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DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 16 Sep 2015 16:15 #1

Hi everyone,

A few months ago. I decided that my 10 year-old innerspring mattress from Original Mattress Factory needed to go (I believe it was a "plush" model, and I'm quite certain the springs were not individual pocketed springs). I was having lower back pain in the morning that went away after a half hour or so, and it felt too soft generally.

My wife and I were initially thinking of buying either a component mattress from SleepEZ or a cheaper foam mattress. As a result, a few months ago I built a new foundation, since the boxspring we had been using actually had springs, and because I'm pretty sure the gaps were too large for a latex mattress. My first post was about building that foundation, which can be seen in post #13 .

Part of the attraction of latex was motion separation. In the old mattress, tossing and turning by one of us, or even getting out of bed, would disturb the other. In addition, I believe I need something with firmer support than the old mattress, given the lower back pain (and that mattress definitely wasn't too firm).

The first new mattress we tried was the Casper. My initial instinct was that it felt really hard, though it felt good when on my back (or stomach). After the first night I woke up with pretty bad middle and upper back pain. I then switched to a thinner pillow, which helped, but at the end I ultimately decided it was just too firm or otherwise not good because I continued to have middle/upper back and shoulder pain, and so it got returned. I think I slept on my stomach more than normal when on this mattress.

Here are the details about us:

Me: 6'5", 210 lbs. I think I am mostly a side-forward sleeper (with my top leg forward leaned over toward stomach, half side/half stomach), though I think I also sleep on my back some, and I often fall asleep on my stomach though I'm not sure how long I stay like that. And, to be honest, I think my sleeping style varies by mattress - on softer mattresses I'm more likely to end up on my side, and on harder ones my stomach or back. I should also say that I'm reasonably athletic/broad shouldered, which I think merits a somewhat thicker comfort layer per instructions on this site. That said, I would normally say I prefer a firmer mattress, though the Casper was definitely too firm.

Wife: 5'2", 125 lbs. Side sleeper, prefers firmer rather than softer feel. She's much less picky than me - at least in this dimension :). She would be been willing to keep the Casper, though I think it was also a bit firm for her taste. So my goal is going to be to get something that will work for both of us, keeping in mind that her acceptable range is probably larger than mine.

Currently we are sleeping on a queen-sized S-brand mattress from the guest room. It's a little soft, though it is much better for side sleeping than the Casper (though I do think I bottom out and get pressure points a bit). I get a bit of lower back and upper back soreness, though less so when sleeping by myself on that mattress (don't ask why that sometimes happens - the explanation is not as entertaining as it sounds.)

I've looked in my area for a high-quality mattress using links from Phoenix, but the Restonic mattresses near me have memory foam and polyfoam as well as talalay latex (I think the latex is mostly a marketing thing). In addition, the Cal King could not be returned if it was uncomfortable, though the price was great. As a result, I've decided to go all latex. We laid on the Pure Latex Bliss mattresses, and liked the overall feel, and specifically that of the firmer Nature and Pamper. We tried both with toppers (a medium, which I think is still pretty soft), which means there was a combined 5 - 6" of softer foam as a comfort layer over a pretty firm support layer. If I knew that one of those PLB mattresses would end up working well for me, I'd get over the sticker shock and buy it, in large part because I feel pretty badly about trying something in a brick and mortar store and then ordering elsewhere based in part on that. In that way I envy the people living in Phoenix, AZ, who can go try out mattresses at the two layered-latex places there (mattresses.net and sleepez). But ultimately I'm worried about my ability to forecast how well the mattress will work for me despite the helpful instructions Phoenix has laid out in his posts here.

So I've decided to go DIY. That's in large part because I'm a DIY kind of guy, which means I'm up for the adventure and trial and error and (hopefully) the final satisfaction of getting the mattress dialed in by selecting layers myself. The preference for DIY is also in part because I can choose from a greater set of ILDs than the typical online retailers offer. My wife isn't so picky, so I think I can use most if not all of what doesn't work for me on her side and it'll probably be okay, within reason. My tentative plan now is to order a 4-way stretch cover from SleepEZ, and to order foam from KTT Enterprises and mattresses.net.

I know there's some risk - mattresses.net doesn't do returns on components (though their prices are very good), though KTT does a one-time 30 day exchange for $20 plus shipping both ways. Depending on how things go with the first purchases, if necessary I might also just order another layer and turn the unwanted layer into beds for my two dogs. They sleep on memory foam now (which has held up well - much better than previous poly foams), and the curious side of me wonders what they'd prefer if they could choose one or the other side-by-side. They don't care much about marketing, so it'd be a pretty clean test.

Total cost, including the cover, would be around $1500 for a 9" mattress, and around $500 more for a 12" mattress, including the necessary covers. Here are my options:

1) Buy a 6" cover (the stretchy one from SleepEZ), and initially buy 6" latex and sleep on it for a bit. After that, I could decide whether I want a 2" or 3" topper (and in what ILD). If I went with this, I think initially I'd go with this layout:
Top layer - 3" split between 24 and 28 ILD (so we can try both)
Bottom layer - 3" split between 40 and 44 ILD (so we can try both)

If I went with this option, I'm 90% sure I'd end up buying a topper as well (for a total of 8" or 9"), but I'd have the advantage of sleeping on the 6" first to see which topper we might want (2" or 3", 19 or 24 or 28 ILD). I could also at least see what 24 over 28 over 44 (or 40) feels like. The downside is that this option precludes moving to a 12" mattress - or it at least means I'd have to spend another $160 on a new cover in order to do that.

2) Buy an 8" or 9" cover, and initially buy 8" or 9" of latex and sleep on it. Then, if I decide I want it to be softer, or have the feel of a "thicker" mattress, buy another 3" of firm latex (in 36 or 40 or 44 ILD) for the bottom, and then move the soft layer outside of the cover as a topper. Under this scenario, I think I'd go with the following:

Top layer - 2 or 3", of 19 or 24 ILD, all one piece (I'm leaning toward 19 ILD)
Middle layer - 3", split between 24 and 28 ILD
Bottom layer - 3", split between 40 and 44 ILD

A few notes: I'm mixing and matching the ILDs to maximize the number of configurations I can try without exchanging anything. I'm pretty sure I want at least 4" of softer latex on the top given my experience with Casper, and I suspect I may want 6", but I'm not sure. I also figure I'll go quite firm on the bottom layers, in part to compensate for the fact that I'll potentially have 6" of softer latex above it rather than 4 or 5, and in part because we both liked the firm feel of the Pamper that had a firm lower layer (I thought the Nutrition felt too soft and a bit unstable).

Here are my questions:

i) Which of these two options seems more sensible as a place to start, keeping in mind that sleeping on different things is ultimately what I probably need to figure out what works best? Money isn't a huge consideration, except that I'd rather not throw away dollars for nothing.

ii) If I go with option 2, what should I go with for the top layer - 19 ILD or 24 ILD? I must say I liked the feel of the softer PLB topper, and the 19 ILD will be a bit firmer than that.

iii) Do you have any other suggestions on alternative ILDs for either one of these two options?

I think I'll start ordering stuff this week, so I'd love any feedback or suggestions. I look forward to hearing what Phoenix and others have to say.


EDIT: Option 2 can be either an 8" or 9" mattress, depending on if I think I should go for 5" or 6" in comfort layers...so many options...

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Last edit: by AdminTMU. Reason: Updating link to https: status

DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 17 Sep 2015 07:21 #2

I did almost exactly what you did. I originally bought the 9 inch sleepez cover, and ended up burning that $ on buying a thicker one. The topper idea may sound nice now, but a topper acts very different from a layer that is inside the mattress, and will fold up and act much softer. Keep that in mind. To be honest, you'd be fine with a thicker cover and less latex in it (I had 9 inches in my 12 inch cover for a while, it was fine). So, I recommend you just get the thicker one and forget about the separate topper - there really is no need for it. On that point - I found I liked 11 inches of thickness much more than 9. There may be designs that work with 9 inches, but I found the extra 2 inches pretty crucial. So I would leave yourself with that flexibility.

