Mattress Expert Gives Lesson on Dunlop and Talalay Latex

In a previous note from you you suggested a latex mattress for my husband. So is Dunlop or Talalay better? What do I need to look out for while shopping for a latex mattress? Natural or Synthentic? Thanks soooo much!

Hi Susan,
The thing to be most aware of is that you don’t buy a latex hybrid, thinking it’s a latex mattress.
This is, by far, the deepest pit fall.
A Latex Hybrid, typically, is a block of poly foam with a couple/few inches of latex at the top.
I’m finding that most salespeople, either through ignorance or purposeful deceit, are selling hybrids as if they were all latex.
Luckily for you, you can take the guess work out of this by reading the white “Law” label that is sewn into the back seam of the mattress. It will give the percentage of materials used.

As far as latex goes, you have natural and synthetic. Natural latex starts as the sap from a rubber tree and is then processed into foam rubber. The processes used are: Dunlop or Talalay.
These processes are virtually the same except for the extra “freezing” step added to the Talalay process.
This freezing step suspends the particles…making for a more consistent feel throughout.
With the Dunlop process, the particles tend to settle a bit, resulting in the top side feeling softer than the bottom side.

The Sealy Optimum mattresses aim to add tough competition in the gel bed arena, which is currently dominated by Serta Mattresses, their iComfort in particular. That being said, both products are “enhanced memory foam” mattresses. Latex is quite different (okay, very different). Shoppers can expect a truly “natural” mattress when they purchase latex. Because they are not for everyone, it is smart to check them out before you buy, just as Susan has.

Some latex is a blend of natural and synthetic, normally a 60/40% ratio. These can still be referred to as naturaL

Ever since latex was discovered in the 1880s, we have searched for a way to synthesize it.
The Sapsa process was developed in England about 12 years ago. Sapsa is 100% synthetic latex and is used in all Sealy and Stearns & Foster models. The mattress my wife and I sleep on is one of these.

In comparing the different types of latex, there are small pros and cons for each. And, whoever is selling what will tell you that theirs is the best. The fact is, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

The only caveat is the latex that is processed in China. Their quality control is somewhat lacking with regard to anything they make for the US market….toys covered in lead or cadmium paint, poisonous baby formula, etc. The only complaints I’ve heard about latex not holding up have been that which had been imported from China.

Dunlop latex is made there, as well as here. Talalay latex and synthetic latex are made here and not there.

The density of the latex can vary. The ILD number will tell you if the latex is soft, medium or firm.
The lower the ILD number, the softer the latex. Typically, the firmest latex is in the mid to upper 30s. The softest latex will be in the low to mid teens.

Thanks, Pete

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