If you’re considering purchasing a latex mattress, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about latex mattresses.
What Is a Latex Mattress?
As you may guess from the name, latex mattresses are made of all-natural, blended, or synthetic latex. The mattress may be entirely latex or combined with foam (such as a latex layer over a foam base or a foam layer over a latex base).
What Kinds of Latex Mattresses Exist?
All latex mattresses start from the same place: rubber trees commonly found in South America and Southeast Asia. Rubber is harvested over a period of time from the tree and the sap is collected to be processed using the Talalay or Dunlop style. The Agriculture and Consumer Protection provides detailed instructions on this procedure for those interested in learning more.
Talalay vs Dunlop
Both Talalay and Dunlop styles start by frothing the latex using a centrifuge.
In the Talalay process, the latex is poured to fill three-quarters of a mold. Then the mold is sealed and pumped full of air, mixed, flash frozen, baked, rinsed, and cooled. The process of jumbling the air molecules and flash freezing them provides a uniform cell structure and stability to the mattress. Sleepers will enjoy a softer, pillowy feel on a Talalay mattress.
Dunlop, on the other hand, pours the sap to fill the entire mold, which is then covered and baked. In this process, some of the sediments in the mixture will settle to the bottom of the mold. This results in a denser mattress that feels firmer and heavier for sleepers.
Synthetic vs Natural
You may see a latex mattress advertised as “pure latex” or “natural latex” – this refers to level of rubber content in the mattress. An all-natural latex mattress is composed of 95% or more rubber tree sap.
On the other hand, blended and synthetic latex contain a lower rubber content. Synthetic latex mattresses are produced using a chemical process that mimics the natural rubber tree sap, combining rubber or natural latex with petroleum byproducts.
Who Is Best Suited for a Latex Mattress?
Latex mattresses provide a variety of benefits reported by sleepers. Review the following list to see if a latex mattress would be a good option for you:
- Talalay has a bouncier feeling than foam mattresses, which makes it better suited for sex.
- The uniformity of Talalay mattresses also provides better relief for back pain and pressure points than the average mattress.
- Due to their overall density and stability (especially in the case of Dunlop mattresses), latex mattresses provide better support for those who are very overweight (230+ pounds) over a longer period of time than other mattresses.
- Like foam mattresses, latex mattresses are a great choice for side sleepers because they support the body’s natural curve.
- All-natural latex mattresses are biodegradable and made almost entirely from rubber tree sap, making them a good option for eco-minded consumers who prefer to avoid harsh chemicals or unnatural materials.
- Light sleepers will appreciate that latex mattresses lack the noise typical of a innerspring mattress, as well as their ability to absorb movement so one person arising from bed will not wake the other person.
- Latex mattresses are hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to dust, mold, and mildew.
BMR Guide to Latex Mattresses
Now that you have a general idea of what latex mattresses are all about, let’s dive into the details so you can choose the best latex mattress for you.
What Types of Latex Are On the Market?
Goldilocks kept things simple by proclaiming whether a bed was too hard, too soft, or just right. In the world of latex mattresses, her assessments are translated into a much more measurable scale known as Indentation Load Deflection, or ILD. To get technical, ILD is measured by seeing how many pounds are required to indent the latex foam to 25 percent of its original height.
Essentially, ILD is a standin for density when it comes to describing how firm or soft a latex mattress is. Latex mattresses can range in density from 19 ILD (on the softest end) to 45 ILD (on the extra-firm end). If you want a softer mattress, look for a mattress with an ILD in the low-20s. Sleepers who prefer a medium mattress should look for mattresses with ILDs in the mid to high-20s, and those who want the firmest experience of all should seek a mattress with an ILD in the 30s. The most popular latex mattress option is the medium density, ranging from 24-26 ILD.
Side sleepers should look for ILDs on the soft to medium range to provide more give when conforming to the curve of the body, while back sleepers should look for medium to extra firm ILDs on the higher range for better support.
|ILD Chart for Latex Mattresses|
|ILD Rating||23 or below||24-26||29-31||32 or above|
|Best for…||Back or side sleepers||Side sleepers||Back or stomach sleepers||Back sleepers|
As a rule, Talalay mattresses tend to be softer than Dunlop mattresses. All natural latex mattresses will have a bouncier feel than synthetic latex mattresses, which will have a denser, firmer feel.
What Components Make Up a Latex Memory Foam Bed?
All latex mattresses contain latex. Their label changes depending on the percentage of latex that composes the mattress material.
All-latex: Mattresses with labels like 100% Pure, All Natural, or Natural latex mattresses will contain 95% or more latex foam derived from rubber tree sap. The remaining 5% may contain clays, titanium dioxide, or calcium oxide. Latex foam is more heat-, bacteria-, and dust-resistant than the foams used in other types of latex mattresses. Natural mattresses are typically made using the Dunlop process (although all latex mattresses can be made using either process).
Blended latex: These mattresses, also known as latex hybrid mattresses, contains 30% natural latex foam. The rest of the mattress contains synthetic latex foam composed of manmade chemical materials (such as formaldehyde and styrene) often using the Talalay process. The synthetic latex foam is also known as polyurethane foam, poly foam, memory foam, and visco-elastic foam. The additional chemical materials make these poly foams less heat-resistant than natural latex foam. Due to their lower rubber content, blended latex mattresses are more affordable while still maintaining the feel of a natural latex mattress.
Synthetic latex: Fully synthetic latex mattresses are made entirely of a synthetic compound such as styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR). SBR is less durable than natural rubber, so these mattresses have a higher tendency to tear. The mattress foam is 100% polyurethane foam.
|Latex Mattress Terminology|
|Type of Latex Mattress||Other Names||% of natural latex (from rubber tree sap)||Components|
|All-latex||All natural, natural, 100% Pure||95% or higher||Natural latex foam|
|Latex hybrid||Blended latex||At least 30%||Natural latex foam, poly foam|
|Synthetic latex||Latex poly foam, latex memory foam||0%||Poly foam|
How Does Sleeping in a Latex Bed Feel?
There are a few key things people look for when buying a new mattress. Let’s review each of these in turn and see how they differ between all-latex and latex-hybrid mattresses.
Both natural all-latex and hybrid latex mattresses perform well across the board when it comes to bounciness, compared to their foam counterparts. If you consider how many bouncy balls made of rubber you may have played with as a child, this should come as no surprise.
Latex mattresses are constructed of a foam grid that provides good bounce and responsiveness. In addition to a nice night’s sleep, this feature also makes them well-suited to sex.
One nice feature of latex mattresses is that they immediately provide cushiony support, unlike other foam memory mattresses which can take time to adjust to your body shape. However, latex doesn’t completely give in to your body. It contours to your body rather than wholly enveloping it, which is good for back support as it allows your spine to stay in alignment. As a result, sleepers with back pain will feel better with both natural latex and latex-hybrid mattress, whether they sleep on their back or side.
Because latex mattresses are made of latex and a base that has holes in it, they do contour to your body, although not as much as a memory foam mattress. The durability of the latex prevents the problem many memory foam mattresses have of permanent body indentation; latex, on the other hand, can spring back. However, some sleepers may feel memory foam mattresses are better for pressure point relief due to having more overall give.
Firmness is one area where synthetic and blended latex-hybrid mattresses have a clear advantage over all natural latex: there is a wider array of firmness options. The Dunlop process causes sediments to fall to the bottom, which results in a denser mattress that has a firmer feel than the pillowy feel of Talalay mattresses.
How to Choose a Quality Latex Mattress
When judging the quality of a latex mattress, you’ll want to consider several things:
The foam layer
The foam layer is the most durable, resilient, and elastic part of a latex mattress. It outlasts other types of mattresses while maintaining its elasticity, allowing it to keep its bounce without indenting to the curve of the sleeper’s body. This is especially true for all-latex mattresses using made of natural latex foam, which lasts up to 5 times longer than polyfoam.
Latex mattresses overall are the most breathable of all foam mattresses so they tend to stay cool. If you want to add an extra bit of coolness to your mattress, look into Celsion latex and other Talalay latex which are designed to regulate temperature. Celsion latex comes in one-, two-, and three-inch sizes and is added to the top layer to create a mattresses that’s a few degrees cooler to sleep on than a standard Talalay.
The comfort layer
According to The Mattress Underground, Talalay latex is more popular than Dunlop as a comfort layer because it generally has a softer, more pillowy feel. However, all-natural Talalay latex is less durable than Dunlop and blended latex-hybrid. Price-conscious consumers may want to purchase a less expensive blended Talalay latex-hybrid comfort layer, especially considering that comfort layers lose their durability more quickly due to being subjected the most to the pressures of the sleeping body.
All-latex mattresses range from six to twelve inches thick, and latex-hybrid mattresses range from eight to twelve inches thick. Heavier adults will want to look for a natural all-latex mattress that’s at least ten-inches thick for premium support.
All-latex mattresses are desirable to eco-minded consumers for their natural rubber materials. The natural materials extend to the cover of the bed, which is typically made of organic wool or cotton. On the other hand, blended and synthetic latex-hybrid mattresses generally use non-organic cotton for their cover.
How Long Will a Latex Mattress Last?
All-latex mattresses typically last for eight years, which is two years longer than the average mattress lifespan of six years. Latex-hybrid mattresses tend to last for six years. Latex mattress owners can increase the longevity of the mattress by replacing an individual layer, but this isn’t an easy process in most cases considering the cover is sewn over the top. Although, there are some mattresses like Spindle which you put together at home.
Although latex mattresses typically get replaced by owners after six to eight years, most warranties are twenty years for more expensive models and five or ten for less expensive models. Note that normal wear typically is not covered by a latex mattress warranty, which usually applies only to manufacturer/workmanship issues. Sagging isn’t as big an issue with latex mattresses as with innerspring beds, but it’s a good idea to check how sagging is covered by the warranty.
For more information, see our Guide to Mattress Warranties.
How Much Does a Latex Mattress Cost?
On average, an all-latex mattress costs $1,900 while a latex-hybrid mattress costs $900. In comparison, the most basic innerspring mattress can start at about $70 while a top-of-the-line memory foam mattress can cost up to $8,600, according to DealNews.
Below we outline the average costs for bed size by retailer for all-latex and latex-hybrid mattresses. Note that some latex mattress manufacturers offer additional sizes such as Twin XL and California King.
|2016 Latex Mattress Pricing Chart|
10” Natural Latex Mattress
|Habitat Furnishings 9” Pure Latex Mattress||
10” Botanical Bliss Mattress
10” Casper Mattress
10” Best Mattress Ever
Unsure about the best mattress size for you? Review our Mattress Size Guide.
What Should You Ask When Buying a Latex Mattress?
When buying a latex mattress, you’ll first want to confirm whether you’re buying a natural/all-latex mattress or a hybrid/blended or synthetic latex mattress. This will inform you as to the quality of the mattress and how much you can expect to pay (the higher the rubber content, the better the quality and the higher the cost).
You’ll also want to ask about warranty as well as delivery and assembly. While most latex mattresses do not require assembly (with the exception of those bought with customizable layers), they are much heavier than the average mattress and weigh between 65-190 pounds. If you’ll need help adjusting the mattress on your bed frame, you can ask if that’s included with delivery.
What Are the Pros of a Latex Mattress?
There are many benefits to a latex mattress over both innerspring and other types of memory foam mattresses. Latex mattresses are gaining in popularity among memory foam mattresses because they offer many of the benefits with fewer of the disadvantages.
Latex mattresses are especially well-suited to pressure relief. Latex mattresses will sink and adapt to pressure points of the body, but not as much as memory foam mattresses. This provides relief without misalignment. Talalay mattresses are generally softer and provide advanced pressure relief.
Latex mattresses absorb movement, allowing one sleeper to rise on one side of the bed without disturbing the sleeper on the other side. Because they’re denser overall, Dunlop latex mattresses provide even more motion isolation than Talalay mattresses.
Latex mattresses, especially those made using the Talalay process, are rated above average for their bounciness and conduciveness to sex.
Natural all-latex mattresses have more elasticity than blended or synthetic latex-hybrid mattresses. This means latex mattresses can zone in even more on pressure points and bounce back to normal afterwards. As a result, latex mattresses are more resistant to the permanent body indentations often complained about by owners of memory foam mattresses.
Natural all-latex mattresses are composed of 95% or more rubber tree sap and covered in organic cotton or wool, which makes them an attractive, eco-friendly mattress option. For those who are more price-conscious, the synthetic or latex-hybrid options are a better option.
Heat and Allergy Resistance
All-latex mattresses are ideal for allergy sufferers because they resist the dust, bacteria, mildew, and mold most regular mattresses attract. Synthetic latex mattresses also tend to resist heat better than all-natural latex, but latex mattresses overall are better at staying temperature-neutral.
