Recommend latex mattress topper & foundation for the Healthy Back store / PLB Pamper

Hi Phoenix, After much research, we recently bought a serenity mattress from the healthy back store. Interestingly, the tag on the bad had a big sticker that said “Pamper,” confirming that it matches the PLB Pamper bed.

Two issues have arisen. First, it is a bit too firm for me and my husband, although the next one down (I think the essence) was too soft for me. We tried the Serenity with the topper that the healthy back store sells (also from PLB I believe) and it was also way to soft.

What do you recommend for a topper? I’d like to not spend more than another $250 but I’m not sure if that is possible. Is a cover absolutely necessary? I’m in the DC area if that makes any difference. I’m assuming that the PLB latex topper is too soft an ILD, and we’d need a medium ILD (24-28)? I know this is hard to pinpoint but would appreciate any thoughts.

Second issue is that the split foundation that was sent (it was a temperpedic split queen, since the PLB queen for the latex wouldn’t fit up our stairs), did not fit into our bedframe, which is exactly 60 x 80, so the foundation needs to be just shy of that to fit in. I am thinking that one of those KD foundations may work (then we could just build it in our bedroom).

Any suggestions?


Hi crschwartz,

I can’t give you a specific suggestion without more detailed reference points and information about you (height/weight, body types, sleeping positions and descriptions of the specific “symptoms” you are experiencing and where they are) but there are some guidelines about choosing a topper in post #8 here.

The choice of material would be a matter of preference and I would focus on materials that you have tested and like rather than materials you are not familiar with. Once you know the material you prefer … I would use the highest quality version of that material that I could comfortably afford (or at least be aware that lower quality versions will be much less durable). If you do go in a direction of an untried or unfamiliar material … then a merchant that offers a refund may be important unless you are fairly certain that you will like how it feels and performs.

With latex … I would tend to avoid something as soft as 14 - 15 ILD because of durability issues and because of the risk of needing to use a topper that was so thick and soft (to isolate you from the firmness of the lower support layers) that you would be risking alignment unless you had specifically tested a particular mattress/topper that used it. For most people I would be looking at 19 - 24 ILD in the “plush - soft” range and 28 to 32 ILD in the medium - medium firm range(of course what is soft and firm for each person will depend on their weight, body type, perceptions, thickness, and sleeping positions).

A good “general” or “average” suggestion (in the absence of information that would indicate otherwise) would be 2" in the firmness level that seemed closest to your own preferences because is it enough to make a difference but not so thick that it has a bigger risk of creating alignment issues but bear in mind that an “average” may not apply to any specific people or set of circumstances.

Some of the better sources for toppers I know of are in post #4 here.

In the DC area it may be worth contacting to see what they have available.

If your topper is latex … then a cover is essential yes to protect it from oxidation and prematurely degrading. I would also use a cover on other types of foam to protect them from damage and premature wear as well.

Many foundations are made just slightly smaller than the mattress so that they fit into a frame better but there is some variation here. I would measure your bedframe exactly and then talk with the supplier you are considering to make sure that the exact measurements will fit into your bedframe. If you do go with a KD foundation and because your mattress is “all latex” … I would make sure that the gaps between the slats were no more than 3". The foundation thread here may be helpful.


Thanks so much for the information. In terms of more specifics, I’m 5’2", 125 lbs (though I’ve been through one pregnancy and am looking to go through another), and my husband is about 5’11" maybe 180 llbs. I have lower back problems and our old pillow top mattress was really killing me. I prefer something firmer. My husband can usually sleep anywhere but this new bed is a little too firm for him. He has reported some pain. He sleeps on his back or side, and I sleep on my stomach predominantly or side. That sort of makes it hard – since we really vary. At this point I just want one mattress topper, rather than a split section, but maybe we’d have to do that down the road.

I really don’t want to return the Healthy Back Store Serenity (like I said, I think basically identically to the PLB Pamper), because the others felt to soft for me, so I think the topper is the way too go. I’m confused about natural tallalay vs. dunlop. I called american foam center and their pricing was around $500 and they didn’t think Dunlop was for sleeping, so I’m not sure how to evaluate that. So I guess I’m looking for an online retailer, preferably under $300. I was thinking 2" was the way to go, and that 3" would be too much for me on top of the Pamper.

I’ve seen you say elsewhere that the PLB latex topper is too soft on top of the Pamper for most people. Can you elaborate? I certainly felt that in the store. I need something that supports my lower back when sleeping on my stomach, so that I don’t sink further into an arch, which really intensifies that pain.


Hi crschwartz,

Did you try the Essence (which I believe is similar to the Nature which is the next model up and slightly softer)?

The first thing I would do is to see if you can find out the exact layering and ILD of their Pamper/Serenity and the Nature/Essence because I don’t know if these are modeled on the old versions of the PLB or the new ones (which have thicker comfort or transition layers).

Either way … the Nature/Essence has either has 3" or 4" of latex over the core and this is layered with a couple of inches of softer latex on top of either 1" or 2" of firmer latex over the support core. The Pamper Pamper/Serenity on the other hand has either 1" or 2" of softer latex on directly on top of the firmer support layer. If you add a 2" soft topper to the Pamper/Serenity … it would have a thicker/softer comfort layer than the Nature/Essence so if this is too soft it would point to just an additional inch as a topper instead of 2". Having firmer latex in between the softer top layer and the firmer core would probably be a better configuration than having all soft latex in the comfort layers (what is already there plus a softer topper).

The risk of thicker softer/comfort layers for a stomach sleeper (combination of comfort layers and a topper) is that the heavier parts of the body can sink in too far before they are “stopped” by the firmer support layers which can lead to sleeping in a swayback position which is not good for back issues. Thinner comfort layers (or comfort layer topper combinations) puts you closer to the support layers so there is less “room” for the heavier parts to sink into the mattress (better alignment).

I would use the guidelines in the post I linked previously and tend towards thinner rather than thicker. I would also tend towards 19 ILD if you went with an inch and 24 ILD if you went with 2" (a little safer).

A few more questions that may help though …

What specific symptoms are you feeling (other than it feels too firm) and where are these symptoms.

How long have you been sleeping on the mattress (it may be worthwhile giving it a little more time both because the mattress will break in during the first few weeks and you may also go through an adjustment period as well in the same timeframe)

What size is your mattress? There is a shredded latex topper available here which may be a good choice and is good quality and value and possibly less “risky” than a solid topper if you decide to to go with 2" but the Kings are in short supply and are often not available apparently. You can see some comments about it in this thread.

I have no idea what he means by this and at face value it doesn’t really make sense to me.

You can read some of the basic differences between Dunlop and Talalay in this article and in post #6 here. It’s easier to find softer latex in Talalay than in Dunlop.


Thanks for all the information. We have a Queen bed. We did try the essence (in fact, some of the Healthy Back stores around here only carry the Essence and not the Serenity), and in the store, I distinctly felt better in the Serenity – more supportive. But now that we have the bed, I’m wondering if I should go back to the store and try the Essence again. Does seem like there are two options – keep the Serenity and get a topper, or exchange for the Essence. We felt like getting the Serenity was a better idea since we could always add a topper, but I see your point that adding a topper could end up being even softer than the Essence depending on the composition of the topper.

Very hard to get the layering and ILD of the beds – they don’t seem to know in the stores. I’m going to call the Healthy Back Store 1-800 number tomorrow and ask. I didn’t realize they had recently changed their composition.

I think your analysis for the stomach sleeper is exactly right based on what I felt – I need the firmer support so I don’t sink too much. My husband says he feels okay on his back in the Serenity but he snores sometimes in that position and I often need to ask him to turn over (so then he sleeps on his side), which is normally also fine for him, but has been hard on his hip with the Serenity. I also feel like a little more cushioning could help me – I feel a tiny bit sore in the hips. I’m trying to think what other symptoms we are having but maybe need to see in the morning because I can’t describe right now! We have been sleeping on the bed for about 2 weeks.