I would recommend what you are doing in terms of starting off with the firm bottom + a transitional middle layer, and seeing what you think. A 3" 40 ILD base and 3" 32 ILD on top seems reasonable to start - although it will be very firm in my opinion. That leaves you with ~3-6 inches for your comfort layer. I found 3 was too little, 4 was enough for me, 5 felt good also, and 6 was too much. I am also ~200 lb side sleeper. I also have broad shoulders and I've found that the thickness isnt as important as the softness when it comes to shoulders. They have more surface area and arent as heavy, so they don't sink in unless the top is very soft. When they don't sink - you get upper back pain. So I'd recommend 19 ILD or lower for the very top layer (I found 24 acceptable if the lower core layer is softer, but over 40/32 ild, it will be too hard).

Oh, and KTT is fantastic. Can't recommend them enough. Hope that helps.

Edit: You may also want to try zoning in the top or 2nd layer of your mattress. It helps substantially with aligning broad shoulders. you can use something like ~28 for your comfort layer on your belly button down, then 19 or so above that.

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Last edit: by djgoldb.

DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 17 Sep 2015 10:38 #3

Edit: I think you should have a long discussion with a seller. I am not going to give suggestions about a mattress because everyone is different. But I want to share who helped me the most on my journey to a good night's sleep. They will ask you the questions and keep you on the phone for a long time (which is a great thing) helping you figure out what you need.

I went the do it yourself route this summer. I made several mistakes along the way. It still turned out much cheaper and much more comfortable at least for me than any of the ready made latex mattresses I tried in person in stores.

In the end I used latextoppers on eBay, sleeplikeabear, ktt, the clean bedroom (they had a great sale this past august) and diynaturalbedding. Evelyn at latextoppers and sleeplikeabear is just a fantastic help. She is so generous with her time and answering questions - definitely call sleeplikeabear to speak with her. Deborah at diynaturalbedding and Dick at ktt are also incredibly helpful and patient. The Clean Bedroom goofed on a delivery and they bent over backwards to rectify the problem immediately. They had an amazing sale on an OMI topper. It was like I bought it wholesale. I spoke to other companies along the way but these people really walked me through the process and I feel like I get latex now and have a wonderful bed.

These companies if you ask are extremely clear about their return policies - no free returns or replacements unless the packaging is damaged (ask them and they will not hesitate to tell you), I never felt mislead once during the entire process. I was even dissuaded from spending more money. ktt (Dick Coffey who runs it is the son of the founder of Latex International) and sleeplikeabear have a complete selection of global talalay on hand (formerly known as latex international), latextoppers has a complete selection of radium talalay and natural and organic dunlop on hand. All the companies are extremely clear about ilds. Evelyn unlike any of the people I talked to can give you a good comparison between the experience of lying on the same ild of dunlop, global talalay talalay or radium talalay. For me she made it so easy to comparison shop. For ticking i went with 100% cotton ticking. Deborah at diy is amazing source for things you want to do yourself. I can't tell you how helpful she has been about fabric, zippers, unusual sizes etc.

I know from reading about it here that mattresses.net is great, But I think I got someone on the phone when they weren't in the best mood. I have no regrets about the path I chose. I didn't pay the cheapest prices. I think for dunlop excluding extra soft sleeponlatex and for a narrower selection of all types of latex being ready at hand sleepez and mattresses.net take those crowns, But I preferred to have more choices and at least for me people who at least for me could answer all my questions freely, openly and kindly.

Just as an example of somethings I bought. It's not easy to find 3" extra soft dunlop or 6" of ild 28 radium talalay to be sent out immediately.

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Last edit: by mattress maven.

DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 17 Sep 2015 11:29 #4

Hi mattress maven,

If you are attracted to the idea of designing and building your own DIY mattress out of separate components and a separate cover then the first place I would start is by reading option 3 in post #15 here and the posts it links to (and option #1 and #2 as well) so that you have more realistic expectations and that you are comfortable with the learning curve, uncertainty, trial and error, or in some cases the higher costs that may be involved in the DIY process. While it can certainly be a rewarding project ... the best approach to a DIY mattress is a "spirit of adventure" where what you learn and the satisfaction that comes from the process itself is more important than any cost savings you may realize (which may or may not happen).

If you decide to take on the challenge then I would either use the specs (if they are available) of a mattress that you have tested and confirmed is a good match for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) as a reference point and try and "match" every layer and component in your reference mattress (including the type and blend of latex, the thickness of each layer, and the firmness of each layer as well as the type of cover as well) as closely as possible or use a "bottom up" approach (see post #2 here ).

Other than this ... there really isn't much I can add to the comments from the two members that have already provided some great advice.

If you are uncertain about the thickness of your cover you can always order it last when you are fairly certain about the thickness of the layers that you will end up using in your design.

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Last edit: by AdminTMU. Reason: Updating link to https: status

DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 17 Sep 2015 13:00 #5

Also one important thing to note when you buy uncovered latex like this is that the cuts can be up to an inch off (not sure if this is the case ktt, since it happened to be perfectly cut), You can get a queen size piece that is 61 x 81, and it's really almost impossible to cut with an electric knife by yourself. So it is a really good idea to wait until the end to get your ticking with a zipper - I prefer a zipper. If you get a piece like that sleeplikeabear or diy are really flexible and should be fair and not charge you extra for unusual sized ticking of 61 x81. KTT will make you a 100% cotton cover especially for your latex pieces, if you purchase from them -- but without a zipper.

And just so you know at least for me the feel of Radium International and Global Talalay are completely different as different from each other as the they are in comparison to the feel of Dunlop.

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Last edit: by mattress maven.

DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 17 Sep 2015 14:14 #6

I haven't heard that before Maven - how does the feel differ between Radium and Global Talalay?

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DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 17 Sep 2015 15:30 #7

In my experience (remember this is only me), if you take a 2" thick piece of latex in what one could call soft or medium soft and lie on it -- bear in mind every year nr latex mattresses/topper from the same manufacturer will be different much like wine differs from year to year due to the fact that you can't control the weather's effect on the rubber trees and the way each batch of nr latex is frozen and/or baked. It's an art making nr latex beds..

These toppers were laid upon the floor, a 33 ild radium talalay 6" and 28 ild radium talalay 6." Their properties were pretty much the same whether on the 6" thick pieces or on the floor. The dunlop was the only one I didn't feel like I was bottoming out on my back on the floor. it still cradled a bit, But even though i bottomed out on the other two on the floor, they were still as buoyant, wavy and bouncy but offering not a modicum of protection from the wood below..

The Radium 100% nr talalay with an ild 23 will jiggle and almost wave. If I bounce my hand on it. my hand will rise like I hit a trampoline or bounced a ball on a hard surface (it's pretty cool how high my hand will fly), But it's much softer than a trampoline. When I lie on it, I feel like it's buoyant like I'm floating on air not water. But it still meets you 1/2 way so to speak like when you are ballroom dancing with someone..

For me, the Global Talalay N2 (20-24.99 ild) doesn't jiggle or wave. It bounces a little.. i feel like it's taking an impression of my body when i lie on it, but I'm not sinking into it, It doesn't meet me half way like Radium talalay does, It's not holding me up quite the same way.as Radium. If I bounce my hand on the surface, it bounces up 1/2 as much. To me it's the half way point between dunlop and radium in terms of buoyancy.

If you take a piece of latexgreen soft dunlop rated at 23 ild your hand will barely bounce upwards when you smack it down. When I lie on it I feel like I'm lying something soft and firm at the same time. Whereas the experience of laying on talalay at this ild is just soft but with different types of buoyancy. Let me add l like lying on dunlop and talalay, but dunlop is like lying on soft dirt in the woods, not wet dirt taking an impression of my body; just fine dirt that's moving out of the way and cradling me. It's definitely more down to earth, so to speak, than the other two. i would rate it from my testing as the equivalent of n3 in global talalay and 28 in radium.

But as to my actual topper choice: in the end it was an extra soft 2" piece of dunlop that I needed. I thought i was going all talalay. From the reviews i read I thought it was the most appealing, but in the end I was surprised by what my body responded to best. My DH went for .23 ild radium. He feels like he's in a rolls royce of a bed now.

For us the perfect base is a 6" 28 ild nr talalay Radium core.

We just cut the 2" thick latex pieces easily with an electric knife to fit our halves of the bed,. and we have our own personal comfort beds. After trial and error we sleep happily and we don't care about change in firmness' in the middle.

I think this bed would've been impossible to buy ready made.

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Last edit: by mattress maven.

DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 18 Sep 2015 08:43 #8

Thanks very much to all of you - I appreciate the comments.

@djgoldb: I'm a little surprised that you recommend against the topper approach. The reason is that I would have thought that the separate topper would help that top layer feel softer and let the shoulders sink in a bit more (based on both my own trying out of the PLB with the topper, as well as what I've read in different posts here). In your experience did the separate topper reduce support too much relative to including the topper in the cover? Or that it bunched up and was a hassle to deal with that way? Or does including a layer in a stretchy cover not change the feel relative to using it as a topper, whereas including it in a quilted cover would?

Also, when you had 9" of latex inside the 12" cover, did you not have problems with the layers shifting apart and creating a gap in the middle?

Finally, out of curiosity, what 11" configuration did you end up going with?

@ mattress maven: Thanks much for your suggestions regarding the different retailers, and for your description of the differences in feel. I am curious about all these different materials, but if I'm being honest, even the more limited set of permutations possible with different thicknesses, configurations, and ILDs of Global Talalay blended talalay latex are enough to make my head spin. Further allowing the possibility of going with Dunlop or Radium blended talalay or Global Talalay natural may actually be enough to make me completely crazy :). But more practically, I don't think I have the option of trying a lot of those, so I think I may roll with Global Talalay blended talalay (which felt pretty good in a store) and try not to think about the possibility there is something better out there.

@ Phoenix: Thanks for the feedback - I am more or less going to model things after the PLB nature or pamper, which felt pretty good. Thanks also for the site - I'd be embarrassed to admit how much time I've spent reading your and other posts on here - I think if I had spent that time working instead, I probably could have just bought 3 or 4 different beds and thrown out the ones that didn't work well :).

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DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 18 Sep 2015 09:29 #9

TX - I found that the topper approach is a pain. Yes, it is softer, which is nice for your shoulders, but I find that my hips cause everything to moves around and it folds up like a burrito. You end up with the middle being much softer than the sides because of the folding effect - it just isn't comfortable in my opinion. I suppose if you had a king size 3 inch topper, it would have enough substance to stay put and the other person on the other side would keep it from folding up. But with twin xl sides, I strongly liked it inside the cover. I also would note that I found that when you have a soft topper outside the mattress - it compresses to its maximum much more than if its inside (ie - the layers compress sequentially rather than all at once) - which makes it feel hard and uncomfortable because it is so compressed.

I can't speak for other covers, but the sleepez cover is pretty tight, even when you have 9" in a 12" cover. I probably would not want to keep it with less than 10 inches, but that is mostly because the material on the top was somewhat loose. I did not have a problem whatsoever with the latex itself shifting. Regarding a crack - you can feel it but it isnt obtrusive. If you want no crack, get a 1 inch kingsize piece as your top layer.

In terms of my setup, I still fiddle with it sometimes, but more or less I ended up with (from top to bottom), 1 inch of N3 talalay, 2 inches of 5.3 lb memory foam, 2 inches of 24 ILD blended - as my comfort layer. Under that, the middle third is 36 ILD (2 3" layers). The top third is N3 talalay (2 3" layers). The bottom third is N3/36 (3 inches each).
- The bottom sounds more complex than it really is. I originally had 3" 36, and 3" N3, but zoned it by cutting the 36 ILD portion out from the top third and putting it under my hips (and then moving the N3 under my hips to where the 36 had been). Ends up looking like:

N3 36 N3
N3 36 36

I am also perfectly fine with putting the same 5 inch comfort layer on top of 34 ILD dunlop all the way across. It doesnt let my shoulders sink in as much, but its fine and simpler. I may end up switching to 1 inch of memory foam and replacing it with another inch of N3. Basically I just wanted something to assist in letting my shoulders sink, and reducing the jello-y-ness of an all-talalay bed. Memory foam is great for both.

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DIY mattress build plans - any suggestions? 18 Sep 2015 11:06 #10

Hi TX_Man,

I would keep in mind that different people may have very different experiences or opinions about any mattress design and there are also people who use a mattress/topper combination that works better for them than using the same layers inside the mattress cover. There is more about the effect of having a separate topper vs having the same layer inside the mattress cover in posts #3 and #4 here and in this topic .

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Click here for TMU Discount Codes if purchasing from Our Trusted Members.
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Last edit: by AdminTMU. Reason: Updating link to https: status
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