Types of latex mattress

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.Fusion 5&60019 2

There are two main methods of producing latex sheeting.

  • Talalay
  • 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. There is also a detailed article here on the multitude of other latex blends and marketing terms.

Talalay latex

Is created when liquid latex is poured into special moulds which partially fills them. They are then 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.

Why is Talalay latex so expensive?

This is because the manufacturing 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 believe 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 very minor.

Dunlop 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 most 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 won’t 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.

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

1. Talalay is softer and can be more breathable

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Talalay offers better breathability; though given how incredibly breathable Latex is this benefit may be minimal in the mattress context.

6. 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.

Latex blends and percentages

Latex TypeNatural %Synthetic %Other
100% Natural Latex1000
Natural Latex1-99%1-99%Always ask the exact blend ie 80/20
Graphite Latex40%60%
Pure Latex20%80%
Synthetic Latex0100%

What latex does John Ryan Use?

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 do offer a Talalay latex topped pocket sprung mattress but all our solid core Fusion Range mattresses are solid core Dunlop Latex.

We only offer a 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 on 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.

Top 5 Latex Tips

1 – Latex, in its pure form, is derived from the rubber tree.  It is a premium mattress material in part due to its resilience and exceptional comfort. 100% natural latex is the best latex you can buy and most retailers will only offer a mix of natural to synthetic to keep costs down.  Some manufacturers will claim 100% latex, which in some instances is 100% synthetic. You need to ensure you check the percentage of natural latex, if it doesn’t say it probably isn’t!

2 – Not all latex is the same. There are many derivatives of Latex such as Graphite (grey) Latex, Synthetic Latex (made of chemicals) and Natural to Synthetic mixes all of which dilute or change the Natural Latex properties.

3 – Latex is incredibly breathable and offers more progressive comfort than other materials in a mattress.

4 – Latex can be manufactured by either the Talalay or Dunlop method. Dunlop allows more progressive comfort whereas Talalay is marginally more breathable but softer.

5 – All latex mattresses in the UK need to be made fire retardant and certified. This is usually via a coating, fireproof cover or being mixed with graphite.  We use a thin 1cm graphite latex layer on top of our natural latex to comply with the FR. This means your core mattress is still solid core latex but complies with the necessary regulations without sticky chemical sprays or synthetic mixes.

Summary

Talalay latex is softer than Dunlop latex but carries a higher price tag. Dunlop is much more progressive and you need less of it to get the same support you could get from Talalay. Again, it is personal preference but if you have any other questions please get in touch with our expert team to assist you.

Comments

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  • Julie says:

    I am thinking of buying a zen rejuvenate sk 2400 pocket sprung with a latex top but can’t seem to find out what sort of latex is in the top of the bed they say it’s natural with no details of how natural can you help with this kind regard Julie
    Hi Julie, looking at the mattress specs there’s no mention of natural latex. From the details I’d say it was primarily synthetic latex, we have a very detailed section all on latex but in a nutshell unless a description of latex gives you the percentage blend you can’t accurately compare or measure it’s quality. We usually advise that if a model doesn’t specify it’s more than likely synthetic.

    After all if it was natural you’d most certainly shout about it given natural latex’ superior quality! As for the Zen it also has a stitched on pillow top which we would never recommend due to the compression and sag issues we have also detailed. You could always get in touch with dreams and ask them if they can specify the blend or type of latex. If you find out I’ll happily advise further on this .

    If you’re looking for that type of mattress we would recommend getting one with a removable topper which reduces the issue of compression and will provide a much more durable mattress. We have our Fusion Zero which is a high quality 80/20 natural to synthetic latex blend. I hope this helps Julie. Lee

  • Comment via email says:

    Would the firmness of the medium 80/20 latex mattress be the same firmness as the medium 100% latex mattress?

    The firmness will be very similar, the 100% natural is ever so slightly more responsive and a little bit softer. It all depends on how sensitive you are. Some people can feel the difference others state theres little difference. With 100% natural latex such as our fusion 3 and fusion 4 range they are the highest quality latex blends you can get. If budget is your main driver then we offer the 80% natural blend to try and meet this price point. The 80% latex blend is still far higher than the average ‘Natural latex mattress’ in retailers which at most is usually 60% natural latex in our experience. Sometimes its only 20%!! Hope that helps – Lee

  • Derrick says:

    Hi, I’ve seen a second hand Dunlopillo 75 ‘Luxury Latex’ mattress for sale on Gumtree. I wondered if you could let me know what you think of it compared to your fusion latex range?
    Derrick
    HI Derrick, Firstly let me say that buying a second hand fully used mattress thats been used for some time, ie not a show bed or clearance mattress, does carry some risks, such as the bed being beyond its life, ie over 5-7 years also that someone has had the bed and will have compressed it for their body shape and weight.

