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making my own mattress from shikibuton layers and memory foam

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25 Jun 2020 14:12 #1 by Rad1x
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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29 Jun 2020 13:45 #2 by Sensei
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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