Phoenix, help me to rise from the ashes of burned money!

This will be my 5th new mattress in less than a year and I’d like your insight. Of course I just discovered your website recently else I might not be $ 1,800 in the hole. After reading through your whole website, I’ve decided to make my own mattress. The plan is a king size four layer, zoned latex. The layers will be:

Top: 2" Blended Talalay 22-24 ILD
2nd: 2" Dunlop 30-32 ILD
3rd: 2" Blended Talalay 22-24 ILD
4th: 3" Dunlop 38-40 ILD
Foundation: European Slatted with adjustable firmness.

The plan is to try this and if it doesn’t work:

  1. Adjust firmness with slats
  2. Re-arrange layers
  3. Cut 2 middle layers and zone them (which is what I think I need but don’t want to cut anything unless all else fails) e.g. Dunlop under hips on 2nd layer.
  4. Repeat if necessary

Now to a little background. My wife can sleep on anything, so she’s not part of the equation. I’m 6’3", 200#, 51" around the shoulders, 36" waist, 41" hips, 31" from top of head to belly button. I measure 4.5" from shoulder to armpit. I sleep best on my right side in a fetal position with arms shoulder height or less but sometimes end up on my back if uncomfortable. I enjoy a soft bed but my back requires firm. Pillows are not part of the problem.

My saga began with a Sleep Number Bed. I was okay on it until I started going to the Chiropractor (the bed may have been part of the cause.) He told me that it was the worst bed for my back & swore by Tempurpedic. After a few months of visits, I finally acquiesced and took the plunge. I asked him which model to buy & he said just don’t get the thin one for teens. So I figured it didn’t matter since they were all supposed to provide good support so I got the softest, the Cloud Luxe. What an eye opening! I couldn’t sleep for two weeks. The smell finally went away and I started to wear a t-shirt to insulate me from the heat so finally was able to sleep on it but for only 3-4 hours then I’d wake up with such a sore back I couldn’t fall back to sleep. When I slept it was deep, good sleep but not enough.

I traded that in after 23 days (the store required a minimum of 21) and for $175 could get something equal or greater in price which pretty much only left the Allura. Of course, nobody wants to spend that much for a mattress, especially me, but at that point, I would have paid more for a decent night’s sleep. Well, after two weeks of getting used to the mattress, (same smell, heat, etc.) I couldn’t sleep on my side, only my back which is isn’t long or deep. I couldn’t get comfortable because it was so firm but I could jump out of bed in the morning without a sore muscle in my body.

It was against the store’s written policy, but they let me trade in and down after 39 days so I went for the medium Cloud Supreme for another $175 fee to get the best of both worlds. Instead, I got the worst of both for it wasn’t comfortable enough & my back hurt. I tried pillows under my side, an old 2" feather topper and flipping it over but nothing worked. After 5 months of that torture, I called an old friend to see what kind of mattress they had for I had slept on it 10 years ago and that was the last night I’d remembered sleeping through. They said they just bought a new mattress and that they no longer make the old one but their new one was just as good. So I went to a different store where you can get your money back within 100 days and bought that mattress; a Simmons Beautyrest 800 pocketed coil plush and a 1.5" foam topper like my friend recommended. If this worked I’d try selling the Supreme, if not, I’d get my money back & suffer on the Supreme. Well, after sleeping on pillows, 2" feather topper + the foam pad, cardboard, and roll pillow under mattress I finally have managed to sleep a little, not much but at least not too sore. (Right now I have the foam & feather toppers with the roll pillow under the mattress under my hips.) I managed to sell the Supreme for a nice loss. This is where your website came in.

Now that I know a little, I am quite sure I need a soft bed for my shoulders and firmer under my hips. I laid across two scales and my hips weigh 130# while my shoulders weigh 70# so I’m guessing I need 35% more firmness in the hip area. My chiropractor says I’m the only one he knows who doesn’t like the Tempurpedic but after reading reviews, I know better. If I could splice the Luxe to the Allura, it would be perfect except for the heat. I tried lying on the tranquilitymattress 2" Talalay over 6" Dunlop which seemed okay but needed more comfort layer. I also tried their all Talalay mattresses but my hips seemed to sink too much. I sent in my measurements to customsleepdesign but I don’t hold out much hope of a reasonable price. I think Latex is the way to go but am not sure if my design is feasible. So, Phoenix, what do you think? My 100 days are slipping past so I need to get this ordered.

Hi havesyama,

I should ask what model of Simmons did you get (there’s several plush models with different amounts and layers of foam over the coils) and did you try the Simmons by itself with no toppers and how did it feel? The reason I’m asking is to see if I can get a sense how a non zoned mattress may work for you (since there seems to be a version that worked).

