Long viewed as a luxury mattress option, latex is becoming more affordable, thanks to the increasing availability of online mattress retailers. All-latex beds are made from natural latex sourced from rubber trees using a Dunlop or Talalay manufacturing process, while synthetic and latex hybrid mattresses contain synthetic latex, polyfoams, and other materials.

Latex beds come in a variety of firmness levels which suits them to a wide range of sleepers. Key selling points include their temperature regulation, natural bounciness, and contour ability that offers relief from back and shoulder pain. They are also denser, heavier mattresses able to provide stability and above-average support for heavyweight sleepers.

Types of latex mattresses

Latex mattress contain either 100% organic latex foam, a mix of natural latex with synthetic latex foam, or completely synthetic latex foams. Here’s how to recognize the labels commonly used to market these mattresses.

Natural latex describes latex foams derived from the sap of rubber trees. 100% organic latex mattresses contain only natural latex foams, so they’re hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to dust mites, mold, and other bacteria. They’re also eco-friendly. Natural latex comes in two varieties:

  • Dunlop latex, where manufacturers stir, mold, and stem-bake the rubber tree sap. The Dunlop process causes natural sediment to accumulate at the bottom of the mattress, resulting in a denser, heavier mattress. Dunlop latex beds have a firmer feel and are great for providing support for heavier sleepers.
  • Talalay latex describes a process where the rubber tree sap is first placed in a vacuum-sealed chamber, deprived of oxygen, and then frozen and baked. The Talalay process results in a more homogenous foam surface and a softer, lighter mattress.

Synthetic latex is created from petrochemicals to mimic the feel of latex foam. 100% organic or 100% natural (a designation given to mattresses containing at least 95% natural latex) are more expensive due to their natural properties. Synthetic latex provides a similar feel to natural latex at a much lower cost. Some latex mattresses are fully synthetic, or combine a mix of at least 30% natural latex with synthetic latex (known as latex hybrid or blended latex mattresses).

To review, here’s a breakdown of the labels you’ll come across when looking at latex mattresses:

Type of latex Percentage of natural latex Mattress components
Organic latex (100% USDA-certified organic latex) 100% natural latex All-natural latex foam from rubber trees
Natural latex (100% natural latex, all-latex, pure latex) 95% or more natural latex All-natural latex with trace amounts of synthetic latex foams
Blended latex (latex hybrid) 30% or more natural latex Mostly synthetic latex foam with at least 30% natural latex foam
Synthetic latex (latex polyfoam, man-made latex) 0% natural latex All synthetic latex foams

Another term you’ll come across when shopping for a latex mattress is ILD. ILD stands for Impression Load Deflection and measures the firmness of the latex foams used in a mattress. The higher the ILD rating, the firmer the mattress.

Typically latex mattresses will use a variety of layers with differing ILDs, such as a softer comfort layer and a firmer support core. Generally, mattresses constructed using the Dunlop process run firmer than Talalay mattresses and will have a correspondingly higher ILD. Occasionally you will see ILD described as IFD (the F stands for “force”), but this is a term more commonly used to describe foam mattress.

What are the components of a latex bed?

Like most mattresses, there are multiple layers to a latex bed. Depending on the type of latex mattress, these layers will contain different materials.

The support core is the thickest part of the mattress. As you can guess from its name, its primary function is to provide support for the sleeper, while enhancing the bounciness and pressure relief qualities of the bed. All-latex beds have a support layer of all latex foam, while synthetic latex and latex hybrid mattress typically have support cores made of polyfoam or pocketed coils. All-latex support cores are extremely durable and last 5 times longer than polyfoam support layers.

Latex beds may have one or more comfort layers, depending on the thickness of the mattress. On average, blended latex mattresses tend to be thicker than all-latex beds. A high-quality, supportive mattress will be at least 10 inches thick. The more comfort layers a mattress has, the higher the price. Talalay latex is more often used in the comfort layer to provide a pillowy feel, while Dunlop is used as a more durable option.

Finally, the mattress layers are encased in a cover. All-latex beds often have a cover made of organic cotton or wool, while blended and synthetic latex mattresses may use synthetic cotton as well.

How does a latex mattress feel like to sleep on?

Latex beds offer a unique feel that’s made them a favorite among many sleepers. Thanks to their rubber content, they’re naturally elastic, so they’re excellent at isolating compression points and delivering relief for chronic back pain. Softer mattresses with lower ILD ratings will have more elasticity and greater contour ability.

Latex mattresses offer the best of both worlds between innerspring and memory foam beds: they contour to the sleeper’s body like a memory foam mattress, but without trapping them, and they’re still bouncy enough like an innerspring to be enjoyable for sex.

Pros and cons of latex mattresses

Like anything, latex beds offer many advantages, but they also come with their downsides. Review the list of pros and cons below to determine whether a latex mattress is right for you, based on your unique sleep needs. Ultimately, some of these cons may not matter to you, in which case a latex mattress could be a great choice.

Pros Cons
Above-average contour ability

Bouncy, responsive surface suitable for sex

Sleep cool

Naturally hypoallergenic

Eco-friendly

Excellent motion isolation

Initial offgassing odor

Mostly available only online

More expensive mattress option

Pros of latex mattresses

Above-average contour ability

Latex mattresses are known for offering superior pressure point relief. Unlike memory foam mattresses, which fully envelop the body, latex mattresses develop a more rounded contour. Softer Talalay latex will offer even more contour than Dunlop. Either way, latex beds relieve lower back pain and pressure points without letting the sleeper sink too far into the mattress so they end up feeling trapped.

