If you’ve been considering buying a latex mattress, you’ve probably come into the terms “Dunlop” and/or “Talalay” a lot more than you probably expected to.
You might be tempted to just skip over these words as more mattress jargon, but they actually tell you a little something about how the mattress you’re looking at was made.
And while the difference between Dunlop and Talalay latex might not be the absolute biggest consideration when checking out latex mattresses, it’s still handy to know the difference.
It’s your mattress, after all—you should know what’s going on with it!
What Is a Latex Mattress?
Before we get too much further into the nitty-gritty details of latex mattress construction, though, we should probably first clear up one pretty big question: Just what is a latex mattress, anyway?
That’s not a stupid question.
In fact, latex mattresses are one of the newest and least common mattresses on the market today, so you can definitely be forgiven a little head-scratching when you’re shopping around.
Basically, latex mattresses are all made of a supportive, porous foam that’s been hardened into the shape of a mattress.
The best latex mattresses often receive terrific reviews, although as a rule, they tend to be a little on the pricier side.
Natural, Synthetic & Blended Latex Mattresses
There are three general categories of latex mattress: synthetic, blended, and 100% natural.
(Note many mattresses made with blended latex will often brand themselves as “natural,” so if you want a purely plant-based product, you always have to be on the lookout for 100% natural.)
A complete comparison of these different kinds of latex is a story for another time, but here are the basics.
Synthetic latex mattresses tend to be cheaper and more durable.
The best budget latex mattress on the market, the LUCID Latex 10 inch, is synthetic, coming at well under $400 on Amazon.
The top-rated latex mattresses, on the other hand, are all 100% natural latex.
However, our other top latex mattress, the Plushbeds Botanical Bliss, uses both Talalay and Dunlop latex.
How is a Latex Mattress Made?
We’re getting to the difference between Talalay and Dunlop soon, I promise.
Before we can get there, though, we’re first going to need to touch a little bit on how a latex mattress is actually made.
A 100% natural latex mattress is one of the only completely organic mattresses on the market today.
That’s because it’s made from the sap of the rubber tree—a white, milky substance that can be processed into all kinds of useful products.
A small, diagonal cut is made from the bark of the tree, which causes sap to flow out into a bucket.
This flow lasts for around six hours—and to be clear, it does not kill the tree.
Rubber tree plantations are actually highly sustainable, and help remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year.
It takes an insane amount of latex to provide enough product for an entire mattress, though—typically a full day’s output from 12 acres of rubber trees!
Once all that latex is gathered together, it’s then shipped off to a facility to be made into mattresses.
The latex is then whipped up into a froth and poured into molds, where it will later be baked into something you can actually sleep on.
It’s here that the differences between Dunlop and Talalay latex begin…
The Dunlop Process
Dunlop is by far the simpler of the two processes, so we’ll start here.
After the rubber sap (i.e., latex) has been poured into its cast and placed in a vulcanization oven.
It’s then essentially baked into a mattress, washed, and then reheated to remove remaining moisture.
And that’s… about it.
Dunlop the older and simpler method of latex mattress production.
It was first introduced back in the 20’s, and it hasn’t really changed much since.
The Talalay Process
The Talalay process, on the other hand, is a little bit more complicated.
Although the latex is also poured into a mold in this technique, in this case the mold is actually only filled up partway.
After the latex has all been poured in, it’s sealed and expanded by vacuum until it fills up the rest of the empty space.
After that, the latex is flash frozen at -20 degrees Fahrenheit, locking all the particles of the mattress in place.
Carbon dioxide is then forced through the latex, causing it to gel, and the mattress is then vulcanized at 220 degrees.
As in the Dunlop process, your mattress is then washed and dried after all that before being shipped off for sale.
Talalay vs. Dunlop Latex Mattresses: Objective Differences
These two processes result in somewhat different materials.
Dunlop latex mattresses are denser overall, since they never went through all the vacuum expansion their Talalay counterparts saw.
