Early designs involved a steel tooth design that would fit into pocket welds on the arms. These would snap off over use. The alternative design was to run a bolt through the arms and into the rails. While better it still did not address the issue of bending stretcher rails. Bent hinges also added another issue that would happen from use over time. While not as common as the other problems this issue still led to the failure of many black metal frames.
There are a few things that you need to consider if you are looking for a futon. What is my frame made of? How long will my frame last? Always look for a futon frame that is made from solid hardwoods, avoid any frames that are made from particle board or MDF. Measure width and the distance between the slats on the back and seat decks. Slats should be at least two and a half inches wide and if the spacing is more than three inches, forget it.
When I first got into the Futon business about six years ago, I was under the impression, as a lot of folks are, that futons werent nice enough for anywhere other than college dorms and first apartments. Well, things have certainly changed. This is not to say that those unfinished tri-fold frames with thin all cotton futon mattresses dont exist anymore, they do, but there are also some very nice frames, mattresses, and futon covers in todays market.
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