dunlop latex quality confirmation and latex mattress configuration

My wife and I have been searching for a mattress for a long time. It really has been a saga and has culminated in the last supposedly excellent box spring mattress being declared defective by the maker. Subsequent to this we have been looking at Dunlop latex mattresses and feel we are getting close to what we want based on our research to date and what we have tried in shops. This website however has been the most help of all. It has been superb in helping us wade through a lot of conflicting information and promotion out there – THANK YOU!!!

I would appreciate confirmation of our understandings and also your advice re the questions posed.

Organic and or natural latex
We understand that the organic label applies primarily to the production of the rubber liquid itself and that getting a 100% pure natural latex Dunlop mattress could be less expensive and still provide the same level of comfort and quality versus a mattress with an organic designation? Is this the case?

Type of base layer
We have looked at rubber latex beds with one base layer and a one and a half to three inch soft topper as well as those beds in which you can swap layers of rubber latex to customize the degree of firmness.

We are both seniors. We tend to sleep on our sides. I am six three and weigh in at 260 pounds; my wife is five foot seven and weighs 143. Would it be impossible for both of us to be comfortable on a common base layer or would you suggest that we try and differentiate the firmness of the bed on our respective sides? We could also I suppose put two twins together in a king frame. I realize that much of this boils down to personal feel. We are however wondering if on balance you would recommend differentiating.

Topper layer
We don’t want a plush euro style topper that you sink in to. We want something that will deal with pressure points effectively but still leave us with a firm feeling. We both tent camp a lot and like a somewhat firm thermarest mattress

Quality of Dunlop latex -
We understand that the Dunlop latex rubber foam is a good product.
• Are there different standards of Dunlop latex and what should we be looking for to enable us to differentiate quality?
• Is it a matter of the density of the foam? Our sense is that not all “firm mattresses” are equally firm. Should we be looking for a density rating? Is this rating consistent across the industry and should a mattress shop be able to provide a rating it for their Dunlop products?

Hi Cloud Nine,

[quote]Organic and or natural latex
We understand that the organic label applies primarily to the production of the rubber liquid itself and that getting a 100% pure natural latex Dunlop mattress could be less expensive and still provide the same level of comfort and quality versus a mattress with an organic designation? Is this the case?[/quote]

Yes. There are two manufacturers that produce organic raw latex (CoCo latex and Latex Green) and one of these has now had their production method certified as well (Latex Green) so their actual latex cores are now certified. There is more about this in post #6 here. The main benefit of the organic cores is the certification itself which for some people this is important but the actual difference between 100% natural Dunlop and certified 100% natural Dunlop (outside of cost) in terms of performance or even the composition of the latex would be minimal if anything at all.

More than anything this wold depend on what your personal testing tells you and on how evenly you tend to sink into a mattress. For example … I am 6.5" and 195 lbs and my DH is 5’7" and @ 130 lbs and we tend to do well on the same type of layering. Of course the difference between you and your wife is larger so the odds are greater that a mattress would need to have a specific design that could accommodate both of you. There are some types of layering patterns that could do well for both of you where for example a middle transition layer acted more as part of the comfort layer for the heavier half of a couple and as more of a support layer for the lighter half of a couple. If you are testing mattresses locally then your testing and the guidance of the person you are working with (assuming they are knowledgeable and can help you check for alignment) should be your guide for this but if you are ordering from an online manufacturer that makes a side to side split and you don’t have a reference point of a specific layering that you have tested that works for both of you, then I think a split layering would be helpful in your case yes.

[quote]Topper layer
We don’t want a plush euro style topper that you sink in to. We want something that will deal with pressure points effectively but still leave us with a firm feeling. We both tent camp a lot and like a somewhat firm thermarest mattress[/quote]

This would probably depend on which of the Thermarest mattresses you are using but in general there are two ways to choose a mattress. One is with your personal testing experience where you can feel the mattress in person which would be the most accurate and the second would be by using “averages” or more standardized height/weight/sleeping position choices for an online purchase and of course the more standardized layering can also be adjusted to take into account your own experiences and preferences for the firmer feel of the Thermarest in “real life”. The overall softness and firmness of the mattress will come from a combination of the firmness of the deeper layers (which will primarily control support and alignment how far you sink down into the mattress which some people will use to “rate” the overall softness/firmness of the mattress) and the thickness and softness of the upper softer comfort layers (which will primarily control pressure relief and which others will use more to “rate” the overall softness firmness of the mattress). In other words … each person may use a different set of criteria to rate a mattress depending on whether they are more sensitive to the pressure relieving or support properties of the mattress.

