Posted on by Amber Merton

Q & A

Latex mattresses are not as mainstream or widely recognized as other popular mattress styles such as adjustable air or memory foam mattresses. This leaves many people with unanswered questions about latex mattresses, and what they have to offer. These are a few of the most commonly asked questions and answers, so that you can buy with confidence that you know what you’re getting.

Questions About Latex and Latex Mattresses

In this section you’ll learn the answers to some common questions about latex and latex mattresses.

What is Latex Foam?

Latex foam is a material made from the sap of rubber trees. Natural latex foam is completely natural, and has a natural resistance to bacteria, mold, mildew, and parasites. Unlike memory foam, latex foam is also extremely breathable, allowing air to flow through, and providing a cooler sleep experience.

What Types of Latex Mattresses are Available?

There are essentially three different types of latex foam mattresses available today. They are natural latex foam, blended latex, and 100 percent synthetic latex. Natural latex is the purest, most natural form of latex. Natural latex is also the most durable and long-lasting form of latex, lasting 20 years or more in many cases.

How are Latex Foam Mattresses Constructed?

There are two methods of construction for latex foam mattresses: Talalay and Dunlop. Talalay produces the more expensive breed of latex foam mattresses, as there are more steps involved in the construction process. There is great debate over which mattress type is best, though both are great for different reasons. Dunlop mattresses are generally firmer, and Talalay mattresses are the more comfortable option. The use of both Dunlop and Talalay latex in a mattress is the best of both worlds, and provides adequate support, pressure-relieving comfort, and durability.

Are Latex Mattresses a Green Sleep Option?

It’s nearly impossible to find a more “green sleep option” than latex foam for many reasons. The first is the longevity of a natural latex mattress. The average mattress must be replaced every five to seven years. Some offer longer warranties, but on average, people stick to that rule of thumb due to lack of comfort, sagging, and countless other reasons. Latex foam mattresses last 20 years on average – some even longer than that. This means that one latex mattress can eliminate three traditional mattresses from landfills around the world. Further, latex mattresses are biodegradable (having been made from botanical materials), whereas traditional mattresses would stay in the landfill for hundreds of years before fully decomposing.

The other way latex mattresses are green, specifically the natural latex mattress, is that they are made of 100 percent natural ingredients, no petrochemicals are used in its construction, and it’s naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and pests.

How Comfortable are Latex Mattresses?

Latex mattresses are often proclaimed to be as comfortable to sleep on as memory foam mattresses, without the heat and off-gassing that are so often associated with them. Off-gassing can put off the joy of a new mattress for as much as an entire month. In some cases, the off-gassing is so bad that you can’t even sleep in the same room with the mattress for at least that long (especially if you have a sensitive nose). As well, latex is springier, meaning it has better bounce-back and resiliency, so you won’t feel like you are sinking into quicksand as some memory foam mattress owners report.

You get the best firm mattress you need for better back health, and the soft cushioning you need to avoid pressure points all rolled up in one mattress, depending on your needs. The real beauty about natural latex, if you aptly compare brands and choose the best latex mattress manufacturers to do business with, is that you can have your mattress custom created to match your individual mattress needs, even if you and your partner like different firmnesses.

These are some of the most common questions asked about latex foam mattresses today. Hopefully your questions have been answered, so you can make an informed buying decision.

What Type of Sleep Profile Are Latex Mattresses a Good Match For?

A latex foam mattress is good for individuals who:

  • Prefer a mattress that will respond to their body motions, who toss and turn often, and/or are active sleepers
  • Are temperature sensitive, and prefer a mattress that will closely match the temperature of their body, instead of room temperature
  • Prefer more generalized compression and less hug
  • Are sensitive to airborne particles, and/or have allergies
  • React to synthetic materials

Do Latex Mattresses Have Odors?

A latex mattress might give off a slight rubbery smell when you first take it out of its packaging. However, this typically goes away fairly fast, unlike with other mattress types, allowing you to start enjoying your new mattress right away.

Are There Any Benefits of Latex Mattresses?

A latex mattress offers unique and significant benefits, such as:

Naturally Hypoallergenic

With moisture resistance and outstanding air circulation, mildew, mold, and other airborne allergens have a more difficult time attaching to the surface. Latex mattresses can also rebuff dust mites.

Durability

While you're lucky to obtain about 10 years of use with other mattresses, latex foam mattresses can offer you anywhere from 15 to 20 years of use.

Customizability

You can customize latex mattresses from top-to-bottom, so you obtain a certain feel. Also, you can replace the top layer of a latex mattress, if you need to. You can customize each side, which provides you with different levels of pressure relief and resistance, particularly beneficial if you sleep with a partner.

Better Body Temperature Responsiveness

Latex mattresses with an open-cell construction, offer outstanding air circulation, meaning your body will stay cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Latex Mattresses?

There are a few disadvantages to a latex mattress, which are:

  • They typically will cost more than a memory foam mattress.
  • They don't offer extensive pain support like a memory foam mattress.
  • When they're mixed with synthetic material (in order to decrease the price), the synthetic materials could break down quicker than latex, which could cause sagging issues.

What are Latex Mattress Certifications?

When buying a mattress that contains CertiPUR-US® certified foam, you can sleep soundly, knowing that the foam in your mattress meets the best CertiPUR-US® standards for content, durability, and emissions. That’s because independent, accredited laboratories have put it through rigorous analysis and testing by independent, accredited laboratories.

Other latex mattress certifications include: Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, GOTS Certified Organic Wool, USDA Organic, GreenGuard Gold Certification, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certification, Eco Institute Certification, Control Union Certification, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance Certification, and Arpico Certified Organic Latex.

Can Latex Mattresses Cause Allergies?

While some individuals do develop latex allergies when they're exposed to latex, the latex in a natural latex mattress doesn't directly contact your skin. This means it's not as likely to cause a latex allergy. But, if you already have a known or existing latex allergy, you might not want to consider a natural latex mattress.

Does a Latex Mattress Cause You to Sweat?

A natural latex mattress's open cell nature enables air to flow through the mattress freely, allowing you to sleep cooler. It also whisks moisture away faster, if you do tend to sweat throughout the night.

Does a Latex Mattress Soften Over Time?

Latex mattresses provide incredible support for many years; however, some individuals, at first glance, find they're overly firm, and might require some time to start experiencing the supportive comfort latex does provide.

Does Mold Grow on a Latex Mattress?

A latex mattress is the perfect choice if you're worried about mildew and mold, and their adverse health effects they can have. Not to mention they create that complete "yuck" factor, too.

A natural latex mattress is naturally mildew and mold resistant; however, this doesn't mean mold can't grow on it. What it actually means is that with correct care and use, it's unlikely it will grow on it. An all-natural latex mattress is resistant to moisture; the latex's open-cell structure helps to maximize airflow, keeping your mattress dry throughout. Since moisture basically evaporates almost immediately, and there's consistent cool air flow throughout the mattress, mildew and mold don't make their way onto natural latex mattresses.
Fortunately, natural latex has natural antimicrobial properties, meaning mildew and mold can't grow on it, and this is why hospital gloves are often made from natural latex. And, latex doesn't add any unhealthy and unpleasant chemicals into your mattress, due to the latex's natural properties, which is great news.

Not only do the natural latex mattress's materials repel mildew and mold, its construction also allows air to freely flow through it, which provides adequate ventilation, keeping moisture out of the cotton and wool that may otherwise be attractive to the two.

While latex is resistant to mold, if you have moisture trapped between your mattress and bedding, you could have mold residue against the mattress's face.

What's the Difference Between a Synthetic Latex and Natural Latex Mattress?

Synthetic latex is a petrochemical product that mimics natural latex's properties. Most commonly used for mattresses is styrene-butadiene rubber. Natural latex is completely made of the rubber tree sap. Natural 100% latex mattresses are extremely supportive, durable, and springy. Synthetic latex could emit an odor, and while they're less costly, the trade-off is a mattress that isn't as springy or durable, and tears easier.

Does a Latex Mattress Sag?

A high quality organic and natural latex mattress is less susceptible to sagging than other types of mattress materials. It's significantly less likely to sag than open-cell PVC foam and urethane foam mattresses. Latex blends and synthetic latex mattresses, however, both can sag over time, so ensure you purchase a quality organic or natural latex mattress for best results.

Can I Purchase a Latex Topper Instead?

You certainly can buy a latex foam topper which could offer you some of the benefits of a latex mattress, on a budget. If you go this route, you should purchase the thickest topper you can afford, so your body weight won't bottom out on the topper. Toppers do shift over time, require periodic readjustment, and your existing sheets might not totally fit, so keep these things in mind.

Questions About Mattresses in General

In this section we’ll answer some common questions about mattresses in general.

Do I Require a Foundation or Box Spring for My Mattress?

Foundations and box springs support mattresses by offering a buffer between the wood or metal bed frame and the mattress. A traditional box spring will consist of a steel support springs, a wooden frame, and a cloth cover. Certain newer models do feature metal frames instead of wood. Box springs not only support your mattress, they also absorb the shock of your body, and distribute your weight which helps prevent wear.

Foundations recently have overtaken box springs to serve as a mattress base. Foundations don't use springs, but rather feature wooden slats that are evenly spaced, and made to reinforce your mattress, keeping it from coming through the base. Foundations don't absorb the same amount as box springs do, but they do tend to be a better choice for mattresses requiring less weight distribution, and higher levels of support, like latex and memory foam models.

Do I Need a Firm or Soft Mattress?

Whether you require a firm or soft mattress will ultimately depend on your personal preference, your budget, and your body. The right level of firmness for any given sleeper will vary by:

  • Weight
  • Height
  • Sleep Position

A mattress with the ideal level of firmness will offer adequate support, alleviating pressure points throughout your body. If you purchase a mattress that's too firm, or isn't firm enough, it could create shoulder and back pain, joint discomfort, and exacerbate pressure points.

How firm or soft a mattress feels will depend largely on how its comfort layer is made, and its overall thickness.

When Is It Time to Replace an Old Mattress?

If you're experiencing any of the following problems, you should maybe consider investing in a new mattress:

  • You feel sleep-deprived, and tired after obtaining a minimum of eight hours of sleep.
  • You wake up each morning feeling achy, stiff, or numb anywhere in your body.
  • You notice lumps, sagging, tears and rips, stains, worn edges, and other wear and tear signs.
  • Your partner is experiencing sleep problems like pain.
  • You roll towards the center of your mattress when you're sleeping.
  • You're experiencing dust mite allergy symptoms like wheezing, coughing, or tightness in your chest, or your mattress looks very dusty.
  • You find sleeping on your couch or another bed is more comfortable than your current mattress to sleep on.

Should You Flip Your Mattress?

As your mattress becomes less comfortable and worn over time, you may decide it's time to flip it. And, whether or not this is a good idea will depend on the mattress. Mattresses in general don’t necessarily need to be flipped, unless you purchase one with a flippable design.

Previously you could flip most mattresses with hardly any loss of comfort. However, more recently, this has changed. One-sided mattresses have become more common, and are made to provide certain benefits to the sleeper. Flipping mattresses like these could lead to discomfort and lost sleep. It’s always a good idea to check with the mattress manufacturer to determine whether the mattress can be flipped.

How Long Should a Mattress Last?

On average, mattresses, regardless of thickness, firmness, or material composition, should perform for about seven years before you'll require a replacement. Again, this depends on the mattress, as there are definitely mattresses made to last even longer - some as long as 15 to 20 years or more, as is the case with latex mattresses. Also, there are a large range of factors that could impact the expected lifespan of a mattress, making some mattresses more durable than other mattresses.

When you're evaluating the longevity of a certain mattress, you'll want to look into two key factors: lifespan and durability.

  • Lifespan: This is how long the mattress will perform before you will need to replace it. Mattresses might deteriorate to a certain degree, and continue performing reasonably well, but if their support materials and/or comfort don't function like they're supposed to, it's time to replace your mattress.
  • Durability: This refers to how well the mattress withstands sinkage, sagging, and other types of deterioration that could compromise your support and comfort. Mattresses will eventually deteriorate no matter what type of mattress you get, but some are less susceptible to wear and tear, and are more durable.

Have more latex mattress questions. We’d love to answer them! Contact us at 1-888-286-3404 or complete our online form, and one of our mattress specialists will be happy to help you.

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