Putting it all together...

Hi Phoenix,

First of all, I want to thank you for an absolutely amazing reference source and high quality information. I have a few questions, if you don’t mind.

Also, I’d like to send you a little donation via PayPal, but I didn’t see a link for individuals. (Never mind, found it. You may want to put one on the membership page as well.)


  • Current bed is a quality Queen-size Chattam and Wells with tightly quilted layer of memory foam. Moving up to a King.
  • Lady friend is 6’, 30 years old, athletic (i.e., sore), side sleeper. She complains about pressure points at shoulders and hips on the existing mattress. She is a light sleeper, sensitive to light and noise. She goes to sleep early and wakes up early.
  • I’m 5’11" and ~290lbs, 40 years old, not-so-athletic (or maybe you guessed that), side sleeper. I work long hours at a desk job and tend to have a bad back, and sometimes shoulder pain. I’m probably ready for a softer mattress. I tend to sleep a bit hot, but we’re in a moderate climate (SF Bay Area). My job frequently requires going without sleep and coming to bed late at night.
  • We both tend to like a softer feel (e.g., Black and Beyond Kelyn or iComfort Wellness Refined, although I’ve learned enough now that the big brands are way off the table)
  • Definitely looking for something that can be customized / tweaked. Intrigued by the idea of a hybrid memory + latex + innerspring bed.
  • Currently narrowed down to Flobeds / SleepEZ / Custom Sleep Design / European Sleep Works / Bay Bed & Mattress.

What I’m Looking For / Questions:

  1. Comfort Layer

Some interest in 1" layer of low density foam and then 2-3" layer of higher density 5lb+ memory foam, as the comfort layer, under a wool topper. Do you have any thoughts as to whether the 1" of low density foam and the wool cover, or maybe just the wool cover over 3" of high density memory foam, will be enough to combat any heat issues?

I would be interested in an all latex bed for greater durability, and to avoid any heat issues not solved by the wool, but worried that even a relatively soft comfort layer of 3" talalay latex will feel “rubbery” and not as comfortable as poly / memory foam.

The other “hybrid” option for the comfort layer that I was considering that may be more durable was 2" of HD memory foam, and then 2" of similarly soft latex.

  1. Split

A split between the two sides of the bed would seem to make sense just given the difference in our weight, but any tips on how to accommodate that difference without making the difference too stark / noticeable? Just trying to avoid a “ridge” effect, or having the bed feel strange if we’re sharing the center.

  1. Zoning

Also you’ve sounded in favor of zoning (vertical) in some posts / situations, and skeptical of zoning in others. What’s your take on it’s usefulness in our situation? It seems to me that it could be useful.

Also, you have mentioned the corrogated top layer that FloBed uses. It seems like a corrugated layer of latex could be an advantage if we decided to go with a memory foam layer over the latex, again for heat reduction. Any thoughts on that?

  1. Support Layer

This would be 2-3 layers of 3" latex. I’m pretty open as between talalay blended and dunlop-process natural latex, unless you have some thoughts why I should prefer one or the other, assuming both are available. I assume that I will need a thicker mattress of at least 12-14" given my weight.

  1. Inner Springs

How valuable do you think it would be to have a layer of inner-springs at the bottom? The idea here would be to keep some of the “bounce” of the springs to make the bed a little more friendly for activity.

  1. Price

It looks like a SleepEZ will run me about $2,000. The high end FloBed with zoning, etc. will run ~$3,200. With sales tax, so will the European Sleep Works. There’s limited info as to Bay Bed prices, but I’m guessing it would be around $3,200 as well. Custom Sleep Design really needs to make it easier to see their pricing / materials without going all the way through their custom configuration system!

Ideally, I would spend ~$2,000 to $2,500, and get a foundation and a cover too for an all-in <$3,000, but a little more could be in the budget if there was going to be a noticeable difference in comfort / service / getting it right (e.g., inner-springs will make a real difference for in-bed activity, ability to fine tune without spending months / making UPS rich, etc.). Any thoughts as to the incremental marginal value of the hybrid approach that I am considering as versus all latex?

  1. Next steps?

I have easy access to retailers that carry some of the smaller brands of all latex beds (e.g., Natura, Pure Bliss). I can also probably make it to Berkeley to try the hybrid innerspring if that is likely to be promising. I’m wondering if you have any advice on mattresses to try to help narrow this down.

Also, at this point, I’m eager to stop researching, rely on some third party expertise, and start sleeping! Of the providers that I have mentioned, who do you think will have the most expertise at suggesting something that will work / be easiest to work with to tweak the bed if something needs changing?

Lots of questions, and our situation is a bit complicated, so hopefully you will just see it as a challenge. Very grateful for any advice you can offer. Many thanks once again for the site.


I know I’m not Phoenix but from my recent experience with the Berkeley mattresses at a Sacramento area retailer, I’d definitely suggest checking them out (the European Sleepworks place). We’re similar kinds of weights/heights and found them to be good mattresses. Ours is currently on order (since last Saturday) and we can’t wait for it to get here.

