Pros and Cons of Affordable Convertible Sleep Sofas

image of opened Douglas full sleeper       VS.  Emma convertible sleeper sofa


A sleep sofa is complex; it provides seating and sleeping in the same space. As with all multi-functional products, quality can vary wildly from brand to brand, and there are many ways to solve the same problem.  Most result in one or two features working better than the others.


In this article we look at how convertibles differ from sleeper sofas made by Temple Furniture, our  standard, better-than-average-quality sleeper offering.  Temple sleeper sofas (we’ll say “sleepers”) use premium hospitality grade metal pull-out mechanisms made by Leggett and Platt, mattresses made by one of several domestic sleeper mattress makers near Temple’s plant in  Maiden, NC, and top quality upholstery over frames made of a combination of solid wood and plywood.  




In addition to about a thousand fabric and leather choices, our better sleepers ($2500-$3500) offer mattress options (i.e. inner coil spring, air-over-coil, memory foam).  We also offer firmer or softer seat and back cushions on our better quality sleepers, and can even customize certain parts of the frame design.


Newer, more economical convertible sleeper sofas (we’ll call these “convertibles”) we are comparing them to are, in many ways, the opposite of our better-known sleepers.


Owen for blog

Convertibles are generally imported and tend to act like a futon, with the bed formed from the same seat and back that you can see when it is set up as a sofa.  By moving the back of the convertible forward until it makes a clicking sound, the back is released and can drop to a flat position, but like a futon, this means the whole piece of furniture needs to be moved a few more inches away from the wall to let the pivoting back fall to a flat position.


Designers of convertibles face a couple of important decisions right away.  The first has to do with how soft the seating will be.  Because the back and the seat must both become part of the same sleeping surface, the back and the seat cannot be different in firmness.  This leads most convertible makers to design the seats and backs to be firmer than most conventionally built sofas and sleepers.  They sit hard, and the back doesn’t flex to fit the curve of your back.



The next decision relates to seat depth and back height. Years ago, futons were made with frames that would evenly split the bed into the back and seat when set up for sitting.





Convertibles that change from seating to sleep just one person are narrower and tend to flatten out by some extension of a footrest rather than letting the back fall flat.  A standard full/double bed mattress measures 54 wide by 75” from head to toe.  Convertibles made for more than one person to sleep on will fold lengthwise, like a futon.  So the convertible designer has to answer:  How do you split that 54” between back and seating area? The deeper you make the seat, the less back support you provide.  The shallower the seat, the higher the back will be. 



Made without added formaldehyde or chemical flame retardants.

Often viewed as an option for rooms used by younger family members, who don’t yet have special needs for lumbar support or other requirements for feet being flat on the floor or a specific type of support.  Kids, who can abide almost anything, can use our convertibles safely.

Affordability – convertibles start at less than half the cost of sleepers in our shop.

Footprint – most convertible beds are smaller than sleepers when opened up for guests to sleep on.

Tight spaces – Convertibles are shipped in tightly packed, large boxes. Part that need to be assembled can then be carried through narrow doorways, hallways, stairways, etc. to be set up in locations where other sofas and conventionally made furniture won’t fit.

Built sturdy on steel and wood frames, rugged and durable for kids areas.

Safety hinges keep fingers and small pets out of moving parts.

Faster turnaround time (within 2-3 weeks when in stock vs. 8-12 weeks for custom USA-made upholstery)


Some comfort is sacrificed for added functionality and lower price.

No ability to customize the design. As imports, these are produced in large lots at scale to achieve lower price points.

Little or no choice of fabric covers.

Warranty limited to parts replacement only, 30 days from delivery date.

Almost all convertibles will be wider than 75”, which is the head-to-toe measurement on a full mattress. If the convertible has arms, those will add to the overall width of the convertible when it is used as a sleeper (i.e. 75” sleeping surface plus 2 arms @ 6” wide each = 87” along the wall)

Transporting home from our store (if you decide not to take delivery) boxes are larger than UPS or Fedex Ground will handle, so these are brought to our store’s loading dock.  Some require several people to carry/lift into a vehicle.

Assembly is required, though all come with easy to follow instructions and tools needed.


Are you interested to know more? Click here to have us get in touch with you to answer any questions about these fun and functional designs.