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100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 06 Nov 2016 07:07 #1

I'm in the process of building a mattress through Sleep EZ. After speaking with Sterling at Sleep EZ, who was extremely helpful, I have a few options.

Option 1:
- Three (3) 3" layers of 100% talalay (soft, medium, firm)

Option 2:
Layer 1: Blended talalay (30% natural, 70% synthetic), Soft
Layer 2: Blended talalay medium (30% natural, 70% synthetic), Medium
Layer 3: 100% Dunlop, Firm

From what I have read from your articles and other topics 100% talalay is the most expensive option but is it also the most durable and supportive option?

One of your articles mentioned that many in the industry including one of the largest manufacturers of Talalay believe that in very soft ILD's talalay latex made of 100% natural rubber may not be as durable or resistant to impressions as the blended version.

What would be considered very soft for 100% natural talalay?

Would the blended talalay offer better support versus 100% natural? How about 100% dunlop?

Considering 100% Natural Talalay is the most expensive material I would think the best value would be option 1 as it is only $100 more to switch to the organic latex.

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Last edit: by Fish17. Reason: subject revision

100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 06 Nov 2016 08:54 #2

Hi Fish17,

I'm in the process of building a mattress through Sleep EZ. After speaking with Sterling at Sleep EZ, who was extremely helpful,


As you are aware, SleepEZ is a member of this site which means that I think very highly of them and that I believe that they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, knowledge, and transparency. They are extremely knowledgeable about latex and different configurations, and I wouldn't hesitate to use their advice as a source of guidance.

I have a few options.
Option 1:
- Three (3) 3" layers of 100% talalay (soft, medium, firm)
Option 2:
Layer 1: Blended talalay (30% natural, 70% synthetic), Soft
Layer 2: Blended talalay medium (30% natural, 70% synthetic), Medium
Layer 3: 100% Dunlop, Firm

From what I have read from your articles and other topics 100% talalay is the most expensive option but is it also the most durable and supportive option?


As you’ve read, I would consider all latex (synthetic, blended or natural) to be very durable options to use in a mattress, and is not so much of a “good” or “better”, choice, but instead a personal preference as part of your personal value equation, as well as an issue of budget.

One of your articles mentioned that many in the industry including one of the largest manufacturers of Talalay believe that in very soft ILD's talalay latex made of 100% natural rubber may not be as durable or resistant to impressions as the blended version.
What would be considered very soft for 100% natural talalay?


Usually, the “ultra soft” in Talalay would be considered in the 14-19 ILD range. It depends upon the term used by different manufacturers. Different manufacturers describe their latex to be more durable depending upon their blends and construction processes. Radium will generally state that their 100% NR Talalay is more durable than their blended, where Talalay Global has stated that their blended Talalay is more durable than their 100% natural. Again, these are all good quality products and you can get to a point of “splitting hairs” pretty quickly. I believe you may have read this from a previous post of mine: " In the lower talalay ILD's ... partly because of the difficulty of creating a homogenous mixture and partly because of the thinner cell walls ... and because the lower ILD's are usually used in the comfort layers which are subject to greater mechanical stress ... then the shear forces inside the mattress and the higher elasticity of the NR (allowing the "thinner" material to stretch beyond its tensile limit) may work against it and it could break down faster than a blend. The testing of the producers of Talalay and the experience of many manufacturers seems to confirm this although Radium uses a different curing past in their all natural talalay and they have told me that their testing indicates that their 100% natural Talalay even in lower ILD's has a similar durability to their blend.”

Would the blended talalay offer better support versus 100% natural? How about 100% dunlop?


This is a question that comes up once in a while so I think this is the perfect time to repost a bit of a synopsis I did for another forum member about quite a few of these differences. It’s more information than you probably want, but it might be useful for others reading this post. It can provide a bit of the "back story" of some of the recommendations that I provide.

Talalay in the same ILD as Dunlop will be less dense (will weigh less than Dunlop per cubic foot of material) because it has more air in it. This is the basis for the angel food cake vs the pound cake analogy.

Talalay is also more open celled than Dunlop and would be more breathable.

Resilience is a measure of how high a steel ball dropped on a material will bounce expressed as a percentage of its original height. It is somewhat opposite to hysteresis which is how much energy it absorbs (called hysteresis). Both Talalay and Dunlop are highly resilient but Talalay has greater resilience (a ball will bounce higher) and springs back more powerfully while Dunlop has less hysteresis (it absorbs less energy overall but it doesn't decompress as strongly). The biggest difference between them is what is called compression modulus. This is a measure of how quickly a foam gets firmer as it is compressed more. ILD is generally (but not always) a measure of how much weight it takes to compress a foam by 25% of its thickness. At compression depths less than this Dunlop will be softer (compress more with the same weight) while at compression depths more than this Dunlop will be firmer (compress less with the same weight). They have a different response curve in other words and since Dunlop gets firmer faster than Talalay ... even though the different response curves may cross at the 25% compression level ... beyond this Dunlop will not compress as much as Talalay which is why it is generally considered more supportive or "firmer". Another way to say this is that Dunlop starts off softer and then ends up (at compression levels more than 25%) firmer than Talalay.

This is also part of the reason that Talalay is considered to be more "springy" or "lively" than Dunlop because you will generally sink in deeper which means there is more up and down "movement" or "ride" with Talalay and it springs back more strongly and quickly. This creates a different "feel" between the two materials and is also why Talalay is often considered to be more pressure relieving than Dunlop because it allows for a deeper cradle in the same ILD ... while Dunlop is considered to be more supportive because it doesn't compress as deeply with greater weight ... all else (including ILD) being equal of course. Some people will prefer the feel of one over another and because each has different firmness levels available ... one is not "necessarily" better than another in either pressure relief or support layers if the right layering or ILD is chosen for each ... but you may need to choose a softer ILD with Dunlop than with Talalay to get similar pressure relief in the comfort layers or a firmer Talalay vs Dunlop to get similar levels of support in the support layers. A "one step" difference in ILD which would be about 4 - 5 ILD would be "in the range" for most people where they felt similar.

This is an ongoing debate in the "latex community" about blended vs 100% natural Talalay and much of the information that is out there is based on promoting one over the other based on somewhat inaccurate information rather than recognizing the small differences between the two. these comments apply to Talalay and there are other factors involved in Dunlop.

SBR latex (synthetic) is a less dense material with a slightly different chemical structure than natural rubber. It is made from two chemicals which are Styrene and Butadiene while natural rubber is primarily Isoprene.

These two polymers (SBR and Isoprene) are similar but not the same. In addition to being primarily Isoprene ... natural rubber also contains other compounds in varying amounts including proteins, resins, fatty acids, and sterols. These additional ingredients are missing from synthetic rubber (including synthetic Isoprene).

Natural rubber is more elastic, denser, and less consistent in its structure and particle size. It also softens as it ages (the crosslinks in its chemical structure break over time)

SBR rubber is less elastic, less dense, and more consistent in its particle size and structure. If becomes stiffer as it ages (the crosslinks in its chemical structure increase over time).

Natural rubber has particles of different sizes which tend to "agglomerate" (stick together) so it is thicker and more sticky than SBR which is thinner and has a more consistent particle size. This means that natural rubber is more difficult to work with and "gums up" the machinery more. NR is also more expensive than SBR. This means that natural rubber products including Talalay latex tend to be more expensive than synthetic or blended rubber products including Talalay.

Because natural rubber is a more dense material ... it weighs more than SBR and would have a higher compression modulus (gets firmer faster) but because of its elasticity would also be a little more conforming.

NR resists impressions better than SBR but NR will tend to soften more than SBR (although there are other variables here which may affect this)

There are other differences between the two materials as well ... some of which come from the different types of rubber itself and some which come from the additional ingredients that are mixed in with the natural rubber which alter how it acts ... but these are the primary "practical" differences.

In practical terms all of these differences are relatively small in the cured foam and many people would not feel significant differences between the two in side by side testing. Natural would be slightly more "springy or buoyant" and more "supportive" while synthetic would generally feel a little softer and be slightly more pressure relieving (would allow for slightly more sinking in and cradling). The thicker the layers that are being compared the more it may be possible to feel a difference (for example someone may not feel the difference between two 3" layers of each material but they may feel a difference between 9" of each material).

In the higher ILD's which use more rubber and less air ... any differences in durability between them would be negligible. In the lower ILD's which use less rubber ... these differences may be more noticeable. Latex International acknowledges the differences between their natural and blended Talalay here while Radium has told me that they use a special curing past for their 100% natural in the lower ILD's which should negate any differences in durability.

So the bottom line is Talalay made from natural rubber is more expensive, comes in a less specific range of ILD's, is heavier, slightly more elastic and springy, has a higher compression modulus and more supportive, may get softer and develop impressions slightly faster in lower ILD's, and is more natural. The primary reason that it was introduced (in 2005) is to cater to the "natural" market who are willing to pay more for a product which has has a more natural source even though it may not be as durable.

