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normal S&F Mattress Surgery and Rebuild

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05 Feb 2017 06:34 #1 by cg22

Phoenix,

Firstly, your site and forum (and posts) are outstanding. Thank you for creating and maintaining this site. It is invaluable!!! We have learned a lot here.

Our current mattress is an S&F Kensington King (about 15 years old). We considered purchasing a new equivalent high quality mattress but the prices are literally out of this world ($2k-8K). We are also very concerned about chemicals used too (poly itself, then fire retardants, etc. We started seeing depressions in our S&F at about 5 years but no real support issues until now.

Our S&F is made extremely well in my opinion. It is double sided w/ wool pillow top. We kept it like new and always flipped it regularly. The materials used in construction (fabric, springs, sewing, etc.) are very good. However, things fail over time and we understand that. We are not over weight (165 and 140 lbs each).

So we decided to open it up and found the upper layers of poly foam (2" worth) has failed. I put a level on the springs and laid on them and they seem fine (heavy gauge coil design too.

When new the, S&F perform flawlessly, My wife would not even notice me getting in bed (very good isolation). Firmness was perfect too.

In summary, we wish to replace the failed 2" foam/polyester with something better like Talalay 2" N4 topper foam. I have a sample of the Talalay and it seems very soft and then to have 1-2" of wool pillow top makes me think it will be too soft and not acceptable. We prefer a medium-firm mattress with a soft top. I know there is no rule of thumb for customizing/building your own mattress. We just want to get the "original" back feel out of our S&F.

Attached are some pics of the labels, layers (1.5") and the polyester (1") that sits on top of spring. Layer order is: coil spring, 1" polyester, 1.5" poly foam, 1-2" wool pillow top.

Thoughts on what to use and at what ILD or density? We prefer natural products. My concern is that the density (and ILD) and feel of the different foams vary greatly, especially when layered. I am confused and don't want to make a big mistake by ordering the wrong Talalay ILD.

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05 Feb 2017 06:55 #2 by cg22

Update,

I just found this short video on youtube. This is a slightly different model but very close to our Kensington. This clearly shows construction (layers).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbcmcKfyu2U

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05 Feb 2017 11:16 #3 by MattressToGo

Haha! You found one of my videos that I informally post online for friends to show salespeople on how mattresses fail.

Your Kensington I think is just a slightly "younger" version of the model I cut open, but it's in essence the same mattress. The injection molded foam encasement is excellent, and the spring unit was a 12.75 gauge LFK unit - very robust. But as in most mattresses your weak link would be in the foams. You certainly could (with quite a bit of "unzipping" ) replace the two upholstery foam layers. From what I recall about those beds, something in the "mid 20s" for a latex layer wouldn't be a bad substitution. That convoluted foam layer was a bit firm as I recall. If you want to firm up the feel a bit, you may want to try upper 20s. Talalay will give a bit more of a buoyant feel than what you had. Dunlop will be a little closer to the poly foam you're replacing, but still more responsive.

Also, don't forget that you have some polyfoam in the quilt panel that you will not be able to replace, so that foam certainly will have gone through quite a bit of loss of its support factor, so realize that you're going to have to live with a bit of that sagging in that panel. Also, the wool will have compressed a bit.

Overall, you have some good "bones" there. Personally, and this is just my opinion, I might try to "shoehorn" a little thicker piece of latex in there than what I was replacing (maybe .5" - 1" more) to try and make up for the los of comfort in the quilt panel. I'd be curious as to how that might feel.

Have fun with your project!

Jeff Scheuer
Mattress To Go


Jeff Scheuer, The Beducator™
Owner, Mattress To Go
America's Home of Beducation®

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05 Feb 2017 12:36 #4 by Phoenix

Hi cg22,

I would add a “ditto” to Jeff’s remarks, but I would also add that if you are planning to remove and replace all the foam layers in your mattress and only re-use the cover and you are attracted to the idea of designing and building your own DIY mattress out of separate components that are purchased from one or several different sources 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).

Phoenix


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05 Feb 2017 16:11 #5 by cg22

Thank you Jeff and Phoenix for your fast replies. Jeff, the pillow top was firmer when new. If possible, I will replace the foam in the pillow top with maybe 1" Talalay. I will also use a more sturdy foam for the lower layers and, like you mentioned and also, try stuffing with 2.5.3" of Dunlop. Thanks for pointing out the "bouyancy" aspect of using Talalay, I was unaware of this but it was suspect from felling/playing with the sample I received.

Since this is a two-sided mattress I have 2 tries (so to speak) at getting the mattress back to it's original feel and comfort.......at least getting one side close to what I like.

I did read post #15 and understand the risks or using trial and error with a DIY project. I am an engineer by trade and have a pretty good understanding of materials including metals, so I am confident (and adventurous) taking this project head on. I have redone things like head liners in cars (gluing) and working with fabrics to a degree too. MY wife and I had re-done our sofa and loveseat (multi-layer cushions) with great success, So I am confident we get get this mattress close to perfect, if not better than new.

I will certainly keep you both posted on the progress and end results. I am one to always share both success and failures so that we do not have to re-invent the wheel every time (teamwork).

Phoenix, thank you for confirming Jeff's recommendations, this helps us out a lot!!!

One last question: I recall the injected foam edges being a bit more firm than they are now. I am reluctant to touch it but there may be a way to firm up the edges that I am not aware of. I was thinking of cutting out 2x3" section of the sidewall (the whole perimeter) and glue in some high ILD 2x3" poly strips to the existing injected walls to bring it back to firmness. Thoughts?

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05 Feb 2017 17:37 #6 by MattressToGo

Yes, it would be normal for the foams to become softer over time (even though the wool would compress and become a bit firmer - but that's a small part of the entre mattress system).

The more foam you can remove out of the quilt panel without destroying it, the better. It appears as if you are good at this, so I'm confident you can perform this quite well.

As for attacking that edge reinforcement, that's a tough one to tackle. It really is a great system, and I'd worry about impacting the structural integrity of the entire unit if you cut out a section. You've probably already noticed how well that encasement surrounds the spring unit. Being an engineer, you're probably able to be precise enough to cut out a consistent center strip. Whatever you use for a replacement, I would make sure it is a very high density and quite high ILD, and bond it completely to the area above and below. I've pulled apart a few of these encasement systems before, and the easiest part is indeed cutting out the center section.

I'm curious of seeing what happens with your experiment!

Jeff Scheuer
Mattress To Go


Jeff Scheuer, The Beducator™
Owner, Mattress To Go
America's Home of Beducation®

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06 Feb 2017 08:07 #7 by cg22

Jeff,

I found this on ebay. I think it will make up for the failed foam (centers) in the pillow top as it is tapered - 0.5" on the ends and 1.25 in the middle. A lucky find that should solve the failed foam issue in the pillow top.

www.ebay.com/itm/Convoluted-Foam-Mattres...1w-dFFrfXm9EoFD9tgpg

I don't know the quality or density but being new it should perform well for a few years.

As you suggested I am going with the Dunlop latex instead of Talalay and it will be 0.5" thicker than what I am replacing.

Our plan/design:

We are going to leave the sidewalls, pillow top (with foam) and 0.5" foam/polyester that sits on the springs alone. Add add 2" Dunloplatex topper on top of the 0.5" foam/poly. Then the above tapered foam on top of of the Dunlop.

2 Questions:

1) Do we need to isolate the latex from the poly foam with a sheet of polyester fabric (or similar)? I have not seen how latex mattresses are assembled. There may be specific chemical reactions when layering different materials that may cause premature breakdown. Do you know the names of any fabrics?

2) What ILD/density of Dunlop Latex should I use? I am thinking upper 20s as you suggested. I know the ILDs of Dunlop and Talalay are different and not familiar comparing the two scales used. I have a sample of N4 Talalay and it is quite buoyuant/soft as you mentioned.

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06 Feb 2017 11:15 #8 by Phoenix

Hi cg22,

While I’m not Jeff, I hope you won’t mind me commenting here. :)

The polyfoam you linked to is only 1.2 lb, a lower quality item. As you’re going through so much work rebuilding this mattress, I’d recommend sourcing a better piece of foam at 1.8 lb density or above.

1) Do we need to isolate the latex from the poly foam with a sheet of polyester fabric (or similar)? I have not seen how latex mattresses are assembled. There may be specific chemical reactions when layering different materials that may cause premature breakdown. Do you know the names of any fabrics?

No, you should have no worry there. Latex has been used next to polyfoam for decades. Latex has a high coefficient of friction and is quite grippy, so placing it directly against the polyfoam layer will help hold it in place. Manufacturers will often use a very thin layer of an approved spray-on adhesive along the perimeter of where the foam is placed to help secure it into position, but you may not be interested in doing that.

2) What ILD/density of Dunlop Latex should I use? I am thinking upper 20s as you suggested. I know the ILDs of Dunlop and Talalay are different and not familiar comparing the two scales used. I have a sample of N4 Talalay and it is quite buoyuant/soft as you mentioned.

Density and ILD tend to correspond with each other in latex, with a higher density resulting in a higher ILD. The ILDS of Talalay are not “directly” relatable to the ILDs of Dunlop, as Dunlop will have a higher compression modulus at the same ILD of Talalay. For the first 25% or so of compression the Dunlop will tend to feel a bit more plush than the same ILD piece of Talalay, but as it is compressed further it will “firm up faster” than Talalay. There is more detail about this in post #6 here . So if you were comparing two pieces of 24 ILD latex, the Dunlop will "feel firmer" than the Talalay piece.

If your piece of Talalay is from Radium (Vita Talalay), N4 would indeed be quite plush, approximately a 13 ILD. If the piece of Talalay latex was from Talalay Global, it would be firmer, in the range of a 30 ILD. For Dunlop latex, using Arpico’s Dunlop as a guide, a density of 75 kg/M3 would be an approximate 24-28 ILD rating.

As for which you should choose, that is of course up to your own personal comfort preference, and something I unfortunately can’t predict for you. I would check into any potential return/exchange policies that any foam retailer might have, just in case whatever piece you purchase doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped it might, as you are replacing foam that is not only old, but also a different type, in your mattress.

I hope that helps give you a little more guidance.

Phoenix


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17 Feb 2017 08:07 #9 by cg22

Guys,

Thanks for all replies.

2/17/17 update

We ended up purchasing 2" Dunlop (D95) firm topper and inserted it in place of the 1.5" poly. What an improvement! To make up for the worn 1" poly in the wool cover, I inserted a 32" length of the old convoluted poly across the center midsection and all is nearly 100% level and we have been sleeping normal again.

I used a section of old convoluted poly that was cut from the outer edge as it was not worn too badly. I purposely re-used this poly as it well gassed-off and seems to be in good enough shape for the intended purpose.

When laying in dead center of mattress is feels like when purchased from day one. The sleeping areas (centers) are still ever so slightly less firm. I am thinking the box springs (2) are a little worn and will experiment with inserting plywood in center to see if it firms up the sleeping areas a touch more. If the plywood cures this I plan to add more springs or wood to the 2 box springs.

We will be doing the other side of this S&F king with the same Dunlop next week and I am confident that it will improve things even more.

I am saddened to see that none, if any, manufacturers are making double-sided pillow top mattresses any longer. This will certainly shy us and many others away from purchasing a new one-sided mattress. Is there anyone making these any more?

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17 Feb 2017 13:11 #10 by Phoenix

Hi cg22,

We ended up purchasing 2" Dunlop (D95) firm topper and inserted it in place of the 1.5" poly. What an improvement! To make up for the worn 1" poly in the wool cover, I inserted a 32" length of the old convoluted poly across the center midsection and all is nearly 100% level and we have been sleeping normal again.

Look at you! You should have an honorary degree in the field of mattress surgery. B) I’m glad that you are enjoying the feel of your new revitalized mattress.

When laying in dead center of mattress is feels like when purchased from day one. The sleeping areas (centers) are still ever so slightly less firm. I am thinking the box springs (2) are a little worn and will experiment with inserting plywood in center to see if it firms up the sleeping areas a touch more. If the plywood cures this I plan to add more springs or wood to the 2 box springs.

In 2003 I think that you’d be using the MicroTek units in the foundation, and those were a made of a flexible polymer material encasing fiber strands, and I would expect that they would have fatigued a bit over time.

I am saddened to see that none, if any, manufacturers are making double-sided pillow top mattresses any longer. This will certainly shy us and many others away from purchasing a new one-sided mattress. Is there anyone making these any more?

While the major “S” brands have eschewed two-sided mattresses, they certainly are still manufactured. I know off the top of my head that Therapedic still has a two-sided line, and they are seventh largest in the industry. And almost all of your “ultra-premium” mattresses will still be two-sided as well. Your best selection by far for two-sided mattresses will be the smaller, more regional manufacturers, many of which still produce very durable two-sided products, even in pillowtop. Keeping a list of all manufacturers who make two-sided products is beyond my abilities to maintain, so you’d have to do your own searching to see if there were offerings for such a product in your area.

I hope your next modifications go well. Keep us updated.

Phoenix


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