Talalay mattresses, on the other hand, tend to be more expensive and less ecofriendly.
That’s because their process simply takes a whole lot more time and energy.
Talalay mattresses also tend to be somewhat more breathable than those produced via the Dunlop method, since they’re less dense and filled with more air.
Their latex also doesn’t settle during the vulcanization process (because of the flash freezing).
This differs from Dunlop mattresses, where each layer actually has a soft side and a firm side.
This might come in handy if, some years from now, you decide you need a slightly firmer mattress.
All you have to do is unzip the casing top and flip over the top layer underneath, and voilà—firmer mattress!
You can also move firmer layers from closer to the bottom to the top if you want.
Differences in Feel Between Dunlop and Talalay Latex
There are also some differences in the overall feel of Dunlop and Talalay mattresses—although for many people, these will typically be too small to notice.
There tends to be a smaller range in the firmness levels available for Dunlop mattresses.
Although greater density doesn’t necessarily mean greater firmness, the solidness of Dunlop means that it has a less bouncy feel than Talalay, which many people appreciate.
Dunlop has more of a springy feel, and it doesn’t come with the same “sinking” sensation some people find in Talalay mattresses.
Talalay, on the other hand, has a good amount of hug, creating a pleasant “cradling” sensation similar to that of memory foam.
Talalay has more yield under the weight and shape of your body, and results in a more buoyant sensation.
It may also compress less over time.
The Final Verdict on Talalay vs. Dunlop Latex
So overall, which is better—Talalay or Dunlop?
A lot of mattress companies will try to exaggerate the differences between these two processes.
Zenhaven’s website devotes an entire page to explaining exactly why Talalay is the superior process, while other companies specializing in Dunlop latex do the exact opposite.
Just to recap, here’s a brief overview of the differences in terms of what you’ll actually experience first-hand:
- Cheaper (in general)
- Less bouncy
- More Ecofriendly
- More expensive (in general)
- More durable (in general)
- Wider range in available firmness levels
- Similar feel to memory foam mattresses
Although these differences can certainly be significant, at the end of the day, this probably isn’t something you should really spend too much time stressing over.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both kinds of mattress, and while the differences between the two might be somewhat interesting, there are a whole lot of different factors that go into determining your overall satisfaction with your mattress.
After all, there’s only so much generalities like this can really tell you.
Everything about the mattress purchase process is entirely dependent on your personal preferences and the particular mattress you’re considering, and the difference between something as minor as your mattress’s construction technique probably shouldn’t make or break a sale.
A better way to go about doing this sort of stuff is to have a look at more individualized, specific mattress reviews.
Here at Mattress-Guides.net, we have a huge variety of reviews available on pretty much every mattress available in the US today.
They’re a great resource if you’re stuck deciding between a couple different kinds of mattress you’ve heard about, or if you’re looking for unbiased reviews you know you can trust.
Have a look at our mattress reviews here, and take your mattress research process to the next level!
Conclusion About Dunlop vs. Talalay Latex Mattresses
Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea of the various pros and cons of the two latex mattress construction techniques.
This is some pretty specialized stuff, but if you’ve read this far into a mattress guide, it’s clear you’re taking this buying process seriously.
That’s good, and that’s the exact kind of mentality you need to get the best product you possible can.
Mattress terminology is complicated and often more than a little confusing, but if you take the time to see it all through and find the mattress you really need, you won’t be disappointed.
If a good night’s sleep is the first step to a better life, then a better mattress is the first step to a good night’s sleep!
Updated at September 6, 2021
- 1 What Is a Latex Mattress?
- 2 How is a Latex Mattress Made?
- 3 The Dunlop Process
- 4 The Talalay Process
- 5 Talalay vs. Dunlop Latex Mattresses: Objective Differences
- 6 Differences in Feel Between Dunlop and Talalay Latex
- 7 The Final Verdict on Talalay vs. Dunlop Latex
- 8 Conclusion About Dunlop vs. Talalay Latex Mattresses