Both types are usually Oeko-Tex standard 100 certified in terms of harmful substances or VOC's and offgassing.
ADMIN NOTE:Removed 404 page link | Archived Footprint: oeko-tex.com/media/downloads/Factsheet_OETS_100_EN.pdf

Those who value a more natural product for personal reasons and are willing to pay for it (in price and possibly lower durability), or who can feel a difference and prefer the feel that comes from the greater elasticity and compression modulus of the natural would likely choose the 100% natural Talalay.

Those who value the increased consistency, greater choice of softness/firmness levels, or lower cost of the blend or who can feel a difference in pressure relief, would likely choose the blend.

Both are great choices and in the end the choice between them is part of each person's individual "value equation"

This is really a matter of personal preference and depends on which qualities are most important to you. You can read more about the different types of latex in this article and in post #6 here along with post #2 here but in essence the blended Talalay is more durable (especially in the softer layers) than the all natural, has a longer warranty, it is more pressure relieving (it is less dense than the all natural and allows for a slightly deeper cradle), and is less expensive than all natural Talalay, and has the same testing for safety in terms of harmful chemicals and offgassing of the finished product. On the other hand the 100% natural Talalay only uses latex raw materials that come from the rubber tree (natural rubber or NR) while the blended uses a blend of natural rubber and synthetic rubber (Styrene Butadiene or SBR which is synthesized mainly from petrochemical sources). In other words ... it really depends on whether natural sources for their own sake is more important than the performance and value benefits of using the blended latex.

In your personal configuration, and using the theoretical information provided earlier, you certainly could choose the blended Talalay in the upper layers (perhaps confirming the brand of 100% NR being offered for the upper layer and potentially modifying that choice) and go with the Dunlop in the lower layer and end up with a product that would be extremely durable and also at a bit of a cost savings, as you mentioned.

I look forward to learning about what you decide to do.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by Administrator TMU. Reason: Updating link to https: status and Removed Page Not Found Link (404 Error)

100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 06 Nov 2016 13:05 #3

Thank you for the information.

Based on what you provided I gathered the following:
- 100% talalay is less durable than a blended talalay.
- Talalay offers more pressure relief while dunlop offers more support.

A couple more questions.
1) Would you consider the second layer of a 3 layer, 3" inch per layer thick (9" total) a support layer or a comfort layer? or is it more of a progressive layer.
- if it's a comfort layer to me it makes more sense to go talalay as it offers more pressure relief, which is important for me as I am a side sleeper..
2) If I do elect Talalay for the 2nd layer would it make more sense to get a denser material? Unless I misunderstood the information because talalay has more air in the foam it requires more density to have equivalent firmness to dunlop.
For example in lieu of medium for Dunlop elect for firm for the talalay? Or would a medium dunlop be the same as far as comfort and support as a medium talalay.

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100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 06 Nov 2016 17:21 #4

Hi Fish17,

Thank you for the information.


You’re welcome. :)

Based on what you provided I gathered the following:
- 100% talalay is less durable than a blended talalay.


I think you're getting just a little confused here (which I know can be easy with all of this information), as I specifically quoted information from both Radium and Talalay Global that one considers their blended Talalay more durable and one considered their 100% NR Talalay more durable (It’s in the third paragraph of my reply). Additionally, these differences are so small that I consider all latex (blended or not) to be a high quality choice and don’t make one blanket recommendation of one over another (see the second paragraph of my earlier post). You’ll do well choosing either one.

- Talalay offers more pressure relief while dunlop offers more support.


I think here you’re referring to the difference in compression modulus between the two type of latex. Dunlop does tend to get “firmer faster” than Talalay after the 25% compression mark, so many people consider it to be “firmer” or “more supportive.” Both types of latex offer excellent support, but because of this unique feature in the difference in compression modulus, many people prefer Dunlop in their deeper layers, although I know quite a few who prefer it in their upper layers as well.

A couple more questions.
1) Would you consider the second layer of a 3 layer, 3" inch per layer thick (9" total) a support layer or a comfort layer? or is it more of a progressive layer.
- if it's a comfort layer to me it makes more sense to go talalay as it offers more pressure relief, which is important for me as I am a side sleeper..


All of the layers work together to form an entire system, with the uppermost layers contributing more to overall comfort. 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.

