Latex Mattresses Buying Guide
Latex is the substance used to make foam. So when you are looking for a latex mattress, you are essentially looking for a foam mattress. Whether naturally or artificially derived, latex starts as a liquid, is poured into a mold, and then has air bubbles forced into it. These air bubbles give the latex foam its bounce and cushion. The resulting mattress is dense and supportive.
Types of Latex Mattresses
There are two distinct kinds of latex mattresses: natural and synthetic. Memory foam mattresses are made from a slightly different material, and they are discussed in a separate buying guide.
Synthetic foam mattresses feature a core material made from liquid polyurethane that is poured into a mold. Air bubbles are then forced into the liquid. When it dries, the air bubbles trapped inside are what give the foam slab its bounce.
Natural foam mattresses are made using virtually the same process, except the liquid poured into the mold is a natural derivative of rubber tree sap.
Some manufacturers meld the lower-cost synthetic product with the all-natural latex to create a blend.
Don't be confused by the interchangeable terms "foam mattress" and "latex mattress" when you shop. They mean the same thing. The points of difference are whether the mattresses are all natural; whether they include any other materials, such as an innerspring core or wool outer layer; and whether they are memory foam, which has a different feel when you lay on it.
If the latex mattress is billed as "all natural," that means the original liquid was derived from the rubber tree plant. It is a "green" substance that comes from a renewable resource. A latex blend includes some portion of artificial latex product that is derived from petroleum. All the materials feel the same and constitute a firm, supportive, and buoyant mattress.
Some manufacturers offer mattresses that combine the various properties of different components. A latex mattress may have an innerspring core, which is a familiar mattress feel for most people. Because latex can be warm to sleep on, some beds have cotton or wool layers, which provide a breathable, cooling cushion on top of the mattress.
The popular memory foam material used in mattresses and mattress accessories is a variation of foam that, when warmed with body heat, expands to fill the nooks and contours of your body. Regular latex mattresses do not expand in this way.