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What's the Difference Between Dunlop and Talalay Latex?
Differences between latex manufacturing methods

Last updated on July 18, 2019

If you are shopping for a latex mattress, you may have seen the terms “Talalay latex” and/or “Dunlop latex" and wondered what's the difference? These terms refer to how the latex is made, and the resulting latex is very similar in the context of the broader spectrum of materials used in mattresses today. Dunlop and Talalay methods can both be used to create latex made from all-natural latex, a natural-synthetic blend, or fully synthetic latex.

In both the Talalay method and the Dunlop method, liquid latex is poured into a mold, hardened, and vulcanized (heat-treated with sulphur to harden it and make it rubbery). The main difference is that Talalay latex is vacuum-sealed in the mold, which results in more uniform particle density than is achieved with the Dunlop process.

Both types of methods produce similar-looking latex foam, with "pin core holes" from the mold.

Is Talalay Better Than Dunlop?

There are a lot of nuanced differences between Dunlop and Talalay latex, and while we certainly have opinions about situations where we would think Talalay is a smidge better, there are also some situations where we'd give a small edge to Dunlop.

Overall, the difference between Talalay and Dunlop latex is very small in the scheme of things — much smaller, for example, than the difference between latex and other types of mattress materials. In our view, it is not even one of the top distinctions between the various types of latex used in mattresses. For example, we would easily rank both softness level and the degree of natural vs. synthetic latex as much more important factors in distinguishing one piece of latex from another. As such, we rarely find Dunlop vs. Talalay to be a significant reason on its own for choosing one mattress over another.

From a technical standpoint, Talalay is a more involved (and costly) manufacturing process because of the additional vacuum-seal step. This is what gives Talalay latex a better reputation in some people's minds.

Softness levels

Both Dunlop and Talalay latex are made in multiple densities / softness levels, but the softest formulations of latex are generally only available in Talalay. So if you're looking for a very soft and "cushy" feel, Talalay could be a better match for you. Likewise, because of its more uniform density throughout any given piece of latex, it can be argued that Talalay has the potential to offer a tiny bit better pressure relief. Overall though, if you're looking for a medium or firmer feel, the Talalay vs Dunlop distinction is not significant.

Durability

While both types of latex have a very good reputation for durability, Dunlop is sometimes thought to hold up a tiny bit better. Likewise, due to the fact that the Dunlop process allows the heavier particles to sink to the bottom, it has a naturally progressive resistance as you push into it, which is often thought to be slightly better from a support standpoint. This is one reason why some latex mattress makers choose to use Dunlop in the support core and Talalay in the comfort layers. That said, both Talalay and Dunlop are very heavy, supportive, and durable foams.

Which Latex is More Eco-Friendly?

From a natural standpoint, there is very little difference between the two processes in making natural latex sourced from rubber trees. The only difference is that all-natural Talalay latex does require a (very) small amount of chemical additives during the manufacturing process, which prevents this type of latex from being certified as organic. For that reason, Dunlop latex is potentially more eco-friendly.

The much bigger thing to watch for in mattress shopping is that many products advertise the use of "natural latex" (without saying "100% natural" or "all-natural"). These products are using a blend of natural and synthetic latex — typically about 30% from rubber tree sap with the remaining 70% coming from synthetic latex made from petrochemicals. By contrast, with all-natural latex — whether Dunlop or Talalay (with the exception of the aforementioned manufacturing additives) — the final product is comprised entirely of natural rubber tree sap.

In our opinion, on all of these fronts, the difference between Talalay and Dunlop latex is very subtle, but we hope this was a helpful overview of the distinctions.

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