Learning About Latex for Mattresses
To help take some of the confusion out of buying a new mattress, Cheap Mattress Reviews was founded to provide you with consumer reviews of all the leading mattresses available today.
Latex foam is a material that is being increasingly used as a combination material in mattresses, along with other foams and inner-springs. There are two main types of the material used in mattresses and the most common one used today is Talalay latex, which can be all natural or mixed natural and synthetic latex, and Dunlop latex which is 100% natural. Here we will take a look at the material, how it is used in mattresses and how it affects the price, and then consider some latex mattress reviews to see what you can expect from one if you buy.
To produce latex that can be used in mattresses the natural sap of the rubber tree must be collected and treated, then molded into a shape that can be used. Traditionally the Dunlop method was used, whereby the rubber sap is whipped up into a froth, poured into a mold and baked. It produces a rubber that is firm on its underside as the sediment tends to settle towards the bottom of the mold. The Talalay method is newer and uses a couple of extra processes, like freeze-drying, before baking, which makes it more expensive but produces a latex rubber that is more consistently firm throughout.
Both types of latex have their advantages but as a general rule the Talalay method will produce a substance well-suited to soft, plush finishes, whereas the Dunlop material is denser and more suited to a firmer mattress feel.
One point of contention is about the use of the term “natural latex”. The Talalay latex mattresses often claim that they are 100% natural as a point of difference between them and other foam mattresses. This might not be entirely true though. Sometimes unspecified curing agents are used in the manufacturing process and ammonia is often used to stabilize liquid rubber. This may not be an important factor for you but we feel that mattress manufacturers should be called to account about using the term “natural” as it is important to many buyers out there.
There are a couple of manufacturers – like Latex international – that will use only 100% natural latex in their production of Talalay latex for mattresses and guarantee no added chemicals, but you may pay a premium for this; otherwise, if being totally natural is important for you when buying a latex mattress then you should look for Dunlop latex.
Many of the traditional, established mattress manufacturers now use a combination of latex with inner-springs to provide a best-of-both-worlds feel to their models. You will see them in the collections from Simmons, Stearns and Foster, Serta, Sealy, Englander, Jamison, KingKoil, Kingsdown etc etc. The pocket or continuous spring coils are difficult for these manufacturers to abandon because they are the foundation on which they built their name, but they also want to be seen to be using the latest materials.
Combining is a good compromise that makes the customer feel that they are getting the great support and durability that a quality coil-spring mattress provides as well as the luxurious and lasting comfort of latex and other newer foams. When you add the demand for more natural materials (notwithstanding some of the above comments) then materials like latex mixed with wools, cottons and other natural products really tap into a growing area of the market.
Usually you will find that the use of latex balloons the price of the mattress. It is certainly not a cheap material and its great cushioning appeal comes at a premium price. Perhaps as it is used increasingly in the US the price will come down, but right now don’t expect to get a quality latex mattress on the cheap. If it is cheaper than you expect maybe the mattress doesn’t contain much latex – check the labels, as always, for exact compositions, as it’s not unknown for latex mattresses to be advertised as such on the big label, but contain only a minimal amount of the substance when you check the smaller labels!
In the latex mattress reviews out there you will read that satisfaction levels amongst buyers are high, especially in terms of comfort levels, motion isolation, longevity, keeping free of allergies and being noise-free. The main downside you will hear about might be the price, the weight (latex is a dense material, which gives it its great springy and durable qualities) and occasional premature sagging, though you will need to qualify whether the last comment comes from someone who has bought a cheap $600 latex mattress or a quality $3000 one; sometimes it is not made clear.