latex - so confused

Hello all. Ok, so I’m fed up with my bed. Reading a lot of what people here have to say, latex sounds incredibly welcome. Durable, supportive, less ‘dead’ than straight poly foam (personal preference/description). Some places out there on the web have said latex is regarded favorably with heavier people (which I’m finding I’m a member of - news to me lol). So today I did some calling around and spoke with someone at spindle mattress. Very nice guy, gave me about 30min of his time. Not pushy at all and seemed really helpful, but here’s where the confusion comes in. During our discussion, taking my sleeping habits (stomach/side) and my weight (~200) into consideration he seemed skeptical if latex was the right way to go. He told me synthetic latex is less dense and wouldn’t hold up as well, that I’d be better off putting natural latex as a support and synthetic closer to the top for the feel. I was under the impression natural latex had better more lively ‘feel’ to it. For my weight, he didn’t sound so confident in the synthetic for support as a core/base (lower 3-6" on bottom) of a build and seemed a little skeptical about natural but suggested natural if that’s the direction I wanted to go. He also talked with me about DIY possibilities and said I was borderline needing 12" of latex due to my weight.

I’ve read and heard from lots of people that latex is very supportive and adaptive and that in the old days people used to use just 1 6" slab sometimes. That the softness on top coupled with the increased support as it compressed performed all roles. Maybe not a perfect solution, but doable. Now many places (SLAB, SleepEZ etc) say that 9" of latex is plenty to cover support below and cradling softness on top and anything more than this is just for looks. Now 9" might not be enough I’ll need 12"? The gentleman at Spindle said that with my weight, there’s a good chance of bottoming out even with firmer latex for support (35-40ild).

I’m not sure what the cause is for this worry of bottoming out - even the Spindle site says use a BMI calculator to help decide and anything over 31, move back to an innerspring. My BMI is around 30.8. Granted BMI may have it’s flaws, but from a mass calculation I can see where it would be useful. Regardless of whether I’m ripped like the hulk or out of shape, if my body dimensions weigh x amount then that’s the mass my body will put onto a mattress. Had considered the Abscond mattress with 9" of latex until he said I was on the verge of needing more and they don’t offer a thicker mattress. Back to DIY.

Earlier I got a chance to lay on one of those precompressed memory foam mattress in a box type setups and was able to have someone check my alignment. It felt off and it was. It was an earlier consideration and luckily had done some research on it so I at least have a base point. The company told me it was 6" of 24 ild 1.8lb poly with 3" 20ild 1.8lb poly and 3" memory foam (3lb) on top. Feels great in terms of pressure relief, but not enough support. I dipped quite a bit through the hip region, especially when on my side. (This bed is only 4mo old, so it’s not old and wore out by any means). However, unsupportive as it was, I didn’t ‘bottom’ out. How can low density poly foam in softer ild’s still keep me from sinking more than 5" or so? (3" of which is low density memory foam which has almost no ild). And yet there’s concerns that latex may or may not be substantial?

I guess what I’m getting at, is the bottom out worry with the dunlop due to the higher sag factor? That the layers will compress only so far and firm up so fast that they provide physical space between my body and the bed frame slats, yet feel like concrete? In other terms my confusion is knowing that cheap softer poly can hold me up somewhat (if not properly or completely), but latex maybe not - is like knowing there’s some flexing going on in a wooden foundation to a building, but being advised or cautioned against concrete. If the lesser structural ‘wood’ (cheap poly) is doing a moderate job, why wouldn’t the ‘concrete’ (latex) perform better? (not saying latex is hard like concrete, just more durable/substantial).

Something Spindle and I talked about was possibly being ok with 3-6" of firm (natural) 34-42 ild, with 3" of medium 27-33 ild and possibly another 2-3" of something for pressure relief on top. This sounds fairly firm compared to what I’ve seen many members here and others around the net talk about in terms of their setups. I get that I’m close to 200 (not sure specifically, maybe 190). But that’s not “a lot” I don’t think or out of the range of normal.

Phoenix, obviously everyone’s PPP is different and the details are fuzzy but I thought I saw a post listing your mattress construction being a flippable 2" 18-22ild on either side of a 6" core of ~35 ild talalay? I also know you weigh less and you’re taller, so your weight is spread out more evenly than my own - my point being talalay has a lower sag factor and yet it supports you, why only being maybe 30-40lbs heavier is denser dunlop being foreseen as troublesome for me? and in similar high 30’s to low 40’s ild?

