observations & Qs about latex mattresses

I visited custom comfort mattress in Los Angeles this weekend. They had two all latex mattresses I really liked. Both had a 6" blended latex core at 32 ILD. One mattress added a 1" 19 ILD latex pad on both sides of the mattress. The other mattress added a 2" latex pad to each side (same ILD). The mattresses were finished in a bamboo cover with cotton batting underneath. Both were very comfortable. All said, I think I preferred the one with 1" of 19 ILD a little better although it is a close call. These mattresses renewed my interest in latex. I was surprised that they use such a low ILD in comparison to what other internet retailers use (22 or 24). They had one other bed with a 6" 36 ILD base and a 2" 19 ILD topper. It was also comfortable, but I think I preferred the 32" ILD core mattresses better. All mattresses use blended Talalay. They did offer the exact same 3 mattresses in all natural talalay with a unbleached cotton cover over 1" or so of wool, all hand tufted. Totally different feel. There is not as much elasticity in the cotton/wool combo (versus bamboo/cotton) and the beds were not as soft nor lively (i.e. bouncy).

Phoenix, I could use your feedback as I don’t plan to buy from custom comfort because they are just overpriced. If I were to go with a single sided mattress, what construction would approximate a 1" 19 ILD - 6" 32 ILD - 1" 19 ILD?

Are there reputable and affordable vendors who make “double sided” latex mattresses?

Do you have any experience with Brooklyn Bedding (latexmattressshop.com). They offer dunlop latex mattresses at ridiculous prices. They have a 10" but don’t specify the ILDs. Mattresses.net offer talalay latex with the bamboo which is $1595 for a King…still an excellent price although not as good as brooklyn bedding.

Hi Mike,

I personally agree with you that many people or even manufacturers will neglect the softer versions of latex comfort layers (under 20 ILD) which have a different feel and which often is much closer to what they may be used to (bearing in mind that most of the polyfoam which is on top of mattresses and memory foam is all under 15 ILD and often much less than this). I also recognize the impact that quilting and different construction methods can have on the feel of a mattress and this too is often not taken into account when trying to “duplicate” a mattress. Tufting in particular can make a big difference and is part of the “art” that is not as commonly used today. It was especially necessary in the days of cotton, wool, horsehair and other natural fiber mattresses where the fiber would bunch up and shift but with the advent of foam it is not used nearly as much … even though it can significantly change how a mattress feels and responds. Wool or other quilting materials on top of a mattress as you noted will also reduce the “point elasticity” of the latex underneath it and create a firmer mattress.

Pure Latex Bliss is doing a good job of increasing awareness of the use of softer latex in the comfort layers with just a thick stretchy circular weave fabric over it (no quilting at all so people are sleeping right on the latex). Their mattresses use 19 ILD on top and the toppers that are an option to go over them are all 14 ILD. Of course they are owned by latex international so the increase in awareness of the use of softer latex either in other mattresses or in their own helps to increase the awareness of the “feel” of softer latex right on top of the mattress and they are hoping will increase the use of soft latex over soft polyfoam in the industry in general. This “soft feel” which is very popular these days is the reason so many manufacturers who cater more to mass marketing put poly on top of their “latex” mattresses.

While Custom Comfort certainly manufactures high quality mattresses … I also know that their prices are higher than other independent manufacturers. They are great value when compared to anything similar in the larger market … but on the high side when compared to other independents. Part of this of course is because of the cost of finishing a mattress on both sides (a quality ticking is a significant part of the cost of a mattress), part of it is the construction methods, and part of it is all the many factors involved in their business structure and strategies (target market, marketing, infrastructure etc).

www.mygreenmattress.com Is a member here and makes several 2 sided latex mattresses that he ships across the country (at reduced shipping costs that makes a comfort exchange more reasonable if it is necessary).

http://www.themattressfactory.com/ also makes two sided latex mattresses and can customize them with any ILD and layer thickness you wish (this is where I had my own personally deigned mattress built) but the shipping costs need to be taken into account.

Non DIY mattresses require truck shipping so the higher cost of shipping (over UPS shipping of layers) needs to be included in the mattress cost for those who go in this direction. It is also important in these cases to know for sure exactly what layering you want as the higher cost of shipping a whole mattress back makes it more expensive and in many cases not practical to make any comfort exchanges. Mattresses that require truck shipping are usually better for local “in person” purchases.

I had several great discussions with John at latex mattress shop as I liked the mattresses he had available. Over the last few months however I have not been able to reach him (he was busy for a time with prototyping mattresses) and now someone else is answering the phone and he stopped replying to my emails or returning phone calls. Their Brooklyn Bedding site is also way behind so I don’t know if John is no longer involved or what is happening there. Their mattresses use blended Dunlop latex. 100% Dunlop and Talalay are more expensive materials and this is of course reflected in the prices of mattresses that use them including at mattresses.net.

Duplicating a mattress with a 1" comfort layer would have to take into account exactly what was in the quilting (in this case cotton batting) and any tufting in the mattress (both of which can significantly change the firmness). Sometimes seemingly small changes can make a big difference in how a mattress feels and performs.

http://electropedicbeds.com/High-Profile.html in LA makes a 2 sided talalay latex mattress with 1.1" on both sides and the support core and the 1" comfort layer can both be adjusted in firmness. They have other options as well. Testing these may help you know how much of what you were feeling was from the quilting and/or construction and how much from the latex. It would be much easier to duplicate a mattress online that had different different thickness layers if you had several reference points that were more “basic” constructions instead of just the Custom Comfort which may have created part of its feel through the quilting/ticking and/or contruction. If you have a chance to go there … it would certainly help with suggestions or “translations”. It would also help to know your weight, overall shape, and sleeping positions.

Did you get a chance to try the NuForm at Custom Comfort?


