A latex mattress can offer excellent support, reduce pressure points and ease chronic pain symptoms for some people. This type of natural foam mattress is often a preferred choice for persons who want a quality, comfortable mattress to last many years and stand the test of time.
Latex foam has been around since World War II, but today people are considering these kinds of mattresses for their durability and overall feel – and because they are most often a chemical-free, "green" option. Latex is a plant-based product, and many people consider a mattress made from all-natural latex to be eco-friendly.
While other sustainable mattresses may be made of all-natural products such as cotton or wool, only latex offers an elasticity and buoyancy that matches traditional coil and spring or memory foam mattresses.
Latex is collected from trees by hand. The liquid product is then placed in vats and filtered. Once filtered, the product is poured into molds. Water and air bubbles are added as needed.
The product is then heated, and the liquid turns into a solid. Mattresses made of latex may be created through three different manufacturing processes. They are called the Dunlop, Talalay and continuous processes.
The Dunlop method is the oldest of the processes. This process creates a firm foam pad. During this process, air and a gelling ingredient are injected into the latex product (which may be natural or synthetic). This creates a foam that is poured into a mold.
After a while, the foam dissipates and a solid block of foam rubber is created. This is then heated, cooled, and removed from the mold so it can be washed and dried.
The Talalay process creates a softer foam pad. As with the Dunlap process, the latex (which again may be natural or synthetic) is injected with air to create a foam. Then, a mold is filled part way up with the product.
Then, the air pressure in the sealed mold is decreased, which makes the air bubbles expand. This fills the mold, which is then frozen. Carbon dioxide is then added to the product for stabilization. The foam rubber is heated, cooled, washed and dried.
The Continuous process does not use a mold. In this process, the product is poured out on a long belt, where it is cured, washed, and dried. This creates a more dense and consistent latex rubber product. This type of latex is generally found in mattress base cores.
Additionally, latex mattress manufacturers have varying assembly processes for these types of mattresses. Some of these mattresses are put together in multiple layers while others are more solid.
In some mattresses, the layers are not affixed to one another. These layers can move around. This may allow for adjustment if the mattress is too soft or too hard. This also allows for a distribution of layers, such as soft on top and firm on the next layer. The number of layers may vary according to manufacturer.
Retailers sell three types of latex foam mattresses.
Mattress thickness. A latex mattress can range in thickness from 3 inches to 15 inches or more.
Firmness. These mattresses come in soft, medium, firm, and extra firm. Testing any mattress by resting on it, preferably for an extended time (such as 20 minutes) is highly recommended.
Foundation. Some manufacturers recommend a solid foundation for support, as opposed to a frame foundation and bed slats, for these types of mattresses.
Be sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure that your bed frame will support the mattress if you are not purchasing an entirely new bed. The mattress should not sag, regardless of what type of support is used.
Mattress pad. A mattress is a major purchase, and protecting it with a pad makes sense. A pad will help keep the mattress clean and fresh. Consider purchasing a 100 percent cotton mattress pad if you have purchased an all-natural latex foam mattress.
Warranty. Be sure to consider the warranty when looking at price and other concerns. Warranties can range from a single year to 30 years.
Return Policy. You should always be able to return a mattress within 30 days if it proves uncomfortable. Be sure to check the fine print when making any major purchase.