Help choosing a latex mattress

Ok, I have looked on the internet until I am in information overload. I have seen so many ILD numbers thrown out there that I now cannot determine what is what. I need a firm mattress that won’t sag after 6 months. Have basically decided that latex is the way to go.

My husband has very bad lower back problems, is a back sleeper (occaisional side sleeper) and prefers firm for the support it offers. He’s 5’10" and approx 190 lbs. I sleep anyway and everyway…side, back, stomach…however I feel comfy at that time. Also, I have neck issues. I like a firm mattress with a nice comfort layer but not too soft.

Have had a cheapo memory foam in the past that I hated. Got a Sealy memory foam that was pretty firm. Maybe to much so IMO to begin with but after a few weeks I was comfortable. Sold that house and bought a place that has a built in platform bed. Would have been happy to take my S brand but it was a king and new bed is a queen. Currently have a god only knows what brand air mattress that is HORRIBLE. It’s not a sleep number, no clue what it is…so I’m back on the hunt. Don’t want to spend a fortune on a mattress as this place is a fixer upper and will be sold before to terribly long. We may have it a few years but anticipate on going back to a king at the next place.

So, all that background… I have looked at either the Sam’s Club Classic Dream 9" which would allow for a topper if needed. Or possibly the CD 13" but wasn’t sure how firm it was or if the topper on it was to soft.

Also looked at the Costco Sleep Science latex 10" but still unsure.

Any ideas on those I’ve looked at or possibly a diff one you know of. Not sure I want to do the DIY since I have no idea what to get.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hi waterbugs3,

I can certainly understand this and there is a lot of information … and worse yet misinformation … everywhere you turn. The good news is that you have decided on the basic material that you would like.

Rather than trying to do so much research that you go into information overload, it’s usually simpler to split your search into two parts. The first part is to find an outlet that has great service, knowledge, value, and the willingness to help fit a mattress to your needs and preferences. Finding these can be the most valuable part of your search. The more they know the less you have to know and learn. Usually the best outlets like these are local manufacturers who sell factory direct or local sleep shops that carry alternative, local, or smaller brands where they have a close relationship to the manufacturer.

Once you have found one or a few of these the second part of choosing a mattress is much easier. Then you can ignore all the outlets that carry lower value mattresses or that don’t really have the skills or knowledge to help educate you and guide you towards your best choices. This way you can limit your search to the few places that you can trust have the knowledge to truly help you (instead of just selling you) and that also carry mattresses that have better value.

If you choose an outlet that doesn’t know as much … then whatever they don’t know or won’t tell you you would need to learn yourself (and risk the information overload that you are already experiencing).

Neither the 9" or the 13" Classic dream (made by Boyd) have any specs and the 9" doesn’t have any latex in it and the 13" has either 1" or 3" of latex in it depending on which model it is. “Engineered latex” is just another name for polyfoam which has specs that are somewhat “latex like”. To know how suitable this mattress might be would require knowing the density and ILD of the polyfoam and the details of any latex that it contains and also the ILD’s as well and then connecting this to how suitable the specs would be for your body weight, shape, and sleeping positions. Because Sams Club reps know absolutely nothing about fitting people to a mattress … this would mean that you would need to have the knowledge yourself to make up for what they don’t know and this would require a lot more research into mattress specs. The only good thing about these is that even though you are buying something completely blind in the hopes that it may work, if it doesn’t then at least Sam’s Club offers a refund.

Costco also has little information about the Sleep Science or what is in it (other than the top two layers are some type of latex, likely Dunlop), how thick the latex layers may be, or any other details. The good news is that they also have a great refund policy but even then you would need to know more details about the layers to know if it was worth the price (although it’s probably fairly reasonable).

If you let me know the city you live in … I’d be happy to take a look to see if I know of any better outlets that are near you that can save you from having to do more research yourself and hopefully from even more information overload.


Thank you so much for the input. I am in Guntersville AL (Huntsville may be easier to find something in).

To give you some examples of what we like…we liked the icomfort insight but the more I read about it, the more I turned away. Also like the tempurpedic cloud (basic cloud model) too. But have decided that a latex would probably hold up longer than the memory foam.

Hi waterbugs3,

There are a couple of other threads that are centered around Huntsville that may be of some help. They are here and here.