As it turns out two of the five mattresses I tried at Custom Comfort have nuform; the two more expensive mattresses with the cotton/wool cover. So instead of the 1 or 2" of 19ILD latex, these had the same thickness of nuform instead. Impossible for me to know if the added tautness/firmness (more similar to a conventional mattress?) was due to the difference in covers (cotton over wool versus bamboo over cotton) or due to the nuform, or perhaps both. One thing is for certain, the nuform mattress did not feel anything like the MyEssentia mattresses (slow recovery latex based foam) in the top layer.

I face two challenges: (a) being able to discern the quality, tautness and comfort of covers used by the various vendors and (b) going with any latex layers in thickness and ILDs that differ from those which I have tested. The cover/ticking is still a “black box” to me…I have no way of discerning (based on my ignorance) whether a bamboo/cotton cover offered by one vendor would be of the same quality/feel as a bamboo/cotton or cotton/wool offered by a different vendor.

On latex layer construction, based simply on researching latex mattress construction online I would have said:

  • a 1" comfort layer is too thin
  • 19 ILD comfort layer is to low an ILD
  • 32 ILD core layer is to low an ILD

But the mattress I tried of this construction was very comfortable. I do think that 2" of 19 ILD seemed perhaps a little to squishy and most vendors offer a 2" comfort layer…does that mean 22-24 ILD would be perfect? I don’t know. A big risk?

I’ve tried to find Pure Latex Bliss in L.A. to no avail. I’ll try to electropedic this weekend. The other two vendors you mention are in my price range. Paying $100-200 more on a double sided mattress does seem like a good value so long as the cover is of adequate quality.

Mike, It’s not LA, but less than an hour away:


Hi MikeM,

The essentia has a much thinner ticking and the cotton/wool quilting would certainly change the feel of lying right on the NuForm so it would be tough to know for sure. It would be interesting to lie on a few inches of NuForm directly (on foam or latex of course not on the floor) and see how it felt in comparison.

Quilting can certainly change how a mattress feels … as can certain contsruction methods like inner tufting which “firms up” the layers that are tufted. Wool quilting is like having a firmer layer close to you and will reduce the ability of the latex to both conform to your body and reduce the amount you sink in to softer latex. It is certainly important to take the quilting into account as an active layer. For example … if you had a latex layer that was slightly too thick or too soft … then wool quilting could be a benefit. If you had a latex layer that was “just right” with a very stretchy circular weave over it … then wool could make it too firm. There are even tickings that are tighter in the middle to help hold up the hips and looser in other areas to allow them to sink in more deeply. It’s amazing how complex all the interactions can be. Most of the “standard” wool quiltings with cotton or cotton wool however are fairly similar (although some of the more expensive models do use more wool).

The good news though is that it is not that difficult to get “very close” which is a lot better than mot people do … even though they may not realize what they “could have had” and will usually compare what they buy to a mattress that has worn out which of course makes any new mattresses seem great … for a while.

I would certainly try to test latex with a stretchy cover as that will give you the best sense of layering and ILD. In post #63 here in the other thread … there are a few outlets at the bottom of the list which carry Pure Latex Bliss besides the one that soreback posted in this thread (thanks soreback) as well as a “few” other LA options. Once you know this … then it’s easier to think in terms of how a quilting will factor in (firmer with less sinking in).

I was looking back at your posts and didn’t see your weight/sleeping position stats (I might have missed them) which may be helpful. I’m assuming from your preference of comfort layers that you are probably not a side sleeper? That would help me in terms of ideas about layer thickness.

With a thin comfort layer … there is a lot more room for a softer support core because it will be soft with a little bit of compression (helping the comfort layers) but firmer as compression increases (because of the progressive compression qualities of latex). Latex also tends to keep people in better alignment even in the softer versions for the same reason. Sometimes too … some people prefer softer latex because they will sink in deeper which they like and as long as the position where they “come to rest” is in alignment (which is far more likely with latex) … the depth of the cradle beyond the minimum required for pressure relief is more a matter of preference.

I and my other half are both fairly evenly proportioned (I’m 195 and 6’5" and she’s 5’7" hourglass and much lighter) … and our core layer is Talalay 28 ILD.

So with some “stats” and hopefully a test with PLB … it should point in a direction which is fairly close … at least in terms of latex.


Our stats:

  • 5’ 7" 170 lbs - back and slde sleeper
  • 5’ 7" 120 lbs - side sleeper; occasionally on stomach

I visited electropedic beds (aka latexpedic.com) in Burbank. They’ve been in business 47 years. Good value. I tried 5 beds:

  • 5.6" 36 ILD single layer with double sided bamboo cover with poly fill ticking)
  • 5.6" 32 ILD single layer with the same
  • 5.6" 36 ILD sandwiched by 1.1" 19 ILD comfort layers (same cover)
  • 5.6" 32 ILD sandwiched by 1.1" 19 ILD comfort layers (same cover)
  • 5.6" 24? ILD sandwiched by 1.1" 14 ILD comfort layers (same cover)

The 24 ILD mattress was way to soft; like a hammock.
Both the 36 ILD core mattresses were a little firm.

The 32 ILD single layer mattress was pretty good.

The 32 ILD core sandwiched with the 1.1" 19 ILD layers was very nice. This construction is less firm and more comfortable than our current Simmons mattress. This one is identical in layers (thicknesses and ILD) to the one I tried at custom comfort.

The bamboo cover at latex pedic is very nice, the one at custom comfort is better (cotton ticking vs. poly fill).
They did not have a mattress with a 2" comfort layer to compare it to. I did try a 2" 19 ILD custom layer over 32 ILD
at custom comfort and it was very nice…but maybe I sunk in a bit too much. I haven’t been able to try 22 or 24 ILD comfort layers yet. So we are getting close.

The value is pretty good for these beds. $2,200 for the 3-layer in eastern king. I wish it were $1,800ish.

One area I would like to understand a little better is the mattress cover (the fabric that encases the latex layers) in combination with the mattress pad/protector.

I’ve read that some people just use a terry cloth mattress cover with no quilting. This won’t protect the mattress at all but it does seem like it would be comfortable. The ticking I see is generally wool, cotton, or poly. From a comfort and longevity standpoint should a poly fill cover not be considered? What other than wool is considered high quality and durable for ticking?

