Phoenix (and all), I need some help picking a mattress in San Francisco after visiting local dealer

Phoenix, I’ve been lurking here for the past few weeks as I’ve been searching for a new mattress. Thanks for putting together this website and its amazing resources. It’s true, I’ve been going around to mattress shops and had no idea what I was looking for. In fact, I almost bough a Keetsa or a Tempurpedic and when something didn’t seem right about paying all that money for those mattresses, I stumbled upon this website. Now I am able to have more intelligent conversations with the local manufacturers/distributors and just totally lose the typical mattress store salesperson.

Using the list that you provided here in this post:

I visited showroom in san francisco yesterday. They have a pretty good selection of mattresses and will make custom mattresses if that’s what you want. I thought I knew what I wanted, but after trying some of them out, I’m not sure - I could use some help figuring it out.

About me: I am a generally a back sleeper, but as we all do, we move during the night. And so I often turn on my side. If I could sleep on my stomach, I would, but my neck ends up getting completely misaligned causing a week of pain and a visit to the local chiropractor. When turning on my side on regular mattresses I find that my shoulders get compressed and then my shoulder will hurt all day. I’m male, about 5 foot 11 inches, 165 pounds and generally have neck, back, shoulder, wrist issues from using a computer too much for work (repetitive stress injury is what the docs like to call it).

I read all of the resource posts over the past three weeks (there’s a lot to read!) to get prepared for the visit. I thought I wanted to get a full talalay mattress: I was looking for a 6 inch support core around the medium firmness level of about 28-31 ILD. And then I was looking for a soft 3-4inch comfort layer latex 23 or so ILD. I like the sinking feeling and I figure with latex’s point elasticity, the softness would allow my shoulder, when on my side, to sink in and prevent it from getting numb.

Ok, so I went to foamorder’s show room to try some mattresses. I tried out their deluxe soft organic naturalsense mattress with pillowtop. seen here: 100% Certified Organic Mattress | FoamOrder (select soft and then price quote). This has 4 inches (compressed to 1.5 inches) of wool top comfort layer for temp control, then 3 inches of ild 25 latex, followed by 6 inches of ild 28 latex. I thought this would have been ideal. So I tried it out for 10 minutes and I found it to be a bit too bouncy and I didn’t feel like the latex was surrounding parts of my body to provide the support. I wonder whether the wool layer was doing that. When trying it out on my side, I felt my shoulder getting compressed…

So, next I tried a combo memory foam and latex mattress. I really like the way tempurpedics feel with the foam surrounding the body. They had a soft on soft memory foam mattress on display where the comfort layer is a 16 ILD (about 4 inches) and the support was around 23 (about 4 inches also) - all memory foam. I can’t seem to find the link as the salesperson says nobody really buys those so they don’t have it on the website. I really liked “the falling in feeling” but had a similar compression of my shoulders once i sunk in on my side. I really don’t understand why that happens, I figured that would be the one mattress where that didn’t happen.

Then, I tried what they called a basic medium organic latex model (no pillowtop, use same link as above and select medium). This was a 28 ILD latex comfort layer, and a 31 ILD support layer (both three inches, I believe). And when I tried that one out, I found my shoulder to not hurt as much (but it still hurt a bit after a while - certainly less than the memory foam one though). That really confused me!!

Given my experience, I asked them to price a custom made mattress, where I was going to use a 4 inch think soft memory foam 16ILD 5.3lb density as a comfort layer on top of a ILD 28 latex 6 inch think support layer with no pillow top. What do you think of that? I have no idea if that will work over time.

A note on their materials. On their memory foam, they call it PostureFoam. And when I asked whether it was HR or HD quality, they said it was HR, but then when I asked again later in the conversation, they were less committal because it was 16ILD. They guarantee it will not sag/dip for 15 years, so they said I shouldn’t worry. Then on the latex, they only use Dunlop. They said that they tried Talalay and it was only lasting them 7 years or so and then just getting too soft. So they switched to Dunlop and again offer a non-prorated 15 year warranty on that.

So, here I am. All confused and don’t know what to do? Do you have any suggestions of what to do or what to try next given the above?


Hi eagle007,

By most standards this would be considered a firm mattress both because the comfort layers are Dunlop and because the compressed wool would make it even firmer. This would be especially true for someone who was on the slimmer side. Dunlop is also less “exact” in the ILD ratings than Talalay and that along with the higher compression modulus (gets firmer faster) and the 25 ILD (not all that soft in Dunlop) would likely account for your experience.

You may be getting misinformation here. First … Tempurpedic doesn’t make an “all memory foam” mattress and I doubt that the foam underneath it was 23 ILD. He was probably confusing the density of the poly (2.3 lbs/cu ft) with ILD. If you look at the law tag you can confirm this (whether it was all memory foam). If you know the tempurpedic model then it would be easy to confirm the layering and also help to explain why you were feeling what you were feeling.

It is rare that Dunlop latex can be “differentiated” in increments of 3 ILD. This also has a different construction and layer thickness than the first one. I suspect that the comfort layer in this one may have been softer and/or the thinner mattress support core would mean that you are sinking “in” to the top layer more rather than sinking “down” into the mattress more which would be the case with the first one. Firmer or thinner lower layers can change the pressure relieving qualities of the layers above them. This is where your personal experience can be “explained” by theory (after the fact) but not necessarily “predicted” by theory because of the many variables involved in both mattress materials and in construction.

If you mean their “PostureSense” foam, memory foam isn’t “graded” by HD or HR … these are grades of polyfoam (not memory foam) that are used as a support layer under the memory foam layers. Memory foam doesn’t really have grades but its quality is primarily based on density and secondarily on the manufacturer of the memory foam (each manufacturer has their own formula with its own characteristics). Polyfoam is rated as HR based on meeting certain specs which are a density of 2.5 and higher, a compression modulus of 2.4 or higher, and resilience of 60% or higher. All memory foam is soft (although some are softer than others) and they also vary widely in some of their other characteristics such as recovery speed, breathability, temperature sensitivity, and others. ILD has little meaning with memory foam mainly because they are all soft and because they don’t respond to ILD measurements in the same way as polyfoam or latex.

This makes no sense to me and I suspect there is more to this story (or more accurately their belief). The subject of the durability of different types of latex is very complex as evidenced by this post from yesterday and I suspect that their belief is not based on an “accurate” assessment or on all the facts relating to their experience.

I’ve included a list of outlets that are “centered” around San Francisco rather than Sacramento which should give you more choices in terms of mattress testing. I would particularly suggest testing some Talalay latex and a phone call (or a visit if the distance justifies it) to Bay Bed who is one of our members and who uses Talalay extensively. Testing in different outlets that use different materials or types of construction may help a lot to clarify what works best for you.

If its OK with you … after you’ve read this reply I wanted to change the topic title to include San Francisco so that these outlets can be included in the research for others in the area since I don’t have a “San Francisco” thread yet.


Bay Bed & Mattress - FAQ Santa Cruz. Local factory direct manufacturer. Specializes in modular pocket spring and talalay latex constructions but will also build an all latex mattress. I think highly of them and they offer great quality, value, knowledge, and service. I invited them to become a member of this site because I believe they compete well with the best in the industry and I’ve included them in the San Francisco list because they would be well worth a visit for those who don’t mind the longer drive. San Francisco, Albany, Palo Alto, CA. (and others outside the area) They are a member of this site and are knowledgeable, experienced, and transparent and carry a range of mattresses including latex, memory foam, and latex and memory foam/pocket coil hybrids. They have also put a great deal of time and effort into carrying mattresses that are good quality and value. I have also talked with Joe the owner on many occasions and he is passionate about what he is doing and left a larger manufacturer that had a somewhat exaggerated focus on “green” mattresses to form his own company because he wanted to “do it right”.

Community Mattress Concord. Local factory direct manufacturer. Patrick here is a “one man show” and builds a wide variety of mattress of all types (memory foam, innerspring, and latex) and can custom build almost an type of mattress that you may want. He uses high quality materials and his mattresses have good value. Well worth a phone call and/or a visit. San Rafael, San Pablo, CA. Local factory direct manufacturer. I have talked with Alan here and he is committed to providing high quality materials and mattresses. Tends to focus more on the benefits of Dunlop latex over Talalay and some of the Talalay information here is I believe is somewhat inaccurate. They also make memory foam mattresses. Also well worth including in your research as they have some good options with good value. Their Natural Sense mattresses are also available at stores in Concord, Arcata, and Albany, CA. Berkeley. Local factory direct manufacturer. They make a range of mattresses which include a variety of latex and latex / pocket coil hybrids and microcoil choices which are very interesting and also have good quality and value. They are also very knowledgeable about mattress materials and design and good at “fitting” their customers to a suitable mattress. Burlingame. Local manufacturer that makes various component layered latex mattresses with various different types of zip covers. Good quality and value. They also carry PalmPring, Pure Latex Bliss, REM Sleep Solutions, Restonic, Natura, Magniflex, Easy Rest, and Savvy Rest mattresses San Francisco, San Rafael, Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, Los Gatos, CA. Local factory direct manufacturer. Makes a range of high quality latex/innerspring hybrids and all latex mattresses (including component latex mattresses) that can be customized both before and after a purchase. Worth a visit. Union City, Danville. Local factory direct manufacturer. This is a “build your own” mattress where you can choose a Bonnell coil, pocket coil, or HD polyfoam for a support layer and either memory foam, latex, or high density polyfoam for the comfort layers along with your choice of ticking/quilting for a cover. Good quality materials and good value. The owner used to be a licensee for a major manufacturer before starting on his own and building directly for consumers and is knowledgeable and clearly “mattress people”. Berkeley, CA. I have talked with them and they are very knowledgeable about foam and make some good quality/value polyfoam and memory foam mattresses. They are also committed to educating their customers about the materials they use and helping them to make the best possible choices. They tend to use lower density memory foam in their memory foam mattresses however (@ 3 lb) and even though they told me that their experience with it was good … I would tend to prefer higher density memory foam which is more durable and will keep its memory foam properties longer. San Francisco. Chinese manufacturer. Sourced from the Zinus group and has a somewhat exaggerated focus on “green” materials which I don’t believe is justified considering the materials that are used in most of the mattresses. Some better value in comparison to major brands but not in the same class as most local manufacturers IMO.

Estates Mattress Company Oakland. Local manufacturer who sells mainly wholesale but will also sell factory direct to consumers. Mainly “promotional” low cost innerspring and polyfoam mattresses for lower budgets. San Francisco, Palo Alto. Local factory direct manufacturer who makes premium mattresses using natural and synthetic fibers and innersprings, traditional hand building methods. Recently also introduced a mattress that uses latex in the comfort layers. While there is no doubt about their quality, these types of mattresses are not for everyone and based on the materials used I would also question their value compared to some other manufacturers. They do have a loyal “brand” following but their pricing may not provide the best value for those that are more focused on pressure relief, alignment, and overall comfort or who make comparisons with other choices that use the same or similar materials. San Francisco. Retail direct outlet for a range of mattresses made by Restwell which includes memory foam and latex. Better value than most national brands but not as good as many factory direct manufacturers. Foam density of some of their polyfoam layers may be questionable. Emeryville, CA. See post #3 here and the posts it links to for more comments about the Ikea mattresses. Berkeley. Retail direct outlet for their own house brand (Urban organics latex mattresses), along with a range of mattresses made by Sherwood, Suite Sleep, and VI Springs (ultra premium). Good people who have always been knowledgeable and open about their mattresses when I have talked with them.

Contact Us - Dealer & Customer Inquiries | Savvy Rest Charlottesville, VA. Smaller national manufacturer that focuses on component latex mattresses with a choice of two, three, or four 3" layers and a wool quilted cotton cover and a latex innerspring hybrid and wool mattress as well. Good quality materials and a great place to test layered latex mattresses but they are also in a more premium price range so I would make some careful value comparisons with other similar mattresses. Berkeley, Oakland. Retail outlet. Carries a wide range of high quality mattresses by OrganicPedic (OMI), GreenSleep, Magniflex, Ergovea, Sharper Image, Pure Latex Bliss, Naturepedic, and Natura. Would make a great testing ground for various types of latex and/or latex hybrids and different combinations but make good “apples to apples” comparisons when you shop here as there may be better “value”. - ahappyplanet Resources and Information. San Francisco. Carry a range of mattresses made by Oasis, Green Sleep and Vivetique. Also on the costly side.

Natural Organic Mattresses & bedding from Earthsake - ecofriendly 100% natural latex mattress, organic bed linens, wool mattress pad, organic cotton towels & more - Earthsake Natural & Organic Products Berkeley. Carries a range of latex, latex hybrids, and innerspring and fiber mattresses made by various manufacturers. Like many organic outlets … their latex is a little more expensive than other options. Larkspur. Retail outlet that carries a wide range of Vivetique mattresses which includes latex, natural fibers, innersprings, and latex hybrids. San Francisco, San Mateo, Concord, Los Altos, Santa Rosa, CA. Carries a huge range of futons of all kinds including innersprings, latex, memory foam, polyfoam, and organic wool and cotton. Santa Rosa, CA. They carry a wide range of futons and also mattresses that use high quality polyfoam, memory foam, and latex. They normally have latex on the floor to test but not always so call first. Knowledgeable about materials and good people to deal with. Various outlets in the area from Santa Rosa to Napa to San Rafael. Retailer. Carries Pure Latex Bliss Natural along with Sharper Image, Cannon, and some mainstream brands (which I would ignore). They are knowledgeable about mattresses and materials and as open and transparent about their mattresses as their manufacturers allow them to be. Good people Napa, CA. Carries Stressopedic which is a regional manufacturer that is committed to being open and transparent about their mattresses (see here) Petaluma, CA. Carry OMI (orgainc latex mattresses) and Tempflow (memory foam mattresses). Sebastopol. Carry Savvy Rest which are a “choose your own layer” mattress with many combinations of 3" latex in different layer combinations. Check to make sure they carry both Talalay and Dunlop options in their choices if you are looking to test the differences between them in various layer combinations. Good quality but make sure you make some careful value comparisons. Dublin, CA. Carries OMI, Naturepedic, and Savvy Rest which are high quality latex mattresses but also carry some premium prices so make some careful value comparisons. Sebastopol. I have talked with Lori the owner here and the store is open by appointment only (although she spends a good deal of time there). She carries mattresses made by Cannon Sleep Products which include some Spring Air latex and latex hybrid mattresses which may be worth including in your research for those in the area.

A number of these retailers in the area specialize in organic mattresses and while these include some high quality mattresses that usually focus on Dunlop latex or natural fibers and innersprings … they are not always the best value when compared to other mattresses that use similar materials with less of an “organic” focus so I would tend to make some careful value comparisons but for those who value organic materials or who have a more organic focus more than most … they are certainly worth including in your research.

That makes sense. Weird, they said it was one of their softest mattresses…

Sorry if I mis-typed. I didn’t meant to imply that they had a Tempurpedic on display and I tried that out. I was just saying that I like the way Tempurpedics feel and so that why I was attracted to the foam top

Got it. That makes a lot of sense.

I don’t quote understand the difference between the memory and and the polyfoam. I need to go back and re-read that section on the website. Thanks for the clarification.

Agreed, I didn’t get it either…

Of course! Thanks for listing them out. I actually checked them out and while I would love to go down to Bay Bed and mattress, it is a two hour drive. In Each direction. That’s pretty far and I don’t own a car. Do you have any advice on buying a mattress site-unseen? I think its a bad idea, but maybe you have some creative advice. If that doesn’t work I think I may try to find a way to get out to Community Mattress - I spoke with him on the phone last week and he said he can custom make anything. I don’t know if he has a display…

Hi Eagle007,

In terms of latex it probably was. Dunlop tends to be firmer than Talalay in the same ILD because it is denser and gets firmer faster as you sink into it. It also isn’t made as soft as Talalay or as the typical foams that are used in most mattresses that people are used to testing. Many people like it for this reason … others prefer something softer (which is fairly subjective anyway) on top.

Memory foam is the foam that leaves a “handprint”. It comes back slowly after you remove the weight (although different types have different recovery speeds or how long the handprint stays). Polyfoam and latex foam come back right away and have no “memory”.

There are really two ways to go about this. The first is to test mattresses locally to get a sense of the type of layering and construction that works best for you and then come as close to duplicating it as you can with an online purchase. This involves knowing the materials and layering in the mattresses you are testing so they can serve as a model.

The second way it to use the knowledge and skills of the online merchant to help you choose the best layering. The better ones are very good at helping their customers choose based on their height, weight, sleeping positions, and preferences. Many will also offer layer exchanges (if the mattress has a zip cover) or inexpensive mattress exchange or return policies so that if you make a mistake is is not so expensive to correct it. The better ones are also more than willing to help you understand why different choices may be better or worse for your circumstances or needs.

The short version is to either become an expert or to find and then work with an expert.

The advantage of course in testing mattresses personally is that if you know specifically what to test for and how to test a mattress … it can be far more accurate … but this involves working with someone who genuinely has your best interrests at heart and knows about mattress materials and construction. Without a person like this … the experience of personally testing mattresses can be very confusing and many salespeople will focus on meaningless information and use sales techniques that are designed to get you to buy much more than they are designed to educate you about your choices. The difference between these two types of outlets is night and day. The first is a pleasure and pressure free. They encourage comparison of their mattresses with any other. They are happy letting you walk out the door because they have the quality and value that will likely result in you coming back. The second will do anything they can to keep you in the store until you have made a purchase and will make it difficult to get the type of information about their mattresses that make it easy to compare what they are selling with other outlets. This group is trained to create a very subjective and managed environment where your “showroom” experience becomes the basis for your decision rather than what you are likely to experience when you are sleeping on a mattress every night.

While the first group of course is always the best way to go … particularly if they have a good selection and their mattresses have good value … I would personally prefer an online purchase over the second group. The only thing the second group is really good for is to use for testing grounds to help you create a rough blueprint for an online purchase.

I’m not sure what Patrick at Community mattress has on his floor but it would certainly be worth calling to find out if he is close enough to warrant a visit.

I would always tend to do most of my initial “work” on the phone to find out who is happy to give me specific information about what they make or carry and who is strictly focused on trying to get me into the store without any specifics about the mattresses they sell or the materials in them. Spending time on the phone before you go anywhere will do a lot to educate you about different outlets and their overall approach with their customers and end up saving you more time and frustration than anything else.


Hi Phoenix,

I finally had the opportunity to try a couple of different mattress stores out over the holiday break (still sleeping on an air bed though which is starting to get quite uncomfortable). I’d like to get your advice on a couple of things before I put in a final order, if that’s ok? But before doing that, here’s some information on my most recent visits.

On the list of stores provided in the last series of messages, I narrowed down my visit in San Francisco to “The Natural Mattress Store”. After calling around, I discovered they had about 30 mattresses on display for me to test. I focused on their latex “Eco-Cloud” line called “Awareness”, which as you say, are quite expensive. The names aren’t that important, I just put them in here for reference - I tried out three of the Awareness mattresses, what they call medium, soft, and very soft. Each mattress is 9 inches thick, with 3 layers of 3 inches of latex each. The specs are as follows:

Medium mattress -

Top layer: Talalay, 22-28 ILD
Middle layer: Dunlop, 25-30 ILD
Bottom layer: Dunlop 40-49 ILD


Top layer: Talalay, 15-21 ILD
Middle layer: Dunlop, 25-30 ILD
Bottom layer: Dunlop 40-49 ILD

Very soft

Top layer: Talalay, 15-21 ILD
Middle layer: Talalay, 22-28 ILD
Bottom layer: Dunlop 35-39 ILD

Lots of interesting things to say about these configurations - but my major observation was that I preferred their medium model (going back to my old posts on this thread, you’ll recall my shoulder and neck issues, so I was thinking (as I was in other posts) that I would prefer the soft). After laying on my side for 15 mins or so, the medium seemed to hurt my shoulder the least. I still don’t fully understand why, but I’m guessing it may relate to what you mentioned earlier: on the softer mattresses, I’m sinking in to the next layer which is firmer. FWIW, they all felt like great mattresses. Only problem was the price (as you mentioned in your blurb) at $3200 for a king mattress.

That visit is what I needed though to visit Patrick at Community Mattress. Patrick does not have much of a display area - he has one or two latex mattresses on display. But he was great on the phone and when I showed up after an hour drive, he showed me around the “factory” a bit. It’s clear that Patrick has a formula that works, selling what he calls a “firm” latex mattress. I don’t recall the specs because I was more focused on getting something custom made. But he can make anything, so that’s great news.

So, this is where I would like to ask for some help. Based on what I found at the Natural Mattress store and Patrick’s ability to essentially custom build a full Talalay mattress, I wanted to see if you could help recommend a configuration. Patrick’s supplier can provide 6 or so different ranges of ILD Talalay latex levels, so there’s lots of flexibility. EDIT (to update numbers): Soft: 17-20, Medium Soft 21-24, Medium 25-28, Medium Firm 29-32, Firm 33-37, Extra Firm 38-42, and Extra Extra Firm 43+. So here’s what i was thinking, 3 layers of 3 inches each:

Top layer: Talalay, 22-28 ILD (eco-cloud) ==> Talalay, 21-24 ILD
Middle layer: Dunlop, 25-30 ILD (eco-cloud) ==> Talalay 25-28 ILD
Bottom layer: Dunlop 40-49 ILD (eco-cloud) ==> Talalay, 43+ ILD

I’m essentially just trying to replicate what I thought I liked in the eco-cloud as I don’t really have anything else to go on. What are your thoughts? Oh, one side note, I suppose on the middle layer, I could go a bit firmer since Dunlop tends to be firmer… but not sure. EDIT: My statement here is not completely accurate. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s going to make the best mattress for me. I like the 3 layer differential construction with 3 inches in each layer because it is more customized - of course, getting it right is going to be tough (which is one of the reasons why I am here). Similar reasoning with Talalay over Dunlop, while more expensive, it should allow for a better-customized “fit”. Though that’s an open question on the lower layers as they’re more support and less about point elasticity.

Then, final question, Patrick said that he prefers to glue all the layers together because it keeps the mattresses together better and that way you prevent imprints from being formed over time in the mattress. What are your thoughts on that? I ask, because I’d prefer to get the layers put in separately in zipper cases that way after 6 months if I want to change one of the layers, I can just buy it and swap it out…

Thanks for all your help - I’m looking forward to sleeping on a real bed!

Hi Eagle007,

You have a few challenges mainly because of multiple sleeping positions and because of the shoulder and back (assuming upper back?) issues.

Part of the difficulty here is that when someone sleeps on an old mattress that may not be creating good alignment … the body can get used to a certain sleeping position … even if it is not the best alignment. When this is the case then a mattress which allows for better alignment can actually create some temporary issues because the muscles and ligaments have become used to and tightened into an “out of alignment” position. These are the types of situations where there can be an adjustment period to a new mattress as the muscles and ligaments that are holding you in an “out of alignment position” become more relaxed and flexible. This can cause some temporary discomfort during the adjustment period. I have talked with chiropractors for example who recognize that sometimes a mattress that is not so suitable in the long term can actually be more comfortable in the short term because of the “memory” of the body and its tendency to hold itself in a less than ideal position. This is particularly true for people who are hunched over a computer for long periods of time.

Another common issue with upper back, neck, and shoulder issues is a pillow. If the head is not being held in good alignment it can easily create shoulder, neck, and upper back issues. When the head is too low … it can increase pressure on the shoulders. Too low or too high can also create neck and upper back issues. It is also often the case that a new mattress will allow a person to sink in to the mattress a different amount which can create a need for a new pillow to take this into account. A firm mattress for example which doesn’t allow for as much sinking in of the shoulders may need a thicker pillow but if someone switches to a mattress which allows the shoulders to sink in more … then a thinner pillow would likely be more appropriate. This is why its also important to test a mattress in the store with a pillow that keeps your head and neck in good alignment because otherwise a pillow issue may be translated as a mattress issue.

This is all preliminary to the question … what type of pillow did you test these mattresses with and could this be affecting how you perceive the comfort of the mattress? Assuming that the pillow was good and that you were fully relaxed on each mattress and reached a point of no muscle tension (which is likely because you mentioned that you spend 15 minutes on each one) … then the following comments would be my best suggestion.

My guess is that your shoulders are a fair bit wider than your hips and that they need to sink in enough to relieve pressure without compressing them. You are likely right that the softer latex on top allowed you to feel the layer underneath more because your “critical zone” is slightly more than 3". This was probable alleviated by the slightly firmer comfort layer which cushioned you or “isolated” you more from feeling the lower firmer layers without crossing your threshold for pressure relief. In other words it reduced your “critical zone” to about 3" which means that the lower layers can be firmer without affecting pressure relief.

Based on this … and again assuming that the issues of being fully relaxed on each version you tried and that the pillow was good … I would think that with a comfort layer of 21 - 24 you are probably OK with going a little firmer underneath and the advantage of this is that the firmer middle and lower layers would create better alignment on your back and even an occasional foray onto your stomach.

So my tendency would be to go with a slightly firmer middle layer of 29 - 32 which would also be closer to the 25 - 30 Dunlop in terms of support. The biggest difference between Dunlop and Talalay besides the difference in consistency of firmness across the surface and the ability to make Talalay softer than most Dunlop is the difference in support factor and this is the main reason why Dunlop in the same ILD as Talalay will feel firmer. It gets firmer faster with deeper compression. Talalay will have a support factor in the range of about 3 (it takes 3 times as much pressure to compress a 6" layer 65% than it does 25%) while most Dunlop is closer to 4 (the pressure needed to compress it 65% is about 4 times as much as 25% compression). This means that with 2 layers of the same ILD … with any compression more than 25% the Dunlop will be firmer.

In terms of gluing … If I was using a non zipper ticking and/or quilting … then I would glue the layers. Even though latex is very sticky … over time they can shift a little which can cause unevenness in the surface as the edges pull inwards. While this wouldn’t likely affect the actual latex … it could affect how the mattress feels. It will also create a very slightly firmer feel because when you compress it latex “pulls” in several directions beside just up and down like a piston and the gluing would affect the “sideways stretching” of the latex which would be more “held back” by the layer to which it was glued.

On the other hand, if I was using a zip cover … I would leave the layers unglued because the advantages of layer exchanges or substitutions over time and the ability to re-arrange the layers if they do shift would be more important to me than any possible advantages of gluing. While the goal of course is to choose the most accurate layering the first time … at least if the layers are unglued with a zipper cover it’s a lot less expensive and easier to correct any mistakes.

One final thought is to make sure you take into account any differences in ticking and quilting between your testing mattresses and the one you are constructing as this too will make a difference in how it performs and feels.

Hope this helps


Hi Phoenix,

That was really quite helpful - thanks!

On the relaxation and pillow notes, I did not bring my pillow along but on the other hand, I get regularly adjusted by a chiro due to my issues. So, the testing experience was not ideal, but as part of this mattress purchasing experience, I plan to test out a bunch of new pillows (including the ones you have recommended in your pillows post) to ensure I am getting the optimal pillow and mattress configuration. Luckily, they’re quite a bit less expensive than mattresses and easier to transport :slight_smile:

On another note, I just spoke with Patrick at Community Mattress and he is unable to use a zipper cover - which is my preference - because he got rid of his zipper machine many years ago. That leaves gluing it together, which I’m not thrilled about because I’d like the ability to adjust the layers over time. He is obviously able to just use a simple cloth, tempurpedic like cover that has no ticking or quilting on it. What do you think of that? Or, do you know if it is possible to purchase a zipper cover with quilting/ticking from somewhere and just have him use that (or just have me use that once the mattress is delivered) - and if so, where from?

Thanks again for your thoughts and time.

Hi Eagle007,

The two best places I know about for zip covers are …

A picture of the sleepez non quilted cover is here (except the lighting is off and it is actually off white). their picture on the site is actually not the right one and they will be changing it with some updates on their site.

There are a few other places but the covers are not the same quality and I believe it is worth having a high quality cover.

The advantage of a non quilted stretch knit cover is that it conforms to the shape of the latex better which can result in slightly better pressure relief. The advantage of having a wool quilting is that it is more breathable and wool helps to regulate temperature even though it slightly reduces the pressure relief of soft latex.

So you could choose the latex as “components” and put them in a zip cover purchased from elsewhere if Patrick is OK with that (he may need to sell it as a mattress). I would choose either quilted or unquilted depending on which one was closer to the testing prototype that worked for you at The Natural Mattress Store which looks to me like a wool quilted cover.


Phoenix, Once again, thanks for your help.

I had visited the SleepEZ website before, but this time I decided to call. I got talking to Sean (who is great, btw) and now I’m thinking it may just be easier to get everything from him - he didn’t sell me or anything, just seems easier from my perspective given he offers a great return program and would be shipping from out of state.

I had one question for you after my conversation regarding blended talalay and natural talalay. I just spent the past hour reading all the posts on the forum about blended talalay (search link is here: Blended Talalay ) and was wondering what your perspective was purely on point elasticity and support factor for blended 60/40 vs. natural (as is on the Sleep EZ site) - the discussions on durability and longevity etc seem pretty clear but i didn’t see much on the support factor.

Sean clearly thinks that blended 60/40 and natural are the same in terms of those factors and I think that blended has better durability based on what I read. What I’m thinking here, based on my reading and conversation with Sean, is to make the top layer natural and the middle and bottom layer blended. What do you think? Oh, btw, I don’t have a preference for organic vs. non-organic.

Thanks again for your help - I’m really starting to enjoy learning about all this stuff!

Hi eagle,

NR (natural rubber) is more elastic and denser than SBR (synthetic rubber) which is stiffer. Because of its greater elasticity many people will call it more “springy” and it would likely be a little bit more point elastic. The difference though would not be a lot.

Support factor has a lot to do with density and cell structure and the cell structure in the blended and natural talalay would be very similar but the natural would be more variable. Because of this the support factor would likely similar but the edge would go to the natural.

There is not a lot of technical information provided by the foam manufacturers about a lot of this regarding all the specs of each type of foam they produce so much of this is by implication or extrapolation from reading the more technical information that is available through some degree dissertations and various research papers and research results I have read that take some effort to find. I doubt though that most people who were testing out say a 3" layer of blended vs natural talalay would tell much of a difference in a blind test … even though there would be a slight difference between them.

One more interesting feature between the two is that natural rubber tends to soften with age and oxidation while SBR tends to become stiffer with age and oxidation. That’s because apparently the polymer cross links increase with SBR while they “break” and decrease with NR. This in theory could result in a more consistent level of softness for blended over time as part of it became firmer and part softer. This is theory though because I haven’t seen any specific information on this.

So overall the support factor of both should be roughly the same while the elasticity (and point elasticity) and the corresponding pressure relief of the natural would likely be slightly better even though they would both be very close. The durability of the NR would be less but this would hold more true in the softer versions where the lower density of softer talalay (thinner cell walls) in combination with its greater elasticity could work against it.

So overall I’m with Shawn that even though there may be a small difference it wouldn’t be very noticeable for most people in a blind test although they may feel a difference if they knew what to look for ahead of time. Of course the thicker the layer or layers of NR vs Blended the more noticeable the differences may be for some.

Like so many things … it’s always a tradeoff between what is most important for each person. The differences between Dunlop and Talalay are much more noticeable both in terms of feel and performance.



Wanted to give you an update on my mattress purchasing experience and then ask a question.

At the end of the day, back in mid-Jan or so, I bought a King mattress from SleepEZ with three layers at 3 inches each: Soft, Medium, Firm, as recommended by Shawn. The ILDs on these are around 20, 30, 40, respectively.

I got the mattress in boxes, a total of six pieces because I split the his and her’s sides (same ILDs, but wanted the flexibility to change for each person in the future). For the first 1 to 1.5 months I loved the mattress and was sleeping quite comfortably. I was thrilled with the decision.

It’s about then, I noticed that either a pit was forming in the mattress or the the layers were getting softer with use. I don’t know which one. If I compare one side vs the other (the soon to be wife has yet to move in so I have the benefit of comparing both sides as I only sleep on one side of the bed), the one side I sleep on is clearly softer and more indented than the other. If I try to identify causes: the bed platform is a very firm, wide-slatted system that supports the bed well (at least that’s the way it looks and feels). To test that, I even removed the mattress from the bed (its heavy!) and put it on the floor to see what would happen - it feels very similar and the differences between the two sides is still the same.