To simplify things a bit … there are only 3 factory direct outlets that are within reasonable driving distance although one is 50 miles away and the other two are closer to 100 miles away. These would almost certainly be your best source of quality and value in the area. they are …

Furniture Row® Store Locations - Store Hours & Addresses Madison and Chattanooga. They are a regional factory direct outlet and they carry two latex (or mostly latex) mattresses called the Aspen and the Snowmass. These are both good quality and have good value if one of them is suitable for your needs and preferences. The Aspen is a little softer version and the snowmass is a little firmer version. They both use Talalay latex. Denver mattress has many outlets across many states so the knowledge level of the staff may vary in different outlets. I would ignore the brands they also carry which they don’t manufacture. Chatanooga and other outlets in the area. Local factory direct manufacturer that makes a full range of mattresses including latex. I don’t know the details of their mattresses and they aren’t listed on their site so if you do decide to go here I would call first to make sure they have “all latex” or “latex hybrid” (latex over innersprings or latex over polyfoam) mattresses. The value here is likely better than most retail outlets for similar mattresses but I would make sure that you are able to find out the specifics of the materials in any of their mattresses you are considering (see post #8 here). Local factory direct manufacturer in Pelham, AL. I know the owner Tom and have talked with him many times and think very highly of him and the mattresses he makes. He just came out with his first "all latex’ mattress which is 2 sided and has good value.

Other than these … there are some retail outlets listed that are close to you but in general it is not as likely that they would have either the knowledge or the value of a factory direct outlet. They also may not even carry a mattress that is similar to what you are looking for. Since they are closer though, they may be worth a phone call or a visit asking if they carry “all latex” or “latex hybrid” mattresses (followed with a request to list the layers of any mattresses they think fits the description). The brands I listed that they carry that would have the best odds of having a mattress that fits your criteria and that may have better value depending on the prices they are selling for. When you are looking at retail outlets in your area though, it is very important to phone and “interview” them first to find out if they have the type of mattress you are looking for (latex or latex hybrid), what the prices are, and to make sure they will give you the layer by layer breakdown of the mattress over the phone. If they are hesitant to do this, don’t seem to know, or try to make you come in first before they will give you any information or prices or if they just don’t seem helpful or knowledgeable on the phone … pass them by.

There are also some wholesale manufacturers listed that you could call to see if they made a latex or latex hybrid mattress (if they don’t have the information on their site) and if they do they will normally tell you about any retail outlets close to you that carry them. Make sure you phone these retail outlets to “interview” them in the same way you would any other retail outlet before you visit them.

I know that you mentioned you were hesitant about going the DIY route but because they are much more knowledgeable than places like Costco and Sams Club … the odds of buying a suitable mattress that fits your needs and preferences from one of these are far greater than a blind purchase from a box store where in many cases you have no idea what you are buying and they don’t have any knowledge or guidance about which mattresses may be suitable for you. The only good side to the box stores is their refund policy.

The DIY manufacturers that I’ve listed or that are members of the site also tend to sell higher quality mattresses though which in your case may not be what you need because it seems you only need it to last for a few years. While they may have much better value than your other more local choices or the box stores … it seems that you may be looking for a lower priced mattress that doesn’t need to last as long as most of the higher quality mattresses that they sell. If this is the case … it may be worth including mattresses which use lower quality materials (such as higher density polyfoam) which are less durable but also less expensive in your search.

In general I would take the time to talk with the local manufacturers on the phone to decide if a visit would be worth the drive (and it will save you many hours of research and trying to sort through conflicting information). I would also never visit any local outlet where I hadn’t spent enough time on the phone with them to know their overall approach to selling mattresses, confirm that they know and will tell their customers the materials in their mattresses, and have a good sense that they will provide me with the information that I want. Finally I would consider an online outlet that has the skills and knowledge to help you make a good choice if you decide it’s worth buying a mattress that has great value but will last you longer than you may need.


Well I talked to Royal and checked out Furniture Row. Not really anything that caught my attention. So maybe the DIY approach is something to look into.

I have the air mattress (some generic sleep number that was on the platform bed when we bought the place) that I can take the guts out of and make a new mattress out of if need be. If that is a cheaper route than having one customized to get a quality latex it may be a better option. Prob is I have no clue how to determine the setup. I have read your posts on the differences. It’s the ild that baffles me since I know nothing about it.