It sounds like maybe an inch topper would be good, or two inches in a firmer density. I was reading up on the dunlop vs. talalay vs. natural talalay, and to me it sounds like the blended talalay may be a good bet. I wish that things things were returnable and I could buy in a store, but there just aren’t many options around here.

Hi crschwartz,

PLB changed from these specs … to these specs … but I don’t believe the Healthy Back models have changed. They had/have a variant that uses Celsion latex in their comfort layers (now called Talalay GL fast response) which the old PLB models didn’t have so I believe they are coughly based on the old PLB models but use the “new” material on top.

Because these mattresses were unique to them … they have always been somewhat reluctant to release the specs. This isn’t a quality/value issue because no matter what the comfort specs (ILD) are it is the same quality materials but it would be helpful to know in cases like this.

I would tend to give it another 2 weeks (if that’s within your comfort tolderance) because break in periods as well as initial adjustments can often take this long but I suspect that you will need a little extra even after this. I think it will be helpful to test the Nature/Essence now that you have some experience under your belt because some of the latex in the top few inches will be firmer than the Serenity/Pamper with a 2" topper.

The reason I was asking for more specific “symptoms” was to get a sense of whether you are in the “touch to a little” range or the “little to a fair bit” range. The shredded latex topper would also be less risky IMO with a thicker 2" layer because the latex will displace more under the shoulders (which have less surface area) and compress more under the hips which have a greater surface area than a solid layer which can help alignment. If you have a queen then these aren’t in danger of selling out.

Yes … subject to a bit more experience you are heading in the same direction as I would be. Either an inch of softer or 2" of a bit firmer (blended Talalay the same as you already have in the Serenity) or the Seven Comforts shredded/micro-rod Dunlop latex topper (with the possibility of an exchange for the Essence remaining open for now).

Edit: see post #52 here first if you are considering ordering this topper.

Unfortunately toppers are often considered to be a personal item and are either not returnable or are returnable with a significant “penalty” (restocking fees and/or shipping) which of course makes it a good idea to make a choice which has the best possible odds of producing the changes you are looking to make.


Thanks again Phoenix. Plan to check out the Essence again, hopefully this weekend or this week.

The shredded latex is also a good idea – just wondering if the fill is loose and it would just spread? Just wondering if it would lose it’s effectiveness after a while.

Hi crschwartz,

It has baffled sections that are about 12" by 12" and the microrods don’t shift out of the sections. They are also filled quite full so you don’t “go through” it and it’s amazingly “substantial” (and heavy). Like all shredded latex it will compress a bit in the areas you sleep as the pieces settle a bit but this does so much less than most because of its fill density and it has little to no effect on the topper and it’s easy to give it a shake to fluff it up if you need to. Any “displacement” of the microrods happens within each section.

I had my kids and a friend over recently and it was used as a layer on the floor to sleep on and while it doesn’t exactly make a mattress all by itself … my daughter said it was surprisingly comfortable.

I don’t expect it to change much in terms of its performance over a long time because latex is a very durable material.


I wish the original poster gave us an update! I’m having the same problem. I’ve been sleeping on a Healthy Back Serenity for almost a month now and it’s too firm (though better than when I first got it). I’m in the DC area as well and the model they have in the Rockville store is much much softer than mine. Is there a chance that mine will never get that soft? I’m not sure I can bear how long that would take. Also, I tried the Essence in the store and call me crazy but the one in the Rockville store seemed a lot softer than the Tysons store. I’m worried that it might be too soft. I tried the 2" topper (using a loaner at home) on top but also felt that was too soft and I was going right through it. I definitely want something firm but with more pressure relief.

I’m a back sleeper but tend to start on my side first. I’m 5’4" and 130lbs. I’ve been looking into getting a medium firm topper (24-28 ild) online but 1) find it risky not being able to try it first and 2) wonder if that’s much different than getting an Essence. Do you think that the 40 ild in the Serenity is very different than the 36 ild in the Essence?

I actually really like the Technogel mattress with the latex (Armonia I think). I felt like that had the perfect balance of firmness and pressure relief. The cooling aspect makes no difference to me. I just think it’s too expensive. What do you think will get me closest to that experience? It’s too bad they don’t tell us what their latex ild is.

It also looks like your Seven Wonders topper is sold out. But I’m not sure about shredded latex. Are the rods considered soft? How would it compare to a medium latex topper? And should I even consider a firm (30-34) topper? The medium one I was looking at is sold out now too. Are there any alternatives you would recommend?

Thanks so much for your help!

Hi huangshowen,

I would certainly talk with them and see what they say because it doesn’t make logical sense to me that the model in the Rockville store is so much softer unless there is a reason for this that they can explain. As far as I’m aware … this is the same as the “old” Pamper (except the comfort layer would be 21 ILD instead of 19 ILD) and for most people who spent time on their side this would be too firm with only an inch comfort layer. It’s unlikely that your mattress will get softer enough to make a difference. I have no explanation about why the Rockville store mattresses are softer than the Tyson ones but I would certainly ask them if this seems possible or if they know why it may be.

I understand and this is always a somewhat uncertain purchase but unfortunately there is no way to reduce the risk except by making as careful a choice as possible and perhaps testing local mattresses to give you a guideline that can point in the best direction. Of course choosing a retailer that has a money back guarantee would eliminate the risk but it is very rare to find this with a latex topper because it is considered to be a personal item. Post #8 here has some guidelines that may be helpful as well.

The Essence is a very different mattress. While the core is slightly less firm … it has 3" in the upper layers over the core (2" of 21 ILD and 1" of 28 ILD assuming this is the same construction as the old version of the Nature with the exception of the active fusion in the top layer) which would significantly reduce the amount you would “go through” the comfort layer and feel the firmer core below it. “On paper” this would seem to be a more suitable choice for your body type and sleeping positions.

Have you tested this in the store for PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and personal preferences).

It would be difficult to “match” the feel of the Essence with a topper on your Serenity/Pamper because the 1" 21 ILD layer would be under a 2" topper while with the Essence the top 2" of 21 ILD is over a 1" 28 ILD layer. You could somewhat approximate it by using a 2" 24 ILD topper which would give you an “average” in the top 3" of about 23 ILD which would be about the same as the “average” ILD of the top 3" of the Essence of 23.3 ILD but the different layering would mean it wouldn’t feel and perform exactly the same and this would only be an approximation.

If you are able to carefully and as objectively as possible test the Essence in the store (and confirm that they are both the same) then I would tend towards a mattress I had actually tested rather than taking on the uncertainty of a mattress / topper combination that I hadn’t tested in person unless there was a particularly compelling reason to do otherwise.

The specs of the Armonia are apparently (sent to me by a forum member that received this directly from Technogel) …

½" Technogel
2 ½" Latex 31 ILD
7" ? Latex 28 ILD

They didn’t provide the thickness of the bottom layer and just said that the rest of it was 28 ILD but the total height is 10" so either 6" or 7" would seem reasonable.

While the latex would be fairly easy to approximate … the Technogel is a very dense material (it calculates out to about 28 lbs/ft3) and this would have a significant effect on how the layers below it felt. If I had to guess then an inch or less of very dense memory foam (in the range of 7 - 8lbs) may somewhat approximate it but this is only a guess because I’ve never tried any of the Technogel mattresses so I have no personal reference point. There are other gel toppers in post #4 here and this latex/gel topper may approximate it to some degree as well (but again I have no personal experience with it)

Yes it looks like they are sold out on Amazon but they may still be available from the Seven Comforts site. There would be no way to know the ILD of the latex that was used to make the “rods” (and if you see the video here they look more like “flakes” or “crumbs”) but the effect of them is what I would call “soft” yes. The Lanoodles is softer but also lighter and thinner (see post #38 here) for my comments about it.