If possible, I would prefer to not add another variable to the equation when dialing in the comfort (i.e. mattress pad/protector). Our key objective in using a mattress pad is to protect the mattress from liquid spills (we have 3 year old twins). I see many mattress pad that have similar construction (cotton / wool) to the mattress cover. Isn’t this redundant? Is there a good mattress protector that is impermeable to liquid but does not change the feel of the mattress too much? Any recommendations?

I am still considering purchasing the latex layers and cover as individual items. I note that SLAB has several zippered covers that are high quality and expensive. What other vendors offer high quality mattress covers? We are leaning towards a double sided mattress and would want a double sided cover. Thanks

Hi MikeM,

The Electropedic mattresses are IMO certainly better value than something similar from many retail outlets but are not in the same “value range” as many independent manufacturers or online purchases (including some on the Los Angeles list in post #63 here). They are however 2 sided latex mattresses which are much less common (partly because latex is very durable even in a one sided mattress) and which adds to their value compared to one sided mattresses.

Your testing here certainly helps to “point to” the best construction for you though.

It seems that you have been somewhat happy with thinner comfort layers than is “typical” for side sleeping which leads me to the sense that you are not as sensitive to pressure issues and/or are more evenly proportioned. I would tend however to a slightly thicker comfort layer only because if a layer this thin has a soft enough support core underneath it to contribute to pressure relief needs … then it will likely be too soft for correct alignment (as in the 24 ILD support core being too soft). The 32 would certainly seem closer but in side sleeping … the thinness of the comfort layer and the transition into a firmer support core may well create pressure issues over the course of the night. The fact that the 36 felt too firm (under 1") also points to this as it is not a great deal firmer than the 32 (4 ILD is about the amount that people will feel a difference).

The fact that you were OK on 32 ILD latex also point to the fact that you are not as sensitive to pressure issues and also that you prefer a more “on the mattress” feel.

With the 2" 19 ILD over the 32 ILD at custom comfort … I doubt that you would have sunk in too much for alignment even though you may have sunk in more than your “preference”. The amount you “sink down” (alignment) is more determined by the support layer than the comfort layer. The amount you “sink in” (pressure relief) is more determined by the comfort layer. Choosing a higher ILD in the comfort layer will have a greater effect on pressure relief and overall feel (on vs in) than it will in how far you “sink down” for alignment although they are of course interconnected. As long as the pressure relieving cradle is deep enough for you however based on your sensitivity to pressure (over the course of the night) and your weight distribution and as long as the “gaps” in your sleeping profile are “filled in” (difficult to slide your hand under your waist when on your side) … then a shallower cradle is fine.

My sense though is that 2" may work better. A good value reference point for a 2 sided mattress with 2" of latex over a 5" core (9" of latex in total) and a natural cotton ticking quilted with wool (which is softer than cotton quilting because wool isn’t as dense as cotton and is more resilient) is here www.mygreenmattress.com
In terms of the ticking material (without any quilting) … the less stretchy it is and the tighter it is … the more effect it will have on the latex below it. While a good terry cover will be fine in terms of protecting the latex from oxidation, ozone, and ultraviolet light (what makes latex break down), it will not protect the mattress from spills and any stain will void a warranty. A thicker looser circular weave ticking material or a material that is more stretchy (such as that used in the Pure Latex Bliss) is probably better yet than terry in terms of having less effect on the latex. It is also usually more durable than a thinner lower quality ticking material. This adds to the price however since ticking materials can add significantly to the cost of the mattress … especially if it is finished on both sides.

This is why all mattresses should have a protective cover over them … regardless of the ticking material. The very thin covers that are both breathable and waterproof (a breathable membrane with a thinner cotton or blended material) are usually chosen when there is a desire to have the least effect on the mattress.

Other people will choose a wool mattress pad/protector as wool is water resistant (not waterproof) and is also very breathable. While it will affect the feel and performance of the latex more than a thinner protector … this is also a very popular tradeoff as long as the wool doesn’t create pressure issues with a mattress that is otherwise “on the edge” of what is needed in the comfort layers in terms of thickness and ILD. Cotton quilted mattress pads/protectors are sometimes also chosen for their breathability and feel but they are the least waterproof of all and you would have less time to remove everything over the mattress in the case of a spill before it soaked through to the mattress.

When a mattress ticking includes wool or another quilting fiber or foam … then a thinner mattress protector is usually best as having wool in the mattress quilting (or some other fiber or foam) and wool in the protector will often be too much fiber over the latex. Overall … the thinnest protector that has the level of water resistance and breathability that you want will have the least effect on the feel and properties of the mattress. I agree that wool quilting in the mattress under a wool protector is both redundant and probably “negative” in its effect … moreso even as the wool (or other quilting material) compresses over time.

While there are several zip covers/tickings available beides SLAB however none of them are quilted on two sides. Of course the layers inside can be removed and flipped but this is a pain. There are also mattress tickings that are not quilted at all which of course could be used on both sides.

Quilted …

http://www.supremequilting.com/home.php (In Canada. Have both a natural wool quilted cotton over and terry cover)

Some cheaper additional non quilted choices


Hope I managed to answer most of your questions :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,

I’m still digesting your terrific post above on cover/ticking. I do suspect your intuition is correct about a 2" comfort layering being better for side sleepers relative to 1". It has been an interesting but sometimes confusing search. Today, I revisited the OMI mattresses and Essentia as well. The one positive about today’s experimentation is that my faith has been renewed in cotton cover and wool quilting (OMI). These were much softer and less taught than the custom comfort cotton/wool covers. So I don’t have to be as concerned about that aspect, especially considering that wool has so many good properties. So cotton/wool or bamboo/wool would both seem OK in the cover.

