How To Buy A Latex Mattress Without Getting Ripped Off By Retail Stores And E-Commerce Web Sites

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latex mattress reviews

As the web’s biggest go to source for unbiased opinions on many different kinds of mattresses, we get a lot of shoppers studying our reports once they discover how difficult it is to shop for a genuine latex mattress.

Latex is the hottest trend in the mattress industry right now. There are dozens of companies selling latex mattresses, but how do you choose the right one? And, why has interest in latex grown so much recently? Why would you buy one vs. a conventional mattress like an innerspring, or a memory foam mattress? And which brands are better than others?

What’s All The Hub-Bub About Latex Mattresses?

Read on to discover everything you need to know about latex mattresses, and we’ll arm you with all of the information you need. I’m Eben Goresko, and I’ve been a piano tuner for decades. I became involved with mattress reviewing after a bad mattress shopping experience left me feeling like I‘d been had. I’ve been writing reviews and helpful blogs ever since.

I’ve seen latex mattresses make a roaring comeback in the last few years, and I think a lot of it has to do with consumers becoming bored with conventional bedding options, and being overwhelmed with too many mattress choices, many of which are made using mystery materials that are cloaked in names like "Dream Foam", "Ultra Foam", or other foggy descriptions that never seem to tell us what it actually is.

Mattress fads come and go, and many are way over-hyped in the media as being "the coolest thing on the planet", such as the Casper mattress, made using a couple layers of relatively inexpensive foam, wrapping it in a fancy cover, and getting news headlines in the Wall Street Journal because you can order it at 9AM and it'll be delivered to you on a bicycle by noon, if you live in cool!

And then there's memory foam, which is hot, and smells bad because it's made with urethane foam and often sandwiched together using formaldehyde based glue, and you have to dig your way out of it, and on and on. Even memory foam, which has taken a wild ride in the last ten years, is starting to slowly fade away in popularity.

But, latex beds have in fact, been around since the 60's, and many Americans grew up on Sears latex mattresses (no longer available). It can be synthetic, a blend of natural and synthetic or all natural, but in any form, it is bouncy, elastic, stretchy, yielding, and you don't get hot, and you don't have to dig your way out of it.

Latex mattresses offer excellent pressure relief, and distributes weight loads laterally, or sideways, rather than straight down. That's what provides the floating like sensation you feel. You can buy natural latex or the synthetic variety, and they tend to be indistinguishable, although folks looking the botanically derived variety can find it several places online. Even synthetic latex rubber is safe to use too, as it is not urethane foam, which is used in the production of memory foam, and contributes to the bad, VOC like odor.

As far as exposure to hazardous substances goes, I would say that the greatest concern when you buy any mattress has to be the use of toxic adhesives, which set very rapidly, rather than drying slowly, because in high volume production operations where you are stamping out hundreds of mattresses a day, efficiency and minimal time invested means more money to the manufacturer.

In the end, I think that latex is really about the most comfortable sleep surface out there -- supportive yet cushy at the same time. It also does not sleep hot, a real problem with many consumers. It is great for side sleepers with painful joints, perfect for back sleepers, since it does not have the wet sand feel of memory foam. It doesn’t mash down like quilted innersprings and other mattresses stuffed with poor quality foam layers or other filler.

Latex has much more of a buoyant, uplifting quality to it than other materials, which keeps you from having to dig your way out of a rut or gulley when you want to turn over on your bed.

Natural Latex allows you to effortlessly roll from side to back or side to belly, which prevents disruption of natural sleep patterns. Side sleepers, or people who toss and turn tend to sleep much more deeply in consistent REM sleep, because latex properly supports and distributes weight, relieves pressure points by spreading load horizontally rather than downward like cheap urethane or high density slab foams, increasing pressure and pain.

Also, as far as the pure vs. synthetic issue is concerned, by the time the mattresses reach the consumer, though, there isn't a whole lot of difference in price between the synthetic and the all natural latex beds. I'd say who you buy a latex mattress from is the most important thing.

And, if you buy a pure latex mattress from a smaller, boutique vendor without a lot of overhead, you’re going to get a better bed, because they don’t need to compensate all of the middle men, distributors, and factory reps, who drive mattress prices through the ceiling. The big foam mattress companies also have limited warranties and return policies, too, another red flag.

Latex is made using a unique technique, called vulcanization, meaning using steam to rapidly solidify the liquid foam into the jiggly solid version.

The most time tested and standardized technique is the Dunlop method, which yields a more supportive and slightly firmer latex, ideal for bottom layers that provide underlying support. The Dunlop method of solidifying latex has been around for 60 years, and you can find Dunlop mattresses still out there today that are in perfect, factory like condition.

The newest technique, called the Talalay process, is essentially the same general technique, except it includes a flash freeze step which suspends smaller air bubbles in the mold immediately before it is rapidly heated to solidify the latex, resulting in a slightly softer, but equally supportive feel. Ideal for those top comfort layers and provides a softer, cushier, and wonderful velvety finished feel.

How To Shop For A Latex Mattress…What To Look For

If you start shopping for a latex mattress, you'll want to know a little bit about foam density to feel a bit more confident when talking to sales people. The unit of measurement which gauges the softness or firmness of natural latex is ILD (Indentation Load Deflection), which is a term that's tossed around a lot, but don't be intimidated by it, as it is the one tool you can use to compare one manufacturer's mattress to another. It basically is the amount of weight it takes to depress a piece of latex one inch when one square foot of weight is placed on it.

