A guest bedroom requires some extra space to spare, which is not a luxury everyone haves?

So what to do when guests drop by for an overnight stay? Why, use your comfortable sofa bed!

Sofa beds are great resources for small apartments, or even in addition to a guest room.

They are incredibly versatile, freeing up space a bed would take up and serving as an extra bit of seating when folded up. They come in a variety of fabrics and more styles than you might think. If you entertain frequently, a sofa bed can be a worthwhile purchase.

A lot of people assume a sofa bed must be uncomfortable. They are likely neither a comfortable bed nor a comfortable couch. Older ones often are, either due to wear and tear or original poor quality construction. A modern sofa bed mattress, however, can be a comfortable sleeping (and sitting) experience.

bedroom-by-Elad-Gonen Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Elad Gonen

It’s worth knowing that a sofa bed is much firmer than most normal sofas because of the way they are constructed. It will also likely never bed a very soft mattress, so a mattress pads for guests may be a good purchase. They are typically more expensive than a regular sofa, as they are doing double duty as a sofa and a bed.

Sofa Bed Size

Sofa beds come in a variety of sizes like regular beds, with a few differences. They are normally a bit shorter than regular beds, which is something often noted by tall guests. Here are the four standard widths.

  • Chair Sofa Bed: 51 to 58 inches
  • Twin Sofa Bed: 56 to 65 inches
  • Full Sofa Bed: 68 to 92 inches
  • Queen Sofa Bed: 79 to 101 inches

The most common sofa bed is are going to be a twin or single sofa bed. There is a lot more flexibility with the space these sizes take up. Twin sofa beds work really well for sleeping one or two people and are in many ways the ideal small sofa bed for small rooms.

Back-Bay-Apartment-by-David-Sharff-Architect-P.C. Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: David Sharff Architect, P.C.

They are normally about 85 inches long.  These kinds of sofa beds are sometimes called chair and half beds, or have the name shortened into chair beds.

Queen sofa beds are the best, most widely available option when space is not an issue and you just want a bed that works as an extra sitting space. There are a lot of stylistic options available for these beds due to their size.

City-studio-apartment-by-Black-and-Milk-Interior-Design-London Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Black and Milk | Interior Design | London

The fully extended bed is typically 90 inches long and works very well for two people. As a sofa, these sofa beds seat three people.

For frequent use, you probably want to get a full-sized sofa bed. Twins are often too small for adults to use often and two people can fit together on these sofa beds if they’re willing to get close.

Lions-Bay-by-Kelly-Deck-Design Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Kelly Deck Design

It’s not ideal for couples, however, as it can get very cozy, even for people who don’t mind the closeness. The fully extended mattress is about 90 inches long. As a sofa, this size of sofa bed is somewhere in size between a sofa and a love seat. It’s about the size of an apartment sofa and can serve well in smaller spaces.

You should also check to see if your sofa bed will fit though the door of the room before your purchase it. Measure the width of any doorways you will be takings it through as well as the height of the ceilings.

City-Sofa-Bed-by-Imagine-Living Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Imagine Living

If you bring these numbers to the store, you can get help from the store’s employees to find the best sofa bed for your space. You can also normally unscrew the legs of the sofa bed without much trouble, so don’t worry about that too much when measuring the height of the sofa bed.

Types of Sofa Beds

There are several types of sofa beds, and even a quick web search can give you an overwhelming variety in multiple sizes. Most fall into three categories of convertible sofa bed:

Pull Out Sofa Bed

When most people think of a sofa bed, this is what they think of. Normally they are full or queen sized mattresses. The cushions sit on top of the folded mattress. You take them off, then use the metal bars that form the bed frame to unfold the mattress outward.Ft.-Lauderdale-Florida-by-RS3-DESIGNS Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: RS3 DESIGNS

These sofa beds are designed to spend most of their time as sofa, so the cushions are normally quite comfortable. The right mattress can be very comfortable, too. Very thin mattresses should be avoided, however, as they don’t offer much cushioning against the bed frame’s metal bars.

Park-Avenue-Apartment-by-KATCH-ID Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: KATCH ID

Pull-out sofa beds are typically quite expensive. Pull-out sofa beds normally start around $1,000.

Futon Sofa Bed

These are the kind of sofa beds most college students use in their dorm rooms. They are typically quite light, easy to move, and very easy to fold up. They are rarely comfortable. Normally futon mattresses are made from cotton batting and low-density foam.

Family-Room-by-Robert-Young-Architects Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Robert Young Architects

This foam tends to harden and compress with time and use. As you might expect, a futon is normally quite a cheap sofa bed option.


Unlike the pull-out sofa beds, daybeds are meant to be used as beds more often than as sofas. Most daybeds are twins and cost about as much as regular twin beds. They tend to sleep pretty well, depending on their quality, much like regular beds.

DC-Condo-Home-Office-by-ae-design Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: ae design

What about Brands?

Brands make surprisingly little difference to sofa beds. Because of the construction, one folding sofa bed will sleep much like another. Their frames are very similar and their mechanisms are made the same way, typically by the same manufacturer.

Montain-Home-by-Eduarda-Correa-Arquitetura-Interiores Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Eduarda Correa Arquitetura & Interiores

The structure is usually a metal frame with coils at the edges that hold the canvas decking. It’s worth noting that modern sofa beds have a bar beneath the mattress that now curves away from your body (unlike the one you probably remember from your grandmother’s house), which means it’s not digging into your back all night.

Multi-Function-Attic-Room-by-Reyne-Design Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Reyne Design

There is a major exception to all this though: sofa beds made by American Leather/American Upholstery. Their sofa beds have a solid wooden base beneath the whole mattress.

This system means that these sofa beds use conventionally sized mattresses, instead of the shorter mattresses used by other sofa beds. They still take up less floor space when extended to their full size, however.


Sofa beds have mattresses that are notably thinner than regular mattresses. Careful consideration can make this less of an issue. There are few kinds you can find:

  • Innerspring mattresses: these sofa bed mattresses have coils inside, lending them some bounciness. This does not always make them more comfortable for sleeping. A higher number of coils –over 600 coils is a good guideline—will normally be more comfortable. Stress-relieved springs (springs treated at a high temperature to relieve spots of stress) are more comfortable and of course more expensive.
  • Memory foam mattresses: Memory foam is a durable visco-elastic foam. This stuff is everywhere. Good, high-quality memory foam mattresses are generally better than innerspring mattresses. They mold better to the body’s shape, provide more consistent support, and snap easily back into the original form. Memory foam is highly flexible, so it is a natural choice for sofa beds.

Slice-of-Heaven-Memory-by-PlushBeds Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: PlushBeds

Opening Mechanisms

Before you start shopping for a sofa bed, it’s important to understand what kinds of opening mechanisms there are.

  • Click Clack: This is the opening method found on most futons. You use it by pulling the sofa frame forward until it clicks. It is folded back again by pushing until it lays flat.
  • Pullout: Sleeper chairs and pull-out sofa beds sue this method. All you have to do to open it is remove the cushions and pull the handle. The mattresses are usually folded into thirds.
  • Power Open: This opening mechanism uses a remote. It simply unfolds and folds with the push of a button. It’s great for those with back problems or mobility issues.

Intexure-Live-Work-Studio-by-Intexure-Architects Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Intexure Architects

What Makes for a Quality Sofa Bed?

What is the frame made out of? The best sofa bed frames are made of kiln-dried hardwood or a combo of furniture-grade plywood and hardwood. You should stay away from sofa beds that have frames composed of soft woods like pine.

How easily does it open and close? If you can’t open and close it easily, all of the convenience of a sofa bed is gone. Test it out at the store to see how hard it is to make function. You should be able to open it all in one smooth motion and easily secure tis locking bar. If it sticks, squeaks or wobbles at all, it’s not a high quality sofa bed.

Does it have smooth edges? Any sharp or rough edges will cause problems. They could snag on the fabric of the sofa bed and damage that, or they could snag on any sheets you use. If in the wrong spot, they could even injure someone who is either folding, unfolding, or even just using it.

Colorado-Sofa-bed-by-Imagine-Living Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Imagine Living

Can you test it out? Like with any kind of investment in furniture, you should try it out in the store first. Lie on it, sit on it, open it up, close it back up…these things will allow you to gauge the sofa bed’s quality as well as its uses for your home.

Spend at least 10 minutes just lying in the bed and sitting in the sofa. Don’t be embarrassed. Lots of people do this; it’s why furniture show rooms are there.

What do the product reviews look like? If you are looking at buying online, look for detailed customer reviews, not just a star rating system. See what kinds of issues people had with the bed and what they say its best features are. Previous buyers are a great resource you should defiantly use.

Confetto-FFertig-by-The-Collection-German-Furniture Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: The Collection German Furniture

Does it have a standard sized mattress? You will have to buy sheets for the sofa bed mattress. If it is an odd size, trying to find the right fitted sheets will be a maddening exercise. It might be awkward for guests of a certain height or boy type to sleep on.

Corner sofa beds are a particular concern in this area. As tempting or perfect as an out-of-standard mattress might be for you, remember the practical concerns that will come with using it.

Materials and Price

A lot of things go into the price of a sofa bed, from their type to their overall make. Futons typically begin at around $200. Sleeper sofa can run from between $800 to $2,500—and there are some that can cost even more than that. As you shop around, you will begin to see the difference the type of sofa bed makes in price.

Opening mechanisms can affect the price quite a bit, too. Automatic open-and-close systems raise the price of event he most standard sofa bed quite a bit.

Mattress materials are much the same. More high tech (and more comfortable) mattress materials like memory foam will cost more than old-fashioned materials like innerspring mattresses.

Pavilion-sofa-bed-in-Grey-by-Loaf Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Loaf

Remember, as well, that as the overall size of the sofa bed, so does the price. A larger sofa bed will be substantially more expensive than a smaller one.

Upholstery is another big factor in the price. A leather sofa bed will cost more than one upholstered in cotton twill.

Any sort of complex variations on a sofa bed will cost you, too. A sectional sofa bed is even more expensive than a sectional couch. Odd shapes tend to run up the price.

Sleep-sofabed-by-Imagine-Living- Sofa Bed Designs: How To Pick One And Which Is The Best
Image source: Imagine Living

With all these things in mind, remember that sofa bed is an investment that offers an incredible degree of convenience. The right one is typically worth the price.

A good cost saving measure might be an IKEA sofa bed. IKEA sofa beds demonstrate their typical design touches, costs, and are designed for homes where space is limited.


Purchasing a sofa bed is more complex than you might initially think. The two most important thing you need to remember are to measure the space the sofa bed will go and to test it out. It’s just like any other furniture investment, so take your time.