Why Metal is Inferior
As a rule of thumb, the better the wood, the better the frame. No wood, no good. Metal frames are usually made in China, usually cheap, usually uncomfortable. If you sit on it a lot, the metal will bend, the welds will break, and your neighbors will chuckle knowingly when they see your futon out at the curb. That’s assuming you keep it long enough to break it. After a couple of weeks, those narrow metal rods (they hold up the mattress) really get annoying under your behind.
First of all, forget the arms and look at the body. The seat deck, back deck, and stretchers (stretchers are the long boards in the front and back). Is the body of the frame made of metal? If so, this is really a metal frame and you should think twice. If it’s wood, what wood? The best woods, in our opinion, are domestic hardwoods like oak, maple, beech, etc. Actually, there are excellent hardwoods in other countries too, but often not excellent manufacturing. If the store can’t tell you what the wood is, ask which country it comes from.
If the futon frame comes from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, or Mexico, slow down! The workmanship in these areas is all over the map, and you could be all over the floor (instead of sitting on your futon). Look for: solid wood, not little pieces glued together; neatness of joints (neater is stronger); funny odor (go ahead and laugh, but it’s not as funny at home); consistency of color (if it’s not the same color all over, it’s probably not the same quality of wood all over). Does the woodframe you are looking at have lots of metal supports at stress points. This means the wood needs help to do it’s job.
Pine & Softwoods
These woods are inexpensive, and you can get some good values if you buy carefully. In order to be strong enough to hold you and your TV buddies, pine frames are usually made from beefy 2×4′s. The wood is cheap and the workmanship is usually crude, but it doesn’t need to be. Remember, neater is stronger, and usually no more expensive. If it looks junky and slapped together, keep shopping. In the world of pine and softwoods, Southern Yellow Pine is the best, because it’s as strong as some hardwoods. Our pine frames are 100% Southern Yellow Pine.
Oak & Hardwoods
These woods are more expensive, and so the workmanship is usually better. Most manufacturers won’t spend good money on oak and then wreck it with cheap workmanship. Expect to pay more, and also expect better styling, neater workmanship, and better warranties.