How to choose a quality futon and keep it in top condition

Q. My futon dips in the center. How do I pick a really good quality futon that doesn't do this? - E.U., Los Angeles

A. Choosing a futon is a lot like buying a car: There's a range of uses, styles, and prices to consider based on one's needs, says Ernest Larouche, manager of Bedworks in Cambridge, Mass.

First, Mr. Larouche suggests that you decide whether the futon is to be used lightly, as a couch or a guest bed, or if it's to be slept on every night. In the case of the former, you can skimp on quality if money is tight. But in the latter, the most expensive futon you can afford is well worth it in the long run. Futons generally range from $80 to $300, and last between two and 10 years; so an additional $30 upfront can give you several more years of use, Larouche says.

Find out what the futon is made of. Generally, futons are either all-cotton or are sandwiched with layers of cotton and foam. (Some futons contain cotton substitutes, such as polyester, but Larouche suggests all-natural cotton for the most comfort.) Foam densities range from 0.8 to 1.8 pounds per square inch. The higher the density of foam, the better the quality - and the more resilient it is to forming dips.

Larouche advises avoiding futons that contain springs since he sees them as a tactic of "warming people up to the idea of futons." Futons are made to support the natural curve of the back, not to be springy or straighten out the back like mattresses.

He also recommends "test-driving" the futon: Lie on it for 10 to 15 minutes to determine if it's a match. Futons vary in their firmness and hardness, so it's best to try out several.

Finally, for the first two weeks of sleeping on the futon, don't sleep in the same spot - sleep on both sides, in both directions. Then rotate it every two months.

Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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