DIY Help!

I have been researching a DIY memory foam/latex mattress and was going to go with FBM because I am thrifty (read cheap) but luckily I researched on here and read the posts about them and have found foamonline and to be better options. I am a college student, so funds are quite tight and the allure of being able to buy something piece by piece is quite large. I have a Sealy plush euro pillowtop mattress that is only a few years old, but recently I cannot get a good nights sleep no matter what I try. After a week of terrible sleep I have to do something. For now I am going to go with what worked before and add a three inch layer of memory foam and see how that goes, but I want to slowly build a DIY latex mattress. I thought I knew what I wanted but after reading on here the uncertainty is now phenomenal. I am 5’9" 190 pounds with a lot of that centered around the belly and I am a side/stomach sleeper (not sure which it is considered, I lay on my stomach but kick one leg out so it’s kind of both). I like a soft mattress but understand I need a firmer setup for my sleep position and also it’s easier to soften up a firm mattress versus firming up a soft one so.

I was going to go with three three inch layers of foam, but after reading on here see that maybe a single six inch later and then a one inch and two inch layer may be better. What I am really looking for here is input on the base layer minimum/suggested thickness and possible ILD input for it as well, although when the time gets closer I will probably go look locally for some latex mattresses to test out and see what I can pin down. Thanks in advance.

Hi Joel,

There are some general guidelines about weight and height here and some general guidelines about sleeping positions here and some more information about how different types of layering combinations can affect these guidelines here (and in the other pages in this section) as well.

Overall it is far more effective to base a layering combination on the results of your personal testing though rather than what I call “theory at a distance” (especially without a specific reference point of a mattress you have tested and where the layering is known). There is no weight/height/sleeping position formula that works for any individual except in terms of averages (and none of us are really average) and even averages needs to take into account all the components of a mattress.

Outside of personal local testing on various mattresses where the layering is known … the next best way to go is to work with a manufacturer that sells mattresses online and has the feedback from a large customer base and the skills and experience to help you make the best possible choices with the specific combinations of materials and components that they offer. Even seemingly small differences other than the foam in a mattress can make a real difference in how a mattress feels and performs and the guidance of an “expert” that knows every detail of the mattresses they sell can be invaluable in making your best choices. There is a list of these that are members of this site in post #21 here. There is a wide range of different options and budgets represented there.

The third option (after a local purchase or working with an online manufacturer) can be the most risky of all because it generally takes extensive testing to know exactly what you need and prefer and knowledge of how all the different layers and components of a mattress can interact and affect each other.

Some of my thoughts about the three main ways of buying a mattress (local, online, and buying all the layers separately) are in post #15 here. There is also a list of DIY suppliers of various types in post #4 here.

In general … combination side/stomach sleepers would do best with a firm core and then “just enough” of a comfort layer to provide good pressure relief on their side because the thinner and firmer it is the better it would provide the necessary support for stomach sleeping. You don’t seem to be a full side sleeper so you may do well with a little thinner comfort layer than a typical side sleeper.

Overall though the risks increase as you go from option 1 (local) to option 2 (online) to option 3 (DIY by yourself) and IMO to go with the full DIY route there would need to be a significant difference in cost over option 2 to justify the extra risks involved (and the extra costs if you make mistakes and have no recourse or the recourse involves significant extra cost).

In most areas of the country there is usually either good value available locally (and if you let me know the city you live in I’d be happy to let you know of any better outlets in your area I’m aware of) or alternatively available through manufacturers with great quality and value that specialize in working with their customers online or over the phone and the the benefits of bypassing these options and using option 3 would need to be significant to offset the risk and potential high cost of working “without a net”.


Phoenix, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I definitely understand where a scientific approach versus a real world approach is not favorable, but the be honest I tried my current bed out in the store and thought it was great only to get it home and find that I slept terrible on it. I have read through the list of members here and it seems as though none are local to me here in Gulfport, Mississippi and will have to go looking for mattress stores that sell latex mattresses.

It seems that you answered my real question which was in regards to support layer versus comfort layer. Is 6 inches the standard for a support layer for someone who is a side/stomach sleeper? I didn’t see any reference to thickness in any of the posts so far.

Hi DIYJoel,

The closest factory direct manufacturers that I know of within reasonable driving distance of Gulfport would be some of the manufacturers that are in the Baton Rouge/Lafayette, LA list in post #191 here or … Factory direct manufacturer in Meridian. They make a range of traditional innerspring mattresses including two sided using better quality polyfoam (1.5 and 1.8 lb generally) but they also make other mattresses including latex hybrids and microcoils which may also be of interest.

Some of the local retail outlets that carry some alternative brands that may have some better value in either memory foam or latex (or at least may be good for testing purposes) include … Gulfport, D’Iberville, Slidell, Covington, Hammond, MS. Carry Jamison which make a range of high quality latex and latex hybrids that can be good for testing latex and other mattresses that in some cases can be better value (depending on the price at the outlet). They also carry other types of Jamison mattresses as well. Gulfport, MS. Carry sleep-Designs but no latex. Chain store (which means be careful here and make sure you can find out the quality/density of the materials in their mattress). They carry Therapedic but no latex. Covington, Hammond, LA. Golden, Restonic.

If you wish to use any of these for testing either memory foam or latex … I would definitely phone first and “interview” them along the lines of this article to make sure that they are able or willing to tell you the details of the layers in their mattresses and to give you a sense of the level of service and knowledge you could expect if you visit them. The specs for Jamison are on their site.

While none of these are likely to be in the same value range as the online manufacturers I listed earlier … there may be some surprises or they may just be good testing grounds.

This is not at all uncommon and is often the result of testing for somewhat vague and subjective ideas of “comfort” in the highly managed environment of most mainstream mattress outlets. If instead you spend enough time on a mattress that you are seriously considering (at least 15 minutes) making sure you are fully relaxed and your muscles have “let go” and test more specifically and “objectively” for pressure relief in your most pressure prone position (for most people on their side) and for alignment in all your sleeping positions and also test for any preferences such as motion isolation and freedom of movement etc … then mattress testing can be much more “accurate”. It’s especially important to make sure that you are fully relaxed and so that as much as possible the mattress does all the work rather than any tension in your muscles so that you can sense any areas of pressure or tension while you are testing. It also helps to have someone else make sure that you are in good alignment because this can be more difficult to know for yourself except for any obvious tension in your muscles which are trying to hold up the parts that are sinking in too deeply.

Most full latex cores range from about 5.5" - 7" so this would be the “norm” for the thickness of a support layer (or combination of layers). Polyfoam would be similar. There are no specific rules here though and it will vary with the design and layering of the mattress and with the body type and sleeping style of the person. Heavier weights may need thicker layers to accommodate the extra weight. With basic and less complex types of construction though … in the range of 6" for a support layer would be fairly typical.


It looks like I will be heading to Slidell in the near future and trying out some of the PLB mattresses. That is about an hour from me.

I will have to work on how I test mattresses, I think before I wasn’t taking the time needed to really get a feel for them.

Thanks again for your time and expertise Phoenix.

Hi DIYJoel,

Jamison also makes a line of latex mattress both all latex and latex hybrids so it may be worth a call to see if the local outlet carries them.


How do I deal with two different sleepers and bodies. I’m 5’9" and 127 and he is 6’0" and about 300lbs he’s more a side sleeper and I’m more back. Im leaning towards a latex now. Im also a systemic chronic pain suffer so any help here would be great. I’m in Dallas tx. I’m sure there are Outlets near me I just don’t know them. Could you help with these questions.thank you Anna

If you are going the DIY route you can easily build it one half at a time. For a king or queen I believe that it is two pieces of latex glued together, so depending where you order from they can likely customize each layer to your liking. If you are buying a custom latex, many companies can build them that way for you.

Hi Anna,

There are several good choices in the Dallas area that I think highly of including one of the members of the site. They are listed in Post #2 and #4 here.

There are several ways to accommodate two different people who have a large difference in height and weight. One of these is a “split” side to side layering where each side of a mattress is made differently for the needs of each person. Many local manufacturers will do this. The second way is certain layering arrangements that can take advantage of the fact that each of you will sink into a mattress differently and to different depths. For example if you had a couple of inches of soft foam on top of about 3" of medium foam over very firm foam, the soft would be your comfort layer and the medium would be your support layer and you wouldn’t really “reach” the firmest layer at the bottom while for your husband the top 5" or so would be his “comfort layer” and the deeper very firm layer would be his support. In other words … different parts of the mattress would perform different functions for each of you. The final option is of course separate twin XL mattresses of the same height but different constructions.

The manufacturers that are near you have many years of experience at helping people in similar circumstances to yours :slight_smile: