I am new to Mattress Underground, and I am hoping to get some advice on making a DIY mattress. I have done a great deal of research on foam densities and IFDs/ILDs and feel confident that I understand the main points of each, but I would not consider myself an expert by any means, and I of course understand the importance of testing out different configurations. All of that being said, I am wanting to create my own mattress with a blend of materials in order to save on cost, while also taking advantage of the positive features of each polyfoam, memory foam and latex.
I am 5’6" and 125 lbs, whereas my husband is 6’2" and 195 lbs. I am typically a back or side sleeper, and my husband is a stomach sleeper. He tends to sleep hot and doesn’t love the feeling of memory foam (which is why I am interested in latex as the top layer), whereas I don’t have any specific complaints or requirements while sleeping, other than general good support. We both tend to prefer a medium to firm mattress.
Where I am right now with the layers is as follows:
Base foam - 6" of 1.8lb polyfoam with 32 IFD
Middle layer - 2" of 3.0lb memory foam with 13 IFD
Top layer - 2" of D75-80 Dunlop latex with 24 IFD
I am looking to create a mattress that will last several years but will not be very expensive. My main concern here is making sure that I can get quality support and good breathability for my warm-sleeping husband. Can anyone provide some advice as to what kind of result the above configuration might create?
My concern with the configuration you’ve described would be the middle layer of the 3 lb memory foam, which would be a lower durability than I would recommend. You can read more about the durability guidelines here.
While you may have already read it, regarding a DIY mattress I would start by reading option 3 in post #15 here and the posts it links to (and option #1 and #2 as well) so that you have more realistic expectations and that you are comfortable with the learning curve, uncertainty, trial and error, or in some cases the higher costs that may be involved in the DIY process. While it can certainly be a rewarding project … the best approach to a DIY mattress is a “spirit of adventure” where what you learn and the satisfaction that comes from the process itself is more important than any cost savings you may realize (which may or may not happen).
The items you’ve put together certainly could create a mattress that many might consider “comfortable”, but unless you’ve already tested out something in person using similar componentry then the only real way to tell how it would feel would be through your own personal testing once you had all of the layers assembled.
Thanks so much for your reply. I have had a chance to review your referenced posts. I should be open that I have a bit of a unique situation here, because I have a contact at an actual foam manufacturer who is a close family friend and has given me the opportunity to create a custom mattress for myself. Unfortunately, this person is not in a position within the company to be able to provide me with enough expertise to recommend a foam configuration, but has a list of foams that I can essentially arrange in any way I choose.
I was a bit concerned with the middle layer of the mattress as well, but selected it because of its firmness. The other memory foam options I have are a 4lb foam with 12 IFD and a 5lb foam with 10 IFD. I am concerned that these will be too soft. Would you agree? Or does the density help to make up for the IFD rating? I also have the option to use a High Resiliency Foam, for which I could use a 2.2lb with 30 IFD, a 2.5lb with 38 IFD, or a 3.0lb with 35 IFD. Would this potentially be a better option?
You’re welcome, and thank you for taking the time to read the material I linked to.
That’s a wonderful bonus! Good for you.
All memory foam will tend to be quite plush (8-18 for an ILD range is common), and the ones you’re considering are from 10-13 ILD, which are so close that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, especially in the middle layer of the mattress. ILD measurements in memory foam can also be tricky, as they are dependent upon the time the plate is placed upon the foam sample, the testing temperature, the humidity, the response of the memory foam, its breathability, and so on. You’d more than likely notice more of a difference between the foam pieces regarding the response rate and temperature sensitivity and recovery time. In memory foam, sometimes a 4 lb can feel firmer than a 5lb, or vice versa. In this situation, I’d opt for at least a 4 lb, and preferably a 5 lb, just due to the higher density being related positively to durability. The only advantage you might find in the 4 lb is that it might be a bit more breathable than the 5 lb, but again this would depend upon the specific design of the memory foam used.
Are you speaking of replacing the memory foam layer with polyfoam? This would provide a very different feel than what you are considering and in essence would extend the polyfoam core and be quite firm.
If you meant that you could replace the 1.8 lb polyfoam core with one of these options, then all of these would be higher quality options. The 2.5 lb at a 38 ILD would be a quite firm core. The 3 lb would probably be the most durable, and the 2.2 lb would be the “closest” overall probably to the 1.8 lb that you were originally considering.
