Insidious  Scams That Mattress Retailers Use - How To Avoid Them And Get The Most Mattress For Your Money And A Comfortable Night's Sleep...And...Fake Review Sites That Spread Disease In The Industry

Buying a mattress can be a challenging experience. In the last few years, the industry has exploded with a mushroom cloud of new companies, many of them selling the so-called "bed in a box" concept which makes it really convenient to get a mattress into your home. Because these days the bedding business is so competitive, with hundreds of web sites and endless retail store chains, there is a life and death struggle to get your business. I've seen it, been in the business, and know how tough it is to make a customer comfortable about purchasing just the right mattress. Odds are, no matter where you shop, questionable marketing tactics might be employed to get you to pull out your credit card. While not all mattress retailers are trying to pull a fast one, there are some insidious scams that mattress retailers have used for years that are still being commonly used in mattress stores, and on mattress e-commerce sites, every day.

That isn't to say you can't find the mattress that you want and also get a good price. But your chances of getting the perfect mattress for you at a great price will go up drastically if you come armed with the rarely revealed information from this page. You can check out our carefully vetted list of MBG vendors we recommend by visiting our Dealers We Recommend page, if you want to begin shopping now.

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On this page we will lay out the Most Insidious Scams of the Mattress Industry. Then we'll show you how to avoid being taken advantage of, and in some cases, flat out ripped off.  One of our columnists has been in the bedding industry since 1994, in both the design and manufacturing world as well as the retail side, and has sold tens of millions of dollars worth of beds and bedding products in his retails stores and on his e-commerce web sites. He's a master of marketing in the industry and knows every single trick that other retailers are using. As you may already know, the mattress companies chasing you around, trying to get you to click their BUY NOW buttons, are conducting trench warfare to get your business. And in some cases, they're playing some pretty sneaky games. That's right. We know the "dark side" of the mattress business. And we're going to pull back the curtain for you, right now, and it won't cost you a cent.

Remember one very important thing. The mattress industry has never been more competitive and hungry for your dollar. There is a battle going on, in both brick and mortar stores and on the web, where endless bed in a box ventures rise up from nowhere, literally every day. Most of these companies are startups created by code savvy twenty somethings with little or no experience in the bedding industry. And they are all coming at you. One big “bed in a box” e-tailer is so aggressive, that they will spend $200 on marketing and advertising, or more, to get you to their shopping cart and click BUY NOW, for a $700 bed. Which begs the question…how much are they spending on the ingredients for your amazing mattress?

These days, really slick web sites with pictures of frolicking couples and their golden retrievers can offer you up a mattress for $400-800, and tell you it’s the most magical thing ever, and you’ll fall for it, because if everyone else is buying it, it must be the most incredible bed ever, right? But, did you ever once consider what you were buying, I mean, even bother to understand what's inside of your super amazing mattress? More importantly, how long have these companies been around? The fact is, older and more established companies use data from existing customer feedback that have owned their products for five years or more to improve their beds, giving you the most important edge you can have when buying a mattress..crowd sourced input into their designs and construction.

Many of the hottest selling mattresses right now are sold by companies less than five years old, and only now are reviews by owners beginning to trickle in around the internet, revealing a host of problems including beds that form craters and sinkholes, with reviews saying things like "my XXXXXXX bed turned into a taco and folded up around me", unanswered phone calls or emails, rude customer service when attempting to return a mattress during a "no questions asked trial period", warranty issues that while clearly displayed on web sites or on paper, don't seem to be honored in real life, and much more.

 

Unfortunately for many of those buyers, they purchased their mattress without any real understanding of exactly what they were buying. Scammed from the get go. Take my advice; an educated customer will put you on an equal playing field with even the most seasoned mattress salesperson around, or if you’re shopping online, at least make you wonder or ask, "tell me what's inside this bed and explain to me why it will last, won't develop indentations, and why you're at it, give me the densities and company names of your foam sources". Once you're in the power position, you can't be taken advantage of, and you may even get a better deal, some freebies thrown in, or special coupon codes for discerning customers.

Let’s get started. Let’s get you armed for battle so you too can become a swashbuckling mattress shopper!

 

1. The Mystery Ingredients Scam Revealed!

This is my favorite, because it truly takes advantage of uneducated potential customers by creating outlandish marketing slang and hype using frilly terminology and warm, dreamy pictures that pitch the glamour and sexiness of a mattress, rather than delivering the facts and straight up, honest features and benefits of the bed.  It's what's known in the marketing world as, regrettably, "putting lipstick on a hog".   Unlike other products that we scrutinize obsessively over, such as jeans and dishwashers, why do we buy a mattress without wanting to understand the benefit of what's inside of the thing?   The reason is simple. We're conditioned to not ask questions about this most intimate of products. We accept the curb appeal of a really cool looking mattress and choose not to wonder what's inside, whether or not it's soaked in formaldehyde or made with the same foam you'd use to pack your bar glasses the next time you move. Essentially, a mattress is a big block of something with a pretty exterior.

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You trust what you are seeing, and reading. Slick web sites that are silently telling you that it's just not cool to not own one of their beds. The mattress of your dreams always looks fantastic on that amazing web site or in the store, and the setting is always that Manhattan loft with floor to ceiling windows you've always dreamed of, and there's usually a rescued greyhound napping on the mattress, a mug of something warm and wonderful on the night stand, and on and on. You’re being hooked with just a little bit of bait, and then slowly reeled in as you read reviews (which may be real, or not), and see the ads chase you around on social media, whispering over your shoulder, “BUY NOW”. You know, those ads that feel like annoying gnats, buzzing around your head, that you're constantly swatting away.

 

Hey, don’t get me wrong, you may be buying a great mattress. I know a lot of people in the business who create these startup companies with the best intentions. They may not be mattress experts, but they have consulted a few people in the business, learned a little bit about foams and fabric exteriors, create a catchy, totally dope name for their product,  and they might have a really awesome bed.  But the odds are, based on industry experience, that within the first two years of owning these popular bed in a box mattresses, up to 50% are returned because of failure. The trick is to look for some basic red flags.

 The "Layer Cake Effect" is one of many common scams in the mattress industry

Whether you’re in a retail store, with a sea of mattresses in front of you, or you’re online, cruising the internet for the most popular and coolest sounding name for your new bed, the tricks are the same. The classic marketing ploy in the bedding industry is quite simple, really. Being cryptic and not too detailed about the ingredients in the bed you’re considering is part of Selling Beds 101, or as I call it, Cups And Balls 101. For example, let’s say you’re looking at a bed in a box type mattress, you know, one that comes magically rolled up and re-inflates itself in your bedroom, like some mystical hot air balloon. Most of these mattresses are made using synthetic polyurethane foam layers, which can range in quality from absolute crap to pretty amazing. Retailers have plenty up their sleeve though, when you start nosing around a store or a web site. According to one mattress review site that pulls back the curtain on scams and fake reviews, MattressReports.Com, consumers can easily make a $2,000 mistake buying a mattress that is artificially reviewed, ranked, or rated.

