Latex topper for brand new extra firm Simmons innerspring

Hi Phoenix,

My wife and I just purchased our first new mattress as a married couple – we’ve been married about 18 months (we’re both 25), and until two days ago had been sleeping on the full-size mattress (a Sealy Posturpedic Hallcrest II) that I had before we got married, which I had been sleeping on since I was a junior in high school (although it went unused for 4 years while I was away at college, so only has about 6-7 years of use, I think). The old one wasn’t actually in that bad of shape; we both slept fairly well, with no major pain or other issues. But, I’m sure you’ll agree that two grown adults in a full-size mattress is a bit cramped – and with my wife being 3+ months pregnant with our first, it was time to upgrade to a queen post-haste :slight_smile:

I’ll spare you all of the details of our search (unless you want them, in which case say so and I’ll write it down), but we ended up getting a queen Simmons Beautyrest “Dreamwell” (‘exclusive’ to the retailer we purchased from, but I’m fairly certain it’s equivalent to their Elite series on their website… same coil count and other ‘features’) Black Rock, Extra Firm. We had almost gone with a plush pillowtop on our first shopping trip, but decided to think it over before buying and I’m glad we did – all the stories of folks whose pillowtops develop body impressions after only a couple of years and Simmons refusing to warranty them (‘they’re supposed to do that, we swear!’) made me decide that pillowtop was not for us. Plus, we’re both side and stomach sleepers (although my wife will be strictly left-side sleeping for the next 6 months), so a super-soft comfort layer didn’t seem like a great idea, even though it felt nice in the showroom for 10 minutes. Anyway, we went back a week or two later with the intention of focusing only on non-pillowtop mattresses, and ended up really liking the Black Rock, so we went with it. We also figured that we could always add to the top to make it softer, but wouldn’t be able to do the opposite to make a soft mattress firmer. At the time I didn’t realize it was labeled “extra firm”, but it felt good.

When it was delivered two days ago and I checked the tag to make sure it was the right mattress, I saw the “Extra Firm” label and thought for a second that maybe they sent me the wrong one (perhaps the same ‘model name’ but with a different comfort level), since I couldn’t believe that I would’ve chosen an ‘extra firm’ mattress. It also felt firmer than the one we tried in the store. Still, we slept on it the first night, and while I slept OK (not great but not terribly), my wife said she didn’t sleep well at all, and complained of lower back pain later in the afternoon. We decided to try putting the cheap foam pad that had been on our old mattress on the new one, and tried it that way last night – I slept about the same, and my wife says it was only marginally better. Granted, the foam pad we added is only about 3/4" thick and surely broken down and almost useless from 6+ years of use, so I’m not surprised that it didn’t help much. I also stopped by the showroom to feel the bed we tried before buying, and it is indeed labeled “extra firm” (so I didn’t get the wrong mattress) but it does feel a little bit softer, though not by much, so I assume ours will soften up just a little bit over time.

Regardless, we’ve got to do something about it in the immediate term, so we’re wondering whether a latex foam topper on top might do the trick? My thinking is that an extra 2" or 3" of foam on the top would make the comfort layer thicker, and thus we’d be able to sink in a little more and have our recesses more supported, while still getting the full-body support from the mattress itself. What do you think?

If you think it’s worth trying, I’ve got a few more specific questions:

– How thick? Would 2" suffice, or would 3" be better? I’m concerned that 3 would be too thick for stomach sleeping.
– Softness/ILD? If I had to guess, I would probably pick a “soft” ILD, maybe low-to-mid 20s, but again, maybe something a bit firmer would be better for stomach sleeping?
– Dunlop vs. Talalay? I believe most of your material says that Talalay is better for a comfort layer, but I think I read somewhere else that Dunlop would be more durable?
– Natural or blended?
– Where do you suggest purchasing from? Any particular online retailers that you recommend? I’ve looked at the websites of NorthernNaturals, FoamSource, FoamOnline, FoamOrder, Absolute Comfort On Sale, Arizona Premium Mattress Company (they have several different websites, yes?), and some others. I’d prefer someplace where I can send the topper back if it ends up not working out.
– Do you know of any places where we might be able to try different foams locally (we’re in State College, PA) before ordering? This is especially important if we can’t return something we order.
– I gather that most latex foam toppers come raw, without any sort of cover, or can be ordered with a cover for additional cost. Do we need to get a cover, or can we just lay it on top of the mattress, put the mattress protector overtop, then sheets?

I realize there are a lot of questions there, but I really appreciate whatever insight you can give me on how we might make the best of this situation. I’d really hate to have to resort to trying to resell the mattress third-party to recoup whatever portion of the cost we can, eat the rest, and have to start this whole thing over again.

