Starting Specs for BIGGER people (Latex Matress)

Mr Phoenix, I thank you for the dedication that that you put into your site. I have my heart set on getting a Latex mattress for wife and myself. I have read up on your post and really need your guidance in making this decision. My wife and I both are for the most part side sleepers. I would like to purchase a talalay latex matress, but I am a little confused on what thickness and ILD that would most likly benifit use the most. I im waiting for income tax return to purchase. I am 6"2 280lbs, wife 5’7 210lbs. If you where going to purchase one based on this info? What would you recommend (spec wise) to get me going in the right direction. I want to get the best value for the dollar. Plese respond with a few suggestions to help me, please!?? Please include starting specs on a core size (thickness inches) and (ILD) and a the comfort layer thickness and ideal (ILD). Please. I need guidance.
Thank you again for any help, Nathan B Gilliam

Hi mathanbgilliam,

I personally wouldn’t buy a mattress based on theoretical specs or what I call “theory at a distance” alone without doing some local testing first so you have a reference point for how all the different specs and combinations feel and perform for you. Different people (even of similar body types and sleeping styles) can perceive and interact with the same specs very differently. There are just too many variables in both body type (even at the same weight) and sleeping positions (there are many more combinations than just the three basic types) and personal preferences involved to be able to use specs alone to predict with certainty what any specific person will do best with.

Having said that … if you do choose to make a purchase based on “theory at a distance” … then I would go with the suggestions of the manufacturer or retailer you are working with. Each may have a different suggestion for you based on their knowledge of their specific designs and on their experience and feedback from their customers so you won’t find a “standard” set of suggestions between manufacturers based on specs alone. In general they will use their knowledge of their mattresses along with the more detailed information that you can provide on a phone call (about your specs, mattresses you have tested or are used to, and your preferences) to make a suggestion based on their best estimate about which of the mattresses they make or sell will likely suit you best. They will usually be fairly accurate for most people (most people do well with a range of specs or designs rather than an exact set of specs) but there is always the possibility that you are outside the “averages” they use so if for any reason their best suggestion doesn’t match what you need or prefer … then the ability to change the layering and/or their return or exchange policies can play an important role in your decision as well.

With heavier weights … the odds are good that you would need both firmer comfort layers and support layers. In a 3 x 3" layer mattress for example there are generally two “standard” suggestions that cover the range for most people and would be used as a starting point. These are from top to bottom either S/M/F or M/F/XF. These will be the “standard” suggestion for almost all people. Some that don’t sleep on their side may choose to have a 2" top comfort layer instead. With your weight the “standard” suggestion would normally be the firmer of the two.

In a two layer mattress where you can choose the firmness of the base layer … I would tend towards a 6" firm base and then a 3" layer of medium on top. If you use a thinner/softer top layer (such as a 6" + 2" mattress) I would likely choose a slightly softer base to make up for it because you will “go through” a thinner/softer comfort layer more easily and may need a little extra softness in the top part of the base layer for pressure relief and so the transition between the two layers wasn’t too sudden. If you have a preference for a firmer feel … then a firm base layer under a thinner comfort layer may be your preference and give you just the softness that you prefer and the firmer support underneath it that you need. This may work well if it was enough to provide you with the pressure relief you needed on your side because it may provide better alignment on your stomach (a 2" comfort layer will put you closer to the firmer support layers which will “stop” sinking in faster than a thicker comfort layer).

Many people who are heavier may also choose a thicker mattress (or add a topper to the one they have if they need some extra softness for some sleeping positions). You can read a little more about the potential benefits of a thicker mattress or sleeping system for heavier weights in post #14 here. If you do choose to go in this direction (and not everyone that was heavier may choose or even need this) then you would likely choose the same medium (28 - 32) top layer and then vary the firmness of the layers below them to fine tune the surface feel and support qualities of the mattress and give you the options that you may want to experiment with. For example this may be F/XF/XF (under the M layer) for you or even F/F/XF if you need something that will be just a touch softer and for your wife it may be M/F/XF (with two mediums on top). A single 6" layer on the bottom instead of two 3" layers may be fine here as well. This would also give you more layers to experiment with at home to find the best combination for you if you need to do any fine tuning. If you know for certain from your local testing that you would want a softer top layer in the mix then I would include it so that you could do some experimenting at home to find the arrangement that is best for you and once you have finalized the layering then do a layer exchange if necessary based on your in home experience. If you go with a thinner mattress (either 8" or 9" of latex) then I would use your personal experience with sleeping on it to decide on the thickness and firmness of any topper that you may wish to add (if its necessary at all).

All of these are just some of the variables based on “theory” or “averages” rather than being based on your personal experiences though which may indicate something different and will give you a much more accurate reference point. There are usually several different combinations that will provide you with the PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) that would work well for you.

The best guidance I could give you isn’t “specs” at all (this is always best coming from the manufacturer/retailer of specific mattresses who can give you suggestions for their designs and the options they have available) but to encourage you to spend some time testing latex mattresses locally and to spend some time on the phone with the various manufacturers or retailers that offer what you are looking for (an all latex mattress) and after giving them your information see what their suggestions are for their specific designs. The members here that sell all latex mattresses online are listed in post #21 here. Their suggestions will likely be different from each other because their designs and options are different but you will get a good sense of the overall design range that may suit you best and then you could choose between them based on your level of confidence about your final choice and the options that are available after your purchase should you need it.

Again … I would personally never use specs alone to make a choice without some local testing as a reference point unless there were no other options available to me.


Thank you for the advice.