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Latex Mattress 18 Aug 2011 17:29 #1

  • AmandaP
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Hi, I was wondering if could recommend any manufactures/ retailers/ mattress Dealers in the Kansas City, MO regional area that sell natural latex mattresses. I am looking to purchase a new mattress and have been researching the benefit & differences between the Memory Foam & Latex Mattresses and have come to be undecided. Originally I was set on buying either a Temper-pedic or I Comfort memory foam mattress, but recently came across a latex bed at Hawn Bedding in Lee’s Summit, MO. I loved the mattress, but the only problem I had with it was that it was only an 8” mattress (6” of natural Dunlop latex & 1” of matting on both sides (flip able)). When speaking with the sales person he informed me that I would probably have to order custom sheets since the average sheet set is now 14”-18” pocket sheets. I did not have a problem with ordering custom sheets, but have since decided the mattress is thinner than I would prefer!
I was involved in a bad car accident a couple years ago and struggle with low back/ hip and neck pain daily. I contribute some of this pain to the inner spring mattress I am currently sleeping on. I am a side sleeper and prefer a firmer bed; I do not care for soft mattresses! In doing my research I have come across several retailers that claim to sell latex mattresses, but after speaking with someone I find out that most of these mattresses only have 1” to 2” of latex in the entire mattress. Also, several of the mattresses were made out of man-made or synthetic latex and if purchasing a latex mattress I would rather spend the money and have the added “green” benefits of natural latex. I am struggling to find a retailer/ manufacturers that sell the natural latex mattresses without all the added foam in my area. I have found a couple of websites, but am very nervous to purchase a bed without trying it out first (I am very picky about my mattress :). I have read several of your mattress forums and feel I have gained more knowledge about the mattress industry & different types of mattresses than when I first started looking, but still seem to be undecided. Can you please assist me?

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Re: Latex Mattress 18 Aug 2011 20:19 #2

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Hi AmandaP ... and welcome :)

One of the most misunderstood parts of buying a mattress is the difference between pressure relief and spinal alignment. The part of a mattress that provides the pressure relief (often called "comfort") is the upper few inches of the mattress called the comfort layer. The part of the mattress that provides the spinal alignment (often called support) is mainly the support layers which are under the comfort layers. Sometimes ... a single layer does both (as in the case of a single 6" slab of latex which has an inch or so of quilting on both sides) where the top part of the layer is soft enough to provide pressure relief but the material quickly gets "firmer" as it is compressed more and so can also provide "support" (it stops your heavier parts from sinking in too far). Dunlop latex that is "soft enough" to provide pressure relief also gets "firmer faster" than other types of foam so it is often used in "single layer mattresses.

The "firmness" or "softness" of a mattress overall is really meaningless as each layer (or part of a layer) needs to be looked at independently. The top layers need to be soft enough and "elastic" enough to take on the shape of your body to distribute pressure while the support layers need to be firm enough to stop your heavier parts from sinking in too much and causing you to sleep out of alignment.

For example ... the "ultra firm" mattresses sold by many major manufacturers may have ultra firm support layers (either an innerspring or foam) but will have "ultra soft" foam on top of this layer. Because you will "go right through" this ultra soft comfort layer ... you will feel the firmness underneath it but if you are a side sleeper and need a thicker comfort layer ... this ultra soft comfort layer will not provide proper pressure relief or hold up your more recessed body areas (like the lumbar). A mattress in other words needs to have BOTH soft parts for pressure relief AND firm parts for alignment. These 2 main "parts" of a mattress also interact and help each other do their main job. This interaction is also a part of both pressure relief and correct alignment. This is why it is so important to evaluate a mattress for pressure relief and spinal alignment separately rather than going by the "overall feel" of the mattress.

In the case of side sleeping ... the softer comfort layer needs to be thicker than other sleeping positions to accommodate the more "recessed" parts of the body while side sleeping. It needs to be soft and thick enough to take on the shape of the body to distribute pressure but have enough "progressive resistance" to hold up the same recessed parts (like the lumbar) while the support layers "hold up" the heavier and more "protuding" parts like the hips.

In other words ... looking for a "soft" or "firm" mattress in overall feel usually leads to choosing a mattress which either does not have correct pressure relief or provide proper alignment. Usually a "so called" firm mattress refers to the firmness of the support layers and does not take into consideration the need for the correct combination of pressure relief and spinal alignment with movement and changing sleep positions over the course of the night. Correct ... based on individual needs ... for both pressure relief and alignment is much more important than either "firmness" or "softness".

In the case of side sleeping ... a normal "starting point" for a comfort layer is about 3". This may be a 2" layer of softer foam which works in combination with the very upper part of a medium support layer or it could be a 3" layer of softer material which is over a firm or extra firm support layer. Overall, for most adult weights and sleeping profiles, a mattress should be about 8" thick to accommodate both comfort and support needs and changes of sleeping positions. A thinner mattress made of a material with very high "progressive resistance" like dunlop latex may work but will not be as likely to accommodate either heavier weights, changes in sleeping position, or less evenly distributed body weight. If it is indeed "too thin" for an individual, it may still work well with a 2" high quality topper over the mattress.

Another independent manufacturer that may be near enough to you and may be worth considering (besides Hawn of course) is ...

www.lebeda.com/locations.html (In St Joseph)

Another option you have is to use local outlets to do some field testing (without regard to price) to find out the specific mattress construction, materials, and layering that works best for you. Once you know this it is a simple matter to "duplicate" that construction through an online manufacturer who sells DIY mattresses (mattresses where you choose the layering). For example if you know that a mattress with 3" of 19 ILD Talalay latex over 3" of 28 ILD Dunlop latex over 3" of 36 ILD Dunlop latex works great for you ... then any mattress which has these same layers (or even slightly different layer combinations that provide equivalent pressure relief and spinal alignment) will work just as well regardless of brand.

There is a outlet near you for example www.eaglesrestnaturalhome.com/ which sells savvy rest mattresses and which gives you a choice of testing different layer combinations. While they (Savvy Rest) do not have the best prices ... it would allow you to find out exactly what type of layering works for you so there would be little risk in ordering the same layering and materials online from a manufacturer who can provide the same layering and material at a lower price.

Even local mattress stores that sell "mostly latex" mattresses (that are almost always overpriced) will allow you to "zero in" on the best mattress construction and layering for your needs which you can then "duplicate" through a DIY manufacturer like some of the members here.

In the case of Talalay latex, most is a blend of SBR (manmade rubber) and NR (made from the rubber tree latex). Both are much superior to other foam types which use "less friendly" chemicals. Talalay is also available in NR (no SBR) although it is more expensive and may be less durable than the blend in the very softest ILD's (around 14 ILD). Almost all high quality Dunlop latex is made from the more expensive NR since it is a less expensive maufacturing process and can still be less expensive than Talalay. I would certainly confirm this though to make sure that any Dunlop latex you are considering is NR. Talalay is usually preferred in comfort layers since it can be made softer than Dunlop and is more consistent in its softness throughout the layer. Either dunlop or talalay latex can be very good choices in a support layer and which type may work best for any individual really depends on the type, thickness, and ILD of the layering above it.

Hopefully this has helped and if you have more questions ... don't hesitate to ask.

Phoenix
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Re: Latex Mattress 24 Aug 2011 00:24 #3

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Thank you for the great information and suggestions, I greatly appreciate it! I plan on going to St. Joseph in the next couple weeks to try the latex mattress at Lebeda. I will let you know my thoughts after I have visited :).

Also, I have found a couple online mattress retailers that sell all natural latex mattresses. After reviewing both of their webpages they both seem to have great feedback and similar latex products. Do you know have any information or experience with either of these companies and the quality of their products?

www.plushbeds.com
www.habitatfurnishings.com

Again, thank you for the continued information and knowledge!

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Re: Latex Mattress 24 Aug 2011 02:47 #4

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Hi AmandaP,

Thank you for the kind comments :)

Yes, I am familiar with both plushbeds and habitat. Habitat isn't actually "factory direct" since they don't have or own an actual factory and their prices reflect this. Plushbeds is a "better than average" choice compared to most mainstream mattresses that many consumers end up buying but for most people they wouldn't be in the same "value" range as many other component mattresses that use similar materials and components and have similar or better options available and are in a lower budget range.

For example, Plushbeds' top of the line latex mattress has a 6" dunlop latex core and a 3" Talalay latex comfort layer with a wool/cotton quilting. These are good quality materials. They have a permanent "sale" which has never stopped (in spite of their "deadline") which I find a bit gimmicky. While the price of $2149 (queen size) is better value than many retail stores or national brands, their "sale price" is still hundreds more than even the equivalent ALL talalay latex mattresses (Talalay is more expensive than Dunlop latex) sold by several of the DIY manufacturers that are members of this site.