Hi Barnaby,

I can see that you’ve done some homework and you are certainly going in some great directions IMO. Thank you too for the donation :slight_smile:

On to your questions …

This will depend to some degree on the type of memory foam you use and how deeply you sink into the mattress (which will also be dependent on the other layers besides just the memory foam), the type of fabric used in the cover (natural fibers are the most breathable and there are other “co0ling” covers as well) and on the sheets you use (good quality cotton, bamboo, or linen would make good choices). If it is a more breathable memory foam then most people probably wouldn’t require the low density foam over it. There are also some HD memory foams (7 - 8 lbs) that are more breathable than others and a layer of this over 5 lb memory foam may also be worth considering.

The challenge with putting layers over the memory foam (either low density foam or wool) is that it will also affect the feel of the memory foam below it as well and slow down the rate that heat reaches it which slows down it’s softening response. This can be a good option for “feel” because it gives you a more resilient surface but it also means that it is particularly important to use layers that are not too thick so that you don’t end up sinking in too far over the course of the night even though it may feel good at first. A 2-3" layer is a good choice for thickness IMO but by itself it probably won’t be enough for your weights and side sleeping without some “help” from one or a combination of a quilting layer (used for softness instead of ventilation in this case), a layer of latex or HD memory foam over it, a transition layer underneath the memory foam (again latex could make a good choice), or a support system that has some “softness” in the initial response of the spring before it firms up.

There are probably as many ways to describe the “feel” of latex as there are people. Part of how it feels will also be dictated by the layers above and below it. In general though … I personally would tend to call it “'springy” or “lively” compared to other foams which really is a metaphor for its resilience (the amount of energy it returns rather than absorbs), it’s compression modulus (the rate that it gets firmer), and it’s more instant response. It is closer to polyfoam than to memory foam because they are both instant response and there are even some types of polyfoam that have specs that are quite close to latex. I would definitely recommend lying on it though because it’s really your own “description” that will be the most important. Dunlop will be less “springy or lively” than Talalay.

This would be closer to my personal preference if I was to combine the two materials. It could be layered in whatever order you chose although I tend to prefer the latex on top because I prefer a more resilient surface. It’s interesting that both the iComfort Wellness refined and the Simmons Black Kelyn have latex in the mix (2" and 1.5" respectively) although they both include other materials besides just the memory foam and latex as well.

You may be more similar than you think but my guess would be that any split difference would not be large. Generally this is evened out with the quilting in the cover or a layer of “unsplit” foam on top of the split layer. For the majority of people a “1 step” split is evened out enough with the cover quilting and is not an issue but if the split has a wider differential between then … then you may want to consider a consistent foam layer over top. The necessity of a split would depend on how different you were in your needs and preferences in “real life”. It may be interesting to see how each of you do on the Tempurpedic HD lineup (Rhapsody, Allure, GrandBed) just to see if there is a mattress that you agree on. This will give you a chance to test the softer HD foam (it’s higher density but softer than their “regular” foam) over the firmer 5.3 lb memory foam as a reference point. They are a good reference point because most memory foam manufacturers have a rough idea (and sometimes a more specific idea) of how their mattresses compare to the Tempurpedic line.

Zoning can be tricky but can also be very helpful. Vertical zoning is really just a side effect of certain mattress layerings where a top and middle layer may be the effective comfort layer for a heavier person with the deeper layers being the effective support layer while the top layer is the effective comfort layer for the ligher person while the middle and lower layers are the support layers. In other words … the different layers perform different functions for different people. This is usually more effective when you have say a 120 lb person in combination with say a 250 lb person.

Horizontal zoning can also be effective in certain circumstances to help people where the hip pelvis area sink in too far relative to the other areas of the body. With materials that have a higher compression modulus (get firmer faster) … it is less necessary because it already does such a good job of creating alignment because of its ability to be both soft and supportive but even here it can help. By using firmer material in the middle under the heaviest area of the body … it allows for the use of softer material under the lighter shoulders which can allow them to sink in more. In general … when a mattress is zoned … I tend to prefer either 2 or 3 zones because more than this can present some challenge of “fitting” the zones and is also on the overkill side. This doesn’t mean they are “bad” (although they could be for some people) … only that they are unnecessary. Some types of zoning are more “reverse zoned” in that they “allow” the heavier areas to sink in more rather than “stopping” the heavier areas. These are particularly tricky and could cause issues for some people. There’s more about zoning here. In general I would tend to tick with 2 or 3 zones if I went in that direction.

I think that latex itself is very breathable and the convolution is used more for softness than breathability. While each manufacturer has their own design theory … the “standardized” 2" convoluted layer on the FloBed is less flexible than having options for what you want to use in the top layer of your mattress. Convoluting has a certain type of response (it is a way to increase compression modulus further depending on the shape and depth of the convolute) and can be beneficial but it also limits you to custom options below the top 2" layer. I don’t think “everyone” does best with a 2" convoluted layer of latex but having said that they also have the option of using a different layer instead. The biggest factor in heat is the layers closest to the surface so if you have memory foam over the latex … then the breathability of the memory foam is a much more important factor than the type of material below it in terms of temperature regulation.

Dunlop would have the advantage of a higher compression modulus (also called support factor) while Talalay would have the advantage of being more springy (in reference to your comment later in the question list). Because they are both available in a range of firmness levels … personal preference would be the deciding factor here. You are probably in the range where a 10 - 12 " mattress would have some benefits yes. Although I doubt you would “bottom out” on 9" … the extra thickness would be beneficial in terms of being more accommodating for larger body profiles or weights … especially with the larger “gaps” in side sleeping.

This too is a matter of personal preference. There are many people who believe that even memory foam is fine here although in general terms … more resilient materials are considered “better” for the other activities on a mattress because they tend to assist movement rather than restrict it. With memory foam in the top layers … you have a more restrictive or energy absorbing material in the mix so which if any layers you choose to “add back” some resilience would depend on preference. Some examples of adding some resilience to memory foam layers would be latex over them, latex under them, or Talalay latex (more springy then Duinlop) or innersprings as support layers. All of these are part of creating an overall feel which can be as individual as there are different preferences in people. When you are getting to a point of talking about fairly subjective perceptions or even a more subtle range of objective perceptions, then it’s important to have a reference point of personal experience with various options because words alone don’t really pass on how each combination may feel for you.

These are all good choices IMO. A few comments …

SleepEz: There is really no “down” side here and I would definitely talk with them at length.

FloBed: The down side here is really price/value, lack of ability to customize the top 2" layer, and the complexity and risk of their VZone which in it’s standard version is “reverse” zoned which can be risky (although it can be adjusted as well). They have great customer service as well though.

BayBed: I would give them a call to get a sense of their prices (which will depend on the custom layering you choose) but you will probably be happy that they are lower than your estimate.

Custom Sleep Design: In their case as well a phone call will give you the prices without having to jump through any hoops.

Berkeley Ergonomics: Because there is an outlet close to you … I would certainly include them in your more serious research as well as flyinion suggested.

In general … I have found that verbal communication with mattress manufacturers is much more effective than email or online communications or sometimes even information gathering. I’m not sure why this is so common in the industry but many of the best manufacturers (including some with some of the best service) are not as good with online information. Some of the reasons for this are because of the somewhat unique nature of the mattress industry in many ways but I think that this is partly because in most cases the “simple” questions that most consumers believe they are asking are often far more complex than they realize and many of the smaller and leaner manufacturers just don’t have the time to effectively deal with the time it takes or the complexity of written questions that have so many “it depends” in the answers. The better manufacturers will often do much better on the phone than they do with written communications in my experience.

You have some great options but for me the next steps would be mattress testing so that you have more personal experience and reference points and don’t have to rely on theory as much about the many different construction styles and “feels” that have been mentioned.

While Natura and PLB can be good for testing … they are not in the same value range as the others that were mentioned in your list in #6. This list is mostly latex though (mixed with springs in some cases) so you may also want to include some memory foam in your testing if you want to add some of the slow response feel to your choices once you’ve done some testing at BayBeds or BE.

There isn’t a single bad option on the list you mentioned and every one of them would make a good choice and provides great advice and service.

I think the “missing link” though is personal testing on the various combinations you have mentioned and this would require some personal testing so you can “translate” some of the theory into personal experience.

The outlets that (hopefully) are local enough that would allow you to test various combinations that have good value and I think highly of are the first 4 in the San Francisco list in post #2 here. In particular latex/innerspring combinations would be available at BayBed and Berkeley Ergonomics both of which I think highly of.

Besides these … Ergo Sleep Systems would have a wide range of mattresses available for testing but wouldn’t have the same ability to customize or be in the same value range. They do carry the PLB line including some of their hybrid mattresses which use combinations of fast and slow response latex which may be worthwhile adding to your experience.

I would first talk to each of the ones you are considering visiting along the lines of your post (telling them about your stats and what you are considering) to get a sense of what they have available that would be worthwhile testing and any missing information about pricing before you go there.

Once you have a reference point from local testing … then I would either choose the best local value (you have some good options here) or if you want to add online manufacturers to the mix I would spend some time with each of the ones you are considering on the phone. The ones you listed are more limited in memory foam options so if you want to include memory foam in the mix … I would test the Tempurpedic HD series for a reference point and then also include the two other online manufacturers in post #12 here who carry a range of memory foam mattresses to discuss what they have available in either memory foam or memory foam/latex hybrids.

So the next step IMO is local testing of various combinations of materials (with a phone call first) to help narrow down your choices of layering and materials.

Hopefully I answered all your questions but if I missed anything … feel free to post :slight_smile:


Thanks. I’d be interested in your take on the different models they offer.

Did you consider memory foam as well in your search?

Also, is the mattress zippered so you can go in and tweak it? Ability to customize / replace pieces that wear out early seems like it might not be a strength.

Hi Phoenix,

Thanks for the helpful reply.

We’re going to check out PLB (pure latex, although I think they have some super firm non-memory foam in the base), the TempurPedic range (layers of different ILD of high quality memory foam) and ESW (wool over latex over innersprings) this weekend. Not sure what brand offers a floor model that combines memory foam, then latex and then innersprings, or even memory foam and innersprings. Maybe I can find a store that has a memory foam topper and try that on top of the PLB mattresses. Anyway, I’ll report back on what feels good and see if that gives you any further insight.

You mentioned some types of high density memory foam are breathable notwithstanding the high density. What types / brands do you recommend? I thought that higher density foams were by their nature more “closed cell” thus less permeable than more open celled materials, and also that gel was not very effective / a fad.

Also you mentioned the idea of a layer of latex over a layer of memory foam. how does that work? Wouldn’t the latex on top keep the memory foam from warming enough to do it’s job?

Thanks again!

