Latex mattresses have experienced a recent resurgence and they’re now a popular option for modern sleepers. Latex is valued for its resilience, softness, and hypo-allergenic nature. Other benefits of the latex mattress include its low motion transfer, quiet sleep experience, and strong support.
Latex mattresses come in various styles, from 100% natural latex beds to blended or synthetic mattresses. Latex can produce a wide range of sleep experiences, with the Talalay and Dunlop manufacturing processes producing beds with different properties.
Though latex mattresses have a range of benefits, they’re not always the cheapest mattress options out there. It’s important to shop around for the best bargain.
In this guide, we take a look at latex mattresses, what you need to think about when buying one, and also introduce you to some of the key points to know about latex mattress.
We’ll also give you our top three picks for the best latex mattresses of 2020.
The Best Latex Mattresses: Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Zenhaven
The Zenhaven is expertly crafted, incorporating luxurious, natural materials, and Family Living Today readers get a $75 discount.
Why We Picked It
The Zenhaven is a 10-inch, 100% Talalay latex mattress, topped with a layer of organic wool. Beneath the wool topper is the latex top layer featuring Zenhaven’s proprietary “5-zone” design. This sits on a base of dense, 100% latex.
We chose Zenhaven as the best all-rounder because it combines a robust design and quality materials with an excellent sleep experience.
The 5-zone design creates distinct areas of support, providing firmer support for the torso, neck, and back while offering more gentle support elsewhere.
The Talalay construction combined with the 5-zone design provides excellent motion isolation and a supportive sleep surface. Together with producing almost zero noise, it does everything possible to assist in a good night’s sleep.
But for us, the most impressive feature of the Zenhaven is its double-sided nature, with different firmness levels on each side. If the mattress is too soft, you can simply flip it over and enjoy a firmer sleeping experience.
Being 100% natural latex, the Zenhaven is hardy and durable, resistant to damage, stains, mold, and allergens.
Keep in Mind
Like many latex mattresses, the Zenhaven lacks edge support, which can lead to some sinkage beyond the main sleeping area. This won’t be a problem for most sleepers, and the strong support of the primary sleeping area more than makes up for it.
In a Nutshell
- Reversible design offers two firmness options
- 5-zone design provides excellent support
- Free white glove delivery with old mattress removal
Best Budget: Latex for Less
Latex for Less
Latex for Less is a top-quality latex mattress that won’t break the bank.
Why We Picked It
The Latex for Less mattress combines natural latex with an organic cotton cover and fire-resistant natural wool layer. It comes in 7-inch or 9-inch thickness options.
The 7-inch mattress features a firm (36 ILD) support layer of 6 inches of Dunlop latex. The 9-inch model also includes an extra 2 inches of Talalay latex of medium firmness (19 ILD).
Like the Zenhaven, the Latex for Less bed features a flippable design. The firmness of the two sides are rated at firm and medium-firm, so you can choose the best fit for you.
We picked the Latex for Less bed for best budget option as it retails at $1,199 with the flexibility to pay over time via Klarna. For a 100% latex mattress, this is an accessible price point.
Keep in Mind
We couldn’t find many downsides to this mattress, but it does lack some edge support—a common issue with latex mattresses. It’s not as noticeable in the Latex for Less as in similar models.
In a Nutshell
- Accessible price point
- Flippable design with two firmness options
- Shipping is free in the contiguous US
Best Latex Hybrid: Awara
The Awara combines the luxury of latex with the strength of metal coils.
Why We Picked It
The Awara mattress is a 13-inch hybrid latex mattress with a breathable cotton and natural wool cover. The top layer is 4 inches of Dunlop latex, with a 9-inch pocketed coil support core.
The Awara has a firmness of 6.5 on a 1-10 scale, so it’s a medium-firm, extra-thick mattress.
Unlike other latex mattresses, the Awara has excellent edge support. Sleepers who move around in their sleep are less likely to experience the kind of sinkage common to other latex mattresses.
We picked the Awara for best hybrid because of its high-quality materials, excellent edge support, and high durability. As a hybrid latex mattress, it also overcomes some of the design challenges of 100% latex beds. We also gave thought to its eco-friendly materials.
Keep in Mind
As a hybrid latex mattress, the Awara doesn’t offer much of a conforming, “hug” sensation, but it still provides ample support distributed among the body’s most crucial zones. The additional edge support also helps to make up for any comfort lost to its minimal conforming.
In a Nutshell
- Convenient handles for flipping or moving the mattress
- Organic and natural materials
- Low cost relative to other latex mattresses
How We Chose the Best Latex Mattresses
To find the best latex mattresses, we took a look at a range of suitable metrics to measure our picks against their competition.
We looked at material quality to establish which mattresses were made of the highest-grade materials. High-grade materials will keep their shape, stand up to wear and tear, and give the mattress a longer lifespan. Natural latex is also of higher quality than synthetic latex.
When investing on a mattress, we like to know that it will give us a worthwhile length of service. More durable materials naturally present better value for money, so we look at durability to decide whether a mattress is a worthwhile investment.
Latex is a naturally durable material, but when latex is combined with other materials, the whole mattress can only be as robust as its least durable parts. We look at how well the material resists deformation, dirt, and damage. That gives us an idea of how long it will last.
Latex mattresses don’t conform to the same extent as materials like memory foam, but it’s still important to know how much of that “body hug” they’ll give you. We take a look at how well these mattresses conform to the contours of your body. The level of conforming varies depending on the construction and style of the latex mattress.
Edge support describes whether the mattress resists sagging and deforming at the edge. We know latex mattresses can be susceptible to sagging at their edges, which can be a negative for mobile sleepers. We looked at the edge support on offer in each of our latex mattresses to find those that offered strong edge support or offset a lack of edge support with other positive features.
It’s vital to a good night’s sleep that you can maintain a regular temperature, so a mattress needs to maintain temperature neutrality.
A temperature neutral mattress should regulate heat, carrying it away from the body to provide constant, passive cooling. We look at the material used along with any special features (such as air pockets) that may help to regulate your temperature.
Off-gassing describes the various smells that can exude from a brand new mattress. The amount of off-gassing relates to the materials used, along with the mattress construction.
Most off-gassing subsides after a period of use, but it can be unpleasant to deal with. It will be more noticeable for sleepers in small rooms or rooms with a poor supply of fresh air.
Natural, synthetic, and blended latex can all cause some off-gassing. We look at how severe smells are and how long they stick around.
Motion isolation describes how well the mattress dampens movement that would otherwise transmit across its surface. It’s most important for couples, particularly if one or both partners sleeps light.
Latex mattresses often have great motion isolation, so we put them to the test to find which did it best.
What is Latex?
Latex has become a popular mattress material over the last decade or so but has been in use in mattresses for much longer.
Natural latex is a form of rubber produced in many species of flowering plants and trees. Like sap, it’s part of a tree’s defense system. In its native form, latex is a thick and sticky emulsion.
When processed, latex is an extremely waterproof material. It also has high resilience and a large stretch ratio. These traits make it popular for a wide variety of applications. Latex can be used alone or in conjunction with other materials.
Some mattresses use 100% latex in their construction, while others may use blended or synthetic construction techniques.
As a mattress material, latex typically provides greater resiliency and breathability at the expense of body-conforming hug.
Feel of Latex
As a mattress material, latex has a variety of features that appeal to many sleepers.
Latex is a soft, springy material in its natural form. Synthetic and blended latex may have less of this springiness, but all latex mattresses yield quite well to body weight.
Latex may sleep as softly as memory foam mattresses, but it lacks some of the body-conforming “hug.” It does offer ample support, as latex will naturally mold to the shape of the body as determined by weight distribution.
The feel of a latex mattress will also depend on its construction. Dunlop and Talalay manufacturing methods produce latex mattresses that vary slightly in their feel. The Dunlop process leads to a denser, firmer mattress. Talalay mattresses tend to be lighter, softer, and more homogenous.
It’s a misconception that latex mattresses sleep hot. Latex is whipped into a foam during the first stages of processing. This fills the latex with air bubbles. These air bubbles make latex mattresses breathable. Some latex mattresses include additional open structures to further improve airflow.
Latex has excellent motion isolation and noise dampening properties. It ideally suits couples who may sleep lightly or work on different schedules.
Latex Mattresses Construction
Latex mattresses are constructed through one of two manufacturing processes: Dunlop or Talalay. It’s also common to mix latex with other materials (blended) or use a synthetic petrochemical that mimics the properties of natural latex.
Latex mattresses are often simpler in design than other mattresses, featuring only one or two layers. These layers are often distinguished by their properties— layers may have a softer structure, with a denser support layer underneath. Talalay latex is often used for the top layer due to its lower density.
Some beds come with additional covers made of other materials.
Hybrid latex mattresses combine latex with other materials, often featuring a latex top layer with a polyfoam support core. This tends to reduce their cost at the expense of some of latex’s advantages.
Types of Latex
We can separate latex mattress into three primary categories: natural, synthetic, and blended.