What Are the Cons of a Latex Mattress?
While a latex mattress provides many advantages, there are some disadvantages.
Off gassing describes the odor a new mattress emits when unwrapped due to a combination of its chemical composition and packaging. It’s not harmful but the unpleasant rubbery smell can be annoying. Latex mattresses smell because rubber itself has a natural odor.
To reduce off gassing, opt for a natural all-latex mattress over a synthetic or blended latex-hybrid (which contain more chemicals and thus a stronger odor). Also, avoid covering your mattress with bedding as soon as it arrives and allow it to air out.
Latex mattresses are often not available in stores, so most are purchased online. Plus, there are fewer consumer reviews available for latex mattresses, so many shoppers can feel like they’re taking a bit of a leap of faith.
Fortunately, latex mattresses are growing in popularity, so hopefully this will become less of an issue in the near future. Until then, you can visit one of the online forums we mention at the end of this article to get your questions answered and hear from other latex mattress purchasers.
On average, latex mattresses are about 10% more expensive than a typical memory foam mattress. Natural latex is significantly more expensive than blended or synthetic latex-hybrid, with there being a $1,000 price difference between the two.
Yes, variety is usually a good thing, but in the case of latex mattresses, there are so many different types available and industry lingo (Talalay vs. Dunlop, natural vs. synthetic) that it can be confusing to consumers. Hopefully this guide has helped clear things up!
Our Favorite Latex Mattresses of 2016
Before reading, please take a look at our mattress ranking methodology. All-latex mattresses have a reputation for being extremely expensive, but our top latex mattress of 2016-2017 offers all the benefits of latex without breaking the bank. That’s why our top choice is the SleepOnLatex Pure Green Natural Latex mattress, which has a number of selling points:
- Value: many all-latex mattresses cost between $2,000 and $5,000, but the SleepOnLatex Pure Green mattress can be purchased in queen size for $999.
- Responsible materials: SleepOnLatex uses only natural latex instead of synthetic latex, and their latex is certified by independent process-quality organizations.
- Height and firmness options: SleepOnLatex offers mattresses in two different heights (7” and 9”) and at three different firmness levels. This lets each customer select the mattress to best fit their needs; however, prices do vary based on thickness and firmness.
- No-risk sleep trial: SleepOnLatex offers a 100 night sleep trial with no-cost returns.
- Company reputation: though SleepOnLatex is a young company — founded in 2013 — they have nevertheless earned an A+ rating from the BBB.
Potential concerns for the SleepOnLatex mattress:
- Heavy for its size: despite having less height than many mattresses, the queen latex mattress weighs over 140 pounds.
- Less contouring: latex mattresses do not provide the same level of hug or contouring of the body when compared to many other types of mattress. Sleepers looking for maximum sink and hug may want to choose a different mattress type.
Honorable Mention for Best All Latex Mattress
- Zenhaven: while a more expensive option, this mattress is composed of three layers of Talalay latex, known for its quality and consistency.
Additional Latex Mattress Resources
If you’re looking for more information to help you find the best latex mattress, we recommend the following resources.
Find more latex mattress information online:
- Sleep Like The Dead has been around since 2008 and focuses exclusively on sleep product research, providing reviews, detailed information, and summarized consumer feedback.
- Consumer Reports makes it easy to comparison shop the top mattress brands, and educates shoppers on questions to ask when buying a new mattress.
- The Mattress Underground is designed to help consumers wade through the advertising jargon and get to the facts of the mattress industry.
- Consumer Search provides mattress buying guides and unbiased reviews of top latex mattress retailers.
Speak with other latex mattress shoppers in online forums:
- The Mattress Subreddit is an active community of users who answer each other’s questions and share their experience with mattresses.
- The Mattress Underground forum community answers questions such as the “best cooling factor” for latex mattresses and how to replace foam with latex.
- What’s the Best Mattress forum community helps users buy the best latex mattress as well as figure out how to build their own.
- Houzz is an online forum for homeowners with a section dedicated to discussing latex mattresses.
Read more from BestMattressReviews.com:
- Our Mattress Buying Guide tells you everything you need to know when buying a new mattress. If you’re purchasing a mattress online, be sure to check out our guide on How to Buy a Mattress Online.
- Our Mattress Firmness Guide explains how firmness can be an indicator of the quality of a mattress, and how to find the ideal firmness for your sleeping style.