Habitat also offers mattresses with good quality materials including a mattress almost identical to the one above however it sells for $2948 in queen size which is over $1000 more than equivalent mattresses sold by members of this site.

Overall their materials are good ... their prices however are higher than many other Factory Direct outlets. They also do not have the same ability to customize a mattress as an actual manufacturer with their own factory.

Some of the factory direct manufacturers which are members of this site which specialize in Do It Yourself customized mattresses (of various types including latex) and/or specialize in shipping mattresses across the country, and IMO offer much better value include ...

www.customsleepdesign.com/
www.mattresses.net/
www.sleepez.com/
www.baybed.com/
www.mygreenmattress.com

Several other manufacturing members of this site also make customized mattresses using latex and/or other materials which they ship across the country at a reasonable cost (see post #21 here ) however they do not specialize in DIY constructions (where you choose each layer of your mattress and then can exchange individual layers if it is not quite right). Even with the higher shipping cost involved in shipping a whole mattress (rather than individual layers) ... by most people's criteria they would still offer better value than either of the companies you mentioned.

All of them have better value than Plushbeds and much better value than Habitat which along with their service, knowledge, experience, and reputation is the reason I invited them to become part of the founding membership here.

Hope this helps

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: Latex Mattress 11 Sep 2011 23:14 #5

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The more I research, the more confused I get! We started out looking for a memory foam mattress or innerspring with individual coils...motion separation is a concern. The Serta iComfort felt very comfortable in the store, however we hjave not been impressed by what we have read online. Now we are finding several latex sets that "appear" comfortable. I would love to receive any information or feedback on the Englander Nature's Finest latex mattress, or any latex that might be good to pursue.

Thank you!

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Re: Latex Mattress 12 Sep 2011 00:58 #6

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Hi Golson22m,

I'll share a few suggestions/ideas (in no particular order) that should help you "cut through" some of the confusion.

1. Avoid buying a mattress made by any of the major national brands such as Sealy, Simmons, Serta, Tempurpedic. While they are not all "bad" mattresses ... none of them have good value when compared to similar mattresses made by smaller manufacturers. NONE

2. Buy a mattress based on what is in it ... never by the brand.

3. Never buy a mattress on a "major sale". Quality mattresses are available year round at great value and the so-called sale prices that are offered by most of the major stores and major brands (and even some of the smaller ones) are a complete gimmick. Sale prices of 30, 40, 50% or more off are a major warning sign.

4.Never buy a mattress on the same day you do mattress testing unless you are certain that you have found your perfect mattress at the best value available in the city where you live.

5. When you are mattress testing ... test for the two main functions of a mattress (pressure relief and spinal alignment) separately along the lines of the guidelines on this site www.themattressunderground.com/mattresses/five-steps-to-your-perfect-mattress.html . Never test for the "overall comfort" of a mattress or go by what someone tells you is a "supportive" mattress. Comfort is mostly about pressure relief in the top layers and support is mostly about how the lower layers keep your spine in alignment. Both are different for everyone.

6. Don't get involved with all the intricacies of mattress innersprings and coil counting if you are considering an innerspring mattress. Most of what you will hear is not much more than a story designed to impress you so you will buy the mattress they are trying to sell. A mattress is not about coil counts ... it's about pressure relief and correct alignment and your "lie on bed" testing will tell you about both.

7. Know that what you are buying is what you want. Don't let warranties or comfort exchanges be a major consideration in your final decision as these too are mostly gimmicks.

8. Focus your attention on local factory direct manufacturer outlets and outlets or smaller sleep shops who carry alternative brands and have a direct relationship with the manufacturer. These will generally have the most knowledgeable salespeople and will be more interested in helping you find a mattress that is perfect for your own unique needs instead of selling you something they can get you excited about with a (mostly misleading) story.

9. Never buy a mattress with more than an inch of polyfoam in the comfort layers (upper softer layers) and the quilting combined as this will become the weak link in your mattress and it will likely be subject to early softening and body impressions. Warranties will not usually cover this. If you must break this rule because of an exceptionally low budget (a few hundred dollars), only break it with a local manufacturer or sleep shop like those in #7 who will tell you the exact specs of the foam they use (and why) and will tell you truthfully how long it will last.

