Latex Mattress Buying Guide

Shopping for a mattress used to include going to a local bedding store like Sleepy’s, laying in a bed for a few minutes and then heading out the door with a delivery date set.  The only real options there were soft, medium or hard firmness.  Now, there are a lot of other things to consider, namely what material your mattress is going to be made of.

The main options are now inner spring (coil), memory foam, latex and air mattresses.  If you are considering a latex mattress, then you also have to ask yourself more questions.  Do you want Talalay or Dunlop latex?  Do you want or need an eco-friendly or green mattress?

Latex sap, right from the treeAbout Latex Mattresses

In the United States, latex mattresses are still a newer product that not as many people know about.  European countries have already adopted these beds, which is a popular choice among people there.

Early forms of latex foam involved the processing of liquid latex, derived from various sources. The most common use for latex in manufacturing is tires.  This material also makes balloons, gloves, rubber bands, pencils and more.

Due to some political and historical happenings not worth getting into here, a synthetic form of latex needed to be created.  Many different kinds of synthetic materials as well as natural ones were then processed to form synthetic latex foam.  These new latex materials are used to make mattresses.

There are two different methods of creating latex mattresses that differ greatly.  Latex cannot simply be laid out in a rectangle and hardened to form a bed.  It needs to be processed in a specific way to hold its form.

Dunlop Method

This is the original method for shaping latex.  It dates back to the 1920′s.  This method involves pouring a whipped, frothy-like mixture of latex into a mold.  It is then steam cooked to harden the core.  Dunlop shaped latex foam mattresses are usually much more dense since they are formed with the latex settling into place.

Talalay Method

While the Dunlop method uses heat to form the core, Talalay uses the cold.  The liquid latex mixture is poured into its mold where vacuum pressure removes the air from the mold.  It is then flash frozen to hold this shape before it is baked.  Talalay latex foam mattresses will have a more consistent cell structure throughout.  These are generally more expensive.

Eco-friendly natural latex mattresses are better for you and the environmentGreen Latex Mattresses

As I said earlier, synthetic latex foam was created after use of latex from rubber trees couldn’t be sustained.  Synthetic latex is great from an economical point of view, but there are some drawbacks.

Synthetic latex is made of chemicals.  These chemicals usually leave a mattress with a foul odor.  Besides that, you could be breathing in the gas of these chemicals while you are sleeping.  As for an environmental standing, synthetic latex mattresses take lifetimes to decompose in landfills.

There are eco-friendly green latex foam mattresses being created now in response to these problems.  There are a variety of materials that manufacturers are using, but a common favorite is soy.  The green mattresses are still durable though. They can last the owner 10-20 years.

Latex vs Coil Spring Mattresses

Inner spring mattresses are the most common beds sold in the United States and will continue to be because of the affordable pricing.  The price of a latex mattress is sometimes in the range of 3x that of coil mattresses.

An investment in a latex mattress is often a great idea though.  These mattresses are much more durable and can last 3 times as long as its coil counterpart.  You’ll also find that the health benefits of a latex foam mattress supersedes the coil ones.

Check out our Inner Spring Mattress Buying Guide

Tempur=pedic memory foam mattressLatex vs Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam is much more known that latex mattresses.  This could be due to the great marketing efforts of the Temperpedic brand.  Both carry most of the same health benefits as one another, and some mattresses are even made with a combination of a latex core and a memory foam topper to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Latex mattresses are more often than not, a bit more expensive than memory foam.  A common reason for buying latex over memory foam would be the softer, “springier” feel of the latex rather than the denser feeling of the memory foam.

Check out our Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

Latex Mattress Price

The price of a latex foam mattress will vary tremendously based on several factors.  Talalay is more expensive than dunlop.  Green/natural is more expensive than synthetic.  Thicker is more expensive than thin.  With that being said, you can get best quality latex mattress for approximately $700-$1400.  The real price range from lowest quality to ultra luxury ranges from about $200 all the way to $60,000 (The Vividus by Hastens).

Discount Latex Mattresses

You can definitely find discounted latex mattresses if you know where to look.  Generally, brick and mortar stores won’t have the best deals on latex foam mattresses.  You’ll want to find a website that sells these for a good discount.  Most of the websites carrying latex mattresses can drop ship them, which means that they save hundreds of dollars in the cost simply by cutting down on their overhead of storage, shipping and losses.

Free Sleep Trials

When you finally do treat yourself and buy a latex foam mattress, you are 100% going to want a sleep trial whether you thought so or not.  It generally takes a person a week or 2 for their body to adjust to a new sleeping arrangement.  You are going to want to take this time to make sure that your mattress investment was worth it.

Most trustworthy websites will offer you a free 60-90 day sleep trial.  We recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity to test the bed out.  Give it 2-3 weeks and see how you like it before you make any decisions.

Information sources:

The Inside story: Foams and springs

Vividus Bed – Luxist.com

Talalay Process – Wikipedia

 

Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

Memory foam mattresses have been around for several decades now.  Early adopters spent thousands of dollars on Tempurpedic mattresses because of the many benefits that memory foam offers to you, but now there are plenty of Tempurpedic alternatives that are much more affordable and similar in quality.

