New DIY latex mattress: too firm!

Recently my partner and I decided to upgrade from our once very nice and now very hard and lumpy futon mattress. We did quite a bit of research and decided on a DIY latex setup. After a lot of deliberating, we settled on a 6" firm (36 ILD) core, and a 2" medium-firm (32 ILD) topper, both in natural talalay. We opened it up, let it breathe, fell asleep blissfully, and the next morning-- holy pressure points! My arm fell asleep, and I could feel the latex “pushing back” from really deep into my hips. Ouch.
At this point, we think it’s going to be just too expensive to send the heavy core back to the manufacturer, and we’ve both had problems in the past with soggy support layers and our backs going out. So we think we’d like to keep the supportive core. My question is, given the support factor of the core, would two inches of a much softer (20 ILD) comfort layer help with that “deep pushing” feeling? If we “bottom out” on that, won’t we only be compressing just a little of the firm core, keeping it softer feeling? Or would it maybe be a better idea to keep the two inches of 32 ILD and pile some softer latex on top of that? We would like to keep it as simple as we can, and of course, it would be nice to recoup some money. I guess I’m just not sure how different the core really can be from the topper we already have…

Hi simonemarie,

Your thinking is exactly along the lines that I would be using.

A 6" 36 ILD latex core is certainly a firm support core by most people’s standards but a 2" comfort layer of 32 ILD would be quite firm by most peoples standards for a comfort layer and would be more typical for a middle transition layer (unless someone was a back sleeper or much heavier than average).

As you mentioned … I would tend to add a topper to your mattress that was designed to give you the pressure relief and “comfort” you are looking for because the layers in the mattress would be ideal for this.

The key is to add a topper that would fit your needs and preferences and be thick and soft enough to provide you with the pressure relief you need but not so thick and soft that you are too far removed from the deeper support and transition layers so you aren’t risking support and alignment.

In essence yes although t would depend on your weight, body type, sleeping positions, and sensitivity to pressure issues. You certainly won’t “bottom out” on this mattress (even what you have isn’t bottoming because it isn’t fully compressing but it’s just too firm). As you mentioned … softer upper layers will compress more than deeper firmer layers.

Some guidelines that I would use for choosing a topper in terms of softness and thickness are in post #8 here. The 2" “transition” layer means that you would probably need less thickness than if the topper was right on top of the firm support layer itself. Post #2 and onwards in this thread may also be of interest (to highlight some of the factors involved and questions that need to be asked and answered in making your best topper choice). A topper can certainly make a significant difference in how a mattress feels and performs and is a great way to soften up a mattress that is too firm for good pressure relief.

Probably the “safest” and most “average” choice in a latex topper would be 2" in the range of 19 - 24 ILD but this would vary widely depending on the specific circumstances or on your best subjective estimate of how much more softness you feel you need…

Hope this helps.


Thanks for replying so quickly!

So your recommendation is that we keep the 2" transition layer and put 2" of a plush 20 ILD on top? Our other consideration was to return the transition layer (saving some money) and perhaps get another inch of softer latex (3") to go right on top of the core. Would they sort of even out, or would I risk sinking in too much or feeling the “deep pushing”? In other words, is the core so firm that we should have a transition layer? I understand that this is really a subjective thing, but I figure you’ve talked to more people about it than most!

We’re planning on buying the soft latex an inch at a time-- so that way we can tell when to stop.

Hi simonemarie,

They are really two separate pathways to a similar outcome. One is what I call a “differential” construction and the other is what I would call a “progressive” construction. One isn’t any better than another although a progressive construction will be a bit more adaptable for different sleeping positions (a little less risky for stomach sleeping for example but perhaps not quite as soft for side sleeping).

With a topper over the firmer core … your choice of thickness and firmness would be a little more critical because depending on your weights you could either “go through” the top layers too much and feel more of the firmness of the core below it or with a topper that was too thick … you could risk alignment issues. As an “average” … I would tend towards 3" with the differential construction and 2" with the progressive. Your idea of adding one inch at a time can be a good one but either way I would a start with 2" a the least because thinner layers are more fragile with handling and it’s not likely you will only need 1" in either case. You will also need a good cover to enclose all the layers you use for a topper because latex can degrade prematurely if it’s exposed to the air, ozone, and ultraviolet. Bear in mind that your own weight, body type, and other factors will play a significant role in what may be your best choice.

I would also talk with the manufacturer or retailer of your mattress because they (hopefully) will have lots of experience with situations like yours and if they are more knowledgeable, I would put a great deal of weight on their thoughts and suggestions (more than my own “theory at a distance” which has no reference points) based on a longer conversation that included more of your “specs” because of their specific experience with their own mattresses and components and because they have a large customer base they can use as a reference.