Hi Barnaby,

You can see on their site that the Pure Latex Bliss has 3 basic model lineups. The first is the “Natural” which uses blended Talalay latex in the layering from top to bottom. The Second is the “All Natural” which is similar to the Natural line except they use 100% natural latex in the layering from top to bottom. Finally there is the 3.0 Hybrid line which uses various combinations of slow and fast response latex in the comfort layers over a less expensive bonded polyfoam/latex core. The fast response models use Talalay which have phase change materials added to it for temperature regulation. The slow response models include Talalay latex which has been made with a slower response to somewhat mimic the feel of memory foam.

There are a fair amount of these but you would need to rely on some preliminary research on the phone to various outlets that were able and willing to provide you with this information before you went there. In many cases as well … this type of layering from major manufacturers will also include other materials in the mix (such as the Serta iComfort lineup) which means that there are so many different materials in the mattress that it becomes very difficult to know which of the laers are contributing to the performance and feel you are experiencing and would lead to more of an overall combined impression. They will generally also include lower quality materials in the mix. Some of the Simmons Comforpedic Advanced for example uses both memory foam and latex (what they call Independent Support Technology) in the comfort layers but there are also layers of polyfoam in the mix.

Mattresses that have more simple and easily identifiable layering will often use better materials and it is also easier to identify differences between hybrid layering and various other materials.

Here again you are really dependent on the knowledge and integrity of the outlet you are dealing with rather than trying to work with “brand” information. A mattress is only as good as the materials in it and the brand is really meaningless. Most well known “brands” are based on marketing claims anyway and the manufacturers that use better quality materials in their mattresses have a wide variety of models and each would be different. Focusing on “brand” choices is not as effective as focusing on “material” choices. There are “breathable” memory foams made by many foam manufacturers along with their more “traditional” memory foam lineup but comparative information is very difficult to get because there is no “standardized” testing for these types of specs and each manufacturer makes claims that have no known reference point. For example they will say “this foam” is “10 x” more breathable than “regular” memory foam but they don’t identify what they are calling “regular” memory foam or the specs they are comparing. So called “normal” memory foam also has a wide range of breathability so these types of “marketing” claims are really meaningless and lead to a quagmire of competing claims. So you are really dependent on the knowledge and integrity of the manufacturer or outlet you are dealing with to know if you have a more 'breathable" memory foam in your mattress.

There are also several different pathways or “technologies” to temperature regulation and each of these has many variants which can’t be directly compared because of lack of specific comparative information. These technologies include phase change materials (which change their phase or state from more liquid to solid and back again for example) and the phase change of these materials either stores heat or releases it. There are also thermal conductive materials (a marble countertop is an example of this) which feel cool to the touch and can conduct heat from the body to some extent. Finally there are materials which control and regulate humidity through wicking, moisture absorption, and ventilation which help control the sleeping microclimate and allow the natural temperature regulating processes of the body to work more effectively. Natural fibers such as wool are examples of this. Of the three … ventilation and humidity control are the most important because controlling humidity has a big effect on how the body perceives and reacts to temperature just like the outdoors humidity levels can make a huge difference in how warm the temperature feels. Lower temperatures with higher humidity can feel warmer and provoke a response by the body than higher temperatures with lower humidity. Temperature alone in other words is only part of the picture.

The density of different foams has little to do directly with how open the cells in the foam may be. Latex for example is one of the most dense materials and yet it is also one of the most open celled and breathable. Memory foam as well has a wide range of how open the cells are in the same density. In general though … memory foams that are more towards closed cells are slower responsing than those that are more open celled but every property of a memory foam (response rate, open cells, response to different temperature ranges, speed of recovery, firmness, elastic/viscous ratio and many others) can be independently controlled to varying degrees by using different chemicals and manufacturing methods when the foam is made. There are 7 and 8 lb memory foams for example that are softer and more breathable than many 4 lb memory foams.

I don’t believe that gel is a “fad” but there are many different ways to add gel to another foam and also to use it as a material by itself so the emerging category of “gel foams” have a wide range of properties. It is certainly a legitimate material and there are benefits to it’s use but in the current market … the claims about it are also widely exaggerated and there is little meaningful information available about the different types and quality of “gel foams” and which may be more or less effective in different ways. Here again … the other materials and layers in a mattress has as much to do with how any particular material performs than the material itself. Every layer affects every other layer. This again is also why working with an “expert” is more effective than trying to “decode” all the competing information and misinformation.

Overall … it’s much simpler to think in terms of the end goals and general properties (such as fast and slow response materials) and known quality information (such as which types of materials are likely to keep their original performance for longer) and in terms of combinations that provide your needs and preferences (such as temperature regulation) that are important to you. If you become involved in researching more complex information that has little reference to the long term sleeping reality of a particular person or where there are no definitive answers available … then mattress shopping can become an overwhelming process that leads to more dead ends than accurate information. This usually leads to choices made out of frstration or based on advertising rather than choices that are based on meaningful information.

It’s always best to focus on your needs (pressure relief and posture and alignment) and preferences (temperature regulation, fast/slow response, motion isolation, overall “feel” and others that are important to you) and use your testing in combination with the knowledge of the person you are working with to make your best choices. They can not only help you make better choices, if they know the properties of the different types of materials … they can also help you predict the true quality and longevity of the materials in a mattress which of course is a big part of “value”.

The latex would create a more resilient surface feel which is more lively and responsive and breathable. It is less “motion restricting” than memory foam by itself. The memory foam underneath would react more slowly yes and should be thinner so that it doesn’t continue to soften over the course of the night and put you out of alignment over longer periods of time. Basically each layer will modify the response and feel of the other and you will have a combination of properties with a different feel from either alone. It has a more responsive surface where you also feel a slow but limited sinking in underneath which is limited and controlled by the thickness of the lower layer of memory foam. It is a “feel” that many people like (including me although my preference is all fast response materials).

So in the end … the first step is to get a general sense of whether you prefer fast or slow response materials and various other components (such as the different types of support components) and to get a general sense of the differences between them through your testing and through some basic research and the knowledge of the salespeople you work with (for the properties of each that you can’t feel or don’t know such as durability). Once you have a sense of the materials and combinations that you want to focus on and prefer … then it’s a matter of narrowing down the combinations that best to provide you with the PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) that is important to you and that best fits your “value equation”. In this process … the more you know about the basic materials in the mattresses you are testing (through online information or better yet the willingness of the outlet to tell you) … the easier it is to make meaningful comparisons with other mattresses.

Your most important “job” is to first gather enough basic information to ask better questions of the salespeople you are working with. The next most important step is to identify the better outlets that already know what you would otherwise have to learn (and which can be very frustrating and time consuming) and have the knowledge, quality, service, and value that are important to you. Once you have done these two things … the odds are highly in your favor that you will make a better choice no matter what mattress you choose than other approaches to mattress shopping or by focusing on the more technical information or specs rather than on your personal experience on each mattress with the help of an “expert” that has the knowledge and integrity to keep you away from mattresses that you may “like” in a showroom but would not be suitable for you in the long term.

Hope this helps


Hi Phoenix:

We did some testing of the PLB and Tempurpedic lines, as well as a custom/home-brew latex over innerspring design, and that helped us to do some narrowing down.

We enjoyed the all-latex PLB beds quite a bit, and the “uplift” feeling of the latex, especially the “Beautiful” model, which seems like it would be pretty easy to replicate without too much effort and at a much lower cost.

We also had a chance to try a home-brew custom latex over coil bed, which was very nice and seemed like it would be good value, but the all latex beds had enough “bounce” that we didn’t feel like we would miss the springs, and the feeling of weight and stability of the all latex beds was very nice.

I think we’re leaning away from horizontal zoning (on the “keep it simple, stupid” theory) but still interested in vertical zoning (mainly so we can customize each side separately.)

My girlfriend sounds like she would be very happy with an all latex bed, and honestly I think that I would be happy as well, but I am still thinking about some memory foam in the mix, because while the latex “uplift” is noticeable, I also find the memory foam conformity and its energy absorbing nature feels good.

Given that I weigh significantly more, it may well be that I should give up on the memory foam just for durability reasons, and I was intrigued by your description of Talalay latex that has more of the character of memory foam. Safe to assume that PLB is not the only source of beds that have a mixture of fast and slow reaction latex?

I found that we enjoyed the knit, stretchable covers more than the quilted covers. I guess that argues in favor of a latex top layer or pure latex, for heat control.

Anyway, see notes below in case they give you any further insight. Next steps are to call SleepEZ and BayBeds.

Nature (3" latex comfort layer; 6" latex support layer; 1" latex base): We liked this, until we tried the Beautiful.
Beautiful (3x4" Talalay): This was a winner and the overall favorite.


Cloud Deluxe (2.75" ES; 2" HD; 8.25" base) – Too soft and not supportive enough for either of us.
Cloud (1.2" ES; 1.6 standard TempurPedic foam; 5.2" base) – Nice for my girlfriend. I liked the conformance, but needed a deeper comfort layer.
Rhapsody (1.2" HD; 2.8 standard TempurPedic foam; 8" base) – A little too firm on the top layer, nice support, but not a favorite.
Cloud Supreme (2" ES; 2" standard TempurPedic foam; 7" base) – Our favorite of the Tempurpedic line.
Contour Select (2" standard TempurPedic foam; 2.8" standard TempurPedic foam; 6" base) – Nice for me, a little too firm for my girlfriend
Contour (0.8" standard TemPurpedic foam; 2.8" standard TempurPedic foam; 4.4" base) – We both found the comfort layer too shallow; neither of us liked it.

TempurPedic-clone called SleepHarmony Bliss (6" ventilated memory foam @ ~5ILD; 6" high density foam for support): This was nice, close to the Cloud Supreme and nicer than any of the other TempurPedics.

Anyway, interested in any reactions / insight you glean from our testing. Kindly let me know if you have any final advice before we engage with a vendor and pull the trigger?

Regards and thanks,

Hi Barnaby,

You’ve done some great testing and I can see that you have a good sense of the different types of materials and the “feel” of each.

This can be a good idea. The two types of what could be called “vertical” zoning are a side to side split where each side is layered differently or a “regular” layering where the layers get softer as you go up (which is a typical construction and isn’t normally considered to be “zoning”) where different layers have a different function for each person. Both of these can work well.

I can certainly understand this and the mix of latex and memory foam in various combinations has a nice “feel” that many people like. Finding this type of layering is a little less common though … at least in a mattress that doesn’t also use some lower quality materials in the mix.

The PLB at this stage is by far the most common brand that uses more “simple” forms of this type of latex combinations outside of local manufacturers. While Latex International makes slow recovery latex (it used to be called NuForm … and is now called Talalay GL slow response latex) … it hasn’t yet appeared in many mattresses that are widely available. The fast response latex with phase change materials used to be called Celsion and is now Talalay GL fast response. Both of these have phase change materials in the latex to help with temperature control. You will have some difficulty finding it outside of PLB (although it is available as a topper including from one of our members). Good quality memory foam (5 lbs or higher) can be quite durable (more so if it is under another layer) so I wouldn’t necessarily give up on it. In many cases … 8 lb memory foam can also be quite soft (often softer than 5 lb memory foam). Your best odds of finding the slow response latex hybrids would be the Pure Latex Bliss website retail outlet finder. There are quite a few outlets that carry PLB near you but many may not carry the hybrid line.

This is a very popular type of ticking for use with premium foams (memory foam and latex) because it allows the properties of the foam to come through more. Wool quilting is also popular because it can add to breathability over any type of foam (including latex) but will modify the feel of the foam under it so varying degrees (depending on the amount and compression of the wool.). For those who like wool on top of other materials … it can be added separately as a protector, mattress pad (a little thicker) or as a topper (thicker yet).

The specs on the PLB models have recently changed and are not quite the same as are listed on this site (and other places as well). They now use Talalay GL (what PLB calls activefusion) fast response in the top layer. The lower 1" layer is also now gone and has been added to the second layer down.

This means that the Beautiful now has 3" of Talalay GL fast response over 3" of Talalay “natural (which is actually blended talalay) over a 6” core of firmer Talalay (36 ILD).

The Nature now has 2" of Talalay GL fast response over 2" of natural Talalay (blended) over a 6" core (also 36 ILD). I believe the ILD of the layers is the same but the layer thickness of one of the top layers i not an inch thicker.

At this point both the old and new are still available during the lineup “transition”.

The Beautiful has 6" of “soft” latex on top (19 ILD and 24 ILD) which would have some risk for alignment for someone who was heavier so whi8le there’s no doubt that the pressure relief would be good … I would make sure and confirm that your heavier parts weren’t sinking in too far. This would be an unusually soft top 6" for someone of your weight (although I know it feels great :))


Given your “stats” if I was looking at the Tempurpedic line I would avoid the Cloud series because of the 4 lb memory foam and would likely be looking at the HD series, particularly the Allura and the GrandBed (although the GrandBed with 7.2" has more memory foam in it than I would be comfortable with in most cases). Their 7 lb HD memory foam is actually softer than the regular 5.3 lb memory foam but also more “supportive” (relative to their other memory foams) and more conforming. Their ES 4 lb is the softest followed by their HD 7 lb and their 5.3 lb is the firmest. Did you happen to test either of these? The contour signature is the softest of the Contour line and may also be worth testing.

SleepHarmony Bliss:

These are made by Glideaway and like a few other mid size wholesale manufacturers can actually be surprisingly good value. I know several smaller mattress manufacturers that carry these instead of making their own memory foam mattresses (because of the expense of prototyping and testing memory foam mattresses) and think very highly of them. They use CertiPur certified foam. In this case however … the Bliss has 6" of 4 lb memory foam which would not be a good match at all for your weight.

If you are considering a memory foam mattress … I would talk with the two manufacturers on the list in post #21 here which specialize in high quality and value memory foam mattresses (including “breathable” higher density memory foams). Both of them can also make custom adjustments (if necessary) based on your feedback on the Tempurpedics.

Outside of possibly testing slow recovery latex … I think that you probably have enough good testing experience that now the next and most difficult part is to narrow down the combination of materials that you would prefer. Your choices are between inner springs, polyfoam, or latex in the support layers and memory foam or latex (or slow response latex) in the comfort layers. Once you’ve decided which is your preference in the bottom and top layers …then the elimination process can start to get more focused and easier.

You have a couple of very good choices in terms of quality and value locally and more options yet with an online purchase. After talking with them … one by one you should get closer to a final choice … as difficult as that may be. You are at a point where all your realistic choices are good ones. Now the hardest part may be deciding on what to exclude till you get to “the one” :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,

I’ve decided to go with a 12" Talaley latex with a wool cover.

I’ve heard a range of recommendations as to ILD, and I was curious what you would think.

Flobeds #1 TBD, #2 28/32, #3 32/36, #4 36/40
SleepEZ #1 TBD, #2 22/30, #3 30/40, #4 44/44
Arizona Premium recommendations for a heavier person: 28/36/44

TBD = Still stuck between using a Talalay blend for the 3" top layer or trying to find a Talalay GL layer. Arizona Premium seems to be the only ones who have the Talalay GL available. SleepEZ says they are waiting for some in the next few weeks. I don’t quite know what to think about the Talalay GL. It seems like it is taking a long while after its release to become widely available on the market.

Assuming we go this route, here is what I would be inclined to try:

24/24 (no split)

Still too soft on the top?

A variation would be to start with a 9" mattress, and then add a topper. The idea would be to avoid deciding on the softness of that top layer until we have slept on a firmer bed for a few nights, and to maintain flexibility to wait for the Talalay GL. It also sounds like we could get a higher ILD topper and it would feel slightly less firm due to being a separate topper.

As for foundations, do you think it is worth it to insist on a something better than pine? I see lots of sort of dubious foundations for $300-400, and then some that seem rather overpriced at $600-800 but that are made of fir. Is there a happy medium?

I know at the end of the day we may have to make adjustments, just trying to maximize my chances of getting it right on the first try.

Regards and thanks,

Hi Barnaby -

I just thought I’d offer a few of my impressions based on my visits to AZ Premium and SleepEZ. I hope you don’t mind! :side:

As far as I know, AZ Premium does not offer the same layering style as SleepEZ. They have a 6" core with either a 2" or 3" comfort layer on top. The comfort layer is usually very soft (I think they offer 2 options if I remember) while the 6" core is offered in various firmnesses. This was very interesting construction to me, and seemed to offer a softer, cushier overall feel in a thinner but still very supportive build than the layered versions from other companies. I really liked their Medium support core with the soft (but not the supersoft - can’t remember the ILDs, sorry!) 3" comfort layer.

I just ordered a Sleep EZ 13,000 (the 4-layer 12" thick mattress) and am excited for it to arrive tomorrow. What I liked about this mattress was that it seemed to offer a more gradual transition between the layer firmnesses than the thinner mattresses. I also prefer the split comfort layer. My husband is also significantly heavier than me and with a solid comfort layer, I was worried I would feel his movements more (latex does transfer some movements across the foam, but in my limited experience does not have the “veritcal bounce” motion transfer of older innersprings). I also like that he can exchange his side’s comfort layer with a different firmness if he finds it to be too soft once we are able to sleep on it.

I know Sleep EZ offers a money back guarantee minus about $100 (and possibly shipping charges - not sure since I’m local to them). I’m not sure if the other manufacturer’s offer total money back guarantees.

Not at all, it’s much appreciated! Thanks.

Hi Barnaby,

That’s quite a range of suggestions in terms of layering.

You will find that there is a wide range of “recommendations” among different manufacturers … and the most challenging part is that all of them are “right” to some degree. Each has their own set of preferences and design theories that works for a wide range of people. Different combinations of layer thickness, type of latex, ILD, and layering arrangements can also have a similar “net effect” even if the specifics of the layers individually are somewhat different.

To “narrow down” the choices more effectively is generally a matter of a combination of your own personal local testing (using mattresses with known layering as a reference point) and providing each manufacturer with good information which of course includes the basics such as your height/weight/body type and sleeping positions but also more in depth information about things like any preferences or challenges you may have had or things that “bother” you or you have liked in other mattresses that you have slept on over the years. Information about the mattress you are currently using and what you liked and disliked about it both originally and now, any problem areas you experience when you sleep (pressure points, back issues, health issues etc), and any other relevant information are also important parts of helping each manufacturer help you to the best of their ability. The quality of the information you provide them and their knowledge of how all the layers and components in their specific mattresses interact together and their experience with many customers who may be similar to you will all be part of choosing the final design at each manufacturer.

There is more than just the foam in a mattress and there are also different combinations that can lead to similar results which is why I generally recommend some good conversations with each manufacturer. You will tend to get a “feel” for which one seems to relate to your specific needs and preferences the most closely and can tell you the “why” behind their suggestions. When you are making choices between two “competing” designs … the “devil” is often in the details rather than the more general specs that you have given.

So without this type of a long and much more detailed conversation (which for me would generally take some time on the phone over one or more conversations as new questions arise), more detailed information about someone’s body type and sleeping positions, and without having a specific mattress that needs to be “matched” to a particular person, preferences and conversation … my role is really limited more to providing general guidelines (in the mattresses section here) that can be used as a starting point and help you ask more meaningful questions to each manufacturer and help them to help you better.

In general terms though … for many but not all people … much of the “feel” of a mattress is in the upper layers and much of the alignment and support qualities of a mattress are in the deeper layers. The comfort and feel is more connected to pressure relief and the support/alignment is more connected to avoiding muscle tension and back issues over the course of the night.

So here is the general approach I would take …

First I would make the choice about what I wanted to use in the top layer (the TBD part). This will have a big effect on what may work best in the layers below it.

Decide if this top layer is to be added as a topper or as part of the mattress (where this is available).

Then with this information … you can begin to decide how you will interact with this layer and the layer below it (which will be your comfort layers because you are heavier and your comfort layer will have an “effective” thickness of more than 3") and then what you may need in the layers below this to help you adapt to different sleeping positions and “stop” the heavier parts of your body to keep you in alignment will become more clear.

In the case of Flobeds … this top layer will generally be the 2" convolute so in this case the rest of the mattress can take this into account unless you plan to add the Talalay GL as a topper. They also offer other top layers on request.

In the case of the SleepEz and Arizona Premium, this top layer can be selected to various degrees either as a topper or as the top layer of the mattress so this too will help determine what goes under it.

In some cases some people that are heavier prefer thicker comfort layers which provides a deeper cradle and they will sink in to the comfort layers more. Others may prefer a slightly thinner firmer comfort layer which can also provide good pressure relief but with a different feel and less sinking in. This is part of personal preference.

The Flobeds for example would have a 2" convolute over a 3" layer of 28/32 so the combination of the top 5" or so would be on the firmer/thinner side.

The SleepEz suggestions are already in a “range” that can take into account what you would choose to go on top.

The Arizona premium would also be a thinner firmer comfort layer (and mattress) which would also be appropriate for a heavier person who wants a firmer comfort layer but the recommendation may change if you are planning to add a soft topper to this (again depending on your preferences).

