conflicting latex mattress advice relating to ILD/weight

So I seem to be getting conflicting advice from several of the major online retailers, all of whom sound very knowledgeable. I am on the heavy side, 260 lbs. or so, although losing slowly! and I have inquired about how firm and how thick a mattress I need. One advises a 10 inch mattress with a 36 ILD (what they call firm) 6 inch core plus a soft (21 ILD) 3 inch comfort layer. Another says that for a 10 inch mattress I need a 44 ILD (what they call extra firm) core and a medium (32 ILD) comfort layer. Still another thinks I should get an even thicker mattress with an additional 2 to 3 inch layer.

Trial and error seems a really inconvenient way to sort this out, but I don’t know of any local retailer where I can go in and mix and match layers to get the right feel. Any advice welcome. I do understand generally that there is a going to be a trade off between supportiveness and feeling of firmness and while I don’t want to sleep on something that feels like cement, at the same time I don’t want to pay a lot of money for something lacking sufficient support.

PS I also note that generally speaking from their websites, different retailers seem to have different philosophies (and I am not even going to touch the Dunlop v Talalay issue). One, for example, says that more than 9 inches is never necessary. Others say that heavier people should get additional thickness. It’s very confusing.

Hi jamesy,

Welcome to the Mattress Forum!. :slight_smile:

Congratulations on your weight loss!

You certainly can get different advice about a mattress based upon a retailer and what they offer.

I’m not sure what you’ve read since you found the site but just in case you haven’t read it yet … the first place to start your research is the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you make the best possible choice … and perhaps more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones.

Two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you’ve read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own Personal preferences) that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.

While I can certainly help with “how” to choose … It’s not possible to make specific suggestions or recommendations for either a mattress, manufacturers/retailers, or combinations of materials or components 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”, firmness, or PPP or how a mattress will “feel” to you or compare to another mattress based on specs (either yours or a mattress), sleeping positions, health conditions, or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more reliable 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).

When you can’t test a mattress in person then the most reliable source of guidance is always a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced retailer or manufacturer that has your best interests at heart and who can help “talk you through” the specifics of their mattresses and the properties and “feel” of the materials they are using (fast or slow response, resilience, firmness etc.) and the options they have available that may be the best “match” for you based on the information you provide them, any local testing you have done (which you said you aren’t able to do) or mattresses you have slept on and liked or other mattresses you are considering that they are familiar with, and the “averages” of other customers that are similar to you. They will know more about “matching” their specific mattress designs and firmness levels to different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences (or to other mattresses that they are familiar with) than anyone else.

Since the only way to know for certain or confirm whether any mattress will be a good “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP or how it will compare to another mattress will be based on your own personal experience … if you aren’t confident that an online mattress will be a good match for you then the return/refund policy and any costs involved would become a much more important part of the “value” of a mattress purchase so you can try out the mattress in your bedroom instead of a showroom with the only risk being the cost of returning a mattress if in the worst case, and in spite of the “best efforts” of everyone involved (both you and the retailer you are buying from) the mattress doesn’t turn out to be as suitable a choice as you hoped for.

There is no one “thickness threshold” or “absolute value” for people of different BMIs.

Regarding thickness, the thickness of a mattress is just a side effect of the design and by itself isn’t particularly meaningful because whether a thicker or thinner mattress would be better or worse for any particular person will depend on the specifics of the materials (type, firmness etc.) and on all the other layers in the mattress. Thickness is only one of many specs that are used to make different mattresses that perform and feel differently and that makes a mattress suitable for one person and not another. There is more about the effect of thickness in post #14 here. Regardless of how thick or thin a mattress may be … the most important part of the “value” of a mattress is how suitable it is “as a whole” for your particular body type, sleeping positions, and preferences in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) regardless of how thick it may be. There is certainly no reason that at your weight you would “need” a particular thickness but you may still “prefer” a mattress that is thicker or thinner depending on the design.

You’ve not provided too much detail about the specifics of the companies or the actual layers of product you’re considering, so it’s difficult for me to make any meaningful comments for you regarding that.

To learn about pressure relief and support, there is more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel”.

Dunlop and Talalay latex each have individual characteristics and comforts, and you should learn about them in order to make an educated choice. You can read more about Dunlop (of either type) vs Talalay latex in post #7 here.

In order to make an informed decision, I would advise you to spend a bit of time reading through some of the links I’ve provided. Otherwise, you’ll be at the mercy of the “advice” you receive from various sources. Some can offer good advice, others bad, but you’ll never be able to differentiate one from another without educating yourself.

I look forward to learning about your progress.


I thought it would be bad form to give specific company names, but more detail on the recommendations is as follows:

1, 10 inch mattress with 6 inches 36 ILD Dunlop and 3 inches 21 ILD talalay.
2. 10 inch mattress with 6 inches of 44 ILD Dunlop and 3 inches 32 ILD talalay.
3. 10 inch mattress with 6 inches 36 ILD Dunlop and 3 inches 28 (I think) ILD talalay, then add a 3 inch talalay topper.

I did already speak with these retailers and they each had different recommendations based on my weight, so not sure what more is to be gained by that route.

Hi jamesy,

I’m not sure why you would think that (if you did just a basic perusal you’d see that forum members openly discuss a myriad of brands), but as you are unwilling/uncomfortable to provide the names of the brands you are considering, you certainly may perform a search on them on the forum. The reputation of a company is certainly something you’d want to consider as part of your PPP when going about selecting a mattress.

The specifications you provide don’t mention the blend of the latex, so that’s something you’d want to consider as part of your value equation as you compare one brand to another.

If you think that there is nothing more to be gained with speaking with these retailers (as you mentioned), then the best thing I can do is again refer you back to my earlier reply in this thread to your original post so that you can educate yourself and judge on your own the advice that you’re receiving and evaluate it. At that point, you’d want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the return/exchange policy of any product you choose beforehand in case you didn’t like your selection.


Thank you. Ok the three retailers all seem to have good reputations: Sleep-EZ, Arizona Premium Mattress, and Plushbeds. I will certainly read more and a couple of those links were very helpful, but it still seems to come down to the fact that based on a detailed discussion three experts who obviously know far more than I ever will came up with very different recommendations, and I just don’t know how to decide which recommendation is the best one. I understand you don’t want to referee but I don’t feel qualified myself either. Maybe it’s just a trial and error process after all.

Hi jamesy,

As you’re probably aware (if you searched the forum), both SleepEZ and Arizona Premium Mattress Company are members of this site which means that I think very highly of both of them and that I believe that they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, knowledge, and transparency. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a mattress from either of them.

If you did a search on the site on Plushbeds, you would have seen some of my comments about Plushbeds in post #2 here. A forum search on Plushbeds (you can just click the link) will bring up much more information and comments/feedback about them as well. They also use good quality and durable materials in their mattresses (natural or organic Dunlop and Talalay latex) and there are no lower quality materials or weak links in their latex mattresses that would be a cause for concern either and they would certainly be a much “better than average” choice compared to most of the mainstream mattresses that most people end up buying. They do a lot of internet advertising so they do attract a lot of online attention for those that are looking for a latex mattress but I would make some careful “value comparisons” with some of the other component latex options that are available to you because they may not be in the “best value” range for many of the members here that are aware of the many other similar options that are available to them.

I’m glad. Keep reading, especially learning about latex in the links I provided, especially focusing on the style and the blend. Knowing about this will assist you in part of your personal value equation and help compare the value of one brand to another.

While the recommendations are different, each company is trying to find something that is appropriate with the products they offer that they feel will work best for you. After learning a bit more about each brand (making sure you’re comfortable with all of them), I would then make another call to each business and tell them the items you are considering, and then ask them specifically why they chose the configuration that they did for you and how it compares to the other ones you’re thinking about. They’ll get into as much detail as you like (or at least they should) as to why they advised what they did. You certainly have one choice that leaned toward a firmer support core, and you could question why they advised that versus the other two who advised the “less firm” (by comparison) cores. Also, to keep things simpler and minimize variables, I tend to lean toward avoiding toppers as an initial part of an online purchase and instead focus on the complete mattress first. You could ask about that recommendation as well and ask why it was considered appropriate. After you’re done with those calls, I would then reassess the information you’ve bene given, including the completeness that your questions were answered and the comfort you had with those responses, and then try to make a final choice. When you’re not able to test a product in person, then your best course of action is to rely upon the advice of qualified individuals who have your best interest at heart. Finally, make sure that you are familiar and comfortable with any potential return/exchange policy, just in case your choice doesn’t work out for you.

You’re right, I don’t referee (15 yard penalty for illegal recommendation! :woohoo: ). I just try to provide some good resources to put you in the best situation to make your own educated decision that will allow you the best chance at success.

Let us know what you hear back if you make those follow-up phone calls and what you decide to do.


I purchased from one of the companies you are considering - SleepEZ, and am extremely satisfied. From my experience, you may want to get 2 x 3" layers for your core support layers in case you find it too firm and want to switch the middle one out for a medium layer. If you have 1 x 6" core, this would be more challenging.

Also, since you are really guessing until you actually lie on the bed, you should choose a company with the most accommodating policies to allow you to exchange the layers until you get the right feel.

I will also say that my experience regarding the top layer was a little backward from the conventional wisdom - I’m 200+ lbs and wanted a firmer feeling mattress. Having a medium firmness layer as a top layer actually got worse for me as I gained some weight, since I felt my body was being pulled harder into the mattress and actually needed more cushion. I recently switched to soft top layer from a medium. I personally find it much more comfortable and wish I had done it long ago.

You may want to try and find a Savvy Rest retailer near you, as their beds are basically made from the same components as the ones you are considering, if you want to lie on some different latex options before placing your order. That’s what I did.

Hi LAsleeper,

Thank you for bringing up a few points that are useful.

Many people do choose to go with a “core” made with 2-3" pieces versus a single 6" piece for the ability of customization. For others, they want to minimize their choices and focus only on the uppermost layers (as those most dramatically impact surface comfort), so they go to the 6" core. It comes down to your own PPP and personality, so you certainly bring up a good point.

As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, I do agree with you that confirming the exchange/return policy of any company is key when you aren’t able to try out a mattress in person. Your personal experience of being able to customize the top layer is one of the reasons many people are attracted to component systems.

Testing out different latex mattress configurations from other brands in a showroom can be useful, as that information can be relayed to any other potential company you’re considering, and they should have the experience to use that information to generally approximate a similar comfort in their own line. It’s important to note that different foams from different manufacturers will have different feels, including what is used for the covering of these foams, so managing your expectations that you’ll be attempting to find something “in the range” of what you tested instead of an “exact match” is imperative.

Thanks for the contributions!