Sofa Bed and Futon Buying Guide

Sofa beds are incredibly useful and they’re great if you need to save on space. But with so much choice out there, it can be difficult to know where to start your buying journey. That’s why we’re here to help! 

By following our simple step-by-step sofa bed guide, you’ll know what to look for when choosing a sofa bed. We’ll take you through:

  • How to measure your space for a sofa bed
  • What size sofa bed you need
  • Which type of sofa bed is best for you
  • How much care each type of sofa bed or futon requires

To find out everything you need to know about sofa beds, carry on reading, or jump to the specific section you need below.

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The Novo Aldwalk Sofa Bed in a whote room.
The Novo Aldwalk would be the perfect addition to any office or guest room!

What is the difference between sofa beds and futons?

If you’ve been trying to buy a sofa bed online, you may have noticed that the terms ‘sofa beds’ and ‘futons’ are often used interchangeably. This is because ‘sofa bed’ is an umbrella term for both sofa beds and futons. 

Below we explain the differences between traditional sofa beds and futons; however, please be aware that manufacturers use these terms loosely.

What is a sofa bed?

Traditional sofa beds either fold out or can be extended into a bed through the use of a metal frame. Some sofa beds can sometimes come with a mattress which unfolds to rest on a metal frame.

Novo Carmen A Frame Sofa Bed
Not all sofa beds come with mattresses, like the Novo Carmen Sofa Bed, but they’re just as comfortable!

What is a futon?

Instead of having a mattress that folds out to create a bed, futons use the seat cushions as a mattress. Typically, the backrest of the futon extends backwards and joins with the seat to become the sleeping surface for your guests. This is the most common form of sofa bed and these beds are extremely popular.

Novo Aldwalk Sofa Bed
Futons like the Novo Aldwalk are super cosy and fit in with any spare room!

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How to choose a sofa bed

Now that we know the difference between the two main types of sofa bed, we need to figure out how you can choose the best one for your needs. We’ll walk you through how to measure your space for a sofa bed and explain all the different types of sofa bed you can choose.

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1. Measure how much room you have

Unlike measuring for standard beds and sofas, there are a few extra dimensions that you need to take into account - which will be the sofa bed’s measurements when extended.

The three main things you must measure are:

  • The space you want to put the sofa bed in
  • Any doorways and halls on the way to your chosen room
  • The potential size of the sofa bed

How to measure your room

Before beginning your search for a sofa bed or futon, you need to choose where you’re putting the sofa bed.

Once you’ve decided on a space, you need to measure the space’s:

  • Length
  • Width
  • Depth

The length and width measurements will determine the size of the sofa bed when it's in ‘sofa form’. The depth will show the amount of space you have once the sofa bed is extended.

These three measurements will show you how much space you have to work with when browsing.

You should also measure the width of any doorways and halls on the way to your room of choice. This is because you don’t want to buy a new sofa bed that’s too big to be moved through your house!

A couple moving their new sofa bed into a room.
Always remember to measure the doorways to make sure the sofa bed will fit.

How to measure a sofa bed

When you measure a sofa bed, you need to measure the:

  • Length of the sofa
  • Width of the sofa
  • Height of the sofa
  • Depth of the sofa
  • Length of the sofa bed when extended
  • Width of the sofa bed when extended
  • Depth of the sofa bed when extended 

Taking these measurements will stop you from being caught out when you extend the sofa bed for the first time.

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2. Decide what size sofa bed you want

The next thing you need to decide is how big your sofa bed needs to be. Will it only be used by one guest at a time or does it need to be big enough for two people?

Small sofa beds

If you need a sofa bed to sleep just one guest, the following types of sofa bed are best for you:

Standard futons

These sizes can vary depending on the size of each sofa, but standard futons are usually either the same size as a single mattress or slightly smaller.

2-seater sofa beds

2-seater sofa bed sizes can change depending on the size of the sofa, but most are ideal for one person and are usually a similar size to a single mattress, or slightly bigger.

Novo Aizlewood Sofa Bed extended with duvets and pillows in a grey living room - one of our top 5 beds 2023
2-seater sofa beds like the Novo Aizlewood are ideal for one guest.

Double sofa beds

If you're looking for a sofa bed for two guests, these types of sofa bed will be more suitable for you:

3-seater sofa beds

These sofa beds are closer to the size of a double mattress and can sleep two people. However, this can change spending on the size of the sofa.

Novo Del Rey Sofa Bed
For a larger sofa bed, consider the stylish Novo Del Rey!

Corner sofa beds

Corner sofa beds are the biggest sofa beds that you can buy and will comfortably sleep two people, like a double mattress. Again, the sizes may vary with different brands.

Browse our entire collection of sofa beds

These sizings are only rough guides. Please check the description of each sofa bed to ensure that it is the correct size for you.

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3. How often will you use it?

You also need to take into consideration how often your sofa bed will be used by your guests. 

Certain designs are more suitable for only occasional use whereas other more premium options may be more durable and offer higher levels of comfort for more frequent use.

Sofa beds suitable for occasional useSofa beds suitable for more frequent use
Futons2-seater sofa beds
Chair beds3-seater sofa beds
Clic-clac sofa bedsCorner sofa beds
Leather sofa bedsA-frame sofa beds
Velvet sofa bedsPull-out/roll-out sofa beds
-Wool sofa beds
-Linen sofa beds

Sofa beds suitable for occasional use

These types of sofa bed are super easy to set up, but they aren’t as durable as other options. However, they are the perfect choice if your guests are only sleeping on the sofa bed for the odd night. 

Sofa beds suitable for more frequent use

These sofa beds are more durable than fold-down options. They are also very easy to clean and can often sleep two people. If you’re looking to host longer-term guests, treat them to any of these sofa beds!