Overall though … for you I would probably suggest firmer support and/or transition layers than your wife. For example with a 2 layer mattress a very firm 6" core or with a 3 layer mattress then X-Firm/Firm. A thinner 2" comfort layer may also be more suitable considering your “camping” preferences because a thinner comfort layer will allow more of the firmness of the layers below them to “come through” than a thicker 3" comfort layer. For your wife Firm/Medium may be more suitable because of her lighter weight. The comfort layer choice would likely be medium in both cases because of your firmness preferences. This would mean an 8" mattress would likely work well and it would also be firmer overall than a mattress that used more latex (such as 12") even though for most side sleepers a 9" mattress with an extra inch in the top comfort layer (3") would be closer to the “average”.

I would also have a more detailed discussion with the manufacturer of the mattress if you are ordering online because they are the “experts” with the specific designs of the mattresses they make and the materials and options they have available and also have the benefit of a large customer base that can act as a reference point. If after a more detailed discussion with them their suggestions are different from mine I would tend to go with theirs.

With Dunlop latex the most important “spec” is the natural latex content. The density of the latex is primarily what controls the firmness level not the quality. As long as the Dunlop latex you were considering was 100% natural and from a known supplier (which would almost always be the case) then I would consider the quality to be roughly equal.

Yes. Unlike polyfoam and memory foam … density primarily controls the firmness/softness level of latex but not the quality.

No … I would focus on the description of the manufacturer of the mattress (or personal testing if you are buying locally). The manufacturer will have “translated” any density ratings into their appropriate softness/firmness levels (either ILD or a “word rating” that most people would relate to) and if the latex is 100% natural Dunlop then only the softness/firmness ratings would be important in your selection.

No … there is little consistency across the industry in terms of “word” ratings for softness/firmness. If a latex core has been accurately tested for ILD/IFD on the same thickness layer then this would be consistent across the industry for the same type of foam. The key with this is that the layer has been accurately tested at some point between its manufacturing and you and not just “assigned” a rating which may sometimes be incorrect. Other than that … the closest way to make meaningful comparisons between different Dunlop cores would be through density comparisons. These will not always be identical between different manufacturers and layers though because with Dunlop there there will be a variance in ILD/IFD in different areas of the layer surface and there will also be a variance that depends on whether a layer was cut from the top or bottom of a 6" core (the whole core is assigned the density rating but the top 3" would be less dense than the rating (softer) and the bottom 3" would be denser than the rating (firmer) even though both cores would generally be “rated” to match the whole core). There would also be some slight differences in different latex foam formulations, different latex hybrid species or production years of latex raw materials, and variations in the method of manufacturing the core. In spite of all of this … density comparisons or ILD/IFD comparisons (if they are correctly assigned) or better yet both would be the most accurate way to make the most accurate possible comparisons. If for example one layer has a density of 85 kg/M3 and another is 75 kg/m3 and the higher density latex is being rated as the same ILD/IFD or “word rating” as the lower density version then I would be asking some questions about why and probably assume that one of them has been incorrectly rated or with different criteria.

The better manufacturers will use ILD/IFD or word ratings that are fairly consistent across their different materials and they will be very informative in a conversation about how their different options compare so you can get a good sense of how they may feel but this may not always “translate” well between different manufacturers.


Hi Phoenix
Thanks so much for your detailed response. It is much appreciated, very helpful and oh so timely!!!

We are going to be visiting some foam shops in the lower half of the island and in Vancouver. Each says that they handle 100% pure latex foams using the Dunlop process. . I am assuming that the entire core or number of layers should be assumed to be 100% pure latex as opposed to what ever fraction of pure latex they use being 100% pure?

One firm glues different layers together as opposed to having one solid core. I feel a bit un easy about the possible off gassing. Do you have any comments on this

You have mentioned the importance of the manufacturer. Today we heard about one in Sri Lanka called ARPICO, which apparently builds for a number of shops here. I should have done a search on your web site re this firm but since I am at this point. Are you familiar with this firm and are there other manufactures in this general area of southern BC that make quality Dunlop foams that you would suggest we talk to

Many thanks
Cloud nine

Hi Cloud Nine,

I’m not quite sure what you mean with this but latex cores contain over 90% latex and the rest is made of various curing agents, accelerators, antioxidants, mold release agents, and other additives that are used to make the foam. The key is to ask whether the latex portion is 100% natural or if it’s a natural/synthetic latex blend (which is a less costly material). “Latex” just means rubber and it can be either natural or synthetic or a blend.

Most latex manufacturers use water based latex glue which is non toxic as opposed to a solvent type glue but I would certainly ask if they are using glue just to make sure.

Arpico is one of the Sri Lankan producers that makes good quality latex. Latex Green is another Sri Lankan latex manufacturer which you may come across which also makes good quality latex (and makes a certified organic dunlop core as I mentioned in the earlier post) and there are many more from many parts of Asia. I don’t think you would come across a “bad” 100% natural Dunlop latex product. None of the latex is manufactured in Canada … only the mattresses are made there.

