Natural latex mattress: is 6" thick of one ILD okay or are layers much better?

We’re shopping for a 100% natural latex mattress. We live in Maine so we do not have a lot of choice for trying out mattresses to see what is best for us, and I feel REALLY uncomfortable just guessing and ordering one online.

A local company (Portland Mattress Makers) makes a line of 100% natural with organic covers. The offer either all dunlop, all talalay, or “combo. The first two are a 6” slab of either medium or firm with 1" cover equalling 8". The talalay is reversible. The combo is a 6" slab of dunlop with a 2" layer of very soft talalay. My preference in a side-by-side test was for the medium (36 ILD) talalay. I found the dunlop (C2) a bit too firm feeling.

I am also going to try out the Spindle mattresses in MA this week. They only have dunlop, but they are constructed using layers of 3" sheets of various densities.

My question is: is there any reason that the layered construction is better than a simple 6" slab of one density?

Thank you so much… this is all so confusing!


Hi staceyneil,

The thickness of a mattress or the number of layers or the thickness of any individual layers inside it is really just a side effect of the design and the design goals of a mattress and is also only one of many variables that can affect the feel and performance of a mattress relative to any particular person and by itself isn’t particularly meaningful (see post #2 here). In some cases higher weight ranges (or a higher BMI) will sometimes do better with a mattress that is thicker than lower weight ranges or a lower BMI (see post #14 here for more about the effect of thickness) but even this depends more on the specific design and combination of materials in the mattress and on how well your testing or personal experience indicates the mattress “as a whole” matches your specific needs and preferences in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own Personal preferences) than it does on just the thickness itself.

The only way to know which one would be “best” for you (regardless of whether it would be “best” for someone else) in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP will be based on your own careful testing and personal experience.

There is also more about the pros and cons of a component mattress with a zip cover and loose layers that can be rearranged or exchanged vs a finished mattress with glued layers in post #15 here and post #2 here that may be helpful as well.

Subject to first confirming that any retailer or manufacturer on the list you wish to deal with is completely transparent (see this article) and to making sure that any mattress you are considering meets the quality/value guidelines here … the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in and around the Maine area are listed in post #2 here.

Portland Mattress Makers and Spindle would certainly both be well worth including in your research,


Thank you, Phoenix.

I spent some more time on the forum after my initial post and did come across most of the links you mentioned.
I have spent about 5 hours reading your many helpful posts here.

I also went back to Portland Mattress again and am visiting Spindle in Massachusetts tomorrow.

At this point I have narrowed my list down to:

  1. Portland Mattress ‘Monhegan’ 6" Talalay ($2700) or 8" combo ($2300) (6" dunlop + 2" very soft talalay). They use Mountaintop Foam.
  2. Spindle ($1281.55 after the MU discount)
  3. Urban Green 10" ($1874)
  4. Flobeds 9" ($1899 after discount)
  5. Flexus ‘Natural Comfort’ ($1306 after discount)

(I eliminated Plushbeds after calling with questions today and feeling that the rep did not answer my questions and belittled my concerns.)

There is more than a $1,000 difference between the Spindle and the Portland Mattress, with the others falling in between. It is SO nervewracking trying to make this decision without being able to actually physically test most of the mattresses we’re considering. I just don’t know if a $1000 premium is worth it to be able to lie down and test it locally! I’m really hoping that I love the Spindle tomorrow. If not, I really won’t know what to do!!!

Hi staceyneil,

[quote]At this point I have narrowed my list down to:

  1. Portland Mattress ‘Monhegan’ 6" Talalay ($2700) or 8" combo ($2300) (6" dunlop + 2" very soft talalay). They use Mountaintop Foam.
  2. Spindle ($1281.55 after the MU discount)
  3. Urban Green 10" ($1874)
  4. Flobeds 9" ($1899 after discount)
  5. Flexus ‘Natural Comfort’ ($1306 after discount)[/quote]

You are certainly looking at some very good choices and there are no lower quality materials or weak links that could compromise the durability or useful life of any of them.

When you can’t test a mattress in person then the most reliable source of guidance is always a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced retailer or manufacturer that has your best interests at heart and who can help “talk you through” the specifics of their mattresses and the properties and “feel” of the materials they are using (fast or slow response, resilience, firmness etc) and the options they have available that may be the best “match” for you based on the information you provide them, any local testing you have done or mattresses you have slept on and liked or other mattresses you are considering that they are familiar with, and the “averages” of other customers that are similar to you. They will know more about “matching” their specific mattress designs and firmness levels to different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences (or to other mattresses that they are familiar with) than anyone else.

