I'm trying to get on board the latex bandwaggon, though i keep ending back at square one- defaulting back to another sealy posturepedic firm that will surely crater again within a few years- if i can't arrive at a more confident decision about which latex mattress to buy. that they are sight unseen, off the internet, isn't helping. The conventional mattress I like, sealy's signature firm (or a s&f ultra firm), the springs are topped with more "marvelux" layers than anything else, but I hesitate to order raw conventional "lux" foam (assuming it's similar) to use as a base as you guys do for your d.i.y. projects, because I fear the stench.
since latex ild's aren't very consistent when compared across vulcanization techniques, or even with the same process across different companies, I can't really depend on that as an objective measure. apparently no more reliable than terms like "natural" vs. "organic" vs. "botanical" in this industry. So I am looking for what anyone with experience would recommend in latex to someone who likes the very firmest conventional mattresses (they rarely even have them in the showroom, just up to cushion firm). You might wonder why I would consider latex at all in that case, but obviously the durability/longevity of latex would appeal to anyone, & I really did like the FEEL of the only latex models i tried (ashley house brand), only imagining if that same feel could be firmed up alot (assuming those are not opposing concepts). I like that springy feeling and consistent support, which makes me want to try a much firmer version of it. Of course ashley's pamphlet didn't list their ILD's, so I don't even know what my starting point is. b.t.w. ashley's is only a few inches of latex topper over conventional foam, so I might be liking all the conventional foam underneath more than anything, i just don't know. i have no experience with raw blocks of any type of foam.
Supposedly the conventional spring mattresses I prefer are almost like sleeping on a carpeted floor ("comfort rating" of 2.5 on 1-10 scale), and maybe it is that way to someone alot lighter. But even the firmest ones give plenty under me. I just don't like to sink in THROUGH top layers, like with memory foam (eliminated), or any kind of pillowtops (obviously eliminated).
1. FIrmest latex, as close to the level of the ultra firm conventional mattresses as possible. this has me looking to the brands that advertise 44 ild, but I don't know that the likes of foamorder's or sleep/bears' 44 ild's will necessarily be firmer than other brands with lower ratings.
1a. No smell/stench. apparently that will be as natural as possible, best washed, with the least chemicals- why the habitat botanical speel kind of sucked me in, but I've read too many reviews from big guys who bottom out on their 6" version, and that's their firmest. ild in mid 20's.
3. Price. i'm looking at the lower end brands here (even the conventional sealy signature firm set will be pushing my budget right now), but i am willing to splurge maybe a little more on what is becoming a medical necessity. I'm currently sleeping on the very edges of my sealy firm (still under "warranty"!) to keep my back supported well enough. but imagining what the markup is on these blocks of raw foam, maybe it is just a coincidence that the range of popular latex match the price structure of conventional mattresses. though i realize manufacturers' costs are irrelevant vs. what people are willing to pay for something. and either way, if it lasts longer than my innerspring mattresses, & if i sleep well on it, i'll try not to care what the markup is/
4. quality outside of durability, firmness, & being odor free, I don't care about finish, imperfections in the foam (eg with dunlop vs. talalay) that i won't FEEL, what the foam looks like, beveling/faux fluting etc. carved into the edges, embroidery on the cover (though a heavy duty zipper & a cover that FITS would be nice).
5. simplicity. i'd rather not have to put together alot of loose components, especially not from different sellers or too much d.i.y. i'd rather not get the one whose layers you have to shuffle, rotate, flip every four months, & finding a cover that will fit a frankenbed without being too loose etc. but if i have to sacrifice any of these requirements, simplicity is my lowest priority. i have not ruled out getting as firm a 6" +core as i can find, then experimenting with toppers. if i KNEW the smell would go away, and that i could stomach it in the meantime, i'd just go for a block of that 55 ild hiqh quality conventional lux foam, and nice firm latex topper. finding a cover, even if I have to buy, try, & return a couple, wont' be as expensive or difficult as shipping a hundred pounds of FOAM (not even going to do that, which is another reason why i don't want to spend thousands on foam- what i buy, i'm keeping).
Any suggestions or recommendations appreciated.
I've read through your entire post a few times, and you sound exactly like me. I'm not a big guy, but I am a big girl :) and I too started out dazed and confused by this mattress business. The last time I bought a mattress for myself was 15 years ago, my husband and I walked in a showroom, lay on one we liked, bought it for $800, and it was amazingly comfortable and lasted 15 years. That was a Simmons that was made with quality materials (wool, not cheap PU foam).