My husband has 3 ruptured discs in his lower back. Sleeps mostly on his back, some side. He’s 5’10" and approx 200#. Maybe just under. He likes a firmer feel. I’m about 5’4" and about 140#. Sleep on back and side. No back pain to speak of but do have neck pain. Could be pillow issues in that though since the mattress we have is horrible. I do have a mild scoliosis but no issues with it. Actually didn’t know I had it until I started having my neck checked out. So…

From what I read Talalay (blended?) is softer than Dunlop? And would need a “more firm” on bottom and then a “firmer” on top of that. And then 1-2 layers of comfort??

Any thoughts?

Hi Waterbugs3,

I’m not sure which part of the sleep number you are planning to keep but if it’s the air bladders I would give some serious thought to this. I am not a fan of airbeds at all and some of my thoughts about them are here.

If you are happy with the air bladders though (assuming that’s what you are thinking about using as a support core), then it would be a matter of adding latex over it in the comfort layers in the thickness that fits inside your cover.

Typically … a back sleeper will need a comfort layer in the range of 2-3" and a side sleeper will need in the range of 3-4". This will also depend on the firmness of the support layer which would be “variable” in the case of an air mattress. I personally think though that the “best” setting for an air mattress is as firm as it will go and then adding the appropriate amount of layers over this to get the pressure relief you need would likely be a better choice.

The “typical” ILD for a comfort layer for most people would be in the range of 19 - 24 ILD (lower for lower weights and higher for higher weights) and for those that are heavier or like a firmer feel then in the “medium” range may also work well (28 - 32 ILD). Which is best would depend on the results of any personal testing you have done on latex.

For a “lower cost” latex mattress or more accurately a latex “hybrid” … then replacing the latex support core with either polyfoam or an innerspring can often lower the cost over using a latex support layer but maintain the feel of having latex on the top surface of your mattress.

Blended Talalay is generally softer feeling than Dunlop … even in the same ILD … because Dunlop has a higher sag factor (gets firmer faster) so at 25% compression (where the ILD rating is tested) they would be the same but when the Dunlop was compressed more it would have a higher ILD at a higher percentage of compression (it would take more weight to compress it to 65% for example). There are some types of Dunlop which are more comparable to Talalay in softness such as the lower density Dunlop that Royal is using in the comfort layers (which is made differently than most other Dunlop and has a density that is still higher but closer to Talalay).

So a “typical” 9" all latex mattress for you would be soft/medium/firm in 3" layers while for your husband would likely be more in the medium/firm/extra firm range if you were using three 3" layers. If you were using a 6" core (Dunlop or Talalay) then your support core would likely be medium and his would likely be firm. In an ideal world of course this should be confirmed with some testing to make sure that you are in the “normal” range of needs and preferences.

If you only use a 3" latex layer on top … then what you use underneath this would normally be either polyfoam or an innerspring (unless of course you plan to keep your air bladder). The most common choice here would be polyfoam at least 1.8 lbs density (and preferable more) and the ILD of this would likely be in the medium firm range for you and firmer for him to accomodate his greater weight.

Hope this helps … and if I’ve missed anything let me know.


Oh no desire to keep the air bladder…hate it if you want the truth. Was actually only thinking about the cover since it zips to allow for removal of the guts. And it has a pillow top. Not necessary to keep it though. I’m ok with starting from scratch.

Also, not sure if I mentioned that we would not be using a box spring as my bed is a platform that is built into the wall so it has a solid wood “floor” that the mattress will lay on. I know this has some effect on the layers we use but not sure to what extent.

Thanks for the help. At least gives me an idea of where to start. And if you think I should ditch the old mattress and use a new cover I can do that.

Hi waterbugs3,

Whether you use the pillowtop zip cover would likely depend on how you felt about the materials in the pillowtop itself (most likely polyfoam or synthetic fibers) and on whether it was the right thickness to encase the layers that you wanted to use in your mattress. I personally would probably not use a cover that had a pillowtop built in unless the foam in the pillowtop was what I wanted on top of my mattress or if it wasn’t could be replaced with higher quality foam. Do you know the thickness of the cover (the thickness of the foam layers that would fit in it) and the materials that are in the pillowtop?

A firm platform is always a good idea with a latex or foam core mattress and boxsprings (which flex as opposed to being rigid) are usually meant to be used with innerspring mattresses. In most cases … the design of a foam mattress (and the suggestions I made) has the assumption that it will be used on a solid non flex surface. IMO … a slatted base (or wire grid base) is ideal because it allows more airflow than a solid wood base which is better for protecting against mold and mildew and other “critters” which require a humid environment and improving the overall breathability of the mattress but in most cases a solid wood base would likely be OK as long as the climate and environment wasn’t too humid.