Latex-pros and cons

The Characteristics, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Latex

Latex rubber is made from a milky liquid (not the sap) that comes from a rubber tree. This form of latex is called NR which stands for Natural Rubber. It can also be made synthetically from a chemical called SBR (Styrene Butadiene). While the actual latex molecule in both is similar, natural latex has a more complex chemistry and more of the desirable qualities that make latex attractive in mattresses (elasticity, durability, compression modulus, resilience, and others). SBR is also less expensive than natural rubber (NR).

Besides the differences in natural or synthetic raw materials, latex foam is usually made using one of two different manufacturing methods. The first is called Dunlop which produces a denser form of latex. This method is more common around the world as it is a simpler less expensive method of manufacture. When used by a reputable manufacturer, it produces a very high-quality latex that is very dense and very elastic. Because in this method of manufacturing some of the latex particles “settle” while it is being made, Dunlop is a little less consistent in softness over the entire surface of the layer. It is also more difficult to make Dunlop in a softer version and it is rarely seen in ILD’s (a measure of softness) below the mid 20’s (medium soft). This same “settling” can result in Dunlop often being firmer on one side of a layer than the other. This gives it a very high support factor (progressive compression) which is a desirable quality in a support material.

Talalay, on the other hand, is made using a vacuum method that requires less raw material in its manufacture and results in a foam and cell structure that is more consistent than Dunlop, has a lower density (weight) in comparable levels of softness/firmness and can be made in softer versions than Dunlop. It is also more “lively” and is often preferred over Dunlop in the comfort layers of a mattress. In its firmer versions it can also be a very desirable material in support layers as well.

The softness or firmness of latex can also be varied by changing the amount of raw material used in the core (in the case of Talalay), changing the size, shape and pattern of the pincore holes in the latex, changing the compounding formula used, or by changing the amount of air in the foam and the size of the cells during foaming. The holes or “pin cores” are used in manufacturing both types of latex to apply heat to the inside of the latex in the mold to cause it to set or cure after it is foamed. While the holes are a necessary part of production, the ability to change the qualities or softness of the latex being made by varying their size and shape is a welcome side effect. Because of its heavier denser nature and its high support factor, Dunlop latex is a popular and a very good choice as a support core material and slightly less popular as a comfort layer material however it can be used very effectively in both and this is really a preference issue.

While both are very durable and not as prone as other foams to premature breakdown and body impressions, even in softer versions, there are many in the industry including one of the largest manufacturers of Talalay latex who believe that in the very softest ILD’s, Talalay latex that is made completely of natural rubber may not be quite as durable or resistant to impressions as the blended version. This is because Talalay is lighter by nature than Dunlop latex and in ILD’s that are very low, blended Talalay may be a preferable choice. It is also less expensive than NR Talalay. Because of the heavier density of Dunlop latex, blends are not necessary or even desirable in any ILD’s.

The differences between Talalay and Dunlop.

Talalay latex has a high support factor of about 3 and Dunlop is even higher in the range of 4 so between them they offer a range of flexibility and qualities that other foams cannot duplicate (most other foams are less than 3). This means that in certain constructions where a softer middle layer is desirable to “help” a thinner comfort layer form a pressure relieving cradle while at the same time becoming firm with deeper compression, they are both a very desirable material. Because of this support factor and its ability to conform to the shape of the body (point elasticity), it is unique in the world of foam. While in the highest quality (and cost) versions, HR polyfoam may approach the support factor of Talalay (with less of its other qualities), they are not yet at an equal level.

The feel of the two latex production methods is also different with the denser Dunlop feeling less lively or “springy”, blended Talalay being more springy, and NR Talalay being the most elastic and lively yet. The difference is a matter of preference in feel rather than a difference of “better or worse”. Because of its simpler method of manufacture, Dunlop is also less expensive than Talalay and the 100% natural version is comparable in price to blended Talalay. Natural talalay is more expensive than both.

Natural vs blended latex.

