3 Year Old Quality Latex Mattress Causing Problems Already??

Hi there,

I’m new here but here goes. I bought a Stearns and Foster Plush Top Latex Mattress 3 years ago. I don’t have the exact model in front of me but I remember there was basically 3 types - Firm, Plushtop, Pillowtop. I got the Plush top for around $2,000 (kingsize). Asking price was slightly higher. I am curious if anyone knows the specific make up of materials for that my mattress too.

The mattress sits on the box springs that came with the mattress (Stearns and Foster too). Typical steel bed frame with wood slats supports underneath. We probably didn’t rotate the mattress but once every 3 months or so for 2.5 years. Now, we rotate the mattress every couple of weeks because I’m waking up with a sore, stiff lower back again and have been for about 2 or 3 months. We rotate the mattress quarter turns too to find supportive areas. I’m not sure what is going on but what I do know is that if I scooch over towards the middle of the bed I feel more support on my back (no one typically sleeps in the middle). Can’t really tell if I have “depressions” in the mattress but it feels softer where sleep. By the way I’m a side sleeper 100%…toss back and forth from one side to the other. The store said if a depression is 1.5" or more we can contact the manufacturer. I don’t “see” a depression. Maybe the plush top hides it. Not sure…

What are my options? I thought it was a good mattress. I had a queen size latex (plush top) mattress made by Sealy and was told Sealy bought Stearns and what we were buying was basically the same mattress…just by Stearns now.

Perhaps changing up the support would help. I am doing wrong by turning the mattress quarter turns. Could a simple piece of plywood help under the mattress and for that matter can I put said plywood under my side only?

Any suggestions or comments would be truly appreciated my me and my aching back.

Hi litesleeper,

Unfortunately … any of the Stearns & Foster so called “latex” mattresses in that range have a significant amount of polyfoam in the upper layers of the mattress which are the “weak link” of any mattress. While the amount of the polyfoam and the specific layering varies from mattress to mattress … all of them are like this except the very highest end. In addition to this they use a lower cost/quality of latex (mostly synthetic Dunlop) which doesn’t have the same type of response, feel, and elasticity as either blended Dunlop with a higher natural rubber content or best of all, 100% natural Dunlop.

You can see an example here of one of their “latex” mattress in a little higher price range (queen) than yours which has 3.5" of lower quality/density polyfoam over the “smart latex” (the mostly synthetic Dunlop) core. This means that you are sleeping on polyfoam not on latex with all the issues that are connected with using too much polyfoam in the upper layers of a mattress.

Rotating a mattress will have only a smaller effect on the softening and breakdown of the polyfoam (compared to flipping it which you can’t because it’s one sided) because in all directions the middle area will be the part that is bearing the most weight and softening the most. Rotating a king size one sided mattress by 1/4 turn can extend the life of any lower quality/density polyfoam that is used in the upper layers more than rotating it 180% but it is still lower density (cheap) polyfoam and will soften much sooner than other materials.

The problem with premature softening is that it isn’t covered by warranty (it’s considered normal wear and tear) unless the foam itself remains compressed more than the warranty exclusion without any weight on the mattress which rarely happens. The useable lifetime of a mattress has little to nothing to do with a warranty in other words and warranties are more of a marketing tactic than protection against a mattress that becomes unsleepable because of foam softening.

As you mentioned … Sealy did buy Stearns and Foster which means that like all the other major brands … they use lower quality foams and charge much more than other smaller manufacturers. They also don’t disclose the details about the contents of their mattresses which means that most people who buy mattresses from chain stores or major brands are buying mattresses that contain foam that would typically be used in much lower cost mattresses made by local or smaller independent manufacturers … and they have no idea that they are doing this. They tend to buy these brands or from mass market outlets based on marketing and advertising information (which is often completely misleading) rather than factual and meaningful information (which they don’t provide). This is the reasons behind the mattress shopping guidelines here.

I would also check the foundation on the off chance that it is sagging in which case it could be part or all of the reason for what is happening but this is far less likely. If the foundation is completely solid and rigid and has no sags, then it is already like having plywood under the mattress so an additional firm layer will not help this. You could always try though to make sure that the foundation is as solid as it should be but this won’t help if the issue is in the upper layers of the foam. You could also try a product like the mattress remedy or add other layers under the problem area of the mattress (such as rolled or folded towels or blankets or layers of firm foam) which will “raise” the area of the sag but these are imperfect solutions at best and don’t address the real issues. They may give you some temporary relief however and extend the useable life of your mattress for a while.

