Likelihood same Dunlop product is labeled differently (by ILD and "firmness")?

Forward: Phoenix, and the resources he has put together, has been a tremendous source of help. This thread still concerns my quest to duplicate a particular mattress, but deals with a different part of that quest. I’ve started two other threads, and tried to title those thread so they accurately describe their content in order to assist others who may be searching the forum for information. I also don’t want to unnecessarily clutter the forum, so if you think this should go under one of my other threads here or here, then please feel free to move it.

From looking at the certificates on their website, I discovered that The Natural Mattress Store gets their organic 100% natural Dunlop from Latex Green. I found this link on the Latex Green site that lists the cores they produce and their corresponding densities. If you search the site, there is also a PDF brochure that states they produce a 65 kg/m3 core called e-Core-Lite, but I’m not concerned with that one.

Phoenix has educated us on the difficulties associated with ILD ratings on Dunlop, which is why I have some questions when trying to compare apples to apples between different mattress retailers. For reference:


It’s too big to paste here, but has a [url=Foam Sweet Foam | Foam Sweet Foam that lists the two types of latex they use to make their mattress, which happen to be the same types that The Natural Mattress Store uses (100% Natural Talalay from Latex International and organic 100% Natural Dunlop from Latex Green). The FoamSweetFoam chart shows the densities of the Dunlop in ft/lbs3 instead of kg/m3, but I did the conversion calculations with the following results:

Medium Firmness Dunlop - 78.49 kg/m3*
Firm Firmness Dunlop - 84.89 kg/m3*
Extra Firm Firmness Dunlop - 88.10 kg/m3*

  • +/- 3.20 kg/m3

FoamSweetFoam lists the corresponding ILD as 25, 31, 36.

Aside from the fact the difference between the firm and extra firm appears a little small, I would say this is pretty close to Latex Green’s stated densities of 75, 85, 95, which also has a +/- 5 kg/m3.

All of this “research” is being done to try and identify the actual Dunlop being used in the The Natural Mattress Store mattress that I like. TNMS nominally calls the two pieces in question as Medium and Extra Firm, and they provide ILD of 25-30 for the Medium and 40-49 for the Extra Firm. I think it is pretty safe to assume the “Medium” is the 75 kg/m3 density Dunlop, but if I am to assume that the “Extra Firm” is the 95 kg/m3 density, then that means I have to also assume that The Natural Mattress Store’s ILD rating on that piece of Dunlop is a little high, especially on the higher end of 49.

Are these safe assumptions, or is there another piece of latex education that I am missing out on? I know a latex manufacturer can probably custom manufacture something (like a core with a density higher than 95 kg/m3), but I think this is probably unlikely…especially in this scenario where we are talking about products that are certified organic. I don’t know if they would want to go through that certification process for a custom product.

I’ll sum up the question since I’ve lost myself here (and probably everyone else). Based on all of the above, do you think TNMS’s “Medium” Dunlop is the 75 density and the “Extra Firm” is the 95 density?

Hi ehuesman,

First of all … it’s important to realize and accept that there is no such thing as a “single number ILD” for any Dunlop core that will be accurate and manufacturers list an ILD or even a range as a convenience to make approximate comparisons. This is also true to a smaller degree with Talalay although in practical terms it is much more consistent even though it is also “averaged” (in the case of blended Talalay). Even if the ILD is measured and “averaged” across the layer … it will vary by individual layer and will also vary depending on whether you have the bottom half or the top half of an original Dunlop core that produced the rating. The top 3" of a molded 6" Dunlop core will generally be softer than the bottom 3". It can also vary depending on which side of a layer you are measuring.

Other variables include the percentage compression that ILD is tested at (the two most common are 25% and 40% which makes a significant difference) and on the thickness of the core that is being tested (thicker cores will produce higher ILD results at the same percentage compression). For example you can see some of the results of ILD @ 40% compression testing here which produces higher numbers.