Both natural latex and Blended Latex are very high quality materials. 100% SBR (synthetic) latex does not usually have the same elasticity, quality or performance as natural or blended latex but will still outperform most other foams. While I would be cautious in choosing it over latex that has a higher percentage of natural rubber or an all natural latex version, the cost benefits compared to more natural latex can make it an attractive option as well and it’s a higher quality material than most polyfoam. There are also some newer mostly synthetic continuous pour Dunlop latex materials that are promising and are being made in softer versions than you would usually find with Dunlop latex. Both Talalay and Dunlop latex are suitable for use in either support or comfort layers and which one is used depends on the overall construction of the mattress and personal preference. While they are different, one is not better or more suitable than the other. They are also both suitable for use as either a comfort layer or support layer in combination with any other good quality material or component although I would be cautious if there is more than around an inch or so of polyfoam above any latex comfort layers because this could be a weak link in a mattress. There is more about latex support cores in this article and more about latex comfort layers in this article.

Its downside of course is that it can also be more costly than other types of foam however with some shopping around and with the help of the forum and the sources on this website … latex can be purchased for far less than the so called latex mattresses that are sold by many major manufacturers. In queen size … you will begin to see some latex core mattresses with the most “basic” features in the range of $1000 and up and mattresses with synthetic latex or latex comfort layers and polyfoam or even innerspring cores for even less.

Be aware that many retail outlets will label a mattress as being a latex mattress even if it has as little as 1" of latex in its construction. This is completely misleading and is simply an effort to take advantage of the known benefits of latex as a selling point even though there would not be enough latex in the mattress to make a real difference. Only a mattress with a latex core should really be called a “latex mattress” and even here the type of comfort layer should be identified in the “category name” given to the mattress. In general terms, a mattress should always be identified by both the main material in its core and in its comfort layers. This type of misinformation is often not an “accident” and some salespeople will “insist” that a mattress is made of latex when it only has a very thin, and probably meaningless layer. This is a place where it can be very important to verify the claims of some retail outlets … which we of course are happy to help you do in our forum.

I really appeciate your site, and am learning anew and confirming info gained elsewhere. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I was looking at Plusbed’s all natural latex mattresses online, and was wondering if you had assessed their reliability in the claims they make and the quality of products and services. I don’t see them listed on your members list.



Welcome to the Mattress Forum! :slight_smile:

You can see some of my comments about Plushbeds in post #2 here. A forum search on Plushbeds (you can just click the link) will bring up much more information and comments/feedback about them as well. They generally use good quality and durable materials in their mattresses and they would certainly be a much “better than average” choice compared to most of the mainstream mattresses that most people end up buying. However, they do a lot of internet advertising so they do attract a lot of online attention with large “discounts”, so I would make some careful “value comparisons” with some of the other options that are available to you because they may not be in the “best value” range for many of the members here that are aware of the many other similar options that are available to them.

Another option you may wish to consider is to look online and use the experience and expertise of the members listed in post #21 here who are all very experienced and knowledgeable and specialize in providing the type of help and guidance on the phone that can help you make good choices. There are a wide range of latex option included in the choices there and I believe that all of them compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, and transparency.

Their detailed knowledge of their mattresses and how they fit with different body types and sleeping positions along with your feedback from local testing, a customer base of many people that they can use as reference points, and any exchange, return, or any options they have available to customize a mattress after a purchase can help lower the risk of an online purchase. These online retailers or manufacturers can also be a good “value reference” for local purchases to make sure that if you are paying a “premium” for a local purchase (in exchange for the kind of “in person” guidance, service, and value that comes with dealing with a local retailer that can help you make more “accurate” choices that you have tested in person) is not too high.


I have tried several mattresses over the last year and a half and have not found the perfect one yet. I have tried some memory foam and some memory foam/latex combinations and so far nothing has been “the one”. I have a Nest Alexander Signature medium that I have been sleeping on for 7 months, but I still get sore shoulders since I am a side sleeper. I tried a latex topper, but that made the mattress too soft and caused lower back pain.

It is my understanding that memory foam is better for relieving pressure points but I can’t seem to find the perfect balance that relives shoulder pain without casing lower back pain. Would a latex mattress be worth a try?

