2 questions re: Latex mattresses

Many thanks to Phoneix and all who contribute here. Who knew that buying a latex mattress would become such an involved search for information!

  1. A local manufacturer of many types of mattress offers a 4" Talalay comfort layer on top of a 10" Soy-based HD foam support core (hope my terminology is right). Is a 4" top layer of Talalay sufficient to be considered a ‘real’ latex mattress? Is it thick enough for me to get the real latex mattress experience? I am 5’10" and 165 pounds. At another place I was shown pure latex mattresses (i.e. no support level, just an 8" latex piece). Significantly more expensive of course.

By the way, I know from reading here that ‘HD’ might not mean much; I am trying to determine exactly what the support layer is made of, and what density it is

  1. This maker says the supplier of latex does not use the ILD system so he can’t tell me if the 4" layer is 29 ILD (I tested a few mattresses at a retail place and 28-30 felt very good to me). Is that odd? I know there is another system where 70 is roughly equal to the 29 of the ILD system? Can I insist that I need to know the density and I need it given to me in a standard unit of measurement as opposed to ‘this is pretty firm’?

Thanks for any comment.

As a bonus question for those in Canada and the GTA in particular, does anyone know why it is that although the Carpenter USA company says they do not make latex mattresses, two of the makers I have talked to say they get their latex from Carpenter? There is no way (I don’t think) that the very expensive process of making Talalay latex would be up and running at Carpenter Canada but not at Carpenter USA. In fact if anything it should be the other way around. Maybe Carpenter is just a distributor for latex coming from one of the major latex firms?

Hi Tradernik,

The mattress you are describing would typically be called a latex/polyfoam hybrid rather than an “all latex” mattress. There is more about the pros and cons of a latex/polyfoam hybrid vs an all latex mattress in post #2 here.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to make specific suggestions or recommendations for someone else either for a mattress, a manufacturers/retailers, or a combination of materials or type of mattress because the first “rule” of mattress shopping is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved that are unique to each person to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components or which type of mattress would be the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort” or PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) or how a mattress will “feel” to you based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial) or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

That’s a very good idea so that you can confirm that the density meets the quality/durability guidelines here.

There are many Dunlop latex manufacturers that don’t rate the firmess of their latex cores using ILD and many of them will use density instead (although there are also other methods of rating the firmness of latex and there are also several different versions of ILD as well). Even for those that do use ILD as a firmness rating the ILD of different types and blends of latex aren’t directly comparable anyway (see post #6 here). There are also other factors besides ILD alone that can affect how soft or firm an individual layer or a mattress “as a whole” feels to any specific person (see post #4 here). Having said all that … if a mattress is using 100% natural Dunlop and only has density information available then the information in post #2 here can help you translate the density of 100% natural Dunlop) into an approximate ILD range.

I would also keep in mind that there are also no “standardized” definitions or consensus of opinions for firmness ratings and different manufacturers can rate their mattresses very differently than others so a mattress that one manufacturer rates as being a specific firmness could be rated very differently by another manufacturer. Different people can also have very different perceptions of firmness and softness compared to others as well and a mattress that feels firm for one person can feel like “medium” for someone else or even “soft” for someone else (or vice versa) depending on their body type, sleeping style, physiology, their frame of reference based on what they are used to, and their individual sensitivity and perceptions. This is all relative and very subjective and is as much an art as a science. There are also different types of firmness and softness that different people may be sensitive to that can affect how they “rate” a mattress as well (see post #15 here).

When you are testing mattresses locally then you really don’t need to know the ILD of the different layers anyway because with careful testing your body will tell you all you need to know about whether a mattress is a good match for you in terms of PPP regardless of whether you know any of the “comfort specs” or “firmness specs” of any of the individual layers.

Unless you have a great deal of knowledge and experience with different types of mattress materials and components along with the different specs that can affect softness/firmness and how different types of materials and layering combinations feel when they are combined together and you can translate them into your own “real life” experience that can be unique to you … I would tend to avoid using complex combinations of specs to try and predict how a mattress will feel or perform for you and focus more on your own actual testing and/or personal experience. When you try and choose a mattress based on complex combinations of specs that you may not fully understand or only based on a single spec such as ILD that is only one part of a larger picture and that may not be a relevant or meaningful as you believe it is then the most common outcome is “information overload” and “paralysis by analysis”.

There is more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) in post #2 here that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for once you actually sleep on your mattress.

While it’s important to know the specs that can affect the durability or useful life of a mattress (see this article) … trying to use specs to decide on whether a mattress is a suitable choice in terms of PPP can be more misleading than helpful.

Carpenter doesn’t make latex (either Dunlop or Talalay) and manufactures a wide range of polyfoam and memory foam materials but apparently in Canada they do supply latex that is made by latex manufacturers and it’s not unusual for foam manufacturers to work in partnership with latex manufacturers to supply latex to their customers that they don’t make themselves so they can provide all the foam materials that their customers may need “in house”.


Phoenix, thanks for taking the time to compose this detailed response. It really helps.

I should clarify that having read so much material here, I was pretty sure that individual recommendations couldn’t be made. I was basically trying to figure out whether the hybrid was known to be contraindicated in any specific situation (i.e. persons who weigh a lot) or at any particular ratio of latex/polyfoam thickness. Put another way, I wasn’t sure what thickness of latex ‘comfort layer’ (if the latex portion of this hybrid can be called that) would be the minimum required to even be in the ballpark in terms of getting a latex mattress experience. I have read here that manufacturers will put a 1" layer of latex on top of a polyfoam base and call it a ‘latex mattress’. I am almost certain that no one who knows latex mattresses would recommend this if what you are after is all that latex has to offer, including comfort and durability. Let’s face it, if a maker is selling a 1" piece of latex on top of a polyfoam core and calling it a ‘latex mattress’, you also have to wonder about the quality of the polyfoam core.

Luckily, I can go and try this hybrid so your comments re: ILD below are what’s important.

Your explanation about ILD vs other methods of density measurement is very helpful. In a few cases here in Toronto, I may have to buy a mattress without trying it out first, like the situation we discussed via PM. I guess that’s why I was trying to figure out some way to quantify density and compare it with known (albeit subjective) density measures (i.e. the mattresses with ILD ratings I have actually tried out). However, it seems from your reply that this would be very hard or impossible to do since ‘29 ILD’ can mean different things. In some ways this mitigates against buying from a supplier who does not have a test bed that I can try out.

Hi Tradernik,

There is really no “definition” of what a “latex mattress” experience means because this is too subjective and different people could have very different opinions about how similar a particular latex/polyfoam hybrid and a particular “all latex mattress” would feel to them. Both general categories of mattresses have hundreds of different variations that can be very different from each other depending on the specifics of the materials and components inside each of them. There are even some types of high performance polyfoams that are designed to approximate the “feel” of latex (see post #2 here).

In terms of “comfort” and PPP the only way to know whether any mattress or combination of materials and components is the best “match” for any particular person or how closely it compares to another mattress for them with any certainty (regardless of the specific combination of materials or components inside it) is based on their own careful testing or personal experience.

In terms of durability it would depend entirely on the quality and durability of the materials inside it relative to the person on the mattress. The quality/durability guidelines I generally suggest are in post #4 here and there is much more detailed information about the many factors and variables that can affect the durability and useful life of a mattress relative to a particular person in post #4 here.

Yes … trying to compare different types and blends of latex or mattresses that have different designs and combinations of materials based on ILD alone can be very misleading.

For most people … when you can’t test a mattress in person then the options you have after a purchase to “fine tune” the comfort or support of the mattress either by exchanging individual layers or components or the complete mattress or returning the mattress for a refund and the costs involved would generally become a much more important part of their personal value equation.


This was very helpful. I will check to see if Dreamstar/Tor is using Certipur certified polyfoam in their hybrid. All the other options I’m looking at are 100% latex.

This right here is what it’s coming down to for me. I have talked to a few different sellers. One said no exchanges/refunds. Another said there would be a $100 fee and a limit of 7 days. I need to be working with someone who will at least be willing to try to get me into another mattress if the one I purchase isn’t working. I am willing to commit to buying from that seller - i.e. I am willing to waive the right to a refund. All I want is the ability to exchange if it really doesn’t feel right. Is 7 days enough to know? I’m not sure but that’s about the best I can do or so it seems right now.

Thanks again for all the good information.

Hi Tradernick,

For the majority of people … with careful testing (using the guidelines in the tutorial) their choice will generally be “close enough” that if any fine tuning is necessary it would be relatively minor and involve different mattress pads, sheets, mattress protectors, or perhaps even a topper if their mattress is too firm (see post #4 here and post #10 here).

For those that are more sensitive to smaller differences in a mattress and/or are closer to the “princess and the pea” than the “I can sleep on anything” end of the range or that have more challenging circumstances or a history of choosing mattresses that aren’t very suitable for them then 7 days of “real life” sleeping would provide a more accurate indication than testing in a showroom and for the large majority of people would be “enough”.

There will also be an initial break in and adjustment period with any new mattress (see post #3 here) that can also affect how the mattress feels over the course of the first few weeks so for an even smaller minority of people that are more sensitive yet this can also affect how well they sleep on a mattress and for this much smaller minority 7 days may still not be enough to really know for certain how well they will sleep on a mattress over the longer term.