Updated: February 20, 2018
When it comes to bedding materials, latex is quickly becoming a favorite among quality mattress manufacturers, and the reason is simple: latex and latex alternative foam combines the contouring of memory foam with the responsiveness of an innerspring. The result is a bedding material that eases pressure points while supporting spinal alignment… win-win! But even after you’ve settled on a latex or latex alternative mattress, there’s still plenty to decide on, including this common question: natural latex vs. blended latex vs. synthetic latex vs. latex alternative – which is better?
The answer comes down to two things: personal preference and cost. Depending on what factors are most important to you (eco-friendly materials, budget, and comfort preferences for example) there may be one or two that stand out among the rest. But despite the differences, all types of latex and latex alternatives are very safe – even for those with a latex allergy! Now down to the nitty-gritty… understanding exactly what each type of latex is, and how it relates to the feel and price.
In the past few years, natural latex has slowly grown in popularity among mattress manufacturers because it is chemical-free and contains no synthetic counterparts (that is, no SBR, or Styrene Butadiene Rubber). That said, natural latex might be superior in terms of eco-friendliness, but that also means its generally the most expensive option.
Under the natural latex umbrella are two types of natural latex: Dunlop and Talalay. They’ve very similar, but have noted differences both in feel and in price. Dunlop is more limited in its selection since it has a more simplified production process, and generally feels firmer and more bouncy. Despite it having a more limited range of softness, its higher density makes it more durable, and it tends to last longer than its softer counterpart. Talalay comes in a variety of firmness levels and feels softer and less “springy” than Dunlop latex, which many sleepers prefer despite its higher cost.
Blended latex is the most commonly sold latex in North America; it contains a combination of natural Talalay and synthetic latex. Blended has the best of both natural and synthetic latex; more durable than natural Talalay latex, fewer chemicals in its production, more firmness options, and a better overall firmness consistency. Blended latex can have up to 7 different firmness levels, and is less expensive than most natural latex options.
All blended latex has a certain ratio of natural and synthetic mixed in. Generally these ratios are proprietary to a mattress manufacturer, so it’s unlikely you’ll get your hands on the information easily. That said, the majority of companies will have between 60/40 or 70/30 synthetic v. natural latex. A decent indicator of the ratio is this: the more natural latex you have, the higher the price will be.
Synthetic latex, which is made with SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber,) is primarily used to blend with natural latex. This is because SBR used in synthetic latex has some superior properties compared to natural latex, such as the ability to resist heat aging, abrasion resistance, and softening. The end result is a more durable product that lasts longer and is less expensive. Synthetic latex also allows for a wide array of firmness options, which gives you more options for a softer or firmer mattress.
At the end of the day, the contouring properties and responsiveness of latex is what makes it such a sought-after bedding material – but modern advancements in foam technology means that there are plenty of options that feel a whole lot like latex without the costly price tag. The first is Energex™ foam, a popular latex alternative foam used in plenty of all-foam beds that contours to the body but bounces back from pressure almost immediately. Energex™ is also breathable and allows for greater airflow than other types of foam (memory foam, for example), so it stays cooler throughout the night, just like latex.
The other is Brooklyn Bedding’s own TitanFlex™ foam (like what you’ll see in both the Brooklyn Signature and the even more advanced cooling Brooklyn Aurora) , which is a hugely upgraded version of Energex™ foam. Imagine the soft, gentle contouring properties of Talalay latex, but with immediate response technology that keeps you from feeling as though you’re sinking into the mattress. Plus, infusions of things like TitanCool™ pull heat away from the body to maintain ideal body temperature – a key element of sleeping cool and comfortably without the icky clammy feeling in the morning.
The real benefit of latex alternative foams, though, is the cost. Modern advancements in foam technology means you can enjoy the best qualities of latex foam even when you’re on a budget. After all, everyone deserves a great night’s sleep!