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Manufacturers - do it yourself online

25 Nov 2018 14:46 #11 by JB80
Hello all. Like many others here I am new to latex and so I, too, really appreciate all the knowledge shared here!

I am starting my own DIY build. I have trouble evaluating a mattress in a store so I am taking Phoenix’s “Option 3” approach and starting from scratch despite the risks and my lack of experience. I am 38, male, 6’1”, 205 lbs and have lower back pain in the morning. 60-70% side-sleeper, 30-40% back-sleeper.

For flexibility in zoning and switching layers I’m using 2” layers instead of 3”. Based on other posts this might mean softer “layer interaction” but Sleep On Latex said it should still work. I ordered 1” of 20 ILD (SOL), 2” of 30 ILD (SOL), 2” 36 ILD (AzPM) and 2” of 44 ILD (SOL), all natural Dunlop. “Springy” doesn’t sound good to me but I might try Talalay later if needed.

First I plan to try various un-zoned combinations of thicknesses by doubling-up certain layers. I’ll then buy the additional layer needed and/or exchange one (Sleep on Latex allows one return/exchange). However, even if I find a pretty good combination I expect to experiment with zoning since I can always undo it (albeit with cuts through the layers).

I am including a diagram of some likely zoning combinations to test. I tried to follow Phoenix’s guideline of solving support issues (lumbar in my case) with lower layers while solving pressure point issues (shoulder in my case) with upper layers. The red and orange lines are my actual side and back profiles traced from pictures while standing and stretched to exact scale.

I’m also trying to avoid extra costs so I have cannibalized the lower layers of the foot of the mattress. Plus, if I end up with a 2” soft layer then I might try firming up the head to gain material for the shoulder zone, and since I have trouble using a thick enough pillow anyway.

Any advice or comments are greatly appreciated!


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28 Nov 2018 02:45 #12 by Phoenix
Hi JBB0,

Welcome to our forum! :)

Your approach to designing your own DIY is certainly very creative and you have some innovative ideas with which would be probably better served in a product development environment. Thanks for taking the time to create the graphics that go with your DIY… Every great idea was born as in response to a certain need.

Because there are so many variables and personal and subjective perceptions the right answers to your questions would come from your own testing and from the way your body will respond and interact with each of the layouts over a long enough period of time. I’d certainly continue in the same scientific manner you've started and perhaps keep in mind a few things while you go through the testing period.
1. I'd make sure to change only one variable at a time and to keep a record your observations and findings but also give the change enough time for the real effects to "settle" in before moving to the next build.
2. Assess each of the layout designs for more than a week or two before you decide if it is a good enough fit... you'd need to give your body a chance to adapt to the new sleeping surface and unlearn and let go of any “postural fix” that the body trained itself to “learn” in coping with any postural stress before returning to a state of “normality”
3. Keep some notes of your experiments with both quantitative and qualitative data to help testing comparisons . (things like ... how long it takes you to fall asleep ... duration of your sleep)
4. It would be also helpful if you’d have some type of monitoring device that records your movement during the night .
5. Although any qualitative type of assessment is more inaccurate some good indicators would be how well and energetic you feel in the morning and so on and the level of pain on a scale of 1-10

Regarding your pains in the morning especially if they are “entrenched” or chronic I’d keep in mind that you’d need much longer adjustment periods when you make any changes and that some gentle coaching of the body, tissues, and joints to destress and relax. There is a good article by Paul Ingraham about some causes of back pains here and you may also want to check out some interesting facts related to body alignment here and here .

A few general thoughts about your designs:
While propping up the lumbar area with a firmer zoning for added support might work well in some cases, designs C and E would probably have the least chance of success even if the combination was just right to fill in the lumbar area gap..... the apex of the firm “pyramid” under your lumbar would place your body on a sort of fulcrum and any small shifts that come with normal repositioning during the course of the night will throw off this arrangement. We commonly reposition between 20 to 40 times (even if people don’t often recall it) and this type of design could “lock” you in a certain position that is most likely difficult to maintain for too long. Whether awake or asleep the body is always in motion and both minute oscillatory and larger movements occur in all body parts. There is an analogy in the comfort section of the basic functions of a mattress article here that talks about this in more detail

Design A: “Will it solve shoulder pressure issues?
Buy 2" 20 ILD just for shoulder layer 2?

I won’t be able to tell how much thickness would be enough to relieve your shoulder pressure points but the chances are that your shoulders would go right through the 1” of 20 ILD to the 4” of 30 ILD which could be a bit too firm for a (60-70%) side-sleeper…. But again, this depends on your preferences, needs and body shape. I’d say that it’s worth experimenting with a little more plushness for your shoulder pressure points.

