Latex is considered one of the best materials for mattress construction, due to its natural softness, breathability and resiliency. Latex is most commonly found in luxury mattresses with high price points, and may be used in both the comfort layer and support core. Natural latex may be rendered using either the Dunlop or Talalay manufacturing processes; latex mattresses may also contain plasticizers, petrochemicals and other synthetic materials.
Latex mattresses can be beneficial for a wide range of users. Like memory foam, latex is a great choice for side sleepers because it will conform to your figure and support your body’s natural curves and contours. It also reduces motion transfer, which cuts down on nighttime disruptions for couples who share a bed. The uniformity of Talalay latex provides pain and pressure relief for sleepers with chronic back and shoulder pain, while the density and stability Dunlop latex make it ideal for sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds. The bounciness and breathability of latex means that the material is well-suited for sex, as well.
Read on to learn more about latex mattresses. Please visit our mattress reviews and comparison tool and learn about the latex mattresses with the highest customer satisfaction rates, or scroll down to check out our detailed consumer guide.
Types of Latex Mattresses
Natural latex (or NR latex) is produced from the sap of the rubber tree. Two distinct processes are used to manufacture natural latex. Used since the 1930s, the Dunlop process involves stirring, molding and stem-baking the rubber tree sap; this causes natural sediment to accumulate at the bottom, leaving a denser, heavier foam at the top. Alternatively, the newer Talalay process requires the sap to be placed in a vacuum-sealed chamber. The sap is then deprived of oxygen, frozen and baked. Talalay latex is softer, lighter and more homogenous than Dunlop latex.
Synthetic latex (or SBR latex), on the other hand, is derived from various petrochemicals. The latex found in most mattresses today is a blend of NR and SBR latex types. In addition, some mattresses do not contain any chemicals or other manmade components; these models may be classified as 100% organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A similar label, 100% natural, is awarded to latex mattresses with trace amounts of synthetic materials. Typically, organic and natural latex mattresses are considerably more expensive than blended and synthetic latex mattresses.
The table below features a detailed breakdown of the four primary latex types.
Type of Latex
Percentage of Natural Latex
All-latex, pure latex
At least 95%
Natural latex with trace amounts of synthetic latex
At least 30%
Synthetic latex with some natural latex
Latex polyfoam, man-made latex
The Feel of Latex
The distinct feel of a latex mattress is one of the reasons why this material is so popular with consumers. Let’s look at a few key attributes of all-latex and latex-hybrid mattresses.
A unique property of latex is its point elasticity, which means that the latex is very elastic and capable of isolating compression without affecting other areas of the mattress. The softer the mattress, the higher the point elasticity level.
When compressed, the latex will conform to your figure to alleviate pressure points throughout your body. Although a latex mattress won’t conform to your figure as much as a memory foam mattress, the natural shape recovery of latex ensures that you won’t make permanent indentations in the top surface.
Latex also adjusts to the curves of your body, rather than sinking like memory foam, for added pain and pressure relief. As a result, latex is considered a good option for side- and back-sleepers with chronic back and shoulder pain. However, some sleepers claim memory foam is better for pressure point relief.
Latex mattresses are available in a wide range of firmness and softness levels. This means that sleepers with different preferences will still be able to find a latex mattress that works for them. Firmness and softness in latex is measured using impression load deflection (or ILD), which we will discuss next.
ILD (Impression Load Deflection)
Latex mattresses are tested for impression load deflection (or ILD), a rating that measures the softness or firmness of a mattress — or, more specifically, how much pressure is required to indent the mattress by 25%. To measure an ILD rating, simply place a metal disk with a 1-foot diameter onto a section of latex that is roughly four inches thick. ILD is not the same as density, which measures durability and support, and is used to evaluate mattresses made from other materials (such as polyfoam and memory foam).
The ILD rating of a latex mattress will vary by latex type. Talalay latex, for instance, usually has a lower ILD rating than Dunlop latex; additionally, natural and organic latex will almost always carry a lower ILD rating than blended and synthetic latex. The table below looks at the characteristics of ILD ranges found in most latex mattresses sold today.