Some rough guidelines that I believe would apply to Latex Green and other manufacturers that produce similar densities of 100% natural latex that may be more accurate that what I posted previously and others I know of (although these also have no guarantee of accuracy and don’t take into account the firmer feel of Dunlop) are …

EXTRA SOFT 16-18 … 4.05pcf (64.9 kg/m3)

SOFT 19-22 … 4.36pcf (69.8 kg/m3)

MEDIUM 23-27 … 4.67pcf (74.8 kg/m3)

MEDIUM FIRM 28-33 … 4.98pcf (79.8 kg/m3)

FIRM 34-38 … 5.30pcf (84.9 kg/m3)

EXTRA FIRM 39-44 … 5.61pcf (89.9 kg/M3)

X-EXTRA FIRM 45-49 … 5.92pcf (94.8 kg/m3)

For the sake of reference … here are some densities for Latex International’s blended Talalay (these are accurate within the tolerance of LI blended Talalay) …

14 ILD … 2.5 lbs/ft3

19 ILD … 3.0 lbs/ft3

24 ILD … 3.4 lbs/ft3

28 ILD … 3.7 lbs/ft3

32 ILD … 4.0 lbs/ft3

36 ILD … 4.3 lbs/ft3

40 ILD … 4.7 lbs/ft3

44 ILD … 5.0 lbs/ft3

If I was trying to design and build a latex mattress on my own … I would try to match Dunlop to what I had tested by density (assuming these numbers are available) or ILD if I knew them to be accurate in both the tested mattress and in the layers I was buying.

In blended Talalay I would try to match them by ILD which are usually more accurate and more widely available.


Thanks again. I did not realize there was more than one method of determining ILD, I assumed it was done to 25% compression. That definitely might throw a monkey wrench in the plans.

Two other questions, although they are unrelated to the exact topic of the thread.

First, what do you make of the study by Latex International titled “Talalay Comfort Zone” that is about halfway down on this technical blog page? I know that Talalay is LI’s main product, so they have skin in the game of extolling Talalay’s benefits. It seems LI is extolling the benefits of their Talatech over Dunlop, but it might as be in French because I don’t understand how it translates to a mattress component. Can you translate for me?

FWIW, Flobed has some strictly anecdotal evidence of blended Talatech Talalay being more resilient than Dunlop in the long run. Refer to this page. I understand there are a lot of factors that could explain this (4 years stored vs 5 years stored, not too mention conditions of storage).

Secondly, Latex International apparently did a study showing a slight benefit in durability when it comes to blended Talalay versus 100% natural. I also found that info on FloBed’s website here. The details are about halfway down.

I realize the performance of the blended was only incrementally better, but might that not add up in the long run? Because of this, I am considering going with blended Talalay for the comfort layer…even though the bed I am trying to replicate used 100% natural. If I went in that direction, based only on your knowledge of the products, which blended Talatech ILD (ILD 19 or 24) comes closest to the feel of the 100% natural in the N2 (20-24)?

Since you seem pretty passionate about the industry, I’m assuming you don’t consider these questions about small differences as mundane, but I apologize if you do. Thanks again for your help!

Hi ehuesman,

I think it is an informative document but a detailed technical commentary on each of its points is outside the scope of the forum (or the time I have available). This information as well as a great deal more research including some lengthy conversations over the years with some very knowledgeable people who have decades of real life experience in how different types of latex last and perform are all part of what I took into account and “translated” when I wrote some of the more detailed posts I have included on the forum about the differences between natural and synthetic rubber and the Dunlop and Talalay process and the differences between different types of latex. Among others … they include post #2 here and post #6 here and post #2 here and post #6 here which would deal with most of the points in the page you linked. Post #28 here also references the graph on the page you linked in a comparison between innerspring support cores and latex support cores.

Yes … I have seen this and commented on it before as well. I don’t believe that Dunlop latex does as well when it is severely compressed over the long term as Talalay would because of its cell structure and I don’t believe this is an accurate reflection of “real life” performance. You can see a video here of a dunlop latex mattress for example that was in use for almost 50 years (and there are many examples like this of both Talalay and Dunlop) which certainly didn’t suffer from these problems. I don’t think that this type of “evidence” reflects real life use or results.

Yes … this has also been referenced on many occasions on the forum (the common belief in the “superiority” of 100% natural talalay is one of the mistaken beliefs that I have addressed more often than many others on the forum) and I have talked with them as well about this. As you will see from the previous links I believe it would be particularly true in softer ILD’s and not so much in firmer ILD’s. Some of the reasons why this is most likely true is also addressed in the links.

In Talalay … the ILD’s would be roughly comparable so the closest in terms of ILD would be 24 ILD although it would not be exactly the same. The Talalay GL fast response is also a blended Talalay and has phase change gel added to it and comes in an ILD of 21 which may also be close to the “nominal” value of the N2 that you tested (which could be anywhere in the ILD range that covers N2).

The “researcher” hat is among one of many that I wear to develop this site and the information it contains so I certainly do understand how important some of the smaller details can seem although you may find that in “real life” some of the smaller differences you are trying to decipher or translate may not have as quantifiable an answer as you would like and may not be as important or meaningful as you currently believe they are.


