Are you buying a new sofa bed and want to understand the differences between the mattresses used? Or has your sofa bed mattress proven to have a shorter lifespan than the sofa bed frame?
Don’t worry - in this short guide we’ll cover all you need to know about sofa bed mattresses. You’ll discover how to measure your mattress, understand the kinds available, and select the filling that will best match your requirements.
What exactly are sofa bed mattresses?
Sofa bed mattresses are tailored mattresses that are created to snugly fit sofa beds.
They can fold away when used as a sofa and, because of this, they are much thinner than traditional mattresses.
And, it is because sofa bed mattresses are so thin that they can become worn out quite quickly.
Their length and width vary according to the make and model of sofa bed you have, although there are standard sizes which most manufacturers adhere to.
Typically, sofa beds come in two- or three-seater variants, although there are also sofa chairs available, which are closer in size to a single mattress.
Which sofa bed mattress should I get?
The sofa bed mattress that is right for you will largely depend on three key factors:
As your mattress needs to fold when it is not being used as a bed, you need to be careful that you do not choose a mattress that's too thick.
In time, thick mattresses are likely to become damaged as they are not really compatible with the frame. It is also possible that too thick a mattress may cause problems for the spring mechanism on the sofa bed itself.
It is easy to determine how thick a mattress you need. Simply roll out the mattress you are replacing and measure its depth. This will be the measurement you are looking to match when you start shopping for your replacement.
When you are determining the length and width of the mattress that you need, you should not rely on measuring your current mattress. This is because over the years it will have become misshapen. Instead, use the frame of the sofa bed itself as this will give you a much more accurate measurement.
What is your sofa bed used for?
Is it in a guest room and only very occasionally used, or is it the main bed for one of your children?
Depending on how much use the bed will get, you should determine your budget. Broadly speaking, the more expensive a mattress, the comfier it will be. By the same token, there is no point in buying an expensive replacement sofa bed mattress if it will only be used now and again.
Types of sofa bed mattress
While there are a bewildering amount of options available for sofa bed mattresses, it is reassuring to know that they all fall into just a few types.
These are the main types:
Memory foam sofa bed mattress
A memory foam mattress uses your body heat to help soften and mould itself to the shape of your body. It offers a supremely comfortable, supportive, cushioned surface that actively relieves your body’s pressure points.
The technology behind these mattresses can be traced back to NASA where it was developed for use in the seats of the space shuttle to help cushion the impact of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Reflex foam sofa bed mattresses
Reflex foam is very similar to memory foam and a great option for those who want the comfort of memory foam but are put off by the ‘sinking feeling’ it can provide.
Reflex foam offers a firm but supportive feel, thanks to its ‘bubble-like’ inside. This acts like air in a balloon, in that the air does not escape but is, instead, displaced to the side. Once the pressure is relieved the bubbles spring back into shape.
Latex sofa bed mattress
Latex mattresses are the eco-friendly choice.
They are usually made using the sap of rubber trees, amongst other sustainable materials, but there are also mattresses that are created using soybean oil, a renewable resource that has even less impact on the environment.
A word of caution: make sure the latex used is blended or natural. 100% synthetic latex will tend to break down faster and the mattress can become discoloured over time when exposed to strong natural light (such as near a window).
Polyurethane foam sofa bed mattress
This style is a lot less luxurious than memory foam or natural latex sofa bed mattress. However, high density foam is an affordable alternative that is very effective at minimising the feel of the sofa bed mechanism.
If you are going for this option do shop around for the best density of foam.
The common densities of 1.2 lbs and 2.5 lbs tend to break down much quicker and can form a crease if the mattress is folded up as a sofa for longer periods of time.
Meanwhile the heavier densities between 2 lbs and 2.5 lbs can put more stress on the sleeper mechanism and also cause the mattress to retain heat.
The best density to go for is 1.8 lbs as this is durable, doesn’t become set, doesn’t retain heat, and will not strain your sofa mechanism.
Inflatable sofa bed mattress
Also referred to as an air over coil mattress, this is an inflatable air mattress with coils in its base.
It was designed to provide an adjustable firmness and to offer more protection from the uncomfortable sofa bed mechanism.
Ongoing problems with faulty valve stems, burned out air pumps, and faulty air bladders have ensured that this mattress never really gained a firm foothold in the market.
Probably best avoided!
Standard sprung sofa bed mattress
If you are budget conscious – perhaps using the sofa bed in a spare room, then standard sprung offers a very reasonably priced option that is perfectly serviceable for infrequent use.
These are sometimes referred to as open coil mattresses, as they house an inter-connected spring system. This spring is measured in gauges to indicate the thickness of the wire used. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the spring – and the thicker the spring, the firmer the mattress.
Pocket sprung sofa bed mattress
The pocket sprung sofa bed mattress is very responsive to your body weight, which means that it offers a very comfortable night's sleep.
Because each spring is housed in its own pocket there is very little ‘roll together’ if the bed is being shared by two.
Sofa bed mattress accessories
You may wish to consider the following accessories for your sofa bed mattress.
Sofa bed sheets
Sheets are now available that are sewn to fit your exact mattress size – so there need no longer be that ruffled under sheet.
Sofa bed mattress covers
Prolong the life of your replacement mattress with a waterproof sofa bed mattress cover. Typically, these are available in two styles: fitted and encasement. Fitted will just protect the top of the mattress and encasement protects all six sides of your mattress.
Mattress tests are sometimes quoted to give an indication of the quality and longevity of your sofa bed mattress.
Here’s what those tests mean:
The rollator test
A rollator test is designed to simulate 10 years of life on a mattress.
This is achieved by using a 240-pound cylinder that is rolled back and forth over the top of the mattress. 100,000 cycles occur over the course of a week and after this the firmness and height loss are measured.
The pressure map test
The human body is designed to allow maximum mobility during the day and the same joints that allow this movement, such as the hips and shoulders, can be the cause of 'pressure hot spots' in mattresses.
The pressure map test shows exactly how well a mattress works with the body’s contours to reduce pressure on these hot spots and therefore encourage deeper and more therapeutic sleep.Now you are up to speed about sofa bed mattresses, why not read our Sofa bed buying guide or shop our supremely comfortable Swyft sofa beds?