These “new” mattresses are known to be some of the best mattresses for lower back pain that can give you a much more restful sleep.

About Memory Foam

Memory foam itself was created by NASA engineers.  They did not create the material with the idea of creating a mattress, but rather as a new seat cushion for planes. They invented this in the 1970′s to provide more comfort as well as safety in a crash landing.  The product then was known as “temper foam” and was not released to the public until 1980. - Top 10 NASA Inventions – Memory Foam

Memory Foam Benefits

Memory foam will have give and mold under pressure and heat, but only in localized areas.  This means that the mattress will soften under specific pressure points that your body has on the bed, relieving stress and therefore decreasing pains and discomforts while you are lying down.

Benefits that have been associated with sleeping on a memory foam mattress include:

  • Decreased back pain
  • Less sleep needed
  • More energy during the day
  • Awakening less in your sleep
  • Undisturbed sleep when sharing a bed

Density

These mattresses are always graded with different “memory foam densities.”  Density is basically how much memory foam is condensed into each square inch of mattress.  Lower density memory foam mattresses will have a lot more give than higher density.  Too high of a density and the mattress will be stiff and uncomfortable.

Guidelines for choosing memory foam density:

  • 4lb and under – Too soft
  • 5.3lb – Good
  • 8lb. – Best
  • Over 9lb – Too stiff

Memory Foam vs. Coil Spring Mattresses

Coil mattresses are the oldest form of mattress currently sold in a mattress store.  These inner spring mattresses are built with metal coils throughout the middle of the mattress that give a springy feeling and allows some give while you lay on the mattress.  These beds are the cheapest available, but don’t provide the support or benefits of memory foam.  The only benefit of innerspring mattresses over memory foam would be the bounce, if that is what you like.

See our inner spring mattress buying guide.

Memory Foam vs. Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are a newer form of bedding that is gaining popularity quickly.  They provide a lot of the same benefits as memory foam (decreased back pain, better sleep, more daytime energy, etc.)  When shopping for a latex mattress, be wary about the smell.  They often have a chemical smell (it is latex!).  There are green latex mattresses made of eco friendly materials that don’t smell though, but these are more expensive.  Latex mattresses are also heavier than memory foam on most occasions.  They provide a “bouncier” feel, but not the bounce of a coil mattress.

See our Latex mattress buying guide.

Testimonials

If you are looking for a memory foam mattress, you should immediately check out testimonials on the companies’ websites that you visit.  You want to be sure that other people that were looking for a mattress with similar needs had their needs met.  You also want to check to make sure there are no problems with the mattresses that any particular company has to offer.  After you check out the website testimonials, head to the Better Business Bureau for more objective views.

Foundation

Spring mattresses needed to have a box spring, or a foundation with them.  Most people are used to getting these with their mattresses, but they aren’t necessary for a memory foam mattress. There is nothing specific that you need for your mattress, so long as it can support the bed.  You can use an old box spring, platform bed, plywood or even just lay it on the floor.

Sleep Test Trial

You never really know how a bed will work out for you unless you really try it out.  Simply lying on a bed in a store like Sleepy’s is not going to be enough for you.  It takes more than a few minutes of sampling a mattress to know how you will sleep on it.  Actually, it will take you several nights.

Make sure that whatever company you go with, you are offered a sleep trial.  Also, make sure you give the sleep trial enough time to make sure that the mattress works for you.  Many people will take a week or two to adjust to a new mattress.  That means you shouldn’t give up after a few days of bad rest.  Give it the full trial and then judge it from there.

Organic Mattresses

What I find confusing, is the fact that we are trying to go back to making products and food with nothing but natural ingredients.  It confuses me that there are so many artificial products out there that we have to spend so much time seeking out green/eco-friendly products.

Mattresses have been one of the many products that are made of artificial materials that have been horrible for the environment for years.  Finally, as of the last few years, mattress manufacturers have invested in creating green mattresses that won’t cause so much harm to our precious world.

Why Get a Green Mattress?

Your Health

We are in a world where people are getting sick constantly from all of the unnatural chemicals and materials used in manufacturing everything.  Some common disorders that traditional mattresses have on people is eczema and allergies.  These two problems could become serious for some people and they unfortunately have no idea that their mattress is the leading cause of their problems.

mattress_shopThe Environmental Factor

Mattresses aren’t exactly the smallest thing you own.  Roughly 8,000 mattresses make it to a landfill every day.  Most mattresses are made of foam, steel and fibers.  These materials either don’t break down at all or take a terribly long time to decompose.  About 175 million pounds of these materials make their way into landfills every year causing unwarranted problems to our environment.

Green Mattresses

The best eco-friendly mattresses are natural latex mattresses.  They come in all of the same sizes as any other mattress (California King, King, Queen, Twin and Full).  You can even get organic crib mattresses from some companies which could be great for starting a child off with the best sleeping arrangements.

Not all organic latex mattresses are the same.  Read our latex mattress buying guide to find out more about how these beds are made.

