The Dual Purposes of Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers generally serve one of two purposes: they may be used purely for protecting a mattress or they may be used to add an extra comfort layer to a mattress. Or they may be used for both. Here we will show you how good toppers will achieve both.

A mattress topper may also be called a mattress protector or mattress pad. If their primary purpose is to protect the mattress then they may be rather thin and be more like a cover or cheap ones may even be as thin as a fitted sheet; they can sit on top of the mattress or encase it completely. Either way they will be completely removable which allows them to be easily cleaned or vacuumed and they will protect the mattress from collecting dust and dead skin as well as picking up stains from perspiration. Some mattress toppers may be waterproof which further protects the mattress from secretions and spills, and which may also protect the warranty on a mattress that can be voided due to stains.

Another function of these protective mattress toppers is to protect the sleeper from allergies, such as dust mite allergies. Some doctors will recommend them to asthma sufferers as another layer of protection between the sleeper and the mattress and this has become more the case with the increasing popularity of foam mattresses, which are generally more likely to harbor dust mites than the older inner-spring mattresses.

The other type of toppers are foam mattress toppers. These will of course also protect the mattress but often people use them primarily for an extra comfort layer. They are thicker than the purely protective pads and are often more like a quilted pillow top. If you are considering a memory foam topper then check how much memory foam is used in the filling as it will vary and the price will vary accordingly. Good quality memory foam of course adds the benefits of excellent body conformity and great heat response to the topper, which can really enhance the comfort level for sleepy bodies.

These memory foam toppers will usually come in thicknesses of around 3 or 4 inches but that won’t necessarily indicate the thickness of the memory foam. 4 inch memory foam toppers may contain 1.5 inches of memory foam and 2.5 inches of another type of foam. 3 inch mattress toppers may contain 1.5 inches of memory foam and 1.5 inches of other foam. It’s always best to read the labels carefully so you know exactly what you’re getting.

They can be used on older mattresses that still retain a good shape or on models that are too firm. They can reinvigorate them completely and add an enveloping softness to a previously uncomfortable sleeping surface; rather than having to buy a completely new mattress this is a way of saving money, but bear in mind that a sagging, tired old mattress cannot be saved by a topper, no matter how comfortable it is.

Cheap mattress toppers can be bought in all the same sizes as your mattresses and in the same bedding centers that stock your mattresses. Nowadays they are even in the large retailers like Walmart and the online stores like Amazon as well as other specialist online bedding sites.

Please note that you may want to air your topper outside or in a well-ventilated room before you use it, as they can have a strong odor.

If your old mattress set is a looking a bit worn and is not as comfortable as it used to be, but has retained its shape fairly well, then you might want to consider a 4 inch memory foam mattress topper rather than replacing the whole thing.

Before deciding whether to opt for one of these items you need to take a long, hard look at your existing mattress, though. If it’s badly sagging and has lost its shape completely then a mattress topper will not resurrect its career – it’s heading for the garbage tip I’m afraid.

However, in the case of an innerspring mattress where the coils are still in pretty good condition and all you want to do is add a level of comfort to the top, a topper can save a lot of money. These toppers are made by most of the leading mattress manufacturers nowadays and are available at a fraction of the cost of a full mattress set. You can simply choose one of the better brands, make sure you get the right size, order online with a reputable retailer and get one delivered to your door.

Memory foam is known in the market for its extra comfort and the way it reacts to both body shape and body heat to provide a very comfortable upper layer to a mattress. The main body of most memory foam mattress sets will not be made from memory foam – only the upper layers – so providing your mattress still has a reasonably shaped body then you will not be missing out on much.

Be careful not to cut corners too much with the 4 inch memory foam mattress topper. You are already saving money from not having to buy a full mattress, so there’s no sense in opting for a 3 inch topper to make extra savings, or opting for a cheaper brand.

The golden rule is to buy from an established maker, as they will use the best materials that will provide the comfort and durability that you are expecting; cheaper manufacturers will use poorer quality memory foam, perhaps of lower density, and in smaller amounts too.

Some makers will provide packages that include covers for your topper. You can check online and you will see that you can get a Serta Queen 4 inch memory foam topper for around $250 or less. This is just a guideline – shop around makes and sizes with different retailers but, again, our advice is to choose a leading brand.

A natural mattress topper is, unsurprisingly, made from 100% natural materials such as cotton or latex. Most people searching for information on this type of product are looking to find out more about natural latex mattress toppers as these are the most widely owned type of mattress toppers made from a natural organic material.

A mattress topper is designed to fit directly on top of your existing mattress or futon. It will add extra thickness to your current mattress making it more durable and comfortable to sleep on. A good quality mattress topper such as a natural latex foam mattress topper is seen as great way to achieve an expensive mattresses level of comfort at a fraction of the expensive mattresses price.