Other than innerspring mattresses, air beds, or water beds, almost all other beds these days are made using these laminated layers of foam material. There are literally thousands of foam options and configurations which can be used in mattress design. Thousands of different thicknesses, densities, and methods of shaping or trimming (wave patterns, etc). BUT, amazingly, there are only three basic kinds of foam that are typically used. And remember one thing that I tell everyone..you're not going to eat your mattress or make love to it, you're going to sleep on it. 

These three basic kinds of foam are latex rubber, memory foam, and a synthetic foam material referred to in the industry as polyurethane foam, also known as HD or HR foam (high density and high resiliency, respectively, but we’ll just call them synthetic foam for simplicity’s sake). If a company is using esoteric names like "Dreamfoam", "Ultrafoam", or "Plushfoam", you can be sure that it's merely marketing fluff, and don't be afraid to ask whether or not the material is polyurethane foam, urethane (memory) foam, or latex rubber, or a combination. It's likely that these proprietary ingredients are acceptable, since these companies generally work tirelessly to improve the materials they are using to reduce return rates, typically the most costly component of any mattress business offering generous return policies. Inquire as to the density of these foams. I recommend densities on top of the mattress you're considering made using foam with at least 2.2 lbs density  (the weight of a cubic foot of the material) to deliver proper support and cushiness. This density is pretty standard, and is essential to provide uplifting and decent support without bottoming into the material beneath. The bottom layers, or support layers, should be more dense, let's say in the 4-5 lb density. Another unit of measurement for foam mattresses is something called ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, which is the amount of weight it takes to depress one cubic foot of foam 25% of its original height of 12", when a solid plate is applied to a one square foot area. You should look for ILD's of 30-35 for bottom, supportive layers.

 

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     Mattress buying tips that will save you tons of time and money...

Need a new mattress? Experts advise replacing mattresses every seven to 10 years. If you’re not sleeping well, swap yours out in five to 10 years, says Prevention Magazine. We generally say eight years is a good marker these days, since human pieces and parts tend to accumulate on a typical mattress, skin cells for example, hair, and, well, a lot of things. Also, foam beds in generally will often lose their lively nature after 7-8 years. And because the mattress industry has typically become more efficient and competitive, it doesn't cost that much to replace a mattress.  But where to start? Likely, if you're shopping online, it's going to seem overwhelming at first. Best place to start? Narrow down your options by knowing a few general categories that mattresses fall into (tip: people these days are mostly buying hybrid mattresses)

Basically, here are the fundamental types of mattresses out there to consider:

Innerspring Or Coil. You may have grown up sleeping on an innerspring mattress. It typically is the least expensive mattress type. It also is the most common, having been around the longest. Support in an innerspring mattress comes from wire coils, which also account for the familiar mattress bounce. Salespeople may say that the number of coils matters. It doesn’t. What does matter is the gauge (thickness) of the wire: The lower the number, the heavier the wire. For example, 12-gauge wire is heavier than 14-gauge. Heavier gauge coils make a firmer mattress. Thinner coils produce a springier mattress. Always, always, ask for 12 gauge coils in any pocketed coil or straight up innerspring mattress.

Memory foam. Memory foam isn’t springy. Its heat sensitivity makes it conform to your body, making it a good choice for people who are in pain. It can take time to grow accustomed to this different feel, though. What’s more, foam products differ one from the other. Density is important to a firm base layer, with a cushier and softer top layer to allow your body to nestle and distribute weight properly. If you like a tucked in feel, it's a great option. Ask for 5lb density on the underlying base layer, and 4lb density memory foam for the top or comfort layers. A lot of manufacturers will sneak in 3lb density inside of "hybrid" mattresses that may also include latex or other kinds of polyurethane foam, and this lower quality density memory foam will often prematurely split, crack, and even pill or dessicate (dry out)

Latex and gel. Latex mattresses have a firmness similar to memory foam but springier and without lag time.When you move, the latex kind of moves you along, instantly responding to body movement. Latex is sold as a hypoallergenic product, but only if it's all natural and not synthetic. One interesting characteristic is its ability to make you feel like you are above your bed, and not in it. Latex devotees are fiercely loyal to it, and they say once you go to latex, you don't go back. Ask for botanical, or natural latex, whenever you are considering either an all latex bed or a hybrid. In my own experience, Dunlop latex is best, with Talalay a close second. Make sure it is all natural, or contains at least 70% pure latex if it is blended with synthetic.

Gel foams are jelly like, or combinations of memory foam and gel type materials. They are body conforming and a bit jiggly, but can be very supportive and excellent at relieving pressure. Also, some mattresses have a layer of moldable, more flexible gel that’s supposed to make the bed breathe and feel cooler. Again, look for 5lb or 4lb density gel memory foam. Don't accept 3lb in your matrtess, as it will not last.

Digital Air Beds. Adjustable-air mattress let you control your mattress’s firmness by adding air or deflating it. These mattresses often contain layers of additional material, too. Excellent when you have a couple who have totally different sleep habits. Sleep Number makes the most sophisticated line of modern day digital air beds with lots of options.

Shopping for a mattress can feel confusing — with all the types, costs, whistles and bells — it’s worth spending some time to shop thoughtfully. Here’s our down and dirty 12 point guide on how to get a great bed at a most excellent price..

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1. SHOP IN STORES, AT LEAST TO START-GET A FEEL FOR WHAT'S OUT THERE, THEN SHOP ONLINE

You may eventually buy a mattress online. But because mattress preferences are so personal, no amount of online research can substitute for the experience of trying out mattresses in a store.

After zeroing in on what you want, do some comparison shopping online.

2. FIND THE MATTRESS YOU WANT BEFORE IT’S ON SALE

Mattress shopping during a sale can be frustrating and difficult if you haven’t done your research first. Stores are crowded. Salespeople are busy and distracted. Shopping online can be frustrating. Take your time finding the mattress you like and then pounce on a sale price. Use the links we have on our site, throughout the pages. They will typically take you to a deal on the mattress we're recommending.

3. TRY BEDDING SPECIALTY STORES

Often, salespeople in stores specializing in bedding may be most attentive, Consumer Reports found, in a study by their team. CR researchers found shopping in department stores less satisfying. Online shopping will be a bit more detached, of course, since you can't wheel and deal with the sales team or sample the product before you buy...but..it is highly competitive in the web mattress marketplace, so most of the time, you're going to get a killer deal. You're also likely to get a bulletproof return policy as well.