So, why do I care? Well, over the past two weeks, I’ve been waking up with lower back pain (sciatica) and I suspect it is because the mattress is no longer providing the support that I had gotten accustomed to. I can sorta just feel it.

So, I guess my more general question is: What should I do? and more specifically, is it common for a blended synthetic/natural latex mattress like this to develop such characteristics this early in the life of the mattress?

As always, thanks for your help

Hi Eagle007,

I wanted to bring up your stats to give some of this a context that may help.

First … ruling out “causes” one by one.

The first thing I would normally suggest … especially with a King Size mattress … would be to do what you have done and make sure that the support system was firm and not sagging. Latex will bend into and “follow” whatever sagging is underneath it. It appears though based on your floor testing that this is not the issue. I am assuming that the foundation is supported in the middle and that the slats are no more than 3" apart?

The second thing I would normally suggest also doesn’t appear to apply and this would be small visible indentations in the mattress caused by the wool compacting slightly. This would not cause the symptoms you are describing though in terms of softening and how you are sinking in.

There is also a possibility that each side is slightly different (one in the upper range and one in the lower range of the average ILD rating) and that it just took some time for a foam that was slightly softer to cause some “symptoms” although this too doesn’t seem to fit your description. If this was the case … then the comfort layer on the other side (that seems to take away your symptoms) would solve the problem but this is only if your side wasn’t actually softening and it just took a little time for symptoms to “appear” in combination with sciatica that was happening for “other” reasons.

When you are talking about a “pit” and being “indented” is this visible to you when you are off the mattress or is it just softening and can be felt when you are on the mattress. Can you see this as an indentation when the cover is off the mattress?

To answer your question though … while all foams will soften to some degree over time … latex does this much more slowly and to a lesser degree than other foams and to have softening or an indentation that was this noticeable this early in the life of your mattress would be very highly unusual. It would even be unusual with all natural latex. This is even more true because of your relatively lighter weight. I also know that subjective perceptions can also sometimes “translate” into objective perceptions if there are other reasons for what you are feeling but this too doesn’t seem to be the case here.

If this is clearly an issue with the mattress or one of it’s layers … then as low as the likelihood would be it could be an issue with the manufacturing or fabrication of the foam. Manufacturing latex is not so simple with either Dunlop or Talalay and it’s always possible that a batch gets through that is not up to “spec” in terms of durability. It would not be the first time I’ve heard of this (there have been several instances of this that I’ve been told about by manufacturers) although again it is very uncommon.

So I would first talk to Shawn and let him know what is happening. He will probably advise you to see if you can identify a visible sag of more than 1/4" and which layer it is in. To do this you may need to use a string pulled tight across the layers to see if you can identify a sag. A light straight edge (like a broom handle that was straight) laid across may also work. You may need to lay your top layer on the floor to do this so you can go from edge to edge on just your layer. You could also “flip” your side of the top layer head to foot and see if it still had the same problem or if the new position seemed to solve the problem for the moment. If it was in the foam itself … the odds are good that it would be in the top layer. The lower layers could also be the issue and I would pursue this if it seems that the top layer is fine although the odds are lower that this is the “source” of the problem.

The goal is to rule out any possibilities (in the mattress or externally) so that you don’t end up “fixing” the wrong problem. I would definitely call Shawn as well to see if this is an isolated instance or if others have noticed the same thing (which would make it easier to identify as a manufacturing issue).

Hope this helps … and let us know what happens.


Yes on both the middle support and the 3" apart - kinda funny you mention that because that’s exactly what this slat system does. I will try to link a pic to the bed. If it was the slatting system, wouldn’t I feel that within a day or two as opposed to one month?

I actually talked to Shawn a week or so ago and he told me to check this out. This is not the issue as I unzipped and fluffed the wool cover to make sure.

I don’t see a visible pit or indentation. I also compare against the other side of the bed, but that’s tough to do because the bed is split and the foam layers don’t connect perfectly, if that makes sense.

Got it thanks. Let me try all that and report back

Hi Eagle007,

It is not unusual for the long term effect of a new mattress or base to take longer to become evident in either a “good” or a “not so good” direction, especially with people who have pre-existing challenges. Sometimes small differences “accumulate” and then down the road we begin to notice symptoms. This would be similar but in the opposite direction to adjusting to a new mattress that was uncomfortable at first and then after the adjustment period becoming “perfect”. This would also be similar to someone who sees improvement when they sleep in a hotel bed for a night or a few nights but doesn’t do so well with it in the long term when they end up buying it.

Do you have the “bendable” slats or the firm flat type of slats?

One of the members here … SleeplessinDallas … needed to change her slat system from a flexible version to a firm version which made a real difference in back issues for both her and her husband (although her mattress and issues were different and she has gone through a long “mattress saga” over a period of years which is close to a solution but still needs a bit of tweaking at last report).

So the basic idea is one step at a time (and not too many at a time or changes that follow each other too quickly in case your “reaction” to it takes a few days) to “eliminate” the possibilities until the one that is the cause becomes evident.


Hi Phoenix,

Oh, I understand now what you are saying. The pain or benefit may take some time to build up and for the full impact to be felt. What I meant by “wouldn’t I feel that within a day or two” was wouldn’t I feel the sagging or the pitting within a day or two or even a week. I would expect that if the support is not there from underneath, the foam would fall through and create a pit that I could feel within a relatively short period of time. The impact on my body may take quite some time from there. I didn’t feel any sagging or pitting for about 1 month, maybe 1.5 months. From the time I did it feel it though, I didn’t feel any pain until several weeks after.

In terms of the slatting system and bed, I don’t think it is that flexible as I have used those before and they tend to bend quite a bit. This is what I have (i got it second hand, but it still works great):

overview of bed

and the pic here has a much better image of what it looks like:

close-up pic

Hi Eagle007,

What a gorgeous bed and design!

It’s hard to tell from a picture how much it may be flexing in response to your weight on the mattress but from your description it seems to me that there was a clear “change” that wouldn’t likely have much to do with the slatted bed and it also seems like the bed wouldn’t be the “culprit” in terms of softening.

There also seems to be some degree of optional support adjustment in the bed though based on reading this “Ideal mattress ventilation is achieved through the use of spacers, their number depending on the weight to be supported” but I’m not clear how this works.

I was thinking that perhaps you were just a bit “out of alignment” all along and that once you noticed discomfort you became sensitized to a softness under your hips that was always there and only began to notice it then but this too doesn’t appear to be the case.

So the next steps would be to call Shawn for his suggestions and to begin to track down where the cause of the softening may be … starting with the top layer. An idea may be to exchange the top two layers to see if the “fresh” side has the same problem when it is on the two other layers on the side you are sleeping on and/or whether her side with your top layer has the same issue.


Sorry for the delay in the response and thanks for the compliment on the bed. It is actually a pretty neat bed, the way it works with the slat systems and all.

I wanted to make sure I checked-in and gave an update on what’s going on with this.

So, after this exchange here, I called Shawn. I was worried about the timing on the warranty and he said not to worry about it that whatever happened he would make sure we got it right. That’s very kind of him to offer that since I knew the swap out warranty expired after 90 days. Next, he had the suggestion of laying out the two top layers on the floor and trying to see how that would feel. It was really tough to tell the difference… so then I proceeded with what you suggested before in terms of swapping the layers out.

Anyway, I first swapped out the top layer between sides. On about the third or fourth night I started getting pain in the lower back. So, I swapped those layers back to the original config and then I swapped out the middle layers between sides. And that’s where I’ve been for the past month. No problems to report.

So, the question now is, what next? The last time around (from mid-Jan to about mid-march or so - not exact on the dates), it took about 1.5-2 months to notice any issues. So, I was going to wait that long again to see what would happen. If after three months had gone by with no issues, I was then going to swap back to the original config and see what would happen. If the pain returned, I was then going to swap out the last layer to see what would happen then. I’m just trying to be exhaustive here in making sure the middle layer is the culprit.

I’m open to ideas and suggestions though. Thanks

Hi Eagle007,

OK … lets see if I have the dots connected correctly.

Top layer:

It seems to me that both top layers led to the same issue (although the switched one took about 3-4 days to show up again) and that you didn’t notice any obvious difference on the floor. While this is not “proof positive” … it seems to me that the top layers are not the issue.

Second layer.

You switched the two second layers and you have been sleeping on this for a month and no problems to report. It seems to me that since you were already sensitized to the probable out of alignment condition and that it only took 3-4 days to notice again when you switched the top layers … that the alternative second layer has corrected the problem. What I would suggest is switching the middle layers back again (or perhaps in another two weeks at most but I would probably do it now) and if the pain returns then the odds are very high that the problem has been identified. I seriously doubt it would be the bottom layers and I don’t think it’s worth messing with them at this point when the odds are better that it is the middle layer.

What may have happened is that the two middle layers are slightly different (latex layers are not exactly the same firmness ) and that the softer one is putting you just barely over the threshhold of being out of alignment and causing the issue (which probably took some time to show up along the lines of what I mentioned before because it was just a little out). If you switch back this should show up fairly quickly once again if this is the case.

Of course there is always the possibility that it is something other than the middle layer (and possibly not even the mattress) and that the feeling of sleeping in a “pit” is because of some temporary change, strain, or tension in your back where what was OK at first is now uncomfortable and feels like you are sinking in too far but it seems to me that this too is not as good a possibility as the middle layer being the “culprit”. Switching back would likely confirm this and if the pain returns fairly quickly it would seem to point to the middle layer being the issue. If it doesn’t … it would seem to point to other causes (because the layering would be the same as the layering you had with the pain).

If it turns out to be one of the middle layers … then an exchange for a layer that was rated the same but was a little firmer in the range (and Shawn could likely hand select this) would likely solve the problem.


Great list of stores in the area, it seems like Baybed is a good local source but they have very little on their website. Are there specific products they make that you feel are a reason they are a good value local provider? I live a few hours away and can make the trip down, but want to ensure it’s worthwhile.

Hi mvbed,

As you can see in mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here … I don’t recommend any specific mattresses for people because there are too many variables and unknowns involved for someone else to know which mattress may be the most suitable for a particular person based only on “theory at a distance”.

You will find though that the “norm” for a manufacturer is that their entire mattress lineup would have similar “value” although some of the higher budget mattresses also tend to have a slightly higher margin. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy any mattress made by one of the members here if it was suitable in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) and if it was the best match for my personal value equation (all the objective, subjective, and intangible factors that are part of every mattress purchase that are most important to me)…

When you are considering visiting a local manufacturer or retailer … I would always talk with them first on the phone as a matter of course (whether they are local or involve a drive) to ask any preliminary questions that may be important to you and to get a better sense of what they offer and their overall approach with customers. You will find that Dan is very knowledgeable, open and transparent about what he makes and then you can decide based on the phone conversation whether the trip would be worthwhile but as you probably know … Bay Bed and Mattress is among the manufacturing members here which means I consider them to be among the best quality/value in the country.