Thinking of switching from a water bed to a latex bed

My wife and I have slept on water beds for the last 40 years and are in the market for a new bed and have been giving serious consideration to a latex bed. Does anyone have any experience in making a switch like this? Also does anyone have any recommendations for a manufacture or retail outlet in the NW tip of SC (Seneca/Clemson area)? Assuming we will need to order from an on line manufacture, how satisfied are customers who order with basic information like weight, height and sleeping position?

Hi mjstroven,

I would certainly recommend that you try out a few latex mattresses to get a sense of the variety of different “feels” that latex can provide depending on the type of latex and the layering that is in it.

There is one factory direct manufacturer near you that I know of and I would give them a phone call to ask about what they make that you may want to test (including their latex mattresses) and if you find them helpful and knowledgeable … I would seriously consider taking the time to visit them. They certainly fit the profile of manufacturers which use quality materials and have good value. Gaffney, SC. Local factory direct manufacturer. They make all types of mattresses including innerspring, memory foam, and latex.

The closest retail outlets I know of that would give you some better options are … Greenville, NC. Carry Land and Sky which make a range of mattresses using Dunlop latex including innerspring/latex hybrids. Franklin, SC. Carry Jamison which make some high quality latex and latex/polyfoam hybrids which they carry.

If you choose to make an online purchase of a latex mattress … several of the manufacturing members here specialize in online purchases of quality latex mattresses of various types. They are exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful on the phone (much more so than through email which most manufacturers tend to avoid because of the limitations of more “linear” back and forth written communications) and are very good at helping you to identify your best choices based on your needs and preferences. Most of them also offer various options that allow for changes or layers to be exchanged after a purchase.

There is a list of these in post #21 here.

That’s quite a change of sleeping surfaces. I still have some fond memories of sleeping on a waterbed for many years … and it was full motion rather than some of the newer technology that’s available today :slight_smile:


Hi Phoenix,

Thank you for recommendations on a local factory direct manufacture and retail outlets with brands that we should try out. We just ordered an iron bed which will take about 6-8 weeks to receive so that will give us some time to zero on what we like and don’t like. Since our target budget is $4000 or less, hopefully we can find a bed that will give us the comfort and support we have enjoyed for the last 20 years with a wave less pillow top waterbed. I plan to follow up with each of your recommendations over the next week and will let you know how things are proceeding.

M J Stroven

Hi mjstroven,

Your budget is more than enough to find a very high quality mattress even in a King Size (of course the size is a significant part of the price of a mattress).

I’m looking forward to any other questions and comments you may have along the way.


Hi Phoenix,

Here is what I have come up with thus far: They make latex mattresses using a 6 inch Latex International for their foundations but no additional layers. They carry Pure Latex Bliss (Pamper, Nature and Beautiful), Gold Bond Eco Line and Tempur-Pedic. They carry Land and Sky,(Heaven and Earth, Rainforest and Meadow) Phone disconnected.

Hopefully between Blueridge Bedding and Drew Furniture we can get a feeling for what we like and don’t like.

M J Stroven

Hi mjstroven,

You may have misdialed Macon. I thought it was strange that they still had a website and I called and talked to them and they carry the Jamison latex mattresses and they are actually their best seller.

If you go to the Jamison site here, you can enter your zip and a 50 mile radius and there are a couple of other retailers that are a little closer as well depending on which direction you want to go but I would call them as well to make sure they carry the Jamison latex models.

The 6" latex mattress at Sleepeasy,net may be ideal either by itself or for adding a latex topper if you need a thicker comfort zone. The advantage of doing this is that you can choose your own comfort layer and the topper is replaceable if your needs change or if the topper wears out before the core (although with latex that would take a long time). They probably have toppers that you can add to the basic core but they are also widely available as well.

Your other choices also seem like very good testing grounds. I should have added Gold Bond to the list at Blue Ridge as they also make some good value mattresses in latex as well as memory foam.

Let me know how it goes when you have a chance to test some of these. Blue Ridge Bedding looks like they have quite a few choices in latex and of course you could also compare them to the feel of memory foam of different types in the same store.


Hi Phoenix,

Made a trip to Blue Ridge Bedding and furniture today and found the owner, Scott to be a very well informed individual. We tried the following beds:
-Tempur-Pedic Supreme, not soft enough for my wife and I started to feel warm after 5-10 minutes
-Tempur-Pedic Luxe, both of us felt like we sank into the bed too far and it was hard to turn after laying in one position for any time
-Memory Foam bed distributed by Gold Bond, the first one (8-9 inch mattress) was too firm and the second one which was suppose to be comparable to the Tempur-Pedic Luxe, we actually like better than the Tempur Pedic Luxe since it didn’t swallow you up as much. I also felt warm after 5-10 minutes in this bed.
-Pure Latex Bliss Pamper, this bed was too firm for either of us.
-Pure Latex Bliss Nature, this bed was also too firm. We tried this bed with a soft 2 inch topper from Pure Latex Bliss and my wife liked the combination but I didn’t because it was too soft.
-Pure Latex Bliss Beautiful, this was our favorite bed of the ones we tried although I sensed by wife would not have been unhappy with just a hind of more plushness. Scott quoted us a price of $3499 including foundations, tax and delivery which is well within our targeted budget.

This was a good learning experience since we determined that 1) we prefer the latex beds over the memory foam, 2) it will be possible to go from a water bed to a latex bed and get the comfort level we are looking for, 3) we both prefer a bed with a high plushness rating.

We plan to go out again in the next few days and try the Land and Sky beds and some Jamison beds. Received a call today while we were out from Sleep Easy Mattress and they would have a queen mattress that we could try out tomorrow. I’m not sure it’s worth the 95 mile trip one way to try a single core 6 inch mattress based on what we experienced with the Pure Latex Bliss mattresses.

Are there any other manufactures I could attempt to look up for local distribution? Also, from you knowledge do you believe we could match the feel of the Pure Latex Bliss Beautiful from something like the SleepEz 13000?

Again, thanks for your assistance in guiding us in our quest for a new bed.

Hi mjstroven,

Your experiences with Tempurpedic are fairly typical. They are very high quality … and pricey … and their memory foam has a slower response and a more “motion restricting” feel than many other memory foams. The Cloud Supreme has a total of 4" of memory foam (2" of the softer 4 lb and then 2" of their regular memory foam). The Luxe has a thicker 2.75" of the softer memory foam on top and then 2" of their HD (hig density) memory foam underneath this. It would be softer but is also thicker which means you will sink in more (even though the denser HD foam may take a little extra time to soften).

The GoldBond uses 4 lb breathable and faster reacting memory foam (which you noticed in how it didn’t “trap” you as much). I’m not sure which models you tried but their various models have from 3" - 4" of memory foam (not as thick as some of the Tempurpedics which I think is a “good” thing for most). As you also noticed … even more breathable memory foams can sleep hotter than other foams for some people.

The Pamper is 1" of 19 ILD (soft) over 6" of 40 ILD (very firm) and with the thinness of the comfort layer you would be feeling the firmness of the layer below. This would be too firm for most peopl;e but it can provide a good base for either their 2" or 3" soft latex topper.

The Nature has 2" of 19 ILD over 1" of 28 ILD over 6" of 36 ILD. For many side sleepers, only having 2" of soft and then only a very thin layer of medium in between that and the firmer core would also be a little on the firm side. With a topper it would become either 4" or 5" of very soft latex on top which would be too thick/soft for most people.

The Beautiful has 3" of 19 ILD over 2" of 24 ILD over 6" of 36 ILD. this seems tobe about right in the top layer and the middle layer is also a little “softer” than normal so it seems clear tht you like “plush” mattresses :slight_smile: Of course height and weight, body shape, and sleeping positions all make a big difference in how soft or firm a mattress will feel for any person (lighter people generally feel the same foam firmness as being firmer than someone who is heavier).

Overall … some clear patterns are emerging as to the type of layering that seems to work for you (as you mentioned “high plushness”)

This would depend on the price of course and based on your experience you would also need a topper over it (like the pamper) or it would likely be too firm. A phone call with a rough description of your preferences so far could probably tell you how close they could come but without a layered approach it seems likely that they would not work as well for you. Some manufacturers will actually custom build and put together any firmness and thickness of layering you may wish.

Land and Sky will be interesting but they are firmer Dunlop and you may find them too firm.

Jamison has several mattresses that also use various thicknesses of 19 ILD talalay latex but they are layered a bit differently and have a quilted ticking so it will be an interesting experience for you to compare them. is the only local manufacturer near you that I know of.

In terms of “duplicating” the PLB … the best answer is probably “to a degree”. SleepEz can order 3" of talalay in 19 ILD (their “regular” soft is the next step up at 22-24) which would give you the same top layer but their layering is all 3" layers and layer thickness can affect the feel of a mattress as much as layer softness. Their typical layering would be 22-24 for soft, 30-32 for medium, and 38-40 for firm so the ILD’s and the layer thickness would both be different. So you could build something “similar” (with a 19 ILD custom order for the comfort layer) but it wouldn’t be the same. In terms of the ticking … SleepEz does have a non quilted cover as well as their wool quilted cover so this would also be “similar” to the non quilted cover on the PLB.

I’m assuming the PLB beautiful you are quoting is in queen size? In general I normally recommend giving preference to a mattress that you have personally tested unless there is a significant enough difference (say more than 20% depending on how much the differences justify the “risk”). Some people are much more tolerant of smaller differences and some will see a bigger difference in smaller variations.

Post #21 here has a list of the manufacturers that are members of the site that specialize in mattresses that can be shipped anywhere in the country. Of these … Custom Sleep Design would probably have the best odds of duplicating the feel of the Beautiful (using a different zoned approach) but they like the Beautiful are a more premium mattress and wouldn’t have the savings of some of the other options. One of the advantages of a “choose your own layer” approach is that each side can be made differently to accommodate differences in a couple and many offer a “layer exchange” after purchase in case you decide to make changes after you have slept on it for a while and decide you would like to make some changes.

I’m looking forward to your feedback from the rest of your testing.


Hi Phoenix,

First just a bit of background that I didn’t include in my earlier comments. I’m 6’ 2" tall, weigh 215 lbs and sleep primarily on my back and some on my side. My wife is 5’ 8" tall, weight 150 lbs. and sleeps primarily on her side and some on her back (actually she is a restless sleeper and moves a lot). The mattress we are looking for is an eastern king with foundations.

Saturday we had a chance to go out again and try some more mattresses. The following are the results from testing the Land and Sky mattresses:
-Land and Sky Rainforest with the following layering: S/S/M was too soft and the F/F/M was too firm
-Land and Sky Heaven and Earth with the following layering: S(topper)/F/F/F was too firm and the S(topper)/M/M/M was very comfortable. My wife favored this over the PLB primarily because of the quilted top. She felt that the non quilted cover on the PLB was cool to the touch when lying on the bed (kind of like the feeling of sitting on leather vs upholstery). I noticed the same thing. Although I liked this bed I did feel it was a little more dense than the PLB. Price quoted for mattress/foundations and delivery was $4295 plus tax which is a little high of my target budget.

Next we tried the Jamison mattresses. Harmony was too firm as was the Krypton. The Gemini (plush side up) was a comfortable mattress for the price point ($2399 including foundations)but not as good as the PLB or the Land and Sky Heaven and Earth. We would have liked to tried Generations and Cashmere Comfort but I was unsuccessful in finding any dealers with 50 miles that carried these. We also tried the Jamison Oceania JGel ($2199 with foundations) which was slightly more comfortable than the Gemini and did not sleep hot.

Conclusions so far:
-We both prefer a plush mattress with a soft comfort layer and reasonable support
-We both prefer a quilted top with some wool (don’t know if a wool mattress protector would make up for this on a non quilted cover)
-My wife’s number 1 and my number 2 is $550 over our target budget with tax included.
-I prefer the feel of talalay vs dupont latex. My wife was not sure she could tell the difference since we tried these two beds on different days.

Would appreciate any comments you may have as I plan to place an order for a mattress from someone this week. It’s apparent that you enjoy helping individuals find the best combination of price and comfort for their needs and I have learned a lot in the last week.

M J Stroven

Hi mjstroven,

I find it can be much more accurate to test and “evaluate” a mattress in terms of a comfort layer (pressure relief) and a support core (spinal alignment and support). This way the words “soft” and “firm” can take on more specific meanings depending on whether you are talking about the pressure relieving qualities (top layers) , the supportive qualities (lower layers), or the overall feel of a mattress (much more subjective). This can lead to more accurate feedback in terms of where a mattress may be too firm or soft rather than a more subjective description of the mattress as a whole.

Neither of these are surprising to me. The S/S/M is rather soft for support and the F/F/M is rather firm for pressure relief.

Typically … an “average” choice that suits many people is (from top to bottom) S/M/F and as weight goes up the layers get firmer to accommodate. Dunlop is usually rated in terms of density and the “ratings” are approximate because Dunlop is a denser and has a less consistent surface softness than Talalay. Most Dunlop because of the way it’s made also has a slightly firmer side and a slightly softer side because the latex particles settle more during manufacture. Soft Dunlop is usually in the mid 20’s in terms of ILD while Talalay can be made softer (like the PLB which would have talalay latex on top which would be softer than any of the land and sky models). Even Dunlop of the same ILD as Talalay feels firmer because it gets firmer faster than Talalay because of it’s higher density.

According to the information I have read the Heaven and Earth has only 3 layers with the bottom layer being 6". This would be closer to a typical firmness level which most people would choose although I would be tempted to use (or at least test) a firm bottom layer just for a little bit of additional support. This could work well and provide better support at the cost of a little less pressure relief (which would probably still be fine although again this would use firmer latex on top than the PLB). Generally thicker mattresses will feel a little softer because the foam compresses to a lower percentage of it’s thickness (foams get firmer as they compress more).

Latex (and Talalay latex even more than Dunlop) is a cooler foam but being right on the latex also provides better pressure relief … and the PLB (depending on the model) would also use a lower ILD of Talalay latex on top. A wool topper can always be added as a mattress protector which provides temperature regulation at the slight cost of lowering the ability of the latex to compress and conform to your body shape.

Dunlop is denser than Talalay although in terms of durability thay are about equal for the most part. While the land and sky makes for a good testing ground … the price is very expensive and similar mattresses can be purchased online from a manufacturer such as several on this site (using the same quality and type of latex and the same “choose your own layer” construction and a cotton/wool quilting) for about half the price. A foundation can add a few hundred more depending on the type and quality chosen.

Both the Harmony and the Krypton are latex hybrids with 3" of 40 ILD latex in the comfort layer which most people would find exceptionally firm. They both have an inch of softer polyfoam over the latex and use a polyfoam rather than a latex core. Given your preferences, I would not even consider the firmer Jamisons.

The jGel description on the Jamison site doesn’t have a description of the layering but the jGel would be similar to the gel memory foam in the iComfort. The gel is a cooling substance which draws heat from the body through convection and so can cool down memory foam which is normally a hotter foam in most its formulations.

FBased on your testing … it seems to me that the PLB (with a wool mattress protector if necessary) would be the choice that best “fits” all your preferences. A “somewhat” similar mattress could be ordered at a significant discount from one of the online manufacturers of this site and you would also have layer excbhnges available if your mattress needed adjusting after you had slept on it.

What I would do next is to confirm your best choices (particularly the difference between your preferred Land and Sky which is firmer than the PLB you also liked) to see which you clearly prefer since they would be completely different “models” if you chose to order online using one or the other as a rough blueprint.

Second I would spend some time talking with some of the online manufacturers to see how close they could come to your preferred choices (make sure you tell them the specifics of the layering you preferred so they can use it as a rough guideline) and get a sense of how they build their mattresses, what they each offer, and the prices of their best recommendation. They are all “good people” and well worth discussing your options with.

I would then make your final choice using all the differences in price (local and online), design, and risk to decide which may be your best choice.


