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Not long ago, latex mattresses were considered a luxury sleep item. But thanks to the online mattress market boom over the last decade, today latex mattresses are more accessible and affordable for everyone.
People prefer latex mattresses due to their immense health benefits. They’re usually made from natural materials, stay cool, and are comparatively durable. The best latex mattresses in the market are also easily customizable, making them a worthy investment for years to come.
In fact, 80% of latex mattress owners are happy with their purchase due to the numerous advantages of latex mattresses. They relieve pressure like memory foam but offer support and bounce similar to innerspring. Latex beds are particularly effective in reducing backaches and muscle stiffness.
But, not all latex mattresses are made the same. Today you have a large, albeit confusing, variety to choose from. So, how do you select the best bed for your sleep needs?
Through this guide on how to buy a latex mattress, we aim to help you understand different latex types and factors you must consider before making a purchase.
So, if you’re ready to upgrade your slumber experience, this may very well be the only guide you need to read before bringing a latex mattress home.
But, let’s begin by understanding all the different types of latex mattresses in the market.
Latex mattresses are made from latex foam layers, alone or in combination with other mattress materials. Although you may feel confounded due to all the different options, true latex mattresses are available in only two basic design configurations.
True latex mattresses are made only from latex foam, both in comfort and the support layers. Such beds have stacks of latex foams of different comfort levels, densities, or types. Most all-latex foam mattresses have customizable firmness, easily altered by rearranging the layers.
With the popularity of hybrid mattresses, many manufacturers now offer latex hybrid beds. They use latex foam in comfort layers, often topped with a Pillow or Euro top of premium organic wool. However, the support layer is made of pocketed coils, wrapped individually to enhance the conforming ability of the mattress.
Some manufacturers use only one layer of latex foam either in comfort or support layer of the mattress. Rest of the mattress has other foams, usually memory foam. Latex proportion in such beds is too low to give you any prominent advantages of latex mattresses.
Soft latex foams with low indentation load deflection (ILDs) are used in comfort layers to enhance the comfort and refreshing feel of ordinary mattresses. ILD determines the softness or hardness of latex foam. When used as comfort layer, the ILD is usually 20 – 29 unless you’re looking at a very firm mattress.
Latex foam is usually not used in the support core of a combined foam mattress. However, some manufacturers do use high ILD, high-density latex foams in the lower layers. Latex holds well under pressure and is desirable for deep compressional support for heavier body parts. That’s why latex works better as the middle transition layer instead of in the base as support foam.
So, to summarize, you can reap the benefits of sleeping on a latex bed either on full-latex mattresses or the hybrid ones. When only one layer of latex foam is present, it’s not enough to alter the entire feel of the mattress.
In fact, these combined foam mattresses are anything but latex beds. The health benefits, slumber quality, and durability expectations, all are close to what you’d expect from a regular foam mattress. If you feel indecisive, pros and cons of latex mattresses can help you understand the trade-off.
Now that you know about different mattress designs involving latex foams, let’s have a close look at what latex foam is and how it affects your mattress choices.
Have you ever wondered what latex exactly is? Well, it’s merely a milky white fluid, or sap usually obtained from rubber trees, Hevea Brasiliensis. This fluid coagulates and becomes solid if it’s left to stand in the air.
But, latex foams in the mattress market today are altogether a different story. Let’s have a look at two basic types of latex foams:
Natural latex is the most popular and most desirable latex foam. It’s made from 100% natural and often organic, rubber trees’ sap. Moreover, the manufacturers ensure the latex production process uses only naturally occurring, healthy, and eco-friendly materials. As a result, natural latex has no issues of toxic off-gassing.
The primary processing steps include:
1. The sap is extracted from trees
2. It’s whipped and placed in the mold
3. The sap is vulcanized in the mold to form latex foam
4. Foam is taken out of the mold and washed
5. Foam is dried to create the final product
Based on how the sap is vulcanized, there are two main latex foam manufacturing processes, the Dunlop and Talalay process. The resultant foams are slightly different in their composition, features, and properties.