While price is certainly important of course … the “value” of a mattress purchase is what is most important and price is just one of many factors that can affect the “value” of a mattress purchase. There isn’t a “formula” that can be used to assess or “calculate” the value of a mattress because there are so many different variables and criteria involved that can affect the price of a mattress that can each be more or less important to some people and not to others who may have completely different criteria or definitions of “value”. The “value” of a mattress purchase is also relative to how a mattress compares to the other finalists you are considering or to other mattresses that are available to you in your area (or online if you are also considering online options). There are many reasons that a mattress that may be “good value” for one person or in one area of the country may not be good value for someone else that has very different needs and preferences or that lives in a different area.

There is more about the 3 most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase in post #13 here which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists based on suitability, durability, and all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you (including the price of course and the options you have available after a purchase if your choice doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for).

I would cross that bridge when you get to it :slight_smile:

Once you have narrowed down your options to a list of finalists that are all choices between “good and good” (which it seems you have) and you have confirmed that none of them have any lower quality materials or “weak links” in their design relative to your weight range (which they don’t) and if at this point there are no clear winners between them (which is usually a good indication that you have done some good research) then you are in the fortunate position that any of them would likely be a suitable choice and post #2 here can help you make a final choice based on your local testing or mattresses you have slept well on, your more detailed conversations with each of them, your confidence about PPP and the suitability of each one, their prices, your preferences for different types of materials (or different types and blends of latex), the options you have after a purchase to fine tune the mattress or exchange or return the mattress or individual layers, any additional extras that are part of each purchase, and on “informed best judgement” based on all the other objective, subjective, and intangible parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.


I’m wondering if StacyNeil made a decision on her mattress. I live in Portsmouth, NH area and was looking at a latex mattress at Portland Mattress Co, but haven’t read any reviews on them.

Hi lucy603,

While other people’s comments about the knowledge and service of a particular business can certainly be very helpful … I would always keep in mind that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and I would be cautious about about using anyone else’s suggestions, experiences or reviews on a specific mattress (either positive or negative) or review sites in general as a reliable source of information or guidance about how you will feel on the same mattress or how suitable or how durable a mattress may be for you. In many if not most cases they can be more misleading than helpful because a mattress that would be a perfect choice for one person or even a larger group of people in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP may be completely unsuitable for someone else to sleep on (even if they are in a similar weight range). In other words … reviews or other people’s experiences in general won’t tell you much if anything about the suitability, quality, durability, or “value” of a mattress for any particular person (see post #13 here).

While again nobody can speak to how any specific mattress will “feel” for someone else or whether it will be a good “match” in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP because this is too subjective and relative to different body types, sleeping positions, and individual preferences, sensitivities, and circumstances and you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress … outside of PPP (which is the most important part of “value”), the next most important part of the value of a mattress purchase is durability which is all about how long you will sleep well on a mattress. This is the part of your research that you can’t see or “feel” and assessing the durability and useful life of a mattress depends on knowing the specifics of its construction and the type and quality of the materials inside it regardless of the name of the manufacturer on the label or how a mattress feels in a showroom or when it is relatively new so I would always make sure that you find out information listed here so you can compare the materials and components to the quality/durability guidelines here to make sure there are no lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress that would be a cause for concern relative to the durability and useful life of a mattress before making any purchase.

Portland Mattress makers certainly makes some good quality and durable mattresses and they are also transparent about the materials and components in their mattresses and would be well worth including in your research if you are in the Portsmouth, NH area.


StacyNeill, you might want to include Sleep-Ez in your search for a online latex mattress. We are currently 30 days into the trial period and are happy so far with their recommended 10" latex mattress. The 3" three layer latex system gives more options if needed for changing the comfort level. If you are concern about buying a mattress without trying in a store first, they can recommend a setup based on size and weight that may work, if not you can change it. We would never again consider any mattress that did not offer the option of changing the comfort level during the trial or at a later date regardless of type. Your are already ahead of the game if you like the feel of latex and know the firmness level you like. Good luck with your search.

Hi folks-

To update, we have not decided yet. To be honest it’s pretty overwhelming and the choices are not clear so we’ve been putting it off.

For what its worth, here’s what we found:
Unlike most places, which use the 3 or 4 layer system in a zippered cover, Portland Mattress uses a single 6" slab of latex, either Tallalay or Dunlop. Or: 6" of Dunlop with an extremely soft 2" Tallalay top layer. Either way, they are permanently sewn into a covering, just like a “regular” mattress.

We went to look at the Spindle beds and try them out in Massachusetts. Like most others, they are multiple layers in a removable cover. I had assumed that the equivalent number of inches of the exact same density and manufacturer of latex would be equivalent, whether all one slab or split up. NOT SO. 9" (3 x 3") is actually significantly different feeling (much more give) than one 6" slab.