4. BE SKEPTICAL OF PILLOW-TOPS

Mattresses with pillow-top layers can give you a false comfort reading because they can mash down quickly after purchase, Good Housekeeping says. Another downside: Pillow-tops are thicker, requiring the purchase of new “high-profile” or “deep-pocket” sheets.

5. BRING YOUR PARTNER

Don’t delegate your mattress shopping to someone else. If two of you will be sharing the mattress, both of you should test the options in stores.

6. DON’T BUY SALES HYPE

Consumer Reports cautions against being sucked into paying lots for fancy features, saying that years of testing have shown that all but the cheapest are sturdy. Keep it simple, typically the basic model, or original model that the company first designed is the one to go with, especially if you are shopping online. The upgraded model with the mint green layer may not be worth the higher price.

7. ASK ABOUT PRODUCTS NOT ON THE SALES FLOOR

Brick and mortar stores tend to use their display space for higher-end products. If you find something you like, ask if you can see a lower-end model. Believe it or not, online stores will often have boxed deals also, say for mattresses that were sent back, without ever being opened or touch. Ask in an online chat.

8. PAY ATTENTION TO THE WARRANTY

Most manufacturers’ defects are evident within the first year, according to Good Housekeeping. After that much time passes, defects are difficult to prove anyway. So, one hundred year warranties are kind of "meh", but a good 10-20 year deal on the warranty is decent. 

The advantage of shopping online for a mattress these days is that the bedding business has become so competitive and so crowded that it gives the buyer some definite edges. Every company has there own unique product, their own recipe if you will, but what they don't necessarily have is the most important part of the equation. And, it bulletproofs you from getting stuck with a mattress that sucks. The trial period is by far the best safety net when buying online. Used to be, when you bought a mattress at a brick and mortar store, once you left, you owned it. Not anymore. A solid warranty is now becoming pretty commonplace in most online e-tailers programs. We recommend a warranty of at least 10 years, covering any defect or damage to the bed. Actually, a 20 year warranty is pretty typical, with a 10 year free replacement component, and the backside 10 years being prorated, with a little less coverage on the bed from year 11-20. We'd say 20 year minimum, although it isn't uncommon these days to see lifetime warranties on a lot of beds out there.

Also, Look for companies that are BBB A+ rated companies, and display the live link logo. If you can’t find these on a company’s web site, you shouldn’t really be shopping there, in our opinion. Beware of strangely unheard certifications on web sites too, like “TrustDoctor” or “Certified by The American Foam Institute”, often creative graphic design by the owner of the web site, and not a genuine third party organization. Honestly, BBB and Consumer Reports are the only two organizations that are truly vetted and believable. Good luck!

9. LOOK FOR A LIBERAL TRIAL PERIOD AND RETURN POLICY

Buy from a store that offers “comfort returns,” meaning that you can return the mattress if you’re unhappy for any reason, though you may need to pay a fee. Before buying, understand exactly how the return policy works. Most sites are offering 90-120 day trial periods and free return shipping if you simply don't like it, don't want to talk about it, just want your money back. And competition between online stores for the best trial period is fierce. We say look for at least a 90 day trial. Most new owners are going to know within a couple of nights, but we recommend giving your body at least 3-4 weeks to adapt to a new sleep surface. 

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10. BUY A NEW PILLOW, TOO

With a new mattress, “the gap between your head and shoulders will change with the change in mattress firmness,  Definitely pair your mattress purchase with a new pillow or three...look for companies that throw in pillows for free. We've found that people who ask for free pillows with their new mattress often get them.

11. HAGGLE AND BARGAIN

Mattress retailers typically mark up prices four to 12 times over the cost of producing the mattress, BuzzFeed says. With margins like these, there’s room for you to bargain, and you should — even during a sale. If you can’t get a lower price, ask for nonmonetary perks, like new pillows or bedding thrown in. This would apply to retail brick and mortar stores. Online, again, you're going to get a great deaL due to the heat of the compeition.

12. SKIMP ON THE BOX SPRINGS-MOST OF THE TIME THEY'RE A RIPOFF

Focus your money on a good mattress and don’t feel obliged to buy an expensive box spring. Ask if the less-expensive box springs can be substituted for the one shown with the mattress you like. Get a simple platform, with either 3" wide slates spaced no more than 3" apart, or some kind of solid "hardtop" foundation.

 

Please note that we spent a lot of time building this site and developing useful content to help you find a mattress, without all of the suffering and anguish that often comes with it. We spend an enormous amount of time vetting hundreds of mattress products that are presented to us. We provide links and banners to products that we think will be comfortable, long lasting, and reasonably priced. When you buy one of the mattresses we suggest or showcase, we do get paid a small commission on these sales which help keep this site alive. We really appreciate taking the time to check out our site!- The MR Team.

 

Keep in mind though, that most beds are built for and designed to accommodate folks within a weight range of 100-210 lbs. If you're over that weight, you should consider a specialized foam mattress using densities that are higher. There are now several online stores that make mattresses strictly for larger people. Highly niche, but addressing a real need for bigger sleepers- a growing segment of our population. Couples who weigh in at more than 200 lbs. each and buy the typical bed in a box or even coil type bed from a local retailer, often find themselves swallowed hole in the bowl formed by the bodies in the center of their mattress, only to return it within weeks.

Another popular kind of bedding component, typically referred to as Memory Foam, also called “visco-elastic foam”, is an amazing material that I believe is the true staple ingredient of any foam or bed in a box type mattress. Technically, it is urethane foam, manufactured using a special technique that creates a vast network of permeable bubbles, that move air in and out very slowly, thus giving it a very unique feel. If you like that wonderful “melting in” feel that it is known for, and have pressure issues, definitely consider it within the recipe of the mattress. Made originally by NASA for use in fighter aircraft seats for shock absorption, it should be close to the top in the mattress you are considering, so you get the best benefit, and memory foam should be at least 4lb. density or higher, as it will last longer, will not be likely to form indentations, and will be supportive and quite yielding. Memory foam that is 3lb. density, commonly used in these kinds of mattresses, simply won't hold up. I've seen poorer grades of memory foam split and crack simply due to body movement on a bed.

Memory foam is used in about half of the most popular mattresses sold today. Great stuff, just make sure it at least 2 inches thick, and is flat, not corrugated or “wavy”, as this weakens the supportive qualities of the material. It also works well with our next ingredient, latex rubber. Chat with or call your potential retailer and make sure you’re getting the best memory foam available. Memory foam is often given mysterious names, without any technical description, including density, which is critical. If a mysterious layer of foam used in a mattress you’re considering is called “Sparklyfoam”, don’t be nervous, but ask questions and find out what it is. The minute you do that, you’ll be respected further and whether in a store or chatting online, you’re in charge at that point.