Thanks for the links. I read all or most of them in the beginning of this little quest, but I would do good to go back and read them again now that I have a learned a couple things. Those posts might make more sense the second (or third) time around.

This is one of my many faults. I start researching something from a consumer standpoint, but then end up finding the material interesting enough that I get caught up in the minutiae. Now I have to fight off “paralysis by analysis”…

Thanks again.

Hi ehuesman,

Here’s one more forum article which has a more simplified explanation of the durability difference between Dunlop and blended and all natural Talalay. Interestingly enough I found this in a google search because I didn’t list it as a reference post when I first wrote it quite some time ago. It’s not as technical as some of the others but it’s perhaps it’s more clear because of its simplicity.

I certainly understand this as well and if it’s a “fault” then I share it and your tendency to go into finer and finer grained layers of detail out of interest alone even though in many cases it’s past the point of the law of diminishing returns (and in some cases the time I have available compared to research that will benefit more people) and the raw data to get more and more specific is sadly lacking. In many cases I’ve spent hundreds of hours in deep searches on some topics over the years in efforts to find missing information that can help connect more data points.

In a site like this which is more about helping the majority to find a better mattress than they otherwise would … the amount of technical detail can already be overwhelming and it’s important to me to find a balance between too much information and not enough … both of which can lead to less then ideal choices. If anything I have crossed the line into too much (for the majority of people) on many occasions which in some cases can have the side effect of encouraging an undue focus on technical specs without the complete context to fully understand them at the expense of personal experience in testing mattresses.

Sometimes too, articles like the technical blog also need to be questioned according to what they are being compared with. You can see for example on the Latexco International site here that some of the specs for their Dunlop latex don’t agree with the specs of the Dunlop latex that Latex International was using for its comparison and they are also using different test methods.

You can also see in this Latex International document which has more detail yet than their technical blog that g1981c linked earlier that some of the information or underlying assumptions are also questionable.

For example they compare talalay cell wall structure and thickness at the same density as Dunlop instead of roughly the same ILD. While this may seem like a fair comparison on the surface it doesn’t reflect real life because if someone wanted a 20 ILD comfort layer that’s what they would choose regardless of the density which would mean that different densities with similar ILD’s should be compared to reflect real life choices. The cell walls of lower density Talalay would be thinner. The testing parameters are also different from the testing described on the Latexco site and different types of testing may be more favorable than others to certain materials. They also talk about impact loss for all ILD’s “on average” which doesn’t deal with the specifics of the materials that would actually be used in different layers. Averages don’t differentiate between softer and firmer materials and can make the softer materials seem more durable than they really are.

All of this means that each new set of datapoints needs to be “translated” to some degree … sometimes with some reasonable or educated guesswork or extrapolation involved … so that different sets of information can be more accurately compared.

With this type of technical and complex information (and if you get into some of the math it becomes even more complex yet) … the more you know the more you realize how little you know and how much more you may want to know before you really believe you know anything at all. At least that usually seems to reflect my own ongoing experience and learning curve :slight_smile:


Thanks for those posts, I agree that the older one you found via Google was a little more concise and would be a good one to tag

I hadn’t even looked into the Talalay GL (fast response), but I am interested in it now simply because it seems like a “safer” option in regards to trying to match the ILD of the 100% natural talalay in N2. I understand what the GL is trying to accomplish with the gel, but what I am giving up in exchange for that? I’m specifically interested if the gel effects the durability. I’m assuming that since Latex International states the GL fast response “feels just like” the Talatech, that the GL is blended in the same ratio? By the way, I’ve seen you refer to the Talatech ratio as 70/30 (synthetic/natural), and I’ve had a vendor tell me the Talatech is 60/40. I don’t know if it matters, but I’d still like to know and couldn’t find it on the LI site.

lol, I’ve always said that if you do something long enough, you’ll laugh at yourself when you look back at the first time you thought you were an expert on the topic.

Hi ehuesman,

I don’t think you would be giving up much if anything in terms of durability with the phase change gel they add (assuming equal ILD’s) and it would be very similar to the Talatech in terms of durability (although I haven’t seen any specific testing comparisons about this). The main benefits of the phase change gel is that it may make a small difference in temperature regulation but Talalay latex is already the most breathable foam category and temperature regulation is usually not an issue. Once temperatures have evened out as well, all foams will become insulators to differing degrees so phase changing technology is not as long lasting in terms of temperature regulation as ventilation (see the end of post #4 here). I think that the main reason that the phase changing gel was added was for competitive reasons to make it more easily comparable to the gel memory foams that are so common. The down side of course is that it costs more.

I would also bear in mind that ILD differences this small may be below the ability to detect for most people or would be less than the normal variations in the material itself (ILD variations across the surface or differences in the average ILD of different layers in each material). I would also keep in mind that 100% natural Talalay is a denser material and is not quite as pressure relieving as the blend (you don’t sink in quite as far) and has a higher compression modulus so a little higher ILD in the blended may be a little closer to equivalence if the ILD’s were exact and consistent across the surface of the layers (which they aren’t).

As far as I’m aware … LI and Radium both use a 30/70 blend.


It is very hard to find information on Radium Foam. I did a search of the forum on Latex International vs Radium Foam, and found your previous comments. To sum up, it seems you believe the blended talalay by the two manufacturers to be products of equal quality, and any preference by a mattress manufacturer probably has more to do with their individual experience with the companies from a business perspective rather than with the latex products themselves. Is this still your stance?

Based on the Radium website, their blended product is called the “Superior”. Maybe it used to be called “Talalux”? Do you know what ILDs the Radium Foam blended Talalay comes in?

FWIW, I still can’t find anything on the LI site that states the composition of the Talatech, but Radium states their blend is a 30/70 here.

I’m hoping to be able to get back to The Natural Mattress Store later today so that I can try the mattress out again, just to make sure that it is the right fit for me and allow to finally make a purchase decision.

Thanks again.

Hi ehuesman,

Yes … and you can add that sometimes a good manufacturer that deals with both will be able to identify different batches that may be lower or higher quality (which sometimes happens) and “shield” their customers from the materials that they believe are not up to “normal” quality standards.

They don’t provide this information on their site so I don’t know the specific ILD increments no although the manufacturers that deal with them would probably know the ILD’s of the layers that they carried. I believe it ranges from a low of about 17 to a high of 40+ and they have smaller increments than LI but I don’t know the specifics.

The main distributor of Radium in the US (Latexco) calls it Talalux but it would be the same yes. When I talk with Latexco next (and it may not be that soon) I will ask them about the ILD’s they carry.

The LI information comes from information they have provided to manufacturers and conversations I have had with them but they can also change the composition if they choose to so it may not always be 30/70 historically or in the future. I’ll also see if I can confirm this when I talk with them next.

The Radium 40/60 information also comes from information they have provided to manufacturers over time and they didn’t provide the blend information on their site previously. I would treat their site though as being accurate so they may have changed the blend from what they used in the past or they could be making it differently for each market. Nice catch (I hadn’t seen the link you provided) :slight_smile:


Hi ehuesman,

I had the chance to talk with Roger the president at Latexco today and he emailed me the ILD ranges of the Radium Talalay. He also confirmed that the blend was 30/70 although some years ago when Dunlopillo was still in business they were probably higher (which is likely the source of the 40/60 information which is not up to date). It’s great that your question led to a more up to date and accurate answer (which I was still passing on as accurate as well) :slight_smile:

(1) Radium Blended talalay ILDs…11, 15,19, 22, 25, 29, 34 & 40.
(2) Radium Natural talalay ILDs… 9, 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 39, and 44.

Note: these are updated Radium firmness ranges as of April 7th, 2014 (seehere).

Hope this helps.


That information is very helpful, thanks again.

I went to TNMS again, but before I did, I went to another local store that a forum member directed me to. I was able to try out some of the Savvy Rest products. The one I liked the best was the Serenity (3 x 3" layers) in 100% all natural talalay. They nominally called the layering from the bottom up as firm, medium, soft, and I was able to see the catalog page and confirmed that these layers were Latex International’s N5-N4-N2.

After trying the Savvy Rest, I drove directly to The Natural Mattress Store. As a refresher, the TNMS bed is extra firm dunlop (40-49 ILD), medium dunlop (25-30 ILD), soft talalay (N2). So based on the nominal classifications of “extra firm, medium, soft” vs “firm, medium, soft”, and a mixed dunlop/talalay construction vs an all-talalay construction, I was expecting the TNMS bed to feel firmer than the Savvy Rest bed. It did not. It wasn’t a huge difference, but I was still pretty sure that the TNMS bed was softer, even though that went against what I thought it should be. The covers are not hugely different (knitted cotton with wool), even though the TNMS cover is probably slightly thicker. Neither would be considered a thick cover by any means.