Additionally, it kind of felt like the removable case (which is significantly more loose than the permanent one) might add to the feeling it was less firm. And even more: the material the cover is made of affects that too. Portland Mattress makers organic cover is a tight, non-stretchy weave. That makes it feel less “plush” but also holds it all together more firmly. Spindle’s organic cover is this lovely, stretchy weave, which is more plush feeling but also doesn’t hold it all tight together so much. Sorry if that isn’t clear. We were kind of worried that over time it would just start to feel really loose and sloppy???

Either way, this comparison made it very clear that different mattresses were going to feel different, even if they had ostensibly the same specs. So that pretty much ruled out buying one sight unseen from some other manufacturer, I think.

So then here we are: very nice Spindle - but a bit worried about the cover issue, which is $1000+ less than the very nice Portland Mattress.


Hi staceyneil,

Thanks for the taking the time to share an update with the results of your research so far.

Just for reference … all the mattresses you described use different types of latex and have very different specs so it’s not surprising that they felt different from each other. I’m not sure why you were thinking that they were the same specs.

You are certainly looking at some good choices and I’m looking forward to finding out what you end up deciding.


Thanks, Phoenix.
My understanding (and I double checked with each place) is that they were in fact the exact same latex. Same type, density specs, and manufacturers. I had all the specs written down and carefully made sure I was comparing apples-to-apples. The only difference was the thickness of the slabs (and/or combinations.) But 3x3" of the exact same latex at one place felt much softer than a 6" slab of the same. Which seemed counterintiutive before I tried them (I understand now why that is.)

I have an update on our experience after purchasing a latex mattress at Portland Mattress. We purchased the Monhegan Talalay Natural set in a medium firmness. When it arrived 3 weeks later and was set up, it felt entirely different than what we remembered in the store. After 3 long sleepless nights of sleeping on what felt like a brick, we called the company to tell them we needed to return it. We then learned that we were the second customer to have this experience recently and that they suspect a problem with the Talalay manufacturing process. Portland Mattress was very accommodating with handling our return. After trying several mattresses in their store, we decided to veer away from an all latex solution and instead chose a combo mattress of pocketed coils topped by 1" memory foam and 1" latex. In the process we saved a significant amount of money. In the end I felt that if all these mattresses last about the same amount of time, why spend nearly $1000 more? Yes, I was hoping for an “all natural” mattress, but not at the expense of comfort. It was important to me to buy local, so I did not do the extensive research that Stacyneil did, but I think we will be happy with our choice when it arrives next week. By the way, I believe that the company may be discontinuing that particular mattress based on these recent quality problems.

Wow thanks for the update! Very interesting. I wonder if that means that all companies who get their Tallalay from the same manufacturer would have the same problem. Another thing to be concerned about! Why is this so difficult??

On the plus side, the Dunlop was less expensive. And Spindle ONLY uses Dunlop. So I guess we’d be safe there.

Hi staceyneil,

The type and blend of the latex, the thickness of each layer or the mattress as a whole, the firmness of each layer, and the specifics of the cover can all make a difference in the feel and performance of a mattress.

Spindle uses continuous pour Dunlop made by mountaintop foam in all three 3" layers while the mattresses at Portland Mattress Makers were using either Talalay latex or Dunlop (that was most likely made in a mold) and had different layer thicknesses and possibly different layer firmnesses as well as different covers. These are all different designs using different types of latex so it’s not surprising at all that they each have a different feel or firmness level although it’s also possible that two mattresses with different designs can feel similar to each other as well.

If there was a manufacturing issue then it would be possible that other manufacturers that purchased latex from the same “batch” would have the same issue but it’s also possible that they just shipped the wrong firmness so the mattress ended up having layers with a different firmness inside it. If it is a manufacturing issue or even a supply issue then it would most likely be corrected fairly quickly.


Hi lucy603,

Thanks for the update … and congratulations on your new mattress :slight_smile:

I’m not sure what the manufacturing issue was with the latex in the all latex mattress you originally purchased but you certainly made a good quality choice to replace it.

I’m looking forward to your comments and feedback once you’ve received it and have had the chance to sleep on it for a bit.


Hi all! I just wanted to post an update. We purchased a Spindle mattress this summer and we have been EXTREMELY pleased with it. It is by far the most comfortable mattress we’ve ever had, and the Spindle folks were very friendly and helpful.

Hi staceyneil,

Thank you for the update! I’m glad that you’re happy with your new mattress. You certainly made a great quality choice … and congratulations on your new mattress. :slight_smile:

As you know I think highly of Spindle and they are one of the members here which means that I believe that they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, service, knowledge, and transparency.