Thanks again!

Hi mjl5007,

Your thinking is in a direction that I would be going because as you say it is much easier to soften up a mattress that is too firm than it is to firm up a mattress that is too soft and I would much rather “fix” a mattress that I had if possible than start all over again. You were also wise to go with a mattress that had less rather than more foam on top.

While I don’t know the exact layering of your mattress … the coils as well the comfort layers are firmer than “normal” (thus the extra firm). Most sites that carry this make a point of saying that this would normally be too firm for side sleepers.

Having said this however … there is also some softness in the foam layers so adding a topper which would be ideal just by itself over firm coils will likely be too thick when it is added to the foam that is already in the mattress … especially for stomach sleeping. It is also safe to assume that the polyfoam and memory foam layers will soften somewhat although any Simmons transflexion layers will soften less because they have been pre-compressed to reduce the initial softening that happens with polyfoam and memory foam.

So I would certainly consider a topper.

I would tend towards 2" over 3" partly because there is already some softness in the comfort layers and also because thinner is better than thicker for stomach sleeping.

I would tend towards 19 - 24 ILD in Talalay latex which is both soft and more supportive than other foams. Firmer than this and you would risk the foam being too firm for pressure relief. Of course testing 2-3" latex layers at a local outlet will help you narrow down the best choice because your weights and body shapes will make a difference in how different ILD’s work for each of you.

Based on averages … I would choose Talalay. Blended Talalay comes in softer versions than Dunlop and like Dunlop is very durable. The “relatively” lower durability Talalay I sometimes mention on the forum is the natural talalay (rather than the blend) in lower ILD’s.

There are a few local outlets that sell latex mattresses in addition to memory foam and of course polyfoam but they don’t say anything about selling toppers and there aren’t any local manufacturers near you that I am aware of. These might carry some latex mattresses and like most stores would also carry polyfoam and memory foam. May carry Restonic which makes latex mattresses (don’t know if they carry them)

The prices and sources of latex toppers are constantly changing so I don’t keep up to date with the “best” prices or return policies but based on prices alone, Arizona Premium (which is a member here and does have several websites) likely has the best pricing of these but the return privileges are also important to you as well and their toppers are not returnable. I would choose the outlet that had the best combination of price and return policy for the material that you preferred. Some others that may be worth considering are … sell talalay latex toppers for good prices but don’t state their return policy sells memory foam and talalay latex toppers. don’t know their return policy but I think it has a 20% re-stocking fee. NOTE: they are no longer in business

Foam Types - Definitions, Qualities and Common Uses | FoamOnline Sell talalay latex, memory foam, and high quality polyfoam toppers. They don’t say what type or ILD this is but I know Classic brands has talalay in many of their mattresses and WalMart has a great return policy if it doesn’t work. These are in limited supply and they don’t say the type of latex or the softness (pretty much rolling the dice for what you get) but they are certainly cheap. (No longer available)

While all toppers should have a cover to protect them from degradation, it’s particularly important if you go with latex which can oxidize and become brittle from exposure to ozone and ultraviolet light.

Hope this helps a bit … and I would certainly go the topper route if I was in your shoes.



Thanks so much for taking the time to write back with your thoughts and insight. I feel much better knowing that you agree with the direction I was thinking (getting a latex topper).

We’ll be looking into and probably ordering a 2" blended Talalay latex topper sometime fairly soon. After posting my original message, we stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up a cheap “memory foam” mattress topper to try instead of the worn out polyfoam one from our old bed. It really is quite cheap, only about an inch total thickness and actually two layers: top layer is what feels like very soft and cheap memory foam, and the bottom is convoluted polyfoam. It is a tiny bit better than the old polyfoam topper, but still not cutting it – we’ll be returning it.

Believe it or not, the two local stores you mentioned are both within 1/2 mile of us, and are the two main places we looked when shopping for mattresses – we ended up purchasing this one at Mattress Warehouse ( I do remember seeing Nature’s Rest mattresses there in the side-showroom where they have all of their memory-foam mattresses, but we did not try them. We may go back just to see how the full latex mattresses feel compared to memory foam before ordering a topper.

To clarify further, does having a dedicated cover for the topper make that big of a difference in protecting it from accelerated degradation, or would putting the topper directly on top of the mattress, followed by a mattress protector and then sheets be equivalent?

Hi mjl5007,

Yes, it’s always a good idea to have a dedicated cover for a topper to protect it from degradation and wearing out prematurely but this is especially important with latex because of its susceptibility to ozone and ultraviolet light. It is more resistant to moisture than memory foam though so even memory foam toppers should be covered to help with durability. different materials will degrade for different reasons. Sheets and mattress protectors will help of course (compared to sleeping directly on a material) but they are not nearly as good as an actual dedicated cover which then has the sheets and protector over it.