16 and below
Mattress will sink extremely low, causing discomfort for some sleepers
Back or side sleepers
Mattress sinks considerably beneath most sleepers
Back or side sleepers
Balances softness and firmness, and will be comfortable for most sleepers
Firm support with minimal sinking
Back or stomach sleepers
Very firm with little to no sinking
39 and up
Extremely firm with no sinking whatsoever, causing discomfort for some sleepers
Some ILD numbers are not listed on the table because they bridge the gap between categories. A rating of 22, for example, should be considered ‘Medium-Soft’.
Other Important Considerations
In addition to the mattress type and ILD rating, here are a few more considerations to make when selecting a latex mattress:
Support core:The support core is the most resilient and elastic part of a latex mattress. This internal layer is designed to maintain bounciness and provide bodily pressure relief without permanently indenting to the curvature of a sleeper’s body. An all-natural latex mattress features a support core made entirely of foam, while the support cores found in hybrid and synthetic latex models are often constructed from other materials, such as polyfoam or pocketed coils. All-latex is considered the most durable support core option, and lasts up to five times longer than polyfoam.
Cooling elements:Latex is considered the most breathable material used in mattress construction, meaning that these mattresses tend to sleep cooler than other models. Talalay latex layers — particularly Celsion Talalay latex — are considered especially cool and breathable.
Comfort layer:Due to its softer and more pillowy feel, Talalay latex is more popular than Dunlop as a comfort layer. However, Dunlop — as well as blended latex — is considered more durable. If price is a primary concern, blended Talalay hybrid comfort layers tend to be a cheaper option that is also fairly resilient.
Overall thickness:Most all-latex mattresses range between six and 12 inches in thickness, while blended latex mattresses are usually eight to 12 inches thick. For optimal support, heavier adults should seek out an all-latex mattress that is at least 10 inches thick.
Mattress cover: Natural and organic latex mattresses feature covers constructed from materials like cotton or wool. Blended and synthetic latex mattresses, on the other hand, feature covers rendered from manmade materials like synthetic cotton. The overall feel between these two types is comparable — but eco-conscious consumers may prefer a mattress that only includes natural components, while cost-minded shoppers will usually find that mattresses with manmade covers are the cheaper option.
Pros and Cons of Latex
Latex contours to the sleeper’s body for excellent spinal support and pressure relief, and the bouncier, more responsive surface makes it suitable for sex.
Off-gassing smells are common with both organic/natural and synthetic/blended latex mattresses.
Latex absorbs movement more easily, which reduces motion isolation.
Latex mattresses are not widely available in stores, forcing many consumers to order them online without trying them out in-person.
Latex is highly breathable, allowing sleepers to remain cool and comfortable throughout the night.
Latex mattresses are among the most expensive models available today.
Latex is naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust, mold and mildew. Natural and organic latex is also more environmentally friendly.
Less expensive synthetic or blended latex are not considered as environmentally friendly as natural or organic latex.
There are many benefits associated with sleeping on a latex mattress compared to innerspring and polyfoam/memory foam mattresses. Pressure relief is often cited as the biggest perk for these mattresses, since latex will contour to your body and alleviate pressure points without sinking too far. The result is effective pain relief without spinal misalignment — especially with softer Talalay latex, which pinpoints pressure areas more precisely for more advanced relief.
Because latex mattresses absorb movement in different areas, these models have also been praised for superior motion isolation. Because it is a denser material, Dunlop latex is considered the best material for minimizing motion transfer and reducing nighttime disruptions for couples when one person gets up or shifts positions.
Both natural and hybrid latex mattresses perform well when it comes to bounciness compared to polyfoam and memory foam. This should come as no surprise, since latex is derived from the rubber tree. Natural latex is more elastic than blended or synthetic latex, although all of these materials have been touted for their superior shape recovery. Additionally, latex mattresses are constructed in a foam grid to enhance responsiveness of the material. This technique helps ensure the mattress will provide a good night’s sleep and be suitable for sex.