Hi abbygrant,

Both memory foam and latex can be excellent at pressure point relief. 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.

As you’ve had a bit of a history with trying different mattresses and have a very specific sensitivity in your shoulder area when sleeping upon your side, it certainly might be worth a try for you, although I wouldn’t be able to predict if an all-latex product would work for you. The closest I think you tried before was the BME in a plush, which uses a polyfoam core. With your previous results, your key would be not having too much plush latex on top, but also not too firm of a transition layer. If you go this route, you may wish to try Talalay latex in your upper layers, as opposed to the Dunlop/Talalay combination you tried before.

Man of the site members listed in post #21 here are very experienced with assisting people with specific pressure point issues, and the help and guidance that they can provide on the phone can help you make good choices. There are a wide range of latex and memory foam and other options included in the choices there and I believe that all of them compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, and transparency. One thing you may wish to specifically investigate would be a zoned mattress that allows for a bit more contouring for your shoulders, like this here.

I hope you’re able to find something that assists you in sleeping better. I know you’ve been looking for some time.


Thank you. I’ll take a further look at those posts. I’ve thought about making a night shirt with foam sleeves that cover my shoulders :slight_smile: Just kidding. I actually did try a very inexpensive thin memory foam topper on my current mattress, but just on the top half. It did take some pressure off my shoulders but (of course) caused lower back pain. I’m guessing that slight height difference with the topper cause misalignment.

I didn’t check out zoned mattresses in the past due to the cost. But I may have to go that route and spend a bit more money than I planned.

Thanks so much for your reply. I went to several of the online sites of your member’s list to explore their mattresses, reading some of the forum comments about their experiences. It looks like I will go with Sleep EZ, as it looks like the Dunlop core layers will be satisfactory and I will get the organic latex top comfort layer. The EZ Split 10" Organic Line on a Reverie 3E or 5D will likely be the the bundle. The bundle of mattress and adjustable bases, came to between $1000-$2000 less than Plushbed. I chatted on the Sleep-EZ website, and the gal was really helpful. I appreciate the 5% discount for Mattress Underground being applied to the cost as well. I will probably order it in three weeks after we get our bedroom redo done.


Thanks for your reply.

You’re certainly considering a mattress using higher-quality materials and a good value. I’d recommend a phone call to SleepEZ before making your purchase just to confirm your selection.

I’ll be interested in learning about what you decide to choose.


I am in the process of replacing a mattress. Southerland is offering an Amerigel called the Rushmore (14" deep) OR the Splendor (15" deep)which is .5"gel Latex, .5" blue gel visco, 1.5" Poly and foam encasement pocketed coil.
Any idea which is better or worse?? I am replacing this under a warranty. I really had requested a LATEX foam mattress but this is what they are offering. Suggestions?.

Hi mattreslooker,

Welcome to the Mattress Forum! :slight_smile:

I’m sorry you’re having a warranty claim, but at least you are able to get a replacement product.

Regarding the mattresses you mentioned that you are being allowed to select, there is limited data about the Rushmore from Southerland (it seems to be a polyfoam core product) and there is no data on their site about the Splendor (is that the model which uses pocketed springs?).

In order to choose between the two products, I’d first want to know if there was a difference in the density of the foams used in each mattress, so you would want to find out the information listed here so you can compare the quality of the materials and components to the durability guidelines here to make sure there are no lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress that would be a cause for concern relative to the durability and useful life of a mattress before making any purchase.

Once you have that information in hand, you can then go test the two mattresses. I’m thinking that they may use similar padding materials in the comfort layers and simply be a difference in the deep support unit, so it may come down to the comfort you enjoy best, regardless of the density of the foams, as these are your only two options.

If you are able to find out more complete information about these mattresses as I outlined above, feel free to post that information here and I’ll be happy to comment upon it.


Thanks for your input. The Rushmore has 2" of 3 lb gel infused open-call memory foam, 2" of 5 lb Gel infused open cell memory foam, 2" of Luxury foam for enhanced comfort. The Splendor features are above. Any recommendations since I am unable to “try” either mattress out.