The “transition” and deeper layers need to be height/weight/sleeping position appropriate to keep you in alignment once you have “sunk in” to the mattress as much as you need and want to for pressure relief. The transition layers will be part of the feel of the “transition” between layers. The overall thickness of the mattress (as Maia mentioned) is part of how “gradually” or “suddenly” the mattress goes from soft to firm as you sink in to it.

All the layers work together and affect every other layer so the the transition and support layers will also affect “comfort” to some degree and the comfort and transition layers will also affect support to some degree so it’s not quite as black and white as I have outlined where each layer or its function can be treated independently.

The ticking/quilting layers will also have an effect as well.

So each of these designs would be “in the range” for different needs and preferences but take different pathways to a similar outcome.

The most effective process I know of would be to first decide on a final choice of layering with each of your “competing” manufacturers and designs based on your more extensive conversations with them (taking into account anything you plan to add to the mattress in terms of a topper) and then evaluate the pros and cons of each using your own “personal value equation” to narrow it down to your final choice.

In other words … first “finish” each competing design using your input and the specific guidelines of each manufacturer … then choose between them.

Hope this helps.


I ordered from SleepEZ. Shaun was very willing to spend time talking about the options and recommendations.

We ended up getting a 12" all Talalay with my GF’s side going 44 / 40 / 30 / 20 and my side going 44 44 40 30 ILD. We decided to fuse/glue the top layer. Frankly it may make sense to fuse the bottom layer too.

If it ends up being too firm, I’ll probably add a 2" topper and just expect to replace it frequently.

Given my size, Shaun ended up recommending that we shop locally for a higher quality foundation or a platform bed rather than a KD foundation.

Anyway, I’ll let folks know how things turned out. Thanks for the help and advice so far.

Hi Barnaby,

Congratulations on your new mattress. :slight_smile:

I was just scanning the thread and you’ve come a long way since you started testing mattresses and I think you worked with some excellent manufacturers and ended up making a great choice. It’s tough to go wrong when all the “worst” choices have been eliminated!

I also think that Shawn’s suggestion about the base is a good one. Therapedic and Comfort solutions both make a very durable and strong foundation with two center supports instead of one (there are links to pictures of them in post #4 here) that may be available from local outlets and there are other good options as well in the foundation thread.

Thanks for all your questions and comments along the way and I’m looking forward to your feedback when you receive your mattress.


Just wanted to report back on my experience now that I have had the new mattress for a while.

  • I ended up purchasing from Sleep-EZ. We had a good experience. Shaun answered his own phone, got back to us promptly, shipped quickly, graciously took a customer service call on a Friday night (see below) and didn’t try and sell us more than we needed.

  • When we first unpacked the mattress, we were absolutely sure the cover was too small. After a call to Shaun, which must have caught him after working hours, but which he responded to anyway, he explained that a lot of folks will not think that the mattress cover is going to fit over the layers of the mattress. If you just lay the layers flat, so that you can wrap the cover around the stack, it fits without a problem. They should probably include a little one page “tips for your new mattress” with this info.

  • It sleeps plenty cool. That was a non-issue.

  • The ability to have different firmness on the different sides of the bed is really great. We had him fuse the top layers together. You don’t feel any ridge or anything like that, even though there’s a pretty meaningful difference in firmness between the two sides. The girlfriend loves the new, softer bed and is much happier. For me, it was an incremental improvement. I went with pretty high firmness (very firm, very firm, firm, medium) levels for durability because I’m a big guy, and my shoulders could probably be sinking in just a little bit more. Talalay GL toppers were just starting to hit the market when I purchased, and I figured that I would buy one of those down the road if decided it could be softer, and also enjoy the benefit of the faster response time when you move in bed that is supposed to be a feature of the new Talalay GL material. I still have not decided if I will do that, but unlike memory foam beds, response time is a non-issue.

  • For the foundation, I was not liking the options available. It seemed really hard to find one that was solidly built for a heavy guy without overpaying for something that is a pretty utilitarian item. We ended up getting a really nice Japanese style platform bed – Platform Beds - Low Platform Beds, Japanese Solid Wood Bed Frame). It fits together like a (simple) puzzle, which is great if we ever need to move, and is very solid. And it is low to the ground, which is nice because the mattress is thick and I prefer a lower bed.

  • The mattress cover is high quality and looks good. I went with a Protect-a-Bed over it (as vs. the St. Dormeir wool cover) to save some money and to get more of that slightly bouncy “latex feel.”

  • The pillows full of foam are okay, but not great. With that said, I am comparing them to some nice hybrid / memory foam pillows from Brookstone that cost much more. My take: they’ll do for the short term, but you would probably want to upgrade them eventually.

  • No chemical odor or anything like that (at any time)

  • Lack of support at the edge (putting on shoes, etc.) is a minor negative.

  • I feel like I got a bargain. Of course, durability is a huge factor, so we’ll see…

Thanks for your help in this process, Phoenix.

Hi Barnaby,

Thanks for taking the time to write such a great and detailed review. I sure do appreciate it :slight_smile:

Your platform bed is the same one that Maia chose here and as I mentioned to her I really like it and think it’s great value. Her review was the reason I listed it in the foundation post here.

I think you did very well and you should enjoy your new mattress for a long time to come. If you have any further updates along the way feel free to post them here.