Sofa Bed Mattress Buying Guide
“Higher Bed-ucation”: The ABZzzz’s of Buying a Sofa Bed Mattress
Buying the correct sleeper sofa mattress can be fairly complicated. If you want to be pleased with your purchase, it’s important to “get it right.” It doesn’t matter whether you use it only when you have guests sleeping overnight, or if you use it every night for sleep. Your reputation as a host and the impact on your health will be at stake. So,in order to help you choose the right sofa bed replacement mattress, we have put together this step by step guide to make sure you’re taking everything into consideration throughout the decision process. If you have any questions regarding this guide, or anything that you would want us to add, contact us here or at (888) 889-2812.
In this guide you’ll learn:
1. How to find out the measurements of your new sleeper sofa mattress
2. What type of sofa mattress you should choose and why
3. What makes a sofa bed mattress durable
4. Why you should order a mattress “Made in the USA”
5. The advantages and disadvantages of buying the mattress online vs offline
6. The benefits of buying the hide a bed mattress from a manufacturer and not a retailer
7. Other aspects you should look out for, like warranty, reviews, return policy, shipping details, payment methods
8. Sofa bed mattress accessories which will provide even more comfort
Step 1. Get the size right by taking width, length and height measurements of your sofa bed mechanism.
While it may appear to be an odd place to start, selecting the correct size replacement mattress is essential if you want to be happy about your purchase. Choosing a size too big may not allow the mechanism to work correctly; and choosing a size too small may affect how the sofa feels when you sit on it while the mechanism and mattress are folded up inside the sofa.
Also, an important fact to bear in mind is that hide-a-bed mattresses do not come in standard sizes. This is so important to remember that it’s worth repeating: sofa bed mattresses do not come in standard twin, full, queen or super queen sizes. That being said:
a. Determine the Width
Typical widths, as measured across your body when lying down on the mattress, can vary as follows:
– Twin mattresses: 24-38 inches
– Full size mattresses: 39-54 inches
– Queen sofa bed mattresses: 55-60 inches
– Super queen mattresses: 61-65 inches
b. Determine the Length
Mattress lengths, measured from above your head to below your toes when lying down, typically vary from 68-74 inches.
Therefore, when you need to determine the correct size for your replacement, you should measure the actual metal frame, not the mattress that came with the sofa. Also, you should measure the frame on the inside of the metal tubing, and round down to the next inch. (For example, 68-3/4 inches between the inside of the top and bottom of the frame’s tubing, would round down to 68 inches in Length).
c. Determine the Thickness (or mattress Height)
Determining the thickness or height that your hide-a-bed mechanism will accept can be done with the help of the illustration below. To make sure that a 5 inch mattress can fit in your mechanism, measure the distance between the top and bottom of the mechanism at the crease of your old mattress while it is folded inside your mechanism. You will need approximately 10 inches, (see the red lines in the illustration below,) to accommodate a 5 inch thick mattress. Otherwise, a measurement of just over 8 inches between the red lines would mean that your sofa sleeper mechanism is made to accommodate a 4 inch thick sofa replacement bed mattress.
A correctly sized mattress is critical, and can mean the difference between having a comfortable sofa bed and an uncomfortable one; whether you’re using it as a couch for sitting when the mechanism is folded up, or a bed for sleeping when the mechanism is fully opened. Additionally, incorrect mattress sizing may keep the mechanism from functioning properly, and reduce its useable life.
Step 2. Choose the type and quality of the sofa bed mattress.
Most sofa bed mechanisms accommodate a 4 inch thick mattress, and some accommodate a 5 inch thick one. Most of us are accustomed to sleeping on our regular beds, where the mattress typically measure between 8 to 20 inches thick. Quality in a 4 or 5 inch thick hide-a-bed mattress is determined by the following factors: firmness, support and durability.
You might have noticed that there are many types of sofa bed mattresses: inner-spring, foam, memory foam, gel, “gel infused” memory foam, inflatable air systems and latex. While all these are great materials when used properly in the construction of an 8 inch or thicker mattress, not all might be the best choice in a 4-5 inch thick couch mattress. Let’s look at the specifics:
Inner-spring sofa mattresses
Inner springs are rarely used in high quality and comfortable sleeper sofa replacement mattresses. The main reason behind this is that due to the limits of the couch mattress thickness, not enough turns can put into the coils to offer adequate support. In other words, there simply isn’t enough room for the inner springs to “float” before they fully compress.(See the illustration below, which compares a high quality spring with a poor quality one.)