There are some very powerful reasons for choosing a natural mattress topper, some of the main ones a listed here:

  1. Comfort – a natural latex mattress will conform to your body’s curves and contours so that you will be supported throughout your sleep. It is important that your neck and spine are kept perfectly aligned all night so that any pressure points are minimized. You can achieve this with a natural latex mattress topper, and when you do, you will find that it greatly reduces any pressure points on your body and eliminate many of the aches and pains you can suffer with a cheaper mattress.
  2. Health Benefits – as well the benefits stated above, natural latex has many health-related properties. It is hypo-allergenic, is resistant to mold and mildew, and will prevent the build up of dust mites that you get with normal coil sprung mattresses. If you are asthmatic or have any type of dust mite allergy, this type of mattress is idealaor your needs.
  3. Longevity – natural latex is a very durable material, and as long as it doesn’t suffer any external trauma, it should literally last you a lifetime. Unlike conventional mattresses, which have a tendency to sink or sag in the middle over a period of time, a latex mattress will maintain its shape for at least 15 years.

Obviously, if you have a latex allergy, then this type of mattress is not for you, but for anyone else, a natural mattress topper is an ideal balance between extreme levels of comfort and value for money.

History, Features and Best Uses of Futon Beds

I used to move around a lot, from rented apartment to rented apartment and one of my most cherished items at that time was my futon bed. It was so easy to dismantle, pack into the back of the car and then reassemble at the new place. Here we take a look at the history, the main features and the best uses of futon beds in our modern lifestyles.

The Japanese were using futons centuries before they were introduced to the US. They were usually quilted cotton mattresses which were placed directly on the wooden floor at night time for sleeping, then rolled up and stored away during the daytime, freeing the room up to be used for something else. Actually futons were usually a 2 part set that included a shikibuton, or bottom mattress, and a kakebuton – a thick quilted bedcover, which sat on top.

The term “Futon” originally referred to the mattress, which was covered and was traditionally stuffed with cotton or wool batting. They are still used extensively in Japan, where special stores will stock many different styles and will package them into sets including the mattress, comforter, different weights of blankets and pillows.

When the futon bed was introduced to the west it took on several new features, the most obvious of which was that it was usually sold with a base or frame – normally made of wood or metal – which could be folded up into the form of a sofa or chair when not being used as a bed. This expanded its appeal and attraction for use in many different situations. Typically the frame flattens out when used as a bed and will fold in the middle when used as a couch, the mattress then doubling up and providing cushioning for the seat area and the back-rest area of the couch.

Futon sofa beds became extremely popular with people living in situations where space or money (or both) was short. Apartment living was a great example where a futon would solve several problems at once. Usually people living in apartments didn’t have the space for a spare guest room; the futon allowed them to quickly convert their sofa into a spare bed and allow the apartment liver to have guests sleep over more comfortably.

Futons were also highly portable so people in the same situation as me, moving around from place to place – like students and many modern youngsters – could dismantle them easily, pack them away into a car or van and then reassemble them in the new place easily using nothing more than an Alan key in many cases. There are also no worries with navigating bulky mattresses and bed bases along narrow passageways, as these pack up into small bundles and rolls that can be carried into most rooms very easily.

Given these major advantages over normal mattress sets, plus the fact that they were usually very reasonably priced it’s no wonder that futon mattresses and beds became a permanent fixture of the western bedding market.

Nowadays western futon mattresses are usually filled with foam as well as cotton and are thicker than their Japanese counterparts. When being used as a sofa or chair they will also incorporate smart mechanisms to stop them slipping down the frame. They are usually sold in sets that will include a mattress and a frame and you may be offered a variety of covers that are far more elaborate than the simple white cotton covers of the Japanese mattresses. This is all in an attempt to cater to western comfort and design expectations and it’s constantly evolving in the case of the futon.

If you are looking at cheap futon beds for your home be sure not to under-estimate the importance of the frame. My frame was made from teak and was more expensive than the mattress itself and outlasted two mattresses in the end. Futon mattresses will flatten out and can eventually be replaced but your frame should be built to last. Not to mention that a lousy frame can result in an accident if your futon doubles up as a sofa or chair and collapses at a bad moment.

There are certain times and certain situations in our homes when we just need a cheap and simple solution. In the case of bedding, there are times when we have to quickly get a temporary bed together for an unexpected guest or a friend who is over and had a glass of wine too many and cannot drive home. Those of us living in houses with spare rooms have no problem but what about those of us who live in small apartments or condos? Do we have to send the guest to a hotel or are we in a situation to provide a temporary place to rest their head for the night? Two options that cost little and can save space as well as time are air mattresses and futons, and here we concentrate on cheap futons.