When I got home, I looked at my collection of information and realized that what the TNMS calls “medium” dunlop is 25-30 ILD, and that the LI 100% natural talalay in N4 (what Savvy Rest calls medium) is 30-35 ILD. I’m assuming this is the difference I was feeling. All all talalay N5-N3-N2 (instead of the savvy Rest N5-N4-N2) would have been a better comparison since N3 is also 25-30 ILD, but it’s not possible for me to try that configuration out. Without being able to do that, I think I like the TNMS mattress better, unfortunately I was never able to confirm with that company what density of dunlop they are using (only the nominal rating and the ILD range).

The biggest thing hampering my efforts at testing out mattresses and ordering online is that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. All the stores I’ve found that carry all-latex mattresses are catering to the “all natural and organic” crowd. That means I have not been able to test out any blended talalay. I would really like to compare how three layers of blended talalay (in comparable ILDs) feels against the 100% natural talalay over natural dunlop configuration.

Hi ehuesman,

Yes … San Francisco has a large “natural and organic” crowd and it seems logical that the stores there would reflect this. Some of the other suppliers on the list may have blended Talalay available (I would call some of the others on the list to see) and you could also test blended Talalay by looking for a store that carries the PLB natural line (which uses blended Talalay) using their retailer locator. These may require some “translation” however depending on the model you prefer and how it compares to the mattresses you are considering because the layer thicknesses and ILD’s of the PLB models will likely be different from what you would have available online for the most part and they also use an unquilted stretch cover which can also make a difference vs a quilted cover.

I think you may find that in most cases … it would be unusual to find an exact match between a local and an online mattress in terms of materials, layer thickness and softness, and any other components in the mattress and the best use of your testing may be to get a “feel” for how layer thickness and softness changes in different parts of the mattress will affect how it feels and performs for you and how different versions of latex in the different layers will affect a mattress so that you can choose a closer equivalent in combination with more detailed conversations with a manufacturer if you end up ordering online. The top layers of a mattress are also the biggest part of what most people “feel” on a mattress so this can also help you with your choices (although the deeper support layers are also a big part of what you feel when you wake up in the morning either with or without back discomfort or pain)

With many online manufacturers you have options to re-arrange or exchange layers to different degrees after you have purchased as well which can help you fine tune the mattress closer to your ideal criteria. Don’t forget “there are many roads to Rome” which means that different layer combinations can have a very similar feel to others that are different and it will also depend on your “range” in terms of PPP for your ideal mattress. Some people have a very wide range of what works well for them in terms of pressure relief and alignment (the ones who can sleep on anything) and others have a very narrow range (the princess and the pea group). The wider your range the less important it may be to test a local mattress which is exactly the same.

All of this is part of the online vs local tradeoffs and in many cases if the local premium is in the range of 20% or so in an apples to apples comparison it may be worth buying locally (I would treat this as roughly equivalent value) and if the local premium is larger then it may be worth taking on the additional risk or “unknowns” of an online purchase … especially if you have some good options after the purchase if you need to make any adjustments.

I would also keep in mind that in many cases … people who do much less local testing (enough to confirm that they like latex in a general softness range) may also do very well with an online purchase based on “averages” for their body type and sleeping style along with some options for fine tuning if they are not quite at their ideal even though they haven’t tested mattresses to the same degree of specificity as you are.

Of course you know your own criteria and range and the degree of “exactness” that is most important to you and as long as the process doesn’t become too frustrating it can be kind of fun and quite a learning experience to see all the differences between different designs and styles of mattresses and the many things that can make a difference between them.

Finally I would keep in mind that years down the road you will remember much more about how well you slept on a new mattress than you will about any relatively small differences in cost (although of course cost is an important part of the value of any purchase)


More obstacles…

I was doing the math and came to the conclusion that if I bought components separately, I would save myself as little as about $300 compared to buying a pre-made mattress from one of the online member retailers, and I would have more issues with any sort of comfort exchange. So I decided to just bite the bullet and buy the pre-made mattress…

This is what I am looking for:

Top: Talalux blended talalay in ILD 22
Middle: 100% natural dunlop in ILD 25-30 (assumed 75D)
Bottom: 100% natural dunlop in ILD 40+

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single online retailer where I could configure a mattress exactly like I wanted. Some (like SleepEZ) could match two of the layers that I was looking for, but not the third. In the SleepEZ case, it is because they do not carry dunlop latex layers in the ILD 25-30 range. I emailed back and forth with one of their reps and learned their dunlop comes from Latex Green, and that SleepComp tests the latex for ILD before distribution. Apparently, SleepEZ only orders certain ranges of ILD, with gaps between them. For example, no ILDs between 24-30 or 32-37.

I understand the “many roads to Rome” theory you’ve talked about, but any “experimentation” with different layering combinations starts to increase the likelihood of having to do an exchange. Since any exchange with most of the retailers involves a fee of some sort, it would increase the cost and the difference between building my own. I’m starting to consider myself the “prince and the pea” since I tried a very similar mattress yesterday that I felt was too firm. The primary difference on that mattress was the middle layer was ILD 30-35, versus 25-30.

So now I am back to buying the components myself, and it looks like I will have to use a couple different vendors. I have started making a list of who carries which of my three layers. My question for you involves the middle layer I am looking for. I have found several vendors selling 100% natural dunlop with an ILD rating that falls somewhere in between 25-30, but several of them also list a density of 5.2 or 5.3 ft/lbs, which I feel is not consistent with that ILD range. Some of these products are here at RockyMountainMattress, SleepWarehouse, and the ErgoSoft products sold on Amazon and elsewhere. All of these dunlop products are made by Latex Green or Latex Systems Co.

I am wondering if I should be looking at the 4.7 or 4.75 ft/lb dunlop products sold by these same vendors. Although the vendors are listing these densities as 16-18 ILD, they are in essence 75D dunlop, which should be in the mid to high 20’s ILD. I really feel that is the case after reading your posts here and here.

I guess my question for you is, which of the vendors’ listed “specs” are likely to be accurate, the density or the ILD? If you were so inclined to be trying to build your own latex mattress, and was looking for a layer of dunlop with ILD 25-30, would you be comfortable purchasing the 4.75 ft/lb product? I realize this is all part of the risk of trying to build my own mattress, and I must make that decision myself, but part of my “research” is asking a more knowledgeable person what their risk assessment would be. :slight_smile:

If I apply these theories to the other dunlop products at the same vendors, I could purchase the following:

Queen 3" Talalux ILD 22 - SleepEZ $450 shipped
Queen 3" 4.75 ft/lb dunlop - Sleepwarehouse $332 shipped
Queen 3" 5.9 ft/lb dunlop - Sleepwarehouse $386 shipped

Queen 9" zippered cotton/wool mattress cover - $207 shipped

Total = $1375 (possibly cheaper because I may be able to find that Talalux layer cheaper somewhere else, still confirming some things)

For comparison, that’s almost $400 savings over the SleepEZ 10000. Even if I got a layer wrong and had to buy another layer without any refund on the “wrong” one, I’m breaking even or better compared to the SleepEZ 10000. The comparable mattress at The Natural Mattress Store would cost me about $1700 more, so that is a no brainer.


Hi ehuesman,

If a Dunlop layer provided both specs (ILD and density) and they seemed to confirm each other … I would use either one as an “approximation” (which is as close as you can get with Dunlop ILD’s because they are somewhat variable at the best of times). I would also keep in mind that ILD alone is not the only part of choosing the most suitable design or the only part of how a mattress feels and performs in the way it does. If the specs seemed to “contradict” each other … I would tend to trust the density information with Dunlop more than the ILD information or whichever information the vendor believed was the most accurate and reliable (they are also dependent on the accuracy of the information supplied to them). I would also keep in mind that there could be some variations between manufacturers and different latex compounding and formulations as well as variations in the pincore patterns and the raw material itself but not to that degree (at least not with natural rubber because synthetic rubber can vary much more depending on the ratio between styrene and butadiene used).

As you are mentioning as well … this is all part of the “risk” involved in buying from online sources or going in the direction of a complete DIY construction where you can’t test the specific combinations first and are dependent on “approximations”, “averages”, or specs they provide (or pass on) or on your ability to make exchanges after the fact where that is an option. This type of uncertainty is often an unavoidable part of the process and replacing layers when necessary is just part of the possibilities I would factor in to the process. I would treat your initial choices as part of the process but not necessarily the final step of choosing your final design or configuration and would factor in the likelihood and expectation of needing to make some changes after your initial choices.

I would be comfortable choosing any product where I had the confidence that it was listed accurately and it “fit” the design goals of the mattress I was trying to build. If I knew that the 4.75 lb density was accurate and its properties and likely ILD range and thickness fit my preferences in the layer I wanted to use it for based on my testing … I would certainly choose it yes (see some of the density/ILD comparisons for 100% natural latex in the earlier post in this thread here). Your own confidence in your choices and your comfort level with various degrees of uncertainty is always the most important factor when you are going in the direction you are going though.

I think that in “real life terms”, math and more technical information can certainly be useful to a point but there comes a point where the input becomes less certain or precise which means the output will be uncertain as well. Trying for certainty when it can’t likely be found to the degree you are looking for is a pathway to frustration. The uncertainty comes from two directions … one of them is the accuracy of your choices in terms of their specs and the other is your confidence that your testing has provided you with the insights and experience that would allow you to predict your long term experience on the mattress based on theory in the first place. This is when math may need to give way to educated intuitive judgement as the best way to make decisions. At this point … good guesswork and your recourse if you guess wrong are more important than the specificity you are looking for which may not be possible.

