Sofa Beds

Friday, 17 November 2006 | Tags: , , , , ,

The trouble with sofa beds, popular for seating and an extra sleeping area, is that it's hard to find one that is comfortable both to sleep on and to sit on. We set out to find one that accomplishes both.

The Basics

  • Queen is the standard size. You can also find single beds in a chair and a half. King-size is also an option, but uncommon.

  • The mattress should be 4-5” thick. Too thin will make for a lumpy, uncomfortable sleep.

  • Foam mattresses are popular but don’t last as long as coil mattresses. This may not matter if you don’t plan on using it too much.

  • The number of coils indicates how much support the mattress provides, not necessarily how comfortable it is. Most sofa bed mattresses have 260-280 coils.

  • A good mattress has adequate padding for a softer, more comfortable surface.

  • Test for comfort in the store by lying on the bed for at least 5 minutes

  • Avoid frames made from angle iron. Galvanized tubular steel is more durable and easier to manoeuvre.

  • Check to see that there is a center leg that goes all the way across the bed; others may only have a peg leg on each side, which don’t provide as much stability.

Other Considerations:

  • Cross wire supports at the foot of the bed provide extra support so you can sit on the end of the bed without falling through.

  • Some sofa beds, especially older ones, can close up when you least expect it. Slowly crawl up to the head of the bed, and if it starts to fold up, don’t buy it.

  • Make sure the sofa you’re looking at fits in the intended space. Trust a tape measure, not your eye. When you get the sofa home it will look much larger.

  • To give the illusion of more space, look for a sofa with legs instead of a skirt.

  • Sofa beds can be 50–75 pounds heavier than the average sofa and a lot harder to manoeuvre up stairs and through hallways.


To get some first hand experience with comfort, we held some sleepovers on these three sofa beds:

  • IKEA (washable slip cover; 4-inch foam mattress): $799
  • Serta (7-inch coil mattress): $1,200
  • La-Z-Boy (with air mattress top): $1,599 + $300 for air mattress

Our tests and results include:

Sofa Comfort Test

  • The IKEA was uncomfortable. The removable cushions tended to slide off, and it felt too short to sit properly.

  • The Serta was stiff and not very comfortable to sit on for longer than a few minutes.

  • The La-Z-Boy was the most comfortable to sit on because it was softer overall and a little larger than the other two options.

Bed Comfort Test

  • IKEA was also an uncomfortable sleep. It’s an economical choice, but not a comfortable one.

  • As a bed, the Serta mattress seemed as comfortable as a regular bed.

  • The La-Z-Boy’s blow-up mattress felt like a camping mattress, so we didn’t feel it was worth the extra $300.


It was a tough choice between the comfiest bed (Serta) and the comfiest sofa (La-Z-Boy). It depends a lot on what’s more important to you. Less-than-comfortable mattresses can often be replaced with better options, so keep that in mind (as well as the added cost of a different mattress) if you find a comfortable sofa to sit on.



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  • Claire

    What about Stylus? They are obviously the best of both worlds, in regards to sitting and sleeping. Economically, it also should win the race because it has a lifetime warranty on the springs, and therefore you will never have to keep replacing the entire piece, not to mention it is made right here in Canada. I bought my sofa bed at Almira Fine Furniture and I have never regret a purchase from there.