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Best Latex Mattresses

 

Introduction

Latex is a natural substance produced from the sap of rubber trees. Latex is used in mattresses because it is naturally soft, breathable, and durable. The latex used in mattresses may be produced using the Dunlop or Talalay process, which affects how the latex feels to sleepers. Furthermore, latex mattresses may be sold as Organic, Natural, Blended, or Synthetic, depending on how much natural latex is featured in the mattress. Latex is most commonly found in mattresses with relatively high price-points, though there are significant cost differences between latex, all-latex, and latex hybrid models. Latex mattresses possess the following qualities that make them particularly suitable for certain sleepers:

  • Close body conforming and contouring, often resulting in pain and pressure relief.
  • Spinal alignment and enhanced head, neck, shoulder, and hip support make them suitable for many side sleepers.
  • Relatively high point elasticity creates an elastic sleep surface that isolates motion to certain areas of the mattress; this helps cut down on sleep disruptions for couples.
  • Little to no noise when compressed.
  • Bouncier and more responsive than mattress foams, which tends to make it better for sex.

 

 

What types of latex are on the market?

The latex used in mattresses is usually processed using one of two different methods: Mold Dunlop, Continuous Line Dunlop or Talalay. The table below features a detailed breakdown of these two processes and the types of latex they generally yield.

Name How It’s Produced Latex Qualities Common Uses
Mold Dunlop Sap is whipped up, then poured into a mold and baked. Sediment gathers on the bottom. Mold Dunlop latex is dense and bottom-heavy due to the sediment that accumulates at the base. Dunlop latex (both Mold and Continuous Line) is most often used in mattress support cores due to its relatively high density. However, Continuous Line Dunlop is fairly rare.
Continuous Line Dunlop Sap is whipped up and shaped using a continuous conveyor belt. Continuous Line Dunlop latex is dense, but tends to be somewhat soft compared to Mold Dunlop latex.
Talalay Sap is whipped up and poured into a covered mold. Once all of the oxygen has been removed, the substance is frozen, then baked. Talalay latex has a more homogenous consistency, and is lighter and less dense than Dunlop latex. Talalay latex is typically used for padding in mattress layers due to its softness and low density.

 

Latex mattresses may contain all-natural latex, or a combination of natural latex and petrochemical fillers. Most latex models sold today are categorized as one of the following four types: Organic, Natural, Blended, or Synthetic. Please note that all four types can be produced using the Mold/Continuous Line Dunlop or Talalay processes. The next table lists some details about these four latex types.

 

Type of Latex Mattress Other Trade Names Percentage of Natural/Synthetic Latex in the Mattress
Organic Latex USDA-certified organic 100% natural
Natural Latex All-latex, pure latex At least 95% natural latex No more than 5% synthetic latex
Blended Latex Latex hybrid At least 30% natural latex No more than 70% synthetic latex
Synthetic Latex Latex foam, manmade latex 0% natural latex

 

What is the typical construction of a latex bed?

The term ‘latex mattress’ can be somewhat misleading because latex is rarely the only component. Technically, a ‘latex mattress’ must contain at least two inches of Talalay or Dunlop latex in the comfort layer. Many models feature layers of polyfoam or memory foam in the comfort system, as well. The support core of a ‘latex mattress’ is usually made of high-density polyfoam. In some cases, the mattress will feature at least one layer of latex in the comfort system and high-density Dunlop latex in the support core. These are known as ‘all-latex’ mattresses, and should not be confused with standard latex mattresses. The term latex hybrid refers to mattresses that have at least two inches of latex in the comfort system and a support core made of pocketed (or fabric-encased) steel coils. Many latex hybrids feature additional materials in the comfort system, such as polyfoam, memory foam, and/or steel microcoils. Latex hybrids are generally categorized as ‘hybrid’ ― not ‘latex’ ― mattresses. For more information on these models, please visit our Innerspring and Hybrid Reviews page.

 

What does latex do to the feel of a bed?