This is under a warranty as I said and these are the choices I was given as a replacement for an Englander mattress. I am confused to say the least.

Hi mattresslooker,

The 2" of 3 lb memory foam would be a less durable material and lower than I would recommend, especially in the uppermost layer of the mattress (4 lb is the minimum I like to see for memory foam). You didn’t list the density of the 2" of “Luxury Foam”, and you also didn’t list what is used for the support core for the mattress. Is it a polyfoam core as shown on their web site? If so, you’d want to know the density of that core.

I’m not sure what you mean by “above”. Do mean the earlier specs of .5"gel Latex, .5" blue gel visco, 1.5" Poly and foam encasement pocketed coil? You’d want to know the density of the 1.5" of polyfoam, and if that mattress is 15" thick there would seem to be something missing in the layers you were given, as a normal pocketed spring unit is about 8" or so. Perhaps there is a base piece of poly foam beneath the springs? That would make sense with the foam edge system.

As far as comfort goes, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what either product might feel like or how it might compare to your old mattress. That’s disappointing that you can’t try out either product.

In situations like this, I normally would advise you to pick the product using the least amount of low quality or unknown material, which you can determine once you are provided more complete details.


Hi I really like your site and the information that you post. I had done a fair amount of research before which mostly lines up with what you write.
I very much agree with what you say about Talalay latex being extremely good in supporting the person sleeping.
My wife and I (have gotten lucky?!?) to come across a Canadian company Swiss Dream Beds that retails a bed system that uses Talalay latex for its mattress in combination with a wooden slat system. It did come at a very reasonable price though. We have been very happy with our bed. We were also positively surprised when we open the bag and it smelled like…vanilla or something like that. I am not sure how to describe natural latex smell!

Anyways thanks for your great work and keep it up!

Hey everyone,

Currently I have a medium Dunlop topper, but I find it might be a tad too firm for me and I’m kind of an all position sleeper. I was wondering what a softer version of Talalay would be in terms of firmness? I am looking for Talalay due to it’s pressure relieving properties. This is on a pocket coil base by the way.

Would a medium Talalay be just a little softer than the Dunlop firm?

By the way, I’m 5’11 and around 240, but I am losing weight and plan to keep losing so I was factoring that into my decision as well.

Thanks for the help!

Hi freitazm.

Congratulations on your weight loss. :slight_smile:

Talalay would have a softer feel and might add just the touch you need for better pressure relief for you. Dunlop and Talalay that are the same thickness and ILD won’t feel the same in terms of their firmness for most people because they have a different response curve and compression modulus (how quickly a material becomes firmer as you sink into it more deeply). Not only that Talalay and Dunlop have a slightly different feel, with Talalay being “springier”, but the biggest difference is that Dunlop “firms up faster” than Talalay, as it is compressed more.

There is also more about the difference between Dunlop and Talalay inpost #7 here.

Good luck with the fine-tuning.


I think this will help me choosing the right mattress.

I owned a spring mattress that I was very unhappy with and recently purchased a tempurpedic breeze mattress- its better then the spring mattress but I am not completely satisfied either as over time at night one sinks in too much and also the heat. I am not sure its because its not hybrid version. However, after reading articles on this website I am interested in latex mattress. My concern is not cost of mattress as i am willing to spend a lot for a good mattress if necessary. here are a list of my concerns/questions:

  • whats the difference between all the organic latex mattresses such as green sleep and sleeptek vs Berkley Egonomics etc.?
  • is there a need for core of the mattress to be spring or all latex is preferred?
    -when using a split king latex mattress (2 twin to form a king size) does one fill the gap between the 2 mattresses when its together? or if its without the mattress cover?
    -can one use a latex mattress with an adjustable base? does it effect the mattress?

i appreciate your help

thank you,

Hey Robert,

I’m no expert but figured I would respond with my personal and opinions on your questions. I previously had a tempurpedic just like you and have the exact same problem as you. It feels great at first but memory foams “feelness” as a lot to do with temperature and I’m sure you noticed as your body heats up it heats the memory foam and causes you to sink further and further into it. It started causing me horrible back pains. One temporary solution I found worked quite well was adding a barrier between me and the memory foam. When I say barrier I mean a topper. I used a 3" 18ILD Talalay topper and that Main a huge diffrence. As it was much harder for the heat of my body to reach the memory foam.

