Searching for the "perfect" mattress

Hello! My husband set out early this morning hoping to find the “perfect” mattress to replace our 15+ year old Restonic Pillowtop. We’ve both been waking up sore and tired so we knew it was time to get a new mattress! At our first stop, we found the Sealy Optimum Inspiration, which we both thought was pretty comfy, and we loved the thought of the cool gel technology (we ruled out the Temperpedic because as a 51 year old woman, hot flashes did not appear to complement the Temperpedic!). At our second stop, we loved the feel of the Sealy i Series Lavish Dream Super Pillowtop. Deciding between the two drove me to the internet and then I found your website… Needless to say, after reading posts for several hours, I’m thinking we were wise in not making a purchase today! This evening we took a trip to the Original Mattress Factory but both my husband and I were not impressed. We tried the latex and the memory foam mattresses but neither felt as comfortable as the two mattress we liked earlier. Is there something we’re missing? Is there another local retailer you would recommend? I have lower back and hip issues and am a side sleeper who becomes a back sleeper when the pain becomes too intense. My husband is a side sleeper. We’re both medium height and build. Any suggestions you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Confused in KY,

As you probably know … none of the major brands you were testing are good quality/value and there are many better options.

There is a step by step set of guidelines in post #1 here which will greatly increase your odds of finding the best possible quality and value (and give you some preliminary information to read which will help you ask better questions and help you know who really is knowledgeable about the mattresses they sell and understands what quality really means).

No … even though these are both much better quality and value than the mattresses you were testing … you can’t “feel” quality and it’s still important to find a mattress that fits your needs and preferences and has good quality and value as well. It just means that the 3 mattresses you tested weren’t right for you even though they use good quality materials.

If you let me know your city or zip I’d be happy to let you know of any options I’m aware of in your area.

There are some general guidelines about different type of layering and construction, different heights and weights, and different sleeping positions and more in the articles and sections that are linked in the “how to look for and find the best mattress … for YOU” post I referred to earlier but these are just meant as general guidelines that can help you ask better questions and know which salespeople really are more knowledgeable rather than being specific suggestions. Personal testing for PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) … especially with the help of someone with the experience and knowledge to help you make good choices … is always more accurate than “theory at a distance”.

With back issues … the firmness of the deeper support layers are especially important so that your heavier parts don’t sink in to far and lead to spinal misalignment. With side sleeping it’s also important that your comfort layers are thick and soft enough to relieve pressure points that would come from sleeping directly on a support layer. If the thickness and softness of the comfort layers is “just enough” for good pressure relief and no more (avoiding the tendency to choose a mattress where the comfort layers are too thick/soft and feel great in a showroom but not so good in every day use) … then they will have less chance of negatively affecting the support of the mattress.

Don’t forget that comfort (pressure relief) is what you feel when you first go to bed (and test mattresses in a showroom) but support (spinal alignment) is what you feel when you wake up in the morning (and feel any symptoms of sleeping out of alignment). Quality/durability is what you will feel in a year or more down the road. Lower quality materials will soften and degrade much more quickly no matter how they feel in a showroom because even cheap low quality materials can feel great in a showroom and for a while after that because you can’t feel quality. You can only know the quality of your mattress (and how long the feel and performance will last) by dealing with a retailer or manufacturer who will tell you the details of every layer of a mattress that you like. A mattress is only as good as its “weakest link”.

Finding better outlets such as factory direct manufacturers or better sleep shops that carry a selection of good quality/value mattresses can be the most important part of ending up with a great mattress for you and can be more effective than testing dozens of mattress that “feel great” made by major brands or at chain stores but where the feel and performance won’t last because of lower quality materials (or where you pay premium prices for lower quality materials).

Hope this helps.


Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my post. You gave me lots of information to check out and I will be diving into it all tomorrow. Any other local retailers you would recommend in or around Burlington, KY (zip 41005) would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Confused in KY,

Some of the better options I’m aware of in and around the Cincinnati area are in post #212 here.


Ok, Phoenix. I’ve read and read and read some more so now I’m ready to ask more questions! I checked out the Furniture Row website you recommended for the Cincinnati area and found a mattress made by Denver Mattress. It has a comfort layer of 2" talalay latex and a support system of 6" talalay latex & 2" 1.8 lb HD foam. From what I’ve read, these should be pretty good choices, right? So here’s my question: It has a Quilt layer of 1" 1.8 lb HD foam. I read several places that this would be considered the “weak link” because it would break down quicker because it will take the most abuse. Am I on the right track and should keep on looking?

Hi Confused in KY,

Yes, the Snowmass is one of the two “mostly latex” mattresses they sell that have good quality and value and you are certainly on the right track IMO. 1.8 lb polyfoam is what is called HD polyfoam and is certainly suitable for use in the deeper support layers of a mattress. In the comfort layers … it is also more durable than the more typical 1.2 and 1.5 lb polyfoam that is most often used by larger manufacturers.

Both the Aspen and the Snowmass have an inch of polyfoam in the most important comfort layers (the upper layers of the mattress which are the most subject to mechanical wear and tear and softening) but in the Snowmass its a firmer layer used in the quilting while in the Aspen it’s a softer layer used under the top 2" of latex. As long as any low or mid grade polyfoam in the upper layers is in the range of an inch or so … then it’s softening won’t have a significant effect on the durability and performance of the mattress and will still allow most of the feel of the latex to come through. 1.8 lb polyfoam in the lowest layers won’t affect the durability of the mattress because it is not subject to the same repeated compression and is used more as a stabilization or deep support layer.

So if a mattress only has an inch or so of polyfoam in the upper layers … then it doesn’t really have a “weak link” and it’s durability would be more subject to how all the layers interacted and softened together over time than with the softening of one specific layer which is clearly lower quality and less durable than the rest.


I did not even see the Aspen while searching the Furniture Row website and have since looked up its specs. My husband called the Florence store (very near our home) and unfortunately, they have neither the Snowmass nor Aspen in their showroom. They told him that laying on the Durango (which they have in their showroom) would give a comparable feel to the Snowmass. Not sure about that since the Durango’s Quilt layer is 1.5" 1.8 lb Convoluted Foam & 1" BioFlex Soy based foam and the Comfort Layer consists of 2 separate layers of 1.25" 1.8 lb Convoluted Foam. Also, the Support System consists of individually wrapped coils. Another mattress in their showroom is the Telluride (very little latex and coil support system). I’m not sure what to do now because I’m not comfortable purchasing a mattress without trying it out first. HELP!!

Hi confused in KY,

That’s unfortunate that they don’t carry their latex mattresses. While the alternatives they are suggesting (either from their experience or from the desire to make a sale) may provide similar pressure relief and alignment (combinations of surface softness and deeper firmness) … They wouldn’t be directly comparable in feel or in many other ways (including durability) except perhaps for a few people who are much less sensitive and who don’t feel the differences between two mattresses that most other people would feel.

There are some other local options however and Original Mattress Factory is very close and Sleeptite and Designsleep are both within reasonable driving distance and they also carry latex mattresses. I also updated the Cincinnati list (which for some reason included a couple of manufacturers that were very far away and I added two other options Bowles and Ikea) so you still have some good options available including for latex mattresses if that’s the direction you are leaning.


Hi again, Phoenix. After having spent MANY hours reading your info-packed posts (and taken several pages of notes), we decided to take a trip to Clarksville, IN to check out the Snowmass and Aspen. I’m so glad we did! They are both felt wonderful and we decided that we couldn’t go wrong with either mattress (comfort-wise). So will both wear equally or is one a bit superior to the other? Also, the salesperson said that both would soften up over time. Is that true? I know the Snowmass has the HD foam on the very top but the very top of the Aspen is talalay latex.

Hi Confused in KY,

I think in practical terms you could treat them both as being roughly equal in terms of durability. In theoretical terms the polyfoam is closer to the top in the Snowmass (meaning it is more subject to softening and wear) but it’s quilted and compressed somewhat (increasing durability) but the Aspen has a lower latex content deeper in the mattress (less of a factor in durability but still a factor) and uses softer and lower density supersoft polyfoam in the surface layers (also a factor in wear because it will still be regularly compressed). Both of the polyfoam comfort layers are only an inch though so polyfoam softening would have less effect on the feel and performance of the mattress than if the layers were thicker. I doubt these will translate into any meaningful difference in real life although there is no way to actually measure this for certain and if I had to guess I would probably give a slight edge to the Snowmass. Neither mattress has any significant or obvious “weak links” though.

Yes. All materials will either soften over time (foam and steel) or compact and become firmer over time (wool and other fibers). Latex will just soften more slowly and to a lesser degree than other types of foam and will keep it’s original qualities for longer.


I really can’t thank you enough for all the information you have provided us and to everyone else on this forum! We’re back home and realized we forgot to ask a few questions while in Clarksville. We noticed that the Snowmass had a “Green Choice” tag on the mattress. Does this change anything regarding the specs of this mattress? Also, will the Snowmass or Aspen produce any off-gassing (I think that’s what it’s called!)? Lastly, we forgot to check out the base the mattress/foundation was on. Since our current mattress and box springs are very old, we are definitely going to replace both of these but are uncertain as to what base would be best for either the Snowmass or Aspen. Your thoughts?

One last thing. While we were at Denver Mattress, the salesman printed specs on both the Aspen and Snowmass, including ILD talalay levels. Here they are, if you don’t already have them:

2" 24 ILD Talalay Latex
1" Superspft Foam
4" 32 ILD Talalay Latex
4" 1.8lb High Resilient Foam
FR Fiber Wrap

Quilt Layers:
Stretch Knit TIcking
1" 1.8lb High Density Foam
Natural Rayon Fire Barrier

Comfort Layers
2" 24 ILD Talalay Latex Foam

Support System
6" 32 ILD Talalay Latex Core
2" 1.8lb High Resilient Foam

Hi Confused in KY,

No … this is just marketing terminology which they use because they use latex (which is considered to be “greener” than other foams) and because it may also use a type of polyfoam that uses a chemical derived from soy oil to replace a small part of the petrochemicals in the polyfoam which many manufacturers are promoting as being “green” (and is usually more greenwashing). The description online doesn’t mention this however so it may be just because of the latex or other natural materials in the mattress.

Almost all materials natural or otherwise will produce some type of offgassing so the real issue is the type of offgassing and its “safety”. Safety is always relative to the person (some are much more sensitive than others) but the latex in the mattress (which is most of the foam) has been tested and certified by OekoTex standard 100 class 1 (safe for close contact with babies) and the polyfoam is made in the US which means that it’s probably Certipur certified (you could ask them to make sure but most North American polyfoam is “safe”). Offgassing with these types of materials wouldn’t be an issue for the large majority of people unless they were unusually sensitive and couldn’t be around new polyfoam at all (in cars or furniture etc) which is very uncommon. Memory foam (which isn’t in your mattress) is a more common source of offgassing complaints but even this is usually fine for most people if its CertiPur certified or if it’s made in North America.

There is lots of information and many foundation options in the foundation post here but i would tend to use the one recommended and sold by Denver Mattress as part of the set unless you had a specific reason to use something else.

The specs of the Snowmass and Aspen are sprinkled around the forum in various places but it’s always great to list them again which makes it easier for others to find them in a more recent post on a search … so thank you :slight_smile:


My back pain went away after I started sleeping on a buckwheat hull mattress. The answer for back pain, I found, is not a more comfy or springy mattress but a supportive mattress that contours to the shape of your body.

Hello, Phoenix. Unfortunately, our search for the “perfect mattress” took a complete halt and was put on hold for a long while. We’re back in business now and looking once again. I reread the articles you suggested and did a little digging only to find that the Snowmass and Aspen are no longer options due to being discontinued. We’re getting ready to visit The Original Mattress Factory in Florence, KY. The only mattress that comes up under a search for “talalay” or “dunlop” is The Serenity. Below are the specs. Any advice as to whether or not this is a good option?

The Serenity Latex is padded equally on both sides of the mattress.
The Serenity and Serenity Plush have padding on one side only and cannot be flipped.

High Density Foam Core
High Density Memory Foam Topper ~ 8-14 ILD, 4.7-5.3 lb/ft3 Density
High Density Memory Foam Topper ~ 10-16 ILD, 7.6-8.4 lb/ft3 Density
Polyurethane Foam Topper ~ 15-21 ILD, 1.8-2.0 lb/ft3 Density
Talatech® Talalay Latex Dual Comfort Foam Topper – 16-22 ILD, 2.75-3.25 lb/ft3 Density
Talatech® Talalay Latex Dual Comfort Foam Topper – 21-27 ILD, 3.00-3.50 lb/ft3 Density
Air-Flow Layer
FR Knit Sock
Knit Cover

Hi Confused in KY,

Yes … they have been replaced with the iChoice latex model.

All of the Serenity line uses good quality materials and there are no weak links in any of them although of course the latex version would be very different from the two memory foam versions and it is also two sided.

There is more about the latex version in post #2 here and the posts it links to and the memory foam versions in this thread but depending on your preference between memory foam and latex and whether your testing indicates they are a good match for you in terms of PPP they would all be well worth considering in terms of quality/value.

I would also make sure you test them on a support base that is similar to what you plan to use because in the showroom they are on a box spring that flexes which can have a different feel than if the same mattresses are used on a non flexible support system (such as a non flexing foundation or platform bed or adjustable bed)