Latex has a distinct feel that distinguishes it from foams and other mattress materials. Qualities of a latex mattress include the following:

  • Conforming: Latex conforms closely to sleeper’s bodies, often resulting in pressure relief. Latex does not conform as closely as memory foam ― but by the same token, it recovers its shape more quickly. This means the surface is less likely to sag or indent prematurely. Latex hybrids also conform to an extent ― particularly if they also have memory foam in the comfort layer ― but not as much as latex or all-latex models.
  • Adjusting: Latex adjusts to your dimensions, unlike memory foam that tends to sink deeply without adjusting. This can help alleviate more discomfort, making latex a good choice for people with chronic pain and pressure issues, as well as side- and back-sleepers. However, a large number of sleepers claim that memory foam provides higher levels of pressure relief.
  • Motion Isolation: Due to a quality known as point elasticity, latex can isolate motion to certain areas without impacting the entire mattress surface. Softer latex beds have higher point elasticity, while firmer ones have lower point elasticity — but generally speaking, latex beds of all firmness ratings isolate motion to a fairly significant degree. Latex hybrids do not isolate motion to the same extent as latex or all-latex mattresses.
  • Temperature: Latex ― particularly Talalay latex ― feels particularly cool to the touch due to the material’s natural breathability. This often makes latex mattresses suitable for sleepers that tend to get warm or hot during the night.
  • Responsiveness: Latex hybrids are fairly responsive. Latex and all-latex mattresses are not as responsive, and some owners claim they are not as good for sex as latex hybrids or traditional innersprings. However, latex and all-latex models are often more responsive (and better for sex) than mattresses made of memory foam or polyfoam.

Firmness is another important quality of latex and latex hybrid mattresses. The firmness rating will vary from model to model, and a sleeper’s experience with a latex mattress often depends on their weight and sleep position. A side-sleeper who weighs 150 pounds, for instance, may feel more comfortable on a mattress with a lower firmness rating that easily conforms to their lightweight frame, while a back-sleeper who weighs 250 pounds will often prefer the feel of a firmer mattress that provides adequate support under their above-average frame. Firmness in latex mattresses is measured using indentation load deflection, or ILD; the same measurement is used to evaluate firmness in foam mattresses. ILD refers to the amount of weight needed to compress the sleep surface by 25%; ILD is often calculated by placing weighted discs on top of the mattress. For latex mattresses, the ILD typically falls between 17 and 50. The following table illustrates different ILD ratings found in latex mattresses sold today:

 

ILD Range Feel Qualities Ideal Sleeper
21 and lower Soft to Very Soft Close conforming High levels of pressure relief Deep sinking Back or side sleepers Sleepers with below-average weights (less than 130 lbs)
22 to 31 Medium to Medium Firm Some conforming Moderate pressure relief Very little sinking Side sleepers Sleepers with average weights (130 to 230 lbs)
32 and higher Firm to Very Firm Little to no conforming Minimal pressure relief Little to no sinking Back sleepers Sleepers with above-average weights (more than 230 lbs)

 

Talalay latex almost always has a lower ILD rating than Dunlop latex. Additionally, natural and organic latex usually has a lower ILD than blended or synthetic latex.

 

Who should buy a latex mattress?

Latex mattresses are designed to conform somewhat closely to sleeper’s bodies, aligning the spine and targeting pressure points in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips. For this reason, latex models are popular among side-sleepers, who require extra support due to the irregular position of their bodies. They may also be beneficial for sleepers with chronic back pain or consistent pressure issues. The choice of latex mattress should depend somewhat on the sleeper’s weight. Generally, softer latex is best for lighter sleepers, while thicker, firmer latex is most suitable for sleepers with above-average weights.

 

What is the lifespan/durability of a latex mattress?

Latex mattresses are considered exceptionally durable. The average mattress of any type will perform for six to seven years, whereas latex and all-latex models typically have a lifespan that exceeds eight years. Latex hybrids have slightly shorter lifespans; most perform for seven to eight years. For this reason, mattress warranties are often misleading. Some brands drive up the price of latex mattresses by offering warranties that span 20 to 25 years in length, but a 10-year warranty will be more than sufficient for the vast majority of latex mattresses. More important than warranty length is the length of the warranty’s nonprorated coverage period. Nonprorated coverage means that the mattress company will cover most costs associated with repairing or replacing a defective mattress; in most cases, the mattress owner will only be required to pay shipping and handling fees. Prorated coverage, on the other hand, incurs additional charges for the mattress owner based on how long they have owned the mattress; these prorated costs often amount to hundreds of dollars. Most 10-year warranties are entirely nonprorated ― but shoppers should take time to read the fine print, as some 10-year warranties only offer two to three years of nonprorated coverage.

 

How much do latex mattresses cost?

In addition to mattress size, the following factors often affect the cost of a latex mattress:

  • The brand: Regardless of mattress quality or longevity, some brands have price-points that are significantly higher than others.
  • Talalay vs. Dunlop: Most latex mattresses are relatively expensive, but those that feature Talalay latex tend to be somewhat pricier than those that are made with Dunlop latex layers.
  • Type of latex: Organic latex mattresses are typically the most expensive latex models available, and natural latex models are also fairly pricey. Blended and synthetic latex mattresses tend to have the lowest price-points.

The average all-latex or latex mattress will cost between $1,500 and $2,000, while the average latex hybrid will cost roughly $900.

 

What are the pros of latex mattresses?

Benefits of using a latex mattress include the following:

  • Latex mattresses are highly durable and typically perform for at least eight years, which is well above the industry average.
  • The conforming and body-contouring qualities of latex have made the material popular with sleepers who suffer from back pain or require pressure relief.
  • Latex is suitable for side sleepers, since it contours to the body and helps align the spine by providing support to the head, neck, shoulders, and hips.
  • Latex is naturally breathable and sleeps somewhat cool, making these mattresses a possible option for individuals who sleep hot.
  • The material has relatively high point elasticity that allows it to effectively isolate motion to certain areas of the mattress when someone gets up or shifts positions.
  • Latex and all-latex mattresses are virtually silent.
  • Many owners claim that latex hybrids are responsive enough for sex.
  • Organic and all-natural latex mattresses are widely available; these models are considered more eco-friendly than most standard mattress models.
  • The average latex hybrid costs $900, which is on par with the average cost of a new mattress (regardless of type).

 

What are the cons of latex mattresses?

Latex also carries certain drawbacks, and these mattresses may not be suitable for some sleepers. Disadvantages of latex mattresses include the following:

  • Latex often produces off-gassing odors when the mattress is unpackaged; mattress owners claim these smells are similar to rubber. Off-gassing isn’t harmful, but the lingering odors can be fairly unpleasant. Smells are most commonly reported for blended or synthetic latex mattresses, largely due to their petrochemical components; organic and natural latex produces less off-gassing by comparison.
  • Organic and natural latex mattresses are usually not suitable for sleepers with latex allergies. Blended latex poses a slight allergy risk, while synthetic latex will rarely trigger latex allergies due to the low concentration of natural components.
  • Latex mattresses are not as widely sold as memory foam, polyfoam, or innerspring models. As a result shoppers may find fewer options in stores and online, as well as a lower number of consumer reviews.
  • Edge support is a common complaint among latex mattress owners, who claim that the mattress sinks at the edges where people tend to sit, resulting in an uneven sleep surface.
  • Latex and all-latex mattresses are fairly unresponsive, and may not be as good for sex as latex hybrids or innersprings ― though the material is usually more responsive than memory foam or polyfoam.
  • Latex mattresses have above-average price-points, typically ranging from $1,500 to $2,000. Comparatively, the average innerspring is priced between $800 and $1,100, while the average memory foam mattress is priced between $1,000 and $1,500.