I tried the OMI lago, duo, terra and another that had a 7" core plus 2" topper. The terra was too soft and squishy for my taste. Of the others, the lago was the medium firmness and closest to what I’ve been liking. It is 6" 40 ILD under 3.5" 24 ILD. I think this is overkill for us(9.5" of latex) and our preference has been in a less stiff core (i.e. 32") which is why I think we are able to get away with a thinner comfort layer. Ultimately, something slightly softer than the Lago would have been ideal. The 24 ILD comfort layer is probably a tad to stiff, particularly over the 40 ILD base. How much difference a 22 ILD comfort layer would have been…I don’t know. Maybe 2" 22 ILD over 32 ILD would be the way to go since 2" 19 ILD over 32 ILD might have been a tad too soft.

The Essentia mattress line is really very interesting and way out of my budget. I tried it again today. It is solidly in the memory foam camp. Very different from latex although the comfort layers are made out of rubber tree sap (i.e. latex). They are 5.25 and 6.25 lbs density foams. The sales staff said that comparable tempur foams (density) take 40 seconds to recover whereas these take just 7 seconds. This is consistent with my sense that they don’t create the same cavity impression as tempur foam. For those who are close to one of their few North American outlets, I suggest you test it out. The NuForm beds at custom comfort were nothing similar to these. Totally different feel! I’ve ruled out trying to replicate an Esstentia bed.

I’m still thinking about what my next step should be…there’s just so much to consider. Thanks for all your help thus far.

Hi MikeM,

Just to add a few thoughts to the mix.

I find its easier to think of the wool as an interactive layer rather than a part of the ticking. Wool is a fiber that has some resilience (more than some and less than other animal fibers like horse hair or pig hair).

When the quilted wool is over soft latex like 19 ILD or less … then it will tend to “firm up” the latex because its not as soft or elastic as the latex. When it’s over firmer latex (like 24 - 28 ILD or more) then it will often create a feeling of being softer because it doesn’t “interfere” with the compression of the firmer latex as much and has its own “softness” and resilience. So the effect of wool depends to some degree on the firmness of the latex that is under it. Some people even like to sleep directly on firm latex like 32 or 36 ILD (shudder) and for them the wool would make the latex feel softer. Strangely enough … tall and thin people are often at the extremes of liking either really soft latex on top (to create a deeper cradle with their lighter weight) or really firm latex on top (because they like to be more on top of the mattress and don’t need as deep a cradle with their lighter weight for pressure relief).

The transition between layers is often a big part of what gives a mattress its properties. With a 2" comfort layer … the layer underneath become more noticeable and if the transition from soft to firm is too big, this can often be felt as uncomfortable. With a 2" layer … it’s usually better (certainly for side sleeping) if the ILD’s are closer together. 19 over 28 or 24 over 32 would give a smoother transition and when the lower layer is “needed” as part of the comfort layer … then this transition can play as big a role as the ILD’s themselves. If all of it is blended Talalay which has average ILD ranges of 19, 24, 28, 32, 36 … you would be looking at a transition of approximately 8-9 or 12 ILD. I would choose 8 over 12. To get ILD’s in between these … you would need to go to natural rather than blended.

No latex core is an “exact” ILD and the rating is an average of testing in 9 places in the core. The range from softest to firmest on the same core is usually in the range of 3 or 4 ILD. An ILD difference of about 4 is usually about the least that most people will even feel although it may make a difference over a longer time like overnight in terms of pressure relief and the overall performance of the mattress.

BTW … I talked with Chuck at Brooklyn Bedding a few days ago and asked him to pass a message on to John that I’d love to talk with him. We talked a fair bit and he told me that they are no longer using the quiltable latex but that they are now giving people the choice to use Talalay or natural Dunlop latex in their mattresses and you can choose the ILD’s. They are in a transitional phase and working on some stuff and this may be part of why I haven’t had the chance to talk with John. This was good news to hear.

Thought I’d add a few things to the mix that hopefully simplifies things a bit rather than makes them more complicated.


I had a “breakthrough” type experience today. I visited a store that carries savvy rest latex mattresses. The savvy rest mattress consists of 3, 3" layers of latex. The layers the store carried were firm, medium and soft in both Talalay and Dunlop. Consider the number of combinations that are possible. I was able to test out a myriad of combos and really feel the difference between Dunlop and Talalay.

For anyone interested in a latex mattress, try to find a savvy rest dealer. Even if you don’t buy one it will be a very rewarding experience. Phoenix’s biggest contribution to this forum–among MANY–is his urging prospective mattress customers to go out and test, test, test. There are simply to many permutations (dunlop, latex, soft, firm, medium) and even slight differences in construction feel very different. So I offer a big “thank you” to Phoenix for his suggestion to test many different constructions to understand the differences.

To me, dunlop is more bouyant and lively than talalay. To me, with dunlop, you sleep “on” the mattress whereas with talalay it is a little more of a sleep “in” feel. This seemed to be exagerated when there was a more radical transition between layers or when the bottom layer was firm (instead of medium). This was counterintuitive to me because med/med/soft or even med/soft/soft did not feel as squishy (sleep “in”) as much as firm/med/soft.

I did like (from bottom to top):

  • firm (dunlop), medium (dunlop), soft (dunlop)
  • firm (talalay), medium (talalay), soft (talalay)
  • medium (dunlop), medium (dunlop), soft (talalay)

I did not like:

  • firm (dunlop), medium (dunlop), soft (talalay) - sank into the mattress too much
  • firm (dunlop), medium (dunlop), medium (dunlop)

Hi Mike,

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the forum. It is sometimes difficult to get across some of the seemingly counterintuitive ideas that are connected with latex layering and your experiences connected to the specific layerings that you outlined are really valuable.

In particular your experiences highlite the differences in feel between the two different types of quality latex and how different transitions and interactions between layers can affect the feel and properties of a mattress.

These two in particular …

  • medium (dunlop), medium (dunlop), soft (talalay) … which you liked
  • firm (dunlop), medium (dunlop), soft (talalay) - sank into the mattress too much … which you didn’t like

shows how much of a difference even a “relatively small” change in the lowest layer can affect the feel or depth of cradle through what I call “the order of compression”. This “order of compression” affects how far you sink “in” to the top layer before it “firms up” enough to make the lower layers start to compress. Because the bottom layer was firm Dunlop … it would “hold firm” for longer and “force” the upper layers to compress more before it too started compressing under your weight and taking up the strain.

There is a great deal of technical “science” behind all of this as well as the “art form” of being able to visualize and experience how all the different types of layerings interact with each other and with different individuals.

Thank you again for your very valuable comments :slight_smile:


ILD Ranges communicated by Savvy Rest:

Soft Dunlop: 22-30

Medium Dunlop: 31-39

Firm Dunlop: 40 and above

Soft Talalay: Soft 20-24

Medium Talalay: Medium 30-34

Firm Talalay: Firm 35-40+

Now that I know the ILD ranges, it would seem consistent that we liked a med/med/soft (dunlop/dunlop/talalay) Savvy Rest combination since we also liked latex mattresses with a base of 32 ILD and not ones that were very firm (36-44 ILD).

If we go with 3, 3" layers then we’ll rule out the “firm” layers. Right now, I’m leaning towards med/med/soft.

Phoenix, how would two, 3" 32 ILD layers feel different from 1, 6" layer…both mattresses under, say, a 3" 22 ILD layer? 2 of the same ILD could be combined into a single 6" medium layer and probably be less expensive. OTOH, I don’t want to purchase something I haven’t tried.

The other combination I’d like to test more is med/soft/soft (dunlop/dunlop/talalay). I liked this when I tried it but my brain did not want to accept this as the ILD “numbers” would suggest that the mattress would be too soft. This combo actually did not feel as soft as firm/med/soft (dunlop, dunlop, talalay) and it it did not compress as much (i.e. sink in). One reason this combo lingers is because then I would have the flexibility of trying at home soft/med/soft and construct a double sided mattress. I did not try this combo in the store, but I think I’ll go back and try it next weekend.

My other questions are:

  • who provides the most affordable 100% natural dunlop layers in standard king and XL twin? (2 XL twins = king?)
  • if the latex is 100% natural dunlop, can one conclude that the quality will be about the same for different suppliers? Latexco, Latex Green, Dunlopillo, Coco Latex??
  • Who offers talatech and 100% natural talalay at the most affordable prices in the same dimensions?
  • is there a material difference in quality of the 100% natural talalay latex supplied by various suppliers? LI, Radium, etc?

Hi MikeM,

A single 6" layer would act slightly firmer (when it was compressed more deeply) than 2 x 3" layers. The difference would not be really significant and has to do with the slightly different internal forces (such as shear forces) and resistance between the two layerings. Multiple layering would be more noticeable in the comfort layer (such as 3 x 1" layers of 22 ILD vs 3" of 22 ILD with the multiple layers acting as a thinner/softer surface than the single layer). Bear in mind too that Dunlop has more variability in ILD across the surface than Talalay and also has a slightly “firmer” side and a slightly “softer” side which can also make a small difference. Trying to get to an exact ILD is usually not really possible although Talalay is usually more consistent and “closer” on average to a specific number.

Latex is somewhat unique because it gets firmer faster than other materials (Dunlop more than Talalay even) so a layer that is rated at a softer ILD with 25% compression can still be firm and supportive at a deeper compression. Having said that though … I would tend to be just a little wary with a soft dunlop under the soft Talalay as your hips may sink a little further down into the mattress than you would want for good alignment even though the sinking into the top layer for pressure relief was fine. Your personal testing though would be the most accurate way to know for sure.

There are several high quality Dunlop Latex manufacturers who make 100% natural Dunlop latex. The most common are Latex Green, Latexco, and CoCo Latex (Savvy Rest supplier) and Arpico. Latex Green and CoCo latex both produce organic latex as well (the same material as 100% natural latex but the latex cultivation and production methods have been certified as organic). There is currently no organic Talalay latex even though there is 100% natural Talalay. They all produce high quality molded Dunlop cores that are very comparable however different Dunlop producers will each have their “secrets” in their formulations and production methods. There are many other quality Dunlop producers besides these as well however these tend to be the most common.

This depends to some degree whether you are buying bare latex layers, the thickness of the layers, special pricing that may be in effect, and shipping costs if any. Often the lowest cost is from a local manufacturer who is willing to sell you a latex layer even though many of them are not set up to ship across the country so only supply locally. Sometimes some outlets may have specials with limited selection which may be less.

The better sources for latex layers of all types that I’m aware of are listed in the component post here.

In terms of buying a mattress as opposed to individual latex layers … There are so many different factors and preferences involved that are important to different people that a “price per inch of latex” comparison is fairly meaningless and the best value for any individual could be from any of the members of this site or others that aren’t depending on the features and choices and options that are part of what each person considers important in their idea of “value”.

There are other outlets that may have special pricing from time to time and there are also some online outlets that I don’t fully trust will ship you what you order (such as some on ebay or FBM) both of which may be “cheaper” but you take the risk of buying latex which is either the wrong material or the wrong ILD.

There are currently 2 primary manufacturers of Talalay latex which are Radium and Latex International. I consider both of these to be very high quality. There are also now Chinese and other Asian Talalay latex core producers (at least 3) … some of which may be appearing in mattresses in North America. I haven’t had enough feedback and they don’t have enough real life market experience to know how they compare, especially because most manufacturers are still using LI and Radium.

Hope this helps … and I’d be curious to hear about your experience with M(Dunlop) S(Dunlop) S(Talalay)


Hi Mike,

Just to add a little bit to the “theme” of post #11

One of the layerings you liked was - firm (talalay) … say 36 average, over medium (talalay) say 32 average, over soft (talalay) say 24 average.

