WHAT IS A LATEX MATTRESS?

lady asleep on a latex mattress

A latex mattress is a mattress that is made using latex foam. Latex is a natural substance sourced from rubber trees.  It is an ideal substance for making mattresses due to its natural bounce and soft cushioning feel.  Latex mattresses are incredibly comfortable and are a great long-term investment.


WHAT IS LATEX IN MATTRESS?

man sitting on edge of a mattress

Latex mattresses can be made either entirely from latex or they can use latex in combination with other types of materials – such as springs. Mattresses that combine more than one type of mattress technology are known as hybrids.

All latex mattresses are made using some type of latex foam. The latex used can be natural, synthetic, or blended. Let’s take a look at these three different types of latex.

NATURAL LATEX

Natural latex comes from the sap of the rubber tree. It is an eco-friendly material and comes in two types – Dunlop latex and Talalay latex. Dunlop latex is softer at the surface and denser at the bottom. And, Talalay latex has a more uniform density throughout. We will look at these two types in more detail later.

SYNTHETIC LATEX

Synthetic latex is a manufactured chemical compound that mimics the feel and properties of natural latex. It is not as durable or eco-friendly as natural latex but on the upside, it is cheaper to produce and does not trigger latex allergies.

These mattresses are made using petroleum products and are sometimes referred to as Styrene-Butadiene rubber, (SBR). Synthetic latex is not as breathable or springy as natural latex. And, it is not as durable.

BLENDED LATEX

Blended latex, as the name suggests, is a blend of natural and synthetic latex material. It strikes a balance between the two. Blended is cheaper than natural latex and more durable than synthetic latex. You can think of it as a halfway house between the two.


WHY A LATEX MATTRESS?

a finger pressing into a latex mattress

What is a latex mattress and why choose one?  Why are they so popular? Latex mattresses have become incredibly popular in recent years. And, the key to this popularity is their distinct feel, durability, and comfort levels compared to other mattresses.

They deliver superb comfort thanks to their soft cushioning support, body contouring, and pressure relief. This makes them a great choice for side sleepers and combination sleepers.

They are also a great long-term investment. Latex mattresses are more durable than any other mattress. And you can expect one to last you 20-25 years. This is more than double the lifespan of other mattress types.


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FEATURES OF A LATEX MATTRESS

mother and daughter on a quiet bed

What are the key features of a latex mattress? How do they feel and what makes them stand out? Let’s now take a look at the characteristics of latex mattresses that set them apart from other models.

OUTSTANDING COMFORT

Latex mattresses are incredibly comfortable. This is the key feature that makes them stand out from the crowd. Latex has a natural springy feel and gentle cradling support that make it ideal for mattress production.

Latex delivers a soft cushioning experience that gently contours around your body and cradles your body weight. And, the inherent springiness of the material delivers excellent responsive movement that will help you move around the bed.

NATURAL SPRING

Latex comes from the rubber tree. And, as such, it has a naturally springy feel. This means latex mattresses have excellent responsive movement. As you move around the top of the mattress the natural bounce will assist your movement.

This is in direct contrast to other types of foam mattresses such as memory foam and polyfoam. These types of the mattress have little to no responsive movement. There is no spring in the material so it can be difficult to move and change position.

COOLING EFFECT

Latex mattresses do not retain heat around your body like other types of foam mattresses. They sleep much cooler thanks to their natural cooling effect. Latex does not absorb body heat as easily as memory foam.

It is a naturally breathable material and it is not heat retentive. Also, it doesn’t hug your body as tightly as other types of foam which allows air movement to draw heat away from your body. This will come as a welcome feature if you tend to sleep hot at night.

HYPOALLERGENIC

Latex mattresses are naturally hypoallergenic. This means the material is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction compared to other materials. This makes them a great choice for people who suffer from allergies.

However, some people suffer from a latex allergy. So, make sure you don’t have a latex allergy before you buy. Latex is are also anti-microbial and dust mite resistant.

ECO-FRIENDLY

Natural latex mattresses are eco-friendly. They are made from natural, renewable latex rubber sourced from rubber trees. No chemicals or plastics are used in the synthesis of natural latex mattresses.

However, synthetic and blended mattresses involve the addition of chemicals and other materials. So, if you want to if you have an environmental conscience and want to reduce your carbon footprint aim for ‘natural latex’.

DURABILITY

Latex is a highly durable substance. And, in general, latex mattresses are more durable than other types of mattresses. Good quality latex mattresses have extended lifespans and regularly outperform other mattresses.

Good quality natural latex mattresses often last for 20 years. However, synthetic and blended latex mattresses will have shorter lifespans. This is because they contain supplementary non-latex materials.

RAPID RESPONSE RATE

Latex mattresses have a rapid response rate. This means they compress quickly under body weight and then return to their original shape quickly when the pressure is removed.

This is in contrast to memory foam mattresses that have a slow response rate. Memory foam changes shape slowly when pressure is applied and returns to its original shape more slowly.

This rapid response rate makes latex mattresses a great option for people who suffer aches and pains and for people nursing injuries. The mattress quickly changes shape to contour and cradle the body when pressure is applied.

PRICE

Latex mattresses are more expensive than other types of mattress. Especially natural latex. Synthetic and blended latex mattresses are cheaper but are made from materials that negatively impact the performance and durability of the mattress.

However, they represent an excellent long-term investment. A high-quality natural latex mattress can easily last 20 years. When you factor in the outstanding comfort, distinct feel, and durability the numbers begin to speak for themselves.


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HOW ARE THEY MADE?

latex foam layers of a mattress

What is a latex mattress made of? Natural latex mattresses are made using a white milk-like substance that is extracted from the rubber tree. The latex is then converted to a foam to create a soft springy latex layer.

A latex mattress can be made entirely from latex. These all-latex mattresses can be made from one large latex block, or from multiple latex layers that are stacked one on top of another.

Another type of latex mattress, known as a latex hybrid, involves combining latex with another type of mattress material. This type of construction places a latex comfort layer on top of another material – such as other types of foam or an innerspring supportive core.

LATEX MATTRESS CONSTRUCTION

A latex mattress can be made using one of two construction methods. These methods involve the use of one of two types of foam – Dunlop and Talalay. Let’s take a closer look at these two types of latex foam.

DUNLOP LATEX FOAM

A Dunlop latex mattress is made by pouring the latex into a mold in a single pour. The latex is then whipped up to create a foam and allowed to set naturally.

This method results in a latex mattress that is firmer at the base and softer at the top. It is an excellent production method because it delivers a mattress with a strong support base and a softer cushioning surface.

It is a more straightforward and energy-efficient manufacturing process compared to Talalay. This means Dunlop latex mattresses are more affordable and tend to last longer than Talalay.

TALALAY LATEX FOAM

Talalay latex mattress production involves multiple steps and the possible addition of extra ingredients. The added ingredients mean it is not always a 100% natural latex mattress.

The Talalay method involves a partial pour into the mattress mold. A vacuum is then applied to transform the latex into foam and expand it so that it fills the mold.  Carbon dioxide gas is then added to reduce density and boost breathability.

This method produces a more consistent feel from top to bottom. It doesn’t have the same variation in firmness as a Dunlop latex mattress. In general, they are also more expensive due to increased production costs.


WHAT IS LATEX?

latex being extracted from a rubber tree

Latex is a white milk-like substance that is obtained from the rubber tree. The tree originated in Brazil but has now spread around the world. The biggest producers of latex are Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Cameroon.

Latex is sometimes referred to as natural rubber. It is a very durable material and has many characteristics that make it ideal as a mattress material. In mattress production latex is converted to foam to give it a soft cushioning and springy feel.

Latex is extracted from the rubber tree in liquid form and turns into a gel when it is exposed to air. Its durability, breathability, and bounciness make it an ideal material for mattresses. Other common applications include latex gloves, condoms, and clothing.


TYPES OF LATEX MATTRESS

types of latex mattress

What different types of latex mattress are there? There are three categories of latex mattress – natural latex, synthetic latex, and blended latex mattresses.

NATURAL LATEX MATTRESS

Natural latex mattresses can be divided into two categories – Dunlop latex and Talalay latex mattresses. We have already covered the difference between these two in some detail above.

In general, a Dunlop mattress is softer at the surface and denser at the base. While a Talalay latex mattress has more uniform consistency throughout.

SYNTHETIC LATEX MATTRESS

Synthetic latex mattresses are made using a range of materials to create a foam substance that feels similar to latex. The foam is then used to create a mattress in the same way as a Dunlop or Talalay mattress.

In general, synthetic latex is manufactured using petrochemicals. While it is designed to feel similar to natural latex it is not as springy or as breathable. However, it is a cheaper alternative.

Some cheaper synthetic models tend to off-gas. This means they release an odor when they are first unpacked. This happens when the chemicals used to manufacture the foam release small amounts of gas. However, the odor will pass after a few days.

BLENDED LATEX MATTRESS

Blended latex mattresses use a mixture of natural and synthetic latex. They are a middle ground between the two types. The addition of synthetic latex reduces the cost of the mattress. However, it also reduces some of the benefits you expect to find from a 100& natural latex mattress.

The addition of synthetic material reduces the retail price – something all consumers will be happy about. However, it also reduces the natural springy feel of the mattress, its breathability, and its durability. A blended mattress will have a shorter life expectancy than a natural latex model.


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BENEFITS OF A LATEX MATTRESS

lady holding out hand and smiling

What are the advantages of a latex mattress? What are the benefits of a latex mattress? Now that we have answered the question ‘what is a latex mattress’, we need to look at its benefits.

OUTSTANDING COMFORT

Latex mattresses are incredibly comfortable. Natural latex has a soft cushioning feel that cradles your body weight without hugging you closely like a foam mattress.

They are also an excellent choice for pressure point relief. Latex mattresses spread your weight across the surface of the mattress and relieve pressure points such as the hips and the knees.

SLEEP COOL

Latex is a naturally breathable material. This means heat will not accumulate around your body while you sleep. If you are a hot sleeper, latex is a great choice for providing a comfortable night’s sleep.

DURABILITY

Latex mattresses have superb durability. A good-quality natural latex mattress will easily last you 20 years. Many of the high-end models are even advertised as having a 25-year lifespan.

They represent an excellent investment. However, synthetic and blended models are not as robust and have shorter lifespans.

NATURAL MATERIAL

Latex is a natural material. It is obtained from rubber trees and manufactured into foam to make a mattress. It is hypoallergenic – so it is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. And, being an all-natural material it is an eco-friendly choice.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of a latex mattress, check out – Latex Mattress Pros & Cons.


HOW LONG DOES A LATEX MATTRESS LAST?

family on a latex mattress

How long does latex mattress last? Latex mattresses are incredibly durable. Especially natural latex mattresses. You can expect a natural latex mattress to last you 20 years. This is at least double the lifespan of other mattress types.

And, if you buy a high-end fully natural latex mattress it may even last you 25 years. This represents superb long-term value. Latex mattresses are a great investment in your sleeping comfort.

Synthetic latex mattresses contain foam that is made from petrochemicals. While these mattresses mimic the performance of a natural latex mattress, they are much less durable. On the upside, they are also cheaper.

Blended latex mattresses contain a mixture of natural latex foam and synthetic. These fall somewhere in between the two models. The more natural latex they contain the longer these mattresses will last.


WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH LATEX MATTRESSES?

lady resting her head on her hands

What are the disadvantages of a latex mattress? Now that we know what the benefits are, let’s take a look at the problems associated with a latex mattress.

PRICE

Latex mattresses are not cheap. They tend to be one of the most expensive options on the market. Especially the natural latex models. If you are operating on a restricted budget then a latex mattress may not be the best option.

RESPONSIVE MOVEMENT

Latex is known for its natural bounce and springy feel. This is what delivers the mattress’s distinctive responsive movement. However, if you prefer a bed that does not come with a bounce then you may want to try a different type of mattress material such as memory foam or polyfoam.

LATEX ALLERGIES

Some people suffer from a latex allergy. And, this means that a latex mattress is a bad idea for them. Sleeping on a latex mattress can cause a range of irritating symptoms for these people, including sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and sore throat. If you suffer from a latex allergy, you should avoid buying a latex mattress.

SYNTHETIC MATERIALS

Some latex mattresses are not made from natural latex. Synthetic latex mattresses are made using petrochemicals to create a foam that mimics the characteristics of natural latex.

And, blended latex mattresses use a mixture of natural and synthetic materials. If you want to avoid synthetic materials and buy a genuine 100% latex mattress you need to go for a ‘natural latex’ mattress.


LATEX MATTRESS FAQ

woman smiling and pointing direction

ARE LATEX MATTRESSES GOOD?

Yes, latex mattresses are great mattresses. They deliver incredible soft cushioning, superb pressure relief, and excellent responsive movement. They are made from natural materials so they are an eco-friendly option. And, they are highly durable with a lifespan of 20 years.

CAN YOU FLIP OVER A LATEX MATTRESS?

A latex mattress can be flipped. However, there should be no need to do so as the foam will return to its original shape weight is removed from the surface.

If you have a Dunlop latex mattress you will find that one side of the mattress is firmer than the other. A Talalay mattress on the other hand will have consistent firmness on both sides.

IS A LATEX MATTRESS THE SAME AS A MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS?

No, a latex mattress is not the same as a memory foam mattress.  A memory foam mattress uses a special kind of slow response foam that responds to pressure.  Memory foam mattresses are known for their soft cushioning and hugging feel.  Check out our reviews of the Best Memory Foam Mattresses – click here.

IS LATEX MATTRESS BETTER THAN SPRING?

Latex mattresses and spring mattresses have different characteristics. The mattress that is better for you is the one that best matches your individual needs. Latex mattresses are a great option if you want soft cushioning, pressure relief, and responsive movement. They are highly durable, hypoallergenic, and will last many years. However, they tend to be more expensive than innerspring mattresses.

WHEN SHOULD A LATEX MATTRESS BE REPLACED?

Latex mattresses should be replaced when the foam begins to under perform. You will notice this when the mattress begins to sag in the area you normally lie.

Also, its responsive rate will become slower. This means that when pressure is removed from the surface of the mattress it takes more time for the mattress to return to its natural shape.

IS A LATEX MATTRESS GOOD FOR SIDE SLEEPERS?

Yes, latex mattresses are a great choice for side sleepers. Latex foam has a soft cushioning feel that cradles your body weight and relieves pressure on stress areas such as the hips and knees. These features make a latex bed ideal for side sleepers.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SARAH FOY – Mattress Expert

Sarah joined the MCG team in the summer of 2021. She is our in-house foam mattress expert. Whether it’s memory foam, latex foam, or straightforward polyfoam – she has you covered. Sarah has a particular passion for the unique body contouring effects and soft cradling support of latex and memory foam mattresses.

She has over 15 years of experience in the bedding, furniture, and textile industries. Sarah is a native of Arizona where she graduated from Northern Arizona University in the mid-noughties. When she’s not in the office she likes to tend to her apple tree orchard in Flagstaff where she lives with her husband and two daughters.


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