Futons were made popular during the 1960′s and 1970′s in the US but were used as portable, space-saving and convenient bedding in Japan for many centuries before that. The traditional design was just a roll of cotton bedding that could be packed away when not being used.

In the US they have conventionally been used with a frame that raises the mattress off the floor; some of these frames are versatile and can be shaped into a sofa or chair and this is where we come to the real beauty of futon mattresses in being used in apartments and tight spaces. Because they can double-up as an item of furniture they use no extra space at all. The sofa can just be easily collapsed into a bed as and when needed and, if you keep a couple of spare pillows, a comforter cover and a spare bed in a bag in a cabinet nearby, you can have a comfortable bed made up in minutes for your guest.

Over the years designs have become more sophisticated; the basic concepts still apply and the frames will probably still be wooden or metal, but they employ some new features to stop the mattress slipping in the frame when it is being used upright, for example.
Because futons are usually used with covers they are easy to maintain. The covers can be scotch guarded and waterproofed so that the mattress doesn’t suffer if there are spillages, which is especially likely with futon sofa-beds. Most of the covers are machine-washable and are sold in the same place as the futon, and the many imaginative designs available nowadays can add a splash of color or a new look to your living room.

Nowadays of course there are plenty of specialist sites online where you can buy a cheap futon for your home. You can buy just the frame or a frame and mattress set and you will be able to choose between various sizes (twin or full size are the most popular). The standard futon mattress will usually be around 4 inches thick and be made from cotton, polyester or a blend of both.

There is plenty to choose from online and you may be lucky enough to find sales or special deals on lines that are being cleared. Though there are more expensive and stylish models around, you should be able to pick up a perfectly good cheap futon bed for a few hundred dollars including delivery. Just make sure the retailer is reputable and established.

Futon Mattress Reviews

Our sleeping surfaces are a constant source of innovation. Man has always seemed to share an important relationship with what we sleep on. Mattresses made of springs, memory foam or latex vie with each other for our attention, along with crib and air mattresses, toppers and pillows. Another often-considered choice is the futon and here we see how they can be ideal in some situations and how reading a few futon mattress reviews might help you if you are thinking of buying one.

Futon Basics

A Futon is a traditional style Japanese padded mattress which can be folded away and stored when it is not used. The word “futon” is actually of Chinese derivation, though.

When we refer to futon sets now, as sold in Japan, where they are still widely used, we usually mean the bottom mattress, a thick quilted cover, a lighter blanket and a pillow. The understanding has moved on from simply meaning the mattress. Usually in the past they would have been placed on wooden floors at night and stored away during the day so that the room could be put to other uses.

As westerners started to import and market futons more and more, especially during the 1970’s, they applied some changes to the traditional Japanese futon mattress, to suit their customers’ tastes. There are not many tatami floors in the USA! Therefore most people use futons placed on a wood or metal frame and the fact that this frame can be folded in the middle means that they can be used as a chair or sofa, as well as a bed. They are usually sold in sets that will include the base and futon mattress covers, which are usually removable and can therefore be washed.

Let’s take a look at the mattresses, first of all.

Futon Mattresses

The western mattresses are usually made thicker than the traditional ones with several layers of filling to them. They are usually quite flat, with an interior of foam, a synthetic batten fiber or cotton. Increasingly we are seeing the memory foam futon mattress replace these other materials, mirroring a trend we have seen in the standard mattress market. This is because of the comfort and support elements of memory foam, which is also designed to keep body warmth from heating up the sleeping surface.

They are also made in many sizes, often as large as our traditional mattresses. A full size futon mattress will measure around 54 x 74 inches, which is similar to a full size conventional mattress. The same applies to the Queen futon mattress, which measures around 60 x 80 inches. At the lower end of the size scale we have the twin futon mattress, at approximately 39 x 75 inches. The size you choose will be governed by the normal questions you need to ask, such as who will be using it, how often it will be used, which room it is going in etc etc. King size mattresses are sometimes available but are much rarer than other sizes detailed above.

Futon Mattress Covers

As with normal sleeping set ups the comfort level you will achieve from a futon set depends on the mattress and also the fabrics used in the covers. Nowadays the covers are made in a myriad of different qualities, designs, patterns and colors.

The cover you choose will depend on the location of the futon. Is it going into a guest room? Are the kids going to use it? Will it be used occasionally or regularly? Do you have pets? These factors will determine the quality you need.

If design is important to you, then you shouldn’t be disappointed. Many of the places that sell the futons and covers also sell matching pillows and cushions of all shapes and sizes. Solid ranges or printed design ranges are probably the most popular.

