What Is The Best Sofa Bed Or Pullout Couch in 2020?

If you have several guests staying over at your place or you live in a tiny apartment, you’re going to really appreciate this rundown of the best sofa beds.

Updated: May 28, 2020

Pullout couches are nothing new.

Many of us have not-so-fond memories of using them as children or even young adults. Fortunately for all of us, technology has improved a lot since then.

New types of padding, innovative locking mechanisms, and ergonomic designs have made these beds way more comfortable.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t come across the occasional lemon. No one design can meet every need. You might think you’ve found the perfect sleeper sofa, but your family could still hate it. That’s why it’s essential to consider a range of different factors.

In this post, we’ll have a look at our picks for the best sleeper sofas. We’ll walk you through the basics of each so that you can know what to look for. Then we’ll move onto how to fine-tune your selection to come up with the best sofa bed for you.


Eliot Sleeper Sectional Sofa Bed

The Eliot employs the classic L-Shape to provide a touch of glamour. You can choose between ten colors, so you’re bound to find one you like. However, it’s a large piece of furniture, so you’ll want to check the dimensions before buying it. 

Be prepared for some sticker shock. This model is a high-end piece. At the same time, the modern design doesn’t scream “sleeper couch.” It’s highly functional.

It’s best for

  • Someone looking for a statement piece 
  • Those wanting a luxe model
  • The person who values style and functionality
  • Someone who appreciates outstanding craftsmanship
  • People wanting to invest

It’s not for

  • Those on a shoestring budget
  • A high-traffic area like a college dorm
  • People who don’t have time for fussy cleaning

Shelter Queen Sleeper Sofa Bed

This option is best for those needing medium to firm support. If you have elderly guests, this is a good choice. A medium-firm mattress significantly reduces sleep latency and musculoskeletal pain. 

If you’re worried about your comfort, don’t be. The memory foam top layer adds additional comfort.

The foam is infused with gel to help wick moisture away. This gel is helpful for hot sleepers because it redirects heat from the body.

The two-seater couch folds out into a bed slightly smaller than a queen-size. Its generous proportions give extra comfort without crowding your space too much. 

It’s best for

  • Those who need better support
  • People with musculoskeletal issues such as Fibromyalgia
  • Those with a little more space (perfect in the living room)
  • Hot sleepers

It’s not for

  • People on a limited budget
  • Those who prefer a very modern look
  • People who don’t like the “slouchy” look

Alenya Sofa Bed

You’ll need to make some trade-offs in customizability. The color choices are limited to Quartz or Charcoal. The main fabric used is a blend of polyester and nylon. While this doesn’t feel as nice on the skin as 100% linen, it’s a lot easier to clean. 

The loose cushions are a blend of viscose and linen and do feel quite luxurious. The frame is metal, and therefore durable. The memory foam mattress is comfortable for sleeping. Overall, you get medium support. You won’t feel the metal digging into you at night.

The upside here is that the company has a range of different chairs that will match perfectly. 

It’s best for

  • Those with a moderate budget
  • Low traffic areas (like a guest room)
  • People looking for a stylish and straightforward option

It’s not for

  • People needing ultra-firm support
  • Those looking for an investment piece

Tandom Sleeper Sofa Bed

Unlike traditional options, the armrests become the header and footer for your bed. The construction is sturdy, and the overall look is simple. Instead of the typical wooden feet, you’ve got metal tubing for a sleek, contemporary look. Choose light gray or dark gray.

The price is mid-range, so it won’t break the bank.

It’s best for

  • A modern, sleek look
  • Those wanting a simple solution
  • People needing a quick and easy option
  • Those not needing a wide range of choices in design

It’s not for

  • Someone who prefers a cozy style
  • Those with a lower-end budget

Slope Nomad Sleeper Sofa

The seats are wider, to provide a larger sleeping surface. The three-seater couch offers ample room. You also get a memory foam topper for additional comfort.

With this model, it’s as simple as rolling out the topper, making the bed, and settling down to sleep. There’s no need to lift heavy frames or anything like that. You’re only getting a single bed, but the size is generous. If you’re in a tiny apartment, you’ll appreciate the space-saving.

It looks smart and is well-constructed. You can choose between ivory, brick red, navy, crushed gravel, and charcoal. The legs come in walnut, oak, or ebony finish. You’re also able to change the armrest.

It’s best for

  • Those who’ve injured themselves and can’t lift heavy items
  • People with limited space
  • Those who like tidy designs
  • People who want a bit of extra comfort

It’s not for

  • People who want a double- or queen-size bed
  • Those who prefer a less formal style

What Makes Up A Sofa Bed?

There are a few different types of pullout couches. All of them have a few things in common, though. Here are the essential components that you’ll find in all of these beds.  

Frame

The frame provides support for the mattress and you (while you’re sleeping). It makes sense, therefore, to ensure that you choose a better-quality frame. The most popular sofa sleeper beds will use a metal or hardwood frame for maximum durability. 

You’ll save money in the short-term by buying a frame made of pine. The downside is that the frame won’t last as long. 

The second thing to consider with the frame is how clean the edges are. If the edges are rough, the edges might snag the sheets or even the person using the bed.

Mattress

The frame gives support and durability. If you’ve got a tendency to speak before you think, and are frequently banished to the sleeper couch, choose one with a better mattress.

Higher-end models will have an innerspring-type of design. These are similar to a regular mattress but not as thick. Some might find that the springs dig into their back. 

If that’s the case, the Air-coil mattress might make more sense. The air-coil is essentially an airbed with coils inside. This combination makes it possible to get the support of coils with the comfort of an airbed.

Interestingly, research has found that being able to adjust the comfort level in this manner promotes optimal sleep. 

Higher-end models might also use memory foam. This option is suitable for a range of different sleepers. Keep in mind that the foam retains more heat than an innerspring mattress, though. Some sleepers also don’t like the dead feeling of the foam.

The most common type in the 1980s and 1990s was a base with springs and a thin foam mattress. Those were usually rather uncomfortable thanks to the support bar in the center.

Choose your mattress carefully, or no one will want to sleep over at your home. Of course, that may suit you perfectly. But if it doesn’t, choose something comfortable.

Cushions

Just like a regular sofa, you’ll have a cushioned back. With high-end models, these cushions (or accent pillows) stay in place. You must remove the bottom cushions with these models.

With cheaper models, the cushions may form the mattress. These options might feel relatively comfortable, depending on how firm the foam is. In many cases, though, they lack adequate support.

Operating Mechanism

This is what allows you to slide the bed in or out as necessary. In many models, it is composed largely of springs and hinges.


How Sleeper Sofas Work

Let’s get one thing out of the way here before we start with the mechanics. These beds are popular as space-savers. In many instances, they’re there in case the odd guest sleeps over. They’re also useful if you’ve got a one-bedroom apartment.

But… they’re not meant to replace a bed permanently. They’re a hybrid between seating and sleeping, so they can’t tick all the boxes for both.

What makes these sofas unique is that they have an operating mechanism that allows you to switch between the two functions seamlessly.

Here are the different types of operating mechanisms:

This is the most common style. You’ll have seen it in futons too. You lift the seat up at a sharp angle to disengage the lock. Then you pull it down and out to open up the bed. 

These are some of the best options for daily users. They usually have innerspring or memory foam mattresses. Sleepers feel more comfortable and better supported. These fold out in two quick motions.  

With these models, you have to tug on the front panel at the bottom. You just keep pulling it until it’s fully extended. When it’s time to get things back to normal, just push up on the center frame joints on both sides and push back into place.

This type is one of the easiest to use. You push the back forward a little, and that unlocks the bedframe. Then you pull out the frame and add your linens and blankets.

This is a more modern design. Instead of relying on a frame that folds out, you have a platform under the sleeper. You pull this forward and then raise it into alignment with the end cushions. If you’re a style junky, then this is most likely the type that you’ll prefer. 

How Everything Works Together

Whatever mechanism your model uses, the result is the same – a reasonably comfortable bed. The mattress pad often doubles as extra support for the seat cushions. It may even replace them entirely.

In most cases, the frame and pad work together. If you take one away, the other can no longer function. Not all of these options are comfortable. If you like, you can also use a blow-up mattress to provide extra support. 


What To Look For In A Pullout Couch

What are the critical features to look out for? Let’s run through them quickly.

You can find larger sizes like a king-sized option or twin sleeper, but these are usually pricey. A queen or full-sized bed is far easier to find and afford. Keep in mind that you need space for both sitting and sleeping. You’ll need to make sure that you have space for the frame to be fully extended.

It’s also wise to consider the weight. How easy is your new purchase going to be to get home? Do you have stairs to haul it up? 

It’s a good idea to look for a model that has a higher coil density for better comfort. The downside with springs is that they’re likely to be noisy and can poke into your back. Choosing an air-coil hybrid could be a good solution.

Alternatively, a memory foam option might be the better choice. Why memory foam? It maintains its shape and structure over time. Standard foam won’t bounce back into shape after regular use.

You can get the best of both worlds by opting for a mattress topper. In this case, an inflatable option might be best because it is easier to store. If that doesn’t work for you, you could also look at a topper that provides some cushioning.

The downside of having a topper is that you’ll need to store it when not in use. If space is already at a premium, this could prove challenging.

It’s tempting to choose the cheapest model out there. Here, though, you want a strong, durable model. Be sure to look at what the frame is made from. Hardwood or metal frames are more durable than softwood ones. It’s wise to look for a nicely finished frame. Otherwise, you risk it ripping your linen.

Next, find out how durable the locking mechanism is. If that gives out, your purchase won’t be nearly as useful. 

Your budget is a significant factor in deciding which option to choose. A good-quality option will set you back somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000.

Finally, consider how you’ll use your new purchase. If you’ll be sleeping on it daily, it makes sense to splurge a little. If it will be used only once or twice a year, it doesn’t make sense to buy something that breaks the bank. 

Final Verdict: The Best Sofa Beds Recap

When it comes right down to the wire, every one of our top picks offers something unique. We’ve got the Slope Nomad Sleeper for the person living in a cramped space. The Tandom is an excellent choice for people who might struggle to get their couches into position.

The Alenya is a good budget option for those who need some assistance. At the end of the day, though, the Eliot is the best overall pick. It’s got style, and it’s made with high-quality materials. It might hurt your wallet to buy it initially, but it’s a keeper.