Most latex mattress sleepers can attest that the material sleeps cooler than other mattress types. This is due to the fact that latex is naturally breathable and resistant to body heat — although many sleepers claim that synthetic latex is even more effective at regulating body temperature and keeping them cool at night. In any case, natural and synthetic latex are both considered the best option for maintaining comfortable levels of body heat while sleeping.
Additionally, natural and organic latex are highly biodegradable — making these mattresses a good option for eco-minded consumers who prefer natural components over harsh chemicals and synthetics. Latex mattresses are also hypoallergenic, and naturally resistant to dust, mold and mildew.
Despite the overall popularity of latex mattresses, this material is also associated with some notable drawbacks. One major issue is off-gassing. Mattress manufacturing processes lead to the formation of particles known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are released as soon as the mattress is unpackaged. VOCs are considered harmless, but the odor can be strong and unpleasant. Synthetic and blended latex emit chemical off-gassing smells; natural latex produces lower levels of off-gassing smells caused by the strong odor of natural rubber. To minimize the effects of off-gassing, opt for natural or organic latex and let the mattress air out for a few days before you place bedding materials on it.
Two other cons are associated with latex mattresses: availability and cost. Latex mattresses — especially ones made from natural or organic latex — are hard to find in mattress stores, which means most consumers must often order them online without testing them in person. This relative scarcity also drives up the price point. On average, latex mattresses are roughly 10% more expensive than memory foam mattresses; natural and organic latex mattresses cost considerably more than blended and synthetic latex mattresses (see pricing section below).
Latex Lifespan and Mattress Warranties
The lifespan of a latex mattress will largely depend on its material composition. Organic and natural latex mattresses typically last for eight years, which is two years longer than the average mattress lifespan. Blended and synthetic latex mattresses tend to last for up to six years. You can increase the longevity of your latex mattress by replacing individual layers, but this may be a difficult process for some mattress models (such as those with covers sewn to the top). Alternatively, some mattresses require home assembly and can be taken apart more easily.
The warranty should be a major consideration for any mattress buyer. Warranty length is key; although latex mattresses typically last six to eight years, warranties for these models may run as high as 20 to 25 years in length. However, warranties are generally divided into two periods: non-prorated and prorated coverage. The owner is often required to pay more out-of-pocket costs during the prorated phase, which also tends to be the longest. You should also understand what is covered under the warranty; pay close attention to details like the manufacturer’s process for handling warranty claims, turnaround time for repairs, additional shipping costs and mattress replacement. For more information about warranties, please visit our guide to Understanding Mattress Warranties.
Average Lifespan of a Mattress
Cost of a Latex Mattress
Material composition is the biggest factor affecting the cost of a latex mattress. Organic and natural latex mattresses tend to be the most expensive options. These models may be priced between $750 and $1,000 on the low end, but luxury options may cost upward of $5,000. For synthetic and blended latex, the minimum mattress price usually falls within $350 and $500; some high-end models will cost as much as $6,000 to $7,500, but these are relatively rare.
According to our findings, an excellent natural or organic latex mattress with a favorable warranty will cost you roughly $2,000. Expect to pay at least $900 for a synthetic or blended latex mattress of comparable quality with an equally robust warranty.
How Much Should You Pay for a New, High-Quality Mattress?
According to our data, latex mattresses carry the a customer satisfaction rating of 80% — the highest rating for all mattress types. The rating for latex hybrids was a bit lower: 72%, which matches the satisfaction score of memory foam mattresses. Comparatively, airbeds hold a 78% customer rating and innerspring mattresses hold a 66% rating.
Important Questions for Consumers
Here are a few inquiries we encourage you to make when shopping for a new latex mattress online or in a store:
Is the mattress organic, natural, blended or all-synthetic?
If natural latex, was the material derived using the Dunlop or Talalay process?
What is the ILD rating of the mattress?
What are the compositions of the support core, comfort layer and mattress cover?
How thick is the mattress?
How long should I expect this mattress to perform before a replacement is needed?
Will this mattress provide adequate support and comfort, given my preferred sleep position?
Is the bed constructed from materials that will produce off-gassing smells?
Is there a trial period for testing out the mattress? If yes, then what is the return policy?
How long is the mattress covered under warranty, and what are the specific coverage terms?