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4. Choose a type of sofa bed

Now you know all of the important things you need from your new sofa bed, it’s time to pick one!

There are a lot of different choices out there, so we’ve narrowed it down to the main types of sofa bed and sofa bed mechanisms. This will help you to determine how easy each type of sofa bed is to set up and how each type of sofa will look in your space.

The best type of sofa bed to buy is one that perfectly suits you, your space and your guests. Remember to take your time and consider how much space you have and how much space your guests may need.

Different types of sofa bed

Below we briefly explain the different types of sofa bed.


As explained above, futons are a type of sofa bed where the backrest collapses to form the bed. The seat cushions act as the mattress rather than having a standard mattress that unfolds from the sofa.

Novo Aldwalk Sofa Bed
The Novo Aldwalk is a great cosy futon option for your guests.


2-seater sofa beds are sofas that have two seat cushions and seat two people. They’re ideal if you’re short on space and often host only one guest at a time.

Novo Aizlewood Sofa Bed in a guest room with a green side table and lamp next to it.
For a modern 2-seater sofa bed, look no further than the Novo Aizlewood!


3-seater sofa beds have three seat cushions and are a similar size to a main daytime sofa. These sofa beds normally fold out into the size of a double bed

Novo Del Rey Sofa Bed
Available in a range of stunning colours, the 3-seater Novo Del Rey is gorgeous!

Corner sofa

If you’re looking for a large sofa bed for your visitors, then a corner sofa is the best option for you. They also make a fantastic main living room sofa in the daytime and fold out to the size of a double mattress at night.


Storage sofa beds are extremely practical as they also come with drawer storage for you to put away any extra bedding and pillows you may need for your guests.

Chair beds

Chair beds are the smallest type of sofa bed available. They’re very comfortable as seats and are perfect for unexpected visitors on short notice!

No matter which type of sofa bed you choose, we can guarantee that your visitors will have a great night’s sleep. Browse our selection of sofa beds and find the perfect one for your guests today!

Again, please be aware that the sizes provided are only guides. Please check the product description for the size of the bed and sofa.

Different sofa bed mechanisms

Each type of sofa bed comes with a different mechanism to extend the sofa into a full bed. Below, we break down the different types of opening mechanisms and how easy they are to use.


Clic-clac sofa beds are one of the most common types of guest bed. With a simple, minimalistic design, the backs of these sofa beds fold down to create a sleeping surface. 

They’re called clic-clac beds because they make a ‘click-clack’ sound when you extend them, and they’re very quick and easy to set up.

Novo Aldwalk Sofa Bed
The Novo Aldwalk is super easy to set up for unexpected guests!


A-frame sofa beds are one of the most durable types of sofa bed. This is because the front of the sofa is attached to a metal frame that pulls out. The backrest then folds backwards to form the bed. The metal frame structure provides greater support, making them ideal for longer-term guests.

Although this sofa bed takes a little more time to set up, it is still fairly easy to use.

Novo Carmen A Frame Sofa Bed
The Novo Carmen is a sturdy sofa bed, which is great for regular use!

Pull out

Similar to an A-frame, pull-out sofa beds have a metal frame that you pull out and extend to create the bed. The difference is that the backrest of the sofa stays in place rather than folding back. 

Pull-out sofa beds are easy to set up for your guests, too.

Roll/fold out

Rather than pulling the bed out of the sofa, the bed rolls out or folds out from underneath the cushions. They can also come with a metal frame to support the bed frame.

Roll-out sofa beds are also really simple to prepare for your guests as well.

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5. Choose a type of upholstery

The type of material your sofa bed is made of is really important. This is because some upholstery can be more difficult to clean than others and some materials can feel warmer than others, which can affect sleep.

Leather sofa beds

Leather sofa beds are very stylish and work great in office guest rooms. However, they can be quite difficult to clean and can get very warm when you sleep on them. This makes them best suited for occasional use.

Linen sofa beds

Linen is also a fantastic material for a sofa bed. Like wool, it’s breathable and durable and very easy to clean. We recommend choosing a linen sofa bed for regular use.  

Novo Carmen A Frame Sofa Bed
Your guests will love the feel of the linen Novo Carmen sofa bed.

Wool sofa beds

Wool sofa beds are a great all-rounder. They’re very durable and breathable, which makes them the perfect option for regular use. However, wool can sometimes be difficult to clean.

Velvet sofa beds

If you’re looking for a fashionable and contemporary sofa bed, you should choose a velvet option. You should be aware that velvet can be more difficult to clean and can be very warm to sleep on. We suggest purchasing velvet sofa beds for occasional use guests.

Novo Del Rey Sofa Bed
The Del Rey sofa bed is all style with its velvet upholstery.

Now you know about all the different options, browse our selection of sofa beds to find the perfect sofa bed for you!

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6. Consider how much care it needs

The last thing you should take into account on your sofa bed buying journey is how much care it may need. 

Here are our top tips for caring for your sofa bed: 

  1. Keep fabric sofa beds out of direct sunlight to avoid the colour fading
  2. Regularly plump seat cushions if they are used as a part of the bed
  3. Mop any spills with a damp cloth - but check the care instructions first
  4. Invest in arm caps to protect armrests
  5. Use scatter cushions for protection and decoration
  6. Air out the bed by extending it every few weeks when not in use
  7. Regularly vacuum the surface to get rid of any dust and hair

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We hope you now feel confident to buy the best bed for your guests with our sofa bed guide! Check out our sofa bed collection today and find the perfect match for you.

If you’re looking for a different type of bed, our advice page on guest beds can help you out.

Or, if you currently have a standard sofa bed with a mattress, check out our 'A Guide to Replacement Sofa Bed Mattresses'.