Thanks Phoenix for your quick and detailed response. It seems odd that they would use a 28 ILD latex under a 31. And 28 doesn’t sound firm at all. Though the mattress felt fairly firm. With such heavy gel at the top, I wonder if the latex will wear faster than a regular latex bed. It seems like a number of people on this site are looking for someone to share their technogel experience. When will someone break down, get it, and share?

Hi huanshowen,

There are many subtleties and competing “influences” to mattress design and how different types of layering interact but the way to cut through all of them is to trust what you feel. ILD numbers really aren’t really important at all when you are testing mattresses locally. If you feel a mattress is firm, then for you it is firm … depending on what you are referring to when you call something firm (see post #15 here about the different types or “species” of firmness/softness)

Soft solid elastomeric gels are a very durable material and with it’s durability if anything it would extend the life of the layers below it because it would absorb and shield them from some of the mechanical compression that causes them to soften and degrade.

While it would be great if someone shared their experience with this mattress … anything they were to say about its comfort or support would probably have little relevance to someone else where the same mattress may feel and perform very differently. It would also take many years before someone’s feedback could say much more about the durability of the mattress than knowing about the materials will already tell you. A forum search on Technogel (you can just click this) will bring up some more feedback about them (and some good descriptions of the pillows) but given the generally questionable value of the mattresses and that it may only really be attractive to a very small percentage of people … it may be a while before a member here decides to buy one


I just wanted to post an update. I ended up switching the Serenity for the Essence. I only just received it so it’s still fairly firm. I do expect it to soften some during the break in period. But I think my fears of it being too soft have been allayed. There is a little bit of a smell that I don’t remember the Serenity having but I expect it to go away. I do want to comment on the foundation. I thought I read something negative about the Pure Bliss foundations, but don’t remember what. I didn’t notice any in the store because most of the mattresses are on adjustable foundations. I tried a Tempurpedic previously and those foundations are much nicer. Both have solid tops and that’s the only way Healthy Back says the warranty would be honored. And by solid I’m not referring to the wood composition but the fact it’s not slatted. However, the Tempurpedic foundation is solid on all the sides covered in a microfiber material whereas the Pure Bliss is not. It’s like a pallet covered in velour. A good portion of the sides don’t have wood so I can see how the fabric could be punctured. The bottom is also not solid but made of a few thin pieces of wood. I just thought to mention this because I didn’t bother to check out the foundations before making the purchase. If I were to do it again, I might pick the Tempurpedic foundation to go with the Pure Bliss mattress.

On another note, the price of the Technogel is negotiable. However, I still thought it was too expensive and so didn’t opt for it.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that the Tysons Healthy Back was really cool about me swapping mattresses. I made 2 exchanges after my initial purchase. Robert and Nick were very patient and pleasant to work with.

Hi huangshowen,

I think you made a good choice and I would also have chosen a mattress I had tested rather than the “double uncertainty” of a mattress and then a separate topper that I hadn’t tested. While there will be some initial softening and break in … like your previous mattress … this shouldn’t be a lot.

I have also heard a few retailers tell me they weren’t thrilled with the PLB foundation but I don’t know the details of its construction except that its a solid surface as you mention. I know the Tempurpedic foundation is very well built and strong but also more expensive than the PLB. Their warranty only says that the foundation must be must be “continuously supported by a matching foundation with an appropriated bed frame” but they don’t define what that means. I think they have the right idea in France where they use a slatted foundation and If I was to purchase one I would probably choose one of the slatted KD foundations in the foundation thread here.

With only 1/2" of the gel (which is probably part of why they can use softer latex because the gel is firmer) I would also lean away from it as well unless it was so much more “perfect” in every way compared to any other mattress that I tried that it was worth the extra price … even with a negotiated discount … compared to any other mattress that was available.

That’s good to hear. I have always been impressed with the staff at all the Healthy Back stores I have talked to.

Thanks for sharing your feedback and letting us know what you chose … and congratulations on your “new” mattress.