The Victoria and up island list of better options is in post #2 here and the Vancouver list is in post #2 here.


Dear Phoenix
Thanks for your last post as well. It was as usual, very helpful! I have followed up with the different providers you mentioned and have called some others as well including a couple in the US. We are getting pretty close to making a final choice.

One of the challenges we have found in working with the island shops which are often smaller, is that not all shops have a range of displays that enable a person to try out a medium and firm with different toppers, although one supplier (Mcgeachies), is going to add another demo model i.e. “medium” to round out his display so that we can make a better comparison. I thought this was pretty decent of him!

This mattress hunting is quite a quest and the capacity for confusing information out there is quite amazing. I was just told that there really has never been a true Dunlop process, that it has been a Talalay process all along and that what is called the Dunlop process today is really a natural Sri Lankan Talalay. At the end of the day one could be forgiven for turning to drink.

As I said, we are close; I have a question or two. This is where we are.
• We want a king size Dunlop natural latex foam mattress made by someone like ARPICO. With a Dunlop latex topper of thickness not yet determined but probably two or three inches thick. We may have to have two zones because of our difference in weights but understand that all of this is subject to feel and comfort and support.

• Most of the shops in the lower island sell a core base mattress of six inches and then use a topper for dealing with pressure points if necessary. Green sleep offers the layers but with all the wool and wrap that costs so much. We are also interested in the Savvy mattress that is available just over the line.

Our questions are
• First in your experience do the mattresses with different layers generally pose a problem in terms of the layers shifting? We have been told this by a couple of dealers.
• Second – our assumption is that different layers like the Savvy has (we read your comments regarding it in another post to a reader) may have more capacity for fine-tuning. However on balance our thinking is that a one-piece base support and topper may also really meet our needs. Any comment would be appreciated.
• Finally – what about warranties? The warranties we have been told about range from ten years with pro rating starting after two years to twenty year warranties with prorating starting after ten or twelve years. Some people warranty again depressions in the foam others against break down in the support. Sleep comfort warranties range from non-provided to a full return of the mattress for another one. What should we be looking for in terms of warranties?

Many Thanks Phoenix
Cloud nine

Hi Cloud Nine,

I was quite impressed with my conversations with him and if he adds to what he has available for testing it would certainly be a bonus. He would certainly be one of my top choices in the Victoria area.

With a well made tight cover no there would be no problem in normal use. If you move the mattress and carry it on edge the unglued layers may shift but then it’s easy to unzip the cover and shift them back.

Having options to exchange layers is more important IMO with an online purchase that can’t be tested in person. With a local purchase that you can test then it is much easier to get very close to what you need and then “fine tuning” or exchanging layers is not as big an issue. Any layering that you have tested and works well for you in terms of PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) would be suitable IMO regardless of how the layers are arranged or the thickness of each layer. Testing “trumps” theory. Layer exchange options are really more about making up for what you can’t test in person and “good” testing can almost always get close enough that the fine tuning can be done with additions like a mattress protector or a mattress pad or even in less common cases a topper.

First of all “comfort guarantees” are part of the price of a mattress so it’s really a hidden cost of the mattress. People who do careful testing and don’t need it pay for the ones who don’t test as carefully and do need it.

For me warranties are more about marketing than anything else. If there is a defective component in a mattress it will almost always show up early in the life of a mattress and then beyond that the gradual loss of comfort and support of a mattress is almost always the reason a mattress needs to be replaced and this isn’t covered by a warranty. Warranties have little to nothing to do with how long a mattress will last for any particular person and for me knowing the materials in a mattress (which determines the speed of the loss of comfort and support) is more important than a warranty. Beyond 5 years it doesn’t matter much to me.

Especially with the major manufacturers … warranties are just a marketing tool which justifies higher prices because they well know that consumers believe that the length of a warranty reflects how long a mattress may last for them (which of course it doesn’t) and are willing to pay more for mattresses with longer warranties in the mistaken belief that they will get a new mattress if it softens too much. Most warranties have exclusions which protect the manufacturer from warranty claims in most cases (and these are tested to make sure that the claim rate will be low).

Who is behind the warranty is also more important to me than the warranty itself. In the case of many local manufacturers that are more dependent on their reputation, referrals, and customer service … they will go out of their way to make a customer happy years down the road even though their warranty doesn’t require it. For example many local manufacturers will change out a layer at a reasonable cost if it has softened and then redo the cover even if the warranty doesn’t require it.

So overall warranties are not nearly as important to me as knowing the quality of the materials in a mattress.

This is ridiculous … and I’m reaching for the wine bottle as I sigh … and shake my head :slight_smile: