I have sold hundreds of sofa beds over the years and it always come down to just a few factors. Firstly is the look and feel of the sofa. Most people want a sofa bed, so that if they need it they have a handy-dandy spare bed that they can pop out and accommodate a guest, but the sofa still has to look and feel good for a consumer to even consider the unit.
Secondly is the bed itself. Is it comfortable for guests to sleep on overnight? Although there have been many changes and up-grades to sofa beds throughout the industry, most sofa beds are NOT great for sleeping on for any length of time. One to two nights on a sofa bed are not bad but after a week it becomes very difficult. I have yet to hear anybody tell me how fantastic their sleep was on a sofa bed after a week of usage. Some manufacturers have changed the way the springs are attached so that the support bar doesn’t run across the middle of your back when you are laying down; which does make for a more comfortable fit. Some manufacturers use electric air mattresses that will auto-inflate within one minute and deflate the same way. Air mattresses can accommodate more weight so that the size of the users will have increased comfort. Memory foam mattresses can provide a little extra comfort but in order for the mattress to be able to fold inside a bed frame they are usually quite thin and unable to provide great comfort.
Thirdly is the price. It is not uncommon for a consumer to come into a furniture store with a number in their head of how much something should cost. When it comes to sofa beds most people want to pay between $500 to $1,000 at the most. This just doesn’t work. You want a sofa to both look good and perform well, on top of the fact that you want the bed to be amazingly comfortable; all for a low, low price. This is very difficult to achieve. If a good old, regular sofa is $1,500 to $2,000 then it would make sense that once you stick a fold out bed inside that frame it would cost more for the materials to make the folding bed frame. Many times I have had the conversation with people looking at a sofa bed only to have them tell me that they saw a fabulous one somewhere else for a much lesser price and to that I say, “then go get it”. If you are looking for a quality sofa frame and a comfortable mattress you can expect to pay more for it. It’s just that simple.
The piece of advice I give on this is, if you are looking for a comfortable mattress on a sofa bed, then visit showrooms and ask the sales rep for a full demonstration. Lie down on the bed to try it out; not for five minutes but for an hour. Lie on your back and feel where the support bars are located. Lie on your side and feel if the support bars poke through the mattress and cause you any discomfort. Stand up and sit back down repeatedly to see if the frame shakes the bed, for when you have two people sleeping on it together. Practice opening and closing the bed to make sure that it is easy to use and easy to store. And of course, find out what the warranty is on the product. Anything that is going to be opened and closed over the years always has the potential to fall apart. Know if you are protected.
Another option is a contrivance like a click/clack. Looks like a little sofa but when you pull the seat-back all the way forward, you will hear a click/clack and the back drops down to create an open surface to lounge/sleep on. These are usually very affordable, under $300 and can be useful in a pinch however, there is not a lot of comfort in these units. They work when you are really stuck or if you need a place for a child to lay down for a while but for a full sized adult; they are not a great fit.
The funny thing about sofa beds is that most families that own one use them only about four times per year, hence the reason to be sure that you really like the sofa part of it.