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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 23 Apr 2016 12:28 #1

Hi all, thanks to everyone (especially Phoenix) who contributes to this site! I've read through quite a few threads and learned a lot. I'm planning to put together a DIY latex mattress. I'm leaning toward buying layers from sleeponlatex.com because they appear to have the best combination of price and quality for 100% natural Dunlop latex, but I'm hoping to get a little advice before I start on the mechanics of how different layers work together.

Some stats: I'm 5'10 and 170 lbs and an 80/20 back/side sleeper (I prefer being on my back if the mattress is comfortable that way), and my partner is 5'6" and 150 lbs and a weird mixture of twisted side/stomach and back sleeper.

If money weren't an object, I would ideally start with a 6" firm core and a 3" medium support layer, see how that feels, and then figure out what to do for the top (2" or 3") comfort layer (if anything). However, 6" cores are really expensive and 11-12" overall seems like overkill based on what I've read, so I was leaning toward starting with a 3" medium middle layer over a 3" firm bottom layer, seeing how we do on that, and then adding a third layer as needed (potentially a split twin XL if we want different things).

However, I stumbled across a 6" 100% Dunlop core at mattresses247's ebay site today (pasted below this paragraph). She's selling the firm (~ 40 ILD) for $749, which is considerably cheaper than anyone else's 6" core, and also much cheaper than doing two 3" firm layers. She confirmed that it's a solid piece, no glued layers or seams.

ADMIN NOTE:Retired Website | Archived Footprint: ebay.com/itm/272097630126?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&var=570907129784&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

My question: in terms of how latex layers work together, would there be much of a difference in feel between a) 3" of medium over 3" firm, and b) 3" of medium over 6" of firm? (Assume all layers are from the same supplier, 100% natural Dunlop, with medium ~ 30 ILD and firm ~ 40 ILD). Or would it be a waste of money to spring for that extra 3" of firm? I don't want to end up buying more latex than we really need.

[As background, here's more info on my perhaps wrongheaded thinking process: if the 3" of medium over 6" of firm actually feels good to both of us (we do prefer firmer mattresses), we could stop there are end up with a lower overall cost than buying 3 separate 3" layers. But since most of the recommendations I've seen (including from Valerie at mattresses247) suggest that at least one of us may prefer a soft/medium/firm layering, going the 6" core route might just end up costing more in the end and leave us with a needlessly thick firm bottom layer.]

Thanks!

Todd

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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 23 Apr 2016 15:30 #2

Hi mainertodd,

I'm hoping to get a little advice before I start on the mechanics of how different layers work together.

Some stats: I'm 5'10 and 170 lbs and an 80/20 back/side sleeper (I prefer being on my back if the mattress is comfortable that way), and my partner is 5'6" and 150 lbs and a weird mixture of twisted side/stomach and back sleeper.


While I can certainly help with "how" to choose ... It's not possible to make specific suggestions or recommendations for either a mattress, manufacturers/retailers, or combinations of materials or components because the first "rule" of mattress shopping (or in your case component shopping) is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress. There are just too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved that are unique to each person to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components or which type of mattress would be the best "match" for you in terms of "comfort", firmness, or PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own personal preferences) or how a mattress will "feel" to you or compare to another mattress based on specs (either yours or a mattress), sleeping positions, health conditions, or "theory at a distance" that can possibly be more reliable than your own careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial) or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ).

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 her e 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).

There is also more about primary or "deep" support and secondary or "surface" support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the "roles" of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between "support" and "pressure relief" and "feel" that may be useful as well.

For those who 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 as a reference point or blueprint and try and "match" every layer and component in your reference mattress as closely as possible or use a "bottom up" approach (see post #2 here ).

Post #4 here aalso includes a list of the better online sources for DIY materials and components that I'm aware of (and includes both SleeponLatex and Mattresses 24/7).

If money weren't an object, I would ideally start with a 6" firm core and a 3" medium support layer, see how that feels, and then figure out what to do for the top (2" or 3") comfort layer (if anything). However, 6" cores are really expensive and 11-12" overall seems like overkill based on what I've read, so I was leaning toward starting with a 3" medium middle layer over a 3" firm bottom layer, seeing how we do on that, and then adding a third layer as needed (potentially a split twin XL if we want different things).


This is the "bottom up" approach that I mentioned and would certainly make sense.

While you certainly aren't in a weight range that would "need" more than about 8" - 9" of latex or so ... there are certainly some people that may prefer it. There is more about the effect of thickness in post #14 here .

However, I stumbled across a 6" 100% Dunlop core at mattresses247's ebay site today (pasted below this paragraph). She's selling the firm (~ 40 ILD) for $749, which is considerably cheaper than anyone else's 6" core, and also much cheaper than doing two 3" firm layers. She confirmed that it's a solid piece, no glued layers or seams.