What do we mean by fully compress? Full compression occurs when the top of the mattress, where you sleep, pushes as far as it can go toward the bottom. When this happens, the person laying on the sofa bed mattress will most definitely feel some of the structural components of both the mattress (inner springs) and the mechanism (bars). With certainty, they will feel incredibly uncomfortable.
For the reasons mentioned above, we do not recommend inner spring mattresses as sleeper sofa replacement mattresses. However, if you have already decided to purchase an inner-spring couch mattress, we would like you to have a look at some specifics you should consider on this page.
Foam sofa bed mattresses
Density of any material is a measurement of how much a given volume of material actually weighs. For foam mattress cores, the standard measurement is pounds per cubic foot. When choosing a sofa bed mattress made from foam, the best quality mattresses have a support core with a foam density from 1.8 to 2.5 pounds per cubic foot.
Another important property of any foam is its firmness. A mattress made of marshmallows will feel much different than one made of feathers. The feathers are much softer than the marshmallows. For mattress foam, this firmness is actually measured in units called Indentation Force Deflection, or IFD for short. This property is an indication of how firm the foam feels, and how much give there will be when weight is put on top of the foam. The higher the IFD, the firmer the foam. Firm foams, made from high compression material, have an IFD in the range of 40-50, while softer, medium compression, foams typically have an IFD in the range of 20-30.
What makes a comfortable foam sleeper sofa mattress?
The most common reason for sofa bed mattress replacement is that the sleeper(s) feel the bar(s) of the mechanism. Does this sound familiar? In order to prevent someone from feeling the bar, it is essential to pick out a replacement mattress that:
1. uses high-density resilient foam, which has more pounds of material per cubic foot between you and what the mattress actually rests upon, and
2. has high firmness (IFD) so the mattress core will not reach full compression when a person weighing as much as 250 pounds lies down on it (with the same weight resting on top, the mattress with the high IFD rating will compress less than the mattress with the low IFD).
It’s important to remember that Density and IFD are not related and are independent. For instance, a piece of Styrofoam has a low density, but an extremely high IFD (you certainly wouldn’t want to sleep on a block of Styrofoam). Therefore, it’s important to consider both density and compression specifications of a foam core when designing a specialty mattress to be used in a specific application, like a sleeper sofa. Our foam has been specifically designed to provide sufficient support while not allowing the mattress to fully compress within the thickness limitations imposed by typical sofa bed folding mechanisms. This prevents most of our customers from feeling the metal cross bars of the mechanism when using one of our mattresses.
What should you look out for when choosing a foam sofa mattress?
When shopping for a foam sofa replacement mattress, make sure that mattress specifications are clearly stated. Pay careful attention to both the density of the support foam as well as its firmness. The support foam is the single most important component of a foam mattress. Its primary responsibility is to support your bodyweight. The foam core’s quality and specifications will determine your support level over time, and how durable the product will be. For these reasons, we recommend using solid cores of high density and high compression support foam when building a sleeper mattress.
Also, please note that it’s important that you always maximize the amount of support foam in your pull out bed mattress. We believe that maximizing the thickness of support foam is the most important factor in creating the most supportive sleeping surface possible in a sleeper sofa, and prefer not to reduce the thickness of the support foam by replacing it with other materials, like memory foam. Our best sofa bed mattress contains a solid core of 2.5 density foam, nothing else. Of course, without the limitations on mattress thickness imposed by the folding mechanism, (like on a regular bed, boat or RV mattress) we would have no problem with the addition of other materials on top of the primary support foam for comfort.
Memory foam sofa mattresses
There aren’t any mattresses made entirely of memory foam. The products that are called “memory foam mattresses” usually have only one thin top layer of memory foam. Memory foam is used more as a contouring foam, not a support foam, meaning that the top layer of memory foam is only used to create a plush top feel. The qualities of the layers underneath the memory foam are important when it comes to supporting the sleepers’ body.
To offer optimum support and create a contouring feel, a minimum of 2’’ memory foam must be laminated to a support foam. (Laminate construction is a layering method of making a mattress – see illustration below.) The problem is that a 4 inch thick couch bed mattress using 2 inches of memory foam would only be able to use 2 inches of support foam. In our opinion, this is an insufficient amount of support foam, which will give the mattress a higher chance of bottoming out, and you’ll have a greater chance of feeling the bar.
If you want to use memory foam, then we recommend that you purchase a separate topper pad with a minimum thickness of 2 inches to create a more conforming top feel. Please note that this topper should be taken off and stored separately when closing the sofa bed mechanism. (Note: fiber and feather toppers can also create a more luxurious feel, these toppers should also be taken off and stored separately when closing the sofa bed mechanism.)
However, if you are set on buying a sofa bed replacement mattress that includes memory foam by default, be certain to check the specifications of the support foam. Remember that mattress quality is determined more by the density and firmness of the support foam, not the quality of the memory foam.
Gel infused memory foam couch mattresses
This is similar to memory foam and creates the same contouring feel and it has the same limitations when used in the construction of a sofa bed mattress. However, in our opinion it has an additional disadvantage: some gels will lower the sleeper’s body temperature from 3 to 4 degrees, as gels conduct heat away from the sleeper’s body.
Air bladder over coil sofa bed mattresses
These sound great until the air pump doesn’t work when you’re ready to use the sofa as a bed, or the bladder develops a leak. What will remain is an innerspring mattress that will probably bottom out and you’ll feel the bar.
Latex sofa mattresses
Latex is a great natural foam rubber as well. If a solid high quality latex core is used to make a sofa bed mattress, it will be an excellent sleep surface. The only problem is the exorbitant cost; using all 100% latex in a sofa bed replacement mattress can more than double the end mattress cost.
Mattresses called “latex sofa mattresses” usually use only one thin layer of latex. If only 1 inch of latex is laminated to an inferior support foam, the manufacturer is allowed to call it a latex sofa bed mattress. Be careful to read the specifications when you see a latex sofa bed mattress. If you want a latex sofa bed mattress, make certain the manufacturer is using a solid core of 100% latex.
But if you want to go with a sofa replacement mattress which has a layer of latex, please remember: any sofa bed mattress is only as good the support foam under the memory foam or latex foam layer!
Step 3. Consider the durability of the hide-a-bed mattress
We spent a lot of time talking about the quality of what’s inside the mattress, but what about the outside? Well, the outside of the mattress should be constructed to stand up to the rigors of the sofa bed. Opening, closing and even being stored in the closed position can be hard on the mattress. We recommend that a sofa bed replacement mattress be made using old fashioned, heavy duty manufacturing techniques, where the mattress is covered in a durable damask fabric and all the seams are sewn and reinforced with a tape edge. This method of manufacturing has stood the test of time and will stand up better than a simple zip on, zip off, cover.
Of course, we are aware of the fact that a zip on, zip off, cover has the advantage of being able to be cleaned easily. However, if you’re concerned about keeping the mattress protected and clean, we recommend using an additional mattress protector (our waterproof mattress covers will also protect the mattress from liquids that are accidentally spilled).
Step 4. Sofa bed mattresses “Made in the USA”
The fact that the mattress is made in the U.S. gives the manufacturer the best chance of quality control and the ability to make custom sizes. Keep in mind that sofa bed mattresses come in many sizes to meet the needs of the various mechanism designed for different sofas. U.S. manufacturers adhere to the highest standards of product consistency, and they dominate in the American market because of these high standards. So keep in mind to check/ask where the mattresses are made!
Step 5. Decide if you’re buying the pull out bed mattress online or offline
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. We have both a brick and mortar store in New Jersey (if you’re nearby, drop by: Walt’s Sleep Shop, 721 State Route 35, Middletown, N. J.,) and the Replacement-Mattress online store. Buying a mattress at a brick and mortar establishment has one advantage: you can try out the mattress before purchasing. However, if the online manufacturer/retailer has a robust return policy and stands by their products, you don’t have anything to fear about purchasing online.
On the other hand, buying a sofa bed mattress from an online store has some advantages too:
– Wider choices: brick and mortar stores offer limited style and size options.
– Better prices: brick and mortar stores charge more for sofa mattress lines than internet outlets because they have to cover traditional retail expenses.
– More information: reputable sites provide an abundance of information about mattress specifications, manufacturing capabilities, sales policies, company background, contact information, and specifics about ordering and shipping. You can learn about all of these with just a few clicks. Traditional stores don’t always make all the details available via sales people.
– No pesky sales people. If you dislike sales people as much as we do, you know what we’re talking about. However, if you do want to talk to a person about your decision, a toll-free phone number is usually made available. (Note: You can talk to our staff at 888-889-2812. No sales pitch! Guaranteed!).
Step 6. Buying from the manufacturer versus a retailer
Buying from a manufacturer has some big advantages, which usually are not offered by retailers, no matter how big the retailers might be:
– Custom sizes: as we mentioned above, sofa bed mattresses don’t come in standard sizes and retailers usually carry limited selections. Thus, sofa mattress manufacturers, (like us,) can accommodate custom requests.
– Lower price: retailers have to make a living too, which means that you pay their fees as well when you buy from them, while you can buy at factory price from a manufacturer!
Unfortunately, not every sleeper sofa mattress manufacturer allows the public the opportunity to buy directly from them.
Regardless of where, or from whom, you actually buy the mattress, just make sure it’s made in the USA.
