CHOOSING A FUTON
1. Know the business that you are dealing with. What is their reputation? Do they stand behind their products? Choose a dealer with a good reputation who will give you good service and take care of any problems after the sale. A good way to find out about a dealer is to contact the State Bureau of Home Furnishings at the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Ask if they are licensed and if they have a record of complaints.
Dept. of Consumer Affairs (916) 322-3446
Bureau Of Home Furnishings (916) 322-4023
2. Is the cotton precompressed? It is important that the cotton be precompressed so that it does not pack down or flatten during use. Precompressed cotton is already packed so that it will maintain its loft and not readily flatten when you sit on it.
3. What is the quality of the foam that is used in the futon? The foam in a futon is probably the most important component for determining comfort, durability, and stability. The layers of foam in a futon make the futon more resilient, give it more loft, and make it far more comfortable to sleep on or to sit on. The foam also acts as a stabilizing layer between the layers of cotton which keeps the cotton in place. Without layers of foam, the cotton tends to shift, get lumpy, and bunch-up.
Foam quality is determined by how much the foam weighs. This is especially important in a futon sofa where a person tends to sit or sleep in the same place all the time. The heavier a foam is, the more resistant to flattening and softening it is, and the more it will hold its shape. A common misconception about foam is that harder lasts longer. This is not true- heavier lasts longer! The following table is useful when selecting a futon:
Futon Foam Selection Chart
|1.0 lb./cu. ft.||Poor||Poor||Very Low|
|1.2 lb./cu. ft.||Low||Low||Low|
|1.4 lb./cu. ft.||Low Medium||Low Medium||Low Medium|
|1.5 lb./cu. ft.||Medium||Medium||Medium|
|1.8 lb./cu. ft.||High||Long Lasting||High|
4. Are the stitching, tufting, and workmanship guaranteed? For how long? Normally, these items are guaranteed for 10 years. Be sure to ask. You do not want a futon that is going to fall apart or that the manufacturer will not fix or replace if there is a problem.
5. What about the cotton itself? There are two important factors that go into choosing the type of cotton in your futon. The first is resiliency-how resistant is the cotton to packing down and getting hard and how long will it stay springy, fluffy, and lofty. The second is stability-will the cotton layers stay in place, not shift around, and not get lumpy.
Staple Cotton: This is long fiber cotton and the best for making yarn and cloth. It is also the most expensive. While staple cotton is very stable, by itself it does not make a particularly fluffy futon. It is best used in combination with other more springy cottons.
Linter Cotton: This cotton is the fuzz on cotton seeds which have been combed out the long fiber cotton used for cloth. This fuzz or linters is cut off the seeds before the seeds are made into cottonseed oil. The First Cut or First Shear linters are cut off the seeds before the seeds go to the mill. This First Shear cotton is very resilient and springy. It is used in higher grades of cotton batting. Although very resilient, First Shear cotton, by itself, is not very stable in a futon. It is best used in combination with staple cotton.
Second Shear linter cotton is a lower quality cotton that is cut from cotton seeds at a cottonseed oil mill.
70% First Shear Linter / 30% Staple: This blend has been found to combine the best aspects of the resiliency of linter cotton and the stability of staple cotton. In actual use by real people, in the real world, this blend seems to one of the ones that holds up the longest without packing down, getting hard, lumping up, or shifting.
Gin Flues: This is the material the comes from the first cleaning of the machine picked cotton. It contains twigs, leaves, trash, and seed hulls. It's quality depends on how well it is cleaned. It is available in many grades. How good it is for futons depends entirely on its quality and grade.
Picker Cotton: At the textile mill, the bales of cotton that come from the cotton gin are blended and sent through a picker machine to loosen the fibers and remove the heavier impurities such as dirt, leaves, and seed particles. Some staple fibers are also removed during this process and the resulting cotton lint and cotton fibers containing plant debris are called Pickers or Picker Motes.
Fly and Stripes(Card Waste): Waste cotton from the cotton carding machine.
Sweeps: Cotton fibers, cotton waste, and cotton lint literally hand swept up off the floors of the cotton mill. A textile waste dealer buys this cotton, then sorts, cleans and blends it. This is the lowest grade of cotton batting.
6. Should the cotton be bleached (white)? While white cotton batting may be pleasing to the eye, treating the cotton with bleach or harsh chemicals to whiten it means that the user may be exposed to the residues of the chemicals while you sleep or sit directly on the futon. People with chemical sensitivity may want to avoid bleached cotton.
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