So based on your feedback, do you think that 2" of the Dunlop latex on top of 2" of memory foam would be too soft to begin with? I like the conforming nature of memory foam and know that it would pair well with the latex on top, but I definitely don’t want it to be too soft (especially if 10-13 IFD are really my only options). I could change the memory foam layer to 1" and bump the support foam up to 7" to use more of a “progressive” layering technique?
In answer to your question, I had been wondering about switching the memory foam layer for the high resiliency foam, but I think you are right in that all of the options would be quite firm. The rest of the options that I have for the middle layer besides memory foam are all general poly foams ranging from 1.5lb to 2.2lb and 10-40 IFD. I do think that the memory foam will give a much better result, but as I mentioned above, my concern is the overall plushness.
As far as the base foam goes, I could use a 2.2lb poly foam with 28 IFD to improve on the durability. The other thing to note is that we have an adjustable base, so the base foam needs to bend well. I think this eliminates the much firmer HR foams I mentioned before, possibly with the exception of the 2.2lb 30 ILD (which I am just realizing is not a “true” HR foam, but I also want to be mindful of cost, being that I will be getting the mattress out of the generosity of a friend).
While knowing the specs that can affect the quality and durability of the layers and components in a mattress is always important, unless you have a great deal of knowledge and experience with different types of mattress materials and components and their specs and different layering combinations and mattress designs and how they combine together and can translate them into your own “real life” experience that can be unique to you (which would generally be a very small percentage of people), I would tend to avoid using complex specifications to try and predict how a mattress will feel or perform for you. When you try and choose a mattress based on complex combinations of specs that you may not fully understand or only based on specs for single layers or components that may not be as relevant or meaningful as you believe it is then the most common outcome is “information overload” and “paralysis by analysis”. Even the best mattress designers in the industry are often surprised at what a mattress they design “should have felt like” based on the specs when they design it and what it “actually feels like” when they test out their new design. There is no formula that can predict with any certainty what type of layering you may do best with that can possibly be more accurate than your own personal experience. There have been manufactures who have used comfort layer combinations like you are considering here, but I wouldn’t be able to predict if you would think this was “too soft”. Placing the latex on top of the memory foam does provide a deeper “dense” feel, but also retains some of the buoyancy of the latex on top.
Regarding flexibility of the polyfoam core, all of the options you’re considering could certainly be candidates for use with an adjustable bed. There is more involved in polyfoam flexibility than the density and the ILD, so you’d want to sample each piece or inquire from your friend regarding that information.
I appreciate your response, and I understand that it is not possible to get a perfect, or even near perfect, understanding of what a mattress will feel like based on the specifications. I know that there is definitely a risk involved and that I may be surprised with how the mattress ends up feeling. But unfortunately due to my situation, I don’t really get a “retry” if the configuration I choose does not end up working, so I am essentially trying to make the most educated choice that I can based on the knowledge that I have. I know this is not ideal, but I very much appreciate your input and expertise on the matter.
So I guess my final question will be this: I have read in some of your other posts that you recommend to keep memory foam comfort layers thinner due to its low resilience, and that this tends to work well for people who do not like to sleep “in” their mattress (this would apply well to both my husband and myself), but also that thin layers of memory foam do work well in tandem with a more resilient material like latex. Essentially what we are looking at right now is a very subtle version of “dominant layering” with the medium firmness 2" latex on top (24 IFD) and a softer 1-2" memory foam layer (12 IFD) below (if these would be different enough to be considered dominant layering). So my question is, with the standard support cradle being about 3" on average, would 3" total of comfort foam (2" latex and 1" memory foam) vs 4" of comfort foam (2" latex and 2" memory foam) make a significant amount of difference in the overall support given by the core (specifically for a 125lb side sleeper and a 195lb stomach sleeper)?
I would again avoid the temptation of getting too caught up in terminology. In essence, you’re considering using 1" or 2" of memory foam beneath the upper latex layer. The extra 1" of memory foam will allow for a bit more of a dense feel deep down, but will also allow for a bit more deflection and “sinking in”. There is also more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel” that may be useful as well.
Deep support Is primarily from the support core within the mattress, but extra padding on top can allow for sinking in more deeply, which for some prone sleepers can be problematic. But I would have no way of telling how either of you would react to either configuration you’re considering – I can only explain the differences.