Latex is a naturally obtained form of rubber. It is a flexible material used in a variety of applications, which range from medical uses to making mattresses. In terms of mattresses, the latex mixture is widely used because it contours to the shape of the body, but doesn’t sink like memory foam. It is created by extracting the milky liquid from rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) and results in a fairly neutral and comfortable sleeping surface. Latex mattresses also provide a more sensitive, conventional sleep experience with better support in comparison to other types of mattresses.
There are two types of latex most commonly used in mattresses: synthetic and natural latex. Synthetic latex is made with chemical based ingredients, while natural latex is a milky substance harvested from Rubber trees. Today, natural latex is a preferred choice versus synthetic latex, since it is more eco-friendly and affordable. To slope some of the cost and provide benefits of both synthetic and natural latex, blended latex became a popular middle-ground in many mattresses. Blended latex’s synthetic/natural ratio varies per company, but is typically 60% synthetic and 40% natural, and accounts for 70% of the latex market today.
Why choose a latex mattress?
Latex mattresses are one of the most versatile types of mattress, simply because they deliver on some of the most critical sleep needs for most people: support and comfort. By contouring to the curves of your body while bouncing back to its original shape quickly after weight is released, latex supports the body while relieving pressure points. Plus, they’re hypo-allergenic and antimicrobial – a great quality for those that suffer from allergies. Breathable design that allows for greater airflow also means latex is a cooler sleeping surface than other types of foam.
Pros of Latex
- Hypo-allergenic and antimicrobial – great for allergy sufferers (and even safe for those with latex allergies)
Blend of pressure-point relief and “bouncy” support great for reducing chronic lower back pain
Breathable construction means you sleep cooler – no clammy feeling in the morning
More durable than traditional innerspring – most well cared for latex mattresses last between 10 and 20 years
Cons of Latex
- Tend to be more expensive than other types of mattresses
- Feel “bouncy”, which isn’t always ideal for shared beds that require reduced motion transfer
- Depending on your budget, can be limited in terms of firmness levels
Not sure what type of mattress you need? Check out our Guide to Mattress Types, with the pros and cons of each.
How is latex manufactured?
There are two different methods of latex production: the Dunlop method and the Talalay method. Dunlop is the first method used for latex that tends to produce more affordable variations of latex, while Talalay is a more advanced process that results in softer albeit more expensive variations. Talalay comes in natural, synthetic and blended options while Dunlop is available in either natural or synthetic only.
Talalay Latex Manufacturing Process
The Talalay process is the new and refined method of creating latex foam. It provides a more consistent feel, various levels of softness, requires less raw material, and has a lower density than Dunlop latex. In the Talalay process, latex is poured onto a pattern and aerated, then rapidly frozen to prevent bubbles (thus ensuring consistency). Lastly, it is exposed to high temperatures, then washed and dried. Talalay is used for both comfort and support materials.
Dunlop Latex Manufacturing Process
The Dunlop process is the first and original method of creating Latex. It is less consistent, but it create a denser, more durable foam and is less expensive than Talalay latex. In the Dunlop process, latex is poured onto a pattern then heated. Dunlop can be used for both comfort and support layers in a mattress, but is more popular as a support layer under a softer, more contouring Talalay variation.
For a bed that has all of the qualities of a latex foam mattress at an even better price, consider a latex alternative mattress.
These mattresses use a new type of foam that has the same reactivity, breathability and durability of latex foam, but costs much less than even synthetic latex. The Brooklyn Signature and Brooklyn Aurora both use a proprietary latex alternative foam called TitanFlex, which supports the body while still delivering superior contouring comfort.
How do I pick the right firmness level for my latex mattress?
Quality latex and latex alternative mattresses are available in a variety of firmnesses to fit your sleeping habits, whether you’re a back, side, stomach sleeper or a combination of them. The best way to determine the correct firmness is to identify these 3 important factors:
Are you a side, back, or stomach sleeper? Maybe a combination?
Your weight is a huge factor on how firm your mattress needs to be. If the mattress is not firm enough, it may result in improper alignment.
This can be the most important factor to consider. Regardless of what studies show or what the majority enjoy, you know yourself better than anyone.
What is ILD?
ILD means Indentation Load Deflection, it is defined by using a machine which presses down on the latex (percentage vs height). The more it’s pressed, the lower the ILD, the softer the latex. The general rule of thumb is, the higher the ILD, the more firm the latex will be. Below is a helpful ILD chart for selecting firmness.