You could create a construction that would provide similar pressure relief and a feeling of “sinking in” to the top layer slightly less but improving support of the hips with a construction like 2" of 24 Talalay over 3" of 28 Talalay over 4" of 40 Talalay. This way the top 3" of the mattress would be a little firmer on average (slightly shallower cradle) with pressure relief that would still likely be very similar but the bottom 6" would be a little firmer on average and keep your hips up higher. The feeling would be slightly less “in” the mattress (with other factors like ticking and quilting and base being equal).

This wider choice in ILD’s and layer thickness is often not available through more “standardized” online DIY outlets as they have to deal with "the “averages” of online purchases more but they are often available from custom manufacturers who can build your mattress any way you wish and from a few more specialized DIY outlets or through special orders. While this is “fine tuning” to a much larger degree and both would be great for a large majority of people … I just wanted to show how having a wider choice of ILD and layer thickness options can make a difference and use different layer thicknesses and different ILD’s to change one or more of the “feel” or pressure relief or support characteristics of a mattress while keeping the parts you like.

Of course for most people … the choices available with standardized layer thicknesses and ILD’s can create a mattress that is far superior than anything they would be likely to purchase otherwise … for some people these seemingly minor changes can make a significant difference.


Thanks Phoenix for your continued feedback and insights!

I contacted several latex manufacturers hoping to find local factories (I also called several that you referenced in one of your posts above).

Arparcio - they emailed me and directed me to LatexCo West (a competitor!)
LatexCo West - referred me to an outlet in West LA that sells foam. I’m not sure they have what I need
LI - didn’t respond
Latex Green - couldn’t find a way to contact them
Radium - no contact found

I did contact a helpful local factory that carries LatexCo. Any feedback on the quality of their Talalay relative to LI or Radium?

Back to the mattress cover. Ideally, I’d like to find a cover with quilting in the sides but no quilting on top. Bamboo or cotton or stretchy fabric. The quilting on the side would provide “form” to the mattress, especially if I use 6 layers of XL Twin. I’m concerned that an unquilted cover would result in a sloppy looking mattress.

I am open to trying custom thicknesses and ILDs but, unless I have a “breakthrough” and identify a factory that carries all this, I doubt I’ll go this route as I don’t feel comfortable purchasing a “mix” I have not tested since I’ve experienced different feels with very slight differences in construction. I would like to try 28 ILD in a middle layer. Based upon my experience to date, something as firm as 40 ILD concerns me but I have never tried lower ILD middle levels that might neutralize this X-firm bottom layer.

As far as “sinking in” I thought I would add that what I have not like as much is not so much the softness–for instance, the 2" 19 ILD on top of 6" 32 ILD on top of 19 ILD was soft but comfortable–but rather the feeling of “sinking in” due to the softness but the mattress enveloping the body where it is more difficult to turn over on one’s side and back again. This I experienced on the OMI Terra. One personal aspect I did not not mention is that I have a curvature of the spine that might be helpful to note (not a medical condition that requires attention or that results in back pain). If I lie flat on the floor I have more space than most people in the small of my back.

Thanks again!

Hi Mike,

Latex Green is an offshoot of Arpico who broke away from that company in Sri Lanka. They became very popular in North America and gained market share from Arpico. Sleep Comp carried Latex Green (they were a distributor for foam manufacturers) as well as Radium Talalay from the Netherlands. Latexco purchased Sleep Comp and Sleep Comp became Latexco West but they continued to supply latex of various types besides their own. Arpico seems now to be making a comeback and gaining market share back from Latex Green and of course it would be purchased from Sleep Comp (now Latexco West). That’s the short version but there are also many more back stories to all of this.

So Latexco produces Dunlop Latex (not Talalay) and also distributes latex from other companies including Radium Talalay. They tend to deal only with manufacturers and are not always so forthcoming with consumer inquiries. LI does pretty well with phone enquiries in my experience and in the mattress industry, this seems to be the norm. There are members of this site who get most of their Talalay from LI while others get most of their Talalay from Radium (through Latexco/Sleep Comp) and this will switch from time to time based on economics and other factors as all of them could order from whichever they choose.

In terms of Talalay, both Radium and LI are very high quality. There are some manufacturers who prefer one over the other for various reasons but in general you will do well with either. There is Asian Talalay now beginning to come into North America which is being produced by factories which produce to western standards but at the moment there is little specific feedback in terms of its relative quality even from the manufacturers who know about it (and many don’t). This is a very “political” industry with alliances that are constantly being formed and reformed between various foam pourers, distributors, and manufacturers and constant efforts to gain market share while protecting what they already have.

In terms of Dunlop latex … Arpico, Latex Green, Latexco, Coco Latex and quite a few others are all very comparable in terms of quality and each can produce quality Dunlop latex.

While there are companies that produce ticking in any way that is desired … they supply wholesale to manufacturers (who want to differentiate themselves from others) and most of the consumer zip covers are fairly standardized. I seriously doubt that you will find a zip ticking which is quilted on the sides and not the top as the economics of this would likely put it out of the market. A zip ticking that fits correctly is usually fine and the resulting mattress is not “sloppy looking” IMO.

I understand the preference for being “on” the mattress and the sense of freedom of movement that it provides. I personally loved the feel of the OMI and the ultra soft top sculpted layer which is effectively much softer because of the sculpting. It’s actually (in its standard configuration) 25 ILD over 35 ILD over 25 ILD and then the topper is 25 ILD as well but because its convoluted it acts much softer (probably well under 19). The “order of compression” has a lot to do with this in terms of how the firmness of each layer affects the compression of the others. A 4 inch layer for example that has a sag factor of 4 and an ILD of 20 will take 20 lbs of pressure to compress 1" but 80 lbs of pressure to compress 3". Long before it compresses even 3", a 40 ILD layer underneath it will start to take up the strain and compress. This relative ILD and sag factor is a big part of how deeply each layer including the top one will compress and how much of the strain it will take up before the body “comes to rest” in the mattress when all the many forces come into an equilibrium.

I would tend to lean towards a 2" comfort layer given what you have shared and your lighter weight and I particularly think that zoning may help you fine tune this to allow your shoulders to sink in deeper while staying firmer under the hips. It would be very interesting if you were to call one of our members http://www.customsleepdesign.com/ and talk with Bob and tell him your preferences and “issues” (including any budget issues so he knows you prefer a 9" version of what he normally sells as an 11" mattress) then go through the measuring exercise to see what kind of zoning recommendation he comes up with for you. It may be very helpful. He used to be a VP of Latex International before he decided to start making mattresses.


Phoenix, I just found your “Quick Find” menu for the first time. Just a suggestion, it’s tucked below the top fold on your home page…I had to scroll down to even see it. There’s such valuable content located there that you might consider moving the section up so it’s visible on the top fold of your homepage.

Reading through your section on “stats”, I took a few measurements. Lying on a carpeted floor, I was able to stick a credit card lengthwise under the small of my back (I have a slight swayback). It measures 2 1/4". The measurement from the outside of my shoulder to the outside of my chest is 3+“. I’m a back and side-sleeper. My spouse is curvy and a side sleeper so she’s in the same boat. Would we be correct to conclude that a 3” comfort layer if using differential construction or a 2" top layer (or even 3") and 28-32 ILD middle layer using progressive construction would be in order?

Finally, if one is sleeping on one’s back and finds it comfortable to tuck a pillow under one’s knees, what does this suggest about the current mattress? Also, my spouse will do the same when lying on her side. Any feedback is appreciated, as always!

Hi MikeM,

Thanks for the website feedback. The reason I put the quickfind menu lower on the main page is because I wanted the picture and some content to show for a first visit to the website homepage. The links are the same as the menu bar on the top of the main page (which can be accessed without scrolling) except the quickfind is organized more by topic rather than by section so the rationale was on the home page that they would click at least one of the top links and on all the other pages of the site the quick find is available without scrolling. The forum is the other exception to this as it also has the top menu bar to all the site content but I wanted the forum thread titles to show rather than the quickfind. I was debating whether to put the quickfind where the picture is on the homepage but for the home page I decided in the end to put the picture on the top because the menu bar had the same content anyway and one click would take them to pages where the quickfind was more easily visible. Over the next few months there will be quite a few additions to the site and I may reorganize the content somewhat based on feedback and experience so I certainly appreciate the feedback.

Your stats are “in the range” of normal and they are part of the reason why 3" for side sleepers and 2" for back sleepers are a good starting point. Part of the difficulty of being specific is because there are many interacting factors involved and each layer doesn’t fully compress before the next layer takes up the strain … even in a differential construction. People also don’t sleep in an “exact” position as there are varying degrees of half and half positions (such as on the side but a bit towards the stomach with the top knee raised and on the mattress). Your conclusions though are “in the range” of what I would suggest and I have to say I’m impressed that your “translations” of the information on the site were so accurate … subject to confirmation with testing. Part of the variables would be the ILD of the comfort layer and the support layer under it as they interact together and a firmer comfort layer will take up more of the compression before the layer underneath kicks in but in general you are correct.

The biggest reason zoning can be so helpful is that it helps to solve the wider/lighter shoulders issues for people who spend time on their sides without using an ILD which is too soft for the best hip alignment. While I think that it certainly is more accurate for most side sleepers … layering without zoning especially with latex which has a different progressive compression rate than most foams is usually fine for most … even if they would have additional benefit with zoning. Its all a matter of tradeoffs and of course that sometimes includes “is this benefit worth a little extra cost”.

A pillow under the knees can compensate for hips that are sinking too far and straining the lower lumbar as it rotates the pelvis up when it is sinking too far. This can come from a construction where the hips are sinking in too far although it is often a good idea anyway as it does no harm and can often help as all people carry more weight in their hips than their shoulders. Pillows between the knees (one knee on top of the other) on the side can help the upper hip joint from feeling strain as because raising the top leg can help relieve pressure on the hip joint. When people sleep on their side with the top leg forward and bent (a little towards a stomach position), then a pillow between the upper knee and the mattress (rather than between the knees) can also relieve pressure on the upper hip joint. A pillow under the lower knee while on the side would in most cases be counterproductive as it would increase the pressure on the hip joint (it would cause a bigger sideways angle in the joint). If this is what she is doing … then it would likely be an attempt to compensate for something else such as a pressure point or top hip joint misalignment in a “less than optimal” way. This would be like a muscle being tensed to compensate for another that was injured or sensitive.

Thanks again for your questions and feedback


Hi Phoenix

Zoning. I’d like to explore zoning a little more. I do sleep with a pillow under my knees when sleeping on my back. I think this helps compensate for my swayback, helping the small of my back lie flatter on the mattress. So it might be helpful to address this with zoning. I reread your posts and I see how pressure can be taken off the shoulders if the hips are allowed to sink in…so it’s a tricky balance. Arizona Mattress is advertising a 7-zone dunlop soft (21-25 ILD) topper (latexco). I’ve read your FAQ about zoning suggesting that more than 3 is suboptimal and 2 is often best. I suspect that the zoning in this soft topper may not provide enough stability for the hips (i.e. mixing a sufficiently higher ILD in the hip area with 22ish in the shoulders)?

In your progressive construction…2" 24, 3" 28 over 4" 40 ILD…how critical is the 4" layer? Could it be 3 inches since this is probably a more widely available thickness?

I have had good luck with a 1.1" top layer of 19 ILD. Instead of going with 5.5" of 32 underneath with 1" of 19 ILD on the bottom (double sided), I wonder how 1.1" 19 over 1 or 2" of 28 ILD over 5.5 of say 36 ILD would be? Any better or worse support for the hips? As a reference on thought the OMI Lago (3.5" 24 ILD over 6" of 40 ILD was maybe a little firm. As another reference, I’ve tried 2" of soft talalay (ILD unknown) over 6" of firm (36-40 ILD) talalay and this was too firm.

