How to Unfold a Futon: The Before and After Techniques
Unfold a Futon

How to Unfold a Futon: The Before and After Techniques

What we describe as futons in the Western hemisphere is actually different from what people in the Eastern hemisphere know of. Futons, for us, are a type of sofa bed. However, sofa beds usually come outfitted with their mattresses and cushions and have a spring base, but futons have springless frames, and the mattress usually has to be purchased as an add-on to go with it. They may be a bit more complicated than sofa beds because they can convert into sofa, lounger or bed. The question now is, how to unfold a futon frame into different conversions?

The people in the east know the Japanese futon as bedding that comprises only of its mattress and duvet. This bedding is usually set up on the floor on top of a special flooring mat. Japanese futons likewise have to be folded for storage. This folding is done daily after the futon is aired. Now that you are familiar with the difference between the two futons, you should also be aware that both types of futons can be folded. This article will describe 'how to unfold a futon' for both the Western and the Japanese futons.

How to Unfold a Futon Frame

Since a futon frame has multiple uses, it is important that you know how to unfold them properly. The process may be the same for most futons. Nevertheless, if there is any noticeable difference in the process, you should check your instruction's manual or consider a step-by-step YouTube video.

Before you unfold your futon, you should first ensure that it is set up in an area that has a lot of space for you to maneuver it properly and comfortably. Also, you should pull it away from the wall to avoid scratching the paint. The manner by which a futon frame is folded will depend on the type of the product.

  • Bifold Futon Frames

With a simple bifold frame, look for the product's handle or lever that is responsible for unfolding it. You might find it located beneath the seat, at the center and in front of the frame. Most brands have the handle in this location. However, if not, you can look for a sticker that will provide you with the instructions regarding which direction you should move the futon in.

Once you figure out the handle, grab it and lift it in such a way that you can disengage the lock mechanism. You then need to pull, but not too much, and you can try moving backward as the futon will stretch out.

  • Trifold Futon Frames

A trifold futon frame may be a bit more complicated as you will have to lift up the seat to unlock it and release a hidden deck. You also need to pull down the third deck and the mattress. Once all the decks are out, you can push the backrest down. At this point, you may have to release the brace to lower the backrest.

A love seat futon is very similar but comes with two mattresses. Once your futon is unfolded, be sure to set up the mattresses. Also, before getting on the bed, you ought to ensure that the legs of the futon are on the ground and not suspended in the air as you can cause damage to the futon and injury to yourself.

How to Lay Down, Unfold, and Fold a Japanese Futon

As mentioned, a Japanese futon is simply a mattress that has been constructed differently. These Japanese futons are usually laid on a tatami which is a soft mat. If that is unavailable, then another mat may be used to lay the futon atop. For the Japanese, if you don't roll up your futon, it is seen as unhygienic and impolite. As such, they usually fold up their futons daily and after use. Likewise, at the end of each week, they hang their futon up so that the wind and sun can freshen it.

You might think that you do not need to learn how to fold it since you are not Japanese. However, even if you don't own a Japanese futon, you might plan to visit Japan or the home of a traditional Japanese friend. Thus, you should be aware of this cultural norm.

  • Folding

You should know that there are different elements of a futon. For instance, it contains a mattress, sheet, comforter, a fitted sheet, and blanket. Of course, these elements all have different names in Japanese. With that said, the elements that make up the futon should be folded separately to make storage a lot easier. You will usually fold the comforter and fitted sheet together, followed by the mattress and the tucked sheet, and then the bottom mat.

  • Unfolding and Laying Down

The first thing you need to unfold is the thin mat and lay it on the floor. Next, unfold the mattress and place it on top. Once done, spread a flat sheet on top of the mattress and tuck the excess. Lay a comforter on top of the sheet and then add a fitted sheet to keep the comforter in place. For futons, usually, the comforter and fitted sheet are designed in such a way that they can be fitted and tied to stay connected.

Once the sheet is in place, flip the comforter and fitted sheet combo and leave the open side facing up. You would lie between the mattress and the comforter and fitted sheet combo that you created.


Japanese futons seem pretty easy to unfold. However, for politeness, you should fold them back up after initial use. When unfolding your Japanese futon, you should ensure that you have all the components required to set it up, as setting it up properly would mean that you have a good night's sleep. You also need to remember to air the futon and take care when folding it. If you fold the mattress a certain way, you can cause the fibers to shift, and it may cause an uncomfortable sleep in the future.

Once you are familiar with a sofa bed, unfolding the Westernized futon should be a simple task for you. If it proves to be a challenge, then you should consult your user manual or search for a simple video. You should not be too aggressive when unfolding your futon because the last thing you want to do is break it apart. Also, you should not sit on your futon if the legs are not firmly placed on the floor.

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