The covers can be made of 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and polyester. Some users say that the blended covers are the hardest wearing of all and they are less susceptible to shrinkage or to fading of colors, if they receive direct sunlight. They blend the “breathing” qualities of the cotton with the durability of the artificial fiber. Other materials used in the making of covers nowadays are microfibers and even denim style or faux suede fabrics. Choosing which fabric depends on the feel and look you want, but don’t forget to consider durability also. It will help if you find a reputable brand of cover with guarantees of quality, so then you can just concentrate on getting the style and the comfort that you want.

Most of the covers have zippers that run around 2 or 3 sides, to make them easy to slip over the mattress and taking care of them is usually made easy, as they can be machine-washed according to the label instructions.

Like the mattresses themselves, the covers are made in a variety of sizes so, if you are buying covers outside of a pre-packaged set, then take care to measure the length, breadth and height of your futon and buy the size of cover accordingly. You will see that the covers state a particular “loft” measurement. This allows for the thickness of the mattress to be taken into account when choosing and may save you from having your mattress either swimming in its cover or from fighting to slip it on.

Futon Frames

The frames often come in flat boxes, in about 6 parts that you can assemble easily yourself, often using an Allen key.

Wood and metal are the most common materials used. A good frame should have adequate reinforcement in the areas that will get the most pressure. You should check how the slats join the frame and how sturdy the main frame is. Unlike conventional furniture it is possible to really check the “nuts and bolts” of the frame so that you know exactly what you are getting.

The main complaint we hear about futons is that the mattress slips down the frame when used as a chair. Some manufacturers have adjusted the frames to incorporate features that help to keep the mattress in place.

For example, metal frames may have “handles” on the seat sections. Wooden frame manufacturers prefer to use the same gripping type of material that is used to prevent slip with rugs on the floor. If you experience this with your futon your local bedding store may well sell this material, which can help solves your problem.

Who Can Use a Futon?

This makes them ideal set ups for people like college students, those living in studio apartments or small condos, people with an occasionally used guest room, or an attic where the kids spend time, or even the kids bedrooms. Most of these groups will get benefit from both of the key advantages of cost and space.

In apartments especially, sometimes the hallways and entry points to the rooms are narrower than in houses, meaning that it can be difficult to maneuver traditional bed frames and mattresses around. All parts of the futon fold away into much smaller bundles that can be easily moved about and re-assembled.

I owned a teak-framed futon base and a cheap futon mattress or two, some years back. I was constantly on the move; it seemed like every 6 months I was in a new rented house or apartment. I remember how easy it was to disassemble the bed with the Allen key provided, pack it up and carry it off in the car to the next location, without the need for a big truck. The base was excellent and could support the weigh of a standard mattress. It lasted many years and I remember it only costing a few hundred dollars.

In trendy designer furniture stores you will see futons in the upper price bracket reaching well over a thousand dollars but it is still possible to get a great futon bed set for a quarter or a third of that.

If you are using a futon as a furniture item other than a bed, it has the advantage over traditional sofas and chairs in that it is easily maintained. The removable covers can be machine-washed so any stains or spillages can be dealt with quickly, without the expense of hiring furniture cleaners.

How to Buy a Futon

There are plenty of reputable manufacturers and retailers with good online stores. You can check these sites for the basic specifications and also for some more general guidelines to the types of sets available. Read a few review sites and these will spark some questions that you will have as to the differing qualities and “life expectancies” of different brands. These questions are good as it will get you in the right mindset of not just accepting the manufacturers’ claims. They will arm you with better knowledge for when you venture to the local bedding supply outlet and check a few of the futons out yourself. When you talk to the salesperson, you can ask him his opinion about the things you have learnt.

All of this upfront time spent researching will give you a more rounded picture of what choices you have. You are more likely to purchase the best futon mattress possible for you; one that will satisfy you long-term, rather than just for a few weeks.

Once you have tested out some of the futon mattresses in-store and noted the exact ranges and models you may decide to go back online and try to find the ones you like. Many of the best online stores will offer promotions and sales on certain items and you may be able to find ones on your shortlist at considerably lower prices than in the actual store. As long as these are established sites providing warranties, secure payment processes and an efficient delivery process, then you should have no qualms about ordering online.

Caring For Your Futon

The best way to maintain your futon mattress is to air it in sunlight frequently, especially if it is used frequently or stored away for long periods. This helps to kill dust mites which may find a home in your full futon mattress.

Beating your futon with a carpet beater will also remove the unwanted dust particles that can accumulate.

A couple of times a year it is a good idea to take the mattress off its frame and check the bolts. They may loosen over time and can even start to buckle if not attended too, so a few turns with the Allen key will tighten them up and ensure stability. Also check that all of the slats are firmly attached to the frame. These few minutes of maintenance every 6 months will preserve your base well.

Summary

Futons are not for everyone, but they have been used by many people very happily over the past 40 years. The main reasons for this are their lower price, portability, ease of maintenance and their flexibility to be used as places to sit as well as places to sleep. They remain a great option in environments where space is limited.