There is more about the pros and cons of a single 6" core vs two separate 3" layers in post #2 here .

My question: in terms of how latex layers work together, would there be much of a difference in feel between a) 3" of medium over 3" firm, and b) 3" of medium over 6" of firm? (Assume all layers are from the same supplier, 100% natural Dunlop, with medium ~ 30 ILD and firm ~ 40 ILD). Or would it be a waste of money to spring for that extra 3" of firm? I don't want to end up buying more latex than we really need.


Because the thickness of a mattress or individual layers inside it can affect the feel and performance of a mattress ... it would certainly make "some" difference yes. Some people are also more sensitive to differences between two mattresses and may notice the differences between two mattresses more than others.

[As background, here's more info on my perhaps wrongheaded thinking process: if the 3" of medium over 6" of firm actually feels good to both of us (we do prefer firmer mattresses), we could stop there are end up with a lower overall cost than buying 3 separate 3" layers. But since most of the recommendations I've seen (including from Valerie at mattresses247) suggest that at least one of us may prefer a soft/medium/firm layering, going the 6" core route might just end up costing more in the end and leave us with a needlessly thick firm bottom layer.]


While a 6" + 3" design could work perfectly for both of you ... the only way to know for certain whether any specific combination of layers and materials inside a specific cover (which can also have a significant effect on the feel, performance, and cost of a mattress) is a suitable "match" for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP will be based on your own personal experience. Having more layers can give you more options to customize the feel and firmness of the mattress but there are always risk/reward trade-offs and pros and cons to every choice you make when you are designing your own mattress.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by Administrator. Reason: Updating link to https: status

DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 23 Apr 2016 16:26 #3

There is more about the pros and cons of a single 6" core vs two separate 3" layers in post #2 here .

Because the thickness of a mattress or individual layers inside it can affect the feel and performance of a mattress ... it would certainly make "some" difference yes. Some people are also more sensitive to differences between two mattresses and may notice the differences between two mattresses more than others.


Thanks, Phoenix! The posts in that thread were helpful, as were your comments here. I guess the answer is that a 3" firm base vs a 6" base could matter, but the only way to know would be to try both of them, and since that's not a practical solution, we'll have to choose the option that seems to offer the greatest chance of success without wasting money unnecessarily.

That said, I think I'm leaning toward just the 3" firm layer, since that seems likely to be sufficient. Worst case, if it turns out we do like the ultra-firm feel and would have liked more of a firm layer, we could always buy another 3". It would cost a bit more, but it's probably a reasonable risk to take. That'll be part of the adventure!

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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 23 Apr 2016 16:41 #4

Hi mainertodd,

Thanks, Phoenix! The posts in that thread were helpful, as were your comments here. I guess the answer is that a 3" firm base vs a 6" base could matter, but the only way to know would be to try both of them, and since that's not a practical solution, we'll have to choose the option that seems to offer the greatest chance of success without wasting money unnecessarily.


I think it would be reasonable to "expect" that a mattress that is suitable for your specific needs and preferences would likely end up being in the range of 8" to 9" but it's certainly possible that it could be more or less than that depending on the choices you make and how each iteration or new addition works out for you based on your own actual experience.

I'm looking forward to any updates you have the chance to share and to finding out the specifics of your final design ... and of course to any other questions you may have along the way that I can help with.

Phoenix
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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 23 Apr 2016 18:10 #5

Okay, another theoretical question about how to firm up or soften a mattress. Let's say I started with a 6" core of medium firmness (~ 30 ILD) and one of us thought it was too soft and the other thought it was too firm. I assume there's no issue with putting 3" of a softer layer on one half to soften it up. In terms of structural integrity and feel, would it be okay to put 3" of firm on the other half? Would that side (3" of firm over 6" of medium) then end up feeling somewhere in between firm and medium?

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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 23 Apr 2016 18:59 #6

Hi mainertodd,

Okay, another theoretical question about how to firm up or soften a mattress. Let's say I started with a 6" core of medium firmness (~ 30 ILD) and one of us thought it was too soft and the other thought it was too firm. I assume there's no issue with putting 3" of a softer layer on one half to soften it up. In terms of structural integrity and feel, would it be okay to put 3" of firm on the other half?


Like most questions that have to do with mattress design and theory ... the only meaningful answer would be "it depends". In this case it would depend on whether you are talking about firming up primary support (which generally involves the deeper layers), secondary support (which generally involves the upper layers), or the "feel" of the mattress (which generally involves the top layers). There is more about this in my previous reply about primary and secondary support, pressure relief, and "feel" and how they interact together.

It's not unusual at all for a couple to have different needs and preferences and there is more information in the first part of post #2 here about some of the different ways that can be used to accommodate a couple that have very different body types or different needs and preferences in a mattress.

There is also no problem with having different firmnesses for each side of a mattress and there is also more information about the pros and cons of split firmness mattresses in post #2 here that may be helpful.