The first comment I would make is that I’m a big fan of simple over complex … especially with latex which can accommodate a wide variety of different needs because of it’s combination of point elasticity, softness, and progressive firmness as you sink deeper. Because of this … zoning is less necessary than with other materials. That’s not to say that zoning can’t result in greater “accuracy” or be very valuable in certain circumstances … but that outside of the simplest types of zoning … it can lead to levels of complexity where all the variables (of how a mattress and a body interact) can become impossible to predict without the guidelines of personal testing on known materials.

In the same spirit … any ideas I may have are best used as places to begin and validate through testing rather than as specifics that can predict which layering scheme will work best for any individual. These guidelines are based on layering that has the greatest odds of success for most people but don’t deal with the many unique variables of each person’s body shape, weight distribution, sleeping position variations, and the surface area of each part of the body that comes into contact with the mattress as they sink deeper into the layers of a mattress. In other words … there are so many variables in how each person sinks into a mattress and when each surface area begins to bear weight until the body comes to rest that guidelines can really only be validated with testing.

If someone tests a particular layout and there are certain symptoms connected with that layering (such as pressure in a certain area or clear alignment issues) … then it is fairly easy to suggest alterations that can move pressure relief or alignment in a certain direction or at least identify the tradeoffs involved in any changes … but to go from initial guidelines to a final outcome without any testing in between has to rely on averages and general information only. The good news is that because of the flexibility of latex … averages will lead to good choices for most people most of the time.

In your case … the odds are good that you will need more than 3" and maybe closer to 4" for your comfort “zone” to accommodate your much wider shoulders. This means that I would likely put a 3" layer of 24 into the mix and then instead of putting firm underneath it I would put medium to give the comfort layer a little extra effective depth. Depending on any testing I would even consider 19 in the top layer to let your shoulders sink in a little more since you hips will sink through both of them anyway. I would then go as firm as possible under this. The layers you have would give you a 4" soft layer on top and if you went in this direction I would go firm extra firm underneath it because the 4" would probably be enough by itself and my focus would be on “stopping” the hips beyond this point and a transition layer wouldn’t be as necessary. I think the 3" top layer approach would be more effective.

In terms of zoning, I would choose whether this was going to be your overall approach first (rather than after) because it would change my choices. I would then need to order different ILD’s and I would also need to plan where I wanted to make the cuts and figure out how to do the zoning with the least amount of wasted material (the zones may not work out exactly to the length of a layer and you may end up with odd pieces). I would also have a clear sense of the different feel between Dunlop and Talalay and take both the differences in their feel and the differences in their progressive compression into account.

For a 3 zone where the middle zone is firmer … the goal is to “stop” the hips/pelvis and I would probably order a zoned 6" core with a middle section firmer. This would have a fairly small zone differential but it would help the hips stay higher. If I went with manual zoning, I would still use only 2 or 3 layers and you could decide on the degree of zoning you wanted (and how much material you may waste) by deciding whether to zone either the middle or bottom layer or both (or have a single zoned core). You could use a top 3" layer of 19 and then zone the layers below this to create a firmer center zone under the pelvis. For example you could put a 3" layer of 32 under the pelvis for the middle third in the middle layer and then extra firm in a full 3" layer below this. Under the top and bottom sections (under the upper torso and under the legs) in the middle layer you could put 24 - 28 and go as firm as possible under this as well. If you thought you needed more zoning differential yet … you could also zone the bottom layer. As you can see the manual zoning approach can end up using partial layers and can lead to some wasting of materials … or at least deciding where to use the unused parts of layers and deciding where to put them where they will have the least effect. For this reason I would tend to go with pre-zoned cores or at the very least plan the zoning carefully ahead of time.

If I went to a 2 zone layering scheme and focused on zoning the top layers and “allowing” the shoulders instead of “stopping the hips” I would order enough material to put a partial 2" layer of 19 under the shoulders to around the bottom of the rib cage, followed by a slightly firmer 2-3" layer of say 24 and then I would firm it up quickly below that. Under the hips I would probably start with 24 for the rest of the top 2" layer and then go with a little firmer for the bottom part of the second 2-3 " layer (say about 32) and then go quickly firmer under that as well (unzoned layer below that and probably a single layer).

The most important part of all of this is I would decide whether to go with zoning first because it will affect the layers I would order over an unzoned system and I would map the zones out carefully and possibly decide whether to use the excess material somewhere in the mattress where it would have the least negative effect or build in some waste as part of getting the zoning as close as possible.

When you are zoning … bear in mind that the hips/pelvis area is heavier but also has a larger surface area to spread the weight out. Even though the shoulders are supporting less weight … they can sink in more easily because the weight is also spread across less surface area. Once the upper torso comes into contact with the mattress … then this changes and the lighter weight is spread out over a much larger surface area and is effectively “stopped” more rapidly. Slight changes in different versions of side sleeping can change the surface area of the shoulders that are in contact with the mattress and how far they may sink in.

Because of the complexity involved I’m not sure I would be going in the direction of a complete DIY from scratch because it could get quite expensive when you can’t return your layers or if an ideal zoning pattern ends up with unused partial layers. Both of these are especially true when you are tending towards complex layering and zoning patterns which have many variables. I think the odds are very high that without having a model that you have tested and have specific information about as a prototype (either for your shoulders in terms of how they sink in to different depths and ILD’s and how your hips are “stopped” with different firmness levels), there’s a pretty good chance that you will end up wanting to change layers and this could become an expensive exercise in “mattress construction theory” as it relates to your particular needs and preferences. IMO … the simpler the layering … the greater the odds of success.

I think that without having tested mattresses that have simple constructions and known details and that use the same materials as you are considering … then your best odds are to go with an outlet that either allows returns or where you can exchange layers. I have seen too many complex DIY projects using expensive non returnable materials that don’t take into account all the variables or have little personal testing experience behind them go sour and end up costing far more than any potential savings if there are no layer exchange possibilities. These are great if they are done in the spirit of fun and there are no regrets about any mistakes that are made and the cost of mistakes along the way … but if they are done with the idea that more layers or greater complexity allows for greater “accuracy” without knowing exactly the most effective way of using the extra layers then it could lead to a level of complexity that is difficult to predict without the guidance of someone who designs mattresses similar to what you are considering every day.

I would also avoid firmer layers over softer layers because it doesn’t take full advantage of the natural strengths of latex. It’s great as a fine tuning adjustment if you need it after a purchase but I wouldn’t “design it in”.

Overall … based on the fact that you are in a hurry and that you will need to do a lot of testing and learn a lot of theory in order to “translate” your testing … I would tend to go with an actual manufacturer rather than try to get there on your own.


First, thanks for the quick, detailed response. The Simmons is the 11" Beautyrest Classic Firm Plush. It is way too firm to sleep on without a topper. I wouldn’t call it “working for me”, more like barely bearable but definitely not acceptable. I have never slept all night on latex, but just trying it in the store, it also cannot comfort me enough and support me enough at the same time. Of course, I haven’t tried all the possible combinations but I am 99% positive that I need different firmness levels under my hips. I got my Customsleepdesign profile back also, which pretty much agreed with my findings (they’re showing soft over medium over extra firm on the shoulders and medium over firm over extra firm under the hips with the split 40" in the middle and 35/45 on top; though there’s no way I’ll pay that much again for a mattress.)
That being said, I am still open to trying something else, but first, a few more questions. If the top layer is split and not glued, either as a vertical or horizontal zone, will it affect the comfort or durability? Same thing on bottom, will this affect support? I’m also leery of zoning it in half for the wife likes to come to the middle and I’m afraid of the gap between sides. This is one reason I was going to use a 2" solid layer on top. Second, the adjustable slat foundation seems to work for fine tuning alignment as proven by my roll pillow experiment under an 11" innerspring. To me it seems better to go a little too soft and correct it this way, than to try to make it softer if it is too firm. Have you had any experience using this foundation? (I’m looking at the IKEA one but any one using the same principle will work.)
My original design was for a 2" 14 ILD blended Talalay top, but after talking to the guy at Sleepez, he said they had durability issues with anything 19 and under so that’s why I went with the 22. You also said two layers are softer than one of the same thickness, so I was going to have two, 2" layers of the 22 ILD Talalay under my shoulders, then 2" of the Dunlop 30-32 ILD for you said that increased in firmness with compression. That would give me about a 5" comfort layer for my shoulders. My hips would have the 2" 22T, 2"30-32D, 2"22T. Then the support would be one piece, like the top, of the 3" Dunlop 38-40. I figured it would be more economical to order 4 king size pieces and split two of them in half than to order custom cut or Twin XL. I went with 2" layers because you said 3x3" layer didn’t have enough flexibility. I put the softer layer under the firmer layer under the hips to keep the layers equal. Anyway, that was my vision, I was just going to try the other things first.
Another idea might be to order a split king with the different firmness sleepdesigns recommended for the wife that way I’d have more firmness levels to choose from and exchange. But, again, I’m leery of falling down the middle.
Where do you get a prezoned 6" core? Are they glued together?
I’m in a hurry to get the initial bed so I can return the other one but the final tuning I know will take time.

Thanks again.

Hi havesyama,

OK … that makes sense. If it’s 11" then it’s one of the firmer models and most people would would definitely need a topper for comfort for side sleeping.

This would probably depend on the layering because latex has an unusual ability to do both with good layering … but you may well be correct.

This is fairly much in line with what we were discussing in the last post. Duplicating this though could be an expensive proposition. You would need a soft layer, a medium layer, a firm layer, and an extra firm layer and then if it wasn’t correct you would need to make adjustments either with what you had left over if possible or buy new layers.

You won’t feel the places where the latex is cut either side to side or top to bottom and it won’t affect the mattress or the support at all (the zoning actually improves support) but if you are in the middle of the mattress in a side to side spit you may feel the difference in the transition between the sides. There’s no gap though.

I would DEFINITELY not build a mattress too soft on purpose. You can fix a mattress that’s too firm but it’s very difficult to fix a mattress that’s too soft. The tension adjustable slats can do some fine tuning (and they work better on thinner mattresses than thicker) but even firming up the lumbar area doesn’t fully correct a mattress that is too soft. the tension adjustable base has a primary effect on alignment and a secondary effect on pressure relief. there are also more expensive tension adjustable slats that are softer in the shoulder area to help accommodate wider lighter shoulders. I don’t have any direct experience with their base but I think it’s very good value for the money. they can be a little time consuming to put together apparently but that shouldn’t be a problem.

There are mixed opinions about the very soft talalay and other manufacturers have no hesitation using it. While all foam that is at the very softest end of a range will not be as durable as firmer foam (mechanical compression is part of what wears out a foam) I also think there are benefits to having it available when it is appropriate. 19 ILD blended Talalay may also be a good choice. Dunlop does have a higher sag factor which means that it gets firmer faster as you sink into it that talalay that has the same ILD. It also has a different feel though and I would make sure that you are comfortable with this as well.

I’m not sure how you’re getting to 5". It looks to me like you are looking at …

layer 1: 2" 22 ILD
layer 2: head third Talalay 22 ILD, middle third Dunlop 30-32 ILD, foot third Talalay 22 ILD
Layer 3: ???
Layer 4: 38 - 40 ILD

I’m not sure how mixing Talalay and Dunlop in the same layer would feel. This would give me some pause and I personally wouldn’t do it or choose to go in a direction with that much difference between it and the 22 ILD but your own testing will confirm how you feel about it.

I’m not sure where you read that I think 3x3 inch layers don’t have enough flexibility. I actually think the opposite. As I mentioned before … I also wouldn’t put 22 ILD in layer 3 under firmer foam unless it was somewhere that it really didn’t make any difference.

I don’t know where you’re planning to order the foam from but there aren’t a lot of places where you can exchange bare layers of latex. I’d make sure you can do this … especially after you’ve cut it into zones. Perhaps I’m just not understanding how you plan to order the foam.

You can buy cores that have been zoned when it’s poured and/or through fabrication afterwards. An example of a zoned dunlop core is here (although this is mostly SBR Dunlop which is certainly inexpensive but not my favorite choice and the zoning doesn’t have a wide spread). A search on zoned latex will show many different types of zoned core options. SleepEz may also have a zoned dunlop core available as do many manufacturers.

I may be misunderstanding exactly what you are trying to do and where and how you plan to buy your latex but I see many warning signs in some of your directions. I would also be very hesitant with some of your design in the absence of some specific testing that can validate that it will work for you. I would hate to see you try to save some money only to have this project cost you more than working with a manufacturer.


I’m not sure where you read that I think 3x3 inch layers don’t have enough flexibility. I actually think the opposite. As I mentioned before … I also wouldn’t put 22 ILD in layer 3 under firmer foam unless it was somewhere that it really didn’t make any difference.

See: Putting the layers together – Progressive construction/Disadvantages/third sentence:
The most common “do it yourself” construction of three x three inch layers that progress from soft to medium to firm on the bottom for example will often not allow enough variation in layer thickness (which determines how much they “borrow” from the layer below) to be easily customized to an individual. This can lead to endless “adjustments” that can be much more complex in their effect than the customer trying to adjust the mattress may initially believe … even with high quality materials.

This was why I went with the two inch layers.

I don’t think the zoned core with work for me.

Anyhow, what I want most is flexibility in case something doesn’t work. The latest, greatest idea I’ve come up with is to order the 13,000 King from sleepez. I get four 3" layers with four firmness choices for each layer on each side (. I also can pick between Dunlop, Talalay or Blended Talalay and mix or match. (so theoretically, I could have 8 layers, 4 Dunlop 4 Talalay in 4 firmness’s each ) I also can exchange a layer on each side if need be. So I’m thinking I can try it normal and see if it works. If not, I can adjust with the slat foundation. If that doesn’t work I can turn the bed sideways and try zoning it without any cuts to get a feel for different combinations. If that works I can cut if necessary and/or exchange then turn the bed back normal. What do you think of this idea and what type of laytex would you use in each of the layers? I know you’re a fan of 2 or 3 layers but I’m thinking I’ll have more options this way and an extra support layer can’t hurt.

Hi havesyama,

I see where your thought came from. The quote you are making is in reference to the difference between progressive constructions and differential constructions and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of construction. It refers to the effect of layer thickness itself rather than the actual number of layers (in this case 3) being the disadvantage. The importance of layer thickness in the comfort layers and construction of a mattress is often underestimated. Layer thickness can be just as important as layer firmness.

To put what you are saying in it’s larger context … here’s the whole paragraph.

So the main point of progressive construction is that it’s complexity can make it more difficult but more accurate if all the many variables (many that many people may not even think about) aren’t taken into account. If someone chooses a mattress where an adjustment or layer exchange is needed that would be best approached with a change in layer thickness … then a change in layer firmness may not have the effect they are looking for. My concern was that you are taking the progressive concept (using thinner layers that are more affected by the layers above and below them) which can already be more complex and difficult and using it to a more extreme degree with your greater number of thinner layers and this can make getting to your goal much more technical, difficult and confusing. This is especially true if you don’t know what you don’t know (the things you wouldn’t even ask about).

In addition to this … you are also using some other non traditional zoning approaches which are rather unusual and adds to the complexity even more and that may negatively affect how you feel about your mattress when it comes together.

With the level of complexity and unusual (and possibly less effective) approaches you are taking … my thoughts are that you may be increasing the odds significantly that you may be disappointed and then not know what to change or adjust to make it better. I’ve seen too many people with less complex approaches that you are taking end up trying to do it on their own without the help of a manufacturer and end up spending much more money than they ever thought they would. In your case this holds true even more because it appears that you haven’t done the specific testing which may indicate which type of layering may work best for you and are relying mostly on the idea that the more layers you have then the more likely it may be that you can rearrange them (or zone them) in some way that will work. This isn’t necessarily the case and in some cases it works in the opposite way.

So hopefully this has helped a little to clarify what you were quoting was referring to and some of the risks your overall approach may involve.

The title of your thread was “Phoenix, help me to rise from the ashes of burned money!” and my sense of things was that your approach may be heading in that direction (and the increased frustration that may come from it) more than you may realize.


Thanks for the response. For some reason I wasn’t notified about it.
Also, this is my third try to post so I’m trying from a differennt source.

I went down to the store and spent more time analyzing the different latex.
No matter what the combinations, they weren’t going to work as is. The
closest to liking any of them would be the tranquilitymattress 9" Serenity.
My shoulders weren’t comfortable enough and my hips sank too much but the
overall feel was good. I asked for the specs. but they didn’t have them.
It is 100% Talalay and guessing by feel it is 2.5" soft over 6" medium core.
I think a softer top under the shoulders would be more comfortable. The
customsleepdesign is showing 2" of 19 over 3" of 24 under the shoulders and
2" of 28 over 3" of 32 under the hips. This sounds about right, so I think
I’ll give them a try if I can get a reasonable quote. I don’t relish the
thought of paying that much again, but after pricing it out, I think you may
be right. At least I’ll be able to change things if they are not right.
Wish me luck and thanks for the advice.

Hi Havesyama,

The Serenity is likely 3" of “soft” Talalay (which is likely about 19-24 ILD) over 6" of medium (based on your testing) which would probably be 28 - 32 ILD) but of course this is a guess without their specs. Did you happen to try the Nobility which has the same comfort layer (3" of soft talalay) but a firmer Dunlop latex support core (which would keep your hips up higher but may give you similar pressure relief depending on how far into the dunlop layer you sink). The difference between them could provide valuable information which “points” in the right direction.

[quote]My shoulders weren’t comfortable enough and my hips sank too much but the
overall feel was good. I asked for the specs. but they didn’t have them.
It is 100% Talalay and guessing by feel it is 2.5" soft over 6" medium core.[/quote]

What this would generally point to would be either a slightly softer and probably a slightly thicker comfort layer (say 4") with a firmer support core underneath it (which could be either firmer talalay or dunlop which would allow less sinking in but has a less lively feel). The thicker/softer comfort layer would help your shoulders sink in more and the firmer support core would “stop” the hips sooner so they were more in balance. Another option in this same general direction would be to use a 3 zone Dunlop support core which has slight zoning (usually around 4 ILD difference) but could help move you in the right direction. If you went with a 3" comfort layer then it would still leave room to add a topper if you needed it. It may be well worthwhile to talk with some of the other online outlets and see what they have available in zoned cores.

Ikea also has a 6" 85% natural 7 zoned mattress and if you lie on this and it seemed like your alignment was OK (I’m not sure what the zones are) then a topper on this may also work.

Of course the odds of the best success are still with a manufacturer like Custom Sleep where you can be confident that you will get it just right and you would be able to exchange layers if they weren’t but as you know this also carries a higher price.

If you were to try to “somewhat” duplicate this layering with only a little waste … you could buy a 6" core of 36 ILD talalay and then buy a three 2" layers of 19 ILD, 24 ILD, and 32 ILD. This would give you the material to put a 2" top layer of 19 ILD under the shoulders and 24 under the hips and then a second layer of 2" of 24 under the shoulders and 32 under the hips (you’d be a little short on the 24 ILD but you could cut and glue some 19 onto one of the ends). The layer of 36 would go under this. While this wouldn’t be the same, it would be much more to buy the exact same layer ILD and thickness … and this would at least be in the same general direction. The risk of course is that if it didn’t work then there would be quite an additional expense to buy new layers. The more you are able to test specific layers and ILD’s … the less the risk.

If there are any local manufacturers in your area (which I’m assuming is Houston and that you’ve seen the thread), I would also talk with them as well to see if they can do a custom build with the materials and layers you may want. They may not be able to but it would be worth a call to find out.

I think that with some careful testing you may be able to put some layers together that would work but it will take some good planning and research.


Yes, I did. It had the same problems with alignment.

I don’t how much more research I can do, but it’s a mote point anyway, for I already ordered it from CSD. I went to Ikea for the first (and last) time to get that slatted foundation but returned it after I ordered the bed for it would only save me a little money and I was thinking that even though I could tweak things, that would probably be all I’d be doing just to get it flat. I don’t see why anyone would shop there. Not only is their stuff ugly and proprietary (their foundations only fit their bases, they make you walk through the whole store and then I had to spend 15 minutes waiting on a clerk to fill out a pull ticket, then it took them 50 minutes to pick it and bring it out. Surprisingly, it only took 10 minutes to return. They make me ashamed to be part Swedish.

Anyway, I’ll let you know in 4 weeks how things turn out. Thanks for the dedication and time.

Hi havesyama,

I think you made an excellent choice and in spite of the more premium price of your mattress you probably saved yourself a great deal in terms of time, comfort, frustration … and perhaps even money as well.

I know I may have sounded a little harsh but I clearly sensed that IMO your odds were quite high that your previous experiences could be repeated not so much because of poor quality mattresses (you were looking at high quality materials) but from a design that may not work for you as well as you wanted and needed. I also got a clear sense that you were more of an exception that falls outside of the “averages” of most people and this can make the design of your mattress much more difficult (and more difficult than most people suspect)

I feel good that your odds are exceptionally high that your choice is what you were looking for and the fact that you can exchange layers if they’re not is a further bonus. I hope you mentioned that you are a member here so that you received your discount.

I’m looking forward to your feedback when you get the mattress and have a chance to sleep on it as well.


Well I ordered a mattress from Custom Sleep Design but after two months of lies, he couldn’t deliver (I’m still waiting to see my money credited to my credit card) so I had to quick order the SleepEZ 13000 mattress with split sides. I ordered both sides with soft, med. , firm, and ex. firm and have been trying to re-arrange the layers and even cut some to try to approximate the CSD design. Unfortunately, the design called for a 2" layer on top while I only have 3" layers and the ILDs were slightly different. It also sleeps warm which I was very surprised to find. They said blended and natural Talalay feel the same but I’m not sure I believe them. I have one more combo I can try before I start from scratch and make a twin from what I have now for the boys and order the exact layers from Sleep Like a Bear or go with a Serta Icomfort Prodigy and use pillows under the hips. BTW, this is the first mattress my wife didn’t like (I’m not sure I like it either. I liked the feel of my first Tempurpedic, but not the heat or sore back. A friend has the Serta and says it’s not hot so I’m leaning that way right now. Anyway, just thought I’d let you know how it’s going. I guess I’m not done bleeding money.

Hi havesyama,

I’m sad to hear about the delays in receiving your mattress (and refund) from CSD. This is the second comment I have heard about delays. I will phone him to find out what the current status is with mattress deliveries and/or refunds and post here with the results of my conversation (it may not happen till after the holiday).

Because your needs and preferences (and your approach to mattress purchasing) may be “outside the norm” as I mentioned in earlier posts … it doesn’t surprise me that more “standard” layering doesn’t fit what you are looking for. While re-arranging layers or exchanging layers may still find the best layering combination possible … it wouldn’t duplicate the zoning of the CSD design (which you haven’t tried anyway so this may be a moot point). I believe it would be worthwhile to go a little slower though and take advantage of the benefits of layer exchanges and/or advice from Shawn before cutting latex, losing the ability to exchange the layers, and even worse … starting all over again with a new mattress and possibly repeating the very same cycle that led you to the forum in the first place. Layer thickness is just as important as layer firmness levels and with only 3" layers and different ILD’s it would not be possible to “duplicate” the CSD design (and even the CSD design may have needed some exchanges depending on your experience) but making adjustments or working with the possibilities you have would seem preferable to starting all over again with a new mattress that may or may not start the same repeating cycle of disappointment all over again. Don’t forget that you have already gone through 5 mattresses in a year and this may indicate that you are either making choices too impulsively or quickly or “starting all over again” at the first sign that something may not be quite right or “as expected” and without giving yourself enough time to really know if what you have is what you need (all new mattresses have an adjustment period).

This is the experience of most people but again your experiences may be outside the norm and what may be true for the large majority may not be the same for you. Because natural talalay is denser … while there may not be a noticeable difference with a thinner layer that people could notice … some may notice a difference with the different ILD’s or with the thicker layers in a complete mattress that used the two materials. This is not a matter of “belief” but more a matter of the experiences of the majority of people. Framing your comments in terms of “I’m not sure I believe him” is a rather strange way to phrase your comments as it would be easy to translate this as “Shawn is lying” which is certainly not the case. Comments like these can alienate people who are actually on your side.

The title of your thread is about “rising from the ashes of burned money” and I would suggest that perhaps you may want to slow down and work with people who are on your side (like Shawn) and not be quite so quick to jump to final conclusions and start all over again based on other people’s experiences or preferences which may be very different from your own (as you have already discovered). I don’t mean to be harsh but it seems clear to me that you are moving too quickly and may be prone to making decisions based on inaccurate assumptions or ideas and ending up being repeatedly disappointed.

Since you already have a high quality mattress and you have the ability to exchange layers (which is one of the main points of a DIY mattress) … I would first work on seeing if you can find solutions to what is happening now in terms of pressure relief and alignment and doing what you can with what you have before starting over once again.


First, I gave CSD plenty of time and patience because that was the mattress I really wanted. The only reason I had to cut him off was that he kept telling me he’d have it next week, then next week, then next week, “oh I’ll send you a check for your patience” (which I never saw) until finally I had cut him off in order to get my money back from Mattress Firm (who, btw, returned my money without question after sleeping on it 90 days.) He had no problem charging my credit card the day I ordered, but since he said he’d refund me on May 4th and now it’s May 28th and I still haven’t seen the money, I think he’s a shyster and my credit card company will take care of him.

Second, if your back is out of alignment, you’ll know it after the first nights sleep. The problem with the SleepEZ is it only has four firmness levels and one thickness to exchange. I’ve been using both mine and my wifes side, so there’s not much else I can adjust. I’ve turned the mattress sideways to zone it without cutting anymore. My back feels better but I toss and turn a lot when I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m going to give it three weeks before I do anything drastic but I would like to have a great nights sleep before the end of the year.

I did not mean to say Shawn was lying, and I appologize if it came across that way. They took my order and had the mattress at my house in less than a week and have alway been there to talk on the phone.

Anyhow, I don’t have time to write more now. Maybe later.

Hi havesyama,

I understand and none of my comments outside of the first paragraph of my reply were about CSD or connected with your dealings with them. Cancelling an order is a perfectly reasonable course of action IMO when there are delays that are more than you consider to be reasonable. I was also able to talk very briefly with Bob and he told me (based on the timing of your order and the dates of your comments) that your refund has been processed.

One thing that I am certain of is that Bob is not a “shyster”, regardless of any mistakes he may have made and while I understand your frustration about what happened (and would probably share it if I was in the same circumstances) … it is the reactive approach, more inflammatory language, and jumping to conclusions that may not be warranted that was the reason for some of my reply. While I have no intention of defending any particular mistakes or errors in judgement that anyone makes (especially when they realize it and are working to both learn from and improve on it) … I will defend the character and intent of people I have come to know and believe do not deserve the criticism of their character rather than their actions.

I will say more about this tomorrow when I have had a chance to talk with Bob in more depth about some of the challenges that any new business faces and how they are dealing with them but I can say for certain that while there have been delays in delivery and even refunds that have been requested as a result … it is also true that not a single person has lost money in their dealings with him. He has a unique “premium” product that is not mass produced and this sometimes leads to delays in the ability to order materials in the normal cycles of business and this can also lead to creating expectations based on “best estimates” that may not always be met … but this is more of an indication of the challenges of a specialty business with a narrower “target market” and mistakes of prediction or judgement than it is of character. He did tell me for example that one of his more recent orders was fulfilled in 2 weeks which is a hopeful sign of the direction and improvement he is working on.

Regarding the rest of your comments …

This is not necessarily the case and anyone who has a lot of experience in the industry well understands that there can be an adjustment period to a new sleeping surface that can last for several months. Sometimes we have a “body memory” of sleeping in an out of alignment position when the body compensates for out of alignment conditions over the long term. Medical professionals who deal with alignment issues will also confirm this. In these cases with longer term tensions and compensation in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body, sleeping in alignment can actually be quite uncomfortable for some time until the muscles and other tissues once again get used to better alignment. In the case of some materials (such as memory foam and polyfoam) … a breaking in period can also play a role because these materials go through an initial more rapid softening period which is followed by the more gradual softening which all materials are subject to. If decisions about the suitability of a mattress are made too quickly before the body adjustment period is over or before any initial softening of materials is completed … it can lead to many rounds of frustration as the tendency to make adjustments too quickly can lead to discarding what would otherwise turn out to be a suitable mattress or need only minor adjustments.

There are also many advantages to specifically identifying exactly what is “wrong” with a particular layering in terms of pressure relief, alignment, and preferences and then accurately determining the correct cause. Sometimes fixing the “wrong” problem or acting on incorrect assumptions (and the cause of many sleeping issues can be counterintuitive) … can lead to a frustrating series of “new” problems in the constantly shifting interaction between a mattress that is still “breaking in” and a person that is adjusting to a new sleeping surface … both of which can take time.

Once you have correctly identified the problem (again in specific pressure relief, alignment, and preference terms) … and this is where someone with knowledge and experience can be very helpful because they understand the conflict between what you may believe is the issue and what their experience tells them is the most likely cause … then possible solutions have a much greater chance of success than simply starting all over again. Solutions in the longer term may often be in smaller increments than may be initially assumed. In many cases … minor adjustments such as a mattress pad, protector, bedding, or a topper or re-arranging or exchanging layers that deal with the real cause of what you are experiencing are all that is necessary to get to the best possible layering within the design parameters of a particular mattress.

All of this is about moving slowly … assessing accurately what is really happening … and then making “high probability” adjustments (rather than more “random” adjustments based on incorrect assumptions) that can lead to much greater long term satisfaction without the frustrations that acting too quickly can often lead to. This is the reason for my caution in the article about DIY mattresses which talks about the importance of knowing exactly what is the best method of solving any “symptoms” you may experience before making any changes. This more accurate assessment usually involves some research … field testing … and the guidance of the manufacturer or outlet you are working with.

In the end … DIY with the help of someone who offers good choices and has the knowledge and skill to work with their customers can be amazingly successful but in a minority of cases, where the real cause of an issue is not correctly identified, it can also lead to multiple more rapid changes that aren’t given enough time or that don’t seem to “get it right”.

Patience, accurate assessments, and understanding the length of time that both body adjustments and initial changes in some mattresses can take are essential for those who don’t get it right with their initial layering.


I want to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration experienced in placing your order with Custom Sleep Design. Our customer’s total satisfaction is why we are in business and I can assure you we are taking immediate steps to eliminate this kind of occurrance again. We have recently experienced a real surge of interest in our products thanks to our new store location and recent publicity we have received in the local media about our product. Small businesses like ours are sometimes particularly challenged by rapid growth when details are missed and our time is spent in areas of the business requiring our immediate attention. We are more confident than ever about the quality of our product and service. We have taken dramatic steps to improve our customer communication practices and are doing everything possible to meet the commitments we make regarding the timely delivery of our products.

How about that. The money made it to my account on the 28th of May, which, co-incidentally, was a day after I started my rant. I ordered from you on the basis of your reputation. I judge character by actions which by all the evidence is lacking.

Hi havesyama,

Sometimes the willingness to recognize, acknowledge, and correct mistakes says more about character than the mistakes in judgement or actions themselves. I think all of us that have any business experience or even look back on our own “less than perfect” past will recognize this.

I think too that in the overall scheme of things that we have all had many times where a rush to judgement in the emotions of the moment seems less warranted when mistakes have been corrected and a little time often puts things in a different more balanced perspective.

It almost seems that you are implying that without your “rant” as you call it … you wouldn’t have received your refund. While I can understand your anger and frustration and how easy it is to become reactive and jump to conclusions that may not be warranted (we’ve all been there) … and I also won’t try to justify or defend the reasons behind the delays you experienced which certainly warranted an apology and correction IMO … I certainly don’t agree with your assessment about the character of the owners of CSD. If all of us took this kind of reactive and “punitive” approach, especially after a mistake had been publicly acknowledged and corrected in both the instance and systemically, there would be little chance for any person or business to work towards improving and getting better or making up for any mistakes they made in the face of these types of judgements that don’t acknowledge when the right thing is done as well.

I’m glad you had a chance to vent though and while we may differ in some of our opinions … at least there is a record of the whole chain of events that has a more complete context from beginning to end including a resolution so anyone can make up their own mind about the circumstances themselves and what was done to correct them.

I’m glad the forum gave you a chance to give your feedback and to “speak your truth”.