In the end … your best “testing ground” will be sleeping on a mattress that is as close an initial approximation to your needs and preferences as you can make it and then using your actual experience to decide on any changes you need to make based on identifying as specifically as possible what you need to change and why and then changing the layer that has the best odds of producing the changes that you are looking for in terms of feel and performance. The upper layers will have a more obvious effect on pressure relief relief and deeper layers will be more related to primary support and alignment with the middle layers affecting both although every difference in layering will have some effect on every other layer to different degrees.

I think the direction you are going can be challenging but a real learning experience and as I’ve mentioned can also be enjoyable in its own right … but I would keep your expectations realistic. The most difficult part is translating many many hours of testing into enough familiarity and experience with different layering to be able to predict with some degree of certainty how each layer change will affect you (regardless of how it may affect others who may be different). In effect … you are exchanging a lot of time, research, learning, layer testing, and “translating” for the potential of lower costs along with the satisfaction that can come from designing your own mattress.


Hitting the nail on the head right there, lol.

I had a few conversations with some vendors, and after talking with “Andrew” at, I decided to purchase the two dunlop layers from them. He was unsure of which methods were being used to test the ILD, so I am banking on the density being the accurate spec. They only have a 30 day return policy (shipping is on me), but he said they’ll waive the 15% restocking fee if I am doing an exchange instead of a return. I ordered the 3" 75D and the 3" 95D for the middle and bottom layers respectively. ($718 shipped)

I had also been emailing with Ken at and decided to get the 3" Talalux blended talalay in 22 ILD from them. I also ordered their bamboo and wool mattress cover for the 9" of latex layers. ($318 + $269 + shipping and minus the 5% discount for being a forum member = $602 shipped)

I think I’m doing pretty good at $1320. Even factoring in having to exchange a layer, it represents a pretty significant savings. I had to consider that even if I bought a “pre-made” mattress, any comfort exchange still involved additional fees, which in my opinion significantly erodes the value of paying more for that option.

In the end, even after all this “research”, I don’t think I strayed too far from ordering something that fits the “average” person. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed about my [educated] assumption that the listed density of the dunlop is more accurate than the ILD. Either way, I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to all my inquiries as thoroughly as you did throughout this process.

In a couple of days, I leave for a week of fishing. I’m hoping everything has arrived by the time I return. I imagine that any mattress will feel excellent after a week of sleeping on a crappy mattress on a rented house boat!

Thanks again.

Hi ehuesman,

Well … one part of the journey is done and all that’s left is to sleep on it and see how well you did :slight_smile:

You certainly asked some good questions and did some great research along the way and I’m looking forward to your feedback when you receive everything and sleep on it after your fishing trip.

Congratulations on your new “custom” mattress !


PS: I’m also looking forward to hearing about your trip and hopefully catching the big one that “didn’t” get away :slight_smile:

And now the real fun begins…

First things first though, the fishing trip was great! I snapped my rod on the first day while setting the hook, and lost my favorite and most productive lure on the last day when the line snapped as I was hauling a fish into the boat. I know that sounds bad, but if you’re going to break or lose something it is much more fun to have it happen with a fish on the line…versus on a rock or in a tree, lol.

Now back to the mattress stuff. I received everything and put the mattress together yesterday. Arizona Premium Mattress sent me the wrong top layer though. I ordered the Radium Talalux in 22 ILD and was sent a 19 ILD. I contacted Ken and his stance is that the 19 ranges from 19-22. That contradicts what I learned during my research so I am still deciding on how to handle it. As soon as I put it together, I could feel the middle layer much more pronounced than what I tested. Now I imagine that could be one of two things. Either the top layer (19 ILD) is softer than what I tested (20-24.99 ILD), or the middle layer (4.7 ft/lb3 natural dunlop) is firmer than what I tested (stated to be 25-30 ILD natural dunlop). Of course feeling that pronounced middle layer happened while sitting on the mattress, it was less so while lying on the mattress.

As far as sleeping on it for one night, of course I’m being hyper-aware but I initially felt like my lower back was aching a little bit while trying to fall asleep on my back. I think I might have slept a little better than normal though, and had less aches while waking up. Nothing drastic one way or another though.

My wife, on the other hand, who is pretty much a 100% side sleeper, said she woke up with her bottom shoulder in pain. It might be a coincidence, but she has never experienced that before.