10. Decide on the midpoint of your budget (the price you want to stay under with everything included but could go a little over for your absolutely perfect mattress)

11. When you are testing mattresses ... you are looking for the type of layering that works for you regardless of how much a mattress will cost. Once you know the comfort layers and support layers that work for you ... then and only then is the time to decide on which mattress in your budget is closest to what you need. Mattress testing is to find out what layering works. Mattress buying (when testing is over) is about deciding on the materials you will use for this layering so you can stay within your budget.

12. Unless you know or can find out the exact layer by layer specs of a mattress you want to test ... never test or buy a mattress from anyone who cannot or will not tell you exactly what is in it (from a spec sheet or cutaway).

There's more but that should help you get past most of the biggest issues in buying a mattress. None of these guidelines are "absolute" of course but it is much better to stick to them than to try to find the rare exceptions where they may not apply.

In general terms ... you will be looking at a comfort layer which is either memory foam (if you know for certain that you sleep well on memory foam regardless of its drawbacks) or latex (which is a much higher quality and more durable material). Polyfoam (more than 1") as mentioned in #9 should be an absolute last resort.

Also in general terms ... you will be looking at a support core made of an innerspring, latex, or high quality polyfoam (high quality polyfoam is OK in the support layers as it's denser and firmer).

Test for and then decide on the material and the thickness and softness of a suitable comfort layer based on your sleeping positions and overall body weight and shape following the guidelines on this site.

Once you know this ... decide on a support layer under this which has a feel you like and which keeps you in alignment in all your sleeping positions.

Now you can make final decisions based on the "feel" and durability (the major legitimate difference in pricing) of different materials and the overall value available to you from different outlets.

Englander is a licensing group and their mattresses are made differently in different areas of the country (and are also under different names). Some of these have better value than other national brands. The ones (including Nature's finest) that have more than an inch of polyfoam in the comfort layers I wouldn't consider at all. The ones that have only latex or an inch or less of polyfoam in the comfort layer I would use for testing (they use Dunlop latex which is generally firmer than Talalay latex but can be a good testing ground). None of them are likely to be nearly as good quality/value as a smaller local manufacturer. Just make sure you know the layer by layer breakdown in the area you are looking at them.

If you let me know what city you live in ... I'll take a look and see if I know of any local manufacturers near you.

Also if you let me know your height, weight, and overall body shape ... along with your normal sleeping positions ... I'd be happy to give you some general guidelines for layering and construction that may work for you

I know this was rather long but hopefully it will help you avoid many of the "traps" out there.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: Latex Mattress 12 Sep 2011 15:26 #7

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Thank you...this is very helpful! We are in Rutland, VT and I am 6'1, 185 and my wife is 5'8, 145. She is mostly a side sleeper while I am predominantly side, but some stomach and back as well.

Thank you for your help!
Glenn

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Re: Latex Mattress 12 Sep 2011 19:04 #8

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Hi Golson,

As a general guideline side sleepers would use about 3" - 4" of soft and shape conforming foam in the comfort layers.

All memory foam would qualify as "soft" in actual use even though it can be "hard" when it is cold. Memory foam should be at least 4 lbs density in any good quality mattress (density is the major factor in quality in memory foam even though it has nothing to do with softness).

Latex (unlike memory foam) can be made either soft or firm and in a comfort layer it can be as soft as 14 ILD (similar to the softness of memory foams) or as firm as 24 ILD (which is typically about as firm as most people are comfortable with in a comfort layer although there are rare people who may prefer even firmer latex on top).

People who are either heavier or curvier may prefer a thicker comfort layer as their "protuding parts" (such as hips and shoulders) may need more depth of cushioning to distribute their weight over the mattress to relieve pressure.

Heavier people may also prefer firmer foam in the comfort layers as firmer foam will feel softer to them than to those who are lighter. This applies mainly to latex foam since all memory foam would qualify as being soft (about 15 ILD or less).

Back sleepers would typically start with testing comfort layers with about 2" of foam in the comfort layers (there is less space to "fill in" when sleeping on the back) while stomach sleepers need the thinnest/firmest comfort layer of all since it is the flattest sleeping profile. For those who sleep in multiple positions ... they should test for pressure relief in their "curviest" position (on the side for combination side sleepers) and then use the thinnest/firmest comfort layer possible to accommodate the flatter sleeping profiles.

