DIY all latex mattress (one layer at a time) build. All suggestions welcome.

Background: I’m a 5’5" 130lb male who used to be a stomach sleeper until I hurt my back 3 years ago. After that I switched to side sleeping on a 30 year old extra firm mattress. I’m having shoulder pain and I toss and turn all night. I’m also a hot sleeper. I’m wanting DIY a 100% all natural organic latex mattress.

I figured the best way to get started was just to jump right in a buy a 3" layer of latex. I ended up with a Sleep on Latex 3" 34ILD medium Dunlop layer. Not sure if 34ILD is technically med. firm or firm. It arrived yesterday and I slept on it last night which helped some with my tossing and turning. Only time will tell if it will help my shoulder pain.

They recommend a configuration with 3" 46ILD Firm Dunlop, 3" 34ILD medium Dunlop and 20ILD soft Dunlop layers. That seems to be a generic setup that most people can live with but it may not be right for everyone. Another place recommended a 6" 28ILD Talalay core with 3" 19ild Talalay. While that sounds nice a 6" core would be a pricey mistake if I don’t like it and it would be heavy and difficult to move. Here are some of the configurations that may be right for me. Any and all comments and suggestions from forum members and vendor are very welcome.

Sleep on latex 3" 46ILD Firm Dunlop -or- 34ILD firm Dunlop + 3" 34ILD medium Dunlop + 20ILD soft Dunlop (if this doesn’t relieve pressure I could add a 1’-3" soft Talalay layer from another vendor)

Sleep on latex 3" 46ILD firm Dunlop -or- 34ILD firm Dunlop + 3" 34ILD medium Dunlop + 3" 19ILD -or- 14ILD soft Talalay from another vendor.

Sleep on latex 3" 34ILD medium Dunlop + 3" 28ILD medium Talalay + 3" 20ILD soft Talalay.

Is a top Talalay comfort layer really worth $150 to $170 more than a soft Dunlop layer? I would like to hear from someone who has tried both in the same ILD/s. Would durability be a big factor? Is it more durable over the years and from handling?

Hello TossandTurn,

I have helped a lot of people over the years put together latex mattress configurations and I have a few notes to share on the choosing process.

  1. Your weight suggests that the combinations you create, no matter what they are, will feel more firm to you, than they will to someone 200+ lbs. That means that if 46 ILD is included in an average build, it is going to feel extra firm to you. Honestly 46 ILD is super firm and by itself is considered a floor bed.

  2. You mentioned you didn’t want extra firm, but what do you want? Moderately firm? If so, a 6" combination could work for you. Something like 28 ILD over 31 or 34 ILD. If you want a soft build, you will probably need the full 9" to add in enough support (firmer layers) and comfort (softer layers). And if you want a softer build, stay away from that 46 ILD and double up on either the 20 or preferably (for durability’s and longevity’s sake) the 34 ILD.

Talalay processed latex is a slightly different feel and is less durable than Dunlop processed latex. More air does equal smaller air bubbles, which does affect feel but also less product to receive use from.

Hello diynb,

Thanks for your reply. I really like your expandable ticking. What a great idea!

  1. If I were to lay a 3" 46ILD Dunlop layer on concrete and laid on my side how much if at all would it contour to my body? If I were to add my medium 3" 34ILD Dunlop layer on top of the 46ILD layer would the med layer “curve” into the 46ILD layer? I’ll be buying or building a frame with 3" or less between the slats. Would a 3" firm/med layer combo “insulate” better from feeling the slats than a 3" med./med. layer combo? I mention it because in this sticky they said it took 4x 3" med layers until they couldn’t feel the slats but the slats were about 3 3/4" apart. The person also didn’t mention their BMI or size. I wonder if a layer of firm would have saved them from needing so many layers.

  2. Since I’m a side sleeper I don’t want to feel any pressure on my shoulders and hips while keeping my spine aligned to prevent lower back pain. I’m also hoping that I don’t sink in too far (like memory foam) and get hot. I don’t think that will be an issue with latex though. With only 2 nights on my 3" 34ILD Dunlop sitting on my old firm mattress I can literally feel the latex pushing up against my ribs. It more of a supportive cradling feeling and not painful. I do definitely need something with more give for my shoulders.

