Air Mattress vs. Futon – Choosing When You’re Puzzled

by air mattress, futon

If you’re reading this, you’re probably trying to figure out whether to go with a futon or an air mattress.

If that’s the case, this is the place to be.

By the end of this article you will have a pretty clear picture about which of the two is better suited for your situation.

We’ll try to put ourselves in your shoes and think about the possible scenarios in which this puzzling issue might happen.

If you don’t know much about furniture, we’ll also go into the nitty-gritty stuff like the materials, comfort levels, durability and design.

leather futon

Air mattress vs. futon – the main difference

air mattress vs futon

It’s common sense, but let’s just point out some of the most obvious differences between the two.

A futon is closer to the comfort of a regular bed and most futon mattresses are made in pretty much the same way as classic mattresses. The better ones feature innersprings wrapped in plastic materials like memory foam, cotton or polyester fibers.

The finish will also be more similar to classic piece of furniture like a sofa – in most cases it’s cotton upholstery, leather or microfiber.

On the other hand, an air mattress is made of vinyl and typically flocked with a velvet-like material.

So before we get any further let’s concisely define some of the pros and cons of each.

PROs and CONs of a futon

divano roma futon llight blue


  • some of the basic models can be to firm for comfortable sleep
  • a futon will typically be more expensive
  • you don’t have the option pack it for storage or trips


  • sleep quality that is closer to that of a regular bed, provided that you choose a good mattress
    longer lifespan
  • more stylish – some of the futon available today pretty much look the same as sofas the cost that two or three times as much
  • more support – futon typically provides a more supportive sleeping surface, especially if the core features steel coils and high-density foam – like the Mainstays memory foam futon

Top futon picks

Over the last 9 months we’ve tested, analyzed and rated 32 futoins, you can see our top 10 picks below.

PROs and CONs of an air mattress

serta ez airbed


  • if you’re comparing the same price ranges, an air bed will provide less support for sleep durability and
  • longevity issues – while the futon is likely to be with you for years to come, an air mattress has a shelf-life
  • issues with the deflation – the airbed industry significantly advanced over the past decade and some models feature smart pumps. These are designed not to allow the airbed to deflate – they stay plugged in and top it off as soon as the pressure in the inner chamber drops.
  • With that said, these tend to be more expensive and there’s only a handful of models with smart pumps that are affordable. Our top pick here is the Serta Raised with a Never Flat Pump – you can see it here.
  • they provide a softer surface for sleep
  • you can easily pack and store them, while not in use
    they are more versatile – you can just pick an airbed into a carry bag (99% of the time it comes included) and take it with you on a trip
  • more budget-friendly

Top picks

We have a long history of testing and reviewing airbeds.

You can see our current Top 10 below.

Other considerations

Now that you have a clear picture about the main pros and cons let’s get into the nitty-gritty and analyze the two options feature by feature.

How much space do you have?

With futons, there’s not much you can do in terms of adjusting the size while an air mattress gives you the option to choose from a range of sizes and heights.

Some mattresses do include a frame, but a majority of them are just vinyl filled with air.

This means that you can pack it down to about a size of your gym bag and store it into a closet.

It’s fair to mention that futon is also come in a range of sizes, with the chair being the smallest and queen-size being the biggest.

With that said, futon is still a standalone furniture piece that comes with a frame and it’s much harder to take it apart and store it.

What kind of comfort are you aiming for?

It you’re looking for the comfort of a classic bed your safest bet will be a futon with a sturdy frame, innerspring coils and memory foam used for the mattress.

But to get that kind of comfort you have to dig a bit deeper into your wallet and spring (pun intended) for higher quality product.

Those that are in the same price range as airbeds might be too hard to sleep on or seat for a prolonged period of time.
The reason behind that is the fact that these that don’t include coils and are typically made of various types of foam, poly-fiber and cotton.

To get the best value for money here you can always get creative and pair a futon with a good mattress topper or a pad to make it more comfortable.

Design of the futon versus the design of an air mattress

If you’re looking for a standalone furniture piece that will have a permanent place in your home, especially if it’s the living room, you’ll probably want to go with the futon.

Modern ones can only be described as eye candy and look better than air beds, even some sofas.

On the other hand, an air mattress will be more about practicality than looks, especially if you don’t want to splurge for a high-end inflatable like an EZ bed.

EZ bed as the sweet spot between the two

EZ beds are high-end inflatables. They come with steel frame and legs and are mounted on a surface. The whole setup packs into its own wheeled carry case.

A good example of that is the Insta EZ bed, which you can see the image below.

If you didn’t know about the option of the EZ bed, you might be excited to discover that there is something that’s, we believe, a more stylish sleeping solution than a futon and more supportive than a classic inflatable.


We set out to provide some answers and compare airbeds and futons in terms of design, versatility, comfort and support and we hope that we did a good job with that.

We can’t provide you with a definitive answer on what’s best for what your situation, simply because we don’t know it.

If you feel like we haven’t addressed your specific scenario, you can always email us or, even better; drop us a comment in the section below and we’ll try to help to the best of our ability.

If you do that, we might even be able to provide some specific product recommendations based on what you need.

We typically respond to all comments within one day.


  • Bob Ozment

    Bob has been testing and writing about all things sleep (and especially blankets, air mattresses and folding beds), for 8+ years now. before that, he worked as a Quality Assurance Manager with one of the bigger names in the sleep industry. He holds a masters degree Statistics, Actuarial & Data Sciences from the central Michigan University at Mount Pleasant. He's one of the people who designs our producing testing and statistical models. He’s a stomach sleeper, but nobody’s perfect.