How is latex made; Talalay latex vs Dunlop latex

One of the first questions people ask is, what’s the best type or kind of Latex for a mattress?  The answer depends on what you want the Latex to do, here is our guide to the two main Latex mattress manufacture methods.

solid core latex john ryan

There are two main methods of producing Latex sheeting. Talalay and Dunlop (also known as Dunlopillo due to the confusion with the brand). There are some differences in the manufacture and properties of the end product that you need to be aware of.

Talalay Latex

Is created when liquid Latex is poured into special moulds which partially fills them. Then they are vacuum sealed and the air is removed, this makes the Latex expand and fully fill the mould. The Latex is then frozen at -30 degrees. Co2 gas is then blown through the mix which makes it harden and it is finally baked at 130 degrees to finish it. It is then washed to remove additives and solvents.  Customers often ask – Why is talalay so expensive?  This is because the manufacture of Talalay is limited by the size of the mould.  Also the process by which is is baked is more expensive than the dunlop method.  This often leads people to believing that ‘Talalay is the best type of latex’ or ‘Talalay is better than dunlop’.  Which is quite confusing.  Due to its higher price people have confused Talalay with being the best type of latex which isn’t always the case.  Talalay is better for softer comfort layers, but you would need far more of it to get the same support you can get with dunlop latex.  Thus the overall cost of a like for like mattress in Talalay would be higher as you would need more talalay to get the same support, granted the top comfort layers would be softer.  There is also an argument that Talalay isn’t as robust as Dunlop latex as it is softer, but again by the time you’re looking at 100% natural latex the differences are minute.

Dunlop Processed Latex

Liquid Latex is mixed with soaps and air to get the desired density. A gelation agent is added to turn it solid as it is poured onto a conveyor belt, or mould, and then vulcanised, baked, in an oven. Once baked it is then washed to remove soaps, additives and solvents.  Then oven dried again on the conveyor belt and cut to the correct size.  Dunlop is incredibly progressive in its comfort and can provide support with lower amounts of latex when compared to Talalay which reduces the cost to the consumer and depth of the overall mattress.  Dunlop is also considered the more robust of the two types giving a slightly firmer feel to it compared to Talalay.

What is the difference between the manufacture methods of latex?

Another valid question which is shrouded in some mystery and personal preferences. Another good comparison is what’s the difference between bottled and tap water? To most there wont be any noticeable differences unless you have a super sensitive palette! Others will swear to know the difference and have their own preference.  In a nutshell Talalay is a softer Latex than Dunlop, which is usually firmer with more progressive comfort and support.  Talalay is the most expensive Latex type and is often a blend, with 100% Natural being rare.latex soaping

With latex, the end product has the following differences for each method.

  • Talalay is softer and can be more breathable
  • Dunlop offers better progressive comfort, i.e. the deeper you go the firmer the feel so you won’t need as thicker core as a Talalay mattress, which is far softer, for the equivalent comfort.
  • Talalay is the most expensive production process due to the methods described above. Due to this it has led to only being supplied to a select number of manufacturers who used to pay the premium for having this material. This has led to some people claiming that Talalay is therefore the highest quality as only a few use it.
  • The Dunlop method offers a wider variety of products due to its manufacture method and it can be produced to almost any dimension. The energy usage is 4 times lower than Talalay.  There is an argument that dunlop latex is more environmentally friendly than its Talalay equivalent.
  • Talalay offers better breath-ability; though given how incredibly breathable Latex is this benefit maybe minimal in the mattress context.
  • Dunlop is argued to be more durable and resilient than Talalay.  Meaning that 100% Talalay isn’t as robust, due to its softness, compared to Dunlop.  This is because Talalay is lighter by nature, less dense, than Dunlop so isn’t as durable.  See our density guide here.

Summary

Our Latex is manufactured using the Dunlop method as this offers the best progressive comfort for a Latex mattress without having to pay premium amounts.  We only offer 100% Natural Latex.  Other retailers will use a 60% Natural 40% Synthetic blend as their top end ‘Natural’ offering, again you need to ask the right questions to find out.  By the time you’re looking at 100% Natural latex the differences will be small and then it rests with your personal preference.

As always, we are providing you with the information you need to make an informed choice and not be misled or confused when choosing a Quality Natural Latex mattress.