How Much Weight Can A 2.5 Inch Screw Hold Futon Frame Shopping – Comparing Wood Futon Frames

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Futon Frame Shopping – Comparing Wood Futon Frames

Wooden futon frames come in a variety of styles, colors and sizes. Although pinewood futon frames dominated the market for many years, hardwood futon frame prices have continued to fall making them more prevalent and affordable.

Although logic might suggest that hardwood futons are more indestructible than pine wood frames, there are many hardwood frames on the market that are more prone to catastrophic failure than others. However, with some basic knowledge about wooden futon frame construction, you will have more confidence when you are comparing models and prices.

When investigating a futon frame consider these three things: 1) Hardwood will tends to be stronger than pinewood, 2) Solid wooden cross members will tend to outlast jointed cross members and 3) The More reinforcement the better.

Most modern wood futon frames have six major parts; a left arm, a right arm, a back deck, a seat deck, and two stretcher rails (sometimes called cross rails). The hardware that fasten all of these wooden pieces together are most often made up of an ingenious bolt and barrel nut (dowel nut) system that act very much like little vice clamps that hold the joints in place. This makes futon frames easy to assemble and disassemble which can have many advantages.

Still, it is important to remember that futons are not only dual purpose pieces of furniture,– they are also mechanisms that require added reinforcement. For this reason, the smarter manufacturers have reinforced their futon frames with various metal brackets and support beams called stress supports to make their futons even more durable.

These companies to brag about the beneficial features of their futon frames which makes they consumer’s quest easier. These companies supply product specifications list which is a good place to start your research about a particular futon frame you are interested in buying.

If your dealer does not have a product specifications list, ask the dealer to discuss the overall construction. Bring a notepad and list the various reinforcements and explain why these features are beneficial to you. Remember that just because a specific item is listed does not mean it is special or unique. Also, companies often call futon parts by different names. A nylon glide to one company might be a plastic roller to another. Anytime you do not recognize the name of a particular part, try to get your dealer to explain it to you.

As we have already mentioned, futon frames need reinforcement. The more reinforcement a futon has the more likely it will stand the constant abuse of friends and family. After all, futon frames are not only mechanisms with moving parts, they must also support the weight of your futon mattress and people as well. A general rule is that you should look for as much reinforcement as possible. You could simplify things by keeping a scorecard and counting off the number of angle brackets, stress supports and rub guards a given futon comes equipped with.

Angle brackets are an important piece of metal hardware so it makes some sense to look for these first. Angle brackets reinforce a joint and help support constant and changing loads on your futon frame. Look for angle brackets that reinforce the cross member of the armrest and stretcher rails. Again, sometimes, just counting these reinforcements will reveal a lot about the quality of the futon frame you are looking at buying.

Arm rests should be glued and screwed together. Remember that glue is an excellent bonding agent for a the type of wood your futon frame is likely made out of. Gluing and screwing a futon frame together is even more desirable. The screw not only adds reinforcement, but is drives the wooden pieces closer together acting like a vice while the glue dries before shipping.

Check the width of the slats they are supporting. The slats are the multiple short boards that span the seat and back deck in a ladder-like design that are usually only visible when the mattress is removed. Are the futon slats wide or narrow?

Futon frames that have slats that are 2.5″ wide should have at least twelve slats on the seat and twelve on the back for a total of 24 slats. Futons with 1.75″ slats should have at least 15 slats on the seat and 15 slats on the back for a total of 30 slats. If the slats are any thinner or if the respective futon you are considering has less slats than indicated here, you might want to ask why.

Stress supports are usually narrow boards that help to reinforce the slats from the underneath. Not only do they reinforce the slat, but for those companies whose stress supports fit in snuggly against the front and back framing boards–they have the added benefit of helping to keep the futon frame from skewing when it is converted from bed to sofa. Likewise, stress supports with three screws per support are better than those with only two.

Some futons have no stress supports while others have many. How many stress supports does the futon you like have? Futons with eight to twelve stress supports overall are generally better quality than those with only four or none. Most companies will be sure to include the number of stress supports if their futons have at least eight.

Rub guards, commonly referred to as striker plates are a good thing to look for as well. These metal plates keep the wood wearing away where two piece of wood come into contact while in motion. These are usually located on the front and rear stretcher rails. The rear stretcher rail must absorb the impact of the back deck when it drops down while the front cross rail must endure the rubbing of the seat deck while it slides back and forth. The metal plates help to buffer the stretcher rails from this abuse.

Another beneficial feature of futon frames is the front load operation. Often referred to as easy upright, automatic upright, and half a dozen other terms, this feature makes conversion from bed back to sofa a much easier task than in the past. Usually, the seat deck is used in some fashion to create a lever. When you push down on the seat, the back comes up saving your back. This can be especially advantageous to those who do not have a lot of upper body strength. Heavier mattresses can make this feature a desirable addition, but this system can put some adverse stress on your futon frame if it is not designed properly or if the system is too complex. Ask your dealer to explain in detail about these features when in doubt.

Finally, many manufacturers, if leading brand name futon companies, incorporate segmented cross members. Stretcher rails are the most commonly segmented pieces of wood on the market. Stretcher rails (sometimes called cross rails) are the two long boards that span the bottom and connect the arms. There is one on the front and one on the back of nearly every wood futon ever made. These stretcher rails must support a tremendous amount of load, vibration and impact. They are vulnerable along the entire span, but most often fail with in the first six inches of a given joint, especially if they are segmented. Segmented stretcher rails are made up of smaller individual pieces of wood that are glued and compressed together to make up the length needed to span the distance between both armrests.

A good quality finger jointed cross rail might be just as strong as a solid cross rail in many ways, it still accepts a downward pressure that can force poor quality joints to loosen. Experience shows that a solid continuous hardware cross rail is less likely to break than a segmented one. If the futon you are considering buying has segmented stretcher rails, ask the dealer to explain the history of that manufacturer’s products with this system. Ask if a cross rail does fail, what the dealer’s policy is about replacement. Although, most dealers generally will not pay for shipping, they should at least offer the replacement part for free with in the span of the warranty.

This brings us to the last issue of warranty. There are so many different versions of warranties on the market that it can be difficult for the consumer to compare them. Warranties can vary from 30 days to 10 years. Most companies that bring about a Lifetime Warranty generally mean the lifetime of the product which can be anything from 3 years to a 10 years. Some warranties are prorated which means that you will have to pay a percentage to have the part replaced. Warranties rarely cover labor or shipping, so expect to have to do the job yourself and pay for the shipment. Luckily, many futon parts are easy to replace and if you are lucky you will only pay a few dollars on shipping.

As a general rule, the longer the warranty on a futon frame the longer the futon manufacturer expect their futon frame to last. The shorter the warranty, the more likely you will be have to repair or replace something. Futons that are well designed, however, often outlast their warranties altogether. A solid hardwood futon frame with ample reinforcements, stress supports and angle brackets might last you 20 years or longer.

Finally, you can help ensure your futon gives you years of pleasure by periodically inspecting it. Make sure that all the bolts are tight and that no part wiggles excessively. Also, when you convert your futon to a bed, do not let the back slam down on the rear stretcher rail. Wipe up any spills that might get on the wood and keep your futon clean and dry as much as possible.

Knowing what to look for when you are futon shopping makes you a savvy shopper. Knowing how to care for your futon once you get it will make you a happy owner. Good luck!

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