I’ll try contact Bob about a custom 9" design but I suspect the price will be more than I want to pay. I did find a local foam shop that carries blended talalay (via Sleep Comp) but his prices were higher than SleepEZ. I am awaiting prices on blended talalay from a local factory who seemed willing to customize to my specifications. Thanks ~ Mike

Hi MikeM,

This is very true … if the top layers are soft and thick enough for the shoulders to sink in … that same ILD or layer combination will often allow the hips to sink in too far. The variable here is the weight vs the surface area of the different parts of each body and this varies with each person and with different sleeping positions. On the side for example … the shoulders are lighter and wider but have less surface area (are more pointy) so if a material has the right qualities (ILD, sag factor, and point elasticity) then a unizone is often enough. With lower quality materials or with more difficult body weight distributions or sleeping combinations … then zoning can be important. Foams with a high sag factor are in effect a form of zoning as deeper compression creates a firmer zone more than foams with a lower sag factor.

I do believe that 7 zones can sometimes be overkill as the main areas that can benefit with zoning are the balance between the hips/pelvis, the lower back, and the shoulder areas. The differences in the other areas of the body don’t really require zoning except in more extreme circumstances. The issue with the 7 zone as well is that the zones don’t really have much of a difference and the differences themselves are often less than the normal ILD difference over the surface of the material itself. Talalay latex can have an ILD difference of about 5 over the surface of the layer while the variability of Dunlop can be even more so a zoned core that only has a difference of 4-6 ILD doesn’t make much difference … although sometimes even small differences can help.

Zoning in the lower layers of a mattress are primarily designed to hold up the hips and pelvis and this is the reason that zoned innersprings with a firmer middle third is so common (3 zone with a firmer middle). Zoning in the upper layers is primarily designed to allow the shoulders to sink in further both for pressure relief and for alignment and this normally only requires a softer upper third (2 zone with a softer upper third). Of course because the layers interact, each type of zoning will have a secondary effect on the other layers. If a top layer is also zoned … it can add to the effect of zoning the lower layer as long as the firmer zone under the hips is still soft enough for pressure relief for the hips. For example if an upper layer of say 3" was zoned 19 ILD in the upper and lower third and 32 in the middle … it would certainly affect how deeply the hips sank in but may be too firm for some for good hip pressure relief (which comes from the upper layers of the mattress). An upper layer zone of 19 in the upper and lower third and 24 in the hips would likely still provide good pressure relief for the hips but the difference is so small that the natural variation of the material may be bigger than the zoning itself. Small differences like this may help and “add up” with other design factors but by themselves the difference would be small.

Changing the layer thickness of a bottom layer by an inch would act in a similar way to increasing its firmness. With a thinner bottom layer … it will have less room to compress and will firm up faster and “force” the layers above it to compress slightly more. I might even be tempted to go with 32 in the middle which would make it similar to the Savvy Rest except with a thinner top layer (2" instead of 3") and a slightly firmer base layer. If this thinner top layer still provided adequate pressure relief and allowed the shoulders to sink in far enough … it would certainly be better for alignment in your other ppositions (my “rule” for combination sleepers is to use the thinnest firmest upper layers that provide good pressure relief on the side). Bear in mind though that ILD changes of 4 or less are more about fine tuning here than dramatic effects. Changing the top layer thickness will have a bigger overall effect.

Having only an inch of 19 over a firmer layer can present an issue for some with the transition between them when they are on their side, particularly with lighter weights who will feel the 28 ILD as firmer. Even lighter weights will “go through” the 19 ILD easily and then feel the firmer 28 underneath it (or the layers below that if it was only 1" thick" as well) more than is comfortable even though it may be good for alignment on your back or stomach. I would certainly spend some time on my side with this construction to make sure I wasn’t feeling any strain or pressure on my hips.

2" of 28 under the 1.1" 19 ILD top layer would likely be better for pressure relief (than 1.1" over 32) and the support would likely be similar (softer transition with a firmer core). This may still be too firm for you though in terms of pressure. The thinner the layer on top … the more the qualities of the next layer down come into play and the closer together the ILD’s normally need to be. This is somewhat confirmed with your experience with the Lago which had 3.5" of 24 on top which was too firm. 1" of 19 over 2" of 28 ILD would be less pressure relieving for most (but not all) people. Any difference in ticking/quilting will also play a role here as well (either softening up or firming up the upper layers).

It’s difficult to make a comment about the “unknown” talalay as the ILD would be an important part of why this didn’t work. If you bought it from certain inexpensive outlets … it may not be talalay at all or if it is, it may be cut from a firmer core and then only labelled as soft on the “marketing theory” that its OK to label it with a lower ILD because the layer is thinner. If it really was soft talalay however (cut from a 24 ILD 6" core) … it confirms that the transition between its ILD and the 36 - 40 core is too much (you are feeling too much of the 36 - 40). Where it felt too firm (shoulders or hips) would make a difference though.

Overall … there are so many subtle variations in each persons shape, weight, and sleeping positions that change the weight to surface area ratio with different depths of compression … it is difficult to “theorize” about what is best in more than general terms with “theory at a distance” and personal experience always becomes more accurate. Sometimes too … a deeper analysis can create a focus on the smaller details at the expense of the larger picture (even though I personally really enjoy the more detailed stuff). At this level of analysis … almost anything that is “in the range” would be better than what most people would end up purchasing. Going from 80% great to 95% great is where the devil is in the interacting details :slight_smile:

I would think though that given your stats and experience that a 2" top layer would be better than 1" for pressure relief and allow for a firmer transition layer (better for alignment) underneath it without sacrificing pressure relief. This could then have a much firmer bottom layer under it for alignment as well as this would not affect pressure relief to any real degree (even though it can affect the subjective feeling of softness or firmness).

Of course more “radical” zoning than what is built in to a core allows for a lot more flexibility in design and changes the picture much more than the smaller zoning variations built in to a core. I’d be very interested in hearing what Bob had to say in his recommendations. NOTE ADDED: for those that are reading this since it was written … Custom Sleep Design is no longer in business.