The biggest danger with stomach sleeping is a "swayback" sleeping position where the pelvic area sinks down too far into the mattress leading to a hyperextended arch in the lower back and probable backaches. This is most common in mattresses which are designed purely for side sleepers and are used for stomach sleeping.

Support layers under the comfort layers are designed to keep the heavier parts from sinking down too far and of course should be firmer than the comfort layers. The middle layers of a mattress (or the upper inch or two of a single support layer) often play a dual role. If they are a little softer they can contribute to and help the comfort layer with pressure relief (they can help make up for comfort layers which are a little thinner than normal for a certain sleeping position). If they are firmer they can contribute more to the support qualities of a mattress and holding up the heavier parts more effectively.

People who are taller/thinner and lower weight can also often use a slightly thinner comfort layer as it is easier to spread their weight around on the mattress (there are less spaces to fill in).

So you would likely be looking at a comfort layer in the range of 3" and if possible a little less (if less relieved all your pressure points) with a firm middle and lower layer. A 2" comfort layer would likely need a slightly softer middle layer to help with pressure relief. Either method can work equally well depending on how the layers interact with your unique body shape and weight distribution. Thinner and firmer as I mentioned would be "kinder" to your back (lumbar area) when you sleep on your stomach.

Unfortunately there are no independent mattress manufacturers that I am aware of in Vermont. It is one of the very few states without one. In cases like these ... it is usually best to test mattresses using local stores to help you "nail down" the layering that works best for you using the guidelines on the site. Once you are fairly clear about the layer combinations that work for you ... then your best value by far would be to order online through one of the members here who specialize in mattresses where you can choose your own layers and who offer a low cost way to exchange a layer if any need adjusting. This way you can "duplicate" almost any mattress that you find works for you locally using higher quality materials at a much lower cost.

I did take a quick look at some of the local mattress outlets near you and www.vermontbedrooms.com/ carries Natura mattresses which have various layers of latex in them with known levels of thickness and softness so these would be particularly useful in mattress testing if you were looking at latex as a comfort layer ... even though they do not have good enough value to actually purchase IMO.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Re: Latex Mattress 13 Sep 2011 15:19 #9

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Thank you, again, For some very helpful information. Now, how do we find out about the specs that you list? Can I get information that is so specific as to rate the various layers?

Vermont Bedrooms was our first stop and the place where we initially were leaning toward memory foam as their Simmons felt rather comfortable.

Thank you, Glenn

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Re: Latex Mattress 13 Sep 2011 19:06 #10

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Hi Glenn,

While Natura doesn't list the actual ILD's of the layers in the many different models they carry ... they do a good job in showing the layering and materials on their website. There are also many dealers around the web that have "approximate" descriptions of the softness/firmness and the layering of their different models. Some dealers will even tell you the more specific specs. Overall, a person's specs about weight, body shape, sleeping positions, and preferences ... along with this more general information available about specific Natura (or other) mattresses ... combined with personally testing which of their models provide someone with good pressure relief and support .. will give enough "inferred" information to make informed and more accurate choices when buying a mattress online.

Other latex mattress manufacturers that make great testing grounds (because the specific materials and layers used including ILD is readily available) include Jamison and Pure Latex Bliss. These would make even better testing grounds if they are sold nearby.

The more informed and open that an outlet is about the layers and materials in a mattress (even in different materials than those you may be considering) ... the easier it is to "translate" into the type of materials and layers you are looking for.

The most important part of mattress testing is to test each mattress separately for pressure relief and spinal alignment, (in each sleeping position) and overall "feel", as feedback on each of these specific areas can be really helpful in deciding on the best layering arrangement for each individual. This specific type of feedback about mattresses in which the construction is either generally or specifically known is far more "accurate" than the overall "too soft" or "too firm" or "comfortable" type of feedback that is more difficult to "translate" into which of the functions of the mattress (and which layers that provide that function) need to change to be more suitable for each individual.

The more specific information that can be provided ... and the more that is known about each mattress you test ... The easier it is to make final "construction" and "value" decisions once the testing is done.

Even feedback on the specific Simmons mattress that you found comfortable (hopefully including or "translating" comfortable into pressure relief and alignment terms) may help "point" in the right direction.

I'm certainly happy to help in any way I can in the "translations".

Phoenix
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