Make your own Visco Bed - a good idea?

Hi all, I have had a visco bed from SensaPedic for the past 15 years or so and it is time for a new one. Like most visco beds my current bed sleeps a little hot. So I am very intrigued by some of the new offerings such as Sealy’s Opitmum Series which contain gel foam as an attempt to mitigate this problem. I don’t know if it is hype or not but the concept is appealing. Unfortunately, all of the major manufacturers (Sealy, Serta, etc.) that manufacture beds with this material appear to be using inferior density memory foams. As a result, I am contemplating buying the foam components and “building” my own mattress. I can use my existing foundation which is still in good shape. I would start with a 2" layer of gel foam, followed by 3" of a 5.3# density memory foam, followed by a 6" 2.8# density polyfoam support layer. I can build this bed for under $700 using top of the line, high quality materials. Does anyone have any thoughts on this strategy? Or would I be better off finding a manufacturer that makes bedding in the quality that I am looking for and just purchasing the bedding? FYI, I live in the Baltimore area if anyone has any suggestions on where to look for such a product.

Hi jGary,

I would say that the general strategy you are looking at is good but if you are getting these materials combined for under $700 (depending on the size of the mattress you are building) then I would question whether you are buying “top of the line” materials. There is also quite a bit of slow response materials (5") in your suggested layering which can be quite risky

Therapedic has a mattress which is similar in construction to what you are suggesting (except it has an inch of latex under 2" of gel memory foam and 2" of 5 lb memory foam instead of 3" of the 5 lb memory foam with a 6" 1.8 lb density polyfoam core). You can see it here (at a “lower than normal” price).

Post #2 here includes some of the better options in and around the Baltimore area including American Foam Center which may have the materials you are looking for as well. A couple of the outlets also carry Therapedic.

Post #4 here has a list of some DIY sources that would also allow you to put the mattress together on your own if you are committed to the specific layering you are suggesting (assuming they have advantages over the sources you are considering).

The real goal and challenge is to make sure that the layering you are suggesting would be suitable for your specific needs and preferences without testing how they interact together with you and with each other and the mattress cover that you choose. Like all mattress materials … memory foam (and gel memory foam) is only a general category of foam and there are many foams with a wide variety of different properties and feels in every category.

Gel foam in particular is “marketing driven” at the moment and while it may have some advantages over some (not all) “non gel” memory foams and there are also better and worse formulations of gel foams as well … any material that is used in the top layers of a mattress, no matter how “cooling” the marketing says it may be … is only one of several factors that is important in regulating the ventilation and sleeping temperature of a mattress.


I have researched DIY foam and latex setups a bit, definitely not to the tune of anything close to what Phoenix knows, but I know enough to be dangerous.

First I would say test drive some memory foam mattresses and see what you like best. Then you can go online and more than likely find the construction of the mattress(es) you liked and try to mimic that on your own.

I worry that 5" of memory foam may be a bit too much. I have no experience with gel foam, so I cannot speak to the “coolness” of it, but if I were in your position I would maybe start with just one layer of gel memory foam over your support layer, either 2" or 3" and if you find that this is not enough you can always add more.

Another idea that may work for you and aid in moving air as you sleep is to put a layer of latex (instead of additional memory foam) between your support layer and your memory foam.

These are just my thoughts, use at your own risk.