PLB Beautiful and Healthy Back PLB "Elegance" - Interesting Observations and Assistance Needed

I tried both the PLB Beautiful and Healthy Back “Elegance” models today. The Healthy Back Elegance model is supposed to be the equivalent to the Beautiful.

PLB Beautiful is comprised of:

3" of 21 ILD Celsion (aka ActiveFusion)
3" of 24 ILD
6" of 36 ILD

Healthy Back Elegance is comprised of:

1" Celsion (ILD not stated - I assume 15 or 21?)
4" of Talalay (ILD not stated - I assume 24?)
6" of 36 ILD
1" of firm support foam (I assume ILD of 50)

Interestingly, the store where I tried the PLB Beautiful had it on a split foundation. 1 side consisted of a PLB “latex” foundation ($$$) which I was told contained 4" of 14 ILD latex on top. The other half of the foundation was rock solid and flat - no slats.

My observation:

The side on top of the latex foundation was significantly more plush and comfortable for me as a side sleeper (I spent an hour laying on the bed all total trying each side). I didn’t really notice any alignment issues from the mattress being too plush or anything (I’m 5’11", 160lbs). I didn’t really care for the side on top of the solid foundation. It just felt a little too firm which seemed odd to me considering how soft the Beautiful is supposed to be. The salesman gave me some of the PLB toppers to try for the firmer side and I hated them all! I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply do not like toppers for whatever reason (I’ve tried a million of them on my bed at home recently including various latex and memory foam models). Next, we placed a 3" PLB latex topper UNDER the mattress on top of the flat foundation. To both of our surprise, this made the mattress more comfortable and made the 2 halves feel very similar (the other half being the side with the 4" PLB latex foundation). He laughed and joked about inventing a new term just then “pillow bottom”.

What gives? I wasn’t expecting that putting a soft latex topper under a 12" thick bed would even be noticeable, but it definitely was. I MUCH preferred the feel of the topper on the bottom vs. the top! Apparently PLB knows that there is some benefit to this approach since they are selling very expensive foundations with 4" of soft latex built into the top of them! Of course, it’s cheaper to just buy and add a topper to your foundation yourself vs. buying a latex foundation from PLB (I think it’s over $1k for the foundation).

On my way home I stopped by the Healthy Back store since they are also listed as a PLB retailer. The Healthy Back Elegance is supposed to be the equivalent of the PLB Beautiful, but as you can see above, the specs are a bit different. The Elegance was on a solid foundation without slats (no split foundation this time so no latex foundation to test). I laid on the Elegance for awhile and to me it seemed slightly more comfortable on the solid foundation than the Beautiful did. It’s hard to say for sure though, as the beds were in different stores, 20 minutes apart.

I’ve decided I want a latex bed. I’m tired of trying to make my Simmons innerspring mattress more comfortable and I’ve tried multiple toppers without success (despite what I posted a week or two ago about the Aerus topper - I need to recant that statement as I found that it was causing serious alignment issues and making my hip pain worse after a few days of use).

Now I just need to decide whether I should go with a model like I tried today or if I should try to build a configuration at Flobeds that’s similar (but not necessarily identical). Flobeds uses their soft convoluted topper on top and has recommended that I use a Medium (28 ILD) comfort layer over Firm (32 ILD) and XFirm (36 ILD) as my base layers. I’m wondering if this might provide me with the little bit of extra softness I might not be getting in the 6" 36 ILD base layer of the PLB beds? Phoenix - thoughts? I still find it crazy that a soft 3-4" piece of latex UNDER the PLB Beautiful bed made such a noticeable difference!

Additionally, both retailers told me that I needed to use a SOLID foundation and that my slats wouldn’t support the latex over time (it would find it’s way in-between the slats). They weren’t necessarily trying to sell me a foundation, as they even suggested I simply have Home Depot cut me some plywood to put over the slats in my platform bed to make it solid. The slats on my platform bed are spaced 2.25" apart. I don’t mind getting plywood, although I’m worried about it making the new bed even firmer after testing mattresses on solid foundations today. I’m also guessing that I’d want to drill a bunch of small holes throughout the entire sheet of plywood to allow for ventilation or something (they didn’t mention this). Thoughts?

What to do, what to do. I’m 5’11", 160 lbs and a side sleeper. Been having horrible hip pain and our innerspring just feels way too firm for both me and my wife lately (purchased less than a year ago and this was not the case initially, so way to go Simmons!). My wife is about 110 lbs and also a side sleeper. We’re both having the exact same pain in our hips and the bed feels like a rock. I guess one of the benefits of going with a split configuration such as Flobeds is that we can configure each side separately if needed. I’m not positive that this is necessary though. Flobeds recommended a Soft (19 ILD) over Medium (28 ILD) over Firm (32 ILD) for my wife which should in theory be a lot softer than the PLB Beautiful which uses 6" of 36 ILD for the base, although I’m not sure she needs her side to be softer than mine.

Appreciate any thoughts Phoenix or anyone else can offer!


Hi jkozlow3,

Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights … I appreciate it.

I think many people would notice a difference because as you discovered the extra thickness can make a significant difference in how a mattress feels, its “range” of compression, and how it adapts to the body (see post #14 here). If all the other factors are equal … thicker mattresses will feel softer.

The two designs are very different so it really isn’t possible to compare how they would feel for a specific person but they have much more knowledge and experience with “matching” their mattresses to different body types and preferences than anyone else (including me) so when you are choosing a mattress online that you can’t test ahead of time I would always base your comfort choices on a more detailed conversation with the manufacturer (that includes your testing experience as well). The advantage of a component mattress is that your first combination doesn’t have to be your last because you can either re-arrange or exchange layers so your initial combination is just part of the process. While you may not need it … and the first combination is usually the one that most people keep … it’s nice to know that it’s available so you can use your actual sleeping experience to decide if your mattress needs any fine tuning.


Thanks Phoenix!

I’m leaning towards the Flobeds vZone, as I like the idea of a softer portion under my shoulder, as I always feel like my hips sink in more than they should relative to my shoulder and my alignment always seems less than ideal as a result.

That said, I remember reading a post where you mentioned that you think the vZone with 6 separate zones is perhaps excessive and overly complicated and I think I may agree. Flobeds allows you to build a 100% custom vZone layer however so this means that I can pick and choose the ILD of each of the 6 zones, and as a result, I can essentially create a 2/3/4 zone mattress instead of a 6 zone if that makes sense.

So do you have any recommendations on how many zones seem to work best and what the configuration should look like? I know that I’ll probably want something around “medium” under my hip area and “soft” under my shoulders, but should I continue with the “soft” all the way up and under my pillow or go back to something like “medium” under my head? What about from my knees down? Keep it all “medium” just like my hips for the lower half?

I won’t hold you to anything you recommend - I’m just looking for general zoning recommendations as to the number of zones that typically work best for side sleepers and what those zones might look like in firmness relative to each other.

Thanks again for any assistance you can offer!

Hi jkozlow3,

You may be referring to this post but while it is fairly complex (and I’m a fan of simple) and this many zones may not be necessary for many people … their zones cover the three critical areas where zoning is most important (see post #11 here) and the six zone configuration allows the default zones to be exchanged with another one that is the same width (such as exchanging the firm foot zone with the medium hip zone or exchanging the x-firm knee zone with the firm lumbar zone) that is already part of the arrangement without doing an actual exchange. This is much more flexible than other more complex zoning schemes that are “built in” and can’t be re-arranged or customized. As you mentioned it can also be further customized by exchanging the zones with a new zone section or with a custom order to “fit” each person. For those who are more difficult to “fit” they can offer a unique and effective solution that IMO would be well worth considering.

Their vZone is also their most popular mattress and they have had great success with it and I’m also not one to argue with success :slight_smile:

So I think that the uniqueness of their zoning and the fact that the 6 zones allows the main zones to be customized without an exchange more than makes up for any additional complexity for those who would benefit from it.

As you also know they are a member here which means that I think very highly of them and that I believe they compete well with the best in the industry in terms of quality value and service.

I have read some very detailed and interesting information about zoning (particularly in this book which goes into great detail about sleeping ergonomics) and while there is no particular zoning scheme that fits every body type and some people may even do better with non zoned layers … in very general terms the zoning scheme that seems to work well for more “difficult” people is softest under the shoulders, firmer under the hips/lower pelvis, and a little firmer yet under the lumbar curve … which is their default zoning pattern. Having said that … they have more experience and customer feedback with their zoning options than I do so a more detailed conversation with them would be a much better source of more specific guidance.


Thanks Phoenix. I’m more concerned with getting our bodies to line up properly over the correct zone since there are so many of them! My wife and I are also around 9" different in height which may further complicate the matter.

I actually laid a tape measure on my bed so that I could see where my various body parts would line up with each zone while laying down. My hip bone would definitely fall within the hip zone, but what about the bony part of my waist (where your waistband sits) - that looked like it would fall right on the border of the hip and lumbar zones. Which of these two zones SHOULD my bony waist fall in?

I’m wondering if I should possibly do all “medium” up to and including my lumbar zone and then “soft” from there on up, as Flobeds is recommending a “medium” comfort layer on their non-zoned model and a “medium” hip section on their zoned model. This would allow me to do a “mild” 2-zone approach and might provide a small advantage over a non-zoned mattress by having a softer shoulder and top section (I just read your article talking about zoning using 2-zones with a softer one from the lower ribcage up). I also wouldn’t have to worry about being lined up properly with each zone all the time! My wife’s vZone would be more difficult however, as they are recommending a “soft” comfort layer for her (and under her hip on the vZone model), so I can’t exactly do a firmer lower zone for her unless I bump her up to a “medium” (28 ILD) for the lower section which I think would be too firm for her @ 110 lbs.

Additionally, can you comment on using the mattress on a slatted platform bed? I believe you said this should be fine as long as the slats are less than 3" apart (mine are 2.25"), but I just want to make sure that I wouldn’t benefit by adding some sheets of plywood over the slats. Neither of the stores I visited today seemed to think I should use slats with a latex bed and wanted me to at least put plywood down.

Thanks again!

Hi jkozlow3,

The Iliac Crest (which is what you are referring to) isn’t an actual zone but can be a pressure point for some people. It is narrower than the hips and would normally be taken care of by the comfort layer and would likely be fine no matter which zone it falls in.

Yes … this would be fine (as long as your platform bed is strong enough for the mattress and the people lying on it and has good center support to the floor). The foundations that Flobeds sells are also slatted and I personally would choose a slatted foundation over a solid wood foundation unless there was a compelling reason to choose otherwise (see post #10 here).

I’ll leave any specific zoning suggestions to your more detailed conversations with them. They would be a much better source of guidance than I am. Don’t forget that they do this every day and you also have the option of exchanging them if for some reason their “best efforts” turn out not to be ideal for you.