Latex Mattress Help-Northern VA


My spouse and I have been researching latex mattresses for months and the longer we research, the more confused we become. Our friends recommended a Pure Latex Bliss (PLB) (they have the Beautiful Model, 12" and I believe it is the Natural rather than All Natural composition). They have similar stats to us and body pain issues, so it seemed like a good place to start. I am primarily interested in latex because of my medical issues and weight.

Female, 5’5", 280, primarily a back sleeper, occasional side sleeper; constant pain from fibromyalgia and autoimmune issues/tossing & turning in night; severe dust/mold allergies and chemical sensitivities cause migraines

Male, 5’10", 205, primarily side sleeper, occasional back sleeper; no pain, allergies, sensitivities[/i]

After much preliminary research, we went to the local mattress retailer our friends used in Fredericksburg, VA to test the latex models. The only full latex mattresses they carry are from PLB. I realize the PLB model names vary, but the ones at this retailer match those on the PLB site. The Pamper 8" model was too firm and we felt we were on top of the mattress, the Beautiful 12" was too soft and felt like memory foam marshmallow, but the Nature 10" felt nice. They have a “no haggle” price policy (kind of like CarMax) and a King size Nature was $2,999.99 without a foundation. While the salesman was very nice and there were no high pressure sales tactics, I was not impressed with their mattress knowledge, but left questioning my own research.

The foundation offered is not slatted, so I asked about issues with ventilation. I was told there should be no issues with mold/mildew because the mattress itself is sufficiently ventilated because of the pincore construction of the latex mattress and because there is a fabric layer between the solid wood of the foundation and the bottom of the latex mattress. When I asked if these PLB beds were the Natural (which uses the blended talalay and contains SBRs) or All Natural lines from PLB, he just said they are 100% natural latex. We went back and forth on this and he finally gave me a copy of the PLB warranty with the model they carry highlighted. The 20 year warranty was highlighted, which corresponds with the Natural, blended talalay and the warranty clearly stated that the All Natural non blended warranty was 10 years. He confirmed the 20 year warranty was the model they carried and said he would confirm with the PLB rep the next day which type of natural latex that used. I also asked what the ILD numbers were throughout the mattress layers and he said there are no layers; it is all one block and firmness. This confused me a great deal because the PLB site says they use multiple layers with varying ILDs to offer the best support, as did all of the other latex mattresses I researched. The salesman said he would also check with the rep on this question.

I never heard back from him on any of my questions, so I am not interested in giving them my money. I had decided my alternative would be Habitat Furnishings (HF), but when I looked at the PLB Nature ILD composition (I can’t recall where I found this- Talalay 7" 36 ILD core, Talalay 1" 28 ILD, Talalay 2" ILD comfort layer) compared to the HF 8" mattress ILD (Dunlop 6" 26 ILD base, Talalay All Natural 2" 19 ILD) I was concerned I would end up with lack of support in the HF model. I also read on this forum that HF is quality, but overpriced, yet HF has a 180 day trial period, which I did not see with PLB.

Bottomline, I am completely confused and frustrated and would appreciate any assistance you can provide.

1. Do you agree with my assessment of the responses I received from the local retailer regarding PLB?

a. A solid foundation rather than a slatted foundation may be acceptable for a latex mattress because of the pincore construction of the latex mattress, particularly with a fabric layer between the solid wood of the foundation and the bottom of the latex mattress to remove moisture. However, due to my allergies, a safer approach is a slatted foundation.

b. A 20 year warranty, PLB King Nature Mattress priced at $2,999 is likely the Natural Talalay(which uses the blended talalay and contains SBRs) rather than the All Natural Talalay.

c. PLB Nature does have layers with varying ILDs and is not one 10" layer of latex with one ILD throughout.

d. There is no comfort return on a PLB mattress unless one is offered at the retailer level.

2. Are there any PLB retailers who carry the All Natural line in my area?

3. Do you know of differences in feel between the PLB Natural and All Natural lines?

4. In the PLB Natural line, do you know the percentage of Natural and Synthetic latex used in the blend?

5. Do you know the ILD specs for the PLB Natural and All Natural lines for the 10" Nature Mattress?

6. How would you compare the ILD specs listed for the PLB Nature to HF 8" model? Is there a cheaper way I can get the feel of the PLB nature if you think this is the correct configuration for our stats from a retailer with a good comfort exchange policy that they actually honor?

7. If I go with a slatted foundation, what is your opinion of the flat slatted bases vs. adjustable slatted bases?

8. Do you have any recommendations for latex bed ILD compositions based on our stats if you think the PLB Nature will cause issues?

Thank you.

Hi Stephtut,

Lots of questions which need lots of answers so one at a time :slight_smile:

The mattresses at Mt Vernon Sleep are all the “natural” (blended) versions of the PLB. It’s too bad they don’t also carry the Nutrition which is in between the Nature and the Beautiful.

If you enter your zip code here on the PLB site and put in a radius of 100 miles it will show you all the retailers that carry them in your area. Healthy back carries their own version of them that uses Celsion latex (a more temperature regulating version of talalay but it’s still blended) and I know they also have at least one of the all natural versions on their floor. While the staff is different in each of their outlets, they have been knowledgeable and very helpful in my conversations with all the outlets I’ve talked with.

The specs of the PLB blended lineup are in post #4 here. The all natural would be similar but slightly different because the 100% natural talalay comes in slightly different ILD’s and would also have slightly different properties and feel. Both their blended and natural talalay are Oeko-Tex standard 100 class 1 certified which means that they have been tested as being safe for babies in terms of chemical content and offgassing although I do understand that some people with multiple chemical sensitivities may still prefer the all natural just for peace of mind even though it may not be as durable.

Rather than try to suggest a “best” layering from afar … because of your unique circumstances I would always suggest that local testing with the help of someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in “fitting” a mattress to people with unusual needs and preferences is much more helpful. The knowledge and help of the outlet you go to can be one of the most important parts of finding your best mattress. Clearly the person you were dealing with does not fit into this category and it appears that you know considerably more than they did (which unfortunately isn’t so unusual in the industry when someone has done some research).

I would also agree with you that the Pamper with a 1" comfort layer over a very firm support core would likely be too firm and the Beautiful with 5" of softer latex (3" 19 ILD and 2" of 24 ILD) over a slightly less firm 36 ILD support core would likely be too soft. In the PLB … the odds are that the Nature or the Nutrition would be closer to your needs.

While what they were saying about a foundation is true (that latex is more breathable and a solid foundation may not be an issue) … my own personal preference would be for a strong and rigid slatted or steel grid foundation anyway because it would both further reduce the risk of “nasty critters” and also improve the overall breathability of the mattress and in your circumstances even small incremental improvements can be important.

As you mentioned … Habitat uses good quality materials but there are many better options both online and through local purchases.

[quote]1. Do you agree with my assessment of the responses I received from the local retailer regarding PLB?

a. A solid foundation rather than a slatted foundation may be acceptable for a latex mattress because of the pincore construction of the latex mattress, particularly with a fabric layer between the solid wood of the foundation and the bottom of the latex mattress to remove moisture. However, due to my allergies, a safer approach is a slatted foundation.[/quote]

I agree completely with your assessment that a slatted base would be better for you.

This would definitely be the natural rather than the all natural.

Yes it does and their comments are absolutely inaccurate. Some outlets even list the layering.

This is correct. The mattress manufacturer generally provides the warranty and the outlet is the one who offers any exchange or refund policies.

See the previous link to the PLB retail finder site.

The Q & A from the PLB site is probably the most accurate in terms of the difference in feel between the two. the all natural would be a little more elastic and denser (a bit more supportive) while the natural would be lighter, and slightly more pressure relieving. For most people the differences would not be major.

The natural is typically 70% synthetic rubber (SBR) and 30% natural rubber (NR) while the all natural line is all NR. This can vary though in terms of the blend used and many people believe that the all natural uses a very small percentage of SBR for consistency and ease of manufacturing. Bear in mind too that the rubber content of the foam is only about 90% or so of the material and soaps, curing agents, antioxidants etc are also part of the formula although any residuals are washed out through their extensive washing process.

The natural is in the previous link. The All Natural would be similar but would use the closest ILD’s of the all natural talalay which are listed on the Latex International site here. Bear in mind that latex ILD’s are not exact and an average of 9 different measurements across the surface which may vary by about 4 ILD (which is not noticeable).

These would be very difficult to compare partly because the layering and materials are different. The differences would be partly because they use different support materials (the HF is dunlop while the PLB is Talalay), partly because they use a different ticking/quilting (PLB is an unquilted stretch knit while the HF is a wool quilted cover), and partly because how it felt to you would very much depend on your individual weight distribution, how you sank into the mattress, and which layer or layers you felt the most. If I had to guess they would be similar in terms of pressure relief (because the upper 3-4" would be fairly similar although the PLB may be a little softer) and the support of the PLB would be a little firmer but this would depend on how deeply you sank into the mattress because dunlop gets firmer faster than talalay and the lower ILD support layer would “catch up” to the talalay with deeper compression. the PLB would be more adaptable to different positions because it is thicker and there would be less chance you may feel like it was bottoming out (becoming very firm in certain positions or with movement). Dunlop would also feel more “dead” while Talalay also feels more lively although this too varies between different people depending on weight and perceptions.

You could come “somewhat close” to matching the stats through various “choose your own layer” online options at a better price but because small differences in layering and materials can sometimes make a larger than expected difference in how a mattress feels … it would not be an exact match. There are many online outlets however that will allow for layer exchanges (either by re-arranging the layers or by actually exchanging them for softer or firmer versions) at a very reasonable cost. The members of this site who specialize in online and telephone assistance and purchases that can be shipped anywhere in the country are listed in post #21 here. They all offer different options at different prices however they all have excellent value.

Outside of outlets like these, many local manufacturers offer adjustments to a mattress at a very nominal charge within a certain time frame. With many retail outlets, the terms, restrictions, and fees of a comfort exchange can turn it into a profit center rather than a consumer benefit, is restricted to what they carry, and they may not carry another mattress with the materials you want that is suitable for you. In many cases “assurances” of a comfort exchange is a sales technique and a means to “lock you in” to the profit of buying something in their store. While this is not always the case, it is certainly very common. A comfort adjustment (where they remove a layer and replace it with another and then sew the mattress back up) or a legitimate comfort exchange that is more in your interests than theirs is far less common.

If you mean position adjustable where the head and feet can be raised or lowered but they provide a firm solid foundation when flat … they can be very useful in certain circumstances (such as certain medical conditions like acid reflux or back sleepers who snore) but besides this they are also a great option for those who like to read or watch TV or a movie in bed. If you do decide to go in this direction make sure the weight of both of you and the mattress are within the weight ratings of the model you are considering.

