to have futons in your homes.

2. Affordability:

Regardless of the size and quality, futons have always been more expensive compared to traditional mattresses, and in this case, an air mattress.

3. Firmness Levels:

Traditionally, futons had a being a bit too firm for most sleepers, but that has changed. You can now get futons in multiple comfort levels, ranging from soft to extra firm.

4. Versatility:

Versatility has always been the selling point of futons. Futons are incredibly flexible and versatile, particularly if you live in a small room or home with limited space. Futons are also ideal for spare bedrooms, a home office, or a college dorm room. Some futon models come with an adjustable frame allowing them to be used as a couch or sofa in the daytime and flatten out to convert into a full-fledged bed at night.

5. Design:

Ever since futons were used in Japan as mattresses, futons have evolved and come a long way. No longer are futons made with a flat slab of cotton with a bland cover. Modern futons now resemble high-end sofas. The materials have changed as well. You can now buy futons made of wood and metal with various designs, colors, and finishes.

6. Futons: Pros & Cons:

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If you’re looking for a good quality comfortable futon mattress for your home, we recommend you check this 8 Inch Independently Encased Coil Futon Mattress from DHP.

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What is an Air Mattress?

Serta Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat PumpAn air mattress is what it sounds like. Also known as an inflatable or blowup bed, this is a bed that is filled with air. Air is pumped in using a built-in or a separate air pump. It’s lightweight, portable, and costs less than a typical futon. However, it has a few caveats, such as it is not as comfortable and durable (can be punctured easily) as a futon.

If cheap air mattresses aren’t your thing, but you want a proper bed under $1000, we have some excellent mattresses that all cost under $1000 Check it out!

1. Cleaning & Maintenance:

Unlike futons, air beds are easy to clean. Most air mattresses have a waterproof top layer. If it is dirty or something spills over, wipe it off clean with a simple washcloth.

2. Affordability:

Air mattresses are super budget-friendly. You can get one from as low as $10 with the premium ones maxing out at a couple of hundred dollars, tops.

3. Firmness Levels:

Inflatable mattresses are soft, and because they’re filled with air, we would recommend stomach sleepers or have back pain to avoid this bed as it won’t provide adequate support to your chest or lower back.

4. Versatility:

An air mattress is incredibly versatile. Want to carry it with you for camping—just deflate it, put it into the provided carrying bag or case, and take it with you. Plus, they come in several sizes, including king and twin sizes.

5. Design:

The design and build of air mattresses are simple and utilitarian. Air mattresses are designed for portability. However, you can place an air mattress on a frame and use quality bedding to make it look and feel like a real bed.

6. Air Mattress: Pros & Cons:

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If you’re looking for a comfy, cozy air mattress that will fit in your home or office with ease then the InnoTruth Air Mattress with Built-in Pump Elevated Inflatable Mattress is a perfect option.

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FAQs (Frequently Asking Questions)

Why are futons so expensive?

Futons, like other home furnishings and appliances, can be pricey. You’ll notice that many of the best brands charge a premium for their goods due to high-quality materials and production costs. Furthermore, futon frames are made from different materials (metal, wood) and additional accessories such as futon covers, mattress covers, etc., contributing to skyrocketing prices. We recommend customers buy only good quality futons. Therefore, branded futons of decent quality and materials like latex, memory foam, innerspring, and pocket coils can get expensive.

Are futons better than mattresses?

A futon is a great solution for people who prefer to sleep on the floor. However, we won’t advise anybody with chronic back pain. If you have back pain or some other kind of chronic issue, a more traditional mattress will probably work better because they conform and adjust to your body while being softer.

What are the disadvantages of adjustable air mattress beds?

Several studies have shown that air mattresses are not good for people with back problems because they lack support and proper spinal alignment. While air mattresses provide more support than blow-up beds or futons, they still don’t offer the same protection and safety precautions as traditional beds do. For people who suffer from back pain, the best option is to get a standard bed with a high-quality mattress.

Anytime you buy something inflatable, you need to be aware that the floor or surface you place it on needs to support its weight and can’t have any rough areas that might puncture it. For example, people sometimes put air mattresses in their bedrooms and find out too late that they don’t have enough padding under the carpet and that their beds slide around during the night.

Air mattresses aren’t recommended for those with breathing problems such as asthma because they emit low levels of ozone gas, damaging sensitive lung tissue and making their symptoms worse.

Another disadvantage to air mattresses is that they can be quite difficult to inflate unless you choose a model with an electric pump. Another problem is that if you live somewhere warm all year long or are prone to night sweats, your mattress will likely get damp from trapped moisture.  As a result, you’ll wake up with a cold and clammy body and develop respiratory problems.

If your child uses an inflatable bed on his own for the first time, he’s likely to lose it or get stuck in some way that makes him cry. This can also be harmful when children get trapped between two mattresses or under them during sleep because air mattresses aren’t nearly as protective as standard box springs are.

Are futons healthy to sleep on?

Futons are used like any regular mattress. No evidence shows sleeping on one regularly would affect your health negatively. As long as you have the right type of futon that provides adequate support and cushioning­, there should not be anything stopping you from sleeping on them every night.

Are futons better for your back?

The best futons for back pain should provide adequate support and proper alignment of the spine, regardless you sleep on your side, stomach, or back. This helps avoid muscle soreness when you wake up in the morning.

Can you put an air mattress on a futon?

Yes, you can. Since futons are usually pretty low to the ground, having an air mattress on top will make it easier for people to sit down. Not only that, but because they’re stacked together, this can double up as a comfortable place to sleep and add height too.

Are futons good for everyday use?

The futon is a traditional Japanese bed design. It’s used as regular, everyday sleeping material, just like a mattress. If you are considering sleeping on a futon regularly, make sure to have enough cushioning to support your body comfortably. Nothing suggests that this will be bad for your health if it’s used as regular bedding like any other mattress.


As we mentioned in the title, there is no clear winner when choosing a futon and an air mattress. It all boils down to your exact situation and what works best for you. If you’ve got a spare room with limited space and want something that serves a dual purpose like a sofa and a bed, then I highly recommend you go for a futon. If you’ve visited guests or family members once in a while but don’t have a spare room and need to make a bed for them in whatever limited space you’ve in your living room, I suggest you go for an air mattress.

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Jennifer R. Heller

She is a writer at Sleeping Park, the leading source for sleeping products and information. She has spent her time researching sleeping health topics, testing out new sleeping merchandise, and interviewing experts in the field to create informative articles on all things related to sleep. She also writes about her findings in blogs published with every piece she writes on the site. Jennifer also has an economics degree and enjoys using her knowledge of supply and demand to help customers find their perfect mattress match. Jennifer likes to read or travel overseas when she's not at work or hanging out with her family.

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