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Latex rubber foam has been around longer than almost any other foam material used in bedding. Sears sold pure latex rubber mattresses back in the late 50’s, and millions of Americans hauled them home over the next 30-40 years. Latex went through a bit of a dormant phase when synthetic foam came along, but then enjoyed a renaissance as more consumers sought out cleaner, greener, all natural ingredients for their beds.

 

Latex is purely wonderful stuff, bordering on frigging amazing. Hand collected, and then converted from liquid to a solid sumptuous and jiggly form, it’s great for a lively, buoyant, and uplifting feel. If you are considering a latex mattress or a mattress with latex in it, make sure you are getting pure latex, and not synthetic latex, as the natural material is livelier, lasts longer, and it won’t yellow and dry out over time. If it’s in a mattress you’re looking at, make sure you get 2” at least, at or near the top (especially if its mixed with synthetic foam) and if you’re looking at a hybrid bed (any bed that has one or two different kinds of material adjacent to one another, meaning practically every mattress out there these days) make sure it’s right above or below memory foam if you want both ingredients.

Probably the most interesting qualities about all natural latex material is that is naturally anti-microbial, resists dust mites, won't collapse or indent over time due to its cellular structure, and is great for tossers and turners because it pushes up and to the side, allowing for easy turning without waking you up. It's kind of like spreading pizza dough on a pan, it distributes its load sideways instead of down, and you tend to "float" above it.

Ask and make sure you’re getting either pure latex, either Dunlop latex, or natural Talalay, and not a blend. Often there is no distinction made between the pure, more expensive foam, and the cheaper synthetic version. Call or chat with your potential retailer. Much longer lifespan, and better bounce! 

The most deceptive practices are used with synthetic foam materials (the HD and HR foam). Since there is not definitive name for most of this kind of material, retailers will use extreme marketing hype to lure you into buying their bed. But remember, synthetic foam is the cheapest, most economical material a manufacturer can use to build out the bed at minimal cost. Thus in the mattress design world, it is typically used as the bottom foundation or base layers, with the more costly materials, like pure latex or memory foam, stacked above it. Most bedding designers also refer to it as “filler foam”, meaning it’s there merely to add height, not comfort to the bed. Generally synthetic foam is white or grey, and can be sculpted or cut to form unique patterns, making it seem more desirable.

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With synthetic foams, try to find out exactly what the density and ILD of the material is.  Midrange ILD’s of 28-32 should always be used for layers of foam towards the middle and bottom of any hybrid mattress. Again, inquire about the ILD of the material and make sure you are getting the good stuff.

So there you have it, a quick, down and dirty guide that turns back the curtain, and empowers you when shopping online for a hybrid mattress made with several kinds of foam, or a foam mattress which contains strictly polyurethane material, like the most popular big selling brands use. It’s really not that hard to find excellent ingredients that will increase the lifespan of a reasonably priced bed. The same practices apply to innerspring mattresses and the foam used above or below the coil unit, but we get into that on our innerspring mattress review page. Don't be afraid to ask for very specific information about the ingredients used, their densities, even their sources. For example, cheaper foam mattresses may include inferior Chinese foam, which is not regulated or manufactured in factories that meet western standards. Companies that manufacture excellent latex, and high density polyurethane and urethane foams in the United States include highly established firms like Carpenter, Foamex, Elite, Certi-Pur, Cocolatex (Indian latex), and Arpico (Sri Lankan latex). If you are chatting online or speaking with a sales person in a retail store who know their component manufacturers by name, you can bet with certainty that their product likely is of high quality. 

 

2. The “Comfort” Scam and the layer cake effect

If you are lucky enough to get the details on a mattress' construction, the next step would be to lie down on some mattresses to see which one might be comfortable for you. But, again the mattress industry is ahead of you - unfortunately, for many mattresses, the feel and comfort of the mattress in the store just isn't what you can expect on that particular mattress in your own home. And these days, so many people are buying online because of the convenience and bold guarantees and trial periods that it’s easy to click and buy, but there is a risk that the description you read online, doesn’t translate to the product that shows up at your door.

  • Mattress manufacturers use layers of comfort material (foam, cotton batting, etc.) on the top of the mattress to give it a nice comfortable, even luxurious feel. But they have found that they can stuff the mattress towards the bottom using relatively inexpensive ingredients and layer them to get the same comfortable feel of a more expensive bed made of the good stuff (high density synthetic foam, natural latex, or high quality memory foam). This way, the mattress manufacturer makes a lot more money on a mattress, since the lower quality filler material cost a lot less than the good stuff. An example of the crappiest filler material I've ever seen are pads made from shredded garment fiber and melted plastic. Essentially, it's a door mat, but it provides filler and consumes space, making a mattress appearing taller and thus giving it a higher perceived value. Ideally a mattress from 8-11 inches in height can be successfully built for proper comfort and support, if the manufacturer has really put the time and energy into designing the bed using the myriad of materials available today.                                                                                                                  
  • Also, because of the layering scam I mentioned, manufacturers or retailers who fabricate their own products often use very similar ingredients in the design of multiple models. In today's highly competitive online marketplace for beds, newbie companies will typically create one startup model to get things going. With good marketing and lots of "reviews", and getting published in the WSJ, Gizmodo, the New York Times, etc, it quickly becomes the hottest mattress out there. To increase volume, diversification is an absolute must, since a saturation level is soon reached with the prototype mattress. The next logical progression is to create a new, upgrade version of the original, accomplished by merely pulling out one layer, and integrating a new layer into the recipe, or even simply switching the position of the two top layers, and dying the top layer a mint green or apricot orange. Thus, the
    "layer cake effect". Incredibly, even though the ingredients in the two mattresses are basically the same kind of foam, the newer model will have a step up price, and the typical scenario for these companies is to offer three beds, good-better-best, and then leave it that. More than three models generally confuses customers. So, before you spring for the "best" version, chat or speak to someone and ask them to give you as much technical information they can about the differences in the top layers, their features and benefits, the lifespan of the material, anything to clearly differentiate and justify the higher cost. Typically, the first model is always going to be your best value.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Some materials either take time to break in or they may be harder or softer in different environments. An example of this kind of problem is the components used in memory foam mattresses (both the dense "core" support foam layer and the memory foam top layers). In a show room, a memory foam mattress may feel pretty comfortable, but often people find that the new bed that arrives at their home is much firmer. This is because the core support foam layers near the bottom have not been broken in unlike the one in the store, which was broken in from all the previous customers that were lying on the bed. Another variation of this has to do with the memory foam layers. Some memory foams are much firmer at certain temperatures - even temperatures just a bit below 70 degrees. So the memory foam mattress that felt great in the store, where it is a cozy 75 degrees under bright spotlights, may end up feeling hard and unforgiving when you get it home to your 70 or 68 degree bedroom.

What you need to realize is that you can only tell so much about a mattress in the showroom or from online visuals - and that the feel of the mattress at home may be very different. This means that it really is vitally important to understand what's in the mattress and to make sure you have a bulletproof return and trial period to be be sure the mattress works for you, but beware, that's sometimes a misty, hazy area where retailers can corner you.

It takes an average of just one week for most people to decide that their new bed is comfortable, but up to six months to determine that there is something about it that doesn't work. Remember that.

Since it may take a bit of time for the different layers to break in, you need to be able try it out for a period of time - it can take a month or even two for some of the denser core foam layers to really break in. But that isn't a problem, right? The retailer always has a "money back guarantee". That is where they might just get you…just make sure that you have a solid trial period of at least 90 days, and something in writing that says you can get a full refund...not just an in-store credit. It takes an average of just one week for most people to decide that their new bed is comfortable, but up to six months to determine that there is something about it that doesn't work. Remember that.

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A little more on what we talked about above, just because it is such a sinister marketing methodology in the bedding business. The layer cake effect (cups and balls) is a scam that the bedding industry has been using for generations. Basically, imagine three different layers of foam, let's say. One might be high density polyurethane foam, another might be latex, and another might be gel or memory foam. By switching the positions of each of the three layers, you can create nine different mattresses. In some cases, the mattress with the latex layer on top, using a fancier outer cover, and called a "latex hybrid", might cost $1,000. In another case, take the same three layers and swap out the position of the latex, instead putting the gel foam on top, and again using a different outer cover, the price might be even higher for the "gel foam hybrid", and cost $1,500. And there would be seven other variations that you might find on one showroom floor! The way to get around this scam is to simply ask questions about the ingredients, how they are configured and compare online with other brands..not within the same brand. You'll likely find a similarly designed mattress at a better price if you do your homework.

 

3. The “Money Back Guarantee” Scam

With most online mattress dealers, you’re not going to find returning a mattress to be a real problem, thanks to at least some transparent reviews written by actual customers, that have transformed the landscape of online shopping. It used to be that dealers and even brick and mortar retailers had no fear about returns and stringent policies with so called comfort guarantees, and could easily fend you off with some swordplay if you complained by using the classic “comfort trial” scheme..here’s how it worked, and in smaller towns with limited retail store availability, it can still be a problem.

guarantee.jpg

Generally, this problem is more insidious in brick and mortar stores than online. So, what you thought was your perfect mattress the first few nights, suddenly is no longer comfortable, say, after two weeks. You can take it back to the retailer or arrange to have the mattress picked up by a shipper after going through the return process online if you bought it from an e-commerce site, and get your money back - right?  Not exactly.. In many cases, what you will find instead is that the retailer will let you exchange the mattress for another of equal value. You may have to pay delivery charges all over again or you might get a store credit if no other mattress suits your taste. Make absolutely sure that you have a defined trial period, in writing, or electronically accessible, and that you get a full and complete refund, credited back to your credit card or by rebate check, should you decide the mattress does not work for you.

But in many cases, at a brick and mortar store, an in store credit is often the practice, particularly with smaller independent retailers. It keeps the money in-house, and rest assured, you will not easily get your money refunded to you. It’s one of the old school, bedrock principles that the mattress industry has been built on – that there are no money back trials on a mattress. For most brick and mortar dealers, the idea of a money back guarantee is almost physically painful. What would they do with the mattresses that came back? Mattress retailers have to dispose of the beds, legally, and cannot resell them. It's a hard economic hit that any retailer just doesn't want to take. 

More and more though, brick and mortar stores are starting to pony up and offer the same or even better return policies than their internet counterparts, just to stay in business. Stores are offering no questions asked trial periods for as long as a year, and online, retailers are even offering “lifetime guarantees” in big print, but in the fine print you may find that there are strict limitations on how long you can get a full refund vs. a pro-rated refund. Read everything...don't take the sales person's word for it.

So ask upfront - can I get my money back if I don't like the mattress? If there is a chance that they would offer this, ask if they would have any fees they might take out such as a restocking fee, or any requirements about the mattress such as it has to be in new re-sellable condition, which in reality means they will never take it back (since a dealer can't legally re-sell a used mattress). Bottom line - you really need to watch your back on this one. I've talked with lots of people that ended up eating the cost of their mattress, and sometimes more than one, when their new, expensive mattress ended up being uncomfortable. With any internet transaction, you’re going to be in pretty good shape, with a decent trial period (I suggest at least 90 days) and 100% no questions asked refunds. Yep, it’s a good time to buy a mattress and have your rear end covered.

 

4. The “Innerspring” Scam

Another mattress industry classic is the innerspring mattress scam. What most people in the U.S. consider the standard mattress - the innerspring or coil mattress - just isn't inherently a comfortable bed.

If you think about it for a minute you'll understand what I mean. Sleeping on a bunch of steel springs by themselves just doesn’t even sound comfortable, right? Steel is a pretty unforgiving substance, and even when you put it in coil form it still isn't something you are going to want to lie down on all night. The technology is about 150 years old, using the old single component, one piece, rack type system, where the piece is merely stuffed in between a couple of layers of foam or fill material.

Often that filler material is a layer of shredded garment fiber mixed with plastic that I mentioned earlier to give the mattress added height, and thus higher perceived value. The conventional coil rack unit does not respond to your body like a layer of latex or memory foam will, but rather is more like a stiff raft, with no differentiating between areas need more support or more softness.

As the years have gone by since the introduction of the innerspring mattress, people have demanded a more comfortable and luxurious feeling bed. As a result, innerspring mattresses have become absolutely gigantic in size because of all the comfort layers that manufacturers put on their mattresses to overcome the inherently uncomfortable steel spring core of the mattress. Plushy pillow tops and detachable duvets may seem like nice added features in a mattress, but I believe it’s merely another variation of a phenomenon in the business called “piling on”, that is, overbuilding a mattress with features that don’t offer any real benefit. 

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This has gotten completely out of control in the last 10 years or so. While the average thickness of a mattress used to be 6 inches, maybe 8 inches if it was "plush", now innerspring mattresses routinely clock in at 12 - 14 inches or more. And they weigh exponentially more than they used to as well, since they are double the height and use denser comfort layers of synthetic foam. And, guess who pays for increased shipping cost of these titans? That's right, you.

The overbuilding of the innerspring is all due to the inherent design flaw of using an uncomfortable and outdated steel coil structure as the core support feature in a bed. But technology has come a long way since the innerspring mattress was first developed in the 30's, and these days you have lots of options for a more comfortable mattress.

 

That being said, there are some decently engineered coil mattresses, and the technology has greatly improved, thanks to an innovative design change in the use of coils. Pocketed coils have vastly improved the comfort of these kinds of beds, and in fact, when you combine them with the comfort layers we’ve discussed, you can create an amazing mattress that responds with pin point accuracy to pressure and weight, much like the keys on a piano. Great for side sleepers and those with back issues like scoliosis, a pocketed coil system may have 1200 or even 1500 individual coils placed in sequence, held together by fabric hinges so that they are not attached to one another, and therefore each coil responds distinctively to the weight applied against it, thus supporting the body in a cradle like fashion. The pocketed coils can vary in degree of stiffness, too, with stiffer coils found in the areas requiring the most support, like the torso area of the body. Stiffer, more supportive coils may also be found on the edge of the mattress where support is needed for transfer, or for sitting on the edge of your bed.

If you are going to checkout an innerspring or coil mattress, definitely consider a pocketed coil option as your best alternative. A few comfort layers in the mattress, above the coils, like latex or memory foam, is also an asset to don’t want to pass up.

5. The "third party" review SITE SCAM- A plague ON the industry

As we speak, there is a disease in the mattress industry worse than any other deceptive business practice you could imagine. It's reared it's ugly head in the last few years as competition as heated up. Shopping for a mattress is a laborious process, unless you're making a bee line to a particular brand. Comparing mattresses is like the old cups and balls magic trick, and is burdened with cryptic terminology and fanciful advertising and videos and TV ads, making an actual decision very tough. The players in the business are keenly aware of this. They'll do or say anything to get you to the cart and click BUY NOW. And the most effective way to get you there? Reviews. Real, fake, a nice blend, it doesn't matter.

Almost all mattress shoppers, whether buying online or in retail stores, bank on reviews as being a driving force in their decision making process. In fact, review sites are designed to be the rosetta stone for decoding which mattress you might buy.  As we have described above, selecting the right mattress is more mind numbing than buying a computer or a car, and mattress web sites have used this tool to their advantage, even to the point of absolute unscrupulous behavior. Review web sites have popped up everywhere, crowding the first page of search results when you use terms like "best mattress" or "most comfortable bed". Even worse, many larger mattress companies have paid these review sites to post favorable reviews, and plenty of savvy entrepreneurs have made millions operating these fake review web sites. In fact, fake reviews have become such a problem, that the FTC has began to look into the all of the real estate on the web being consumed by these predators. The fact is, many of the popular review sites are largely completely bogus.

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If you want true, third party reviews, there are a few tips you can rely on to make sure you are looking at real reviews, not cherry picked reviews that run down the page, all having five gold stars, with no outside link to view the reviews away from the web site. If you don't clearly see a recognizable third party review link along with the reviews, you should be very skeptical. Here is a list of the top legitimate, third party review sites that would assure that what you are reading was written by actual owners, not the retailer. Also, these sites do not accept money from mattress dealers which would negatively affect the review sampling. We conducted our own proprietary research to create this list. Our personal favorite is SleepLikeTheDead.Com. For years, they have put forth honest, unbiased reviews, without whoring themselves out to retailers. We have zero affiliation with them, but regard them as one of the few truly independent review sites. Forget any other review site- except this list:

  • Yelp 
  • Power Reviews
  • Trust Pilot
  • Sleep Like The Dead- highly recommended
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Consumer Reports

Another red flag is reading reviews on any web site that does not allow you to click a link to take you to the third party review platform outside the site. Many of the large companies these days feel that their brand is so strong, that using third party review platforms is irrelevant. And, of course, many of these "reviews" are always going to be listed as five star, or at least 4.5 stars, with very few reviews ranking in the three to one star category. 

Take a look at a video that we like which lays out, in very quick fashion, all of the basic types of mattresses out there, along with some good solid test results, surveys, and content that lets you get an inside peek at mattress guts in general, Consumer Reports put together this well crafted piece. You'll get a variety of tips that speak to all of the basic kinds of mattresses available in the marketplace today...something that we can assure you won't happen inside a typical brick storefront or on any e-commerce site. 

 

Consumer Reports video provides an excellent overview of mattress type breakdown. Worth the watch.

If you are online looking for a truly third party review site, be wary of a few things. A  truly third party site will also allow you to sort the reviews, from best to worst, or worst to best. If you cannot find a method of reading reviews for any retailer in the worst to best ranking scenario, you have good reason to be highly concerned about the quality of the reviews you are reading. A general rule of thumb is to avoid reading any reviews on the actual site, and search outside, preferably using the recommended sites we offered above. Also, note that you won't find one single review on our web site. When the FTC comes down on the deceptive practices and endless web sites that Google will soon remove from search results, we want to be there for you. Note that we do allow banner ad placement for select partners, but we do not REVIEW their products. 

Ready to shop? Click Here to go to our Dealers We Recommend page and checkout our carefully vetted list of MBG retailers we think offer a great mattress at a reasonable price, with excellent warranties and trial periods- so you don't get SCAMMED!

 

 

Understanding Commonly Sold Foam Mattresses By Type Before You Begin Reading Reviews And Shop For A Mattress

 

Shopping for a bed can be a challenging experience that can quickly turn an eager buyer into a blithering jelly like mass. Jump online and start shopping and it’s information overload on a nuclear, mushroom cloud like scale. Hundreds of popular brands are jockeying for position on Google, each brand fighting for their lives  as hundreds of “bed in a box” mattress companies crowd the marketplace. In the last five years, over 185 online mattress companies have jumped into the game, most owned by non-bedding industry tech types trying to shove a mattress into a box so it can be delivered to your door, much like a pizza. But what are all of these mattresses? What are they made of? What will they feel like? Is one better for back sleepers vs. side or back sleepers?

Overwhelmed with a sea of so-called hybrid foam mattress companies and so-called “mattress review” sites trying to snare you into buying one of their recommended brands so they can pick up a tidy commission, you are dragged through a gauntlet of misinformation, lack of technical details, and plenty of graphics of couples lounging in their loft apartments with salvaged wood floors and rescued greyhounds. But what about the mattress??

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In this article, we’ll give you the basic breakdown on what the biggest selling mattresses on the web, and in retail stores, are actually made of, and what they were designed to accomplish. Because this site is operated by former bedding industry CEO’s who have already made their money and thus have no real ambitions other than to enlighten consumers, and since we aren’t a so-called “review site”, and since we believe that most sites that call themselves “review sites” are really part of a large sales funnel to get you to buy the most popular mattresses out there, we can focus on giving you honest and truthful information whose only purpose is to educate and inform. Should you be interested in our selection of recommended dealers, you can certainly check out our carefully vetted list.

