Which Latex mattress is best for you?

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Customers are often very satisfied by latex mattresses because they offer unique characters compared to memory foam and innerspring, and are generally very comfortable and supportive.  This review provides insight into general latex mattress properties as well as a comparison of specific latex mattress brands.

Good overview
Latex mattresses provide many of the benefits of memory foam (very supportive and comfortable) without many of the cons.  They can be all natural (for the environmentally conscious) and springier than memory foam, making it easier to move around in bed.

Bad overview
There are many more options to consider when shopping for a latex mattress, so you’ll need to do more research than you would if buying an innerspring or memory foam mattress.  They are also generally expensive and very heavy.

Types of latex mattresses
There are three make-ups that constitute a latex mattress.

Latex Mattress Styles
  • All latex mattress – this mattress is made entirely of latex
  • Latex on top of memory foam mattress (hybrid) – this mattress has a top layer of latex over a bottom layer of memory foam
  • Memory foam on top of latex (hybrid) – this mattress has a top layer of memory foam over a base layer of latex

If you’re interested in a latex mattress at all, you will most likely prefer an all-latex mattress or a latex on top of memory foam mattress.  A memory foam on top of latex mattress provides all of the cons of a latex mattress (weight, price, availability) without providing any of the pros (organic/natural, no off gassing, spring).

Generally we recommend going for an all latex mattress because it has the opportunity to be all-natural, will have no off-gassing, and will have a greater durability and lifespan – which are the reasons you would consider a latex mattress over a memory foam mattress in the first place.

All latex mattress
An all latex mattress of course consists entirely of latex, though there will be core layers and comfort layers with different foam densities.  For these mattresses the latex may be natural (often with an organic cotton cover) or non-organic (often with a non-organic cover).

If you’re interested in a latex mattress, you will most likely prefer the all latex mattress since it will not have the cons of memory foam that the hybrid foam mattresses bring.  The table below show shows a breakdown of the most popular all latex mattress products:

Latex on top of memory foam mattress (hybrid)
You may consider a latex on top of memory foam hybrid because it offers the comfort benefits of latex and are cheaper and more lightweight.  The top layer of latex ranges from 2-7 inches in thickness, with at least one inch of memory foam on the bottom.  The cons of these hybrid mattresses is that they will have the off gassing from the memory foam.  The following chart show a breakdown of the most popular latex on top of memory foam hybrid mattress products:

Memory foam on top of latex (hybrid)
Memory foam on top of latex mattresses (sometimes called foam-latex hybrids) are not recommended by Slumber Sage since they offer the negatives of memory foam (off-gassing, not natural/organic), the negatives of latex foam (increased weight, increased price) and none of the positives of latex foam (springier than memory foam, sleeps less hot).  For this reason we do not review or compare these types of mattresses on the site.

Natural vs Synthetic Latex
Mattresses are made of all natural latex, synthetic latex, or a blend of natural and synthetic.  See our post on natural vs synthetic latex for a full description of the differences in material.  Most mattresses are either all natural or blended, though be careful with the marketing material for specific products – a number of mattress retailers will advertise a bed as all-natural even though it is a blend.

Natural latex mattresses are generally more expensive, more durable, more elastic, and less soft than a blend.

Talalay vs Dunlop Latex Processing
Both natural and synthetic latex can be made using either the Talalay (newer) vs Dunlop (traditional) latex processing methods.  Generally Dunlop results in a firmer mattress is less espensive, but we don’t necessarily recommend one over the other generally.  See our full post on Talalay vs Dunlop vs Continuous Latex Processing for more info.

Latex beds are generally medium firm to firm compared to memory foam and innerspring mattresses.  A benefit of some latex mattresses is that the latex layers that make up a mattress can be rearranged to allow the sleeper to make a custom firmness.

Below is a breakdown of general firmness trends for various latex mattress properties:

 FirmestMedium FirmLeast Firm
All Latex vs HybridAll LatexLatex over FoamFoam over Latex
Natural vs blendAll NaturalBlend

Look for Compression Depth in the warranty

A potential issue you will have with a latex mattress is that the bed will compress where you regularly sleep.  In the warranty, this is covered as compression depth, meaning the length in inches of the compression.  We recommend that the warranty should kick in before 2 inches of compression, and preferably less.

Latex Density
Latex Density, similar to memory foam density, is calculated as a weight per square foot measure.  Higher density means the mattress will be firmer and often more durable.  A latex mattress may have several layers of varying density that can be rearranged for a custom firmness.

Latex ILD
ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, generally tells you the firmness of a latex mattress.  The ILD of latex mattresses typically range from 19-36.  The definition of firm/soft/etc by ILD will vary by mattress company, however generally it will break down as follows:

ILD RangeFirmness
21-23Medium Soft
28-31Medium Firm
37+Extra Firm

A foundation is not necessary for a latex mattress, but can be used if preferred.  If using slats, keep them close together, though a flat solid surface is preferred.  Make sure that your foundation choice does not void the warranty.

Latex allergies will occur with natural latex mattresses.  If you have a known latex allergy, then we suggest just avoiding a latex mattress entirely, since it’s not work the risk or effort of finding a synthetic latex mattress that may not bring on a reaction.

All natural latex mattresses tend to have very minimal off-gassing, but synthetic or hybrid mattresses may have significantly more.  As a product type, the offgassing really varies by the brand and manufacturing process.

Look to our Mattress Reviews page for info on memory foam, innerspring, water bed, and air beds brands.

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