Got it; thanks! We’ll be sure to get a cover for our topper.

Thanks again for your help! I’ll post back with how the latex topper works out once we get it and sleep on it a night or two.

Alright, I’m torn between two (well, technically three) options for our topper.

The first is the 2" Queen Blended Talalay topper from Arizona Premium Mattress Company ( They are 22 ILD. Price at $219 is among the best I’ve found online for a 2" queen Talalay (blended or 100% natural). Downside here is that it can’t be returned if it doesn’t end up working out for us.

The other option (or two) is the Talalay Latex Toppers from Foam Factory/Foam By Mail (, also the 2" thickness. The prices here are actually a bit better than APMC, and they have a 30-day return policy, which makes me lean heavily towards them. The question here is which firmness: soft (20 ILD) or medium (32 ILD)?

Finally, as far as covers go… I’d probably either go with the Bamboo/Cotton cover from APMC, or the Cotton Terry from Foam By Mail. Any preference there?

I should’ve mentioned in my OP that my wife and I are both fairly average in weight: I am 5’11" and she is 5’8", both around 165 lbs (well, she’ll be a little heaver than usual for the next 6 months of course). I read some of your comments in this post regarding how factors like body weight, ILD, topper thickness and underlying mattress can all have an effect on the final result, so I’m curious what your thoughts are there (specifically that 2" will be sufficient thickness, and which ILD you would suggest).

Hi mjl5007,

I would strongly suggest reading post #2 here before you consider ordering from FBM. I personally don’t believe that you are likely to receive what you believe you are buying. There is really not much point in ordering 20 ILD talalay from them when it’s highly unlikely that this is what they are selling unless of course the ILD or type of latex you receive is not a critical issue.

There is nothing more frustrating when you are trying to put together a mattress that really works for you than having to deal with a piece of what turns out to be unknown foam that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do.

Their 30 day return policy excludes shipping (both ways) and also has a 25% restocking fee which could eat up much of your purchase price … although you would at least have part of your purchase price refunded so this is better than no refund at all.

I would go with the cotton/bamboo cover over the terry cotton/polyester covers not only because it’s a better material but it has a lower price.

I know this seems harsh but I personally have a great deal of trouble dealing with outlets that I don’t trust to supply me with what they say they are selling or whose quality and integrity is questionable at best. For me it’s just not worth the headache … no matter how cheap they may be (and in this case the savings are not so significant anyway).

Without knowing the layering in your current mattress it’s difficult to be exact but assuming that the foam in your mattress is firmer than normal I would say the odds are good that a 2" topper in the range of lower 20’s (like you are looking at) would work well. Thicker than that and you would be risking alignment issues on your stomach and thinner than that would risk inadequate pressure relief on your side … and I think that good pressure relief will be especially important for your wife over the next few months :slight_smile:


So glad I asked your opinion. I read the post you linked and did some research of my own, and I’m totally turned off of FBM as well. Seems like some folks end up getting what they ordered, but it’s hit or miss and most of the time the quality of the product is sub-par.

Seems like the 22-ILD 2" Queen Blended Talalay topper from Arizona Premium would be a better bet, although I gather that it’s imported and not made by Latex International (although maybe their 21-ILD 100% Natural Talalay toppers are from LI?) . All of the LI toppers that I can find at other retailers are considerably more expensive… $350+ for a queen size, not including a cover (which is usually another $100+), which seems really expensive to me. Is LI latex really worth the extra cost?

The more I read about people doing DIY full-latex mattresses and how pleased they are with them, the more I wish we had done the same.

Hi mjl5007,

I think that even the people who are somewhat happy with their FBM purchase in most cases didn’t get what they ordered but just don’t realize that they received Dunlop latex rather than Talalay. Most people don’t have a frame of reference to really tell the difference in either the type of latex they received or the ILD. They often assume that the latex they received was what soft Talalay is like. Talalay latex in an ILD of 19 - 24 has a density under 3.5 lbs and even in Dunlop, lower ILD latex has a lower density than firmer Dunlop (it ranges from about 60 kg/m3 to about 95 kg/m3 which is about 3.75 lbs/ft3 to about 6 lbs/ft3) but their’s is listed as all being 5.6 lbs/ft3. That doesn’t mean that Dunlop is “bad” … but only that there is a big difference between say 20 ILD Talalay and 32 ILD Dunlop “seconds”.