Then I got a rude awakening a few years ago when I replaced my daughter's mattress with an $800 Simmons that cratered after less than a year.
When I started researching mattresses a few month ago, I soon found that none of the "S" brands make a quality product anymore. They are all made with cheap PU foam layers that will not last, especially with us bigger folk. Further, they are all "no-flip" mattresses, which are supposedly an improvement in mattress technology, but in reality it's just a gimmick to make them wear out faster.
I'd never heard of latex before, and I was very skeptical of ordering a $2k mattress sight unseen from a company I'd never heard of before. What I did is a little field trip through the internet and yellow pages and ultimately found three somewhat local places that had latex mattresses for me to try. One was a mattress showroom that carried the Sweda brand (a Lady Americana brand) and the Land and Sky brand. The Sweda I believe was a Talalay process latex, and the Land and Sky was Dunlop. OK. I didn't want either of those two mattresses, but I did find out that I like the feel of Talalay better than Dunlop. I also discovered I like the feel of latex and wanted to get a mattress without springs. The other two mattress stores I visited were local, custom mattress companies, and lying on their mattresses convinced me I wanted latex.
I'll skip over some intermediate steps, but I finally took the plunge and ordered a Flobed, and from reading your post, this might be a good option for you too. I'll tell you why. First of all, yes, you do have to assemble the mattress, but it's not hard, intimidating, or any hassle. It's actually very easy and more fun than I thought it would be. You just lay the mattress cover (open) on the foundation, position the latex layers on top, pull the cover over and zip it up. It's really a no brainer. I like the fact that I can see EXACTLY what's in my mattress and I know there are no cheap fillers. The cover is cotton knit with wool batting, and having had wool in my mattresses before, I know it's a quality material that will keep me cool in summer, warm in winter, and repel dust mites.
Another thing I like about Flobeds is the very fact that you can custom order your firmness, and if it doesn't turn out right, you can exchange layers to make it right. They also have a NINETY DAY comfort guarantee, during which time you can trade out your layers or just return the whole thing for a refund. There really is no more flexible or safe way to try out a latex mattress. They make it easy.
When you go to the Flobed website, they have a simple questionnaire about how tall you are, how much you weigh, whether you are a male or female, what side you sleep on (front, side, or back) and whether you prefer your mattress firmer or softer. Based on the answers to your questions, they will recommend a firmness level to get you started. And this was one of the things that initially put me off Flobeds. Their firmness advisor suggested I buy a mattress with Firm/XFirm/XFirm layers and I knew I love a plushy feel.
I finally bit the bullet and phoned Flobeds, which has two owners who answer the phone. After talking with them I felt a lot more comfortable and took the leap and bought one. I started out with Firm/XFirm/XFirm and have found the online "mattress advisor" was right - in fact, I've returned my Firm layer and now have all XFIRM layers.
I guess my point is, you can maybe find a latex bed locally, but it will not have the same flexibility to offer you in making a bed the firmness you want. You can only do this with a company that will let you buy layers and exchange them for others if they don't work out and you need something softer/firmer. And I do think there are several good companies out there - sleeplikeabear, sleepez, saavy rest, but when you factor in the return and exchange policy that Flobeds has, I think that is the company to go with if you're skittish about the whole process. Because they give you the best return and exchange policy.
Lest you start fretting about the return/exchange thing, let me tell you this is amazingly easy too. Much easier than I thought it would be, and relatively inexpensive.
Cost. Well, my queen size Flobed was $2200. I bought one that has nine inches of core and a two inch top layer. If you are a heavy guy, I do not think you would want to go any less than a 10" mattress. The cost was staggering (to me, remember I'm used to paying $800 for a mattress) but I know that over the long term I will save money because from everything I've read, I can expect my latex mattress to last 15-20 years. I now like the fact that I have a removable cover. If it gets soiled, stained, or wears out, I can replace my cover at a low cost without having to replace the latex inside.
Smell/Stench: My understanding is that bad smells/stench from latex can come from latex that is not properly washed after manufacture. I don't know about other latex manufacturers, but Latex International goes through a five stage washing process. My bed had a slight odor when I first received it. It was pleasant, slightly sweet, some have likened it to cookie dough. This slight smell dissipated over a period of a few days and I don't smell anything now.
My XFIRM layers (three of them) are 36 ILD. I am pretty heavy, and tall, I'll just say here I'm 5'11" and 250lbs, and I find the 36 ILD plenty firm, with just enough give to not have pressure points (side sleeper). I feel my XFirm/XFirm/XFirm layers have a similar feel to a Tempurpedic Rhapsody, although of course latex feels different than memory foam. The similarity is in the firmness-with-a-little-give feel.
Flobeds sources their latex from Latex International, generally recognized as the best in Talalay processed latex. They carry both the 100% botanically grown, which is 100% natural latex made from sap from the rubber tree, and blended Talalay latex, which is 30% natural and 70% synthetic latex. I honestly don't think it makes any difference between the two, but the 100% natural is a shade more expensive.
Anyway, I suggest you give them a call and just have an exploratory chat about latex mattresses. They are very low key, no pressure people and very informative!
Lest the forum police start jumping in and making nasty insinuations that I'm a shill for Flobeds, as some on this forum have done to Eagle2, I do not work and have never worked for Flobeds or any mattress manufacturer. I am a real estate salesperson with a bad back and have had a very positive experience with my Flobed purchase. I like my mattress, I like the company, and I like their return/exchange policies. This is why I don't hesitate to recommend the company.
I have to agree with everything Kimberly has stated. I chose to purchase my all latex mattress from a local custom mattress company and now wish I had purchased it online with the custom layer options. My first latex mattress was rated "medium" and felt fine in the store. After sleeping on it I noticed that I was bottoming out on the foundation below the mattress and asked the store to exchange it for the "firm" latex. The company owner figured he would really "help" me and specified an extra firm latex core (40 ILD) of 6 inches and a 32 ILD 2 inch top layer. These layers are sewn into a permanent cover. This bed turned out to be TOO firm! I was uncomfortable until I started using an old 2 inch memory foam topper on top of my new mattress. I'm getting used to this setup and sleeping well, but still thinking about ordering another layer of "medium" type latex after the holidays. By the way, I'm about the same size as Kimberly....5'10" and 265 lbs.
If you live in the New England area I can tell you where to get a VERY firm latex mattress of the highest quality, or suggest you take Kimberly's advice and call an online company.
Kimberly said: "Lest the forum police start jumping in and making nasty insinuations that I'm a shill for Flobeds, as some on this forum have done to Eagle2, I do not work and have never worked for Flobeds or any mattress manufacturer. I am a real estate salesperson with a bad back and have had a very positive experience with my Flobed purchase. I like my mattress, I like the company, and I like their return/exchange policies. This is why I don't hesitate to recommend the company."
Let um jump! You and I both know that we are only satisfied customers of Flowbeds products. If some people do not like our statements of satisfaction, and prefer to believe we have an ulterior motive, then they do not have to read what we say.
As long as we are making our statements within the guide lines of this forum, then we are free to say what we choose. And they, on the other hand, are free to not read any of it!
really appreciate the in depth & personal response. thanks for taking the time. by the way, i'm already familiar with the shill police around here, so you & eagle can drop the act (i know you're all just deep cover sales reps).
So from what everyone's saying about them, i have no doubt that f.b.'s are among the best. And i'm glad to hear you went with 3x all extra firm, because it seemed so counterintuitive to get a custom mulit layered design, only to order it with all three layers of identical ild. but that's just what i would do with this type- all in the firmest latex available. super firm. that might come close to how firm i like conventional mattresses, i.e. those couple of inches of marvelux (55 ild? 45?) that i know i like. But if we can't evne reliably compare ild's from one type of latex to another, it's even more meaningless to do so with different types of foam altogether.
Otherwise, it seems like it's pretty much a consensus that botanical = the least odor; that l.i. is worth the price difference (i've seen the comparison photos, though i also noticed that at least two l.i. pieces flobeds sent were even the wrong size); & on bottoming out, i was trying to avoid the reality that i'm going to need at least 10". so those are extras that i'll HAVE to splurge for, if i do this at all. l.i., botanical, & plenty of layers/thickness, which increases the price & my gamble.
but ultimately whether to take the plunge or not depends on if i can get an idea of just how firm 44 ild latex feels vs. what i know. that's my primary concern. i'm in houston b.t.w. & haven't found any store brands except ashley (too soft), & sealy springfree. springfree seems great, lots of latex in the core, but their top couple of inches are NOT latex, i don't know why i could expect the foam in those to last any longer than what's in their conventional mattresses, if it's not latex. seems like that defeats at least one of the advantages of latex anyway.
eagle- this is O.T. but i've read your thoughts on car seats vs. office chairs. i've made that exact same observation earlier this year while shopping for new office chairs that don't compress within a couple of months. i've since wished i could have a bed made out of whatever is in my truck seat. just a big block of the same springs, foam, everything. that stuff is firm & made to last.
anyway, i'll just keep researching & looking for something with a 44 ild in person around here that i can try myself first. i'll update once i've made some progress.