Basic categories of mattresses are a bit harder to define these days, because of the advent of “hybrid” mattresses, which are beds that combine one or two components that are each unique, and when combined, deliver the amplified and enhanced benefits of a combination of ingredients designed to deliver support and comfort. Even the “mattress review” sites that pimp these brands never really evaluate the nature of the ingredients of the beds they “review”. For example, Casper, Tuft&Needle, Loom And Leaf, Purple, Leesa, and other foam bed manufacturers and retailers are essentially selling hybrid beds made with several kinds of polyurethane foam, wrapped in an outer fabric casing which is proprietary and conveys the image of the brand, the brands logo, or other identifying characteristics that clearly convey a message to consumers. 

Today’s mattress retailers are really selling a mattress experience, and don’t focus as much on identifying the ingredients used in the beds they are selling. They don’t think it’s important and leave that part out of their product descriptions, instead resorting to vague and elusive yet mind numbing names that describe how the components should feel, like “Dreamfoam” or “Ultrafoam”, or perhaps even labeling an ingredient as “Unicorn Hair Infused”. They want you to emotionally invest in the purchase experience, the delivery process, and the unfurling and installation of their product just as much as they do the comfort element.

Virtually all of these companies are selling what we can describe as a highly similar product. They are made from a fairly spartan recipe of polyurethane foams, usually with two or three layers in each model they sell, each with unique qualities that provide a distinctive feel. 

The method of shipping and delivery of these beds is also the reason why these companies have so much competition and have to rely on “mattress review” sites to funnel traffic to them. Just keep one thing in mind. Polyurethane mattresses are extremely inexpensive to manufacture and ship. Let’s say you are paying $800 for a typical foam bed. The company you are doing business with, by the way, is farming out the manufacturing of their product to middle men known as “fabricators”. There are hundreds of them across the U.S. The raw cost for a subcontracted fabricator to build and cover the mattress, get it into a box, and get it to your door, is around $300. Of the $500 that remains, $200 is often spent on advertising and marketing alone. Many affiliate commissions are $150-200 for each sale, paid by the manufacturers to the so-called “review sites”. That’s out of your pocket!

The remaining $300 has to cover all other expenses that the manufacturer incurs, the most expensive being media advertising like TV, radio, and social media, and then there’s the staff, the payroll, and the owners and shareholders. The fact of the matter is that there’s not really a huge amount of net profit in this kind of business, and the only way you can make any serious money in the mattress biz is by doing a crushing amount of volume. We know. We’ve done this ourselves.

 

So, what is polyurethane foam and how is it made?

 

First of all, no polyurethane foam is naturally derived. ALL polyurethane foam is petroleum based, though there are some foam materials that are made with small amounts of soy based polyols, and can be categorized as somewhat natural, but that’s a stretch. Chemicals are combined, and much like adding dishwashing detergent to a sink full of water and watching suds arise and expand, the polls combine with foaming agents and expand, forming a flexible grid of compressible material. Blowing agents are often used to facilitate this process.

High-density microcellular foams can be formed without the addition of blowing agents by mechanically frothing or nucleating the polyol component prior to use. These foams are not used in bedding, but rather for extremely dense components like shoe soles or tires.

Surfactants are used in polyurethane foams to emulsify the liquid components, like soap does to grease,  and stabilizes the cell structure to prevent collapse and allow for spring back. Rigid foam surfactants are designed to produce very fine cells and a very high closed cell content, and this creates very firm foam.  Flexible foam surfactants are designed to stabilize the foam and to keep it from shrinking. Adjusting and controlling these variables permits many different kinds of foam to be made, in a variety of densities, and degrees of firmness or softness. These foams can be tinted too, and can appear in a virtual rainbow of colors, making it easy for manufacturers to create models and styles that have their own unique marketing and merchandising qualities.

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Polyurethane foams can be either "closed-cell", where most of the original bubbles or cells remain intact, or "open-cell", where the bubbles have broken but the edges of the bubbles are stiff enough to retain their shape. Open-cell foams feel soft and allow air to flow through, so they are comfortable when used in seat cushions or mattresses. Closed-cell rigid foams are used as thermal insulation, for example in refrigerators.

For mattresses, polyurethane foam is delivered to fabrication houses in large blocks called “buns”, and sliced down into the desired thickness and sizes needed to build out a lineup of foam beds. They can be ordered with any desired tint, the foam can be sculpted into unique shapes, all at very minimal cost to the manufacturer. Very often, a thick piece of firmer foam about 6-8” tall is used as the foundation or base layer in a foam bed. The ideal density for this kind of foam, especially if it is to last for 10-20 years is 28-32 ILD. ILD is a unit of measurement in the bedding and foam industry which describes relative density or firmness. The acronym stands for Indentation Load Deflection, and is characterized as the amount of weight it take to compress one square foot of area one inch in depth. Thus, a 32 ILD rating would indicate that the foam sample tested required 32 lbs applied to one square foot of the sample to be compressed one inch. This measurement system is also an indicator of quality in foam materials used in these popular hybrid foam beds. A typical well made foam mattress might have this configuration:

 

Memory Foam, Gel Memory Foam-  Visco-Elastic Polyurethane Foam

 

Commonly found in most polyurethane mattresses, “memory foam” consists mainly of polyurethane as well as additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam (LRPu). Higher-density memory foam “melts” and becomes soft and body conforming when exposed to body heat, allowing it to mold around your body relatively fast. Newer foams may recover more quickly to their original shape.

“Memory foam” was developed in 1966 under a contract by NASA's Ames Research Center to improve the safety of aircraft cushions in flights where high G forces were involved. Scientists Chiharu Kubokawa and Charles Yost of the Stencel Aero Engineering Corporation were the principle chemists who developed the materials. The temperature-sensitive memory foam was initially called "slow spring back foam"; Yost called it "temper foam".Created by feeding gas into a polymer matrix, the foam has an open-cell solid structure that matches pressure against it, yet slowly springs back to its original shape. It was the most significant advance in the foam and subsequently the bedding industry in a century.

When NASA released memory foam to the public, Fagerdala World Foams was one of the few companies willing to work with the strange, alien like material, as the manufacturing process was tedious and difficult. Their 1991 product, the "Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress" eventually led to the mattress and cushion company, Tempur-World.

Memory foam was also used in medical settings. For example, it was commonly used in cases where the patient was required to lie immobile in their bed on a firm mattress for an unhealthy period of time. The pressure on some of their body regions impaired the blood flow to the region, causing pressure sores or gangrene. Memory foam mattresses significantly decreased such events.