P.S… I have a question regarding Mountain Top latex - In another post with sdmark regarding the tri-comfort, Phoenix you mentioned they don’t test their latex the same way as others so their ild’s may be off. I called Mountain Top today because I’d read something about different companies testing ild differently. The typical way of testing is x amount of inches (not positive if it’s 15x15, 20x20) by the height of the latex slab - say 6" for 6" cores and it’s taken at 25% height compression. Is this correct? So a 6" thick sample size compressed to 25% (1.5") requiring 30lbs of force would be labeled 30 ild. Spoke to a woman in their lab today and she said that’s how Mountain Top tests their foam for ild. I was concerned they might be taking an ild from a 40% compression, much the way some european methods do and I would be confusing their 30ild for 30ild measured at a more typical 25%. So is there something else in the way Mountain Top tests their ild that varies or might give different values and make it harder to compare their latex firmnesses to say that of latexco also using a 25% ild rating? Thanks :slight_smile:

Hi Brass,

I would take a much simpler and more “experiential” approach to your choices that bypassed the need to analyze specs where you don’t have any reference points to really know what they will mean for you in “real life”.

You really have two ways to decide what is best for you.

The first is based on your testing and experience on local mattresses. When you are looking at a local option then you can use your careful and objective testing to decide on the mattress (or the layering with customizable mattresses) that works best for you. The only specs you would need to know here would be the type and quality of the layers so that you know there are no weak links in the mattress and can make more meaningful comparisons with other mattresses.

If you are looking at an online choice then I would provide each retailer or manufacturer you are considering with the most accurate information you can about yourself, your history with mattresses, and the results of any testing you have done on a phone conversation. The better the information you provide them … the more you will help them to help you decide on options that have the highest chance of success. Once again I would avoid the temptation to overanalyze things and just go with the “average” layering that their knowledge and experience indicates has the highest chance of working well for you and your circumstances and then use the options you have after a purchase to rearrange or exchange layers based on your actual experience if that becomes necessary.

Analyzing specs when you don’t have the knowledge, experience, or reference points to really know what they will feel like will likely lead to information overload and “paralysis by analysis”.

Neal is very knowledgeable and experienced and like the other members here will give you his “best efforts” suggestions and will put your legitimate best interests above everything else. The other members here will do the same.

As he mentioned … synthetic latex is less dense and may not “hold up” the heavier parts of your body as well as natural latex in the support or transition layers.

“Bottoming out” is just a term that is used for a mattress that compresses so much under your weight that it may feel too firm for you and “feel like” it’s bottomed out. It doesn’t mean that the mattress has reached the limit of its ability to compress. There is more about the effects of thicker mattresses in post #14 here.

Again … if you are dealing with a knowledgeable and experienced online retailer that puts your best interests above their own … then your “role” is to give them the best possible information so that they can help you choose the initial layering that would be the most effective starting point (or possibly ending point) that would likely work best for you. Each retailer or manufacturer will know more about their specific mattresses and materials and how to help “match them” to different people based on “averages” than anyone else and after that you would be depending on the options you have available after a purchase if you are “outside the averages” which is all that anyone will be able to suggest to you.

You may be making this much more complex than it needs to be IMO and I would treat the process as a progression that starts with an initial combination that has good odds of success and then from there you can rearrange or exchange layers if necessary based on your actual experience in “real life” rather than on “theory”.

Mountaintop tests a 6" core at both 25% compression and 40% compression and for those cores that are more or less than 6" they “extrapolate” the ILD. Based on the experience of various manufacturers I’ve talked with … their 25% or 40% ILD numbers may be close to some other types of latex and not to others. I would also keep in mind that ILD alone is not necessarily a reliable indicator of how soft or firm any layer may feel for you (see post #4 here). A manufacturer that is familiar with their latex will be able to tell you which of their ILD numbers would likely be closest to other types of latex but I wouldn’t treat ILD comparisons between different types of latex as reliable in “real life” unless the comparison is based on the experience of a manufacturer or is based on the same type and blend of latex that was tested the same way.


Phoenix, thanks for your reply. I’m not disregarding Neal at all and was impressed with his helpfulness. It sounded more like talking to someone here than a ‘salesman’ and he didn’t even begin to push for a sale. I’m happy to buy from someone if they have what I need and is affordable, but it’s nice getting honesty from someone if what they have isn’t suitable or thought to be. My concern was the bottoming out issue. From what I can gather, regardless of material or specs the idea with the latex is it has an uncompressed state. Then as you push into it partway there’s a level of buoyancy…until the material is compressed between pressure from above and support below to a degree is has no more feeling of ‘give’, though not mashed ‘flat’ and can feel incredibly hard (what I’m taking to mean bottoming out). So the goal is to ‘ride’ in that buoyancy area through the layers. Risking bottoming out in dunlop ilds from 30’s to 40’s sounds daunting since I’m not sure there’s a whole lot firmer out there. I’ve seen very few offers for xtra firm approaching the 50’s. Rather than assuming 30 ild is comfy, if given my weight/bmi and considering the more stout end of the more dense supportive dunlop (even in natural) is marginal as to whether it will allow my mass to ‘ride’ vs bottoming out, makes me leary if I should consider latex. I guess that’s where my thoughts were. I don’t think either you nor Neal was wrong and I trust he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to specifically what he sells.

