Latex has many advantages over other materials when used as the core of a mattress. The first of these is its durability. It will easily outlast other types of foam and even quality innersprings. Latex mattress cores have been known in many cases to last over 20 years before needing replacing.
A second advantage is in its point elasticity. This means that it is not only very elastic (will return to its original shape) but that it can be compressed in a very small area without affecting or compressing the area beside it. This gives it the ability to instantly form a pressure relieving cradle that takes on the exact shape of the body. This means that in its softer ILD's it has a pressure relieving ability that is superior to most other materials and very similar to that of memory foam.
A third advantage is in its high resilience. This is its tendency to "spring back" to its original position and gives latex the ability to support the more recessed parts of the body that have larger gaps (such as the lumbar area) that need to be both filled in and supported.
Perhaps its greatest advantage though ... and this is not as often mentioned in an industry that talks mostly about ILD or the level of firmness when describing foam and other materials ... is connected to a specification called support factor (also called compression modulus or comfort factor). What this means is that latex has the ability to be soft and comforming when it is initially compressed and then become firmer more quickly than other materials when it is compressed more deeply. This means that even a relatively soft latex (28 ILD and higher) can be used as a mattress core where its upper softness can help to form a pressure relieving cradle while its deeper firmness can still provide excellent support (the ability to prevent heavier parts of you from sinking down too far) and keep your spine aligned. This also gives it the ablilty to adjust itself to different sleeping positions, body weights, and body profiles as you change position in your sleep. Because of these advantages, many consider it to be an ideal material.
While all materials can be measured using these specifications, latex is among the highest in every category, including some we haven't mentioned such as breathability and motion isolation. As its properties are becoming better known, it is also becoming more widely popular.
It is available in a wide range of firmness levels, typically from 14 (super soft) to 44 ILD (super firm), and in different varieties (Typically Dunlop and Talalay) and in natural or blended versions (as well as a less desirable completely synthetic version) which makes it possible to choose a support or comfort layer that is suitable for any set of sleeping conditions, body profile, weight distribution, and sleeping style, and using any layering method of mattress construction.
Latex by itself makes an excellent support layer material but it can also be combined with other materials in the support layers to enhance their qualities for those who are on a budget. It can also be used underneath any other material used as a comfort layer and is suitable for both differential, progressive, and zoned constructions.
Its only disadvantage is in the fact that it carries a higher price than other materials however in this website, and through our forum, you will quickly learn that latex, along with other high quality materials, is available for much less through alternative sources than the larger and dominant manufacturers and retail outlets would like you to believe. These smaller manufacturers who sell locally, regionally and online, and smaller, more service oriented and specialized retail outlets, exist in the hundreds across the USA and Canada and are just waiting to be "discovered".