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What Is the Difference between Futons and Platform Beds?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Futons and platform beds certainly have a lot in common, but they are two different types of bedding that were borne from different cultures. Both futons and platform beds use only a mattress or cushion rather than the more common mattress with box spring, and both types of furniture generally lie low to the ground. While both futons and platform beds are similar in style, the futon was designed by the ancient Japanese as a bed meant to be stored during the day. It is lightweight, compact, and it was traditionally placed on a bare floor. Platform beds are not designed to be stowed away, and they do not lie on a bare floor.

A platform bed is a mattress that lies directly on a hard, horizontal platform or base. The base provides support that a box spring would otherwise provide, and the platform is often low to the ground. Some platform beds have storage drawers built into the base, and the base itself can be made from wood or metal. One of the differences between futons and platform beds is the base; traditionally, futons did not have a base at all. They were simply a cushion and a comforter that was placed directly on the floor. The floor itself would act as a base. While modern futons do come with a frame of sorts, the most basic version of the futon did not historically come with one.

Some platform beds feature pull-out storage drawers.
Some platform beds feature pull-out storage drawers.

A futon was also traditionally a very thin cushion rather than a thick mattress. This was because the mattress was meant to be stowed in a closet so the bedroom could be used for other purposes during the daytime. Today, futons are generally thicker mattresses, and they come with a folding metal or wooden frame. The futon cushion is flexible enough to fold into a couch for use during the daytime. At night, the frame can be folded down into a flat position so the futon can be used as a mattress.

Sleek platform beds complement modern bedroom layouts.
Sleek platform beds complement modern bedroom layouts.

One of the most fundamental differences between futons and platform beds is functionality. A platform bed is specifically a bed; a modern futon is meant to be both a bed and a couch. The futon design has changed considerably over the years, but the idea of a storable or changeable piece of furniture has remained consistent. A platform bed has always been just a bed, though it differs considerably from a traditional mattress and box spring set up. The futon and platform bed resemble each other at first glance, but their purposes are quite different.

Discussion Comments


A friend of mine used to sleep on a platform bed that he had made from a couple of palettes and about 10 army blankets. It looked like an old dog bed and was probably half as comfortable but he slept on that thing for almost 2 years. Needless to say, he did not have a lot of company in his bed during that part of his life.


I have an old futon mattress and I also have a bunch of old milk crates that I have collected. Can I combine them and make my own platform bed? It seems like it would work.

It may not be the most comfortable bed in the world but that is not what I am looking for. I just need a place to hang my head and the cheaper the better.


I have had both a futon bed and a platform bed and I definitely prefer the platform. Futons are nice because they can also be used as couches but in every futon I have ever slept in you can really feel the seam in the middle of it. You don't have this problem with platform beds because they cannot bend. And, if you are in a pinch for seating, people can always sit on the edge of it.

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    • Some platform beds feature pull-out storage drawers.
      By: mariesacha
      Some platform beds feature pull-out storage drawers.
    • Sleek platform beds complement modern bedroom layouts.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Sleek platform beds complement modern bedroom layouts.