What should I do about my latex bed layer(s) choice?

Two months ago, I purchased a “medium” natural latex bed from Plushbeds.com. This consists of a 6" medium-firm Dunlop core with a 3" soft Talalay top layer. I have a major back problem, as well as, pressure-point pain and wanted something that was supportive for my back yet had some cushiness on top. This mattress is too soft and sinks, and I wake up with awful back pain. I’ve already tried reversing the two layers, w/no improvement. I probably would have problems w/most mattresses, but SOMETHING has to be improved. I have three options, at this point. To return it, lose money and still need a mattress; to just replace the Dunlop layer w/an extra-firm one (they do not carry firm); I believe the rating is 34-36; to add an extra-firm Talalay layer to the soft one and keep three layers; or, actually, some other combination. I don’t know if the extra-firm Dunlop will be too hard, even w/the soft Talalay layer. These options add various additional charges to the already very expensive bed, and, of course, the different layer ratings are subjective and I have no way to try anything out in the lousy Baltimore area, so it’s a shot in-the-dark, unfortunately. Finally, I am chronically ill, am pretty sick, have no one in the area to help me, and will have to pay a handyman to move things around, as needed. I have slept on foam most of my adult life (the latest concoction is an old foam mattress w/an old futon on top, laying on a platform bed–like sleeping on a boulder. So this is a change. After all the research I made, I sincerely, believed that latex was the way to go, and will be in the future, but took a big risk buying off the internet w/o testing any. This bed is the most important purchase I may ever make, I am going crazy, don’t know what to do and need help! My time is running out–I only have a brief time to choose, before I will be stuck w/an expensive bed I can’t sleep in!

Hi Parran,

I think the first thing I would do (if you haven’t already) is to talk with Plushbeds about your options. They have experience with a large customer base, some of which would have been facing similar choices to you, and because they know more about the specific components, materials, and layers of their mattresses than anyone, their ideas, thoughts and suggestions about your circumstances and any possibilities that are open to you would be valuable.

I’d also be happy to some of my thoughts about the choices available to you but unfortunately you haven’t posted enough information for me to do so.

It would be very helpful to know your height/weight/body type, your normal sleeping positions, and some of the specifics of your “symptoms” on the mattress including where they are (hips, shoulders, lower back, upper back etc) and which sleeping position they seem most connected to.


Thanks for your response. The options I mentioned were their suggestions. A customer service supervisor suggested exchanging the Dunlop layers. I think I’d feel better if it was firm and not extra-firm. Her employee thought that it may be too hard, and suggested ordering the additional Talalay layer, instead. So the choices would leave me with: 6" Dunlop extra-firm + 3" soft Talalay vs. 6" Dunlop medium-firm + 3" extra-firm Talalay + 3" soft Talalay. Very different options and no agreement among employees. I, of course, don’t know who is right or has the best suggestion. It’s not even comfortable to sit on, and I do a lot of that, since I’m ill. When I sit on the bed, it gives me the sensation of an old bed w/worn-out springs, if you know what I mean–like there is not enough support or density in the Dunlop layer. Is density considered the same as firmness? I don’t want to feel like I’m sleeping on the floor, but I do need to feel more support. The unfortunate fact is that each trial costs more money, and I don’t have anyone to help me do a lot of shifting around–getting it inside the house, putting on bed, packing up and sending back, multiple times. I wish I hadn’t ordered the bed at all (although I still believe in the benefits of latex) but I need to make the best out of this situation. I am usually a side sleeper, although I do switch positions a lot. I am a small framed woman, 5’6", 105 lbs. Although I feel pain in a few areas, my lower back is the worse. I know this is a difficult decision, but any feedback you can given me to help make it will be greatly appreciated. One other aside I thought of–is it true that you should not use an electric blanket/mattress cover with latex beds? Will the heat damage the latex? Thanks for your input.

Hi Parran,

I’m not quite clear on the exact layering of the mattress you have but my tendency would tend towards the opinions of the supervisor.

Their site indicates that you have a choice of different comfort layers (4 different options) but doesn’t mention any specifics of the choices available to you for the 6" Dunlop core.

It would be helpful to clarify what the layering of your current mattress is and the exchange options available to you.

What is the firmness/ILD of your current Talalay 3" comfort layer?

What is the firmness/ILD of your current Dunlop 6" support layer?

What are the firmness options available to you for the 6" Dunlop core (they don’t list this on the site)?

Some general comments that may be helpful in the meantime …

Every mattress is a balance between the conflicting needs of pressure relief and support.

Softer layers will generally feel firmer to people that have lighter weights because they don’t sink into the layers as deeply as heavier people.

Comfort (pressure relief) comes from a combination of the softness and the thickness of the comfort layers. Both thicker and softer layers allow you to sink in more deeply which increases pressure relief.

Support (spinal alignment) comes from a combination of thinner comfort layers and firmer support layers both of which will “stop” the heavier parts of the body from sinking in too deeply (causing misalignment). With your lower weiht … a thinner soft comfort layer may be all you need (as long as ther suupport layers weren’t too firm) for both good pressure relief and good alignment.

With lower back pain … the cause is generally that the hips/pelvis is sinking in too far and this could require either thinner comfort layers of firmer support layers.

I see no reason to add a firm Talalay middle layer when it would perform the same function as a firmer support core except it would add to the cost of your mattress. At your weight there would be no reason to buy 12" of latex of any type IMO.

While I understand that it is not free … their layer exchange costs are capped at $45 and their return costs are capped at $99 so at least this is reasonable. There are also other online latex mattress manufacturers that have a wider range of layering and/or material options available that could save you more than either of these if it became necessary. They are listed in post #21 here.

This is the nature of latex which is very elastic and “point elastic” which means it will compress more under the more concentrated weight of sitting because it compresses more “exactly” under the weight with less effect on the material around the weight. Your weight profile when you are lying down is much different from when you are sitting and what happens when you sit on the mattress is not an indication of its support when you are lying down.

Latex is not heat sensitive so an electric blanket would be fine. This is unlike memory foam which is heat sensitive where an electric blanket is not a good idea.

So hopefully this helps and some clarification about the layers that you have and the options available to you may also be helpful.


Thanks again. As I mentioned in my first message the “medium” mattress consists of a 6" medium-firm Dunlop layer and a 3" soft Talalay layer. ILD’s, specifically, of each are unknown. If I exchanged the suggested 6" extra-firm Dunlop layer (ILD unknown) for my present medium-firm one, It would cost me the $45 for exchange and an additional $240 for an extra-firm layer which, according to them, requires a lot more foam in its process. My question would be whether this combination of the new extra-firm layer and my present 3" comfort Talalay layer will be too hard. This has become so confusing. If I called the company Monday and was able to get the ILD numbers for these layers, would it help you help me in making this decision? If, instead I decided to return the entire bed for $99, I would have to start from scratch with a new company. That sort of overwhelms me. In addition, I will have to hire someone to make a new box (the one it was packed in is in bad shape), or pay a company almost $400 to box it up and send it back. Also, trying to compress the entire mattress into a box (I believe they use some sort of compressing machine to get it in there), would be very difficult. Of course, I would still have to return an exchanged mattress. This has to be one of the most difficult decisions (w/o enough info) I have ever made. If only there was even one store in Baltimore that had latex mattresses that I could test, my decision would be easier.

Hi Parran,

I was looking for the ILD range of their Dunlop layers because they don’t mention them on their site (they don’t even mention there is a choice). Different manufacturers have very different ideas of what “medium firm” may be and knowing the ILD ranges of their Dunlop would be helpful.

I also wanted to make sure that the comfort layer you had was the 19 - 21 ILD they list as one of their options just to make sure that we were on the same page.

It would also help to know what type of foundation your mattress is on so that it can be eliminated as a possible cause of any issues.

This would vary with each person and is not really possible for anyone else to know except through your own experience. I personally think that with your lighter weight that the 3" layer you have on top would be enough to shield you from the firmness of a firmer support layer but like all things that are based on specs it is only speculation because there is no formula to be able to know what any person may feel on a mattress.

If I had to guess at the most probable layering for you it would either be 3" of soft over a firmer support core or 2" of soft over a somewhat softer support core (probably similar to what you have). Both would reduce the amount the heavier parts of your body would sink in and probably lead to better alignment but testing similar layering locally would be very helpful.

I’d be happy to tell you the most probable effects of each change (and I’ve already listed most of them) but the only accurate way to know for sure would be testing in person either on similar mattresses that were available locally or through your personal experience on the new layering. There are too many variables between people to know for certain how anyone will feel on a particular layering combination except through using “averages” (and based on your descriptions you are probably not in an average range) and what your experience on one specific layering “points to” in terms of any changes that may be most desirable in the next one. This is just part of the nature and risk of an online purchase where averages may not always apply to any specific person. The best idea is always to go slowly and try to think through exactly what you are wanting to accomplish with each change, to make sure you have tested each combination for long enough to make sure you are seeing consistent patterns instead of just a few nights experience which may be an anomaly, and to narrow down as much as possible the most likely cause of any “symptoms” you are experiencing (by describing them as accurately and in as much detail as possible).

I can also tell you that with your multiple sleeping positions and lighter weight that thinner comfort layers that use softer materials are less risky (and leave more room for making fine tuning adjustments with mattress pads and/or toppers) than thicker layers of the same soft material.

Before you make this decision it may be worthwhile knowing what the local alternatives are or at least using them to help establish a reference pont. There are several choices in the Baltimore area that would at least let you test latex mattresses of various types that could be very helpful. They are listed in post #2 here.

If I’m not mistaken they cap the fee of return shipping at $99 and will probably make the arrangements to have it picked up by the company they prefer. Many companies that do this will send you prepaid shipping labels. They should also give you suggestions about the most effective way to pack it (putting it in a plastic bag and then vacuuming out the air can help to shrink it).

So I would start with confirming the ILD ranges of their base layers and that combined with some local testing may help you decide on what the best next step may be.


Hi. Well, I’m back, hopefully for the last time on this issue.
I contacted Plushbeds.com to get the ILD numbers. My present “medium” mattress consists of a medium-firm Dunlop layer, ILD 29-31, and a soft Talalay layer, 19-21. After sending them some pictures showing how far I can depress the core layer (3"), they agreed it was a defective one, so will replace it w/o my paying the extra exchange cost of $45. They indicated the extra-firm layer should only depress 2". I don’t understand why they sent me a defective one to begin with, since they claim to make their own. Where is quality control? It will still involve extra money, since I will now have to pay someone to unpack it and place on my bed, as well, as repack the old one for return. I originally had the “white glove” treatment, so that wasn’t an issue. Because of their mistake, I will be paying more. The other choice would be to replace the defective one w/an upgrade to an extra-firm (they do not have a firm option, $240 extra charge, ILD 34-36 layer, which is supposed to depress very little. Would that as an addition to the soft Talalay layer be too hard? I appreciate your sending me the link for “local” stores to try out layers, but since I am ill, I would not be able to travel possibly 2-3 hours to other states, Washington, Virginia, PA, so I am going to have to decide between the two options above–The choice involving a replaced so called non-defective medium-firm layer, which may or may not still be the same firmness and too soft (I don’t have much confidence in them and envision them sending me the exact same layer), or the extra-firm layer which may be too hard, both in combination w/the soft Talalay layer. What sounds most reasonable to you? I realize that this is an individual choice re comfort level, but at this point I’m not sure what to do. Thanks, again, for your input.

Hi Parran,

That’s good news (about the free exchange I mean)!

In all fairness to them … there would be no way for them to know. They would receive the latex cores from their distributor and then use them in a mattress but since Dunlop doesn’t have an exact ILD (it can vary depending on where in the core it came from and it also varies across the surface of the layer) it may just have been softer than the norm. If it was actually defective or just softer than the rating … either way they wouldn’t be able to tell from how it looked.

You are very light and for most people of your body type who were side sleepers … the mattress layering you had would probably have worked quite well (even if the core layer was softer than the norm). The 29 - 31 Dunlop would be a little on the soft side but lighter body types also do well with softer foams (in comfort layers and support layers) and what feels firm for a lighter body type can feel soft for someone who is heavier. Each person will also sink into the mattress differently depending on their weight distribution and body shape (where they carry most of their weight and the “curviness” of their body)

Back issues generally indicate though that your hips/pelvis is sinking down too far so a firmer bottom layer would normally be the answer. I don’t know how much different the layer that you had was from the “norm” and how much firmer the “accurate” new medium firm Dunlop would be (they could probably tell you more about this but I suspect the difference wouldn’t be much) but the extra firm layer (and 34 - 36 is generally “rated” as firm) should probably be an even safer choice in terms of alignment and with your lighter body weight … the 3" soft layer would most likely be thick enough to isolate you from feeling the firmness of the support layer more than was comfortable.

There is a Savvy Rest dealer fairly near you on the list that would give you the chance to test a firm Dunlop core layer with a soft 100% natural Talalay layer on top. If you call them and tell them what you are doing they may be willing to set up the same layering for you to test. They have 3" layers so their rough equivalent to what you have would be (from bottom to top) medium Dunlop / Medium Dunlop / Soft Talalay and equivalent to what you are considering would be Firm Dunlop / Firm Dunlop / Soft Talalay. At least this could give you a sense of how something close to the same combination would feel.

When faced with roughly equivalent choices … I personally tend towards the firmer choice because its “safer” (a mattress that is too firm is much easier to “fix” or “fine tune” than a mattress that is too soft). The worst case is that you may need a very thin topper if you “go through” the soft Talalay too much and feel too much of the firm Dunlop below it but this is less likely with your very low weight. I suspect it would be fine.

Hope this helps.


Hi Phoenix,

Thanks for all your help! I googled Savy Rest and really wish I had known about that store before I made my purchase, so I could have tried out the many different mattress layer combinations, (maybe). Too late for me. Although it is only about a 45 minute drive, with my illness and my having to drive myself, it would be too difficult. So I will have to make the best choice based on your input and my research. I believe you are right about going with the extra firm latex Dunlop and fine-tuning, if necessary. I will end up spending a lot of extra money, unfortunately, (the additional $240, plus whatever a handyman will charge to unpack, place on bed and repack the Dunlop layer), but it seems the best way to go. One final question, if necessary to fine-tune with your suggested 1" soft comfort layer (Talalay?), do you have a recommendation where to purchase it? Is it something I could buy on line? Oh, one more question–I had to purchase a mattress protector because of potential cat damage (I have 2 and one who gets sick a lot). It was from LL Bean, German-made, costs about $100 and is rather thick, i.e. not quilted, but has a layer of polyurethane for waterproofing. That sort of defeats the benefit of having an organic cotton knit mattress cover, and makes it more rigid, doesn’t it? Any suggestions?
I really appreciate your patience in helping me configure a mattress on which I spend so much time. You are really good at this!

Hi Parran,

Some of the better sources for toppers I know of are listed in post #4 here. 1" latex toppers are less common than 2" or more but if you decide that this is the way to go them Sleep Like a Bear (listed in the link) carries them in every firmness level that is available for Talalay latex.

I’m not familiar with the mattress protector they offer (and I couldn’t see it on their site) but stiffer or thicker mattress protectors will have a bigger effect on the layers below it than more stretchy thinner mattress protectors yes. Mattress protectors are necessary though to prevent accidents and damage to the mattress and post #89 here has more information about the different types and tradeoffs involved with each different type.


That’s a significant step up in firmness. If the bed you have is too soft because of a defective layer then making such a big jump in firmness, providing that the replacement layer(s) isn’t defective seems unwise – especially with your low body weight.

I bought a Savvy dunlop firm/med/soft, knowing it would be too hard for me from showroom testing and it is. I wanted to save money by not buying their topper (the most comfortable mattress configuration in the store for me was dunlop firm/dunlop medium/dunlop soft/2" talalay soft topper) and getting a 3rd-party topper instead. So, I’m waiting for my new topper and I had to air out the mattress anyway because the odor was too powerful to keep in the house. I found a soft 3" dunlop for $180, which is extremely inexpensive. I just hope it really is 100% natural latex and not a blend, because I can’t tolerate the odor of synthetic “latex”.

I am 6’2" and weigh about 164 lbs.

RF, thanks for your input, although I was all set to go the firmer route, despite my low weight–more due to major back problems. Also, it would not be medium Dunlop upgraded to extra firm, but would be medium-firm upgraded. They don’t carry a medium layer, but call their “medium bed” such based on the combination of medium-firm Dunlop and soft Talalay. You are fortunate to have been able to test your layers. I am just guessing.

As for your cheap Dunlop layer for $180, I wouldn’t believe it. Based on my hours of on-line research, in addition to a past visit to Mattress Discounters, a lot of the sales personnel lie. MD tried to sell me a “natural latex” bed for the equivalent high price, until they realized I wasn’t totally ignorant of latex bed attributes. They eventually backed down, and as it turned out, there wasn’t any portion of the bed that was “natural”. I realize that Dunlop is less expensive than Talalay, so you may be lucky. That would be a wonderful find. Also, my natural latex has very little odor, at all, at least that I could detect. I also wonder why you have all Dunlop layers and no Talalay. I suppose it was just the combination most comfortable for you. That makes some difference, since Dunlop is a firmer feel, which is why it is used for the core. Unlike your topper, mine would be softer which may make my extra-firm Dunlop more comfortable. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Good luck!