If you mean a tension adjustable base where different areas can be made softer or firmer … they can also be useful as a means of fine tuning pressure relief or alignment but their affect depends on the thickness of the mattress and I personally would put my focus on testing mattresses that worked for your needs and preferences on a firm slatted base (either position adjustable or solid) where the mattress layering did as much of the work as possible because this is much more widely available. If you test a specific combination of tension adjustable base with a specific mattress and the combination works perfectly … then I would purchase them both together. I would avoid testing a mattress on a firm slatted foundation and then buying a different type of foundation unless it was absolutely necessary and not until you had slept on the combination you purchased for longer than the several week adjustment period that is common for all new mattresses.

While I’m happy to provide ideas and layering suggestions that can be a starting point for field testing or suggestions based on a reference point or specific feedback on a specific mattress … to make a suggestion based on height/weight theory about what your ending point should be based only on the layering and ILD’s of the layers and not taking into account the other components of the mattress besides just the latex or being able to see how you sank into a mattress or feeling how you felt would not be doing you any favors.

The better manufactures who do this for an online purchase are very familiar with the smaller details of their specific constructions and materials and how they have worked for a very wide variety of people and for an online purchase they are always in the best position to recommend a specific layering for their mattresses based on your own field testing and feedback and more detailed conversations.

For local purchases … the ability to see how you lie on a mattress and the specific real time feedback that you can provide is always more accurate than long distance suggestions. There are some height and weight guidelines here and some sleeping position guidelines here that may help to explain why certain layerings feel the way they do or how different changes can affect pressure relief and alignment. If you have specific feedback in pressure relief and alignment terms for a specific mattress, my suggestions may be helpful in terms of a change in ILD or layering that may improve pressure relief or alignment or come closer to your preferences and I’m happy to make them … but a local outlet that can actually see you and is right beside you with real time feedback and who has the knowledge and experience to help you make your best choices would always be better than me :slight_smile:

In essence … the more the person knows that you are working with and the more they have your interests at heart rather than their profit … the less you have to know and the better your choices are likely to be. This way you can focus more on the pressure relief, alignment, and overall feel without the sometimes overwhelming research into the specifics of construction which can be confusing and sometimes counterintuitive.

A trip to Savvy Rest in Vienna may be worthwhile because they make mattresses where you can choose your own layering in 3" layers of either 100% natural Dunlop or all natural Talalay. while they use very high quality materials … they are very focused on natural products and they are slso very similar to several of the online options I listed earlier and would provide an excellent model for an online purchase at a much lower cost using similar layering.

Hope this long reply answered most or hopefully all of your questions but if not feel free to let me know what I’ve missed.


I am a new member as I found your site while shopping for a latex mattress and information. This is a great resource. I too live in Northern Virginia. We have yet to go testing at Savy Rest or Healthy Back or Mattress Traditions.

My sister (several years ago) bought latex mattresses from American Foam Center in Merrifield, Va and has been pleased with it. They are not far from the Savy Rest store. I called and he had both Talalay and Dunlop. His prices appeared high with a phone quote of $1700 for a 6 inch mattress and he had an odd reaction when I asked about a topper. Has anyone else dealt with them? Here is a link:

Hi Clutchless,

I had not heard of them before so thanks for the link :slight_smile:

Their website seems to be in development so doesn’t have much information. How reasonable the price was would depend on the size of the mattress, the type of latex that was in the mattress, the type and quality of the ticking/quilting, and whether it was one or two sided. For a King with all natural Talalay or even organic Dunlop it wouldn’t be out of line at all … especially if it was finished on two sides. For comparison … Savvy Rest’s organic Dunlop 6" king is $2539 and the same with 100% natural Talalay is $3139 (although they are very high and not a great “value” reference point). If it was one sided or used non organic dunlop or blended Talalay it would be on the high side.

Either way though … a 6" latex mattress would not normally be a great idea for a side sleeper of “average” or higher weight so I don’t know why he would be so surprised at the topper question.


Thank you for the wealth of information. We will definitely check out the Vienna location for in-person assistance. Do you have any experience with The Mattress Store in Sarasota, FL? They are the closest store that carries PLB All Natural mattresses and they offer the same price as I can get in Northern VA for the PLB blended version.

Hi Stephtut,

I’m starting to see the beginning of a “trend” developing with the PLB mattresses and it seems that they (PLB and their parent Latex International) are getting caught in some of their tricky (and IMO misleading) language.

When the original line first came out … they decided to call their blended talalay latex “natural” and their 100% natural (non blended) talalay latex “all natural”. Now that the 100% natural latex PLB line is also out … I am seeing several outlets calling their “natural” line “all natural”. How it reads can be interpreted as being correct because it is “all” made of “natural” (blended) talalay latex so advertising that a particular mattress is all natural latex can either mean it’s all “natural” (blended) latex or it’s “all natural” (100% natural) latex. There are several outlets that are doing this and advertising all natural PLB at blended prices which PLB doesn’t allow.

If the prices are the “standard” PLB natural prices which you can see here and which the stores have to adhere to … then I would be very very skeptical that they really are “all natural”. The natural have a warranty of 20 years and the “all natural” have a warranty of 10 years as you know. The law tag may also differentiate between them. I see the potential for some real confusion here and the possibility that one will be sold as the other and people will believe that they are getting quite a deal.

Having said all that, if you do decide to go there, they have some interesting options but I haven’t talked with them and don’t know anything about them. They do say some good things on their website though.

They also seem to like latex because they carry the Spring Air Nature’s Rest which also have latex models and also the Green Earth Slumber rest mattresses by Bodyrest (their website wasn’t working when I linked this) which also have a latex hybrid model. These are made with recycled polymer fibers called Indratech which is “competition” for foam and is supposed to be very durable and comfortable. I have never laid on them so if you go there and have a chance to test them I would be curious about your impressions (how’s that for “recruiting” you :))

Looking forward to your further feedback.