Now since I had this 3" topper already I decided to go the DIY route and build my own mattress. The reasons behind this was 1, I already had the 3" topper. 2, if I built it in multiple layers I could further modify it to my likings in the future. So if I get it, assemble and don’t like the way it feels I can simply rearrange until I get the right comfort feel and support that I want. If I ever wanna add something in the future I have the option to do this. All while saving me a lot of money compared to what buy one straight up would cost. If you enjoy the journey and doing DIY I highly recommend this route as you can essentially overtime make your perfect bed. You might not get it perfect on the first try but if you stay persistent with it. You will come out with a bed that’s better than most Retailer’s.

You mentioned gaps in a split king. My recommendation here would be decide on your core layer and have it in 1 king size sheet in the thickness you want. Then from there up use twin xl sizes. That way you can customize each side. So can order your layers to be more firm and your wife’s side to be more soft. At this point you have two options. I used a bamboo mattress cover from brylanehome it’s a 13" for a long and was 95 bucks. While waiting on it to come In shopping around most people was wanting 300+ for these mattress enclosures. So I expected I was gonna be getting something very cheap. I was wrong. Way wrong

It seems they build these covers when you order them and there built extremely well. I was really shocked at the quality!

So you could just wrap your layers in something like that and you oils never notice the gap.

Second option is to glue it in. This is done lot in zoning mattresses which takes my concept about the diffrent style twins an butting then together to a whole new level. There are a few companies that do this and a lot of
DIY people do it and it will be my next mod to my bed. Basically they use diffrent ILD ratings along with diffrent variations on how it’s made(Dunlop, Talallay). So things like your hip area which have more weight would get a higher ILD an prob made of Dunlop as in my experience it seems to be more supportutive(hard to explain the diffrence in the two of you have never experienced them both). So they basically insert diffrent ILD in key spots to help support beaver parts of your body and Vice versa for other parts.

Now when it comes to the core, I personally can not tell a diffrence from using latex vs some other foam that supports the same way. The real benefit I think of all latex is it’s durability which icreases the mattresses life(also VOC if that sort of thing bothers you)

For adjustable beds, yes latex works great better than springbeds in my opinion. Memory foam and latex both work better with hard slabs as bases over a traditional box spring. Most all adjustable beds are hard slabs. So my latex bed works great in ours.

These are all my opinions and everyone is diffrent so what works for me might be horrible for you but I will list how I made my bed below and you can see how having multiple layers opens up the possibility for endless customizations.

Bottom Layer 3" HQ LUX FOAM
Next Layer 2" HQ LUX FOAM
Next Layer 2" HD36 FOAM
Next Layer 1" HD36 FOAM
Next Layer 2" Medium Dunlop Latex
Top Layer 3" Soft Tallalay Latex

All wrapped in the Brylanehome bamboo cover.

After I built this the bottom layers made it way to hard. Crazy how layers that far down affect it so much but it does. So as a test I removed the 2 LUX pieces and retried it and it felt better than anything I’ve ever slept on. I think I can make it even better but I just gotta find time to mess around with the layers and see what works best but as stated earlier that’s one of the benefits of doing a diy mattress. Endless customizeable until you find exactly what you want.

If you plan to go that route one suggestion is to mimic the layers of a mattress you have tried and liked. I would just always recommend getting ech Layer in 2-3" cuts so you can customize it more later on.

Hopefully that helps you some and I didn’t completely loose ya. Sorry for all the bad grammar really hard to type proper from mobile. Good luck

i appreciate your comments, i am confused though about all the brands as far as quality etc.

Hmm, I can definitely agree with this.