Best Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses have gone through something of a renaissance lately.  Today’s latex mattresses are made through much more environmentally helpful means, and offer no health risk to users.  They offer many of the same benefits of popular memory foam mattresses, and then some.  The latex mattress has pluses and minuses just like any mattress, which we will discuss here.

Why Latex?

Latex MattressWhy should one pick a latex mattress?  What should one look for in a mattress in general?  Remember, the mattress you pick you will likely be stuck with for quite some time.  You want to choose a mattress that you will like and not grow tired of.  Advice commonly given sound silly at first: at the mattress store, lie on a mattress for 15 minutes.  While you will look silly, this will be the best way to get a good feel for what you will find comfortable.  Also, while comfort is good, a mattress that is healthy for your back should take primacy.  Mattresses that are in the more medium-firm area will be best for your spine.

There are a few varieties of mattresses on the market, all of which you should take under consideration.  Every mattress type has its pluses and minus, leaving it up to your situation and your preferences to decide.

  • Innerspring mattresses are the most common type of mattress found on the market.  They work via a network of steel coins that suspend the sleeping area.  They vary greatly on the type and number of coils in the mattress.  Some mattresses work via a combination of springs and other methods, such as memory foam.
  • Waterbeds use a self contained unit of water for suspension.  They can be either “free flow,” in which the water is contained in one large chamber, or “waveless,” in which the water is separated into different chambers to contain the shape of the mattress.  Waterbeds can vary from soft to very firm, depending on the water pressure within them.
  • Foam mattresses use foam to provide cushioning for the user.  The foam materials are typically latex, memory, or polyurethane foam.  The only major downside to foam mattresses is that they tend to retain a lot of heat, leading to a potentially sweaty night.
  • Gel mattresses use a layer of gel to provide comfort to the user.  They also retain less heat than foam mattresses, giving them the edge in the temperature control department.
  • Airbeds work in much the same way that water beds do, but contain air in the chambers instead of water.  They are also often covered with a felt or foam cover to add extra comfort to the package.  Airbeds often feature compressors that can change the firmness of the mattress with the push of a button.


Latex mattresses work in many of the same ways that memory foam mattresses work.  Latex mattresses can be made two different ways: synthetic and natural.  Synthetic mattresses are made via a chemical process, while natural latex is made through harvesting natural latex from rubber trees.  There are two main methods of manufacturing latex mattresses: the talalay process and dunlop process.  The talalay process involves pouring the molten latex onto a mold, aerating it, and then frozen quickly to prevent the formation of bubbles.  Finally it is heated, washed, and then dried.  In the dunlop process, the latex is simply poured onto a pattern and cooked.  This process is used less nowadays, as the talalay process has proven to produce higher quality results.  Lower priced latex mattresses will often be produced via the dunlop process.

Why choose a latex mattress over other mattresses?  What are the advantages of latex over other mattress materials?  Like memory foam, latex mattresses tend to be better for people who suffer from back problems.  They are firm but allow the natural shape of the user to sink into the bed.  With latex mattresses there is less overall risk of toxins reaching the air.  Also, unlike foam mattresses, they are more breathable and therefore comfortable in summer months.  They also last for a while, sometimes even up to twenty years!  The downside is while not quite as pricey as memory foam, latex mattresses tend to be a bit on the pricier side.

What’s a Latex Mattress?

When you hear the word “latex,” do you automatically think about things like gloves, shower curtains and rubber bands? Bet mattresses don’t pop to mind, after all, isn’t latex a rubbery substance? Yes it is, but mattress manufacturers have figured out a way to turn it into a comfortable sleep surface.

Read on to learn more about how latex mattresses differ from others and what to look for if you’re interested in buying one for yourself.

The Lowdown on Latex

First things first: There’s natural latex and synthetic latex. The natural is derived from the sap of rubber trees. This became such a valuable resource for the production of military equipment during World War II that its use in consumer products virtually disappeared during this period. To compensate, researchers developed a synthetic version out of petrochemicals. Both versions are used today to manufacture mattresses.

Latex mattressThere are two different manufacturing processes for a natural latex mattress. Both start with sap collection, which is normally still done by hand. It’s then passed through a filter to remove undesirable matter. From there, the sap, is poured into molds where it’s emulsified with water and air bubbles. Next, the mixture is heated and vulcanized, which is when it changes from a liquid to a solid, but retains some of its flexible nature.

The Dunlop manufacturing operation pretty much follows the above method, whereas the Talalay process adds a flash-freeze procedure between molding and heating to trap smaller air bubbles. The difference is that Talalay results in a softer feel. Some sleepers like that added comfort and others miss the stronger core of a Dunlop mattress. For a happy medium between the two, opt for a combination mattress: a Dunlop core for support and a Talalay top layer for a soft touch close to the body.

Latex Highlights

According to online retailers and reviewers, there are some significant differences between synthetic and natural latex. The higher the natural content in a mattress, the more hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial and anti-dust mite characteristics it has. It’s also resistant to mold and mildew and has very little gas-off like other mattresses. This makes natural a great option for allergy sufferers.

In terms of sleep comfort, it comes down to personal preferences, but both synthetic and latex tend to offer a unique combination of firmness and elasticity compared with traditional spring construction. Because of its manufacturing process, the material is actually quite dense for good support, but its rubbery nature gives it a buoyancy people enjoy. Also the inherent elastic characteristic helps the mattress maintain its shape and form. It’s not memory foam, but it should not get packed down over time. Finally, it doesn’t sleep “hot,” meaning it helps keep occupants cool in summer and warm in winter.

Selection Criteria

So now that you know more about latex mattresses, and you’re convinced it’s the type you want, you’re ready to go shopping—but wait, there are a few more things to consider:

• Decide if you want all natural, all synthetic or a combination. Many think you’ll be better off going all natural. If it’s being sold as “blend” then it’s not all natural.

• The next decision is do you want a completely Dunlop mattress, Talalay mattress or combination? If you want the support of a Dunlop core and the comfort of a Talalay top, just make sure the combination model you choose doesn’t have a lot of “zones” or cut-up designs. The fewer of these the less shifting experienced over time. Instead, look for unglued, interchangeable layers that could possibly be customized to meet your specific needs.

• Whichever model you select, make sure it has a covering, preferably one that “breathes.” Although these have to have flame resistant by law, some retardants are chemical-heavy and don’t leave a lot of breathing space. A wool mattress cover is usually a good choice.

• Always, without a doubt, demand a comfort guarantee. Basically this is a grace period during which you can return the mattress for whatever reason. Ask for a minimum 60 days, but 90 is even better. Also, make sure you can receive a full refund if you change your mind and not just a store credit…and get it in writing.