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Before You Buy: Latex Mattresses

It's a big purchase, so avoid insomnia by finding out what's under the cushy covering and behind the fancy claims

woman testing out bed in furniture store
Photo by Fuse/Getty
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While innersprings still rule and memory foam has many fans, latex is quickly gaining ground for the way it cushions pressure points and bounces back to offer support every time you move. Latex can be natural (from rubber trees, for extra resilience and durability), a cost-saving synthetic, or a blend, and options include layering latex over encased coils for less "partner disturbance." As always, it pays to try before you buy and to ask lots of questions. Start with these.

Shown: Room & Board's Natural Latex Mattress, about $2,000 (queen); roomandboard.com

Type of latex?
Natural latex isn't a regulated term; it may mean a blend of natural and synthetic or that the top layer is natural and the core is synthetic. While blends are money-savers, we like the 10-inch-thick mattress shown here because it is 100 percent long-lasting, highly resilient natural latex. The 1½-inch-thick pressure-relieving top layer is softer; the mattress can be flipped to the 6-inch-thick denser side if you like your mattress firmer. (Flipping doesn't affect durability.)

Other materials?
Many mattresses contain chemical fire retardants. This one has a thin layer of fire-retarding wood-pulp fiber instead, tucked in a covering of cotton and wool—thicker on the soft side than on the firm side. There's no need for a box spring.

Customizable?
Some mattresses, including this one, can be ordered tailored to your taste—the left side firmer and the right side softer, for instance.

Fine print?
Latex is heavy—this model weighs 100 pounds—and handles may be lacking, so make sure delivery includes getting it upstairs. Ask how the "comfort warranty" works and who bears the cost of a return. Feeling sleepy? Now all you need is the perfect pillow.
While innersprings still rule and memory foam has many fans, latex is quickly gaining ground for the way it cushions pressure points and bounces back to offer support every time you move. Latex can be natural (from rubber trees, for extra resilience and durability), a cost-saving synthetic, or a blend, and options include layering latex over encased coils for less "partner disturbance." As always, it pays to try before you buy and to ask lots of questions. Start with these.

Shown: Room & Board's Natural Latex Mattress, about $2,000 (queen); roomandboard.com

Type of latex?
Natural latex isn't a regulated term; it may mean a blend of natural and synthetic or that the top layer is natural and the core is synthetic. While blends are money-savers, we like the 10-inch-thick mattress shown here because it is 100 percent long-lasting, highly resilient natural latex. The 1½-inch-thick pressure-relieving top layer is softer; the mattress can be flipped to the 6-inch-thick denser side if you like your mattress firmer. (Flipping doesn't affect durability.)

Other materials?
Many mattresses contain chemical fire retardants. This one has a thin layer of fire-retarding wood-pulp fiber instead, tucked in a covering of cotton and wool—thicker on the soft side than on the firm side. There's no need for a box spring.

Customizable?
Some mattresses, including this one, can be ordered tailored to your taste—the left side firmer and the right side softer, for instance.

Fine print?
Latex is heavy—this model weighs 100 pounds—and handles may be lacking, so make sure delivery includes getting it upstairs. Ask how the "comfort warranty" works and who bears the cost of a return. Feeling sleepy? Now all you need is the perfect pillow.
 
 

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