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making my own mattress from shikibuton layers and memory foam 25 Jun 2020 14:12 #1

Basic problem: I move pretty often and seriously hate moving a mattress. I also hate that mattresses are super hard to recycle once they run out of life.

I came up with a possible solution but would love advice on it. What if I got some shikibuton layers and stacked them, possibly with a memory foam topper? That way I could disassemble the mattress for moving or airing. If a layer wears out, it’s made of a single material so could be easily replaced and the used one repurposed — my partner sews, so we could turn cotton/wool batting into throw pillows, foam into floor pillows or dog beds, and compost (in municipal compost) any wool/cotton/latex components that are no longer usable.

My details: mostly side sleeper, sometimes stomach, partner is side/back. Both of us are small to medium sized people — 5’4” but not skinny; I’m pregnant but it’s early yet. We’ve been sleeping on a Keetsa Tea Leaf Supreme and have been perfectly happy with it except that it’s wearing out after 8 years or so. This is a soft mattress made of a layer of their memory foam (“BioFoam”, def greenwashed) over a firmer foam core.

My concerns:

— no one where I live seems to sell these items in person (I’m in Colorado) so I can’t try stuff before buying, and the Futon Shop and Soaring Heart don’t have great return policies. Anyone know of online stores with better return policies? Anyone know a Colorado store with in person trials for shikibuton?

— Would a 3” memory foam topper on a 3” wool or cotton shiki be enough? Do I need an intermediate layer of latex? I'm thinking of the cotton/wool shiki as the base layer for firmness, and it's appealing partly because of the ease of recycling/repurposing. If so, is there a best place to buy it? How do I know how firm to go?

— Do layers slip without adhesive or tufting? Is a mattress cover enough to prevent that? (We’re considering moving up to a king if size is relevant.)

— Would these do best on tatami mats, or would a slat situation be sufficient?

— I’ve been considering the Keetsa biofoam topper solely because I’ve been happy with our existing bed, but I’d welcome recs for a higher quality memory foam topper with a similar feel. It doesn’t have the sort of aggressive tempurpedic memory foam feel, and I think there’s a fiber topper that helps keep it from being super hot (though I can always get a wool pad for that).

I read the overviews and searched the forum for shiki and diy but still had a bunch of questions. Looking for info purely about shikibuton has led me mostly to folks who want to put the shiki away daily, which is not for us. I welcome pointers to existing resources/threads/posts and would be happy to modify anything that’s not within forum guidelines.

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making my own mattress from shikibuton layers and memory foam 29 Jun 2020 13:45 #2

Hey Rad1x,

Thanks for your patience with the New Topic button issue and for your question :) ! I'll admit, I was a bit curious to see what you had on your mind, it was worth waiting for as a new post topic for sure. Quite a coincidence too, was just chatting recently with consumer @lp130 about sleeping on shikibutons. Moving on now…

I move pretty often and seriously hate moving a mattress. I also hate that mattresses are super hard to recycle once they run out of life…I came up with a possible solution but would love advice on it. What if I got some shikibuton layers and stacked them, possibly with a memory foam topper? That way I could disassemble the mattress for moving or airing. If a layer wears out, it’s made of a single material so could be easily replaced and the used one repurposed — my partner sews, so we could turn cotton/wool batting into throw pillows, foam into floor pillows or dog beds, and compost (in municipal compost) any wool/cotton/latex components that are no longer usable.


This concept sounds interesting; I like your take on sustainability with this potential project, sounds like many others would enjoy the future repurposed pillows, dog beds and compost you could recycle at some point. These are creative, forward-thinking ideas :) ! For other consumers who may be following your research and aren't familiar with a shikibuton, it is a traditional Japanese mattress, generally made of 100% cotton, a natural/ eco-friendly minimalist product that is laid out over a tatami (straw mat) when in use. They may involve other natural layers such as latex or wool as well.

I read the overviews and searched the forum for shiki and diy but still had a bunch of questions. Looking for info purely about shikibuton has led me mostly to folks who want to put the shiki away daily, which is not for us. I welcome pointers to existing resources/threads/posts and would be happy to modify anything that’s not within forum guidelines.


I do not have personal experience with shikibuton mattresses or opinions about the best way to approach a DIY model for your project. I did a search on "DIY shikibuton" and saw a great deal of resources via YouTube, Pinterest and Reddit, so others are out there making their own versions too. After reading several blogs, these points seemed to stand out, (1) the shikibuton requires regular airing to avoid mold from moisture absorption and (2) generally two 3" shikibuton mattresses are used stacked for optimal comfort, either over a tatami or slatted foundation.

So Rad1x, looking forward to hearing what thoughts TMU consumers may have that are more constructive; good luck and looking forward to hearing how you decide to proceed.

Thanks,
Sensei
Sensei(@ TMU Team)
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making my own mattress from shikibuton layers and memory foam 23 Jul 2020 09:24 #3

Rad1x,

Have you tried Holy Lamb Organics ? My 4-year-old uses their twin-sized Wool & Latex Shikibuton on a slatted bed so we never put it away but we do rotate and flip regularly. These are the company's care instructions:

Before folding up for storage, give your Shikibuton a few quick shakes. A few times a year, refresh your Shikibuton with fresh air on an overcast day (direct sunlight can break down latex over time); it can easily be draped over a porch or deck railing. If keeping your Shikibuton in use for an extended period of time, alternately flip (turning it over) and rotate (head to foot) every few months for even wear. Spot clean only.
The Shikibuton is designed to rest on a breathable surface. We recommend placing it atop a slatted bed frame or, if placed on the floor, a roll of slats. We offer a variety of beautiful bed frames that pair perfectly with this mattress. Make sure your mattress has what it needs for proper support.

The shikibuton feels sturdy (Dunlop latex is known for durability) so I don't think it's problematic to keep it out permanently for use if cared for and supported properly, which is great because the queen- or king-sized versions would be cumbersome to move on a daily basis. Although it is very firm, I find it quite comfortable for sleeping on my back and it's not bad on my stomach (I'm 5'3' with an average build). My son likes his bed but we plan to purchase one of their Wool & Latex Toppers and possibly a Happy Lamb Fleece anyway. They also have Quilted Toppers which may offer a softness you prefer. I don't think these items would slip around when stacked but you could contact their customer service to ask. We use a wool puddle pad and absorbent cotton mattress pad on top of ours so eventually we will be layering in the following order: shikibuton, mattress topper, happy lamb fleece, wool puddle pad, cotton pad, sheets. Sounds like a lot but we haven't had any issues with shifting or accidents getting past the wool puddle pad layer. You probably don't need as much mattress protection as a preschooler but who knows, your water could break during sleep or years later your kid might decide to visit at night to wet your bed instead. The stinker.

The shikibuton and toppers are refundable minus a 20% restocking fee and return shipping fees. HLO is pricey but they occasionally offer discounts and sales--I strongly suggest signing up for their e-mails--and clearance items. I've had a great experience with product quality and customer care so I believe the cost is justified. I've ordered one of their sample materials kits before, you might be interested in that. You should call or e-mail them with your shiki questions, I'm sure they'd be happy to help.

HLO also sells an innerspring crib mattress manufactured by Green Cradle , another amazing company. We bought one of those directly from GC online because they were running a sale. I recommend calling the store and speaking with the owner Edward because he is knowledgable, helpful...and might cut you a deal. The mattress is perfect and I can see it easily lasting the 8+ years we'll require it but they also offer a latex version which might have increased durability.

We also have a 5-inch, queen-sized Wool and Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress from The Futon Shop. I purchased it for co-sleeping on the floor and nursing comfortably (if you decide to take that route, I swear the best position is lying down on your side so long as you don't fall asleep on your little one). I wouldn't purchase this product again because it didn't offer me enough support and exacerbated continued sciatica after the birth of my second child. It is also too plush for a baby. Maybe a latex layer underneath would improve comfort but suffocation in a young infant would still be a risk. We didn't invest more because it's not our main bed and I needed it low to the floor. Anyway, the answer to your question is yes, you most likely need a latex layer but I would recommend a firm one at the base. I suppose you could build your mattress in stages with the wool shiki first, adding a latex base layer later on if you find it uncomfortable (my guess is you'll feel bed slats through the wool shiki).

I don't know of any stores in Colorado and haven't tried the Keetsa so I can't recommend anything with an equivalent feel.

Hope this is helpful for you. I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching materials, mattresses, and bedding so it would make me feel better if someone else finds what I learned beneficial. I think your idea about building your mattress is great and isn't too different from customizing the layers of a one-piece mattress. Your mattress may require more special care than a conventional one but you'd have the ability to swap pieces as your needs change or if an item is damaged.

Best wishes on your mattress hunt and pregnancy!

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making my own mattress from shikibuton layers and memory foam 23 Jul 2020 14:25 #4

This is SO HELPFUL, thank you very much. I already ordered a 3" wool and cotton shiki from the Futon Shop and had planned to get a firm latex underlayer (as well as one of those coconut coir bed rugs for added stiffness) to go with it, so I'm going to hope that that provides adequate firmness. But we can probably add an additional layer on top of it if we need to. And I'm definitely planning to add some water protection -- between birth and a newborn, this year has a good shot at being pretty messy.

Do you know how to test whether a mattress is firm enough for an infant? I'm not planning to co-sleep as plan A, but I have heard from so many friends that sometimes you just end up co-sleeping that I want to create a safe environment in case it happens.

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