Hi Phoenix,

Have talked with and gotten proposals from Sleep Ez, Custom Sleep Design and Flo Bed. After looking at all the alternatives and the amount we plan to spend I have decided to go with one of these manufacture’s beds rather than a local purchase of one size fits all, to allow us to customize the two sides for our weight and height. Rather than bore you with the details of each proposal (I am satisfied that each of them understands our needs and their proposals reflect that), my one question to you is have you had any feedback from those that have gone with a bed from either Custom Sleep Design or Flo Bed as to whether the extra customization of the bed has been beneficial. It makes sense that it should help and I have no problem spending the extra $500 if I will get some added benefit. Thanks for all your help and I think we are ready to pull the trigger for our new bed.

M. J. Stroven

hi mjstroven,

This makes good sense to me and all three of these manufacturers are high quality manufacturers and could be good choices IMO … in different ways and with different “combinations” of value.

The comparison here would IMO be between the FloBeds vZone and the CSD. Without the vZone … SleepEz has a clear advantage in any “unzoned” layering choice … because the top layer can also be customized (isn’t a standard layer type and ILD that is added to all mattresses as in the Flobeds) and there is a also a significant difference in price in both the blended and all natural models.

In the case of the two “competing” zoning models of the vZone and the Custom Sleep design, there are significant differences IMO.

The challenge for most people is in two particular “zones”. The first of these is “allowing” the wider lighter shoulders to sink in enough to provide pressure relief (allow the torso to bear weight) and help with upper body alignment. The CSD design accomplishes this through two ILD customized layers of latex rather than just one and the ILD is selected based on a very accurate algorithm and experience and takes into account the specific measurements and weight of each individual that will use the mattress. The single layer shoulder zone of the vZone is much more generalized and always has a specific ILD layer on top of the zoned soft shoulder zone.

The second challenge is in “stopping” the pelvis from sinking in too far. The pelvic tilt controls the lumbar arch and if it is allowed to rotate forward (by allowing the pelvis to sink in more), then this is the most common cause of lower back issues. The vZone tends to put softer latex under the pelvis and “drop” the pelvis which rotates the pelvis forward and accentuates the lumbar arch. It then puts a firmer latex under the lumbar arch to hold it up. The CSD design on the other hand tends to put gradually progressive firmer latex under the pelvis which rotates the pelvis backwards and puts the lumbar spine in a more neutral and less extended position. While there are some specific body shapes and weight distributions which can benefit from what I have called “reverse zoning” … in most cases there is better spinal alignment by bringing the pelvis up rather than dropping it down.

There is a great deal of information on the internet on spinal tilt and how it controls spinal alignment and back issues and in almost all cases … the biggest issue is the overextension of the lumbar curve because of a forward pelvic tilt. Both designs incorporate a slightly firmer area under the lumbar curve (CSD through an overlap of the zones and the vZone through a specific firmer zone). In the pelvic and lumbar area … the CSD design is IMO clearly superior and more in line with keeping the spine neutral. The ILD’s used are also individually customized in both top layers under the pelvis both in terms of ILD and the specific positioning of the zones based on individual measurements. They also utilize the full range of latex ILD’s available.

What this translates into IMO is much greater accuracy and a much greater ability to customize each mattress to each individual both in terms of pressure relief and in terms of correct alignment. Based on the knowledge I have and the feedback I have received … it is exceptionally accurate. If for any reason it’s not the first time … their ability to adjust each “zone” based on actual sleeping experience in combination with their specific knowledge of how the zones interact and what adjustments may be necessary means that the odds are higher than any other zoning scheme that I know of that a customer will have a “perfect” fit. You pay for this ability of course … but this is the reason that such a premium mattress is included in the membership here and has what I consider to be such good value in spite of it’s price.

In effect … the CSD is a simpler yet far more personalized, and sophisticated zoning system and construction and requires no customer knowledge or judgement to make it work.

I hope this answered what you were asking. I realize that each person needs to balance what they are paying against the benefits that are important to them (decide on their own personal “value equation”) and hopefully this will help you to decide on the balance between benefits and price that is most important to you.

And if I’ve missed anything in this reply … feel free to post again :slight_smile: