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.
Look for foam that has a density no less than 1.2 pound per cubic foot. With foam, higher density usually equals a long lasting mattress that retains it feel. Natural fibers, mostly cotton, are good for futons that need more flexibility. For those of us that are traditionalists a natural fiber and foam blend is a good choice when looking at a futon mattress. The futon cover is the piece that buttons up the look of the futon.
What are the pros and cons to natural fibers vs foams? How long should my futon mattress last? Feel is a rather subjective term; someones firm could be too soft for another. As a general rule of thumb, my customers like a firm futon for sleeping, a soft futon for sitting, and in between mattress for a sofa that converts into a guest bed. Foam futons usually retain the firmness they have when purchased, but only if the foam is of an acceptable quality.
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