I’m not talking firm as in comfort, soft vs firm but firm/dense as in supportive to avoid the bottoming out you’re talking about. I could see the issue of trying to obtain total comfort in very thin amounts of material, but what it sounded like was (paraphrasing in my head) - based on my size, even if I go with 6" (2x 3") of very dense dunlop in the core, no matter what you’re pushing the limits of bottoming out. It’s just never something I was concerned with in an innerspring. Some were too ‘hard’ for me, some were too ‘soft’… some real cheapos, there wasn’t enough padding to keep me from feeling the springs through the comfort layer. But I never sat on any spring mattress and ‘bottomed out’ the springs or what I’m equating the supportive lower ~6" of a latex mattress to be. So my concern is, before I even attempt latex, I might already be pushing the max capability of the material.

Sorry, I’m not the best at explaining things. Without regard to specifics, is latex even feasible for my body size/weight? Discounting firm/soft preferences. I can look at any 1/2 ton pickup, someone asks me if it’ll easily haul a couple of 2x4’s and I can say sure. Some brands of truck or some models may ride rougher, bounce more, but that’s doable. Someone asks me if a 1/2 ton pickup truck will haul an entire banded bundle of 2x4’s like the forklifts move at a home center and I might pause and say well…it might, but you might be pushing it. That might require a different truck. Or I could say no way. Yea you might get it there, but your shocks are going to be slammed to the ground and tires are going to rub. This just isn’t an aspect, until now, I’ve been concerned with. Like I said, any spring mattress (aside from durability) has been purely a matter of is it too soft or hard on top. Never questioned if one could hold me. It was a bed, I just got on it and it worked. Other than personal taste for firmness, the same spring bed would work for anything from a <100 kid to a 350lb adult in terms of holding them ‘up’ and ‘riding’ within the spring limits without smashing the springs flat to the point the steel coils looked like a compressed slinky and it was just metal to metal. I know there are other aspects such as durability but most of the spring beds seem the challenge goes to step 2 - will the springs hold me in alignment without arching/sagging and will the top cushion pad me from the springs. Right now I feel like I’m stuck on step 1, finding a base layer that won’t collapse past its’ limit. Or am I just mistaken and it’s more of hey, if you can stand a rock that won’t budge an inch, latex will do it no problem so it’s just a matter of finding where you land in the middle of the spectrum.

Hi Brass,

Again … if you can’t test a mattress I would go by the guidance of the online retailer or manufacturer you are dealing with. I wouldn’t get involved in specs or “theory” or “stuff” that you can’t know until you sleep on the mattress unless you have tested a mattress that is very similar in person.

At @200 lbs … It’s unlikely that you would physically bottom out on 9" of any type of latex but it may “feel” like you were bottoming out with certain designs or layers. For example if you had 2" of very soft latex over a 6" core of very firm material and you were a side sleeper it would likely “feel like” you were bottoming out onto the firm support core even though the mattress would be nowhere near its maximum compression. Manufacturers and retailers need to “translate” the information they know and provide into terms that are meaningful to their customers.

Any combination of materials and components can work for some people in the right quality, design, and firmness level … and not as well for others.

In some combination and in some design then absolutely … there are many thousands of people at your weight (including me) and some that are double your weight that are very happy sleeping on latex … and others that aren’t.


Well I think the light bulb got at least somewhat brighter for me. Sometimes I have a real mental block on things, but it’s finally clicking where ‘point elasticity’ has been mentioned. And has cleared up a little of my confusion at least I think. As to latex’s support vs anything else and part of why I was concerned with it being ‘weak’ what I was actually confused by was the point elasticity. In one of your replies to someone on the top of sitting up in bed and why it would allow sinking moreso than say an innerspring - since latex is more point elastic, it’s compartmentalized in a similar way to pocket coils vs continuous. What I was confusing for ‘support’ in springs (older style, not individual pocket) is it’s lack of point elasticity - creating more of a stable ‘platform’ effect that I’m more familiar with. (also responsible for increased motion transfer which may not be desirable). At least now it makes sense to me better why latex can be incredibly supportive (for the primary purpose of lying on/sleeping) and yet ‘appear’ weak for sitting either sitting up or on an edge since the pressure is very localized and less ‘stable’ (compared to say a very stable sheet of plywood with lots of surface tension and almost no elasticity by contrast).

Hi brass,

Bingo … your description of the point elasticity of latex is right “on the money” :slight_smile:


Spot on. That was a big surprise to me too, how supportive and how much push back latex can bring. I have 3" 19 ILD on top of 2 other firmer 3" layers (28 & 36) and when you recline it is very supportive, even when lying on my stomach. When you sit on the edge of the bed, my big fat 210 lb. butt sinks about 4" and then abruptly stops. :wink: Wife has scoliosis, we both love our latex mattress.

Got my 2" super soft topper, 14 ILD, in from Latex International aka KTT Enterprises yesterday. Will let you know how that goes after washing sheets, bedspread, etc. today and installing it under a mattress cover and fitted sheet.

BTW, has a very faint smell of vanilla. I call it a “fresh” smell albeit very light odor - have to stick your nose into it but it’s really nice. :slight_smile: Out of the box it does not have an odor in the room it’s in FWIW.

Good luck,