Unfortunately it is much more difficult to “fix” a mattress that has lost it’s support because of foam softening than it is to “fix” a mattress that is too firm and make it softer. You could turn the mattress over and add a topper but this is not the best solution because the softer foam will still affect your support and the other side is not designed for sleeping and is not “finished” with materials and ticking that are designed for sleeping on. Generally the “fix” in this case … unless the actual depression in the mattress is more than the warranty exclusion (which is rare but would qualify you for a warranty replacement as long as all the other exclusions were also met) … is to buy a new mattress. You may also be able to find a local manufacturer who will rebuild it by taking out the cheaper materials and then adding better materials in a comfort layer and putting a new ticking around it.

I wish I had better news but unfortunately this is an issue that is connected to the use of lower quality foams in the comfort layers of a mattress and is almost unavoidable unless consumers know how to make meaningful comparisons between the materials in a mattress and avoid mattresses and mass market outlets that don’t provide the type of information that is needed to make better quality choices.

So your options are …

  • A warranty claim if you qualify (unlikely)

  • Fixing the firmness of the foundation if that is the real issue.

  • Putting something under the problem areas that will lift them

  • Flipping the mattress and adding a topper

  • Rebuild the mattress if this service is available to you (or “mattress surgery” if you wish to do this yourself)

  • Buy a new mattress



I am truly amazed at the thoroughness of your reply. Thank you from the bottom of my aching back. Lastly (for now), I live in Charlotte, NC. Is there a list of recommended stores near(ish) by that you would recommend. I realize there are some good online retailers but would love to try out a few “true quality” mattresses… Latex I think still due to me sleeping hot.

Hi litesleeper,

You have some good choices in and near Charlotte. They are listed in post #2 here :slight_smile:


I don’t see anywhere that rebuilds mattresses nearby. Is it possible to remove top layers of my S&F to get to the good latex core (do I even have a decent core to start with) and buy new toppers and some kind of new enclosure for it all? Might not be a good idea but I’ve got to ask.

Lastly, can you say what you sleep on… Perhaps already mentioned in another post and I realize what might work for you could not for us but Im still very curious.


Hi litesleeper,

In the list for Charlotte, the odds are that if anyone would rebuild the mattress it would be Dilworth. There are many manufacturers however that stay away from this because it can also create issues (both real and perception) for the manufacturer that they would rather not deal with. The real issues are connected to having used materials mixed in with new materials (such as bedbugs) that could affect their manufacturing and the perceptual issues is that they could be seen as selling mattresses with used materials and aren’t labeling them as such even if they are only doing this on request for a specific individual.

In any case … it may be worth a call to find out if they can or will do this.

The other “rebuilding” alternative is what you are suggesting and is often called “mattress surgery”. This would involve taking off the ticking/cover (removing the tape edge with a thread cutter), removing the low quality foam and as you suggest replacing it with a higher quality comfort layer (assuming the core is still good and not impressed) and then buying a new zip cover (and there are good sources for this where you can buy zip covers of many different types and quality levels) that was the correct thickness to enclose your new mattress. some sources for this type of DIY project are listed in post #4 here.

One of the challenges you may face with this is if the layers are glued then it can be difficult (but not impossible) to remove the lower quality foam layers and this needs to be done very carefully. You would need to carefully “cut” the tightly glued areas off the core as you gently lifted the comfort layers off.

Your core is a lower quality latex that has been fabricated to provide “zoning” in certain areas with “inserts” in the latex but the odds are good that it would still be in good condition. While blended “mostly synthetic” Dunlop latex is not as good a material as all natural or even a 50/50 blend, … it is still better than other foam choices.

“Mattress Surgery” can be a fun (and challenging) because it still involves a bit of research into the layers to put on top of the support core but it can also be satisfying if you get it right and it can certainly cost less than a whole new mattress. In most cases … it’s the comfort layers (the softer foam in the upper padding and quilting of the mattress) not the support layers (like an innerspring, latex or even polyfoam support layers) of a mattress that are the “culprit” of mattress softening issues and the loss of comfort and support. If you add high quality latex to your core and use a high quality cover … you could end up with a very good mattress that would cost you several thousand dollars in a store.

So if there is nobody locally who can do this for you and if the other lower cost “solutions” don’t work to the degree you want … then this could be an alternative if you are going to replace the mattress anyway.

I sleep on an all latex two sided latex mattress with a 4" middle support core that is “soft” as far as mattress support cores go but is rated as a “medium”. On either side of this is 3" of soft latex with a quilting that includes .4" of quiltable latex and a down substitute material. The ticking is a Belgian Jacquard. It is very unlikely that this particular layering would work for many people and it’s not a layering I would recommend at all for the majority of people … but I specifically designed it and had it built based on some very careful testing that took into account some unusual preferences. It was designed for my DH with my own needs and preferences as a secondary issue (although it is fine for me as well). Your own experience with back issues on your mattress would indicate that the odds of this type of layering working for you are very low.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:


Is it common to buy a quality core latex mattress and then comfort layers that are easily changeable without having to send the mattress to a store every time you wanted to “refresh” the comfort layer(s). Perhaps this is similar to mattress surgery except without the dissembly of the old mattress. I say all this because of the side sleeping…a fairly firm mattress feels good on the lower back but my side sleeping needs a little cushion to feel good on my shoulders and should this top “slightly softer” compress after awhile I’d simply swap it out. Lastly, how many layers are In a quality latex mattress and what are those layers made of? Perhaps this is too broad a question but I’m trying to tailor something to me …190 lbs…6 ft tall fairly athletic build but with a bad lower back (part genetic and part working out and being so active). I’m also guessing my wife’s side of the bed could be made differently (softer) vs. mine on a king size bed. Perhaps the custom Dillworth store is the ticket but I bet building my bed online would be cheaper…thank you again.

Sorry forgot to add… I’m 34 years old and my wife is 33… She is fit … 5 ft 7 inches and weighs 129 lbs. I used to get a bad neck cramp but a curved tempurpedic pillow fixed that.

Thanks so, so, much.

Hi litesleeper,

The types of exchangeable layer mattresses you are talking about are becoming more and more popular. They have been available from smaller manufacturers for many years but are appearing in mainstream choices as well now although these are being sold at highly inflated prices. These types of mattresses will often have a choice of layering that can be customized to the needs and preferences of different people and will also often offer 'side to side" split layering that can be individually customized to the needs and preferences of two people on a mattress. There is a list of manufacturers that are members of the site in post #21 here that specialize in online sales and many of these offer what are called either DIY mattresses or “choose your own layer” mattresses with various components and layers inside a high quality zip cover. Those that do this will also usually offer “layer exchanges” so if someone makes a choice that isn’t quite right then just a single layer can be exchanged for a firmer or softer version to fine tune the mattress closer to that person’s ideal. Of course an additional advantage of this type of mattress is that if the upper layer wears out first (the top layers are the ones that wear out the fastest) then the mattress can be unzipped and just a single layer replaced.

In a similar way … many people will buy a base mattress with a single firmer core or at least very little foam in the comfort layer as a base and then add their own topper as a comfort layer that is suitable for their body type and sleeping positions. This way the basic mattress becomes the support core (generally firm) and the topper is the comfort layer. This also has the advantage of being able to exchange the topper which will usually wear out faster than the support core without having to exchange the whole mattress.

There is a lot of information in the mattresses section of the site which goes into more detail about materials, different body styles and different sleeping positions, and about various types of construction or putting the layers together. These are just guidelines though based on averages and a better “starting point” than an “ending point”. Some height/weight guidelines are here and some sleeping position guidelines are here (just to save you searching through the many pages in the section). There are very few people who are really average"" though and a far more effective approach would be to learn just enough that you can work with a manufacturer and ask better questions and better understand the answers.

The choice of materials, components, and layering of a mattress can be amazingly complex because every layer material, firmness, and thickness will act differently and in combination with every other layer. It is a combination of technical knowledge and intuitive knowledge and a combination of art and science. Even manufacturers that have been in the industry for decades and are part of a family of multigenerational manufacturers are still on a learning curve. Different body types and sleeping styles will also interact with the same mattress in many different ways even if they are similar. Different people also have many different levels of sensitivity to various designs and different preferences as well. The variables can be very frustrating, challenging, or rewarding depending on the type of person who is designing and building the mattress and the amount of time and effort they are willing to put into the project.

Post #15 here outlines some of my thoughts about buying locally vs with the help and guidance of a DIY online manufacturer vs trying to do it all yourself by putting together different materials without the guidance of a manufacturer who knows how all the materials may interact. Post #36 here may also be useful.

If you do decide to go in the direction of building your own mattress through various sources as opposed to using a DIY construction through a knowledgeable manufacturer … then it would take a lot of research into mattress materials and local testing to make sure that you end up with the layering, materials, and components that may work best for you. In some cases it can become far more costly and difficult than working with a quality manufacturer who already offers the same thing all in one place and can give you the benefit of their knowledge and experience with the specific materials that they offer.


Again, amazing and thoughtful reply. Thank you kindly.


Hi again! Ok, my mattress that I’ve mentioned above was perfectly fine for 3 years. So, my question is it possible to recreate that fill / support but in better longer lasting materials. The info I have on the mattress is its almost 4 years old s&f but made by sealy. Tag say tropical oasis collection - cove haven. I remember it being a “plush” top. The other tag states that it’s 90% “latex foam” 8% polyurethane foam and 2% rayon/visil with wool. Model # 562264. I know models can change quite a bit from store to store but I’m saying all this because the mattress once felt great and I don’t even know if the support layer was more “like” Dunlop or talalay or a blend. Any suggestions or insight into how to replicate the mattress again but in better longer lasting materials? Thanks very much.

We actually live in gastonia and ended up driving to Raleigh to check out the organic mattress store there. We have not purchased yet but will be probably this week. My advice from my research is stay away from the S brands as most just are not made well when it comes to Latex. We are getting a Royal-Pedic it is pricey but sleep is just too important to me. We also looked at Savvy and another brand out of NY. Good luck wish there were some better stores in Charlotte but we were not pleased with what we visited.

Hi buster255,

Yes … you can re-create it but it will have to be through testing and “feel” on latex mattresses rather than through trying to match specs.

The S&F Cove haven is the same as the Sealy Beachside (and Stearns & Foster is owned by Sealy) and I managed to find the specs online which are …

Quilt - Top of Mattress
1 ounce Flame Guard Fiber
1 1/2 x 1/2" Convoluted SuperSoft SealyFoam
1/2" SuperSoft SealyFoam

Comfort Layers
1" SuperSoft SealyFoam

SpringFree Core
8.9" Luxury Latex

So you have 8.9 inches of lower cost/quality mostly synthetic Dunlop latex (and it would be a safe assumption that it was in the “firm” range somewhere) which they call “smart latex” and 3 " of polyfoam (probably soft) in the comfort layers of unknown density and ILD (softness firmness level). Because the comfort layers are completely unknown in terms of ILD it would be too complex and the materials would be too different to try to “match” them by specs … even if S&F gave out the comfort specs such as ILD which they don’t. The best you could “match” would be a guess about the better quality latex equivalent of 9" of firm synthetic latex with 3" of polyfoam on top but these are not specs that can be “matched” or "translated into other materials except by feel and memory.

Any material, including low quality polyfoam, can feel great for a while. The problem is it’s not durable enough to continue feeling great or at least the same over the long term.

So I personally would use PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) as your “target” rather than how you remember the mattress felt when you first bought it. This will be much more accurate and you could end up with something better even than you remember.

As a “best guess” for testing I would probably use a Dunlop core of around 6" and a soft 3" Talalay comfort layer which probably be as close as you could get based on the limited information available but this is complete speculation and there isn’t really any way to know how close this may turn out to be when you sleep on it without testing something similar.

So yes … you could probably match the feel with longer lasting latex layers. It would have to be through testing and some guesswork though


Hi joeyTOB (AKA buster255),

You do realize that the forum software logs IP addresses?

So you get banned and choose to create a “fake customer” and first time poster who tries all the many latex options in Charlotte and none of them “please him” so he decides to drive a few hundred miles just to visit you and discovers that he actually “likes” the mattresses you sell and is willing to pay thousands more for a Royal-Pedic and at the same time gives some of the other brands you carry a little “plug”.

And this from a business owner that talks about ethics?



Hi there,

Did a little mattress surgery tonight (it felt very weird dissecting a 3.5 year old “luxury” mattress)… Actually “guts” are 7" firmer synthetic latex, 1.5" of softer synthetic latex and I believe your quilt specs look to be accurate. The 1.5 was glued but I think I did a pretty good job of removing it… Removing the quilt top I can visually see a slight dip at the butt/hip regions ON TOP OF 1.5" latex and after removing this soft layer I can’t really see compression in the 7" layer. So, you’re probably guessing where I’m headed. I think I may purchase one 3" talalay 24-28 ILD topper and a new zipper cover. This way if the 7" firm layer is still suspect to compression… I’ll order a new support layer. It was recommended by sleepez to get their basic 4 way cover so there is little material to interfere with the latex. I can also return topper if I get it wrong there too. Thoughts?


Hi litesleeper,

It seems that my “model matching” wasn’t quite accurate and you have an extra layer of latex but it doesn’t really matter because the issue of too much lower density/quality polyfoam is the same in all the S&F latex line.

I think this is a great idea … and could be a pathway to a “new” mattress that was much like your old one except the latex layers will last longer than the polyfoam. The foam may also have softened under your heavier areas (foam softening doesn’t always lead to impressions) but this would be a great step and the odds are good that it will work out well if you make the best choice of a topper and make sure that the cover is the right thickness to enclose all the layers you plan to add or keep.

Way to go … and I’m looking forward to hearing about the outcome :slight_smile:


Hi there,

I’m back. I ended up purchasing a 3" blended talalay topper from Sleep EZ with their stretch cover. My back is 30% better if I had to say exactly. I’ve been sleeping on the bed for about 3 weeks. My questions kind sir:

Is 3 weeks a long enough run for my body to get adjusted to new “feel” or alignment?
If you say give it a little more time, the questions below can wait…but here goes:
I went with blended talalay due to durability but perhaps should have stuck with my guns on 100% talalay because I think pressure points are still being affected because I’m a side sleeper. Should I swap to 100% talalay because pressure points are still there somewhat…should I add another layer under the 3" topper…perhaps a medium ILD rated 2" or 3" topper. So total make up would be soft 3" blended talalay (have now) or 100% talalay with 2" or 3" medium ILD rated (talalay or blended) and then my 7" synthetic latex core by S&F.

Thanks so much for any input.

Hi litesleeper,

This will depend on a few factors and on how different the new sleeping surface is from what your body is used to but in most cases (but not all) 3 weeks would be enough yes.

Both 100% natural talalay and blended talalay come in softer and firmer versions and what you feel would have less to do with which type of latex your are using than it would with the ILD (softness/firmness) of the layer you purchased. Blended will generally be a little more pressure relieving than the all natural because it is less dense and you will sink into it slightly more than the equivalent all natural layer but in a top layer they will be very similar and the ILD would be the thing to pay the most attention to. Do you know the ILD that you purchased?

Both blended and all natural talalay are 100% talalay (talalay is one of two main methods of producing latex) but again how it feels for you would have more to do with ILD than whether it was blended or all natural. What your next step could be would depend on the ILD of what you ordered so it could provide a reference point for any further softness or thickness you would need for good pressure relief. This could involve a softer 3" layer or some extra thickness (either in the cover or outside of it) using latex, wool, or other soft materials.

The ILD of the layer you purchased though would be important information to know to decide on what the next step may be.


Sorry for the late response…was checking back often looking for your reply and didn’t notice the “2nd” page at the bottom. I ordered the 3" soft topper in blended talalay which is supposed to be rated at 22-24 ILD according to Sleep EZ.

As for the cover…yes, i ordered the basic stretch cover which has no extra comfort layer to itself really. You may be onto something with the cover.

  • Looks like my choices are wait a little bit longer because my back is “better” just not 100%…

-Add another layer of latex under my ILD rated 22-24 topper…perhaps something with a higher ILD which according to sleep ez is 30-32 ILD. I’m sure my S&F synthetic core is rated fairly high with regards to ILD…you can physically feel the “firmness”

-Or, add something on top of my topper or cover…wool, etc…

I’m willing to test out and pay the shipping, etc. This is very important and hopefully my ILD note above helps you…help me :slight_smile:


One more thing…if I go through all the motions and do end up replacing my 7" synthetic S&f core…what are the advantages with going with a full 7" core vs. incrementally using 3" and 2" toppers? Sleep EZ says I can return the toppers (vs. their components) because they are covered with material and they are easier to physically return due to smaller thickness.

So, are a a bunch of 3" and 2" toppers stacked up ok…if I have to go this route?

Thanks so much again for your wonderful insight.