Most manufacturers use natural latex ranging from 18-19ILD for a softer feel (especially the top layers), and 26-30ILD, for a firmer feel on the bottom, but often manufacturers use combinations of various layers to create more specific sensations of support. Many times, these ingredients and their combinations are trade secrets with many companies.

Also, many people get concerned about allergies from latex, especially latex. Synthetic latex and natural latex both tend to be hypo-allergenic, and far more people have negative responses to urethane (memory) foams that latex, because of chemical sensitivities rather than allergy issues.

Also, there are now companies who are creating mattresses designed to be more price sensitive by offering a hybrid mattress, which will have a section of latex on top as the comfort layer, and a supportive base layer which provides the foundation for the mattress. These are also worth looking at, though, if you can spring for an all latex mattress, since you get more of the good stuff top to bottom.

I’ve seen plenty of latex hybrids out there, and I think that there is a marketplace for Latex Hybrid mattresses if you want to save a little money. You typically get a two inch layer of latex on top of a synthetic layer of foam beneath, often very closely gauged to feel like the bottom layers of a natural latex mattress - not quite the same feel, but I’ve tried some that were pretty close. Just make sure that the underlying foam is one of the cleaner, greener, non-toxic foams like a Certi-Pur recommended foam.

Buy a Properly Made Mattress, Not A Bag Full Of Pads That Shift Constantly

Very importantly, I recommend a company that laminates or glues their layers together using a non-toxic adhesive. Many companies employ a scam which is quite deceptive, when selling their latex beds - they sell an unglued mattress which contains several layers that stack one on top of the other, so you can “switch out the layers” to get different feels and combinations. Cheaper to make, cheaper to sell.

It all sounds good, until you get this bag full of layers of latex delivered, stack them inside the accompanying bag, and sleep on it for a few nights. You’ll find yourself unzipping the cover, and constantly restacking and realigning the layers because of shifting during the night.

I suggest buying a finished product. I’ve read a lot of complaints about these kinds of beds, and because latex is highly flexible and stretchy, it only makes sense to buy something that is properly glued together to prevent migration and shifting.

Buy From A Company That Gives You A Decent Trial Period And Warranty

Since there are so many choices on the web selling latex mattresses, it all comes down to a few things to consider- but without a doubt, the best choice, usually has something to do with a money back trial. Most companies now offer them, typically 90 or 180 day trial periods. Look for a company that gives you the longest amount of time, and allows you to return the mattress for whatever reason, without questions.

Typically, there may be a small return fee, of $50 -100, which is fair, since the retailer has to pay someone to come to your house and pick up your mattress.

Comparison Chart To Help Weed Out The Good E-Tailers From The Not-So-Good, And To Help You Find the Best Possible Source..Without Feeling Like You’ve Been Taken.

Latex Mattress Review Comparison Chart

Recommendations On Where To Purchase

To sum it all up, here’s a quick bullet point list that will help you quickly determine what to look for to help you get the best deal on a pure, plant based, all natural latex mattress:

  • Make sure you are offered a decent return guarantee, at least 90 days.
  • Get a latex mattress with a decent cover, like cotton or bamboo.
  • Buy a latex mattress that uses non VOC adhesives to avoid fumes and toxins.
  • Get a decent warranty, I’d say at least 15 years, with 5 years minimum free replacement if the mattress fails in any way.
  • Consider sites that offer true third party reviews that link to outside sources.
  • Buy from a site that is at least 10 years old- many sites go out of business in 2-3 years, and then you are stuck with a warranty that is useless.
  • Buy a latex mattress that is top to bottom latex with no synthetic foam base, to insure you get the maximum benefit all the way down, and don’t bottom into something that will break down over short periods of time.
  • If you do consider a Hybrid, make sure the warranty covers it for 10 years or more.

As you can see, buying a latex mattress isn't so easy. Ask lots of questions. When looking around at latex retailers, I was struck by a particular company called Habitat Furnishings and approached them about becoming a sponsor. I really liked their informational, personal approach. And also that they are very clear about what they sell (their latex mattresses) and they have a strong mission statement as to why. They also offer the longest money back return I found -- a 365 day money back trial.

And, they have a rock solid reputation -- they are a member of the BBB with an A+ rating and guess what? - they’ve got a reasonable return charge of $99, if you don’t like your mattress, and they make it easy, using a nationwide service that will pick up the mattress if you wish to return it within their 365 day trial period, which seems overly generous, but they actually have reviews that mention how easy it is to deal with their staff.

So, if you are interested in finding out more about latex mattresses, I think you will learn a lot by Checking Out The Habitat Furnishing Latex Mattress page. Their video about their latex mattresses is great also, and you can read real customer reviews right on their page, which is hooked up to something called Power Reviews. Everything appears to be tied to an outside, legitimate third party source. They offer three models without confusing you, or overwhelming you with too many choices.

Or, if you prefer talking with someone, I noticed that they do offer live phone customer service 9am to 5pm Eastern Time, Monday - Friday, at 800-313-2591. All their staff apparently have years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of natural latex mattresses, and they can help you see if latex may be a solution for your particular sleep needs.

I have found that not all companies selling latex mattresses even offer phone service! They also employ a chat system which is turned on most of the time (unlike other companies I checked out).

Keep in mind, I do not have a financial interest in any company, or receive a commission for sales from anyone I take on as a sponsor. I do ask that companies I review contribute something to the cost of maintaining my site if they wish, which is minimal.

Thanks, Eben Goresko