Read our comprehensive guide where we pitch Dunlop against Talalay to help you figure out their similarities and differences and how they impact the comfort and support of your latex mattress.
It’s the old, time-tested method of creating latex foam. The resultant product is firmer, denser, bouncier, and relatively affordable.
Talalay process is comparatively newer. Talalay is usually softer, more flexible, and durable than Dunlop. It’s a little pricier as well.
Synthetic latex is not harvested from any trees but made from petrochemicals and emulsified polymers. Synthetic latex foam mimics the properties of natural latex but is less resilient and less durable.
Unlike natural latex mattresses, synthetic latex has strong chemical off-gassing. The familiar rubber smell stays with synthetic foam for a long time. On the other hand, if you’re allergic to natural latex, you can buy synthetic foam to experience similar comfort and support.
Natural latex mattresses are also relatively expensive. Synthetic latex mattresses are quite cheaper, but you need to care for them properly to enhance their lifespan.
Let’s have an overview of natural vs. synthetic latex properties.
|Durability||Natural latex is more durable, while synthetic latex starts to crumble at the edges sooner.|
|Resilience||Natural latex has a natural bounce while synthetic latex is less springy|
|Off-gassing||Natural latex has no off-gassing, but synthetic latex has strong odor|
|Allergy risk||Natural latex can cause allergies, while synthetic latex has no such risks.|
|Cost||Synthetic latex is more affordable|
|Certifications||Most synthetic latex foams are not certified|
Natural latex becomes softer with time whereas synthetic latex becomes harder
Synthetic latex is cheaper but crumbles quickly, whereas natural latex is durable but costs substantially; the blended latex attempts to find the sweet spot for cost vs. durability.
As the name implies, blended latex mattresses use both synthetic and natural latex foam in its construction. Although it varies from brand to brand, mostly blended latex mattresses use 30% natural latex and 70% synthetic.
So, if you’re allergic to natural latex, you’ll most likely face the same issue with blended latex. But, other than that, you get a good trade-off for durability and cost, while still enjoying the advantages of latex mattresses.
With your knowledge about all the different latex mattresses on the market, you’re one step ahead in your mattress hunt. All that’s left is to figure out the best latex mattress that fulfills your personal preferences.
Below we have listed the most important factors that you must consider before selecting your dream latex bed. Correlate your sleep requirements to unique properties of different latex types and discover your perfect match.
Always check the type of latex foam in the mattress. The properties and benefits of your latex mattress depends on whether you choose natural, synthetic, or blended latex. The production processes, Dunlop or Talalay, further alter the qualities of your bed.
Not only does your choice of latex type affect the performance of your mattress, but also the cost, value for money, and hence, your overall satisfaction from the product. Therefore, always make sure you know which type of latex mattress you’re buying.
Sometimes the manufactures use blended latex with only a little natural latex and try to pass it for a natural product. So, it pays to look beyond the labels and dig deeper into the specs so you can make an informed choice.
The comfort and support of the latex foam depend on its processing. Dunlop is firmer and more supportive compared to Talalay or synthetic latex. Dunlop keeps your spine aligned perfectly, best for you if you need backache relief. It also has more bounce and holds well under pressure.
Dunlop foam is often favored for support core. Talalay is softer and more flexible with cushioning feel comparable to memory foam, sans unwanted sinking. If you sleep on your sides or suffer from joint pains or muscle aches, Talalay offers amazing pressure-relief.
The best thing about latex is its ability to resist body impressions and hold under pressure. That’s why it supports all body types and sleeper positions so well. If you prefer more support, go for Dunlop, if you crave plush comfort, choose Talalay or Talalay blended latex.
Know the ILD of the foams to understand the firmness level offered by the mattress. ILD defines how much the foam compresses under your pressure. It ranges from less than 14 for very soft foams to above 38 for very firm comfort level.
Foams with ILDs below 14 are too soft to support you properly. Similarly, ILDs above 38 are too hard for comfort. Ideally, you should look for ILD between 25 to 35 to get the right mix of comfort and support.
However, ILD must not be confused with support. Higher ILD means the foam requires more pressure to compress. Support, on the other hand, depends on a lot of mattress features such as density.
Density is one of the most critical factors that determine the durability of your latex mattress. The cells in high-density foams are packed tightly together. As a result, they don’t wear out quickly.
The comfort, support, motion isolation, and many other properties depend on the density of foams. High-density latex mattresses last you a long time. But, the more the density, the higher the price.
So, if you’re looking for budget options, a low-density natural latex mattress is better than synthetic or blended one. Also, note that the break-in period for high-density latex is usually longer as well.
Most latex mattresses have customizable firmness to suit your changing sleep preferences over time. Usually, latex mattresses are made by layering foams of different densities or ILD. Some manufacturers also layer Dunlop and Talalay layers to create a unique feel for their customers.
To change the mattress feel, all you have to do is rearrange the layers per your liking.
Most brands also offer split sides so each partner can customize their side of the bed. Moreover, if one layer wears off, or isn’t comfortable for you anymore, you can easily swap it instead of changing the entire mattress.
A cool sleep surface is one of the biggest advantages of latex mattresses. If you sleep hot, you don’t need any cooling mattress toppers on your latex bed. The pinholes in the foam and its open-cell structure let the heat escape rapidly.
Moreover, most latex mattress brands use natural materials such as cotton, wool, seaweeds, or horsehair in the batting, quilting, fire socks, and mattress covers. All these materials absorb sweat and dry quickly, further enhancing the heat distribution for the entire mattress.
The firmer the latex foam, the cooler it is. So, if you prefer the cradling soft latex beds, you might experience some heat retention. Synthetic and blended latex mattresses tend to heat up even more. But, you can use a cooling latex mattress topper with such sleep surfaces.
Ease to change sides and shift in bed is another great advantage of latex mattresses. Since they’re resilient and have a natural bounce, you NEVER feel stuck in a latex bed.
Whether you prefer to sleep like a rock or change positions by the minute, you get consistent comfort on a latex slumber surface. The foams respond to your movements instantly.
When you sleep in one position all night, pressure points formation is a significant concern. The flexible latex surface cradles you and pushes you up just enough to keep you in a healthy slumber posture. However, if you sleep on your side, the plusher Talalay is a safer choice.
Customers have a pretty divided opinion about the bounce and springy nature of latex. Bed sharing couples love the bounce but often feel concerned about motion isolation.
Generally, Dunlop has the best bounce. But, if you’re a light sleeper, partner movements may disturb your rest. So, consider less dense Dunlop or buy a Talalay latex mattress, as it’s less bouncy and you won’t feel your partner move. Synthetic latex has even less bounce.
Latex beds usually have better edge support than other foam mattresses. If edge support is for you, consider latex hybrid mattresses as well.
Natural Latex is dust mite and mold resistant, so if you have allergy concerns, latex mattresses are the best. Since these foams are breathable, they stay dry and make the mattress unfavorable for germs growth or bed bugs settlement.
The natural latex mattresses have a new rubber smell, but it tends to disappear quickly. Hence there’s no risk of sensitivity to chemicals in the absence of toxic off-gassing. However, synthetic and blended latex are known to off-gas and their chemical smell lingers on for a while too.
Of note, some people are allergic to natural latex, making it an unsuitable choice for them. In that case, you can buy synthetic latex because it has little to no latex-allergy causing proteins.
Latex mattresses are far more durable than other foam and innerspring mattresses. A high-quality natural latex mattress can easily last you for over a decade. With proper care, you can extend its life even more.
The latex foam has a strong polymer structure, and the layered construction further stabilizes the mattress. Comfort layers wear and tear the most over the years. But usually, latex mattress brands easily exchange the sagged or torn latex layers for you.
This way, you can improve the lifespan of your mattress without spending a lot of money. You don’t need to throw your old mattress in a landfill to reclaim your restful snooze
Natural latex mattresses are quite expensive. But, they offer you an unmatched slumber experience with their refreshing and cozy sleep surfaces. The health benefits and eco-friendliness are a bonus!
The incredible advantages of latex mattresses surely make them worth the splurge. However, you can easily find budget options or discount latex mattresses from online brands like SleepOnLatex. By eliminating the middleman, these affordable brands give you excellent value for money without compromising the quality.
You can further reduce the price point by tapping into synthetic or blended latex mattresses.
Latex mattresses are generally, and you may need help to set them up or move them upstairs. So, while you’re testing and selecting your latex mattress, inquire about your delivery options as well.
Some brands like Spindle deliver their mattress layers in separate boxes. You can easily carry each box to your bedroom and set up the mattress yourself. On the other hand, Zenhaven sends its mattress uncompressed with a free white glove delivery, so you don’t need to lift a finger.
Warranties usually range from 15 – 20 years for quality latex mattresses. Some brands also offer lifetime warranties or lifetime comfort guarantee. Latex mattresses are durable, and comfort guarantees can further enhance the lifespan of your bed.
So, even if you spend more for your latex mattress today, you will enjoy a comfortable rest for decades. And, if at some point, your bed feels too hard or too soft, you can swap your top layers under the comfort guarantee to get the latex mattress firmness you like.
If you own a good-quality latex mattress, chances are; it’s HEAVY (~ 60 lbs to more than 190 lbs). Customers rate the weight as one of the biggest disadvantages of latex mattresses. Even if it’s thin, latex foams are dense, so even the thinnest of them can be challenging to move, lift, and rotate without help.
On the flipside, zippered mattress covers make cleaning a breeze. You can remove the cover and sometimes, it’s safe to machine wash it as well. You can air out the layers individually and vacuum between them.
It’s a serious consideration if you intend to use your old foundation. Your latex mattress needs a sturdy and firm surface that can support its weight. You can use it on a platform, slatted, or adjustable base. But the slats must not be more than eight-inch apart.
Latex is springy/wobbly itself and needs a stable surface to offer you its best support. That’s why latex beds shouldn’t be used with box springs. The springs compress under your weight and are unable to provide the consistent base surface to your latex mattress. Moreover, it may increase motion transfer, undesirable for couples.
If you strive for a natural lifestyle, a latex mattress is as green as it gets, right?
If you prefer green living, it makes perfect sense to invest in a natural latex mattress. But your mattress is eco-friendly only if raw materials come from sustainable sources, processed without harmful chemicals and no other nonbiodegradable materials are used in its construction and design. The fire retardants, adhesives, batting, all need to be taken into consideration.
Naturally, consumers cannot find out all this information about all the latex mattress brands out there. That’s where mattress certifications come into the picture. Various certifying authorities test mattress materials, their sources, supply chains, and production processes to ensure they comply with standards of health and safety.
Look for independent third-party certifying agencies, funded neither by brands nor government. Here’s a summary of some popular and most accredited certifications for your quick reference.
|Certifications||What does it mean?|
|Greenguard Gold||Certifies the products are safe even for kids and elderly with VOCs levels well below the allowable limits.|
|Oeko-tex||Certifies the entire production chain for the absence of any hazardous chemicals|
|Eco-Institut||Certifies the emissions are below the allowable limits|
|GOLS||Certifies that the latex foam is made from organically grown and harvested rubber plants|
|GOTS||Certifies the textile, mostly cotton and wool, used in the latex mattress are grown and harvested organically|
These certifying agencies are extremely strict about their policies and needless to say, it’s not easy to get certified. Therefore, with certified products, you can rest assured you’re getting a good quality mattress.
Americans are quite conscious of their health as well as how human activities impact the environment. That’s why natural latex mattresses are in huge demand nowadays.
We hope that this latex mattress buying guide will help you navigate the sleep market more confidently and make a well-informed choice for your slumber needs.