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Mattress support cores - latex

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29 Nov 1999 16:00 #1 by Phoenix

 

Latex has many advantages over other materials when used as the core of a mattress. The first of these is its durability. It will easily outlast other types of foam and even quality innersprings. Latex mattress cores have been known in many cases to last over 20 years before needing replacing.

A second advantage is in its point elasticity. This means that it is not only very elastic (will return to its original shape) but that it can be compressed in a very small area without affecting or compressing the area beside it. This gives it the ability to instantly form a pressure relieving cradle that takes on the exact shape of the body. This means that in its softer ILD's it has a pressure relieving ability that is superior to most other materials and very similar to that of memory foam.

A third advantage is in its high resilience. This is its tendency to "spring back" to its original position and gives latex the ability to support the more recessed parts of the body that have larger gaps (such as the lumbar area) that need to be both filled in and supported.

Perhaps its greatest advantage though... and this is not as often mentioned in an industry that talks mostly about ILD or the level of firmness when describing foam and other materials... is connected to a specification called support factor (also called compression modulus or comfort factor). What this means is that latex has the ability to be soft and comforming when it is initially compressed and then become firmer more quickly than other materials when it is compressed more deeply. This means that even a relatively soft latex (28 ILD and higher) can be used as a mattress core where its upper softness can help to form a pressure relieving cradle while its deeper firmness can still provide excellent support (the ability to prevent heavier parts of you from sinking down too far) and keep your spine aligned. This also gives it the ablilty to adjust itself to different sleeping positions, body weights, and body profiles as you change position in your sleep. Because of these advantages, many consider it to be an ideal material.

While all materials can be measured using these specifications, latex is among the highest in every category, including some we haven't mentioned such as breathability and motion isolation. As its properties are becoming better known, it is also becoming more widely popular.

It is available in a wide range of firmness levels, typically from 14 (super soft) to 44 ILD (super firm), and in different varieties (Typically Dunlop and Talalay) and in natural or blended versions (as well as a less desirable completely synthetic version) which makes it possible to choose a support or comfort layer that is suitable for any set of sleeping conditions, body profile, weight distribution, and sleeping style, and using any layering method of mattress construction.

Latex by itself makes an excellent support layer material but it can also be combined with other materials in the support layers to enhance their qualities for those who are on a budget. It can also be used underneath any other material used as a comfort layer and is suitable for both differential, progressive, and zoned constructions.

Its only disadvantage is in the fact that it carries a higher price than other materials however in this website, and through our forum, you will quickly learn that latex, along with other high quality materials, is available for much less through alternative sources than the larger and dominant manufacturers and retail outlets would like you to believe. These smaller manufacturers who sell locally, regionally and online, and smaller, more service oriented and specialized retail outlets, exist in the hundreds across the USA and Canada and are just waiting to be "discovered".


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16 Jan 2017 22:59 #2 by geesahn
I recently purchased a 10 inch all natural organic Dunlop latex mattress. It is arriving in a couple of days with a 30 day sleep comfort guarantee which means in 30 days I can switch one time to a different model. I do not know the specific ILD of each layer but I do know that it is comprised of 5 2 inch layers. From bottom to top, 2 inches firm, 2 inches medium, 2 inches soft, 2 inches soft, 2 inches soft. I have some experience with latex as my children have basic 6 inch firm cores with 2 inch soft mattresses. I find them wonderful but a bit too firm. I know latex keeps "pushing back up" and that it is inherently supportive. I really wanted to try a softer mattress and chose this very plush latex. I still feel nervous that it isn't going to be supportive enough in the long haul. I can't get over only a 2 inch firm layer. I am much more used to the idea of at least a 4 inch firm core on any latex mattress. However, I took the advise of the storeowner who said they have never had a comfort return on the model I chose, whereas with many of the firmer models people feel in the end they are too firm.

This is a great store and I am confident the exchange if necessary will be hassle-free. I guess I'm just looking to confirm that it is actually "ok" to have only one 2 inch firm layer and 1 2 inch medium layer at the core of a latex mattress. Is this really true? Do you think I will know within 30 days if it isn't supportive enough?

Thank you,

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17 Jan 2017 10:32 #3 by diynaturalbedding

geesahn wrote: Do you think I will know within 30 days if it isn't supportive enough?


Thirty days is enough to get a good guess of comfort. If you body is not used to latex, expect a week of your body adjusting. Keep in mind too that the latex may be slightly softening in those early weeks. Once the adjusting is done, then presuming you have been mostly comfortable so far, you can test the real comfort.

Your medium chunk with only 2" of firm support definitely is on the soft side of firmness choices for adults, but certainly not unheard of.

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17 Jan 2017 14:26 #4 by Phoenix
Hi geeshan,

Congratulations on your new mattress purchase! :cheer:

I would give a “ditto” to the comments of diynaturalbedding. Give yourself some time sleeping upon the product and don’t worry too much about how you think the product will feel, but instead focus upon the actual comfort you experience once you have it set up in your home. And be sure to give yourself a chance on the product and use the 30 day period for making a decision upon an exchange to really give yourself and the mattress a complete analysis.

Yes, this certainly would be a softer overall combination, but you’re using good quality materials and if it works as part of your own personal PPP, that’s all that matters.

Phoenix

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17 Jan 2017 21:53 #5 by geesahn
Thank you

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18 Jan 2017 10:32 #6 by Phoenix
Hi geeshan,

You're welcome!

Phoenix

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07 Feb 2017 22:26 #7 by geesahn
Hi, so it's been a couple of weeks now since we got the 10 inch dunlop mattress with 2"firm, 2"med, 2+2+2"soft layers. I am 115 pounds and my husband is 200 pounds which I guess is an issue as we have different sleep needs. For example, we have a mattress in the camper which is firm foam and a 3" natural memory foam topper. To me the bed is rock hard and my arms go numb, but for him I guess he is heavy enough that he sinks in to it and he loves it.

Our new latex bed, I love it, I think it's adequate support for me. My husband has lower back pain in the morning which tells me it is not supportive enough for him. He also has very numb arms every night/morning so he isn't getting adequate pressure point relief. This is the part I find confusing because it is such a soft bed, why does he get numb arms? Our camper bed is hard, but sinky/dense and I get numb arms. How can a soft bed and a hard bed give different people numb arms?

We are running out of time to do comfort exchange, I have a couple more weeks. The comparable mattress configuration that I would switch to is 4"firm 2"med 2"soft 2"soft again all Dunlop. I did like the feel of this mattress in the store and so did my husband. I figure if that one is too hard for me then it's easier to soften it up with toppers as opposed to the soft one we have now never being supportive enough for Michael and not being able to correct that. Maybe the solution for both of us will be the firmer Dunlop mattress with a 3 Inch Natural Talalay topper in medium ordered from say, Arizona. Maybe this will give me the softness I need as well as give Michael the pressure point relief that he needs. Or maybe the firmer mattress will just be good enough on its own.

I feel like it's a leap of faith to just trade in for the firmer, I only get one trade and then I'm stuck with it. I guess I'm asking for advise on whether or not my theory of getting the firmer mattress leaves us with a safer option for softening it up as opposed to staying with the softer mattress and not being able to firm it up adequately. I hope this made sense, thanks.

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08 Feb 2017 11:13 #8 by Phoenix
Hi geesahn,

I’m sorry your husband is having some issues on your new mattress, but at least you did have the foresight to purchase something that allows for an exchange and customization.

Our new latex bed, I love it, I think it's adequate support for me. My husband has lower back pain in the morning which tells me it is not supportive enough for him. He also has very numb arms every night/morning so he isn't getting adequate pressure point relief. This is the part I find confusing because it is such a soft bed, why does he get numb arms?

Your husband seems to be describing issues that are common for someone who either does not have enough support or who has too many plush comfort layers on top of the mattress. This certainly could lead to issues of the low back/hips/heaviest parts of the body sinking in too deeply and causing low back discomfort. This can also cause issues in the shoulder region, where the shoulders are sinking in a bit too much and there is not enough “surface support” provided for the torso, thus putting more pressure upon the shoulders and this can also place undue stress on that region. Additionally, if your husband is sinking in deeper than normal, his pillow may now be too thick and this could also be contributing to his shoulder issues.

In general terms…the deeper layers or components are all about primary support and alignment. They "stop" the heavier parts of the body and in particular the pelvis from sinking down too far. The upper few inches of the mattress are all about pressure relief in all sleeping positions and side sleepers need thicker and softer, back sleepers are in the middle and stomach sleepers need the thinnest firmest comfort layers of all the sleeping positions because otherwise the risk of sleeping in a swayback position can be quite high. The comfort layers also provide secondary support which is the lighter support that fills in the "gaps" in the sleeping profile (such as the waist on the side and the small of the back when you are on your back) and helps to maintain the natural curvature of the spine. The area in between the top few inches and the deeper support layers are the "transition layer or area" which helps with both.

Don't forget that "support" is the means and alignment is the goal. "Support" ... particularly under the heavier parts of the body such as the pelvis ... is important (which is all about the deeper layers) but when you have that then the comfort layers need to "just barely" accommodate the pressure relief needs of the most pressure prone position (usually the side) so that you are as close as possible to the firmer support layers. "Just enough" but no more is the key with pressure relief. This is part of the reason why choosing a mattress based on the cushy kind of "comfort" that people are attracted to in a showroom can often lead to back issues over time.

Comfort is what you feel when you first lie on a mattress ... and is mostly about pressure relief, while support is what you feel when you wake up in the morning ... either with or without back pain or discomfort ... and is mostly about alignment.

Lower back issues generally come from a mattress that has upper layers that are too thick and soft and/or support layers which are too soft which can allow the pelvis to sink down too far relative to the rest of the body. This tilts the pelvis which changes the natural curve of the Lumbar spine and can lead to lower back issues. A mattress that is too soft can also allow the hips to sink down too far which flexes the hip joints out of their neutral position which can also lead to joint soreness or back soreness if the muscles are working to keep the back and hips in alignment.

The comparable mattress configuration that I would switch to is 4"firm 2"med 2"soft 2"soft again all Dunlop. I did like the feel of this mattress in the store and so did my husband.

As we briefly discussed in a previous post, your current configuration is definitely on the plush end of the spectrum, especially for someone who is 200 pounds. Your proposed revised configuration would certainly address both deep support issues and a reduction of the very thick plush comfort layers, while still providing quite a bit of surface plushness.

I guess I'm asking for advise on whether or not my theory of getting the firmer mattress leaves us with a safer option for softening it up as opposed to staying with the softer mattress and not being able to firm it up adequately. I hope this made sense, thanks.

With a component system (I’m not clear if your mattress is one where you can unzip it and exchange layers, or if you are exchanging it for a different “finished” mattress), you always have the option of purchasing different foam layers over time. You are correct that the addition of a topper over a firmer product is a much easier way to customize a product, as there is very little you can do to “firm up” a mattress that is too plush with top-of-bed products.

I hope that information helps. I’m looking forward to learning of your decision and the results of that.

Phoenix

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05 Jun 2017 10:55 #9 by ea.myers
Which would be a better made latex bed both are all Talay, One from Ok Mattress, # 242 being, 2" firm, 4" med and 4" soft, with a 10 yr. warranty. Quality Bedding Co. has 6" 20 ILD, with 3" memory foam. His warranty is 20 yrs on the bed and the memory foam will need to be replaced 6-7 yrs. Which is the better made bed assuming the quality of the latex is the same.

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05 Jun 2017 12:51 #10 by Phoenix
Hi ea.myers,

Welcome to the Mattress Forum! :)

I’m sorry, but I missed your post from a few days ago, but I see you’re asking about one the same beds again, so let me combine my response to both of your posts in this one reply.

When considering a new mattress, I can’t help with “what” to choose, but I certainly can provide guidance as to the “how” to choose. The first place to start your research (if you haven’t already) is the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you make the best possible choice ... and perhaps more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones.

Two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you've read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best "match" for you in terms of "comfort", firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own Personal preferences) that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn't turn out as well as you hoped for and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the "value" of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you (including the price of course and the options you have available after a purchase if your choice doesn't turn out as well as you hoped for).

Outside of PPP (which is the most important part of "value"), the next most important part of the value of a mattress purchase is durability which is all about how long you will sleep well on a mattress. This is the part of your research that you can't see or "feel" and assessing the durability and useful life of a mattress depends on knowing the specifics of its construction and the type and quality of the materials inside it regardless of the name of the manufacturer on the label or how a mattress feels in a showroom or when it is relatively new so I would always make sure that you find out the information listed here so you can compare the quality of the materials and components to the durability guidelines here to make sure there are no lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress that would be a cause for concern relative to the durability and useful life of a mattress before making any purchase.

I would like an opinion on Eco-Comfort Rainier Soft for $1,599.95, CertiPur from Mathis Bros


Unfortunately they don’t provide any meaningful information on their web site regarding what is inside of this mattress. It has a 6” polyfoam core, on top of which is 2” of memory foam and then topped with 3” of memory foam, but no densities are provided. If you’re able to find out the information about what is inside of the mattress that I linked to above and post it back here, I’ll be happy to comment upon the componentry used.

or a custom 6" talay latex foam, 3 in gel infused memory foam and a cotton organic bed protector for $1450, made here locally by Quality Bedding Company


Unfortunately they have no web site for me to look for specifics about their mattress, so you’d again need to find out the information of exactly what is inside of their mattress, specifically the type of latex used (Dunlop or Talalay, and the blend) and the density of the memory foam used. Latex is generally the most durable, and a high quality material.

I will be buying an adjustable bed frame as well, I've heard Leggett & Platt??


There is more information about choosing an adjustable bed in post #3 here and the main adjustable bed topic that it links to that can help you choose an adjustable bed based on price vs features comparisons and also includes some retailers that you can use as good sources of information about the features of the adjustable beds they carry and as pricing references as well (in post #6 in the main adjustable bed topic). Of course there are many other sources as well and prices can change on a regular basis so I would also include some internet searching in your research. I would also keep in mind that online advertised prices are often price controlled so make sure you call the stores you are considering to find out their best prices rather than just looking at websites.

I now know more than the sales people I've met and Mattress Firm would not let me take pictures and seemed annoyed with my request for specs.


I don’t know why they wouldn’t want you taking pictures of their products, as they provide little meaningful information either online or in-store, but they are one of the types of stores that I recommend to avoid anyway. The major brands such as Sealy/Stearns & Foster, Simmons, and Serta all tend to use lower quality and less durable materials in their mattresses than most of their smaller competitors that will tend to soften or break down prematurely relative to the price you pay which is why I would generally suggest avoiding all of them completely (along with the major retailers that focus on them as well) regardless of how they may feel in a showroom along with any mattress where you aren't able to find out the type and quality/durability of the materials inside it (see the guidelines here along with post #3 here and post #12 here and post #404 here ).

Which would be a better made latex bed both are all Talay, One from Ok Mattress, # 242 being, 2" firm, 4" med and 4" soft, with a 10 yr. warranty. Quality Bedding Co. has 6" 20 ILD, with 3" memory foam. His warranty is 20 yrs on the bed and the memory foam will need to be replaced 6-7 yrs. Which is the better made bed assuming the quality of the latex is the same.


Again, you’d need to find out the blend of the latex in order to compare (synthetic, blended or all-natural) for each mattress. The OK Mattress, being all-Talalay, would use good quality and durable material. I doubt that the Quality Bedding Co. uses a 6” Talalay latex core that is 20 ILD, as this would be extremely plush ILD and is normally used as a very soft upper comfort layer. And you’d need to know the density of the memory foam used. This mattress would have a very different feel form the all-latex model form OK Mattress.

If you can post back with the information I mentioned, I can do my best to provide more commentary for you on those mattresses.

Phoenix

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