Tips to make a sofa bed more comfortable

Q: I love my sofa very much and don’t want to get rid of it, but it has a very old, heavy and uncomfortable bed mechanism. I have slept on other people’s sofa beds which were comfortable but they are newer. Is it possible to convert a sofa bed into another type or can a sofa bed be converted into a sofa (without a bed in it)?

A: It’s often possible to remove a bed mechanism and still have a sofa provided you build a way to support the sofa seat. But first you might want to see if you can make the bed more comfortable.

The problem is often a sagging mattress support system coupled with support bars that dig into the sleeper’s back or hips. To ensure more even support, try slipping pieces of ⅜ or ½ inch thick plywood under the mattress when the bed is extended. You don’t need a large piece that would be difficult to maneuver and store. Pieces 16 inches wide would work provided they are long enough to span the bars of the bed.

Connect them with tape hinges to keep them aligned and fold for storage. Or buy a ready-made solution. The Sleep Aid ($119.99, has connected panels that fold out to 48″ x 48″ and accommodates full and queen-size sleeper sofas. When folded, the panels are ⅝ inch thick, allowing you to tuck the package into the mattress when putting the bed away. The Stratiform Sofa Bed Bar Cushion ($89, Amazon) is made of high-density foam that’s about 1 inch thick. It is 54″ x 28″ and fits between the rails of many sleeper sofas.

It is also possible to swap out the mattress on a sofa bed, which can make a big difference. The website has an overview of options with advantages and disadvantages as well as measuring tips. In addition to the width and length of your existing mattress, also note the depth.

Instead of measuring the thickness of your existing mattress, which may be less than when it was new, the site offers recommends measuring between the top and bottom of the extended but still folded bed frame. (The website has an illustration showing the exact location to measure.) Both websites sell replacement mattresses, with prices varying based on density and dimensions.

If these solutions don’t work, or you decide they’re not worth trying, the simplest solution is to use your couch as is. They don’t say why the weight is an issue, but if you want to move the couch more easily so you can clean underneath or rearrange furniture, get furniture glides that fit under the sofa’s feet and make it easier to shove around. A four-pack of Magic Sliders that work on wood, ceramic tile, or carpet is $19.39 at Home Depot.

If weight is an issue because you’re considering moving, removing the bed mechanism would likely reduce costs, especially when dealing with stairs. Matheus Cruz, who works for Two Men and a Truck (, a ServiceMaster moving company franchised in most states, said only about half of all sleeper sofas have mechanisms that are easily removable.

You can find a variety of guides on the internet. Some suggest placing the sofa at one end or the back and then removing the dust ruffle so you can find the screws that attach the bed frame to the sofa. Other sites say to lengthen the bed first. The variety makes it clear that not all sofa beds are created equal, so take a look. You may also be able to hire a moving company to do the move for you. Cruz suggested calling small, local businesses rather than a nationwide company like his, which has a minimum charge of $800 to $1,000 for three hours.

Beds often have a spring mechanism that engages when you fold the bed up and push it in. If you remove the mechanism in the folded position, tie it with a rope first so it doesn’t accidentally come loose while you’re working on it. The seat cushions of a sofa bed usually rest on the bed mattress. So when you remove the bed, you need to support the sofa seat. Maybe a clever craftsman service can help you with that.

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