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To this day it remains the one ingredient every foam mattress should include in its design, owing to its amazing pressure point relieving qualities, and its ability to cradle and support the body like no other foam.

Memory foam was initially too expensive for widespread use, but became cheaper. Its most common domestic uses are mattresses, pillows, shoes and blankets. It has medical uses, such as wheelchair seat cushions, hospital bed pillows and padding for people suffering long-term pain or postural problems. 

Unfortunately, the heat-retaining properties can also be a disadvantage when used in mattresses and pillows so scientists developed what was known as “second generation memory foam”,  and manufacturers began to use open cell structure to improve breathability. In 2006, the third generation of memory foam was developed. “Gel visco" or “gel memory foam” incorporates gel particles fused with visco foam to reduce trapped body heat, speed up spring back time and help the mattress feel softer.

Gel-infused memory foam was next developed with what were described as "beads" containing the gel which, referred to as “phase-change material”, would achieve the desired temperature stabilization or cooling effect by changing from a solid to a liquid "state" within the bead of gel.  Changing physical states can significantly alter the heat absorption properties of  foam material, which is why the technology was applied to visco-elastic memory foam.

Since the advent of gel memory foam, other substances have been added to create a variety of options that provide comfort, support, pressure point reduction, and other benefits. Aloe vera, green tea extract and activated charcoal have been combined with the foam to reduce odors and even provide aromatherapy while sleeping. Tercel and other rayon based textiles  has been used in woven mattress covers over memory foam beds to wick moisture away from the body to increase comfort. Phase-change materials (PCMs) have also been used in the fabrics that are used on memory foam pillows, beds, and mattress pads.

A memory foam or gel memory foam mattress is usually denser than conventional polyurethane, making it both more supportive but also much heavier. Memory foam mattresses are often sold for higher prices than traditional mattresses, because of the process involved and the sophisticated chemistry. 

Memory foam is extremely beneficial in many ways. Its open-cell structure reacts to body heat and weight by conforming to the body, and relieving pressure points, and preventing bed sores. Most memory foam has the same basic chemical composition, however the density and layer thickness of the foam can vary the feel of the foam greatly. A high-density mattress will have better compression ratings over the life of the bedding. A lower-density one will have slightly shorter life due to the compression that takes place after repeated use. Look for higher density memory foam whenever you can. Ask for 5lb memory foam in the support or middle layers, and 4 lb. density memory foam on the top or comfort layer. Less expensive 3 lb memory foam will ultimately most last as long, tends to split and crack due to body movements over time, and will desiccate (dry out) much more quickly.

 

Natural Latex Foam

 

Latex foam is a manufactured foam product popular in a wide range of cushions and mattress products. All-natural botanical latex is a natural, renewable product secreted in fluid form by a multitude of plant species; most latex used in foam manufacture is harvested from the prolifically productive rubber tree plant, Hevea brasiliensis. There are engineered, synthetic versions of latex foam, but none have managed to match the natural characteristic of real botanical latex.

The rubber tree was originally discovered in the forests of Brazil. Once the value of latex was discovered for a range of manufactured products, the farming of rubber trees took off. A rubber tree blight combined with mobile business speculators in the 1800s and early 1900s led to a glut of large-scale rubber tree estates throughout Asia.

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Dunlop Latex and Talalay Latex

Dunlop: In the Dunlop production process, first invented in the early 20th century, latex is poured into molds, vulcanized (usually with sulphur), and allowed to dry. In the early days, particulate settling would lead to a Dunlop latex foam that was firmer and denser on one side than the other. These days, with improvement in manufacturing techniques, that unevenness is minimal or even nonexistent.

Talalay: In the Talalay production process, perfected after World War II, the latex is first whipped for aeration, then poured into molds where it's flash-frozen and subjected to vacuum suction. The result is a soft, space-age material that usually contains more air than Dunlop latex and is usually more expensive, even though there's less latex and more air in the final product than in Dunlop mattresses.

Both Dunlop latex foam and Talalay latex foam are available in a range of densities and firmnesses, from soft to firm. Dunlop can be firmer than Talalay, and Talalay can be softer than Dunlop. In the mattress world, most superior mattresses are made using layered Dunlop and Talalay, with Dunlop on the bottom for support and Talalay on top as a "comfort layer". Latex FAQ: Is Talalay latex better than Dunlop (or vice versa)? The question really should be centered more around how to use Talalay and how to use Dunlop.

Synthetic Latex vs. Real Botanical Latex

Natural latex is a coveted foam bedding that offers body-contouring support and pressure-relieving comfort, all in the same space-age yet sustainable, environmentally friendly material. But not all latex foam beds are created equal. Here are the types of latex mattresses that you might find on the market:

Synthetic: Synthetic latex foam mattresses tend to be less resilient and less comfortable than real foam and may break down more quickly. Pure synthetic Dunlop is such a poor-quality bedding that you'll rarely find it on the market, but you will occasionally find all-synthetic Talalay.

Blended: Blended latex is usually 70% synthetic latex and 30% natural latex, and can be processed using either the Dunlop or Talalay methods. Blended latex still doesn't have the plush, buoyant feel of 100% natural latex beds, but it's a closer approximation than purely synthetic options.

Hybrid Latex: Hybrid mattresses are a latex "comfort layer" over some other interior support, either a polyurethane core, a traditional inner spring mattress, or even an air mattress. A latex memory foam mattress is a particularly comfortable hybrid form, made up of a memory foam interior sandwiched between a latex sleep layer and a polyurethane core.

The Holy Grail Of Foam

100% natural botanical latex mattresses are the holy grail of the premium mattress world. But as such, they're very expensive. And not all all-natural beds are ideal an all-Talalay bed may sound extremely comfortable, but be more likely to sag over time, since the Talalay process incorporates so much air. Synthetic beds can be less comfortable, less resilient, and have shorter lifespans. While synthetic latex may be more affordable, it may not be worth your money on its own. Order samples or lie on a floor model before you buy to be sure you're happy with the quality.

Blended latex is a compromise on all fronts. It's an all-latex mattress at a lower price and a reasonable approximation of all-natural latex qualities. But it sleeps like a shadow of an all-natural latex bed almost comparable, but never quite.

Many people swear by hybrid beds, and they can be quite comfortable and often more affordable than other options. Still, inner springs can sag over time, and a firmer polyurethane core can cause your latex comfort layer to bottom out? over time, so that you're basically sleeping on the harder polyurethane layer.

And watch out! A bed labeled "100% latex" can be 100% synthetic latex. Look for a 100% natural (or at least a blended latex) bed instead. Take your time, read the fine print, and know your product. As a savvy consumer, you're sure to find an affordable latex mattress that will serve you well for years to come.

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