Bouncy, responsive surface suitable for sex

Due to their rubber content and foam grid construction, latex mattresses have a bounciness similar to innerspring mattresses that recovers quickly from applied pressure.

Sleep cool

Latex mattresses are made from naturally breathable materials. This allows them to provide a consistently cool sleeping surface that doesn’t retain body heat.

Naturally hypoallergenic

Latex mattresses are made from hypoallergenic foams that resist mold, mildew, and dust. This keeps the sleeper healthy and lengthens the lifespan of the mattress.

Eco-friendly

Organic and natural latex beds are made entirely or nearly entirely from all natural rubber materials, so they’re biodegradable and environmentally-friendly.

Excellent motion isolation

Latex mattresses are known for their ability to absorb movement. Although not quite as good as memory foam mattresses, they minimize motion transfer and provide a quiet sleeping experience that makes it easier for people sharing the bed with other people or pets to stay asleep. Their heavy weight, especially in the case of Dunlop latex, keeps them firmly in place which also helps them stay quiet.

Cons of latex mattresses

Initial offgassing odor

All latex mattresses present an initial offgassing odor that some might find offensive, although it’s nothing to worry about and goes away quickly. Harmless volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are formed during the manufacturing process. These result in a strong rubber smell for organic and natural latex beds, and a chemical smell for synthetic and blended latex mattresses. Fortunately, the odor goes away within a few hours to a few days at most and is simply a matter of letting the mattress air out.

Mostly available only online

By and far, latex mattresses are mostly available online. This means consumers have a harder time finding ones to test out in store. Fortunately, most online latex mattress sellers offer generous trial periods of 30 to over 100 days so shoppers can try sleeping on the mattress risk-free in their home.

More expensive mattress option

Latex mattresses are one of the more expensive mattress options, especially natural and organic latex beds. More on this in the next section.

How much does a latex mattress cost?

One major downside to a latex mattress is their cost. Latex mattresses tend to be one of the most expensive mattress options, so they’re better viewed as a long-term investment. Organic and natural latex mattress are more expensive, due to having more organic content, and may average around $2,000 for a queen. Synthetic and blended latex mattresses are much more affordable at around $900 for a queen, although their price tag is still significantly more than the average $600 for an innerspring mattress.

How long does a latex mattress last?

One benefit to latex beds is their durability. On average, latex mattresses last longer than most other mattress types, especially if they are organic or natural latex mattresses. Organic and natural latex mattresses last 8 to 10 years, and synthetic or latex hybrids last 6 to 8 years, while a traditional innerspring bed lasts on average less than 6 years.

Speaking to their longevity, latex mattresses often come with extended warranties as high as 20 or 25 years. Many latex mattresses can last longer than the lifespans quoted above if an individual layer is replaced. Check the terms of the warranty prior to purchasing your mattress – you’ll want to understand what’s covered (often warranties require that a certain platform be used), what costs you’ll be responsible for (it’s common for owners to have to pay for shipping costs), and how long a repair might take (if an individual layer is being replaced you don’t want to be without a bed for a long time).

What type of sleeper is best suited to a latex mattress?

Every sleeper is different. When choosing a mattress, your #1 focus should be on finding one that keeps your spine in alignment while you sleep. Latex mattresses tend to be better at that for different types of sleepers based on their body weight and preferred sleeping position. It’s all about personal preference.

Here are some differentiating features of latex beds that may be important to you.

  • Latex mattresses ideally support the body’s natural curve for side sleepers and provide above-average pressure point and back pain relief.
  • Latex mattresses provide superior support for heavier sleepers over 230 pounds due to their density. Dunlop mattresses in particular are favored by overweight sleepers.
  • Eco-friendly consumers will appreciate natural or organic latex mattresses. They’re made from 100% or nearly 100% natural rubber tree sap and are totally biodegradable.
  • Those same natural materials also make latex beds a great fit for individuals with allergies. They’re naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial.
  • Latex beds are naturally bouncy, making them well suited for sexual activity. However, that bounciness may prove uncomfortable for stomach sleepers.
  • Latex mattresses are great at absorbing movement, an important consideration for light sleepers who share their bed with a noisy partner or pet.
  • Latex mattresses are favored by hot sleepers since they sleep cooler than other foam mattresses.

Latex mattress FAQ checklist

As you shop for a latex bed, keep the following checklist handy. It will help you buy a mattress that supports your unique sleep needs.

  • What type of latex bed is it?
  • What is the ILD rating of the mattress? How firm will it feel to sleep on?
  • How thick is the mattress?
  • How long should I expect this bed to last?
  • Will this mattress provide good support for me, based on my body weight and sleep position?
  • Should I expect an offgassing smell with this mattress?
  • How does the trial period and return policy work?
  • What’s covered in the warranty, and for how long?

Additional resources

Ready to buy a latex mattress? Read our guide to buying a mattress online and check out our reviews of the most popular latex mattresses available online:

Not sure a latex mattress is right for you? Read up on other types of mattresses: