Talalay vs. Dunlop: Which Makes a Better Latex Mattress and Why

Talalay vs. Dunlop: Which Makes a Better Latex Mattress and Why

One of the most confusing decisions consumers encounter when shopping for a latex mattress is deciphering the differences between Talalay and Dunlop latex. People usually want to know what makes them different, why one costs more, and which is more comfortable and durable. To further confuse the issue, synthetic and natural latex can both be used with either method.

It is important to research and understand the differences between the types before purchasing a new bed. To determine whether a Dunlop or Talalay latex mattress would be best, you should understand the processes used to create them, their inherent properties, and the benefits each provides.

Latex Mattress Manufacturing: Talalay vs Dunlop

The terms Talalay and Dunlop refer solely to the method used to change the latex liquid into the foam material used in beds.

The Making of a Dunlop Latex Mattress

The Dunlop process was the original method for making latex foam, as developed by the Dunlop company in the 1920’s.

  1. The Dunlop method begins with whipping liquid latex into a froth.
  2. The frothy liquid is poured into a mold.
  3. The liquid is allowed to gel and set.
  4. The mold then undergoes heat curing (vulcanization) to solidify the foam.
  5. Dunlop mattresses undergo rinsing before being allowed to dry.

The Making of a Talalay Latex Mattress

The Talalay process was developed in the 1940’s by the Talalay brothers. This process was designed for greater control over foam properties.

  1. The Talalay method also begins with latex that has been whipped into a foamy consistency.
  2. This mixture is placed in a mold, partially filling it. It is then vacuum sealed, and excess air is removed to allow the latex to evenly fill the mold.
  3. The mold is flash frozen with CO2 via pins in the mold to maintain the consistency and gel the latex.
  4. It is then vulcanized to cure.
  5. At this point the mattress is released from the mold, rinsed and dried.

Key Differences Between Talalay and Dunlop Latex

The ability for a mattress to remain durable, offer support and provide pressure relief are very important when determining which one to purchase. The two types of latex mattress manufacturing result in a few differences that could impact the decision of which is best for your needs.

Consistency

Manufacturers of Talalay latex say their product is more consistent and even thanks to the added steps. While Dunlop latex can exhibit some settling of particles, for the most part this is irrelevant when it comes to the comfort for sleepers. Of course the individual manufacturers’ quality-control processes also play a role, regardless of how the latex is made. Talalay can feel a little more yielding to the touch while Dunlop may feel more supportive, though both rate similarly on owner satisfaction according to review analysis website SleepLikeTheDead.com.

Firmness

Both Talalay and Dunlop latex can be manufactured in soft and firm variations. Some may tell you that Dunlop is always firm or that Talalay is always plush, but this isn’t always the truth. With latex foams, the ILD/IFD number describes the amount of force required to compress the foam. For example, ILDs around 20 are soft, ILDs around 40 are firm. Talalay and Dunlop foams with the same ILD will have the same firmness.

Pressure Relief

Both types of latex provide buoyant support and distribute weight across the surface, cushioning the sleeper while contouring to prevent pressure points. A contrast would be metal springs, which push upward and distribute body weight unevenly. Talalay latex can be a little more yielding (why it’s used in upper layers usually) but softer Dunlop layers provide ample cushioning as well.

Breathability

How breathable a mattress is can have a big impact on sleep as science shows that cooler temperatures are more conducive to quality rest. Latex foams in general prove fairly breathable, particularly all-natural ones. There doesn’t seem to major difference in reviews between the Dunlop and Talalay when it comes to heat.

Durability

When buying a new mattress, people usually want a bed that will last. Impressions can be troublesome to many. Both types of latex are good at resisting impressions and keeping their support over the years. For either type, average mattress lifespan is around 10 years.

Manufacturing Costs & Availability

Dunlop latex is typically cheaper the cheaper of the two, and many wonder why. It really boils down to the effort and resources used in the process, and the availability of the product. The Dunlop process is more commonly used and takes less time and energy. The Talalay process takes longer and involves more specialized equipment. Very few facilities produce Talalay process latex, thus due to “economies of scale”, this process remains somewhat more expensive.

Is One More Natural?

Either process can be made using 100% natural, blended, or synthetic latex. We discuss the differences between synthetic and natural latex in detail in a previous article, “What is in a Latex Mattress?“, which are also important to understand when comparing latex beds. We recommend opting for all-natural latex whichever type you chose in order to reduce chemicals and maximize benefits. On difference is that GOLS-certified organic latex is made only using the Dunlop process at this time.

Which Makes the Best Mattress?

When the two products are compared side-by-side, there’s not really a clear winner, per say. They both offer good comfort, durability, pressure relief and healthy mattress options. What it will come down to for many people is either A) their budget, B) a preference for the most natural option, or C) personal preferences for the way one type feels over another.

For those looking for specific recommendations, in our past comparison of retailers we found Astrabeds.com to offer the best value on 100% natural latex mattresses. If you are shopping for latex mattress, take the time to understand and consider the materials used in the bed as well as the manufacturing processes rather than just relying on prices and brands as these will prove more important to your comfort and satisfaction.

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