When shopping for a green latex mattress, be sure to make sure that not just the mattress’ latex core is made of green/organic material.  Also check to make sure that the other materials are made of natural materials.  This includes the upholstery (bamboo is great) and the foundation that the mattress rests upon.

Sources:

From Steel to Fibers, the Mattress as Trove

Count Sheep, Not Harmful Synthetics: How to Find an Eco-Friendly Mattress

Best Mattresses for Lower Back Pain

Oftentimes, people will overlook their mattresses at being the culprit for their lower back pain.  Your bed is where you spend about a third of your life.  It only makes sense that if you have the wrong mattress, something will go wrong with your body during that exorbitant amount of time.

You can go to a back specialist or a chiropractor to treat back problems and maybe get to the cause of it, but a lot of the time you can just look at your mattress.  We have all seen the commercials for these beds that prevent and cure back pain, but are they the fix for you?

Is Your Bed Causing Back Pain?

Mattress-for-Lower-Back-PainIf you have an older coil (inner-spring) mattress, check it in the middle to see if it is dipping into itself.  This is an easy tell to see if your bed is the reason you are aching all day.  Your spine should be able to rest in a straight line while you are sleeping.  With a sagging mattress, your spine is bent in an unnatural position all night.  This ultimately leads to back pains and further problems into your life time.

If you don’t have a sagging mattress, feel how soft your bed is.  If it is “plush”, then you might have a problem with your bed having to much give.  This is another scenario where you will find yourself sleeping with your spine out of position all night long.

If neither of these are the case, you should probably speak to your doctor to find out if there is a deeper issue involved.

What is the Best Mattress for Low Back Pain

There is no single best mattress out there for your back pain.  There are a few options that you should consider, namely memory foam and latex mattresses.  Both of these beds have been shown to be a great benefit to people suffering from back pain, fibromyalgia and insomnia.

Both of these kinds of beds are great for people with back pain.  Figuring out which one you should get will be a matter of preference.

Memory Foam Mattresses

The technology for memory foam mattresses originated with a NASA test for new materials for astronauts in space.  The original plans for the material were scrapped, but they ended up creating a great new product, one that they didn’t know what to do with.

Tempurpedic was the first company to adopt the use of memory foam for consumer use.  They created a mattress out of if that was firm, yet had the ability to contour to the shape of a person’s body.  The technology to create these beds has changed over the year bringing higher quality mattresses for lower prices.

Check out our Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

Latex Mattresses

The use of latex in our bedding is a newer trend.  Using two different types of technology to set the molds, mattress manufacturers have been able to make affordable latex mattresses that customers love.

Latex mattresses have most of the same benefits as memory foam mattresses, plus they are usually lighter and have a bouncier feel to them.  Some people will prefer the extra lift while others will be more inclined to sleep on a memory foam bed.

Check out our Latex Foam Mattress Buying Guide

Which Should You Buy?

Both latex and memory foam mattresses can help you out with your back pains.  You should first consult your doctor to see if there are any serious problems with your back before making the change.

Choosing between memory foam and latex will be up to you and your preferences.  You can feel how both of them are in a showroom, and then we recommend you shop for a mattress online.  Look for a mattress with a 60-90 day sleep trial so that you can really test out the mattress and see if you like it and if it helps your lower back pain.  If you don’t like it, then you can return the mattress for a full refund with your sleeping trial.

Innerspring Mattress Buying Guide

There is a good chance that you have had, or do have an innerspring mattress right now.  They are the most popular mattress and have been since the early 1900′s.

Components of an Innerspring Mattress

The Spring Core

The spring core is what puts the “spring” in innerspring.  It is made up of many spring coils, made of steel.  These coils are the reason your bed is bouncy.

The gauge of the coil determines whether you have a stiff bed or one that gives more under pressure.  Higher quality mattresses will usually have a 14-15.5 gauge which has more give than lesser quality mattresses with 12.5 gauge coils.

The four different types of springs are Bonnell coils, Marshall coils, Offset coils and Continuous coils.  You can read more about each here.

The Foundation

A foundation is typically a separate piece than a mattress.  These are most commonly referred to as box springs, even though a box spring is just one type of mattress foundation.  The following are the three most common kinds of mattress foundations:

  1. Box Spring – A rigid frame which usually contains extra heavy duty springs.  The springs allow your mattress to have some more bounce and offer softer support.  One major con to using a box spring is that they allow your mattress to sag.
  2. Traditional Wood Foundation – Commonly known in the bed industry as an “Ortho Box.”  These foundation are made with a soft wood like pine and consist of 7-8 support slats.  A wood foundation typically increases the stability and firmness of the mattress.
  3. Grid Foundation – Combination of wood and steel.  These foundations are known to provide the greatest innerspring mattress support.

The Upholstery Layers

Some mattress manufacturers will call this the “comfort layer”.  The upholstery layer is often the part of the mattress which is used in a sales pitch because of the different materials covering the mattress or even the “topper” layer.  The topper layer can increase the softness of a mattress and can contain latex or memory foam.

See our other guides:

Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

Latex Mattress Buying Guide