PS: If I get a chance I may call them tomorrow just to see what they say about their PLB.

Hi Stephut,

I called today and while he had a customer and we didn’t get a chance to talk a lot because of course customers in the store come before a phone conversation … I did clearly get the impression and believe that any prices he told you about were for the “all natural” 100% natural latex PLB versions. I intend to talk with him some more because even though our conversation was short … I liked what he had to say :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,
I wanted to follow up on my original post.

We made it out to Savvy Rest showroom in Vienna, VA and tried many combinations of latex layers, some all Dunlop, some all Talalay and some a mix of the two. We spent more than three hours trying different combos for at least 5 minutes each. It was a great experience and helped us both understand the differences in feel. We were both fairly sensitive to the differences. I have to commend the store for giving us all the time we needed to test different combos for as long as we wanted, for restructuring beds many times, for making suggestions and answering questions without being pushy or rude. I was also pleased that the reps encouraged us to go home to digest what we learned, to come back multiple times, and not to make a purchase that day. Test driving different combos was a must. I unzipped the mattresses, touched and smelled the Dunlop and Talalay. At one point we had 3 or 4 beds disassembled and I had no issues with the slight rubber odor.

Layering is certainly the way to go for us, but I still have some questions. I’m going to break this out into my opinions and my spouse’s for each of the combos we tried, list a conclusion for each of us and then the additional questions. I’m listing the layer combos in order from bottom to top. I relisted our stats as well.

For Me:
Female, 5’5", 280, primarily a back sleeper, occasional side sleeper; constant pain from fibromyalgia and autoimmune issues/tossing & turning in night; severe dust/mold allergies and chemical sensitivities cause migraines

All Dunlop Combos:

  • (F/M/S):was less lively as you have said in other posts, felt firmer/denser, was uncomfortable on my pressure points in the hips and shoulders, did not conform to my body enough and I had pushback on my shoulders.
  • (F/M/M): almost the same as F/M/S combo, but a bit more uplifting along my spine.
  • (M/S/S): was way too soft, which I expected.
  • (F/F/M): was way too firm and nonconforming for me in all areas.

Dunlop/Talalay Mix Combos:

  • (Fd/Md/St): too soft on hips for me and pushback on shoulders
  • (Fd/Mt/St): More conforming and supportive, back felt good, small amount of shoulder pushback, didn’t feel stable on my side, but this one was on an adjustable foundation, so I think that may be the cause, since I only felt the stability issues on the adjustable foundation.
  • (Fd/Md/Mt) : too firm and nonconforming for me
  • (Fd/Mt/Mt): too firm and nonconforming for me.

All Talalay Combos:

  • (F/M/S) with and without 4 inch topper: way too soft with topper. Without topper, this felt wonderfully supportive and conforming and I could have fallen asleep in the store on this combo. This was my Goldilocks combo.
  • (F/M/M) Almost as good as the F/M/S, but a little firmer and slight shoulder pushback.

Conclusion for me: I prefer the feel of all Talalay combos. My favorite was (F/M/S) all Talalay, but this may just be because this was the only combo with no shoulder pushback.

For Spouse:
Male, 5’10", 205, primarily side sleeper, occasional back sleeper; no pain, allergies, sensitivities

All Dunlop Combos:
i:okay, but not firm enough. Concerned about lack of lower back support.
(F/M/M): liked this the best and was adequate support for entire back. This was his Goldilocks bed.
(M/S/S): was way too soft
(F/F/M): was too stiff, nonconforming[/i]

Dunlop/Talalay Mix Combos:

  • (Fd/Md/St): didn’t feel like layers were working together. Top layer smooshed, but the Dunlop didn’t conform
  • (Fd/Mt/St): too giving and had waterbed effect. I think this could have been because of the adjustable foundation.
  • (Fd/Md/Mt): didn’t feel like layers were working together. Top layer smooshed, but the Dunlop didn’t conform
  • (Fd/Mt/Mt): more conforming than two Dunlop layers with talalay top layer.

All Talalay Combos:

  • (F/M/S) with and without 4 inch topper : way too soft either way
  • (F/M/M) conformed to back, adequate support, firm enough and distributed weight evenly.

Conclusion for spouse: He prefers all Dunlop combos. His favorite was (F/M/M) all Dunlop, with the same combo in Talalay as the second choice. The two Dunlop layers with Talalay on top did not work together in any combo for either of us.

Remaining questions:

  1. Can you offer an additional insight based on our experience at Savvy Rest?
  2. Do you think the adjustable foundation may have changed the feel of the latex mattresses?
  3. I was warned that because of my weight, a soft Talalay top layer is going to wear out faster and is unlikely to last as long as a firmer top layer. I’m not sure how to balance sufficient support for my body weight, with sufficient conforming qualities for all of my pain and pressure point problems. What is your opinion on this?
  4. When I compare what felt good at Savvy Rest to the proposed layering from Custom Sleep Design, I think the CSD split comfort layers will help with the shoulder pushback issues, but I am worried CSD’s will be too firm overall. My side of the CSD from bottom to top is (All Very Firm/All Firm/Medium Firm hip section and Medium shoulder section). What are your thoughts on this?
  5. According to Savvy Rest, for a split design, we need to have the same general scheme or there will be a height difference, so we could not have Spouse’s half all Dunlop and my half all Talalay without a slight ridge in center of the bed. Does this sound accurate to you?