Would that side (3" of firm over 6" of medium) then end up feeling somewhere in between firm and medium?


Different people can have very different perceptions of firmness and softness compared to others and a mattress that feels firm for one person can feel like "medium" for someone else or even "soft" for someone else (or vice versa) depending on their body type, sleeping style, physiology, their frame of reference based on what they are used to, and their individual sensitivity and perceptions. There are also different types of firmness and softness that different people may be sensitive to that can affect how they "rate" a mattress as well (see post #15 here ) so different people can also have very different opinions on how two mattresses compare in terms of firmness and some people may rate one mattress as being firmer than another and someone else may rate them the other way around. This is all relative and very subjective and is as much an art as a science.

A person that is heavier may sink into the mattress more deeply and feel more of the properties of the layers that are deeper in the mattress while others that are lighter may only feel more of the properties of the layers that are closer to the top of the same mattress.

All the layers and components in a mattress (including the cover and quilting) will affect the feel and performance of every other layer in a mattress above and below it and the mattress "as a whole" to different degrees so what you feel on a mattress is the combined effect of all the layers and the "mattress as a whole" more than the effects of just a single layer but in very general terms the properties and firmness of materials and components that are closer to the top surface of a mattress will tend to have a bigger effect on the overall "feel" and firmness of a mattress than materials that are deeper in the mattress, thicker layers will contribute more of their feel and firmness to the mattress than thinner layers, and a thinner layer would "allow" more of the feel and properties of the layer underneath it to "come through" than a thicker layer.

Both a "medium" layer over a "firm" layer (however you define medium and firm) and a firm layer over a medium layer would "feel" somewhere in between medium and firm but the firm layer over the medium layer would be more towards the firmer end of the scale and the medium over the firm would be more towards the medium end of the scale.

Phoenix
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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 17 May 2016 19:07 #7

An update: we bought 6" TwinXl cores in medium-firm (~5.3 lb/cu ft) and extra-firm (~5.9 lb/cu ft) from sleeponlatex. We've been sleeping on them for four nights. We're happy with the quality and the overall feel. My partner actually likes the extra-firm on its own (!), but I would like my med-firm side to be a little softer.

So, we're planning to add 2" to each side, one TwinXL soft and one medium. A question: if it turns out that I prefer the medium and my partner wants to keep that side as firm as possible, is it okay to put the 2" of soft underneath the 6" of extra-firm? Or will that compromise the long-term durability of the latex (e.g. by compressing the soft layer too much)?

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Last edit: by mainertodd.

DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 17 May 2016 20:13 #8

Hi mainertodd,

Thanks for the update.

So, we're planning to add 2" to each side, one TwinXL soft and one medium. A question: if it turns out that I prefer the medium and my partner wants to keep that side as firm as possible, is it okay to put the 2" of soft underneath the 6" of extra-firm? Or will that compromise the long-term durability of the latex (e.g. by compressing the soft layer too much)?


It would probably have a relatively minor effect on durability on the bottom but it could have a more noticeable effect on the "feel" and the comfort and/or support of the mattress. If it turns out that the 2" of soft under the extra firm layer isn't a good "match" for her in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP compared to the single 6" layer then it would probably be worthwhile exchanging it for a firmer layer if necessary.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 19 May 2016 15:43 #9

Thanks, that makes sense--we'd essentially be trading a firm wooden base for a soft layer of latex.

At any rate, I think I definitely want to get a soft layer for my side. Sleeping on just the medium-firm, it feels firm and supportive when I first lie down, and I have no problem falling asleep, but after 5-6 hours I develop some mild pain in the middle of my back. I've been dealing with some persistent back pain for months, so this current pain is not necessarily caused by the latex, but it's at least exacerbated by it. I assume my shoulders and hips are not sinking in far enough to allow the latex in between to support my back.

I want to get a layer of soft (~20 ILD), but I'm undecided between 2" and 3". I want a softer feel, but I don't want it TOO soft. Do you suppose 2" will be enough to do that? Or will it still just feel mostly medium-firm?

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DIY latex mattress - question/advice on how layers work together 19 May 2016 15:53 #10

Hi mainertodd,

I want to get a layer of soft (~20 ILD), but I'm undecided between 2" and 3". I want a softer feel, but I don't want it TOO soft. Do you suppose 2" will be enough to do that? Or will it still just feel mostly medium-firm?


There really isn't any way for me to know. I would also keep in mind that there is no specific definition for what "medium firm" means or how it feels for any specific person.

As a very general guideline if you are looking for a "little to a fair bit" of additional softness and pressure relief I would probably lean towards 2" and if you are looking for a "fair bit to a lot" of additional softness and pressure relief I would lean towards 3".

I would also keep in mind that you can always add an additional inch of latex if you need to but unless you have access to a slitter you can't remove an inch from a thicker layer.

Phoenix
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