I tried searching for threads that dealt with how long it takes for your body to adjust to a new mattress, but all the search terms I tried were too general and I couldn’t find anything relevant.

One of the things I am wondering about that is most pressing, concerns the top layer and my wife’s shoulder. If the issue is pressure relief, how do I know if the problem is whether the top layer is too soft and allowing the feel of the firmer middle layer to come through too much, or whether the top layer is too firm and not providing enough pressure relief on its own? As a reminder, all layers are 3".

Thanks again.

Hi ehuesman,

Radium does have both 19 and 22 ILD blended Talalay layers but 3 ILD in a 3" layer is probably on the edge of or most likely below the threshold where most people would be able to tell the difference.

In addition to this the ratings are a “midpoint” because the ILD will vary across the surface of the layer (they take 15 separate measurements which would all be slightly different and then use the standard rating that is closest to the midpoint of the measurements).

As you can see here there is both an initial break in period for the mattress and an adjustment period for the person sleeping on it. In most cases 30 days would be a reasonable amount. On occasion it’s longer and sometimes shorter depending on the person. I would sleep on a mattress for at least two weeks if possible before making any changes. The same post will also give you some insights into some of the more common reasons behind any initial discomfort in a new mattress and post #2 here as well as post #6 here have more information about making adjustments that can affect primary support, secondary support, or pressure relief and there are also a number of links to other similar posts throughout the forum in post #5 here that may be useful.

Generally shoulder pain either indicates a pillow issue (which may need to change with a new mattress because the gap between the head and the mattress may have changed which can also affect the upper back or shoulders) or it could indicate a comfort layer that needs to be thicker and/or softer. These would be the most common causes. The odds would be very low for most people that with 3" of 19 ILD the layers below would be the primary cause of pressure issues although it is true that every layer affects every other layer to different degrees.

Low back pain most often indicates that the support layers are too soft or that the comfort layers are too thick or soft both of which can allow the pelvis to sink down too far and “tilt” which in turns puts the lumbar curve out of its natural alignment.


Thanks for those links, that was the info I was looking for.

I was willing to try out the mattress as is, with the 19 ILD topper, but Ken from APM wants to just do the exchange and have Latexco send the 22 ILD directly to me. So I’ll have to wait in order to do any more testing, but in the mean time…

If you didn’t already think I was crazy (you should by now, lol), you probably will after the rest of this post.

Since I had to take apart the mattress in order to package up the incorrect topper, I figured I would go ahead and inspect the two layers of dunlop that I received from Sleepwarehouse. I had wanted to weigh the latex layers when I received them, but I forgot in the rush to put the mattress together. While initially unpacking these latex layers, I noticed that they seemed quite a bit softer and weighed less than I expected. Each one has a label from Latex Systems, and one is labeled as 70-75 kg/m3, and the other as 90-95 kg/m3. At least this corresponded with what I ordered (75 and 95), but…

The piece labeled as 70-75 weighed between 30 and 31 pounds, and with dimensions of 60" x 80 x 3" (verified), this means the density is 3.78 lb/ft3 or 60.6 kg/m3!

The second piece, labeled as 90-95 kg/m3, weighed between 42 and 43 pounds, and with the same dimensions that means the density is 5.29 lb/ft3 or 84.83 kg/m3!

To ensure accuracy, I weighed the latex with two different scales and tripled checked the math, but am I missing something else here? Maybe when density is calculated by the manufacturer, the latex is still wet? Is there any reason for the density to change to this degree?

I understand that latex, and natural dunlop in particular, does not have exact densities. The method I used to calculate density represents the average density for the entire layer and they weren’t even in the range of what was to be expected. For reference, I know that a 6" (15 cm) core of dunlop that is cut into two 3" layers will be denser on the bottom layer than the top, and the label on the heavier piece states it was originally a 15 cm height piece, and the lighter one states it was a 7.5 cm height piece.

I totally understand your previous point of trying to use exact math for what I am looking for, but consumers, manufacturers, and distributors have to be able to rely on something when ordering materials. If my experience is representative of the quality control and/or inconsistencies of latex, then it seems like it’s always going to be a shot in the dark. Can you ever trust the labels of the piece you are trying to replace and the one you are replacing it with?

And the other side to this is that I don’t even know if these “incorrect” pieces will work because I obviously couldn’t do this extensive or inspection on the mattresses that I tested out. Who knows, maybe that layer that I thought was 75D was actually 60D, or maybe it was really 85D??!!

I remember you said something about a path to frustration…