A futon mattress folds or rolls up. It can be used on the floor or on a special futon frame where the back goes down to make a bed or comes up to be the back of a seat. Futons may have extensions that can be pulled out for convenience when turning it into a bed. Because the mattress can be folded up, it can be stored. And as it can function with the frame or folding as a seat. So it is ideal for a multi-purpose room or a room that can accommodate guests periodically, but be a useful space for the residents in between guests.
Some recliners can also recline enough to create a sleeping space, similar to futons. But recliners are generally heavier, and the upholstery is part of the piece, while a futon can be disassembled into the mattress part and frame (in the Western hemisphere's version) and doesn't have the rigid framework in the original or Eastern hemispheric version. The original Japanese futon consists of a thick quilted pad for the mattress and another quilt for a covering.
- Wikipedia's article on futon