    With that aside the model you have mentioned is a one sided only mattress with a latex layer. Dunlopillo don’t give specifics on their blend of latex meaning I can’t adequately compare it to our Natural Latex models. From what I’ve seen Dunlopillo is a blend of latex ie synthetic, but have no specifics of the percentage blend.

    I would state that this mattress no where near compares to our range as our fusion solid core latex mattresses are all double sided turnable mattresses. If you need any further advice please call us – Lee

  • Euanne says:

    We cannot decide between the Fusion 80% natural vs 100% natural mattress topper. Can you please help? Thanks.
    Hi Euanne, The difference between the two is subtle but important. The 100% is the highest quality latex you can buy whereas the 80% is still high quality but at a slightly lower price point due to the blend. The difference in feel will be minimal, but the longevity maybe slightly higher in the 100% natural.

    To give an idea of comparison most shop bought latex is either 100% synthetic or 20% Natural / 80% synthetic.

    I hope that helps make your decision easier! – Lee

  • Eileen says:

    Brilliant website! I particularly like your assertion that we don’t need to try a mattress..we hate shopping!

    We were all set to order new dunlopillo mattresses until I read your stuff, now I would be interested in whether a Fusion 3 or similar would suit us?

    Like several of your correspondents , we bought a dunlopillo Kingston which I think is medium tension, 25 years ago, and still find it comfortable on our spare bed( slatted wood base) Then we have struggled with newer buttoned mattresses and so want to replace these with 2 x3 foot mattresses for our 6 foot slatted wood bed. Also , would it be possible to have 2 mattresses with a single 6 foot topper instead ?( for future flexibility) thanks EP

    Ps we are an average sized couple!

    Hi Eileen,

    Thanks for your kind words about John Ryan By Design.

    Without your weights and heights its quite difficult to properly advise. That said if you’re under 16 stone then the Fusion 3 would give a medium tension feel.

    We can make mattresses to most sizes and combinations through our bespoke service so please give us a call to discuss. We have done this kind of combination a number of times before.

    Our bespoke service doesn’t offer the 30 day love it or return it guarantee which you need to bare in mind. Lee

  • Mark says:

    I wonder if you could advise me on the best type of base for a full latex mattress please? I am considering buying a latex mattress for a sprung edge base, however, I am concerned this will make the bed feel too soft and reduce edge to edge sleeping surface. I am also concerned about roll off as I find it difficult to get in and out of bed. At the moment I have an old sealy torsion base, which I found good with my sprung mattress. My only concern about going for a platform top is that the mattress will feel too firm and be less breathable. This is making my choosing of mattress/base very difficult also in terms of soft medium or firm mattress – what should I pick first, mattress or base and then will this determine what firmness i pick?
    I weigh 10 stone, have a bad back and pain issues, have always had a firm mattress but now feel I want comfort but with a good support. My partner weighs 13 stone and likes a comfortable feel but not saggy. We both want to be able to move freely in bed as we shift a lot and don’t like the feel of being stuck in the bed, like memory foam. Would a full latex or latex with springs be better?

    Thank you in advance, we look forward to your response.

    Kind regards,
    Mark

    Hi Mark, I can empathise with the myriad of decisions you feel you’re going to have to make. So I will aim to simplify the problem to assist you.

    We always advise that if your base is in sound condition there is no point in replacing it. A sprung edge base will soften the over all feel of any mattress so you’re right to investigate this with latex.

    For your weight I wouldn’t usually recommend a firm mattress. That said solid core latex in a firm tension is no where near as robust or solid in its top layer as say a pocket sprung mattress. This is because latex is by nature far more malleable and the top layers will always feel softer before the firmer support kicks in.

    With solid core latex you will never get a firm edge as theres no perimeter support in such a mattress. To include it be it either firm foam or wire edging would complete negate the benefit of latex and introduce weaker components reducing its shelf life. Latex always has a softer sink in the top layer before the support kicks in.

    I’d need to know exactly what tension you prefer to advise accurately.

    One thing you could try is the sealy rosebury as our fusion 0 is a close comparator, albeit with 100% natural latex vs sealy innergetic synthetic blend. This pocket sprung and latex will have a more robust edge and feel firmer over all given you have a sprung edge base it maybe the perfect compromise to get a medium firm feel for you without too much sink.

    Please let me know how you get on and we can advise further. – Lee

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