Memory Foam Topper on Top of a Futon

by Tomás
(Tucson AZ)

We've put a memory foam topper on top of our futon. It's not working out ideally. Is it because we need a better foam topper, or is it because you can't really benefit from a futon under a foam topper?

Answer from Rich Silver

Hi Tomás,

As a short term solution or occasional night sleep, putting a memory foam topper on a futon frame is okay. It’s far from ideal though.

Keep in mind that a memory foam mattress or memory foam topper is only as good as the support that is underneath it. A topper is designed to go on top of a good quality mattress that has firm support.

Here are other factors to consider.

First, what kind of frame is the futon? If it’s metal, the poles may not provide adequate support because they are too narrow. This could allow the memory foam to “ooze” through the metal poles. Some metal futon frames do have a wire grid as support and that is better than just poles.

It would be better to have a hardwood futon frame with wooden slats. If the slats are two or three inches wide and not too far apart—say three inches at the most—the topper can lie flat without slipping through the wooden slats.

Another potential problem is that a futon frame has a couple of sections. There’s the back support for when the futon is used like a couch. And there’s the panel that you sit on. When you lay the futon flat, there is a gap between these two sections where, once again, the memory foam can “ooze” through. The last thing you want is a topper or mattress that sags.

This is another reason why I prefer wooden futon frames. Of course, wooden framed futons are much more expensive than metal.

As for the memory foam topper itself, how thick is your topper? To make it really work, you’ll have to go with a quality topper that is three inches thick. A one-inch cheap topper is just not going to cut it. For example, check out the high quality, three-inch topper that is 4 lbs of density at Nature's Sleep. (After you get to their website, click on the tab that says Shop Toppers.)

Another consideration is whether the futon and memory foam is left flat every day and not set up daily as a couch. In other words, are you storing the foam topper in a closet during the day and putting it back on at night? If you’re using the futon only as a bed, consider putting a futon mattress on it and then put the topper on the mattress. Not perfect but better than nothing.

A regular futon mattress has a special construction that allows it to bend in the middle. Most are made of cotton fiber fill or layers of regular foam. Some also have coils in them. You don’t want to be constantly bending your memory foam because it will simply wear out faster.

Here’s the bottom line.

1. Futons are best used by individuals who have a lighter weight.

2. A memory foam topper supported only by a futon frame may not be comfortable long term.

3. Memory foam is heavy. Make certain the futon frame can support the memory foam topper and the weight of the people sleeping on it.

4. Most people who are satisfied with a memory foam topper had to spend several hundred dollars. So your budget plays a role here. I’ve had college students contact me about toppers and they never have any money. In that case, they are forced to go with a cheap topper to put on their dorm beds or whatever.

5. Getting a topper that is the same size as your futon may be a problem.

6. From my research, it’s clear that a topper of three inches with a density of 4 lbs will usually be your best option. You get good support at a good price.

7. And finally, this is the most important point of all: Always remember when buying a memory foam mattress or topper to make certain it has been tested and free of toxic chemicals that will stink up your bedroom. I recommend looking for the CertiPUR-US label.

Nature's Sleep that I mentioned above is CertiPUR-US certified. They are slightly more expensive toppers, but just like when buying a car, if you can afford it, you get a Mercedes or Lexus rather than a Subaru.

If you invest in a good topper, you’ll have it for years to come.

On the other hand, if you are going to go the route, I’ve done the hard work for you to find CertiPUR-US certified companies. I went through hundreds of pages on Amazon. Read the reviews and then you decide what’s best.

Here are the companies at that are certified:

• Sleep Innovations (Yes, has toppers) Sleep Innovations 3-Inch SureTemp Sculpted Memory Foam Topper. 5-year limited warranty. Made in the USA. King

• Lucid (Yes, has toppers) LUCID 3 Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper 3-Year Warranty - Queen

• SensorPEDIC (Yes, has toppers) SensorPEDIC Luxury Extraordinaire 3-Inch Quilted Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Queen Size, White

• Best price mattress (No toppers)

• Classic Brands (Yes, has toppers but only 2”)

• Silver Rest Sleep Products (No toppers)

Hope this information helps you out.


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