An open letter from Jeff Garfield, Bedrooms & More in Seattle about comments on the internet regarding problems with some latex mattresses
My name is Jeff Garfield and my wife, Wanda, and I own Bedrooms & More.
It is difficult to read about problems about any latex mattress when we believe in them so strongly. I know that people who love a product rarely write reviews. Someone who has problems or receives bad service is most likely to complain. We get more referrals to our store by latex mattress owners than any other product we have carried since 1972.
Englander has been in business for over 100 years. Like many national companies, Englander licenses use of it’s name to different manufacturing plants throughout the country. For the 22+ years we have dealt with “Englander,” our manufacturing plant has been Tualatin Sleep Products, Tualatin, Oregon. The national “Englander” organization has been very weak, with each franchised plant pretty much building whatever mattress styles they wanted with little national consistency. Our Tualatin Sleep Products builds more than 800 different mattress styles with many dozens of those being latex or part latex. These exact same mattresses are not available through any other plant. We know this from occasionally trying to buy models from different plants to avoid shipping them across country to our customers. How other plants deal with dealers or customers is not standardized throughout the country, however, this is due to change as the individual franchisees have just completed purchase of the Englander name with a goal of standardization.
We have carried, or currently carry, mattresses by Sealy, Stearns & Foster, Englander, Serta, Simmons, Kingsdown, Restonic, King Koil, Springcraft, Springwall, Natura, OMI, Temperpedic, Select Comfort, Boyd and Somma. I have yet to find a perfect product and there are pluses and minuses to all. Some of these brands we found to be unacceptable for various reasons and we took them off our floor. Englander, of all the brands mentioned, we have found to be the most recommended and the company (Tualatin Sleep Products) to be most responsive to warranty and comfort concerns. From articles on the internet, there may be other plants and/or dealers that do not respond as well. Are Englander products perfect? No, of course not. As I said, I have yet to find a perfect product. How do they compare? Our experience puts them right at the top of the list for satisfaction and responsiveness.
I think a lot of the problem with mattresses today is that customers want plusher, thicker mattresses without understanding that the addition of soft surface materials allows for some impressions. One sided, so called no-flip mattresses have contributed significantly to the problem with impressions. When mattresses were all two sided, and hard, thin mattresses were the norm and very few impressions would form. Usually the only material on top of the spring system would be a firm pad, very like a thick carpet pad. This pad would have very little compression plus the warranty would call for regular turning and rotation of the mattress. The mattresses would retain their smooth tops but would offer little in the way of comfort. Firm mattresses now account for fewer than 25% of sales on the West Coast. The plush mattresses lessen pressure points and help reduce tossing and turning. Manufacturers have come up with many types of soft foams and fiber combinations to provide this soft surface. Almost all of these materials have some degree of compression.
A foam manufacturer I spent some time with said that their goal was that, after break in, the soft foams should retain 80% of their thickness and that that thickness could be expected at the 10 year point. This points out that the less soft foam or fiber there is, the less the impression. If a mattress has four inches of soft foams above the spring unit or other core, the compression would be about 8/10’s of an inch. If there are six inches of padding, an impression of 1 1/4″ can form. I have not found a brand of mattress that in a very plush version cannot get some impressions if not turned and rotated to insure an even break in. I suspect that many people are unwilling to do even minimal maintenance to ensure a long lasting product and then are surprised that there is pocketing right where they sleep.
So, does latex stand up to impressions? First, Englander uses 100% rubber latex cores, not synthetic latex (sometimes called pure latex). It has been our experience in 23 years of carrying latex, that latex does not take an impression over long periods of time (most customers say 15 to 30 years). The latex itself, although it can be molded in different densities, is still pretty firm (hard) and so sometimes other materials are used on the top to provide plushness. The less soft material on the surfaces, the less chance of any impressions. Latex only mattresses should have no impressions as there are no softness layers on top.
Here at Bedrooms & More. First, we have about 30 latex models on our showroom floor. About half of those come from our local Englander plant. We have these made especially for us and are made two sided; both sides have identical comfort layers. We recommend, in person and in writing, a turning and rotating schedule to get the most life and comfort from the mattress. We oftentimes recommend one of the natural models that uses only latex and suggest a topper that can be replaced or turned as necessary for the longest life. A comfort topper can be a great choice as our bodies change over time. What we like today may not be right for us 5, 10 or 15 years from now. Changing to a different topper during the long life of a latex mattress can keep you comfortable for years without the major expense of a new mattress.
What of other brands? The big “S” mattress companies (Sealy, Simmons, Spring Air, Serta) have sold out to financial groups – they are no longer owned by “mattress people”. These companies have gone to single sided, can’t flip mattresses as there is a savings of almost 30% in the manufacturing process. This 30% is not being passed on to you, the consumer, or the retailer. Unfortunately, these large manufacturers do not necessarily have your best interests at heart. These one sided mattresses sold by many major companies have very short life spans and getting warranty service can be iffy. It is now recommended that these “can’t flip” mattresses be replaced in 5 to 7 years. We see many of these people when they are replacing mattresses after only a few years and unsatisfactory warranty service. Often, latex is the best answer for these people.
If you don’t want to worry about impressions, get a latex only mattress and add a topper. Even if the mattress is not only latex, you can expect a longer life (of the mattress) if a reasonable turning and rotating schedule is maintained.