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Guides 10 Things to Look for When Buying a Latex Mattress

Published on February 11th, 2013 | by Mattress Journal

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10 Things to Look for When Buying a Latex Mattress

Purchasing a quality latex mattress requires some research, but it can be difficult for first time buyers to know exactly what to look for or what questions to ask. Purchasing a mattress in general, is similar to the process of buying a car. Consumers look for particular things that fit their needs. However, after determining what type of mattress is right for you, the decision often falls on a comparison of different types and brands. We’ve put together this streamlined list of the top 10 things you should look for when choosing a latex mattress, whether you’re buying online or in stores.

The Ideal Latex Mattress Will Have:

1) 100% Natural Latex

While latex mattresses have been designated as one of the best mattresses to own in the industry today, there are different classes of latex mattresses on the market.

  • 100% natural latex mattresses
  • Blended/hybrid latex mattresses
  • Synthetic latex mattresses

Synthetic latex mattresses are made with all man-made products, made to mimic the standard of latex mattresses. These cannot be considered all-natural. They also do not offer the health  and eco-friendly benefits of 100% natural latex Mattresses. This is also true for blended latex mattresses which typically contain 60-70% synthetic material, which can even be called “natural” – so ensure the labeling says 100% natural when shopping.

2) No Other Foams or Fillers

Blended latex mattresses, also referred to as hybrid contain part natural materials, and part synthetic man-made materials. Many mattresses sold as latex will contain only a few inches of latex over a synthetic foam base, as opposed to all latex. These Types of latex mattresses are often less expensive, and easier to create using man-made chemicals and materials. However 100% natural latex mattresses are the preferred models as they are more comfortable, free of chemicals, eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, and stand the test of time and durability. See the table below, from BestMattress-Brand.org comparing reviews of all-latex and blended latex over foam beds.

  100% Natural Latex Latex Blend over Foam
Overall Satisfaction A C
Relieving Back Pain A D
Natural Materials A C
No Off Gassing A D
Doesn’’t Hold Heat A C
Return Policies A C
Warranty A B
Life Span A B
Average Queen Price $2,500 $1,500

3) Complete Information on Layers is Available

The manufacturer or retailer should be open about what is in their latex mattresses and be able to provide documentation on certifications they claim. Primarily, they should tell you what the latex foam is made of (natural, synthetic or blend), how it’s made (Dunlop/Talalay), how much latex is in the bed, what any other layers are made of, and the composition of fire barriers and cover fabrics.

As for latex type, latex foam can be made using two different types of processes regardless of whether natural or synthetic latex is used.

  • Talalay process
  • Dunlop process

The Dunlop process is the traditional method used to make latex since 1929. This process requires that the rubber sap be combined with frothing agents and whipped into a rich froth. Think of how egg whites are whipped to become meringue, or cream into whipped cream. After this process has been completed, the latex is poured into a mold, covered, and then heated to set the latex foam. Dunlop latex is relatively eco-friendly to produce compared to other foams It is the most widely available type of latex and can be produced in both firm cores and plusher layers.

The Talalay process differs slightly; it adds two steps to manufacturing process. The frothed latex is poured into a vacuum-sealed mold which sucks out air and the flash frozen before being heated. Talalay latex is less common, especially in 100% natural formulations, and costs more to produce.

The Talalay process is considered superior to the Dunlop process by manufacturers of Talalay. The idea is that the added steps create a more uniform product, but for most consumers the feel and experience between Dunlop and Talalay is similar, as are consumer satisfaction scores.

ILD/IFD or Indentation Load/Force Deflection can also be helpful when provided. This number tells you how much force is required to compress the foam, or essentially, how soft or firm it will feel. Lower numbers (around 20 ILD) refer to softer foams, while higher numbers (around 40) refer to firmer foams.

4) Certified Organic Cotton Cover

The next thing consumers should be aware of are the types of covers offered with their latex mattress purchase. An organic cotton cover with wool backing will offer unsurpassed breathability and moisture wicking, in addition to keeping your bed chemical free. Just make sure the body certifying the product is displayed to ensure the item is truly organic.

5) Wool Flame Barrier

Wool backing on covers also provides a natural form of fire retardant, as wool is naturally fire resistant. A host of other chemicals can be used to meet flame standards from formaldehyde based components, toxic PBDE’s, and other additives with negative health effects. While many US manufacturers have began phasing out the worst offenders, they still use potentially toxic and carcinogenic materials and are not required to disclose them on labels. Imported products and those with synthetic foams are especially likely to contain hazardous retardants.

6) In Home Trial

It is always preferable to purchase a mattress from a provider that offers at least 30 day to return. This is true for any mattress whether it be latex or not. Remember, you will be using this mattress every day of their life for at least the next 10 to 20 years! It is preferable to be happy with your purchase, the only way to do this is to test it out first.

7) Warranty

Also favor retailers that offer a 20+ year warranty. Any retailer who does not provide at least a 20 year warranty is not confident in their product. According to the article on latex mattress satisfaction from BestMattress-Brand.org,  “Owners of all-natural latex mattresses  have reported life spans that typically range between 12-20 years, though some have even held up as long as 40 years or more. Blended mattresses typically have life spans of about 6-10 years, slightly longer than the overall mattress average of 5-7 years.”, therefore, if the retailer does not offer a 20+ year warranty, their product may not be up to par.

8) User-Friendly Website

Choose a retailer that offers a user-friendly website interface. After purchasing a mattress, consumers will often refer back to the website for information such as tips, frequently asked questions, or to contact customer service. A website that allows you to smoothly order online, check the status of your order, receive shipment updates, and connect with representatives in a variety of ways is likely to lead to higher purchase satisfaction.

9) Verified Latex Mattress Reviews

Research the reviews of the retailer, and the latex mattress brand for consumer comments. Make sure the brand is referred by their own customers, and that the reviews featured on their website are third-party verified. Keep in mind average overall satisfaction rates for latex tend to be about 80%, so look for a bed that has a minimum of ⅘ stars in reviews. Check out this post from BestMattress-Reviews.org about buying a latex mattress online for more on reviews and comparison shopping.

10) Third Party Certifications

It is also a good idea to ask the retailer about their manufacturing processes, information that is not stated explicitly, and whether the final product is certified by reputable organizations like Oeko and organic bodies. Oeko-Tex certification ensures that no hazardous chemicals were used in the manufacturing process, and the Sustainable Furniture Council ensures a commitment to earth-friendly practices. Organic materials should have the certifying body listed as well.


Comparison of Online Latex Brands

Latex Mattress Company Type of Latex Adjustable Layers Glue Flame Retardant Cover Organic Certifications Warranty Return Policy Verified Reviews Website Usability Starting Price (queen)
Astrabeds Organic Dunlop Yes No Wool (no chemicals) Organic Cotton Yes 25 90 Yes A 1,799
Life Kind Organic Dunlop or Natural Talalay Yes NO Wool (no chemicals) Organic Cotton Yes 20 90 No B 2,495
Habitat Furnishings Natural Talalay / Dunlop No Yes Wool (no chemicals) Knit Blend or Organic Cotton Some 20 365 Yes D 1,599
Plush Beds Natural Talalay / Natural or Organic Dunlop No No Wool (no chemicals) Organic Cotton Some 20 100 Yes B 1,399
Sleep EZ Blended Talalay or Natural Talalay/Dunlop Yes No FR Barrier / Rayon Cotton or Organic Cotton Some 20 120 No D 1,495
Flobeds Blended or Natural Talalay Yes No Wool (no chemicals) Cotton or Organic Cotton Some 20 100 No C 1,779

Above is another helpful chart comparing popular retailers  using the criteria above. As  you can see, there are many great options online that aren’t available in local stores where you are likely to be stuck with only a couple blended options. Of the compared, we believe the all-natural latex mattress line from Astrabeds.com offers the best overall value in terms of features, options and cost. Following these easy tips on what to look for when buying a latex mattress will help ensure you get the best bed for your dollar, and one you’ll look forward to sleeping on night after night.

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