In the system you’re describing the second layer could be called a “transitory layer”, but really the term doesn’t mean anything. As you’re a side sleeper, and if you’re a bit curvier, you may have more of an affinity for Talalay versus Dunlop here. It really is a personal opinion. I would use the expertise of the people at SleepEZ and their experience fitting many clients in similar situations like yours and ask for their opinion.

2) If I do elect Talalay for the 2nd layer would it make more sense to get a denser material? Unless I misunderstood the information because talalay has more air in the foam it requires more density to have equivalent firmness to dunlop.
For example in lieu of medium for Dunlop elect for firm for the talalay? Or would a medium dunlop be the same as far as comfort and support as a medium talalay.


Talalay is usually referred to by ILD (although a higher ILD will be more dense). It is common for people to use a bit of a higher ILD in their second layer, but not always. Some people prefer a firmer surface comfort, and they go with a bit firmer on top and then a bit softer in the middle. Again, it comes down to personal preference. Dunlop will be denser at a similar ILD to Talalay, so sometimes a manufacturer will recommend Dunlop for a middle layer instead of Talalay, but at the same ILD that the Talalay was going to be, for a bit more “firmness” as things progress down, especially if that person is of a higher BMI. Again, this is where the expertise of a knowledgeable manufacturer comes into play, as they best know what to recommend what tends to have more successful outcomes with their particular componentry.

I want to help you avoid getting too far down into that rabbit hole of specifications. While knowing the specs that can affect the quality and durability of the layers and components in a mattress is always important ... unless you have a great deal of knowledge and experience with different types of mattress materials and components and their specs and different layering combinations and mattress designs and how they combine together and can translate them into your own "real life" experience that can be unique to you (which would generally be a very small percentage of people) ... I would tend to avoid using complex specifications to try and predict how a mattress will feel or perform for you. When you try and choose a mattress based on complex combinations of specs that you may not fully understand or only based on specs for single layers or components that may not be as relevant or meaningful as you believe it is then the most common outcome is "information overload" and "paralysis by analysis". Even the best mattress designers in the industry are often surprised at what a mattress they design "should have felt like" based on the specs when they design it and what it "actually feels like" when they test out their new design.

The only way to know whether any specific mattress design or combination of layers and components is a good "match" for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP with any certainty will be based on your own careful testing and/or your own personal experience when you sleep on it. And that’s why I always suggest to use the expertise of some of the more knowledgeable manufacturers here on our web site to assist you in making your best choice. And that is the beauty of having a component system – you have the chance to reconfigure what you have, or order in different layers as time goes on.

Having said that ... you can see some general comments about the properties of an "ideal" mattress in post #4 here.

Let me know what you decide to do. I’ll be interested in your final choice.

Phoenix
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100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 13 Jun 2017 19:18 #5

I hope it's OK to tag on to this existing thread rather than start a new one.

I'm trying to decide if 100% natural talalay is best for me in a comfort layer of if I could get away with a cheaper blended version. It seems like a lot of the technical comparisons provided here are between 100% natural and 100% synthetic. Is it safe to assume that blended would fall between the two extremes?

Another question I have is in response to some statements you've made:

Phoenix wrote: So the bottom line is Talalay made from natural rubber is more expensive, comes in a less specific range of ILD's, is heavier, slightly more elastic and springy, has a higher compression modulus and more supportive, may get softer and develop impressions slightly faster in lower ILD's, and is more natural.


and from this thread:

Talalay made from NR has more elastic qualities than the blended version and is slightly springier, and more supportive.


How does being "more elastic" translate to how it feels on a mattress?

I had a very good experience with a natural talalay 3" comfort layer on a pocket coil/latex hybrid. It was in the low 30s IDL. In softer versions I was in the bed, in harder versions I was on the bed, but with this, I felt like I was floating -- in a good way. (And Dunlop felt too traditional; with the talalay, I felt like once I sunk in, it also gently pushed back to help with alignment. Does that make sense?)

I don't care about pressure relief as much as I do alignment. I am concerned about breathability and support. Durability is important, too, but maybe slightly important as the others. Based on what I've read, and the ILD I'm interested in, it seems like 100% natural would be a better choice for me. Any thoughts?

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100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 14 Jun 2017 11:10 #6

Hi The Toddler,

I'm trying to decide if 100% natural talalay is best for me in a comfort layer of if I could get away with a cheaper blended version.


I believe the article you’re searching for is in post #2 here (which you may have already read), but it summarizes in one place the characteristics of synthetic, blended and natural Talalay.

How does being "more elastic" translate to how it feels on a mattress?


