Latex foam mattresses conform to the body nearly as well as memory-foam types, but are much easier to move around on and less likely to produce an unpleasant odor when new. Owners also find them slightly better for lovemaking, although not quite as good at isolating motion as memory foam. Some sources describe natural latex as more breathable than memory foam and, therefore, less likely to retain heat. In addition, latex does not have the problems with off-gassing and odors that some worry about with memory foam mattresses.
Latex beds aren't as widely available in mattress showrooms as other types of mattresses, and there aren't as many online reviews. The only brand of latex mattress that gets a significant number of strong reviews is our Best Reviewed pick, the Ikea Latex Mattress (Est. $200 and up) line.
At SleepLikeTheDead.com, ratings for Ikea latex models earn an overall satisfaction rating of 79 percent, slightly lower than last year's 80 percent owner satisfaction rating. However, SleepLikeTheDead.com notes that Ikea mattresses tend to rate higher in owner satisfaction than other brands. Another bonus is that Ikea stores are relatively common, so the mattresses can easily be tested before purchasing.
Ikea latex mattresses tend to be thinner than other brands, which may certainly explain the lower price point since not as much material is involved, and some owners say they feel too firm. Overall, though, they get very good reviews for comfort.
One challenge in analyzing latex mattress reviews is that it's not always clear whether reviewers are commenting about mattresses using all-natural latex, synthetic latex, or a combination of latex and springs. Editors at SleepLikeTheDead.com note that one of the reasons Ikea's latex offerings are relatively inexpensive is that "less expensive dunlop-processed latex and synthetic latex are often used as opposed to more expensive talalay-processed and natural latex." Ikea carries five different lines of latex mattresses, and they are a combination of natural and synthetic. Ikea doesn't generally market its mattresses with foundations, since many are designed to go on platform beds like the ones that company sells, so keep that need in mind when considering an Ikea mattress.
Select Luxury E.C.O. (Est. $500), sold exclusively by Overstock.com, is another highly rated latex mattress that is a hybrid of natural latex and a polyurethane foam base. Owners say it's extremely comfortable, soft yet supportive, and is a great value for the price. It comes in two firmness choices, medium or firm, and it seems to be somewhat more popular with those who like a firmer mattress. Some who found it too firm added a softer mattress topper and are very pleased with the result. It also gets good reviews from those who suffer from back pain; quite a few reviewers say it provided good relief and they wake up pain free.
Remember the olden days when part of your spring (or fall) cleaning was flipping the mattress? That's uncommon anymore, because more mattresses are now made single-sided. There's a lot of debate about why this is -- some mattress manufacturers say it helps to improve mattress comfort and support, critics charge that it's a way for manufacturers to save money on costs, costs that they then don't pass on to the consumer. We'll leave the debate to others, but we will recommend that if you want a mattress you can flip, or don't know if you want a firmer or softer mattress, take a look at the Roma All Latex Mattress (Est. $500 and up) by Sleep EZ. Made of 100 percent natural latex, it's firm on one side, medium on the other. If you feel like you need a firmer or softer surface, just flip it. Some say it's too firm even on the medium side, but experts say that latex tends to feel firmer than other mattress materials, so that's to be expected. Also, you can always add a mattress topper.
For those looking for a "greener" mattress, reviewers recommend the OrganicPedic by OMI (Est. $1,900 and up). These eco-friendly mattresses feature all-natural, sustainably sourced materials, including 100 percent natural rubber latex, organic cotton, and the company's own version of wool, called Ecowool.
Some of OMI's mattresses have latex layers that owners can customize to suit their firmness preferences. However, OMI mattresses are also pricier than non-latex or other natural latex mattresses.
Elsewhere in this report: