Zenhaven Mattress

Hi Phoenix,

It’s been a little while and I still haven’t decided on a “finished” mattress but have been looking to speed things up a bit. I was getting close to pulling the trigger on one of a couple ‘hybrid’ options but then came across the Zenhaven mattress (by Saatva) this past weekend.

It has a great design and appears to be a great value, especially considering the quality of the materials and that it’s two-sided. They also offer full delivery/ setup/ removal options for reasonable fees. I’m turned-off by component mattresses at this point for a variety of reasons and haven’t really seen anything that competes with the Zenhaven either locally or online when it comes to overall value (on a finished mattress with all-natural Talalay).

This brings me to a pet-peeve (or a few under a general theme)- the foundation. A little while back I purchased a foundation from a local place… it’s solid (had them add extra slats) and well-constructed, and I liked the border fabric/color. It wasn’t until after it was delivered (and paid for) that I realized the aesthetic element was ‘off’. Instead of the border fabric wrapping over the top edges and going into the surface a couple inches before connecting to the non-skid material, the non-skid material (which is somewhat of an unattractive beige /off-white) actually comes out over the edges slightly… pretty much the opposite of how I think most people would agree it should be. I realize that many people wouldn’t care about this (or possibly even notice) and that some will use a bed-skirt or place the foundation within a frame, etc., but I was pretty detailed and didn’t think this is something that should even need to be mentioned (didn’t even occur to me at the time).

One thing I knew going in is that cardboard was used in the foundation… most manufacturers are doing this now (with corrugated cardboard or MDF) in complete disregard or ignorance of the fact that it inhibits airflow. The exception would be the more expensive “natural’ foundations that use additional wood slats with or without wool (and/or cotton) padding. If the slats are close enough together (about 2” on my foundation), I would think the fiber pad (which it also has) is sufficient and will also allow for a little air to pass through so the mattress can breathe a bit. Regardless, I relented on the cardboard and accepted that, but get annoyed every time I notice the edges of the foundation I paid good money for (which is often).

Due to my frustration with the foundation, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to replace it, which is admittedly a shame since it’s functionally sound. I found another local place that really listens and can construct a very good quality foundation at a reasonable cost (about half of my current one). However, since I’m probably going to get the Zenhaven at this point, I figured it would be easiest to go with their foundation (which they of course recommend) since everything can be delivered and setup in one shot. It’s reasonably priced but after asking them about the construction, here we go again…

It has only six 2.75" cross-slats (.75" thick), covered with some cardboard or MDF which is covered with a little of their polyfoam. I don’t care what any of these manufacturers say… this is crap. Using cardboard/MDF to compensate for wide gaps between the slats doesn’t work… I’ve done my own testing with two of these types of foundations (with a latex mattress on top) and found the mattress will easily depress the cardboard/MDF in between the slats if they’re a few inches or more apart. In my opinion, many of these companies don’t really understand or care about what makes a good foundation for a latex mattress and their own foundations are made to appear adequate while costs are being cut on the quality. This implies they do have some idea that as long as it’s just adequate enough, the foundation is usually going to be overlooked with respect to most warranty/performance claims related to the mattress itself (and prevent returns within a trial period if offered).

Overall, I really wish that even some smaller companies would learn to “listen” a little more and pay more attention to (or even acknowledge) certain details instead of just assuming you’re going to (or should) just “take their word for it”. That said, I don’t want to get outside the scope of this post and was wondering what your thoughts are on the above and the Zenhaven foundation (and mattress!)


Hi Manimal,

While I can’t speak to whether one of the two sides would be a good “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own Personal preferences) because the only way to know for certain will be based on your own experience … the Saatva Zenhaven mattress uses high quality materials (100% natural Talalay and a cotton cover quilted to organic wool) and there are no lower quality materials or weak links in the mattress that would be a cause for concern in terms of the durability or useful life of the mattress.

If you are confident that one of the two sides would be a good “match” for you in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP (or you are comfortable with the return policy and the costs involved) and if it also compares well to any of your other finalists including the DIY options you have been considering based on all the other parts of your personal value equation that are important to you … then it would certainly be well worth considering.

While it is a two sided mattress … I would keep in mind that the two sides are a different firmness level so once you have decided on which of the two sides you sleep best on it would effectively be a one sided mattress since most people would only sleep on the side that they prefer.

I’m not sure why you are “turned off” by component mattresses but if for some reason you don’t like loose layers then once you have decided on the configuration that works best for you then you can always glue the layers together. Of course you would lose the advantages that go with a component mattress including the ability to rearrange the layers or to replace a single layer instead of the whole mattress if one of the layers softens or breaks down before the others (which is likely) or if your needs and preferences change down the road.

I also agree with most of your thoughts about foundations.

An all latex mattress will generally do best with a firm, flat, and evenly supportive support surface underneath it that has minimal to no flex under the mattress and for larger sizes with at least one center support beam that has good support to the floor to prevent any sagging in the middle of the mattress. The components need to be strong and durable and stable enough to support the weight of the mattress and the people sleeping on it without some of the parts bending, sagging, or breaking over time. The support surface under the mattress should have enough surface area to prevent the mattress from sagging through any gaps or spaces in the support surface over time but still allow some airflow under the mattress. I would suggest that in a slatted support system (either a foundation on a steel or wooden bedframe or a platform bed with a slatted support surface) that any gaps between the slats are no more than 3" (with 1 x 3 slats) although less than that would be better yet.

IMO … there are certainly better quality and more suitable foundations available in a similar price range that would be a better choice for an all latex mattress.


Hi Phoenix,

First off I have really enjoyed reading your site. It is very generous of you to be so thorough and informative, not to mention all the individual attention you give people. Very rare in this world and I can only assume that what drives you is a fairly single-focused fascination with mattresses, essentially making it a hobby.

I was also very refreshed to see you break down the “millennial mattress” craze. The online review sites made me even more frustrated than mattress salesman. Not to mention the idea of reviewing a mattress is ridiculous. I went to a large mattress store a few days in a row, and my opinions changed about 3-4 times, and each time I left without knowing which type of mattress I wanted, or even which mattress was my favorite within each type. I finally decided I do like a foamy feel, but that I could easily get used to basic any type so long as it was supportive-enough and soft. I don’t think I slept on expensive mattresses growing up, so I don’t see why all of a sudden my brain thinks this is all so vitally important.

In any case, enough of my own personal take on this all. I was wondering what you thought about the Floyd foundation. I recently purchased it (I have not gotten it yet) but it looks very, very sturdy (is close to 100 lbs). I am thinking about the Zenhaven, but am first going to try out latex mattresses at some of the stores you recommended here in the Denver area, and talk with the people there as well.

I also e-mailed Winkbeds about your “slight concern” about the 1.5# poly-foam. I was particularly concerned since their softer Winkbed essentially just adds another inch of foam to the comfort layer, making it 3", when you said anything over 1" is questionable.00 They said that although this site raises a lot of legitimate issues with mattress quality, your concern is hypothetical and they selected the poly-foam mix in question precisely because of it’s durability.

Hi sunyata,

Thank you for your kind words. And what may have started as a hobby is now my full-time job.

I’m not personally familiar with the Floyd platform bed, but everything they do seems to be focused on the minimalist component-style concept using birch laminated layers with a honeycomb core. They list a conservative estimate at 600 pounds for the weight capacity. If you decide to get one feel free to post your thoughts here.

Your personal testing we be a very good indicator if latex is “for you”, and be sure to get specifics on the materials used in any mattress you test to help you classify your preferences.

My normal recommendation would be a product using 1.8 lb polyfoam (see this article and this article). The guidance I offer is based upon thousands of hours of research, information from the Polyurethane Foam Association, and most importantly talks with foam pourers and experienced fabricators with decades of experience whose advice and feedback I trust.

Regarding Winkbeds, you can read more about them in the Simplified Choice category in post #2 here. My comments specifically from that thread:

Slight caution because of the top 2" of 1.5 lb polyfoam which is “not bad” but is more than the guidelines I would normally suggest. Winkbeds is one of the few innerspring or “coil on coil” mattresses in this category. My only caution here is that they use 2" of 1.5 lb polyfoam in the top layers of the mattress and while this is “not bad” and is better than most of the mainstream mattresses in the industry which tend to use thicker layers of the same or even lower quality/density polyfoam … it is also “on the edge” of the guidelines that I would normally suggest which is “no more than about an inch or so of lower quality and less durable materials in the upper layers of the mattress” so I would add a “slight” caution here relative to durability. There is also more about them in this topic . They also offer a unique coolControl base that may be used with their mattress that circulates air into the mattress and can adjust the temperature in a 12 degree range, and can be adjusted differently on the left and right side of the mattress.

Of course, there are many variable involved in predicting the durability of a mattress, as outlined in much more detail in post #2 here. But in the end, density is the greatest tool to help consumers gauge the durability of the materials contained within any mattress.


I couldn’t figure out how to start a new thread under the new system so am bringing up an old one to note that apparently the firmest layer in this mattress is 30-34 ILD, and the softer side is 19 ILD on the top layer, but they claim that even people over 250 lbs. can use either side. This seems contrary to everything I have read about ILDs and weight. Also I can’t figure out why except for nifty marketing this would be better than a less expensive component mattress?

I too would be very skeptical “that even people over 250 lbs. can use either side”, if that is their claim. I weigh about 200 pounds and am getting low back pain after sleeping on the softer side .The firmer side feels more supportive, but the top comfort layer does not seem to be thick enough (at only 1.5") to provide effective pressure relief under my hips and shoulders. Your Mileage May Vary … but I think it is unrealistic to expect even the best mattress to work well for every body type even in such varying configurations.

That all makes sense. And good point about the thin comfort layer. It seems DIY is a better option.

I have sagging/bowing in my Zenhaven but I think it’s coming from the matching foundation. (I am not strong enough to drag it onto the floor to see for sure, but the edge of the foundation is higher than all the slats, so makes sense.

I was looking into replacing the foundation altogether and have discovered that using a slat foundation voids the warranty! They demand a “solid surface.” It seems a bit counterintuitive as this foundation is essentially a widely-spaced slat foundation with some cardboard or flimsy material underneath the slats, but worth noting.

I too noticed the Zenhaven warranty policy regarding slats and found it odd. Some other latex bed sellers actually encourage slats (as long as the spacing doesn’t exceed some maximum) and discourage solid surfaces. It seems to me that strong, closely spaced slats encourage some air flow, reduce heat and moisture build-up, discourage mold/mildew, and allow for a small amount of “give”. Maybe Zenhaven’s requirement has something to do with the zoned design of the top/bottom comfort layers?

Yep, I think they are trying to preserve the “other side” in this instance.

But, the way the foundation is constructed, there ARE slats, just some sort of solid material UNDER the slats.

Cloud999, you have a ZH too, right? Did you notice your foundation made the bed bow/sag in the middle? Mine is doing so and I think the way the foundation is constructed, with higher edges and the slats hammered underneath, is causing this.

Yes, I have a queen-sized Zenhaven (still in the trial period).
However, I did not buy their foundation. I have it on a platform bed frame, which has a solid metal-reinforced MDF surface.

I just assumed the foundation would be designed to go with the mattress and didn’t research it at all. It appears to be forcing the bed into a slight curve (photo attached). It’s hard to tell if it’s the mattress itself or the foundation, but I shone a light into the foundation and it appears to ONLY have crossways slats with no center bar. (Photo included. What looks like longways slats are actually reinforced tape or fabric strips, I think.)

I do have a center bar on the bedframe, but I think the top of the foundation is sagging. Unfortunately I can only sorta lift up one side of the bed…it weighs as much as I do…so I can’t take it off and see.

Full disclosure, I’ve only ever had free pile mattresses and am a Goodwill-shopping, beater-driving, cheap-apartment living thrifty person. This mattress cost more than my car and is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought for myself by a landslide. I’m to the point where I’d like to just buy some nice sheets and move on in life; I am sleeping fine, I hate being this person who is nitpicking the product to death, but I guess I just thought a $2k mattress would be a really solid investment. The thought that I will have this until I’m 45 makes me hesitate on settling.

It’s made with high quality materials and I like that Zenhaven has tried to bring them to the mass market/simplified choice. But there was something wrong with each component I received, from the topper being glued funny to the box spring not holding it up properly to the mattress being cut and sewn unevenly to the delivery team delivering it muddy. The little details no one would care about seemed to matter more with everything else wrong; like the logo being off center and the bed not sized correctly to the boxspring. I either really unlucked out, or had way too high of expectations, or they just have access to some great materials and meh manufacturing.

I threw out a Hail Mary to Saatva/Zenhaven just to see if that would help me decide how to proceed. I was kinda hoping they’d tell me it was okay to place it on the floor to see if it was the mattress or the boxspring. I’m beyond burned out on this process and research; if I had a great local manufacturer it’d be a sealed deal but I don’t want to get into layer exchanges on a gambled bed bought out of town. (Part of why I bought ZH in the first place, also just didn’t have any frame of reference back then.) I sent ZH pictures and they told me they were warranty-ing the entire bed with another sleep trial. o.O I was stunned. That’s obviously beyond generous. But I’m not sure it’s necessary. I’m honestly balking. They said this bed was defective, but it seems like it’s the actual construction of the foundation that isn’t working. I don’t know that a new bed will fix that. And nothing’s been made quite right…I’m not sure if another set of not-made-quite-right pieces helps my situation. They couldn’t guarantee donating my current mattress, and might just throw my current bed away and the thought of a perfectly good, if not perfect, mattress rotting in a landfill, because of me, kills me. So wasteful and unnecessary! And another few months of breaking in a bed…that could feel different due to inconsistencies in latex…might also kill me…I’m finally sleeping! Even if it’s on a crooked surface.

I feel like a terrible, wasteful person if I accept this full warranty. I’m wondering if I should just return the box spring and try the mattress on a platform…but then if that doesn’t work, my trial is up tomorrow and I’m consigned to a bed that really DOES need to be warrantied. The CS gal was just reading me a script over the phone…I wish I could have worked out a less extreme solution with someone with more power, like trying the floor and then making a decision. I also considered asking if I could just “buy” the bed at cost/factory 2nd pricing. Part of the insult is just how much I paid for it, for what I received.

I realize I’m really lucky to even be in this position, but I think this is all the life-of-luxury and choice I can take. My mantra after this will just have to be “good enough!” After really hating the Zenhaven initially, to just resenting it for a few months, to actually getting it almost comfortable recently…I’m wondering if we and the beds just eventually break in enough that you can sleep on just about anything half well made and in your weight class, if you give it enough time.

Thanks Cloud999. What brand was your bed frame/where did you get it? I know everyone is different, etc, but I don’t think I have a PPP for a foundation…

I’ve never seen the Zenhaven foundation except in photos.
I don’t see much detail about its construction on the Zenhaven site.
From your photo, it appears to me that the distance between the slats is at least double the width of each slat. That may be much farther apart than I’d want. The queen-sized platform bed I recently bought has 20 hardwood slats “each about 2 3⁄8” wide and spaced about 1 5⁄8" apart" according to the online specs. Brooklyn Bedding’s recommended slat spacing is 3". Savvy Rest apparently sells a foundation with slats spaced 2.5" to 3" apart. Wood tends to bend if it isn’t sized and spaced adequately for the load.

I know, I can’t find details anywhere. I’m tempted to cut it open since it’s warrantied anyway and not working…

Kinda ironic since they forbid a slat foundation! I thought I could feel cardboard between the slats but I think it’s just the thick fabric, based on the light.

The slats are far apart but there’s a few closer together towards my feet (and yes it’s pointing the right way). I think what’s really missing would be a center support…

Where did you get your foundation?

I ordered my platform bed frame from Vermont Wood Studios. It’s the “Dovetail Platform Bed” made by Maple Corner Woodworks. The “KD Frames Nomad Plus Platform Bed”, available on Amazon, also appears to be sturdy and is much less expensive. The “Plus” version of that bed apparently has less than 3" between slats.

Wow, the Vermont Studios is lovely! I’m indeed more in the KD camp budget wise…thanks for the recommendation!

[color=]I also received the Saatva adjustable base to go with my Zenhaven mattress. Traditional sleep systems can make it difficult for the heart to properly distribute blood throughout the body. They can also make it hard for you to sleep ergonomically. However, adjustable bases allow for even distribution of pressure over the entire sleeping surface. This product can be added to your order for an additional $1,199 – $2,498 depending on the size. Just a few features you can enjoy with this addition include:

One-touch remote
Zero gravity support
Wall-hugging design
Wave, leg, and head massage[/color]

Today is the last day of my trial and as I took the bed apart yet again to send pictures to the factory, I decided to accept Zenhaven’s offer to warranty it and just see how that goes.

As my Dad pointed out, this is how they choose to do business, to the point that they’ve created a script for it for the customer service agents. It’s not a personal chat with a local shop-owner; I’m part of their system now, a number in their machine, there are procedures and protocols they have uniformly applied and need to follow.

I do hope to persuade them to donate my current bed, though, even if I have to manage it myself. I think maybe the boxspring should be thrown away with the amount it’s bowing. And yes kids, I put a level on my bedframe, she’s not the culprit here.

At best, maybe the new mattress will arrive a little softer with variations in latex and hand-sewing and it will feel like the $2k experience I hoped for at the outset. At medium, I might have to make it work with a new platform and some extra padding. At worst, I’ll have a few more months to learn what’s working and not working for me. (And I’ll feel terrible if I have to return it after all this, but might as well give them another shot to do this right. It literally costs me nothing except guilt.)

Anyway, I made some more discoveries about the Zenhaven today, stuff you can’t easily find on their site. For instance, they blend the organic wool with rayon and polypropelene. Who knew? They don’t technically lie on this, you just have to know it to read it from the description. “Our flame-retardant contains a pure blend of 100% organic New Zealand wool and non-toxic materials…” Ah, a blend. I read that as a blend of wools and like, maybe some threads that weren’t toxic to hold it together or repel bugs or something…in reality, it is a blend of half wool, half polypro.

Polypropelene is not a high-leech plastic and it is indeed pretty harmless to us. Environmentally, though, it’s still plastic, doesn’t biodegrade, and by blending it with the wool, they are essentially negating any environmental benefits the 100% organic wool might have had. (Of course, there is a case to made that just shipping this thing ruins all the eco-friendliness, but felt this should be pointed out too.) I knew there was some reason the Zenhaven was a little greenwashy, I think this and the glue is the reason why.

(And yes, I did push my luck and ask if I could pass on the glue in the mattress. They said no.)

If I could do it all over again, I think I’d just go with a local manufacturer who ships layers and builds my own. I think if you’re seriously considering a Zenhaven for the reasons I imagine most might, in the end the ability to swap layers (especially lighter layers which will break down before the others) and components, customize and also eliminate ALL the inorganic parts possible, is the best bang for your buck. I wanted the “simplicity” of a “simplified choice” and the help from the delivery people, but in the end the cost is too similar to not make the investment in a component style bed.

I do see a business opening, though, for someone to sell component latex mattresses with the same level of “service” as a big company like Saatva…bundling the delivery and setup in, sending people out to get returns, presenting a well-designed modern website that offers simplified choices. It might cost a little more, but even as a super frugal person, I wish I could have outsourced some of the decision making and assembly required for the more local-type companies. I work in web ux, and one of our principles is “don’t make me think.” Not because people are dumb, but because we have SO MUCH already to think through.

I’ve attached my tag if anyone wants to see it.

I have a couple weeks left in my own Zenhaven trial. The Luxury Plush side seems to leave me with back pain. The Comfort Firm side does not, but when I’m on my side I feel pressure points. I think the 1.5" comfort layer is too thin. The topper alleviates that, but I just don’t like the feeling of the topper. It feels squishy and too warm, and the covering apparently doesn’t have any wool in it. With or without the topper, the mattress isn’t awful, but it’s not $2K worth of wonderfulness, either.

On the other hand … it’s now the devil I know. I’m inclined to replace it with a SleepEZ zipped-in system, but if I don’t like that, another return will be a big hassle. And I, too, don’t like the idea of sending 140 pounds of new rubber to a landfill.

I think a nearly ideal mattress package would be the Zenhaven with a zipper, but without glue between layers. Deliver it fully assembled, but with the option of moving layers around or replacing them. Then if nothing works, come haul it away. How much more could a zipper and no glue cost? They’d keep a few more customers.