First post. Building a FBM mattress. Latex over memory foam?
Aug 23, 2011 5:07 AM
Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Points: 10
First off, Thank you everyone for this awesome forum.  I has opened my eyes on mattress shopping.  I never thought building a custom mattress was possible. 

Stats: 28yo  6'4 175lbs  Always a side sleeper, and I prefer soft.   I sleep pretty well on almost anything once I get to sleep, probably because I'm young.  It does take me a while to fall asleep, but I think that is more of a mind-moving-a-mile-a-minute thing.  My location has cool nights all year.  Its the summer and every night is 55 degrees.  I am currently cold at night, but all I got is my inflatable bed, a sheet, and a blanket. 

I will be using FBM for my foam.  I am keeping it on a budget, under $1000. 


A 2 inch 20 ILD latex will be my top layer, thats set in stone for now.

My base will be the 5" HD36-R.  I thought about going all latex, but a 600 dollar latex base is not in the cards. 

My question is about a middle layer.  Some don't use one, but I think I need something between the firm base (which I've read countless times is required for good support) and topper. 

The two options from FBM is a 3LB or 4LB memory foam layer, or a 3ILD latex layer. 

Cost plays a factor, but also an interest of what latex over memory foam will feel like. 


Cost breakdown for option 1:  total cost: $555

2inch 20ILD latex topper: $180

2inch 32ILD latex midlayer: $190

5inch HD36-R poly base: $120

Terrycloth cover: $65


Option 2:  total cost: $450

2inch 20ILD latex topper: $180

Memory foam combo; 3" 4lb memory 5" HD36-R base and terry cloth: $270

*For research:   I picked 4lb memory because of this site:   Read up, good info for memory foams*


The memory foam option is significantly cheaper because memory foam is cheaper, and that mattress combo includes the 65 dollar terrycloth cover for 20 bucks. 


Thanks for reading this far.  Finally here comes my questions.   1) What would the latex topper on the memory foam feel like?   I tried searching, but there is no easy way to seach for 'latex topper, memory foam midlayer'.  I am not too concerened with the cost difference, as it is all much cheaper than retail stores, but a full wallet is a happy wallet.  

2) Does the benefit of latex expand past the topper?  Can somebody really tell the difference between a latex base and a poly base.  I know the poly base will wear faster, but its also a fifth of the price. 

3) Would the latex midlayer with an ILD of 32 be too firm for somebody who prefers soft and is a side sleeper?  This is one of my reasons of going with a memory foam midlayer.


Good grief I write too much when its late.  Thank you all for your time.  I really hope to get some responses.  If I get none, I will probably go with the cheaper memory foam route and if needed, expand from there.



Re: First post. Building a FBM mattress. Latex over memory foam?
Reply #11 May 7, 2013 8:48 AM
Joined: Dec 11, 2009
Points: 113

First welcome and good luck in finding what works.  Most of what I read online indicates that nearly half of reviewers don't like their mattresses, and it is indeed a smarmy industry of hiding the names and facts to avoid price competition.

I bought and tried no fewer than 26 mattresses over the course of five years and tried a wide variety of toppers of latex and memory foam.  I am perhaps 75% side sleeper, 25% back/flip flop restless, age 62 male, 165 pounds, 6'.  I injured my back several years ago and that has likely prevented me from finding the "perfect" bed.  I have thrashed around with this so long that my wife and I sleep in separate rooms.... "most" of the time... and because we are both restless sleepers, get much better sleep this way.

Quick hits:  Memory foam even if you love it will "crater" after perhaps no more than 5-6 years.  It also is hot because there are no holes.  Even the so called "mem cool" and others aren't even close to latex for coolness.  I don't believe the  website or manufacturers that claim 80% of mem foam owners like their beds.  They feel heavenly in showrooms because you haven't laid on them long enough... and are in street clothes that insulate the thermal molding effect.  Once you lie on it for hours, you will typically gradually sink in and sink in and sink in until the temperature loss through the (no air hole) foam equals the heat being given off by your body.  Worse, since it wraps around your body (conforms to your shape) ... there is no air movement at all to wick away your body.

Individually pocketed coils ... Simmons beautyrest patented them in the 1920's but patent has run out.... is as close to the manufactured solution for combo sleepers because they are loosely connected in the pockets from head to foot.  When you lie on your back, the weight (I am an engineer with a degree in structure/ME) is distributed between several rows of coils and evenly supported.  When you lie on your side, your concentrated weight is supported in the center by one or two rows of coils, and they can bend to accommodate your shape.  This can give you the "best of both worlds".  Serta and Sealy are both "linked" spring system and will hence have greater "support" but less accommodation. Sealy and Serta or any linked or continuous spring bed will then attempt to accommodate the lack of "give" by building it into the "comfort layer".   Poly foams in cheap mattresses can feel good for a short period... 2-3 years .... are cheap but break down even faster than mem foam.

Unfortunately, every piece of up to 9 inches or more of mattress, whether stack of varying ILD's of latex or latex on inner spring can and will affect how it feels, but the top 3 inches will matter most.  I was shocked to discover that 6 inches of 20 ILD "soft" latex on a plywood board felt "rock hard" to me, whereas my 2 inches of 20 ILD on a Simmons Beatyrest with no top comfort layer is about perfect. Sad reality is that you won't know how your built up bed will feel until you try it,and you may get lucky on first, second or third go.  Some people can buy mattresses in 10 minutes and be happy, others of us not so.

Near   where I lived in Atlanta were at least three mattress "warehouses" including Simmons factory... which allowed me, after some begging and pleading... yes remember I was on a first name basis with them.... to pay a "delivery fee" of $50-70 ( less than 2 miles) to exchange mattresses after a two or three day try.  So yes, this means that a mattress from one of those stores may have been slept on, but if you are not sleeping... who cares if some other poor soul has slept for a day on your mattress before you?  Story line is that these come from showrooms....

So in my travels l lucked up and bought a Simmons Beautyrest factory "extra firm", I suspect an experimetn gone bad (South GA Waycross factory) that had essentially no comfort layer, the top layer being very hard fabric like "cloth seats" in cars 50 years ago... but the important individual coils that accommodate the real weight points on my side.  To that I added 2 x 1 inch of 20 ILD latex from Foam by Mail.  It isn't perfect, some back pain, but I do sleep through the night, and attribute back pain to the compressed disc I got when opening a broken garage door a few years ago.

Save $ during experimentation by buying your "double bed" 1 inch of 20 ILd and folding it in half to get the feel of 2 inches.  Buy a twin XL of something to try, and if you like that, you can buy a second and cut them at 30 inches to make 60 inches.  There will be a slight difference in firmness between a 2 inch slab will be structurally stiffer than 2 x 1 inch... but not so much that saving some dollars during your experimentation that this is worthwhile.

There is a wealth of info here from good folks.  Search out sandman's posts among them.

Gotta run.  Good luck.






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