Types of Futon Cushioning - A Detailed Guide

One of the most important features of a top-notch futon is its cushioning, as it largely determines comfort levels. In this guide, we will cover various types of futon cushioning and covers available in futon mattresses. Their pros and cons will help you make an informed choice while selecting futon cushioning.

Types of Futon Cushioning

Your Guide to Different Types of Futon Cushioning

When you see your futon at the end of a long and tiring day, all you really want to do is sink into it and rest. However, the kind of comfort you get from your futon depends greatly on the mattress you use.

Historically, Japanese/traditional futons use very thin mattresses. This was especially the case in low-income households where people shopped for functionality more than comfort. Japanese people also believed the thinner the futon mattress, the better the spine’s alignment which, in turn, helps prevent back pain.

Today, though, you have much more choice in futon mattresses. American futons are known to have thicker mattresses than traditional Japanese futon mattresses. These days, you can go in for different kinds of cushioning based on the extent of comfort you seek.

In this guide, we will cover different futon cushioning materials and styles and also compare their pros and cons.

The Complete History & Evolution of the Futon – From Japan to America

Different Types of Futon Cushion Fillings and Cover Materials


Foam is the most common filling used in futon cushioning and it is also very popular. It comes in different densities which determine the cushioning’s thickness.

Here are the different types of foam fillings in futons:

  • Low-density foam

This type of foam was first made for automobile seat cushions to reduce the weight of the car and, at the same time, enhance durability and mechanical strength.

In futons, cushions with lower density are often too thin and people do not prefer them because they tend to flatten out with use. However, many manufacturers are using very high-quality, low-density foam mattresses which are quite durable and retain their shape for years.

A word about the density of the foam used: density identifies the weight of one cubic feet of foam. As density increases, so does the quality and comfort of the cushioning. The higher the foam density, the better quality of the mattress, but it is also heavier.

The best density readings for futon mattresses are between 1.8 and 3.2.

  • Slab foam cushion and memory foam

Slab foam cushions consist of polyurethane and latex materials which are resilient, retain their shape, and durable. New technology has also started using combustion-modified foam and natural and synthetic foams for creating high-quality, visco-elastic memory foam cushions.

Visco-elastic or memory foam is a slow-recovery foam that is especially used in futon mattresses, wheelchair cushioning, and other healthcare furniture/appliances.

  • Molded foam

Molded foam is higher in density and much more durable and comfortable. It also allows for more complex shapes and curves with thinner profiles. It gives a clean and sleek look to the completed upholstered futon.

  • Latex foam

Latex foam is produced from rubber and other synthetic rubberized compounds. During the manufacturing process, they create the rubber foam compound with tiny, air-filled cells. To alter the density of the cushioning, engineers create different sizes and quantities of these air cells.

The latex is often treated with sulfur and heated (a process called vulcanization) which adds even more stability and strength to the latex cushioning.

  • PU or Polyurethane foam

This is the most popular type of futon cushion filling and its popularity can be attributed to its resistance to moisture, microbes, crushing, and compression.

PU foam wrapped in Dacron is the most common and least expensive seat core in upholstered furniture. The density of the foam and the softness of the Dacron will determine how comfy your futon will be.


Fibrous cushioning in futons and couches are made directly from fibers, bypassing the yarn stage. These fibers can be natural or manmade. The benefit of fiber-based cushioning is that it provides a smooth, slip-resistant, soft surface and can range in thickness from 1/8th inch to 2 inches.

Fiber cushioning used in futons can include organic cotton, linen, jute, kapok, and bonded cellulose fibers. Ramie fiber is also a popular filling in cushioning. It is similar to linen, white, and lustrous. It is also strong and resilient.

The benefit of using fiber-based futons is that they are better for people with a sensitivity to chemicals. They are also soft and versatile.

  • Cotton

Cotton fiber futons are very versatile, take colors well, and are also eco-friendly. They have unlimited styling potential.

On the downside, cotton cushioning fades in the sunlight and UV light can cause disintegration of the natural fibers. They are also subject to mildew and less resistant to stains than synthetic fibers.

  • Linen/flax

Linen or flax is one of the most durable cushioning materials. It is resistant to dye and reflects heat better than cotton. However, it will still disintegrate in direct sunlight. On the downside, it can be expensive and also wrinkles easily.

  • Wool

Wool is another great upholstery material in futon mattress covers. It is resistant to abrasion, colors well, and has high stain resistance. However, it needs to be mothproofed and can be expensive. Some people are also allergic to wool.

  • Silk and velvet

Silk is a beautiful fabric for a futon covering. It is luxurious and especially beneficial to people who have allergies to other materials. On the downside, it can fade in strong sunlight and is also difficult to clean. It is also not resistant to mildew.

Velvet is a great choice in futon covers. It is soft, available in attractive colors and prints, and also takes dyes well. It is water-resistant and easy to clean too.

Synthetic Fibers

These mainly include rayon, polyester, olefin, and nylon. All these materials can make your futon cost-efficient and affordable. On the downside, all synthetic fibers are manufactured from petroleum, making them not too environmentally friendly.

  • Polyester

This is resistant to direct sunlight, cleans well, and takes dyes well too. It is also flame- and abrasion-resistant. Polyester is often blended with natural fibers to soften its feel.

  • Rayon

Rayon is woven to imitate the look and feel of silk. It is a great low-cost alternative to silk and blends well with modern upholstered furniture to impart rich elegance to your décor. Rayon is reasonably resistant to abrasion but cannot withstand direct sunlight.

  • Nylon

This is the most popular choice in upholstered furniture as it has a high luster and imparts a richness to the décor. Its drawback is that it fades in sunlight.

Leather and faux leather

Leather futon cushioning is highly elegant and adds a rich look to the décor. You can go for faux leather or genuine leather. Genuine leather does not need dry-cleaning and wears the longest. It even gets better as it ages! There are other benefits of using high-quality leather cushioned futons: you get a wide range of colors, impressive effects, and a fashionable appearance.

The Complete History & Evolution of the Futon – From Japan to America

How to Select Futon Cushioning

Two futons may look and feel identical but there can be a whole world of difference in the fabric and filling used in their cushioning. The way the mattress is filled and padded can make a huge difference in comfort, durability, and resilience.

These days, cotton and polydacron as well as leather futons are a popular choice. If you’re going for fabric cushioning, then look for tightly woven fabrics as they wear well. The number of threads per square inch can determine the durability of the fabric rather than the thickness of the yarn used.

Choose a fabric with the pattern woven in them rather than printed ones. You can also choose your futon mattress based on the pros and cons of the materials discussed above. Always pay attention to the durability, resilience, and sensitivity to direct sunlight, as well as the mattress’s cleanability before making a choice.

Types of Futon Cushioning

FAQs on Futon Mattresses

Can you use a regular mattress on a futon frame?

Yes, you can use any mattress on the futon as long as it can fit on the frame and meets your comfort expectations.

How can I make my futon mattress more comfortable?

Instead of throwing away a flattened, lumpy futon mattress, use the following tips to spruce it up:

  • Rotate your futon mattress frequently. This will prevent it from flattening in some places and becoming lumpy in others. Simply flip the mattress over and put the end that was at your feet where your head will be.
  • If flipping the mattress doesn’t work, try rolling and unrolling the futon mattress frequently.
  • You can also beat the mattress with a baseball bat or the handle of a broom.
  • Instead of placing the mattress on the futon frame, use it for sleeping on the floor. The frame may be causing the mattress to have an uneven thickness.
  • You can also stuff small pillows under the mattress to add thickness and comfort.

Can you put a memory foam topper on the futon mattress?

As a temporary solution to spruce up the futon mattress, you can add a memory foam topper. However, the memory foam topper is only as good as the support that lays underneath it.

How can I keep a futon mattress from slipping from its frame?

You can use a futon no-slip strip. They are readily available and can help you keep the futon mattress from slipping.


When it comes to selecting futon cushioning, always make sure you know what you are getting. Do your homework. Understand the different fabrics, fillings, and frames available in futons. Cheaper options will not wear well, whereas high-quality fabrics and materials will certainly last longer. Like with all other furniture pieces, you get what you pay for in a futon and its cushioning.

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