A sleeper sofa is one of the most tempting pieces of furniture to consider buying, especially when living space is at a premium. A good one appears to cover several needs at once: it provides comfortable seating for the den or living room while doubling as a spare bed for guests. Few other pieces of furniture can claim such duality of purpose. Before investing in one, however, consider if the couch or the bed aspect is more important, the size and weight of the piece, and how comfortable it is.
One inherent problem with a combination sofa and bed is that it rarely performs both tasks equally well. There may have to be some compromises made in exchange for versatility. It may help to consider what a sleeper sofa's primary function would be in your particular home environment. Some consider this piece of furniture to be a couch first and foremost, with the added bonus of emergency bedding. Others may consider the bed to be just as important as the sofa, especially if it will be the main bed in the home. Before shopping, know what your particular priorities are.
As many amateur movers have discovered, a sleeper sofa can be surprisingly heavy. The folded bed frame, springs, and mattress add significant weight, so you may want to consider allowing professionals to move it into your home. Some furniture stores may charge an extra fee for this service, so ask first. Otherwise, plan on enlisting the help of two very strong volunteers.
It's also important to measure the dimensions of the sofa and the planned route into your home. Many older models were built to different scales than today's narrower apartment complexes and townhouses. You might be able to remove the legs for added clearance, but sometimes, furniture is simply too big for the proposed space.
Before buying a sleeper sofa, it pays to test out the bed. Pull the bed frame out several times to make sure the mechanism is solid and reliable; sometimes, a used sleeper sofa will have noticeable damage to the frame or springs. Lie down on the mattress as you would any other bed. Many people dread sleeping on a fold-out couch because of the thin mattress and the legendary support bar. High-end models may have much thicker mattresses and a redesigned frame to eliminate the need for the traditional backbreaker.
You may have to invest in additional padding or an air mattress if your sofa proves to be uncomfortable. Some guests may actually prefer to sleep on the couch itself instead of the fold-away bed. Again, deciding on your particular priorities beforehand may help you find a comfortable sofa, a comfortable bed, or hopefully a combination of both.