Hi Stephtut,

That’s some pretty specific testing :slight_smile:

It seems to me that the two of you are going for slightly different “feels” which would be understandable given the differences between you. He seems to prefer a firmer surface and being more “on” the mattress while you prefer a deeper cradle and being more “in” the mattress and the greater pressure relief that goes with it.

Am I right in assuming that the adjustable base was a tension adjustable foundation (where different areas can be adjusted for firmness) and not a position adjustable foundation. I’m asking because if it was a position adjustable foundation (where the head and legs can be raised and lowered) … then it would have been a firm non flexing base and shouldn’t affect the feel of the mattress compared to a firm non flexing slatted foundation. I’m assuming too that the other options were on a non flexing foundation?

I think that personal testing is more accurate than any theory about what may be “best” but I would probably caution you to make sure that you have spent at least 15 minutes on your preferred layering pattern just to make sure that your alignment is good while you are lying on your back especially (you can completely relax without any tendency to tense your lower back muscles and there is no hint of stress or discomfort) I’m mentioning this only because the layering is on the soft side for your weight and height although with the fibromyalgia it would be important to make sure that the pressure relief is good and this would be a priority of course.

For him I would do the same (15 minutes completely relaxed) but with a focus on pressure relief on his side because while the support would be great … the pressure relief may be a little on the firm side over the longer term.

Again though … these are only cautions and a suggestion to make sure that with all the testing you did that you spend a little longer on your preferred layering just to make sure.

Savvy Rest uses the 100% natural Talalay which is denser and more supportive than the blended Talalay which would probably be a big part of why the S/M/F worked well for you. Alignment is always about how evenly you sink in rather than how deeply and your personal testing seems to indicate that this was a good direction for you.

If I was in your shoes I would look for the layering that was best for pressure relief (and of course alignment as well) rather than making durability the most important consideration. The advantage of a layered mattress is that you can change out the top layer without having to replace the whole mattress and in your circumstances greater comfort for a shorter time that could be changed as needed would be more important for me. While it’s true that softer layers will soften faster than firmer layers and that natural Talalay is not quite as durable as blended in the softer ILD’s … I also think that with your circumstances it would be a worthwhile tradeoff and it is certainly a more durable than other materials.

This would be more “typical” for your weight and would provide good support and most people would find it also provides good pressure relief … but of course you are not “most people”. It is also thicker which will act to soften the layers a little (they will compress to a lower percentage of their total thickness) and would also be a little more adaptive to different positions (there is more “room” to compress and the rate of increasing firmness is more gradual). I would probably spend a little longer on the softer layering though and focus on no more than two or three combinations in any further testing to confirm that it really is as good as you thought without the “crossover” effect of testing many mattresses. If it turns out that this really is your best layering … then you could incorporate some extra softness into the CSD design. They also have layer exchanges as well so if the layering isn’t right after a little longer term … then it can be easily switched.

This would depend to some degree on the differences in the thickness of their Talalay and Dunlop layers which are often slightly different. A small difference in each layer will add up if all three layers are slightly different. This would depend on the different latex suppliers and may apply to some and not to others. Latex International for example has 5.6" and 6" molds so three inch layers cut from each would be 2.8 and 3". My understanding though is that the all natural Talalay is normally 6". I would trust the manufacturer on this one because they would have the best knowledge of the specific layers they use.

If it was possible … I would probably tend to have as much in common (in terms of material) as possible because it will also make a difference in the middle of the mattress where there is a transition from one type of “feel” and firmness to another even if there isn’t an actual ridge. This would also depend on how much of the middle of the mattress you tended to use (in my case my other half tends to use about 2/3 or the mattress and I am “happily relegated” to the rest :)). Overall though … this difference in feel and firmness would be less important to me (personally) than having my side being as “perfect” as it could be so if a different layering that shared more “common” material only represented a small tradeoff in pressure relief and alignment I would consider it but if the difference was too much then I probably wouldn’t. I don’t think I would go for a noticeable “ridge” though if the layer thickness made it more than just a very minor difference … I think that would be a lot less “attractive” than the transition between a different feel and firmness.


Thanks, Phoenix.

The adjustable base was position adjustable, so it sounds like it did not impact the feel of the mattress. The rest of the mattresses were on slatted base platform beds.

I think I forgot to mention that CSD can create my layers in the 100% natural and that will be our material regardless of the retailer. I remember reading somewhere that CSD does not require customers to return layers when they do the layer exchange, while Savvy Rest does require return of the exchanged layer. Does this sound accurate for CSD?

Do you think the softer shoulder portion of the CSD design will help with the shoulder pushback I felt on nearly all the models at Savvy Rest?

My other half also sleeps on a sliver :slight_smile: in our queen, so I hope our upgrade to a king helps give him more space.

Hi stephtut,

Most of the position adjustable bases have a firm surface which would be equivalent to a firm slatted foundation. If your testing was done on other than a flat surface though this would definitely affect the feel of the mattress because it changes the pressure distribution along the surface of the body. If your testing was done in the flat position though … it almost certainly wouldn’t have been a factor unless there were other factors involved (such as somehow not being stable).

Yes it does and he has said the same to me … the reason being that he can’t re-sell it anyway and wholesaling out partial layers (zones) to re-sellers would be difficult. He told me once that they would make a great dog bed and my comment back was that he should be careful with this because of course it could be abused. If it was a full layer though he may want it returned but I don’t know for sure.

Have you talked with Bob or did you just go through the online process? He usually can put together several options that will provide good alignment but allow for more or less pressure relief or firmness. The online layering is normally pretty accurate but a conversation may help him “fine tune” the layering for your fibromyalgia (if you haven’t already talked with him). The value of the zoning system they use is that it allows the wider and lighter shoulder or upper body area to sink in more while the heavier pelvis can be “stopper” from sinking in as much. This allows for better pressure relief and better alignment and is one of the most effective zoning schemes I know.

The “pushback” feeling can actually relate to several things that people feel on a latex mattress. I think in your case it may come from the feeling that your shoulders "want’ to sink in more but when you sort of push down and snuggle into the mattress it springs back again if the softness isn’t enough to allow them to sink in. This can happen if the hips or pelvis are sinking in a little too much and there is a feeling that the shoulders are being held up too high relative to the rest of your body and it feels like they need to sink in more. In this case it’s partly about pressure relief in combination with the alignment of your upper body.

In other cases people describe pushback as a feeling in the small of the back that comes from the greater resilience of latex and where this area is actually more supported and bears more weight (which some people like more than others). So pushback can be a feeling that comes from “wanting” to be in better alignment, it can be about the pressure distribution over the body surface, or in some cases it can just be a feeling about the resilience (the opposite of energy absorbtion) and more springy feeling of latex itself.


Thanks, Phoenix.

I did exchange some emails with Bob after he sent my preliminary profile, but it was more about the delivery options, delivery schedule, pricing and the ability to get 100% natural Talalay from CSD. He has been very helpful. I just need to follow up after testing out the ones at Savvy now that I have a better idea of the feel I am looking for from the mattress.

Hi Stephtut,

I’m looking forward to your feedback.

If there is one suggestion I would make it’s would be to spend at least 15 minutes completely relaxed on each serious option you are considering (like when you are in the completely relaxed state just before going to sleep) because this will come the closest to replicating how the mattress will perform in longer term use over the course of the night. While you are doing this try to sense any tension or discomfort in alignment as well as any pressure points or joint pain in your normal sleeping positions as well as how it feels when you change from one position to another (no sense of bottoming out or uncomfortable firmness with movement). In other words … try to differentiate alignment issues from pressure issues. There is a feeling of “this feels odd” in a store when there may be others around but it is the most accurate way to “replicate” how you actually sleep and is the most accurate way of testing.


Thanks, Phoenix.

I forgot to include something I found during my 100% Natural Talalay search. I was originally considering Pure Latex Bliss before I discovered layering, but was turned off by the fact that their terminology for “Natural Latex” (blended synthetic and natural Talalay) and “All Natural Latex” makes it far too easy for some retailers to mislead consumers. I also did not appreciate how poorly informed the salespeople were when it came to this “all latex” brand. While it was fun to catch them in their double talk, every experience I had concerning PLB retailers was frustrating and misleading with the exception of Sarasota Mattress. I was told by PLB that the closest retailer that carried PLB “All Natural” was in Florida. While it may technically be true that Florida is the closest retailer who has the PLB “All Natural” in stock, I think there was a much simpler answer that was not volunteered by PLB. What I found this weekend after my normal arguing over natural vs. all natural and the warranty differences, was that some local retailers in my area have the ability to order the “All Natural” option from PLB. I confirmed this via phone with PLB directly while I was in one of the local retailer’s stores. I am not sure if all retailers will do this, but it sounds like they all have the option.

I thought it was worthwhile to point this out for those in the area who are considering PLB and may feel like their options for “All Natural” are limited to long distance retailers.

Hi Stephtut,

I completely agree with you that the terminology that they are training their retailers to use is confusing at best and quite misleading at worst and opens the door for a lot of “misdirection”. They have some very good points to their mattresses and in how they are increasing the awareness of latex mattresses but this terminology confusion does them no favors in the end IMO.

Thanks for mentioning too that any of their retailers can order any of their mattresses … even though most would only carry the ones on their floor that they believe would appeal to the widest market and may not carry them all. It’s always a good thing to have choices so each person can decide for themselves which of the “pieces” of their “value equation” is the most important.

We are all unique :slight_smile:


Hi Clutchless,

I finally had the chance today to talk with Robert at American Foam Center and I have to say I was impressed. He clearly knows his foams and better yet has a wide range of mattresses on his showroom floor that use very high quality materials (talalay and dunlop latex, high quality polyfoam, and a range of memory foam). Best of all he has very good value and I have added him to the list of better outlets in the DC and Northern Virginia areas in post #2 here (Northern Virginia) and in post #2 here (DC area).

It’s great to find a high quality/value choice in the DC corridor because there are not a lot of better choices in the area and I wanted to thank you for bringing them to my attention :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,

I’m writing as a follow up to my posts from April and May when I began test driving latex mattresses. After testing PLB and Savvy Rest, we decided that Custom Sleep Design (Split King) had the best options for us. We received our CSD mattress on 7/17, but did not start using it consistently until 8/1 because we were on vacation.

My Side: (Back sleeper)
Top: 2" Soft under the shoulders/2" Medium under the foot
Middle: 3" Medium Firm
Bottom: 6" Very Firm

Spouse’s Side: (Split between the shoulders and foot of the top and middle layer is staggered for side sleeping)
Top: 2" Medium Soft under the Shoulders/3" Medium under the foot
Middle: 3" Medium under the Shoulders/3" Medium Firm under the foot
Bottom:6" extra Firm


  1. Spouse slept like a baby from the start, but I had a lot of pain while breaking in the cover and due to the shoulder issues discussed bleow. We kneeled on the bed every day to stretch out the cover based on Bob’s suggestions, which helped.