The difference between medium-firm and extra-firm is probably quite significant. But, you can always get another topper if it’s too firm. That’s the advantage of getting a bed that’s firmer than you need. You can always soften a firm bed.

I am hopeful that it is the real thing since it’s a closeout from a manufacturer that isn’t making the layers anymore in the US. The photo of the layer shows 100% natural stamped on it and I think the seller was said to be a good one on this site:

Not mine, but perhaps the layers I got were recently manufactured? The odor isn’t the same as as synthetic. It smelled like wet cake batter and now smells more like balloons or rubber bands. I’ve heard that vanilla extract may be added to natural latex, which explains the cake batter odor.

Of the mattress configurations I tested, firm-medium-soft dunlop (with wool/cotton cover) plus one 2" layer of extra soft talalay (with wool cover) was the most comfortable. But, since the topper was quite expensive, I couldn’t afford it and decided to try to find another topper elsewhere. Since I found the special price on the dunlop topper, I decided to try it. Phoenix said the bed will probably be firmer than the it would be with the talalay topper, but I can always add a thin talalay topper if necessary. I bet, though, that 6 inches total of soft dunlop will do the trick.

A few inches of extra soft talalay will sink down, though, and you may feel the firm layers as pressure points. But, the good news is that you can always soften a firm bed with another topper layer.

My situation would be comical, if it were not for the extra time, frustration, inconvenience and money involved. I feel like I am baking a multi-layer wedding cake for royalty (w/o any experience or a recipe) instead of an ordinary (?) mattress. But, as Phoenix, you and I all agree, it is easier to amend a too firm mattress than a too soft one; and I do believe it will be too firm (and have no idea how soft the replacement would have been)–that is where the extra vanilla will most likely be needed. I only hope that by the time I have finished “fine-tuning”, the result will not approach the ceiling! I have a platform bed, and that level would be somewhat above the low profile, that I prefer. I am trying to maintain a light-hearted attitude, when I would like to shoot someone–anyone.

After reading your additional comments re your topper, it appears that you may have hit pay dirt. I hope so, and, again, wish you luck and a life filled with pleasant dreams and restful, restorative slumber.

P.S. I was going to end all here, but I am curious what your entire mattress cost you (and for what size). Just as I was about to click “submit”, I thought of one other factor. Have you heard it to be true that with age and friction from the occupant, that latex beds will soften? That would make me happy, if it’s too firm.

Hi RF and Parran,

There’s probably not much to add to your conversation as you have covered all the “moving parts” except for …

As you probably know … mattresses.net is a member of this site and listed as one of the best sources of various components and toppers (post #4 here). This topper is exactly what they say it is and is great value. They had another similar value before this one (a zoned Dunlop topper) that is now sold out.


Latex beds are supposed to last longer than other bed types, but softer layers have less latex and more air so they are more likely to wear more quickly. Also, there is debate about whether dunlop or talalay will last longer. Some say dunlop will develop impressions quicker while others day talalay will wear out faster.

The nice thing about building a multilayer bed is that you can replace or adjust upper layers without having to replace the entire bed, in theory at least. The firmer layers at the bottom should last longer than the top layers. So, it seem a latex bed is an upfront extra cost that will be worth it in the long run.

If your bed is too firm, you may want to try the same topper I got and put it under your talalay top layer. It’s very inexpensive, after all, as far as natural latex goes.

I’ll get back to you on the price of the bed. I don’t recall offhand. The seller, who is a very nice guy in Akron, has a personal line of “botanical” talalay beds (made with 100% natural Latex International foam) that are less expensive, but I preferred the feel of the dunlop (three layers of dunlop plus one 2" talalay, with some wool/cotton). Really, though, his top of the line bed was quite close to the feel of the Savvy with the topper for less money. I probably would have been quite happy with it.

I am hopeful that my latex allergy won’t be as big a problem as it was when I first set up the bed. I tried to skip the airing out procedure and that was a big mistake. Personally, I really like the way latex beds offer so much flexibility in terms of firmness and user adjustment. It’s so much better than being stuck with a bed that’s so soft, like my current one, that it has to be completely replaced after just a few years. I just hope the latex is resilient enough to not develop body impressions that some say cause a loss of support. I’m not too worried about that, though, given the firmness of even the firm/med/soft bed I have.

Hi RF,

I’m guessing you are referring to naturalbedco.com which are one of the options listed for the Cleveland area.

He has certainly made some improvements to his website and product offerings since I’ve last talked with him.