What is Latex Density and How Does it Affect a Mattress?

Have you been shopping for a new mattress and feeling a little overwhelmed? With so many types of mattresses, selecting the right one can be a daunting task.

One type that is rising in popularity is the latex mattress. These beds can be pricier than other types, but their benefits, durability, and comfort level can make them worth the investment.

While latex mattresses are a great option, they are not all the same.

Understanding the latex density and how it affects the properties of the mattress will help you determine which latex bed is right for you.

What is Latex Density?

Latex has become a favored material when it comes to helping enhance durability and performance in mattresses. The density of latex rubber found in a bed directly influences the bed’s cost, performance, and durability.

You can find the latex density in a mattress by calculating the pounds per cubic foot or PCF. Depending on this PCF number, the bed will fall into one of three categories: low-density, medium-density, or high-density.

Since each density category has its own unique set of pros and cons, knowing the latex density in a mattress is an important factor to recognize.

MaterialLow-Density RangeMedidum-Density RangeHigh-Density Range
LatexLess than 4.3 PCF4.3 to 5.3 PCFMore than 5.3 PCF
PolyfoamLess than 1.5 PCF1.5 PCF to 1.7 PCFMore than 1.7 PCF
Memory foamLess than 4 PCF4 PCF to 5 PCFMore than 5 PCF

Density, Firmness, and ILD

Density and firmness ratings, along with latex ILD charts and guides, are all used when describing mattresses. Density refers to the latex rubber in the mattress and is found by a mathematical formula.

Firmness is a term used for how something feels based on a scale of 1-10, with ten being the firmest.

The indentation load deflection (ILD) is another way to assign a firmness rating. The ILD is found by placing a 1-foot diameter disc on material 4 inches thick and compressing. The number that it takes for 25 percent compression is referred to as the ILD rating.

Illustration of a Lady Looking at Mattresses in a Mattress Store

Natural vs. Synthetic Latex

There are two main types of latex materials used: natural and synthetic.

Natural latex is made mostly from the extract of rubber trees and is a great eco-friendly option. The Global Organic Latex Seal (GOLS) certifies that the latex is at least 95 percent natural. However, this means that  5 percent may contain other non-organic fillers.

Synthetic latex is made mostly from petrochemicals. While this creates a similar density to organic latex, it may trap body heat more and is typically less durable.

How is Latex Density Measured?

As mentioned above, the latex rubber density is measured using a mathematical formula to determine the pounds per cubic foot (PCF). The formula involves taking the object’s weight and dividing it by its total overall volume, and the resulting number is the PCF.  For example, if a latex mattress weighs 100 pounds and measures 25 cubic feet, the result would be 4 PCF (100 divided by 25 equals 4).

The good news is you likely won’t have to figure this out on your own; most mattress manufacturers will list the materials used as well as the density (in PCF) on their websites.

Illustration of a Lady Trying Mattress Toppers in a Mattress Store

How Latex Density Affects Mattress Performance

  • Durability – Latex mattresses are very durable. Choosing a mattress with a high density of latex ensures maximum durability as these beds have one of the longest lifespans of at least eight years. However, even beds with a low latex density tend to last longer than other products such as memory foam.

  • Conforming ability- A mattress that conforms and supports your body is important when it comes to the comfort of your bed. A mattress with a low latex density may not conform as well. If you prefer a deeper cradle from your bed, consider choosing a high-density latex mattress.

  • Pain/pressure relief- A low-density bed could provide sufficient support for those who experience slight aches and pains. However, individuals with chronic pain or those who want maximum support should opt for higher-density mattresses. These mattresses provide the most support for pain and pressure relief.

  • Temperature neutrality- For keeping you cooler at night, low-density beds are the optimal choice. Because they offer better air circulation, your body heat is less likely to get trapped. While low-density latex beds are best for cooler sleeping, even high-density latex mattresses are cooler than other foams.

  • Sex- Low-density latex mattresses are more responsive than foam, rating them higher for sex. Also, sleeping with a partner means extra body heat, but as mentioned, low-density latex can help alleviate this. Conversely, since high-density latex lacks better air circulation and tends to be less responsive, it rates lower for sex.
Illustration of a Couple Jumping on a Bed
  • Motion isolation- Low-density latex mattresses do not rate well for absorbing motion transfer because of their responsive nature. While medium density doesn’t work as well as memory foam, it is still a decent option. However, for results similar to memory foam, a high-density latex bed is recommended.

  • Odor potential- If you are sensitive to odors, you may want to consider a low-density latex bed. These beds will often have a rubbery smell when new, but this tends to fade quickly. On the other hand, high-density latex beds have been known to have a smell that can be pungent and persistent.

  • Mattress weight – While the weight of latex mattresses varies depending on the density, they will all weigh much more than other foam options. Low-density latex options weigh the least, ranging from 90-105 pounds, while high-density latex weighs the most at around 110-125 pounds.

  • Average price- Overall, latex mattresses are more expensive than other beds. As you can imagine, the higher the latex density, the higher the cost. Therefore, a low-density option will be the most budget-friendly.

Check Out Our Guide: Highest Rated Latex Mattresses

How to Choose the Right Latex Density?

Other than performance and cost, you also want to consider your sleeping position and weight when choosing the right latex density of your new mattress.

Sleeping positions are categorized as back, side, stomach, and combination.  Weight categories include lightweight sleepers (120 pounds or less), average weight sleepers (120-200 pounds), and heavyweight sleepers (200 pounds or more).

Lightweight sleepers will most likely find sufficient support with a low to medium density bed, while heavyweight sleepers should consider a high-density mattress for full support. Whatever bed you choose, make sure it supports your pressure points as needed.

Illustration of a Couple Flipping Mattress

Conclusion

Latex beds are a great option when choosing your new mattress. Their durability, ability to be eco-friendly, and exceptional cooling properties are just a few of the reasons for their growing popularity.

While these mattresses can be more expensive than other foam choices, the many benefits they provide can be well worth the investment. Understanding the different latex density levels and the properties of each will ensure you choose the right density for your specific needs.

Once you choose your perfect latex mattress, you can rest easy and know it will support you for years to come.

Content Manager

Katie is a content writer and serial hobby collector who enjoys naps almost as much as her pets do. When she isn't writing, she likes to ride her motorcycle, catch Pokemon with her hubby, and practice yoga with her dog.

Sleep Advisor