Radium is a large European manufacturer of Talalay latex based in the Netherlands and has actually been making Talalay latex longer than Latex International. They are the dominant Talalay producer in Europe in the same way that LI is the dominant producer in North America. There are many manufacturers who use it and actually prefer it over LI and have told me that their quality is more consistent and they are even willing to pay a slightly higher cost. Most have access to and sell both and from time to time may even change their supplier according to economics or quality issues. It is not a “cheaper” product in other words despite what I have seen written elsewhere. Either way … I would consider both to be high quality products and equivalent to each other and most manufacturers will willingly tell a customer which they are using in their mattresses and why. To me … as long as a comparison is between blended and blended or natural and natural … I would consider them to be equivalent materials.

DIY is certainly a great way to go and if it’s well chosen can lead to a great mattress. It’s kind of satisfying (and in some cases a little frustrating) to have a hand in the construction of your own mattress. Local factory direct manufacturers are also a great option and many people don’t realize the value that is often available locally as well. If there is a local manufacturer available that has similar value to an online outlet … then there is the added bonus of being able to try out the exact configuration that you end up purchasing.


Alright, change of direction…

If we were to go with a 3" topper instead of a 2", would you recommend going with a slightly-higher ILD (30-32) to accommodate our stomach sleeping position, or stick with something in the lower 20s? Or would you really advise against going with a 3" topper at all? I ask because I found some 3" blended Talalay factory seconds on eBay in varying ILDs (soft 22-24, medium 30-32, firm 38-40, and extra firm 44) for what seems to be a great price, assuming the factory defects do not significantly affect the performance, only the cosmetics. I’ve asked the seller who the manufacturer is, as well as whether he will accept returns for non-defect reasons (i.e. if it just doesn’t work for us or we get the wrong firmness), so depending on how he responds this may be a great deal for us.

And again… thank you so much, Phoenix, for taking the time to engage in this conversation with me. I truly appreciate your sharing your insights and knowledge.

Hi mjl5007,

IMO … 3" would be “riskier” than 2". This would also depend on knowing exactly what is in your current mattress of course but the odds are more in your favor with 2" than 3".

At least the outlet you are probably looking at (mattresses 24/7?) is a better choice IMO than FBM and I am satisfied that they are describing their products accurately and that their source is good. If this is the one you mean … then they do accept returns minus their original shipping and of course the cost of returning it.

The thickness of a layer is just as important as the firmness of a layer and in general one can’t “make up” for the other although they are both “parts” of the same goal (pressure relief and alignment). A firmer thicker topper may be a little better for stomach sleeping than if it was softer but then it may not be pressure relieving enough for side sleeping and the thickness itself may isolate you too much from the deeper and firmer support layers of the mattress.


That’s kinda what I was afraid of :frowning: Which brings me back to the 2" “100% Natural Talalay” toppers from APMC, which according to their website at are from Latex International or Vita/Radium in Netherlands. But they’re natural, not blended, so probably not as durable in a 21 ILD.

It occurred to me that I could stop by the showroom where we bought the mattress and ask to see the tech sheet for it, to get the layering/construction specifics to help you make a better recommendation. This of course assumes that they have that information on hand – when I went in to try the Nature’s Rest latex mattresses the other day (which I LOVED, btw), I asked for information on the layering for those (type of latex, thicknesses, ILDs, etc), and the sales guy said he didn’t have that info. Useless.

I’ll stop by and post back if I can get the info for the Simmons mattress we bought.

Well, as expected, they didn’t have complete accurate layer breakdowns/diagrams, but here’s what I got off of the tag on the bed itself (this is a Simmons Beautyrest Dreamwell Black Rock “Extra Firm”, with 900 Smart Response pocketed coils):


  • FR Fiber
  • 1" PurFoam Luxury Firm


  • Exclusive Enhanced Conformability Foam
  • 1" PurFoam Firm
  • Exclusive Latex Foam

Coil support:

  • 1/2" EnergyFoam

Hi mjl5007,

As far as I know and also on their website … APMC carries both natural and blended Talalay in their 2" toppers.

Both natural and blended would make good choices and both would be more durable than other materials, but in comparison to each other then the blended is likely to be more durable especially in ILD’s below 20. The higher the ILD the less this would be an issue.

In my experience … some of the Mattress Warehouse outlets are more “helpful” than others or at least more willing to track down the specs of a mattress. It may be worthwhile to phone a few of them to see if you can find one that is more helpful.

There are many possibilities as to what the layers of this mattress may contain. The thinnest 11" extra firm version of the elite line still contains 2" of polyfoam and another 1.5" of memory foam and this one doesn’t have any latex in the mix. The site doesn’t list a super firm or even a plush firm Dreamwell (only a classic with 800 coils). If your mattress has some latex in the mix it would add another 1/2" of latex to the mix so even with the version that has the least amount of foam in it I would still lean towards the 2" topper.

It’s always a lot easier to add softness than it is to take it away.