  2. I have slept hot for decades and I was sleeping hot the first few nights on the new mattress even with just a thin blanket and sheet. I bought new bedding and made sure everything was 100% cotton shell and fill. It has been a perfect temperature since.

  3. I suffer from horrible pressure point pain and one of the worst areas for pain is my lower back. That pain vanished within a few days of using the new mattress. I have also always had shoulder and neck stiffness, but I began getting stabbing pain in my neck and shoulders after the first few nights on the new mattress. This continued even after stretching the cover. We swapped my middle layer for my spouses to test the Medium Soft under my shoulders and it helped a lot, but I am still having horrible shoulder pain. After working with Bob, we are moving me down to a Soft Medium middle layer under the shoulders and I should have that section this week.

  4. I love the feel of the latex pillows, but cannot use them when I sleep. I do best when I sleep with no pillow at all on the latex mattress. However, my spouse is a side sleeper and does well with the latex pillows.

  5. I love the foot half of my mattress and think I will love the shoulder part once we adjust the middle layers. This is by far the best mattress I have had for back pain relief. I won’t ever go back to a spring mattress. My only question is whether I should have insisted on the 100% natural latex over the talalay because I do not feel the buoyancy I noticed when testing the beds at Savvy Rest. I miss that feeling. However, maybe it is because of the shoulder section.

  6. While there were some communication issues and delays with CSD, I cannot imagine getting more customized advice and service from a big name manufacturer or retail store. I am hopeful that this last revision will go smoothly and I will not need to change anything else.

  7. It took a little time to adjust to feeling like my legs were higher than my shoulders, but I don’t think I could sleep any other way now.

Questions for Phoenix:

  1. I do notice that the top layers bump up at the seams between the halves as we get in an out of the bed. Any suggestions for keeping them intact and flat?

  2. Does softening the middle layer under the shoulders sound like a good idea to you based on my description?

Hi Stephtut,

Thanks for a great review and for sharing your ongoing experiences. I think they will be very helpful in helping others that are looking for the highest degree of customization possible for whatever reason this may be important and the process involved in getting there :slight_smile:

Once you decide on your final configuration … you could glue each side together and/or glue the top layer to the lower ones so they wouldn’t have any “independent” movement. This normally isn’t a performance issue but the tightness of the ticking/quilting (looser will “allow” this more because it isn’t as “squished” in the mattress but will also allow the feel of the latex to come through more), and the larger mattress sizes will also do this more. Of course it also makes it more difficult (but not impossible) to remove or replace layers down the road.

Yes … this would be the direction I would go with your “symptoms” but before I did this I would experiment with your pillows. Upper body and neck issues are often connected to the pillow you are using and this can make a significant contribution to the overall alignment of your sleeping system … especially with neck, shoulders, and upper body issues. There’s more about choosing a pillow and which may be most appropriate and some helpful links in the pillow thread here.

When you change your mattress … your sleeping profile will also change to some degree and a new pillow may be an important part of your new sleeping system. Keeping your head and neck in good alignment and well supported can make a big difference and while it can’t “cure” a pre-existing issue, it can certainly help as much as possible.

Thanks again for such an in depth and detailed review and sharing your ongoing process with us.


Hi Phoenix,

I have seen a lot of CSD discussion lately and wanted to follow up on my mattress experience, since receiving my layer replacement.

Timeline Recap:
5/19/2012: I ordered my CDS Mattress with an expected delivery date of the last week of June/first week of July.
7/17/2012: Mattress received
8/7/2012: Pillows received (were supposed to arrive with mattress, but I pushed back shipment because of out of town travel).
8/8/2012: Began inquiring about a layer change due to terrible shoulder pain.
8/20/2012: Bob and I agreed after much discussion on a Soft Medium middle shoulder piece to replace my Medium Firm middle shoulder area.
9/10/2012: New piece received.

Middle Layer Assessment:My original middle layer was all one Medium Firm piece. We chose to cut that layer ourselves to fit the new softer shoulder piece rather than waiting for two replacement pieces, so this may have shortened my wait for the replacement. While using the softer layer, I felt like I sunk into the mattress too much under the shoulders, which also caused lower back pain to resurface. I was frustrated, but decided to put the old Medium Firm shoulder piece back. It seems much better now even though it is the same firmness as I had originally. I think cutting the middle piece in two helped reduce push back from the shoulder piece. I am very grateful CSD does not require layer exchanges because I needed my old piece.


  1. I like my bed, but think I regret purchasing blended Talalay. When I tried the 100% Natural Latex mattresses, it felt like my body was very light and buoyant, as if my bones and joints were fully supported, but the muscles were cradled and relaxed. The blended Talalay feels the opposite, like my muscles are tightening and I have to consciously try to keep them from contracting. I am not sure what to do. Is this from the type of latex I purchased, is this still a layering issue or could it just be my medical issues causing me pain? Is it worth trying another revision with Bob?
  2. During my timeline, I think I emailed or called Bob every 2-4 days if I was in the process of trying to figure out an issue or waiting on an order. It was stressful and inconvenient, but I resigned myself to the fact that it was necessary to get what I needed. He almost always responded to emails and calls. If he didn’t respond I just kept hounding him and I documented every conversation in a follow up email because there is no contract other than what is posted on their website and the receipt I had him email. I do not want to have that additional stress again, so I am on the fence about contacting him regarding my current layering.
  3. I think CSD makes a good mattress, has a unique design, and Bob has a great deal of knowledge, but I cannot recommend them to anyone because of the communication issues and shipping problems.
  4. I really appreciate that there is no layer exchange and the amount of follow up time Bob spent with me. I know I would not have a personal sleep consultant if I bought a mattress from a department store. Bob helped me with things like the right type of sheets to use because I sleep hot from my medical conditions, how to break in the cover faster, what layering may help my pain, what pains were indicative of a layering problem vs. just adjusting to a new mattress.
  5. My CSD mattress is still by far the best mattress I have had and I do not plan on buying a spring mattress ever again.


