First time Latex mattress buyers


My wife and I are located in New Orleans, LA and are looking for a latex mattress. Our chief concern is lack of any off-gassing and fire retardant chemicals. Ideally we would like the whole thing to be as chemical free as possible. The only mattress we were able to find locally was the Jamison Opulence. We liked the way it felt, but not sure about the foam base and the contents of the cover. We have also been looking online (Flobeds, Sleep EZ, Plushbeds).

The Flobeds sales person is steering us toward Medium V-zone over Medium, and Firm with a Euro Slat foundation. Total cost would be about $4,100. The Jamison was about $2,300 (currently on sale).

I am about 145 lbs, wife is about 120 lbs. We are both in our 30’s and are side sleepers. Any recommendations or guidance would be greatly appreciated.


Hi ernie,

Polyfoam will never be as natural a material as even blended latex but if it is poured in the US then it would be “safe” by most people’s standards and most of the foam produced in the US is CertiPur certified. Of course like anything else … each person may have a different opinion on whether this is enough for them or “how safe is safe” because there are no black and white answers to this.

The choice between different levels of “safe”, natural, “green” or organic is a personal preference and it can be incredibly complex to find accurate information about exactly what is in every material that is in your mattress. In most cases though … some type of certification like CertiPur or Oeko-Tex is fine for most people. Some people that have more unusual sensitivities such as MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) may react to even certified polyfoam or memory foam and they would most likely choose latex … either blended or 100% natural. Others would choose organic materials on principle alone regardless of any of the other benefits or tradeoffs involved (see post #6 here and post #2 here for more about organic certifications).

There are no easy answers to any of this and much of the information is conflicting and sometimes misleading (especially when it comes to what is “green” or “natural”) but for the most part as long as you are choosing materials that are as “safe”, “green” natural or organic that you know work for you based on your sensitivity to other products (foam in furniture or other mattresses you have slept on etc) or are as “natural” as is important to you then you would likely be fine. The key is to reduce your risk by asking questions about certifications or where any foam is made (in the case of polyfoam or memory foam) and to check for certification in the case of latex (almost all latex is certified through various certification agencies for toxicity and offgassing).

In terms of fire retardant chemicals … this is a matter of asking questions about the fire retardant materials that are used in a particular mattress. In general I would consider a wool quilting fire retardant or a viscose/silica fire barrier safe with boric acid as my third choice (some forms of this can have a similar toxicity to table salt) and other than this it would be a matter of asking questions and research. I would avoid fire retardant foams and fibers. There is a great series of articles about fire retardant chemicals here in the Chicago Tribune. Post #4 here may also be helpful.

You can also avoid any type of fire retardants completely with a doctors prescription if a manufacturer will make it for you.

This would be their most costly option and I’m not sure if this (either the V Zone or the tension adjustable base) would be “needed” by most people. I can say though that they use good quality materials and if you believe after talking with several manufacturers that either the V-Zone or the Euro Slat base would be a more attractive option for you or a better “fit” in terms of PPP then it could certainly make a good choice.

The “value” of the Jamison would depend on which mattress you were talking about and it’s layering as well as the importance and “value” you place on a local purchase where you can specifically test for pressure relief and spinal alignment along with your other preferences and which is less risky than an online purchase. As a guideline (which would vary with each person or course depending on your “risk tolerance” … I think that if the “premium” for a local purchase is more than about 20% compared to a similar “apples to apples” online choice … then I would start to more seriously consider my online options.

SleepEz is a great value option but value itself is somewhat subjective and depends on all the objective, subjective, and intangible criteria that are the most important parts of your personal value equation.

I would certainly talk with SleepEz or any of the other online manufacturers that are listed in post #21 here because they are all good quality and value compared to most other options that most people end up choosing (again with the possible exception of the “value” of a local purchase that you can test in person). Each of them can make specific suggestions (which may each be different because they would take into account all the more specific details of the mattresses they make or sell) based on your “statistics” and on any local testing you have done where you know the specific details of the mattresses you have tested. Because of your lighter weights … you would probably be fine off with an 8" - 9" mattress and the layering would be softer than for someone with a heavier weight (again they will make suggestions for their specific mattresses based on the “averages” they go by and on the specifics of any local testing you have done).

In other words I would do what you have done with Flobeds (talk to them on the phone to find out what they suggest) but with some of the other other manufacturers on the list and then choose the one that you have the most confidence would fit you best and provide the options (for layering and an exchanges) that you believe are most important and is the best match for your personal value equation.


Phoenix: Thank you for all of that information. I spoke to someone at Sleep EZ and was recommended a 10,000 S/M/F (with 13,000 just offering more options). The key differences seem to be the v-zone and the Euro slat base which may be overkill for our bodyweight. Any comment on the difference in the cover quality? Also, what do you think of the 2" convoluted “comfort layer” with flobeds?

Hi ernie,

You can see some of my thoughts about the vZone in post #6 here and post #2 here may also be helpful in comparing both options.

Convoluted layers involve a tradeoff. They have a wider range from softness to firmness as they compress and start off softer and then get firmer faster than a solid layer but it does so at the expense of durability (there is less material to distribute and absorb ongoing compression forces). The disadvantage of this design which only has a single option for the top 2" is that there is less flexibility in layering and all the “designing” happens below the top two inches. With a design where there are more choices for a top layer … there is more design flexibility in the mattress.

The vZone can also add complexity and as the post I linked mentions it can either be detrimental or helpful.

Having a tension adjustable Euro Slat foundation can also be overkill IMO with a thicker mattress and would be more suitable with a mattress that was only 6" or so where it can be a more important part of the overall design of the “sleeping system”. While it can have some benefits with a thicker mattress as well … these benefits are reduced (or in some cases it could be counterproductive) with thicker mattresses where the latex layering would provide the combination of pressure relief and support that is needed on top of a firm non flexing foundation and would reduce the effect of the flexible foundation. It would be an expense that I normally wouldn’t consider justified with a thicker suitable designed mattress and I would prefer the combination of latex ILD’s and the layering design of the mattress to do the job of providing pressure relief and alignment.

I haven’t seen either cover in person so I can’t make a direct comparison from personal experience but they are both high quality and I would say they are roughly equivalent in terms of quality (at least if you chose the equivalent wool quilted cover from SleepEz).

There is a link to a foundation in post #15 here which combines many of the benefits of a tension adjustable base and a firm non flexing base at a much lower cost.

Hope this helps in your decision.