A futon is a foldable mattress pad that is commonly used as a bed in Japan. Futons are light and flexible so that they are easily folded and stored during the day, which frees the room for other uses. Many western countries have adopted the idea of the futon to create futon couches and chairs that double as beds. As a result, many western futons require a futon cover in order to protect the mattress while in use. In addition, futon covers are produced for decorative purposes so that a futon couch or chair can function in the color scheme of any room.
Japanese futons are laid out on the floor for sleeping at night and rolled or folded and stored during the day. Like most types of beds, traditional Japanese futons are made in a variety of sizes. The same is true for western-style futon couches and chairs in which the futon mattress is fitted into a wood or metal frame. As these types of futons are intended to serve multiple functions, doubling as a couch or chair during the day and a bed at night, they are highly flexible and are commonly used in a variety of dwellings. As a result, futons are also flexible in terms of color and pattern, mainly through the use of one or more futon covers.
A futon cover encases the futon mattress in order to protect it from dirt and debris while also allowing it to adopt the characteristics of a couch or chair. There are many varieties of futon covers, from the futon slipcover or stretch futon cover, which are made from lighter fabrics, to heavier canvas and wool covers that are secured over the futon with a zipper or buttons. Futon covers vary greatly in terms of material, cost, and quality and are produced to enhance the flexibility of the futon.
As futon covers are generally removable, the owner of a futon can purchase different covers in order to change them for the futon's different functions. For example, a softer stretch futon cover functions well when using the futon as a bed, whereas a heavier, more durable wool or canvas cover is better suited for the futon's role as a couch or chair. The owner can simply switch back and forth between the two before changing uses. Changing a futon cover also makes it easy to relocate the futon into a different room with a different color scheme.