Hi Stephtut,

Thanks again for another great update which covers both the pros and cons of your experience with CSD so well.

I think more than anything your feedback highlights several of the themes that have been part of the discussions surrounding CSD lately.

First it confirms the benefits of the design and exchange options available and while it’s still not perfect (and it’s open to question how much a mattress of any kind can alleviate your other ongoing issues) at least as you mention it’s “still by far the best mattress I have had and I do not plan on buying a spring mattress ever again” and confirms the benefits of having a knowledgeable “personal sleep consultant” who will work with you after the purchase.

It also highlights the “waste” and the cost of materials that can go into a mattress like this which is part of the reason for it’s more premium price.

On the other hand … it also reflects the frustration of lengthy delays and the lack of support and service that should IMO be part of a premium mattress purchase which ties into the rest of the discussions about CSD.

It will be great when the service once again matches the benefits of the mattress and the options it provides.

I’ll also speculate a little on the other issues you brought up even though I don’t have the benefit of the more extensive conversations you have had with Bob or the exact details of the mattress layers (in terms of ILD).

When you first mentioned about exchanging for a soft layer or section … I also thought this would have the best odds of solving the issues you were describing at the time. When it turned out to be too soft … there are several things that could have been happening. Sinking in further in the shoulders could have changed the pressure distribution and the resulting spinal alignment and “transferred” the discomfort to the lower back even though this would not be what would normally happen in this instance (because the foam hadn’t changed under your pelvis). It could also be dependent on which position was causing the discomfort because for example a softer layer under the shoulders could help with pressure relief and alignment on the side but increase the amount of curvature in the lumbar curve when you were on your back. Sometimes too … the pain itself doesn’t point to the cause being in the same area of the mattress as the pain because pain can radiate from it’s point of origin and be felt in a different area than it’s “cause”. Sometimes too … an increase in support under the lumbar curve (as more of the weight is shifted there through changes in pressure distribution) can feel uncomfortable for some but great for others.

In addition to this … re-replacing the soft section with the cut original section and seeing that it seemed to help also could indicate that the “degree” of change that was needed was smaller than was obvious. Some people … especially with pre-existing conditions … can be much more sensitive to small changes. The cut between the upper and lower part of the layer would result in an “edge effect” which would allow the layer to “pull in” more at the edges and result in some extra softness which may have been all you needed and provided a better balance between pressure relief and support in different sleeping positions. This would be similar to a pillowtop which allows for more independent flexing of the pillowtop layer making it softer than if it was fully enclosed in the mattress. This may have been “just enough” and the softer section could have put you on the other side of the line. This would not be so much from “pushback” (which is more about the foam’s resilience which would be the same) but about creating some extra softness with the cut with the edge effect although to all intents and purposes we are describing the same thing with different words (the softer latex would “resist” compression and “push back” a little less which is another word for softness).

My guess here is that it would be more about either the medical issues or the layering and the difference between short term experience and longer term experience than the type of latex. While it’s true that blended is more pressure relieving (allows more “depth of compression”) and 100% natural would be a bit more supportive (has a higher compression modulus and gets firmer faster with compression in a comparable ILD) … the differences would be slight for most people and the different types of layering and ILD’s between the mattresses would be a more likely explanation. For example … the tendency to contract the muscles can often come from layers that are effectively too soft/thick and the body has a tendency to hold itself in alignment with muscle tension rather than allowing the mattress to do the work so this could be an ILD and layering issue rather than a “type of latex” issue. There is also a bigger difference between Dunlop and Talalay than between the two versions of Talalay.

For example you may have tried a 100% natural Talalay mattress that felt great initially but this would likely have been more about the specific combination of pressure relief and support (combination of layer ILD’s and thickness) that felt good in a showroom testing environment. Knowing the specifics of the mattress you tried could also help explain the difference you felt. Different combinations of materials can either increase of decrease the effective compression modulus of multiple layers and “mimic” other materials. For example … a 2" 24 ILD comfort layer over 3" of 28 ILD will have a lower combined compression modulus than 2" of 24 over 3" of 32 ILD when the layers are “measured” together. Of course there is still a difference between the two materials and no matter how little it may be (and the differences would have a cumulative effect and be more noticeable in a full mattress than just in a single layer) … some people may be more sensitive than others to the specific differences and prefer one over the other … even if the “technical explanation” for why may not be obvious.

Other possibilities for “fine tuning” besides just the latex itself include adjusting the pillow (I don’t know if you have tried this or any effect it had if you did) and the type of mattress protector and sheets you are using (although it sounds like you have worked with Bob on this and this has been part of your discussions) along with various different types of mattress pads or toppers that can change the feel and response of the latex itself (which can create different types of changes than just changing the ILD of the latex itself).

So hopefully some of this speculation “connects” with your experiences … particularly in different sleeping positions … and can help you decide on what your best course of action may be and on whether any further changes in the mattress may help. I also wouldn’t hesitate to contact Bob and have a more detailed discussion with him about some of the more subtle or smaller changes that may provide further improvement (if it’s possible).

If I’ve missed anything with my speculation … don’t hesitate to let me know.

And thanks again for your fair and balanced update!