The natural, being a bit more elastic, can be a bit more “buoyant” and will firm up faster (have a bit of a higher compression modulus) than the synthetic. This might be noticeable to some people in the softer upper layers of a mattress, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Most of the Talalay produced by Talalay Global and Radium is blended.

I had a very good experience with a natural talalay 3" comfort layer on a pocket coil/latex hybrid. It was in the low 30s IDL. In softer versions I was in the bed, in harder versions I was on the bed, but with this, I felt like I was floating -- in a good way. (And Dunlop felt too traditional; with the talalay, I felt like once I sunk in, it also gently pushed back to help with alignment. Does that make sense?)


Yes, that makes perfect sense. In the combination you tried that was the more “medium” of your group, it provided for you the best balance between conforming and support.

Based on what I've read, and the ILD I'm interested in, it seems like 100% natural would be a better choice for me. Any thoughts?


My best advice is to go by your personal results from testing the combinations in person. Were you able to compare a blended and natural Talalay of the same ILD from the same manufacturer side by side? All latex will generally be a quite durable material, and I wouldn’t be able to predict if you would be able to discern the difference between a blended Talalay and a natural of a similar ILD. Some people can tell the difference or they prefer the natural for personal reasons, so there really wouldn’t be an incorrect choice here. Both types would be breathable and supportive, with the natural theoretically getting a bit firmer than the blended when compressed past 25% or so of its thickness. The alignment that is important to you (which is also what I would have you prioritize) will be derived mostly from the innerspring unit you are using. Durability between the two layers should be comparable.

Phoenix
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100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 14 Jun 2017 14:51 #7

Phoenix wrote: I believe the article you’re searching for is in post #2 here (which you may have already read), but it summarizes in one place the characteristics of synthetic, blended and natural Talalay.


Yes, but I got confused because most of the references there or above talk about SBR, which is 100% synthetic, right? Or is there no such thing as 100% synthetic talalay? I just wanted to be sure that was was said about SBR above was applicable to blended latex.

Yes, that makes perfect sense. In the combination you tried that was the more “medium” of your group, it provided for you the best balance between conforming and support.


How much of that feeling do you think was influenced by the cover? Since I plan to order from an online retailer, I can get the same latex, but not quite the same cover. It was a Savvy Rest cover I tried in person, but your previous comments indicated theirs is probably a little tighter than other natural covers I would find elsewhere.

My best advice is to go by your personal results from testing the combinations in person. Were you able to compare a blended and natural Talalay of the same ILD from the same manufacturer side by side? All latex will generally be a quite durable material, and I wouldn’t be able to predict if you would be able to discern the difference between a blended Talalay and a natural of a similar ILD. Some people can tell the difference or they prefer the natural for personal reasons, so there really wouldn’t be an incorrect choice here. Both types would be breathable and supportive, with the natural theoretically getting a bit firmer than the blended when compressed past 25% or so of its thickness. The alignment that is important to you (which is also what I would have you prioritize) will be derived mostly from the innerspring unit you are using. Durability between the two layers should be comparable.


Sadly, no, I don’t think there’s a place I could go to test them side by side. (Maybe a foam dealer, but I wouldn’t go in there if I have no intention of doing business with them.) But I think I have enough info now to start calling the online retailers. Thanks!

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100% Natural Talalay vs Synthetic Talalay vs 100% Dunlop 14 Jun 2017 16:08 #8

Hi The Toddler,

Yes, but I got confused because most of the references there or above talk about SBR, which is 100% synthetic, right? Or is there no such thing as 100% synthetic talalay? I just wanted to be sure that was was said about SBR above was applicable to blended latex.


The examples are meant to compare the differences that both natural and synthetic “bring to the table” in the blended Talalay, which is by far the most common style of Talalay produced. Latex International (now Talalay Global) produced a line of synthetic Talalay mattresses called Intela-Tec in their Pure Latex Bliss line in 2014, but it no longer exists. I don’t know if they are pouring 100% SBR layers for anyone currently.

How much of that feeling do you think was influenced by the cover? Since I plan to order from an online retailer, I can get the same latex, but not quite the same cover. It was a Savvy Rest cover I tried in person, but your previous comments indicated theirs is probably a little tighter than other natural covers I would find elsewhere.


The layers closest to your skin tend to have the most dramatic impact upon your comfort (including the mattress pad and fitted sheet), and the mattress cover over the layers of latex will impact the overall feel of the completed mattress. And yes, the Savvy Rest cover is a bit more of a “stiff” covering, but is does soften slightly over time.

Phoenix
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