First I plan to try various un-zoned combinations of thicknesses by doubling-up certain layers.

This is a good starting point that would allow you to collect enough data points before “cannibalizing” more of the layers :) It looks like fun and it’ll be very interesting if you could document the results of your testing and share it with us. You certainly have many layers to play with to find a good combination that works well for you.


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28 Nov 2018 17:42 #13 by JB80
Thank you, this is really great! I will definitely take it slow, document results, and report back on how things progress.

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28 Nov 2018 18:04 #14 by catte
I almost fell off my bed when I read cannibalized!
Thank you for that!
Sleepy Catte

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05 Dec 2018 06:22 - 05 Dec 2018 06:41 #15 by JB80
Soon after the first hour of testing I started to develop a fairly bad allergic reaction to the latex. I guess I'm one of the lucky 1%-8% with a latex allergy. After reading posts here and elsewhere it seems the general consensus is that latex can still be safe to use in many cases but I'm a little nervous about it given the short exposure time, the fairly bad reaction (which stretched from my finger to my back on the side I was laying on), and the fact that it was covered by two sheets (although no ticking/protector/cover). However, it's also possible that I might have rested my arm directly on the latex for a brief period while doubling-up layers and only covering the doubled-up part with the sheets.

I'm now weighing options between (A) pressing on and substituting memory foam or high performance polyfoam as the top layer, combined with a cover/ticking plus an additional protector or two, or (B) scrapping all the latex and starting over with high-performance polyfoam throughout (or high resilience, if these two are different).

So, I'm wondering if anybody has had similar experiences or any general thoughts on how to proceed. Also, is Option B even possible as a DIY route (I can't seem to find individual layers using HD/HR/HP foam so readily like latex) or would I have to settle for an "un-zonable" whole mattress?

Last edit: 05 Dec 2018 06:41 by JB80.

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06 Dec 2018 01:28 #16 by Phoenix
Hi JB80.

I am sorry that you seem to be one of the “lucky 1%-8% with a latex allergy” :(

Because the latex used in mattresses is vulcanized, it is quite unusual that the first encounter with an allergic reaction to latex would occur without any other previous warning or signs when in contact with other product containing latex ... so before deciding on your next step re your mattress I’d certainly make sure to have the allergy confirmed and evaluated by a healthcare professional to ascertain completely what you may be reacting to, as unless you've had a previous positive latex diagnosis it could be something other than latex, including some of the chemicals used to make latex. Allergic contact dermatitis (thanks for providing the image of the affected area) can be clinically diagnosed by a licensed independent healthcare professional that would look at your medical history, along with a physical exam, and possibly patch skin testing to the offending agent.

Attached below are some of the Pdfs provided by the Latex Allergy Resources.Org on their website (right now their site seems to be unreachable) which describe the differences between the sensitivities (and allergy) that can happen with latex.

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

Most of the allergic reactions when in contact with finished rubber products tend to occur when the products are made with the dipping method rather than the vulcanization process used for producing the latex layers used in mattresses.

I’d be interested find out what you’ve learned about this unexpected reaction.


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06 Dec 2018 11:32 #17 by JB80
Thanks, Phoenix. I’m on a HDHP and it appears the cost of the office visit(s) and tests might exceed the cost of the mattress. Plus, whether it is the latex or the chemicals, or even if it seemed to be a random coincidence, I think I would still hesitate. The only similar reaction I can remember was discovering my penicillin allergy as a child.

I found a TMU discussion on the limited number of HR polyfoam vendors so I think I’m now going to order HR layers and run the same plan. You mentioned in that thread that Foam Online appears reputable and I agree they seem transparent in their stats, which include a good support factor of 2.5. I’ll probably start with 2” layers of 20, 30, 40, and 50 ILD (densities below provided by phone). Either the ILDs seem a little higher per firmness than latex or Foam Online’s might be slightly skewed to fit into their ILD table, but I can add a final layer wherever necessary in the stack.

15 ILD, 2.8lb, Very Soft
20 ILD, 2.8lb, Med Soft
30 ILD, 2.8lb, Medium
40 ILD, 2.8lb, Med Firm
50 ILD, 3.0lb, Firm
70 ILD, 3.0lb, Extra Firm

Also, I’ve read a lot of reviews on T&N mattresses, which are mostly very positive but the negative ones complain of the support breaking down after a year or so. TMU mentions 1.8lb HD foam is not very durable so I guess this might be the reason. I’m hoping the 2.8lb-3.0lb HR foam will avoid this, and Foam Online claims 3X longer longevity over the 1.9lb HD that they also sell (12 years vs 4 years).

Thanks again for all the info. I’ll still report results as planned, and hopefully this will still be useful to others regardless of which material they use.

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