My New Latex Mattress is too hard

After 5 years of sleeping on an innerspring king mattress with two valleys (significant body impressions), my wife and I recently purchased a Latex mattress from a local manufacturer. We went to the showroom and tried various combinations of Talalay Latex (from Latex Intl) and decided on 6 inches of 36 ILD with 2 inches of 28 ILD on top. Unfortunately, when it arrived at our house, it was significantly firmer than in the showroom. Granted the showroom latex was un-quilted, but I am surprised and how much it firmed up after being quilted. I would like to go back to the manufacturer and ask how we might make the “comfort layer” a bit softer. Any suggestions from this discussion board would be appreciated.

When my wife and I tested out mattresses in retail showrooms, we both agreed on “Firm” mattresses (Plush was too soft and extra-firm was too hard), and we did not prefer the non-springy feel of memory foam. We both have bad backs and sleep on our side and back. I am 50 and 5’9’’ and weigh 185, but am very muscular. My wife is 46 and 5’7" normal weight.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Hi BradleyK2,

I think it’s often quite surprising to many people how much of an effect the often “forgotten” layers of a mattress can have on the performance and feel of a mattress.

Ticking fabrics, quilting layers, and even different mattress protectors and bedding can all have a noticeable effect. Even different quilting patterns and things like tufting and the stretchiness, tightness or looseness of the ticking will change the feel of a mattress. For some people who are in the middle of their “range” of needs and preferences … these may have a less noticeable effect but for others who are closer to the “edge” of their range … it can put them on the “other side” of their comfort and support needs.

The thickness of the layers and whether they are tested as loose layers or as an actual mattress can also make a real difference (with loose layers being softer than the same layers inside a mattress).

Some types of quilting can make a mattress softer while others (like compressed wool used for a fire barrier) can make it firmer. These layers and components can also be a significant part of the cost of a mattress.

Sometimes too … the effect of certain changes can seem counterintuitive. Thinner ultra soft layers for example can allow the firmness of the lower layers to “come through” more so a firm mattress may include several inches of very soft material on top while using a firmer material may isolate someone more from the firmness of the layer below it. A thicker layer of the same material will also isolate the lower layers more and will soften the mattress. All of this depends to some degree on each person’s perceptions and on how they (with their unique body height/weight/shape and sleeping positions) interact with the layering of each mattress.

Fiber quilting layers tend to be less resilient and compress more easily and over time and can reduce the cradling effect of softer layers underneath them making the mattress seem firmer. Softer foam quilting layers will tend to soften the surface feel of a mattress.

Most (but not all) local manufacturers will open up the mattress and switch out a layer or make other adjustments at a nominal charge.

The degree of change that would work best for you would depend on how far away from your ideal you seem to be. Given your preference for a firmer mattress … going down a firmness level to 24 or even increasing the thickness to 3" (to better accommodate side sleeping) may be worth considering. Another possibility would be to slightly reduce the firmness level of the support layer which will “help” the comfort layers a little more with pressure relief. In general … the manufacturer themselves has the most complete knowledge of all the interacting details of their mattress and has the knowledge, skill, and experience to know how seemingly smaller changes would affect the performance of a mattress for a particular person. The “key” is to describe the “symptoms” as accurately as possible (so they can be related to the many meanings of 'too firm" such as “pressure relief firmness”, “alignment firmness” or just “subjective firmness”) and to get a sense of which “part” of the body feels the mattress as too firm. Each of these “symptoms” and different types of firmness perceptions may have a different solution although based on your description I would guess you are talking about the surface or “pressure relief” firmness.

In general … it’s normally best to first sleep on the mattress for a few weeks to allow for any initial breaking in and adjustment to a new mattress and then use how the mattress feels at this point as a guideline for any adjustments that may be needed. If a change is made too quickly … particularly if your previous mattress was quite a bit different and your body has a “memory” of how it should sleep on the old mattress … you can easily get “caught” in the process of changing something before the normal initial adjustments are complete and this can lead to changes being out of sync with your longer term needs and preferences. Normally one small step at a time with enough time both initially and in between each change (either to the mattress or a protector, mattress pad, topper, or even bedding) can help to make sure that what you are changing has better odds of giving you the longer term outcome you are looking for.


Thank you for the feedback. The new mattress is only one week old. And, it is a huge change from our old mattress. With the old mattress (polyfoam breakdown), my lower back hurt every morning. With the new mattress, the lower back pain is gone, but I feel slight discomfort in the upper back and shoulder blades. Plus, I’ve had a tendency to toss and turn more often. I assume I need a little more pressure relief.

I will contact the manufacturer for his recommendations. I live in Fort Lauderdale, so if I have success, I will be glad to recommend this manufacturer to others.

Hi BradleyK2,

These symptoms would be fairly typical for someone whose shoulders wasn’t sinking in quite enough which can lead to pressure relief issues and also tossing and turning (and twisting of the upper spine as well). A little more softness or thickness for your shoulders to sink into would likely solve the issue.

Make sure too that the pillow is suitable for you because this can also make a difference and is an important part of your sleeping system. A new mattress can often need a new pillow as well because the “gap” between the head or neck and mattress may change with a different mattress surface.

I’m looking forward to your “report”


I am having the same problem. I got a latex mattress from SavvyRest a month ago and am experiencing back pain like I’ve never had before. My first configuration was firm dunlop on bottom, medium dunlop, and then soft talalay on top. I finally decided that I was sinking in around my hip area and I needed a firmer layer. I switched the medium layer on top and the result was slightly better although the soft talalay was still sinking in the middle a bit. I’ve exchanged the soft talalay for a medium talalay and now I’m experiencing what you would probably call pressure point pain-- pain spread out through my body from not enough cushioning. It feels like sleeping on a futon. I’ve also been feeling a lot of pain in my upper back and neck. Knowing that this could be a pillow issue I tried many different pillows. I used a shredded latex pillow, a buckwheat pillow (which I absolutely adored before using it on this bed), continually changing the amount of filling inside… with no relief. A normal pillow seems to work best with this bed for me.

So…I’m getting close to the end of my final exchange date, and then, I’m stuck with a bed that cost twice as much as my monthly income. Every once in a while I will sleep on a bed at my mother’s house-- an interspring called Springwell Chiropractic, and I sleep like a dream. I was really committed to investing in a toxic free bed, but I can not figure out how to make it work.

I’m frustrated and have more pain than I ever did with an interspring.

I’m 5’7, 125 lbs, and prefer a firm bed.

Any advice will be appreciated…toppers that could help? If not I will try to sell this bed and get that Springwell interspring.

After a month or so, I went back to the manufacturer and discussed the fact that the mattress felt too hard. I then tried and additional 2 inch layer of 28 ILD Talalay (so now the mattress was 6 inches of 36 ILD with 4 inches of 28 ILD). The pressure relief was there, but now it lacked the necessary support (my hips were sinking and my lower back pain resumed). So I went back to the original design (6 inches of 36 ILD and 2 inches of 28 ILD) but this time we used a more flexible quilt. Wow, what a huge difference. The more flexible quilting made the mattress softer on top but still had the support too. As a result of using a firmer mattress, I had to get a firmer pillow. I bought the following pillow from Amazon and am happy with it: (Z by Malouf 100% Natural Talalay Latex Zoned Pillow, QUEEN-HIGH LOFT-FIRM).

I felt like I was being picky, but when you pay so much more for a mattress and you use it every night, you expect it to be comfortable. The manufacturer we used was “Custom Comfort” in South Florida and the owner (Don) was very understanding. I would highly recommend.

The bottom line: Quilting can make a HUGE difference in firmness.

When you say quilting to you mean a layer on top of the mattress? Or are you referring to something else?

Hi gpolo,

A mattress cover can either be unquilted (just the mattress fabric called the ticking surrounding the materials and components inside) or it can be quilted to a layer of foam or fiber (natural such as wool or synthetic fibers such as polyester). The stitching pattern of the quilting can either be tight or loose (the quilted sections will be either smaller or larger) which makes it either firmer or softer. Unquilted covers are usually smooth (although sometimes the fabric itself will have a look similar to quilting) while quilted covers will have stitched quilting patterns of various types on top that are used to attach the quilting to the cover.

The material that is quilted to the cover is part of the comfort layers of the mattress and can be used to change the look of the mattress, the surface feel of the mattress, or in thicker layers have an even larger effect on the feel and performance (and durability) of the mattress.