Jason: Not fearing the thought police, let me suggest to you that you give FlowBeds a try. They can provide you with a super firm latex in blended, (only) from 42 to 46 ILD. I would think that 9" of this would feel like concrete to me. But never having slept on it, or even felt it, this is purely a guess.
I am currently sleeping on one side of my bed that has two extra firm (36ILD) layers topped off with a medium layer (28 ILD) and of course the ever present to all FlowBeds, a 2" layer of convoluted latex, which I am assuming is somewhere between 26 and 28 ILD. The other side of my bed has two firm layers at 32 ILD with a bottom layer of extra firm at 36 ILD. This is all 100% natural botanically grown latex. The two firm layers, with a bottom layer of extra firm, seems quite firm to me, and I weigh between 210 and 215 ( going to have to go on a diet).
The best part of the FloBeds operation is that not only do you have unlimited exchanges for 90 days, but within the 90 days, should you decide you don't like their bed, and they cannot provide you with the firmness layers that you feel you need, by paying the return shipping you can get your money back. There is no other manufacturer of mattresses on the Internet that has this kind of a generous exchange and return policy that I am aware of. Plus the fact that these people have been more than cooperative, they've been very pleasant about it in all my contacts with them.
This is not to say that you would not have good customer service from other manufacturers. In fact the report is that in the majority of the cases there are several other companies that are excellent at customer service. They just do not have the same type of exchange and return policies that FloBeds has.
So you pay your money, and you take your choice. Suit yourself.
Jason, I can't even imagine a 44 ILD mattress, tbh. I'm thinking it would feel similar to just lying on a bare floor. I think Eagle is right, for 100% botanically grown, you don't get quite the same range of ILDs as you do with blended . . . although I'm not positive - that would be something to ask the guys at Flobeds or wherever you decide to go. Are you sure you need it that firm? May I ask what is prompting you to fix on that number other than knowing you want a very firm mattress?
I can't help but wonder if you're starting out with the same mindset I did, but in reverse. I started out being pretty sure I wanted a cushy bouncy feel, and found out that what really feels good is a very firm mattress. And the 36 is pretty darn firm. I can't imagine going any firmer without it being uncomfortable. If you start out that firm you might ultimately end up adjusting down your ILDs.
I can say that if you're worried about the smell, my blended latex bed has no smell! Like I said, the first few days after I got it there was a very slight, sweet smell, not chemically at all, more like cookie dough. This dissipated very rapidly. Eagle2 reported the same smell when he first got his 100% botanically grown latex bed.
Anyway, if you are over in Texas, Sleepez is a little closer to you than Flobeds. Sleepez is in Arizona, whereas Flobeds is in Fort Bragg, which is northern California.
This one offers 4 layers with the firmest being (gulp) 44 ILD and you can choose between Dunlop, blended Talalay, or 100% botanical Talalay and they have a nice guide to latex:
see that's the catch 22 for me- to get the super firm it must be blended latex, which per yours & others' advice is not my best bet for minimal odor (vs. 100% pure botanical). firmness & odor are 1 & 1a priorities for me. now maybe that's the only way to get a super firm anywhere, with a mid forites ILD, is for it to be blended. And while sleeping on concrete does not sound so great, i've also heard those analogies before/ For instance have you any experience with sealy's signature firm, or stearns & foster's ultra firm series? would you similarly guess those are like sleeping on a completely unyeilding surface also? because i've seen "comfort scales" that liken those to sleeping on the floor, and they might be to some, but feel far from that to me. it might just be too subjective a concept to relate on any kind of common ground on at all, & unfortunately i'm unlikely to find anyone who has tried both a sealy sign. firm & superfirm latex (until i just buy the latter).
but anyway, if i go with a flobed i don't expect any problems considering all the rave reviews (of the product itself & their customer service). but hypothetically, if in the worst case scenario their firmest is not as firm as the marvelux i like in the conventionals, or if i'm that much more sensitive than the average customer that i can't deal with the odor even after 90 days of it airing out- how exactly does their return policy work? specifically:
1. do i pay for RETURN shipping only (not return + what it cost to ship to me also)?
2. is it packaged such that i can use the same box, get it back into the same shipping materials it came in?
3. is it a predetermined charge? eg with habitat, you apparently get your money back less only a $75 flat fee = total loss on the return (though i have ruled their 26ild 6 incher out of my options).
All that flobeds' site states in regard to the above three questions is that "you pay only the freight", which could mean a number of things. but if you don't know those particular details about their return policy (& i wouldn't expect you to if you never had to use it), maybe i'll give them a call next week after they return from the holiday (maybe someone there could even compare their firmest to my conventional preference) . but either way, i really appreciate all your info, advice, & enthusiasm in this forum eagle. if i go latex, flobeds is definitely at the top of the list. thanks!
1. I am only sure that I need one as firm as a Sealy Posturepedic Signature Firm or Stearns & Foster Ultra Firm, which I sleep well on (when new). Even their Cushion Firm, only one level softer (& with a fourth the amount of marvelux as the firm), is too plush for me.
2. That is actually the crux of my opening question: a) the type of conventional beds I like are very firm, b) these type of beds have alot of marvelux above the springs, c) marvelux has a high ILD (40's to 50's? likened to a tennis shoe's midsole), d) a latex with a firmness as closely matching that my conv. mattress as possible would have a similar ild. THerefore, I am seeking latex with an ild in the 40's to 50's. unfortunately, c) & d) are massive assumptions, so I cannot trust my conclusion. the problem with c) is, i have yet to confirm the ILD of marvelux (only guesing by comparing to bulk foams of known ild's with similar "lux" names). & with assumption d)- even manufacturers admit ild's are not necessarily objectively comparable across different vulcanization technique, much less comparing with non latex foams. (marvelux vs. latex).
so at this point, there's only so much I can find out until I either try a high ILD latex myself (having the knowledge of how my sealy feels), or find someone who has experience with both the highest ILD latex AND the firmest conventional mattresses.
either way, i can't say you guys didn't do everything to help. i'll at least wait until next week, talk to flobeds about their return policy & frimness vs. marvelux. i appreciate your time.
Well I can at least address your return questions. My Flobed came in three boxes with the three core layers, the convoluted top layer, and the mattress cover spread out within those three boxes (which I have kept in case I want to return the mattress).
Each layer comes individually wrapped in a double plastic bag. The outer plastic bag is smaller than the inner plastic bag, which is huge.
If you want to return a layer, you:
1) fold the layer into thirds (like you might fold a piece of paper into thirds).
2) put the folded latex layer in the larger of the two plastic bags.
3) insert the hose of a vacuum cleaner into the bag so that the tip of the hose just slightly goes in between the layers - like 1/2"
4) tightly wrap the rest of the plastic bag around the vacuum cleaner hose.
5) turn on the vacuum cleaner. Now, all of the air will be sucked out of the plastic bag and from the latex. The whole thing shrinks to a fraction of its former size. (this is kind of neat).
6) keep the bag wrapped around the hose while you extract the hose from the latex and the bag so that air doesn't get back in.
7) place the shrink wrapped bag of latex into the second, smaller bag.
8) tape the second, smaller bag shut. There! the shrink wrapped latex layer is secured.
9) put this in the cardboard shipping box.
10) Flobeds sends you a return label and you just put it on the cardboard shipping box and drop it off at your local ups store.
I wrote this out as 10 steps but it just takes a few minutes and is super easy. Just have your packing tape ready to tape shut the outer plastic bag and to tape the cardboard packing box shut. I have done this twice. First time, they accidentally sent me a king sized convoluted topper instead of queen and I sent back the topper (at their expense). The second tiem was a few days ago when I decided to trade a firm layer for an xtra firm layer.
I don't know what the ups charge for a layer would be from texas to fort bragg, but from southern california to fort bragg, shipping one layer is around $20. A layer of latex weighs about 20 lbs. And, idk what size bed you are getting, but for my queen size bed, there are 7 pieces of latex total (3 for each side plus the topper) and the mattress cover. I think Flobeds has a . . . . price arrangement with UPS so that there is a price discount, but I'm not sure.
I would check with Flobeds on the odor issue. I can't really speak to whether 100% botanically grown smells less than blended, but the Flobeds people will certainly know. Also, since Eagle has ordered a blended layer, he can maybe give us some insight too.
i think it was eagle who already commented on the odor differences between botanical & blended, but i'll stay tuned for any further insights he has to offer in that regard (& of course i'll ask flobeds on monday). meanwhile i am working on some other options as backup plans.
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