Hello Toss and Turn,

  1. “If I were to add my medium 3” 34ILD Dunlop layer on top of the 46ILD layer would the med layer “curve” into the 46ILD layer?"

One 46 ILD layer would still let you feel the slats. It would be very supportive and bouncy rather than squishy but it still is so thin that you would feel the slats. Adding a medium layer on top would definitely make a difference. Yes, you would sink through it and curve into the firm layer. Two layers would be the minimum most adults choose. A medium over a firm would feel a bit firm, not soft.

  1. "It more of a supportive cradling feeling and not painful. I do definitely need something with more give for my shoulders. "

Latex is excellent at that cradling effect or point elasticity (flexing only under pressure). I remember that being one of the first things I noticed lying on it, that the small of my back was actually supported.

If the medium doesn’t give you enough give, then don’t expect a medium over a firm to provide that. Perhaps your next purchase should be a soft with the intent of layering it over the medium to see how it feels. Then you can decide if it is too squishy or just right, you just need more depth so you don’t sink through (add another medium) or if all you feel is squish and you need some lifting up and support (add the firm).

Keep in mind that latex will contour to your current mattress, so if you have sags in your current mattress, that will be transferred in feel to the latex.

Thanks again for your help diynaturalbedding. I was also tossing around the idea of picking up a soft next. Glad to here it’s not a silly idea since a article I read said you should start from the bottom up when building your own mattress.

Something else I should try is removing the mattress and sleeping at least one night of the medium layer on the box springs. I think my mattress is distorting the latex firmness and making it feel softer than it really is. I think I’m going to do that right now and report back tomorrow…

Also thank you for your help on the 46ILD feel. I do intend to go with at least 3 layers or more if necessary. I was always going to go with a med. and soft combined with another lower layer. I just wasn’t sure what ILD the lower layer should be and what type of latex or ILD (20 or 14) to go with on the top layer. I’m 90% sure I’m going to go with the 3" 20ILD Dunlop top layer though.

Scratch laying the latex on my box springs. The springs are too rough and I don’t have a wall long enough to lean my mattress against.

I’ve been thinking about going with something like a DIY Plushbeds Botanical Bliss but with only 3 layers to start with. Their 10" model has 3x 3" med. med-soft and a soft layers. The 12" model has 3x 3" med-firm, med. med-soft and a additional 2" soft layer. I currently have a 34ILD med/med-firm Dunlop in my possession and a soft 20ILD Dunlop on backorder. I’ve found a small handful of sites that are both affordable and that have something in between 34ILD and 20IL with only one being GOLS certified.

Dunlop Toppers | DIY Mattress (100% Natural Latex Arpico 28-32ild med $229 -or- 20-25ild soft $200) (100% Natural Latex 28ILD $229)
Organic Latex Mattress Topper | Naturally Nestled (GOLS 26ILD $270)
Organic Latex Mattress Topper | Naturally Nestled (100% natural latex 26ILD. $232)

  1. Is it a good idea to go with a progressive firmness mattress? (130lb. side sleeper).

  2. Would I notice a difference between a 34ILD and 26-28ILD? Would I notice the difference between 26-28ILD and 20ILD? Since Dunlop doesn’t come at an exact ILD but rather a range of ILDs would trying to get something between 34ILD and 20ILD be a silly idea? In other words if my 34 was actually a 33 and my 20 was actually a 21 would trying to add something that may end up within or two to four points of what I already have be a crazy idea since we really don’t know the exact ILDs? See diymattress ILD range he stated above. I could end up buying something close to what I already have. If that is the case wouldn’t going with a 34ILD + 34ILD +20ILD setup make more sense?

  3. Do you know anyone else that offers quality 100% natural or GOLS certified Dunlop toppers in the 26iLD to 28ILD range that’s less than $300?

  4. Only one of the vendors above is a trusted member. Do you know anything about the other’s reputation?

  5. When it comes to the actual topper by itself GOLS and 100% natural are both 100% safe and basically the same correct?

I got my platform bed setup and the 20ILD soft topper arrived. For the last two nights I slept on the new platform bed, my old mattress (no box springs) and the 34ILD topper and 20ILD toppers. I did well the first night but the 2nd I couldn’t get comfortable with shoulder pain.

i don’t think I’m getting the full experience of the latex when they’re sitting on the old mattress. The slats are 2.8" apart and I think they are 2" wide. Should I remove the mattress and use the 3" 34ILD and 3" 20ILD directly on the platform? Normally I would just try it myself but it’s only me wrestling with the mattress and latex. Would I feel the slats as a 130lb. side sleeper? If I try it should I lay something like a comforter or cardboard on top of the slats before the latex to protect the latex or prevent feeling the slats? Please advise.

If anyone knows a vendor that sells GOLS certified or 100% natural latex in the 26-28ILD range please let me know. Most I’ve found have 28-30ILD or 28-32ILD ranges. I found a 26ILD at naturally nestled but they don’t have a phone number and they take well over 24 hours to reply which doesn’t inspire confidence.

Side note: Every TMU trusted member I have contacted has been been very patient and helpful.

I have slept 4 nights with the 34ILD and 20ILD toppers placed directly on the platform bed. My initial thoughts are I might need a tiny bit more support for my hips and more pressure relief for my shoulders. I do notice I’m not tossing and turning as much. Not sure if the shoulder issue is partially caused by less turning combined with only having 6" of latex for the time being. Can these problems be fixed simultaneously and what should I be considering as my next layer? Most suggest a soft, med, firm config or a soft, med, med config. What 3rd layer would give me the best chance at success?

Fwiw I have found vendors who sell a variety of ILDs between the two I have. I never could find a 26-28ILD but I got close.

27-34 ILD
30-32 ILD
28-32 ILD
25-28 ILD
23-26 ILD

I didn’t include ILD’s greater than 34 or less than 20 but they are an option if you think it’s what I need. I’m also not opposed to adding a final 4th layer of 1" or 2" of extra soft Talalay if it’s needed.

Anybody? I’m fine with talking everything out loud like I’m doing with no replies as it can be useful. I’m also probably overthinking it which is par for the course. I just don’t want to make a $250 mistake.

Would the 34ILD, 25-28ILD, 20ILD work ok together? It’s basically med firm, med and soft. I think I would be happy if it supported my lower back while I’m on my side.

This isn’t a reply to your question…I didn’t know how to jump into the discussion so attached my post to yours. Sorry if this isn’t kosher!
After much consideration I’m going to get a Plush Botanical Bliss. It has adjustable layers, it sounds like the people are good to work with, they have jumped through a lot of hoops to get all of the certifications they have, and while it’s expensive, it’s pretty comparable with other mattresses of its kind. The organic feature is worth extra money to me. People say it doesn’t smell which is also important to me because I’ve now slept on two memory foams and returned one and am about to return the second due to smell and heat and firmness with no way to adjust that. The maker also was unable to give me ILDs which is not good. (I need this info from Plush before I buy.)I wish I’d read more on this site before I bought either of my other mattresses. I’m sorry not to be able to give your trusted members business. I wish Plush was one of them because, from what I’ve read here, most people are happy with them.
Toss and Turn, hope you found your good combo. If you’re still struggling and haven’t talked to the manufacturer (which I suspect you have) they might be able to help. I also wondered if you have slept on each configuration long enough to see if your body adjusts to it. Just a few random thoughts.
If anyone has bad things to say about their experience with Plush I’d love to hear it. I’m tired of searching for the right mattress and don’t want to return another. As always, thanks for this great website. What a great service you provide!

Hi Greyling. No worries posting in this topic as it’s related to Plush Beds. I did end up grabbing the 25-28ILD since it’s the only topper I could find between 20 and 34ILD. I’m not satisfied about the purchase though since the company has no phone number, is only open 5 days a week 8 to 3PM and the GOLS certificate is not in their name. I’ll ask for clarification and maybe I can get them to connect the dots from the factory to their warehouse. I only ordered from them because like you I’m tired of shopping and want to put the meat of this build behind me.

I know you were looking for answers from experts but I’ll throw in my 2 cents while you wait. I wouldn’t look at switching layers of latex around as a big selling point. You can do that with any bed that comes with a zippered enclosure and one that doesn’t have their layers glued together. Sleep on Latex’s prebuilt mattresses has a zippered cover but the latex layers are glued together as an example. It’s also not ideal to put a softer layer under a firmer layer as a way to adjust the feel but if it works for you then fine as everyone is different. A better way is to exchange latex layers with a company that permits this to tweak the bed to your liking. It does look like Plush Beds allows exchanging the top layer within 100 days so that’s a plus if your issue can be fixed in that top comfort layer.

Also note that you’re going to need to put the mattress together the same as you would a DIY bed. See this video as an example. Just be more careful with the scissors than this guy was lol. If they ship two layers in a single box it’s going to be 80 or more pounds for a queen so you might recruit some help from friends or family. Assembly isn’t difficult but it would go easier with two people. I’m not saying all this to discourage you but I just want to point out my findings during my journey.

I hope you find your perfect bed and wish you luck in your journey.

Thanks for the informative reply Toss and Turn. I think I know which vendor you’re dealing with. I too was put off by the fact that they don’t have a phone number. It seems to be it’s easier to ignore an email than a phone call and I’ve never heard of a business with no phone number, trusted member or not. I too wondered about the certificates being in their suppliers’ names. As I looked at a lot of the other sites it seems that’s not unusual. That surprised me. I guess it’s like when you buy food…you trust the grocer that they have a good supplier. From what I’ve read there are limited sources of latex so that may help that issue.

The reason the moveable layers appeals to me is that I’ve now been through two memory foam beds, both of which smelled and were too hard. I figure with a mattress where layers can be moved around and/or exchanged I have a better chance of getting a good fit, though it sounds from your experience like it can be hard. My understanding is that Plush will exchange any of the layers, but I’ll recheck that.

I realize that about putting the bed together. While my husband and I are older, we’ve gotten one 75 lb mattress up our stairs so I guess we can do another. At least it looks like the bags they come in have extra plastic at the top as not having a place to grab is the biggest problem. I know with latex you have to be very careful about that…
I hope you’re able to find a topper that fits your needs…oh, and I asked the vendor, if it’s the one I think, on their question board here about the certificate issue. I thought the person answering was a little testy about it, but that might have been my take on it and wasn’t accurate, he was having a bad day, or who knows. In emails it’s always hard to know.
Thanks for your comments!

Hello Greyling. The vendor I bought from is not a trusted member. I would have felt a bit better if they were. They also sell their toppers on Amazon so they have a lot to lose if they aren’t selling what they advertise.

Here’s where I saw about Plush Beds exchanging the top layer. It’s towards the bottom under “100 Night Free In-Home Comfort Exchange:”.

I would still ask them about exchanging the other layers if necessary. If I was them I would rather exchange any layer rather than have a mattress returned.

I’ll step aside until I here back from the vendor and receive the topper. Hopefully someone with a Bliss will comment in the meantime.

Thanks Toss and Turn! You even sent a link!!! Yes, after you mentioned it to me I went back and saw that. I plan to call them today to ask some questions. That will be one of them. Sorry your vendor isn’t a trusted member. I went that route too with my current bed and have to send it back. Lord knows what hoops I’ll have to jump through for that one! I’m wiser now. Wish there was a way this site was number one on all of the search engines when people search mattresses. It’s a confusing world out there.
Good luck with your situation and thanks again!

My latest Plush update. I called them yesterday to ask some questions before I bought the bed. First of all the mailbox of the person handling new purchases was full so I talked with someone at their general number after waiting about 5 minutes. He told me there was no mattress expert available and took my name and number and said someone would call me back. This was what would be 10:30 or so their time. I waited all day and no call back. I just had a live chat with one of their reps indicating how this made me wonder about customer service, ie. if they couldn’t answer me when I had questions before buying what would happen if I bought one of their expensive beds and had an issue I needed help for. The person was totally unhelpful, came back with information about the bed. That was bad enough, but the information the person supplied was totally different from what was on the website. It was clear that I knew more about their mattresses than the person taking my call. This doesn’t increase my confidence in Plush! When I indicated my concern the person I was talking with told me she would refer the call to her manager “if he was available”. Are you kidding me? You have an angry potential caller because of bad customer service and you try to placate them by indicating that their call may not be important enough for someone to return. Sigh…now I feel like I have to start my quest all over again. This is very discouraging.

Is it normal for a 3" soft 20ILD dunlop layer to develop dips where my shoulder and hips rest on the bed? I’ve also noticed that it takes the soft layer about 4 to 5 days to soften up and develop the dips.

I’ve also had some time with the 34ILD, 25-28ILD and 20ILD setup. That Naturally Nestled branded middle layer firmed up the bed which was a surprise. I wish I had a way of testing the firmness myself to see how the middle and bottom layers compare. The middle layer was compressed more than my Sleep on Latex layers which may be the reason it’s only about 2 3/4" thick. It is also heavier and is an inch longer than the SOL layers which are shy of the 60"x80" advertised dimensions.

I’m still feeling pressure on my shoulders which is still causing me to toss and turn some so I’m not sure what to do next. Not sure if I need to put plywood over my 2.8" gapped slats or add another layer. Would 2" of a 15ILD talalay help? I still haven’t bought a mattress cover so I’m still open to adding it to the existing layers or adding it as a separate topper. Would it develop dips like my current soft layer?

The short answer is, no, your latex should not be developing dips in such a short period of time and you should file a warranty claim.

The longer answer is, the softer the latex, the less durable it is. Because the softer layers get used the most since they are on top and because they have the least amount of latex in them compared to the other firmnesses, they are the pieces most likely to get impressions.

Also, expect the Talalay processed latex to develop impressions before Dunlop processed latex does. It’s just math, air vs. latex. The 30% higher quantity of latex in the Dunlop processed latex means more durability.

Latex is so flexible, it can be difficult to cut exactly, especially as room temperature can affect its size on the cutting table and thus its final cut in your house. Heat causes it to expand and cool to shrink. So it is quite common for slabs to have a 1" variance from each other.

It does sound like you need more comfort under your shoulders.

Hi Toss and Turn- Sorry to hear that you continue to have such problems with your bed. I have to admit that it’s hard for me to follow all of your various combos. I wondered if it makes sense for you to make a list with the various combos and, if you remember, put down the issues with each. (If you don’t remember, then maybe spend a night or long nap on each to see what the issues are). That might help you figure out if there’s one that supports your shoulders and hips without pain even if there are issues with other areas of the mattress for other parts of your body.It might be easier to address the other issues after the shoulders/hips are addressed yet I know that what you put under your top layer will probably change the whole feel of the mattress. I’m wondering about a soft Dunlop for your top layer for durability, but I’m also wondering if you need more support than you are getting under the upper layer and if it’s because it’s not supported enough that your top layer is dipping. Also, is it the thickest layer you can get? I am far from an expert in this! My new bed is in its boxes in my garage waiting to be assembled so I can’t speak from experience. So I guess I’m saying to take anything I say with a grain of salt. It does sound like you have a complex issue. Maybe one of the mattresses where you can customize zones would be a better choice for you. I hope you’re able to find your answer soon!

Hi Greyling. The combos I have tried is a short list. All layers are 3".

  1. 3" 34ILD med topper on my 30 year old mattress. (Too firm but I did it to try out latex.)
  2. 3" 20ILD soft on top of 3" 34ILD med. on my old mattress. (decent but too tall)
  3. 3" 20ILD soft on top of 3" 34ILD med. on my new platform bed. (decent but I could feel slats)
  4. 3" 20ILD soft on top of 3" 26ILD med. and 3" 34ILD med. on bottom. (current config)

Good point about how the middle layer affects how the top layer feels and curves to my body. I was kind of hoping the 26ILD would allow for that. It’s actually doing a better job of supporting my hips than the 34ILD and 20ILD combo.

I was able to get the St. Dormeir wool mattress protector on the bed two days ago. It adds a tiny bit more padding which seems to help.