Step 7. Warranty
Make sure the manufacturer stands behind the product with a 5 year warranty that covers the full replacement cost. A good warranty should be simply stated without the need for any fine print. The customer should be responsible for providing proof of purchase and for shipping charges; that’s it.
Step 8. Check for reviews
Reading through the opinions of customers who’ve already bought the sofa mattress you’re intending to purchase is very important. We don’t all have the same tastes and needs, especially when it comes to sleeping. Sometimes things go wrong, everyone makes mistakes from time to time, but try to see the overall trend and picture. Also, testimonials that are given by people who don’t give their full names should be “taken with a grain of salt.”
Along the years we received many reviews and valid testimonials regarding our products and services. You can check reviews on both our Gold and Platinum sofa bed mattresses at the bottom of the respective pages, while more general testimonials can be read here.
Step 9. Return Policy
Even if you can try out the mattress for 5 minutes in a mattress store it doesn’t compare with sleeping on it for 7-8 hours per night. So, just in case it might not fit your needs perfectly, make sure that the company has a sound return policy in place before you buy from them. You can see our return policy here.
Step 11. Payment methods
A secure payment method is mandatory, especially if you’re buying online. If the company doesn’t use a payment method like PayPal,(which offers the highest level of security over the internet), then make sure that the online store uses SSL technologies. There will be an “https” appearing in the URL instead of “http” when entering your payment details.
Step 10. Shipping: timeliness, convenience and cost
Common sizes of sofa bed mattresses are usually shipped quickly. We ship our common sizes of sofa mattresses within 48 hours (these sizes include: Queen 4x60x72, 4x59x71 and Full 4x52x72, 4x54x72).
Custom orders, or non-common sizes, take a longer time to ship because they have to be custom manufactured. In our case, such custom couch mattresses are available for shipment within a 7 to 10 day period and ship via a carrier which offers the customer convenience and dependability. FedEx Ground, UPS and USPS Parcel Post are three carriers that meet these requirements.
Also, the shipping costs should be clearly stated. Free shipping only means the manufacturer has added the shipping costs into the product price.
Step 12. Look beyond the marketing
Always keep in your mind the limitation of your pull out bed mechanism. Most will accept a 4 inch thick mattress, some a 5 inch and on occasion only 3 to 3 ½ inch thick. Focus on mattresses that offer the best support, durability, quality and value to meet your needs. So go back to step 1 and make sure you measure correctly. It’s important!
Bonus: Top 4 sleeper sofa mattress accessories
Whether you’re trying to make a cozy home-away-from home for your guests or you use the sleeper sofa regularly at home or in your RV, the most important feature in decorating a guest room, or camper, is the bed. Often, the hide-a-bed mattress in your den or RV is different from a regular bed mattress. This can make sleep difficult, but it doesn’t have to! Apart from making sure you have a comfortable sleeper sofa mattress, here are four accessories that can give you extra-comfort that can help you get a restful sleep every night.
Pillows are especially important for people who lay on their sides when sleeping. According to an independent study of more than 13,000 memory foam pillow owners, most people prefer memory foam pillows over traditional pillows. They experience less pain, enjoy a contoured shape for their head and neck, and find the pillows are more durable.
Protection pads can be washed more easily than a mattress, and can be washed at high temperatures to destroy any dangerous germs, bed bugs or insects.
Maintaining an optimum temperature level during the night could be a factor during the heat of the summer or cold in winter. Thus, the type of sheets you choose to use on your pull out bed mattress will make a huge difference in maintaining a pleasant temperature while you’re sleeping. Light colored sheets made from natural fibers like cotton, linen or bamboo cloth breathe better, wick away perspiration and reflect sunlight, thus making them the best choice during the summer months. In contrast, sheets made from a higher thread count or a fabric like flannel will hold heat in during the winter.
The most important (but also the biggest) investment you can make to improve the luxury of your sofa bed bedding is in buying a quality mattress topper. Due to the specifics of the mechanism, sofa beds cannot be thicker than 4-5 inches. Unfortunately there is no way to make a 4-5 inch mattress as comfortable as an 8-inch mattress, unless you add a topper. Toppers are made from a variety of materials including memory foam, latex foam and featherbeds so you can choose the type than most closely fits your needs. Of course, having a mattress topper means that you will have to have a place to store it in appropriate conditions while the sofa bed isn’t in use. Utilizing these four accessories will make every night on the sofa sleeper as satisfying as possible.
If you have any questions that we haven’t covered in this guide, while you’re in the process of selecting a new sofa bed mattress, feel free to use our company contact information to either email or phone (888-889-2812) our representatives. We’re here to help and encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have!