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by Laura Cullen @


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Mattress Sticker Shock

Why are you shopping for a mattress? Is it because your mattress has body indentations? Or is it getting uncomfortable? Do you need a bigger size?

You might have some sticker shock if you head out to the mattress shop. A good quality mattress is usually upwards of $2799 or more. The mattress salesperson also is pretty keen on selling you a mattress that is expensive and knows if you lay on many of their mattresses you will eventually come to the same conclusion that you need a more expensive mattress with specialized memory foam and cooling gel specks. Since you and I spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, we need and want the best mattress money can buy preferably without a loan.

However, many people are reporting that their mattress that costs several thousand dollars is failing after only a couple of years.

I’m here to share with you a quick history of mattresses and how you can purchase a mattress that you can put together yourself that will last you a very long time.

History of the Mattress

In 1883, a man named J.P. Leggett was the inventor of the first part of our modern-day mattress system. He basically took the idea of using wagon springs and assembled a smaller version of them into the first box spring. He partnered up with a man named C.B Platt who funded the beginning of this empire.

For many years, the springs in the mattress and box springs were made from steel and ultimately those steel springs made the mattresses very heavy. Those springs lasted decades. Today, these springs are made from an aluminum alloy and in turn mattresses are significantly lighter in weight.

You might also remember that older mattresses had wool in the lining and were comfortably cool in the summer along if topped with those percale cotton sheets but super, super firm to sleep on.

Mattress design didn’t change much until we “mere” mortals garnered the use of NASA memory foam. Suddenly, almost overnight the mattress industry had the use of both foam and memory foam to create a luxurious feeling mattress. Unfortunately, memory foam is really hot to sleep on but one does appreciate the cushiony feel of a foam-topped mattress and one can even buy additional foam toppers to add to the depth of the foam.

Why Mattresses Fail

Yesteryear mattresses lasted several decades. In fact, you might come across Grandpa’s or Grandma’s bed still has an older mattress. Those mattresses lasted because they didn’t have foam inside them. It wasn’t until companies started adding foam and memory foam that we started to see mattresses failing.

Memory foam and polyfoam have a lifespan of 18-24 months and that is because the foam over time doesn’t spring back into shape. If you purchased a better quality mattress, instructions say that you need to flip the mattress regularly and that both sides of the mattress are lined with the same foam topper. The first mattress we saved up for, from Verlo, was $2799 and had 4 inches of foam on both sides of the mattress which required flipping every 30 days. It took about 3 years before I saw signs of the memory foam failing.

DIY Mattress for all Budgets

Now for the good news. You can literally purchase bed components, have them shipped to your door and put together your own bed for LESS than the price of a several thousand dollar mattresses in the store.

After shopping for a mattress, at a local organic mattress store I was able to find the same mattress components and designed a bed that cost me 1/5th of the price of the bed in that organic store. I am going to show you what I bought and let you in on a secret. We didn’t need to buy one of the mattress layers and the bed would have been quite fine without it.

The Meat of the Mattress

There are several types of mattresses you can make. One mattress type you will see promoted in the mattress stores are Hybrid mattresses. Those have springs, either a pocket coil or a continuous spring, a few layers of foam and a tiny layer of memory foam with some added cooling gel specks. Incidentally, those cooling gels specks and blue foam are just marketing. Memory foam is hot to sleep on and is probably good for those NASA astronauts in space and places that are cold.

The other type of mattress is a 100% foam mattress. These are made from several types of poly foam, foam core, and memory foam. Once in a while, you will see a mattress with latex foam. Latex is the BEST for several reasons but it is expensive. If you want the combined comfort of cool and long-lasting mattress; a pure latex mattress and a hybrid mattress with pocket coil springs topped with 3 inches of latex will be your best bet. Latex has a 30-year lifespan.

Next, I will show you how to build a mattress and you can tailor the pieces to your budget.

Make Your Own Mattress

Let’s start with the bottom of the mattress. Chose whether you will have a hybrid mattress(a mattress with coil springs and a latex topper) or a mattress that is pure latex. If you don’t know… go mattress shopping. Go lay on some beds and then go home and order what you think you will like. You can change your bed up later if need be.

Hybrid Mattress

Budget-conscious: remove the layers of foam and memory foam from your current bed. You can be surprised at how cheap those layers are when you do this. I had a 2-inch layer of foam, glue to a 1-inch layer of memory foam. Check the springs, most likely they are fine. When I removed our memory foam, the springs had no indentations are were good to keep and use to make a hybrid bed.

Buy pocket coil springs from DIY Mattress. Click here. They have two kinds either are good choices. The Calibur Edged springs are 6″ and the CombiZoned springs are 8″. Keep the height in mind for when you buy the mattress zippered cover. You are going to choose the height of your mattress when you buy the cover.


One of the boxes with our Latex Topper

Latex topper: I purchased my latex toppers off Amazon. They come from Sleep On Latex. You can get them in Soft, Medium, Firm. 1″2″,3″ heights. Side sleepers generally prefer 3″ toppers and in Soft. Back sleepers can go with 2″ toppers and in Medium or Firm.

Twin 3″ Soft topper. Medium topper. Firm topper.

Full 3″ Soft topper. Medium topper. Firm topper.

Queen 3″ Soft topper. Medium topper. Firm topper.

King 3″ Soft topper. Medium topper. Firm topper.

Zippered Cover

Loading Latex toppers in the Organic Cotton Zippered Cover

The outside layer of the top mattress is your choice of a quilted, zippered cover made from Organic cotton or Bamboo.

Good Quality Organic Cotton Cover

Both are good choices and can be made to size from the DIY Mattress company. Click here to see the zippered covers. Read further to decide how tall your custom cover will be. I choose 12″ for my daughter with four 3″ latex topper sections. For myself, we can use a 9″ zippered cover with one 3″ topper for our old mattress that we took off the memory foam. Note…even if you don’t have the money upfront for all the latex pieces when you order the zippered cover chose the finished height. You can still put the latex pieces inside and sleep on the mattress even if it isn’t all the way filled. Zippered covers are custom pieces and do take about 2-3 weeks to receive. I was really happy with the quality of the ones we bought.

Our Bed Setups

Full 12″ Latex Mattress with Organic Cotton Cover

Full Latex setup: My daughter’s Full mattress was a full latex mattress with a zippered organic cotton cover. I priced a similar mattress at Satara Home and Baby for over $5,000. Her Full Zippered 12″ Cover for $208 came from The latex toppers came from Amazon: two 3″ soft full toppers($360), one 3″ medium topper($209), one 3″ firm topper($259). Incidentally, the 12″ mattress height was a little overkill. A 9″ mattress height for the zippered cover would have sufficed for our needs. Total cost for latex toppers and zippered cover, $1036 vs $5099 at Satara.

In addition, I bought her a Pottery Barn look-alike tufted bed off Amazon too for $169.99. Everything was delivered to my doorstep and only took an hour to assemble the bed and another 10 minutes to set up the mattress. This bed didn’t need a box spring.

King Hybrid Setup: I reused our springs from our failed mattress. Springs=good. Memory foam=failed. I added two TWIN latex toppers to the top of the King springs. I liked the SOFT 3″ layer. Steve liked the Medium 3″ layer. The latex doesn’t slide anywhere. During adult-time, the springs plus the latex provide enough bounce. Latex is also a lot cooler to sleep on than the memory foam.

This spring, I plan to build our King platform frame from plans you can get for FREE from At that time, I will upgrade the springs to the Combizoned springs and place the springs inside a Zippered bamboo cover. Once this is built you can see it here.

In conclusion

You can purchase components for your bed, as your funds allow. Keep in mind, springs of beds rarely fail and the latex is supposed to last about 30 years since it springs back instantly. I have one 100% full latex bed and 3 hybrid mattresses with latex toppers made from Sleep on Latex and I am happy to report they look as new as the day I bought them. My 3 teens LOVE the latex toppers and there is a 300 percent difference sleeping on latex rather than memory foam.

Moreover, if you would like Sleep on Latex to make your mattress. Visit their site here.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.