Natural mattresses are made of 100% pure natural latex, tapped from rubber trees and then kept pure during the manufacturing process. Natural latex has a light, springy feel, though it may have small imperfections like occasional air pockets. These imperfections make the natural latex layer less homogenous throughout.
Synthetic latex is a petrochemical compound that mimics the properties of natural latex. It tends to be firmer, but its artificial nature often leads to a more uniform end-product. Synthetic latex can be prone to more off-gassing than natural latex.
Blended latex is a hybrid, combining natural and synthetic latex. This allows manufacturers to do more with their natural latex, in turn making blended latex a cheaper alternative to 100% natural latex. Blended latex may not be as pliable or springy as natural latex, but the blending process creates a balanced experience between the properties of natural and synthetic latex.
Talalay vs. Dunlop
Not all latex mattresses are the same. There are two chief methods of latex mattress manufacture, each with their pros and cons. Some mattresses combine both Talalay and Dunlop methods.
The Dunlop method is the older of the two. It involves whipping up the latex into a froth and injecting it into a shaped mold before baking it in a vulcanization oven. The latex can then be removed from the mold, cleaned, and finally baked to dry it out.
The newer Talalay process is more involved and energy-intensive. As in the Dunlop method, the latex is foamed up and injected into a mold. Unlike the Dunlop method, the mold is left only partially filled. The mold is then vacuum-sealed, which causes the latex to expand to fill the mold.
Afterward, the mold is frozen to make the foam gel, pushing carbon dioxide through the material, which leads to a lighter, more breathable end product. The frozen latex is then baked to the point of vulcanization before being washed and dried.
The Dunlop method results in latex that is denser and firmer, so it’s suitable for support layers in a mattress. The Talalay process leads to lighter and more homogenous latex. Its lower density means it lacks the support of Dunlop latex, but it can provide more comfort.
ILD (Impression Load Deflection)
Mattress density gives a good idea of where a mattress sits on the spectrum between support and comfort, but the measurement we use for latex mattresses is a little different than for other materials.
Latex mattresses undergo a unique measurement for ILD, or Impression Load Deflection. While it has a similar purpose to the density tests of other materials, ILD has a unique measurement method and scale.
We’ve put together a guide to ILD ratings in this convenient table:
Latex mattresses are some of the most robust out there. Latex is a durable material in its natural form, being a variety of rubber. Alone, it can take a huge amount of punishment. That’s why the average lifespan of a latex mattress is around 8 years. In outlying cases, latex mattresses can last decades. That tends to make latex mattresses an excellent investment.
Synthetic latex isn’t as durable as its natural counterpart. Though it’s often cheaper, it’s less durable and less elastic than natural latex, which can lead to deformation over time.
All forms of latex are resistant to dirt and mold, due to their impermeable nature. That means latex mattresses can last longer in damp or humid environments, which can be a particular advantage in smaller living spaces.
Pros and Cons
Like all mattress materials, latex mattresses have their pros and cons. To make the right decision about your ideal material, it helps to weigh them against each other.
Here are some pros and cons of latex mattresses:
|Nearly silent||Often more expensive than those made from other materials|
|Limits motion transfer, reducing sleep disruption for couples||Can be heavy, which makes them difficult to transport|
|Durable, which usually leads to a longer lifespan||Off-gassing may occur in natural, synthetic, and blended mattresses|
|Offers strong natural support||Doesn’t conform to the body, so there’s no “body hug”|
Who is Well-Suited for a Latex Mattress?
Unlike many types of specialist mattresses, latex works for a wide range of sleepers. There are very few drawbacks and many upsides that will apply to almost any sleeper.
Light sleepers can benefit from the low motion transfer and near silence of a latex mattress. This also makes a latex mattress an excellent choice for couples who often disturb each other through motion or noise.
Sleepers who suffer from allergic conditions can find huge benefits in latex. As a natural rubber, latex is impermeable to common allergens, which can ease symptoms.
Latex also provides strong support for spinal alignment and relieves pressure on the joints. This makes it beneficial for sleepers who may have trouble sleeping due to nagging conditions, like back pain or arthritis.
Latex beds can work for sleepers of all weight ranges. Sleepers in lighter weight ranges may miss the conforming “hug” of a memory foam mattress, which is likely to be less noticable for sleepers in heavier ranges. The lack of edge support on many latex mattresses can also be a problem for mobile sleepers or edge-sleepers.
One of the greatest limiting factors for latex mattresses is their cost. It’s one of the most expensive mattress types out there, which may put it outside the price range of more casual shoppers. There are budget latex options available for the customer who’s happy to shop around.
While you’re here, take a look at some of our other in-depth guides for sleepers: